The passing of Fremont, Yolo County, California
From: The History of Yolo County, California
History By: Tom Gregory
The Historical Record Company.
Los Angeles, California 1913


When Jonas Spect pitched his tent on the Sacramento just opposite the mouth of the Feather he believed the site was a favorable one. A sand bar at the meeting of the two steams not only made a good ford over the Feather at that place, but prevented that little river from being navigable. These situations contributed largely to Fremont's sudden rise and to her short lived prosperity, as they were subject to change. The unprecedented floods of the rainy winters of 1851-2 cleaned out and opened up the rivers in the Sacramento valley. The sand bar was washed away from the mouth of the Feather river and the stream became navigable far up into the mining section of the state. There was no ford at Fremont and the light draft vessels loaded with supplies for the interior could go by the Yolo metropolis without a call or trans shipment. So Fremont stood on her side of the river and saw commerce passing up both streams, the Feather river open as far as what is now Marysville. Notwithstanding an Act of the legislature declared Fremont the county seat, and the Court of Sessions declared that the Yolo county seat of justice shall be at the same place, no term of court was held there after July, 1851. A vote of the qualified electors of the county at an election in March, 1851, had shown a majority favoring the town of Washington, and the other place dropping in commercial importance, the seat of the county government came down the river and settled just opposite the present capital of the state. Finally the town itself passed away, disappeared. Some of the buildings were moved to Knight's Landing, some to Marysville and others out in the country to become portions of the improvements of farms. Presently nothing but empty lots and town memories remained of Fremont, the embryonic river metropolis of the Sacramento valley.


When the state legislature convened in January, 1852. the counties of Yolo and Colusa constituted one senatorial district and was represented by Martin E. Cooke. John G. Parish represented Yolo county in the assembly. In that year H. H. Hartley was elected county judge; H. Griffith, county clerk; E. A. Harris, sheriff; Alexander Chisholm, treasurer. John M. Howell was elected district judge of the eleventh judicial district, which was composed of Yolo, Placer and Eldorado counties. The census of the state taken in 1852 gave the population of Yolo county as follows: Whites, males, 1,085; females, 189; negroes, males, 11; females, 3; Indians, males, 109; females, 43; total, 1,440. In the matter of the Indians the census probably took in those only of permanent residence in the county, as there must have been more than 152 left in all Yolo at that early time.

The towns of the county were given as follows: Washington, with four hotels, two stores, three laundries and a postoffice; Fremont, a hotel, a store and postoffice; Cache Creek, three hotels. Other towns, Putah, Cottonwood and Merritt. In that same enumeration the wealth of the county is shown in the following list: Horses, 1,808; mules, 314; cows, 287; beef cattle, 9,116; oxen, 223; hogs, 2,607; sheep, 1,855; hens, 2,244; fish (pickled), 2,900; bushels of barley, 126,076; bushels of oats, 5,075; bushels of corn, 1,310; bushels of wheat, 1,497; bushels of potatoes, 11,950; turnips, 4,010; cabbages, 28,400; acres of land under cultivation, 3,846; capital employed in gardening, $8,524; capital employed in boating, $38,800; capital employed in quartz mining, $5,800; capital employed in other plans, $2,600; wood value, $19,370; tons of hay, 6,238.


During the year 1853 Yolo was represented in the assembly by A. B. Caldwell, and the senatorial district to which the county belonged, by M. M. Wambough. In the election of September that year Harrison Gwinn of Knight's Landing was elected county judge; R. H. Baskett, clerk; J. W. Gish, sheriff, and H. Meredith, district attorney, these officials beginning their terms the following March. The county seat remained at Washington until 1857, when the legislature with an Act dated March 25, which provided that a place on Cache creek then known as "Hutton's," but should be thereafter known as Cacheville, should be the county seat of Yolo county. Some years before this James A. Hutton had settled on this spot and having built a large and commodious home, the establishment became known as Hutton's ranch. Then the hospitality of Mr. Hutton and his family made them so popular that his place won the more expressive title of "Traveler's Home." Presently a postoffice was established there which bore the name of "Yolo Postoffice." Being the county seat, also beautifully located in the midst of rich farm lands, Cacheville quickly grew into a lively town. The county officials with their books and papers, modern reports as as the ancient records, were housed somewhere. A weekly newspaper was born in the new county seat - the Yolo Democrat - published by Messrs. Jernagan and Evarts, printers, with Samuel Ruland, editorial writer. It died after about a year of living, but was soon resurrected as The Cacheville Spectator, with M. P. Ferguson in charge. Shortly afterward it was again dead.

