History of Sanel Towhship, California
From: History of Mendocino County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, Cal., 1880


GEOGRAPHY. - This township is hounded on the north by Ukiah township, on the east by Lake county, on the south by Sononma county, and on the west by Anderson township. The Russian river passes entirely through it from north to south, and its valley is skirted on either side by high mountain ranges.

TOPOGRAPHY. - Topographically speaking the township is divided into three sections, the series of mountains on its eastern side, the Russian River valley - its center, and the mountain on its western chain side. There are several valleys putting off from the main one, but they are small, and amount to nothing.

SOIL. - The soil in Sanel township varies according to location as elsewhere in Mendocino county, that in the valleys being rich alluvial, while that on the hill and mountain sides is composed more of detritus and gravel, including a large amount of adobe. It is well adapted to grazing purposes, and is used extensively for that.

PRODUCTS. - The products of this section are varied, extending through the entire list of fruits, vines, cereals, vegetables, and to which may also be added hops. Fruits of all kinds thrive, and as fine orchards can be seen along the Russian River valley as in any other part of the State. Vines do well on all the hill sides and in the valleys also. Vegetables are more, thrifty in the bottom lands, and in the rich loam along the river banks, where all kinds are produced in great abundance. The cereals are grown advantageously all along the river bottom, and also upon the first bench or second bottom, as it is called, while hops do better in the Russian River valley than in any other section of the State, always commanding an extra price in the market. Stock raising and wool growing are the two principal industries of the township to which is added more or less of dairying.

CLIMATE - The climate of Sanel is delightful, being almost that happy mean where summer's heat and winter's cold are unknown. It is certain that the extremes of temperature are not found in this section. The summer's sun is robbed of its fierceness by a gentle bracing breeze, which always finds its way up the river from the ocean, making the days very mild, and even in temperature. The snow of winter seldom reaches as low down as the valley here, and when it does, it only remains on the ground for a few hours at the most. The fogs that infest the coast do not reach this valley very often, and yet the air is kept moist enough by it to be always grateful and refreshing. To sum the matter up in a few words, the climate in Sanel is all that can be desired.

TIMBER - The timber of this section is practically nil, there being nothing but a few scraggy, gnarled specimens of any kind, except in the immediate valley, where a few scattering oaks have grown to a goodly stature, but these are few and far between, and exceptions to the general rule. No redwoods, pines, or firs grow anywhere, either in the valley or on the hills, except perhaps in the extreme western portion of it. One mill only was ever built in the township, and that was on Dry creek, and it only ran a short time.

EARLY SETTLEMENT. - To Fernando Feliz belongs the honor of being the first settler in Sanel township. It is not known in what year he came here and located permanently, but evidently before 1850. He formerly owned a grant in Marin county known as the Novata, but he disposed of that while the country was still under the Mexican regime, for his deed is in the Spanish language, and was found among the archives at Sonoma City. Ho applied for and obtained the Sanel grant in 1844, and it is presumable that he came and settled upon it quite shortly afterwards. He built an adobe house twenty four by fifty feet in size, which was located a short distance south of the present site of Hopland. The walls of this pioneer house fell down some six years ago, and naught but a shapeless heap of clay now marks the site. Like its builder, it has returned to its mother earth and rests undisturbedly upon her bosom. Requiescat in pace! Feliz raised a large family of children, of whom three sons and four daughters still reside in the valley. He was the soul of generosity, and no man left his roof uncared for as best he could under the circumstances. He was honest, reliable and straightforward in all his dealings, and had the confidence of all who knew him. He was genial, jovial and companionable, and had a host of friends among the Americans as well as his own people. His widow still survives him, and is now very old and feeble, the snows of far more than threescore and ten winters resting on her head.

The next settler in the township was John Knight, a man who came to California in Stevenson's regiment. He had been acquainted with Feliz in Marin county, and in 1852 followed him to the Sand valley. He purchased the upper or northern league of the Sand grant; and located on it, and continues to reside there till the present day. He has always been prominently identified with the growing interests of Mendocino county, and is in every respect a gentleman. We regret that we are unable to give a more extended sketch of the career of this pioneer of pioneers, but repeated solicitations failed to secure any information from him either concerning himself or the county. To the present generation he is sufficiently well known, but his span of life is nearly ended, and it is desirable to secure all the facts possible from the old settlers, for they are fast passing away. We have stated this much in justice to ourselves, for everybody expected us to find in Mr. Knight a thesaurus of information, while practically quite the opposite was the case.

