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Transcription of

The Western Shore Gazetteer and Commercial Directory,
For the State of California…, Yolo County,

Compiled and published annually
by
C. P. Sprague & H. W. Atwell,
Woodland, Yolo County, 1870, pp. 199-203.

Transcribed by Peggy B. Perazzo
(Feel free to use the following transcription for your personal use or your non-profit web sites.)

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Prospective Review

We have now finished our descriptive local matter, and from what we have written we trust the reader can form a very correct estimate of the importance, value and general characteristics of Yolo County. Before we close this volume we desire to say a few words to

Emigrants

And to those who desire to see this county peopled by an industrious and energetic population, who shall settle on the rich lands which lie so invitingly before them, making permanent homes in our midst, thus adding to the general wealth and prosperity of the county. Such is our earnest wish, and such, we believe, is the wish of all who have the interest of the county at heart and possess liberal views regarding the right of labor to seek a home among us. Especially do we desire to welcome that class of emigrants who come to till the soil, to extract from thence the wealth now slumbering there. We desire to see these broad plains dotted with farmhouses, each of which shall be a home, the citadel of a homestead. We desire to see the now unoccupied hillsides settled, and in place of the dry, parched, brown surface, behold green vineyards and pleasant fields of fruit, whose annually increasing wealth shall swell the golden tide until its shallow stream shall assume its true proportions, and, from a rivulet, become a mighty river. Until such changes shall have been made, the real wealth and capabilities of the county can only be conjectured.

It is true that we desire to see this change, promising, as it does, so much of good, so much that is desirable. The most careless reader of these pages cannot fail of arriving at a correct conclusion regarding the capability of the county to support a population four-fold its present number. In order to secure an increase of population, it would be proper to enumerate the advantages we have to offer emigrants to induce them to cast their lot with us. However much we may wish it were otherwise, truth compels us to admit that those advantages are very few. Let us enumerate them:

A soil of surpassing fertility, a genial climate, good water (generally easy of obtaining), a healthy country, good schools, and more than an average variety of religious denominations with which to affiliate.

That is about all we think of, and more than rightfully belongs in the list, for the incomparable soil of which Californians are so apt to boast is no longer open for entry by the poor man, be he immigrant or native.

It seems rather rough on speculators and Immigrant Aid Societies to even attempt to disprove the oft-repeated assertion that California has lands enough for all who choose to settle within her borders. We will not deny the assertion. It is true – if the parties seeking land are not particular regarding quantity, location, quality or price. But still, with all due deference to the journals (who should know better) that constantly reiterate the cry of free lands for immigrants, we purpose to state briefly the inducements to immigrants that are presented by Yolo County. The immigrant desires land – good land, Government land – such as he can enter at Government price, such as he can till, and from which he can receive immediate returns. There is no such land in Yolo County; and we submit the proposition to those best acquainted with the land interest, that the same state of affairs exists throughout the whole State.

We admit that there is plenty of land for sale, but at prices ranging far beyond the means of the ordinary immigrant. We admit that there are vacant lands, rich in natural wealth, that can still be had of the Government; but those lands are of the foothill and mountainous districts, and fit only for the vine and fruit culture. To the poor immigrant they possess no attraction, because he must be possessed of capital sufficient to enable him to live for three or four years before he can expect to receive any return from his investments, should he settle on and improve those lands. During the interval between planting the vineyard or orchard and its bearing season, he must trust to labor or the renting of lands. In either case, the prospect is none of the brightest for him during that interval. We have more laborers now than can find profitable employment; we have more renters than farms offered for rent. Then what inducement have we to offer the immigrant, that shall cause him to pass by the Government lands of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, or Illinois, the soil of which is equal to any in the world. Truly we have nothing – except a more genial climate. We would invite those editors who are continually calling for immigrants, to take a trip through the State and satisfy themselves regarding this matter. Can they for a moment believe the oft-repeated assertion, that there is "good land in plenty for all," after they have seen the thousands of farmers who annually rent farms, because they can find no vacant lands on which to settle that would insure them a living? Let them take note of the hundreds and thousands of farm laborers in this State, who can find employment only about six months of the year. Let them take further and final note of the vast land monopolies that have swallowed up all the available lands of the State, make a record of the prices at which those lands are held, and then we venture the assertion that they will coincide with us in the opinion that neither Yolo County, nor yet the State, has any superior inducements to offer immigrants.

The curse of land monopoly has destroyed the hopes of the immigrants, who, if well informed, know that they cannot hope to obtain land here on terms that will compare with the inducements offered them elsewhere. The fact is well known, that the majority of the available lands are held by speculators, at prices far beyond the reach of a poor man.

It is argued that these speculators must sell, in time; that these tracts must be broken up; that they cannot hold them long, on account of interest, taxes and other causes. Let us see: The first cost of these lands was one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre in greenbacks – equivalent to about eighty cents, gold, when these lands were purchased. These lands are held at from ten to fifty dollars per acre, according to locality – and what is of more importance, they sell for these sums when sold at all. They are rented, or most of these tracts are, and yearly bring the owner a large interest on the prices asked. They are taxed – bringing a large interest on that sum – and only paying taxes on two thousand five hundred dollars unless compelled to? Not until real estate is taxed to its full value, can we hope for a change beneficial to the cause of immigration, for our lawgivers and land monopolists have raised a barrier to immigration more insurmountable than the Sierras – harder to overcome than the deserts which lie between us and the people whose presence we covet.

The emigrant who locates here must depend on renting land, if he be not able to purchase a farm at the ruling prices. There is no inducement in this to the true emigrant. His object in seeking new localities is a home – land that he can call his own. He could rent land without removing from his birthplace. Then, what have we in Yolo, or in California, to offer the emigrant to induce him to pass the rich public lands of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, with soil as fertile as our own, and make his home among us? A better climate – nothing more. Strip the question of immigration of the mass of verbiage thrown around it, and the sophistry of speculative individuals who would sell their ill-gotten lands at a high figure, and it amounts to this – only this – a better climate.

From the reasons given, and many others unmentioned, kindred to the subject, we are reluctantly compelled to admit that Yolo County can offer no good reasons why immigrants should seek her borders; and this remark applies to the State at large.

We find no fault with this state of affairs. We simply point out the absurdity of the ceaseless call for immigrants, when the state of the land market forbids the immigration of families.

We are well aware that the prices asked for Yolo County lands can be readily obtained in most instances – that the valuation placed on those lands in this book is generally below what they will bring – but this does not help immigration; on the contrary, retards it. Hence, we must look only to the natural increase, and cease to expect a great influx of population from foreign sources. At least, such is the plain view of the case, and no amount of false reasoning can convince intelligent immigrants to the contrary.

 

 

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