In 1859 gold was found in the gulches bordering on Putah creek and during the rainy season miners with the old fashioned rocker made good wages extracting the "dust." But in the dry, waterless months nothing could be done, and the placers were abandoned. During 1861 Yolo was represented in the assembly by W. S. Wood and in the senate by Henry Edgerton, afterwards prominent in the politics of this state. At this session of the legislature an Act was passed returning the county seat to Washington and in July the public records and papers were taken back to the river town. The plant of the defunct Democrat was carried to Knight's Landing, where it was issued under the name of the News.


In 1855 James McClure and James McClure, Jr., established a blacksmith shop several miles southeast of Cacheville - or what was afterwards Hunter's, and later Cacheville. It was a very small shop and at first did a small business, and its only claim to notice is because it was the beginning of the now beautiful city of Woodland. During that year Henry Wyckoff started a little merchandise store near the McClure shop and next year E. R. Moses began to do woodwork in the blacksmithing building. The following year E. R. and A. C. Mose, brothers, bought out the shop and built a number of threshing machines which were sold and used in the community. Joseph Wolgamot had previously become a partner with the McClures. During the summer of 1857 a saloon and gambling annex was established by a man whose real name is lost to history, but whose fictitious title is remembered to have been "By-Hell," caused by hips frequent use of that class of strong language. By Hell was too fierce even for those early days and a grand jury soon began to look up his record, and lie suddenly disappeared, leaving the embryonic Woodland saloonless and "dry," as she is now. This pioneer liquor dealer with the infernal title seemed to have left a bad impression behind him, for a Sons of Temperance lodge was soon organized in the community A school house as well as a Masonic hall was built in the growing village. In the fall of that year F. S. Freeman appeared and bought out Wyckoff's store and got a postofilce in operation, with himself its first postmaster.

Of course, the settlement had to have a name and somebody suggested "Yolo City." In 1860 Rev. J. N. Pendegast and Rev. J. Lawson, members of the Christian, or "Campbellite," Church, and living near Yolo City, began the establishment of an educational institution. They were men of splendid character, and by their energy and strong influence with the people of the vicinity soon added Hesperian College to the growing ton


The time - 1862 - had come to find another place for a county seat. Washington, on the Sacramento river, despite its great name and favorable situation on the grand channel of interior commerce, was destined to lose the county government. The Yolo town was too near the capital city of the State, and the wooden toll bridge between the big and little places did not increase the little one's prosperity. Moreover, the county was filling up and the splendid agricultural possibilities of the middle and western portions of the section were becoming more manifest. Added to this the county seat located on the extreme eastern edge of the county was not convenient. Yolo City in her natural park of oak trees, a perfect garden spot of fertility, situated near the geographical center of the county, was the coming - or standing - choice. This idea finally got into visual shape by the passing of a legislative act calling for an election by the voters of the county of Yolo as to whether the distinction should remain at Washington or go to Woodland, Woodland being the new name for Yolo City. The vote resulted as follows: Woodland 968, Washington 778, and, in accordance with this, May 10, 1862, the county government came into its permanent home in the F. S. Freeman building, under the trees of Woodland. It began at Fremont in 1850 and for about a dozen years it had wandered around the county to Washington, Cacheville, back to Washington, then Yolo City or Woodland. The first court house in Woodland was located on First street, north of Main street, in the building afterwards known as the Woodland bakery. Of course the printer came, in the shape and form of The Woodland News. It had been the Yolo Democrat when it appeared in Cacheville, and had been the Knight's Landing News when it was published at Knight's Landing. Now it appeared in the new county seat and was published till November, 1867, when it skipped a week and reappeared as the Yolo Democrat, literally going back to its old and original Cacheville name. W. A. Henry., afterward an attorney and police judge in Sacramento, was the editor during 1869. When the Woodland News changed its name to Woodland Democrat it changed its politics, and accordingly C. Y Hammond was induced to start a Republican paper in the town, which he did in October, 1868, calling it the Yolo Weekly Mail. Next year A. E. Wagstaff assumed control and in 1879 W. W. Theobalds became the proprietor of the Mail.

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