As far as we are able to learn, now, no other settlers came into the township, until 1856, when the following named gentlemen located there: J. P. Higgins, William Higgins, John Higgins, Alfred Higgins, H. Willard, another member of the famous Stevenson regiment, and James Kenney In 1857, there came Amos Snuffin, J. A. Knox, J. McGlashen, and J. W. Daw; in 1858, William E. Parsons, L. F. Long, B. F. Fox, E. H. Duncan, Ashley Guntly, and Eli Day. There were also in the valley at this time, the date of whose coming is now unknown, the following named settlers: William Andrews, who married one of Feliz daughters, Reuben Moore, George McCain, P. A. Roach, Charles Snuffin, and. B. E. Edsal. In 1859, the following settlers came in: J. R. Henry, Dr. H. G. Pike, and William M. Cole. After this, the valley filled up very fast indeed, as it was a very desirable place to locate.

TOWNS. - There has never been but one town at a time in the township; although it has had two locations and two names. We will give the history of them in the order in which they have existed.

SANEL. - This was the name given to the first location of the town, and the site of it was on the west side of Russian river, almost opposite the present site of Hopland. The first business of the place was a saloon, started by Knox, Willard & Conner, in 1859. R. Harrison opened out the first stock of goods in a tent, also in that year. In the following year, Conner disposed of his interest in the saloon to his partners, and opened a store. Harrison had let his stock of goods run completely down, and had closed out the business, practically, and Conner purchased the remnant of the stock when he opened his store. Dr. H. G. Pike came there in 1859, and was the pioneer physician of the place. Yates Weldon began blacksmithing there in the last named year. This was about all the business that was ever carried on in the town, and these buildings, together with some half a dozen dwelling houses constituted the old town of Sand.

HOPLAND - In 1874, the new toll road from Cloverdale to Ukiah was completed along the eastern side of the river, and that was the death blow to the town of Sanel, but its death gave birth to the new town of Hopland. The first business in this latter town, was a hotel by I. Bickle, and this was soon followed by a store, by W. W. Thatcher; blacksmith shop by J. A. Harp; feed stable by O. Howell, two saloons, and a meat market. There are probably a dozen other buildings in the town now, but they are all comparatively new, and the place has a bright, cheerful look, and situated as it is, in the heart of a beautiful, and quite extensive valley, it bids fair to always be a prosperous village There is a post, express, and telegraph office at Hopland, the latter being established August 23, 1880.

Independent Order of Good Templars. - A lodge of Good Templars was organized in Hopland on Thursday, July 22, 1880, by Levi Leland, Grand Lecturer of that Order. The first officers were: E. Daily, W. C. T.; A. Porter, W. R. S.; E. Duncan, W. L. S.; Miss Emma Miller, W. V. T.; S. E. Brooks, W. S.; E. L. Brooks, W. F. S.; Mrs. S. E. Brooks, W. T.; A. Porter, W. C.; C. R. Stayner, W. M.; Miss Alice Tall, W. D. M.; W. McCollough, W. I. G.; John Andrews, W. O. G. The charter had seventeen signatures upon the date of organization.

MILLS. - As far as known, there has never been but one saw mill in the township, and that was built by D. W. Walker, W. T. Brush, & Thomas J. Gould, on Dry creek in 1866. In the spring of 1867, it was taken away and located some distance north of Ukiah, and is now known as the Reeves mill.

INDIANS. - The Sanels were once a large and powerful tribe, but time has served to deplete their numbers very greatly. When Feliz located on his grant, their rancheria was located south of the present site of Hopland, and was very extensive. It is now about one and a half miles north of the town, and there are, all told, about one hundred and fifty left. They are industrious as a rule, working at whatever they can get to do, and making good hands.

The following legend of the "Lover's Leap" was read by Miss Fannie Lamar at Mrs. Poston's Seminary August, 1878:

"In the deep Canada through which Russian river comes cascading down with rollicking music from the mountains into the broad valley below, a great majestic rock towers several hundred feet perpendicularly from the bank of the river and slopes off to the westward upon a gentle incline. Passengers and tourists who travel the road which runs near its base, gaze with awe and admiration upon this great monument of Nature's marvelous work, and listen attentively to a romantic legend familiar to those who dwell in its vicinity. The story, as related by a native Californian lady, Miss Chatta Feliz, who was reared near this great rock, and who was a cotemporary with the principal actors in the tragedy, runs nearly as follows: Before the conquest of this country by the United States, and when the old Catholic Missions retained much of their primitive glory and beneficent power, many of the Indians were gathered into their folds for religious instruction. With the holy inspiration of the Church, which these simple children of Nature imbibed, they developed a passionate fondness for the fashions and ornaments of civilization. About ten miles south of the great rock, near where now stands the beautiful village of Cloverdale, dwelt a tribe of Indians, among whom was a young chief, a sort of Prince Imperial, whose name was Cachow. He was a fine looking fellow of faultless physique, a mighty hunter, skilled in the use of the how and arrow, renowned for his prowess and rich in the trophies of the. chase as well as in the plunder of the battle field. To all this hoard of wealth and personal accomplishments he had added the glamour acquired by a short sojourn at the mission of San Rafael, and many beads and other trinkets, the gifts of the kind padres of that once famous mission. Of course Cachow was, as well as a distinguished prince, and a hero among the braves, a great favorite with the dusky ladies of his own and the neighboring tribes. About six miles north of the great rock, on a beautiful plateau called Sanel, on the bank of the river, were the wigwams of the Sanelanos. The chief of these Indians had a handsome young daughter, named Sotuka, whose small feet and hands, wealth of dark hair, grace and comeliness, and, more than all her extraordinary skill in cooking venison and grasshoppers and making buckeye mush, made her as famous within the radius of her acquaintance as was the Queen of Sheba in her country.

"About the time of which I write, in the early autumn, when the golden harvest of the wild oats had been gathered into the great willow baskets, and the wild fruits were abundant, and the deer and the rabbits were still fat, and fish were plentiful in the streams and easily caught, Sotuka's father made a feast and sent his heralds forth with hospitable greetings and invitations to his neighbors. Among the invited guests was the distinguished Cachow, who, with all his fame and manly beauty and gorgeous trappings, was the cynosure of all eyes, and at once became the idol of the royal Sotuka.

"The juciest acorns were roasted and pounded with Sotuka's own hands for Cachow, and the choicest delicacies of her basket were selected and prepared for him. In short, while Cachow had completely enthralled the heart of Sotuka, he was not insensible to her great beauty and personal accomplishments; and this, their first meeting, resulted in a betrothal. After an exchange of souvenirs, like lovers of other races, and the festivities being over, Cachow returned to his home with a promise to come back in two moons with a deer skin full of beads for Sotuka's father and make the lovely daughter his bride. But Cachow, like many men who have gone before him and many who have succeeded him, was unfaithful to his promise, and before two moons had waned he wedded another. It happened in the course of events that Cachow and his new love, in making their bridal tour, built their camp fire at the eastern base of the great rock, underneath the precipice. Sotuka had already become apprised of the perfidy of her lover, and while busily meditating and planning revenge, was informed by one of her scouts of the camping place of the bridal party. When night came Sotuka left her wigwam and, alone, hastened through the darkness to the great rock and, ascending the western slope, approached the precipice and looked down, where, by the light of the little camp fire, she saw her faithless lover and his bride fast asleep.

"With the merciless vengeance of 'love to hatred turned,' and the des peration of unrequited affection, she clasped in her arms a stone as larg€ as she could lift and sprang off the fearful height upon her sleeping victims On the morrow, the Sanelanos and the tribe of Cachow held a grand imposing inquest over the dead trio, and, having built a great log heap, they placed upon it the three mangled bodies and lighted the funeral pyre Then, to the music of a solemn dirge, the wailings of the mourners and the roaring of the flames, the spirits of the departed, as the Indians say, rode upon a chariot of smoke to the happy hunting ground Since this tragic scene the great rock has been known as 'The Lover's Leap.' "

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