Planting the Yolo Valley Settlements
From: The History of Yolo County, California
History By: Tom Gregory
The Historical Record Company.
Los Angeles, California 1913
PLANTING THE YOLO VALLEY SETTLEMENTS
As Woodland, the final county seat site, gathered and grew around her original building, becoming quickly a civic adult, so other mere settlements became large, lively towns. The rich, Eden like Capay valley drew the population. It is a lovely vale, about twenty miles long and one or one and a half miles wide - just as Cache creek, which runs through its entire length, takes a notion to zigzag, such movement of course being influenced by the mountain chains on both sides. Capay, or as the Indians spoke it - Capi - means creek, and the title proves how important in so early a day was the small mountain stream plunging from gorge to gorge, from its Lake county source, to spread over the Yolo levels. A white population came to this fertile sprit and the settlements finally acquired names. In 1857 a man named Munch built a large house on the bank of Cache creek and somebody starting a blacksmith shop near by the place was called Munchville. The place thrived for about a year, when some rancher bought the entire town and moved it out to his place. The abandoned site was vacant till 1862, when E. E. Perkins erected a dwelling house there. Several years afterwards John Arnold Lang got into the settlement and got busy putting up more houses, and the place became Langville January 1, 1875. It was subsequently renamed Capay, after the grand valley.
IN THE RARE VALE OF THE CAPAY
Other places such as Guinda, Esparto and Cacheville have flourished because of their locations within this favored
vale: Even the names of the villages are suggestive - Amaranth, a fadeless white bloom; Sauterne, a rare wine;
and Cashmere, a noble Arabian valley. Not only does Capay valley yield a rich harvest of all the California fruits
that grow on tree and vine, but the things of the tropics ripen there as well; in fact, it is called the home of
the almond, orange and fig. So with her wonderful diversity of soils, thermal conditions and fertilizing possibilities
Yolo county produces in almost limitless variety. As a sample of this varied production a State University publication
recently gave the following:
WHAT THE RAILROADS DID
The extension of the road up the valley built Madison and weakened Cottonwood, a town established in that vicinity
by Charles Henrich in 1852. The line only hesitated at Cottonwood and went on to its new terminus, Madison. During
the two or three years much of Cottonwood followed houses and all on wheels. The distance was not long, the way
level and the change not difficult. L. W. Hilliker was six days getting his hotel to its new site, but he took
care of his thirty regular boarders while the hotel was trundling over the Yolo plains. The ancient structure long
did business in its new location.
TOWN OF THEODORE WINTERS
The same railroad as soon as it crossed Putah creek and was fairly in Yolo county saw started the town of Winters, the day of its birth being May 22, 1875. The site of forty acres was donated to the railroad company, and D. P. Edwards added an equal amount of land to the town, and this is known as the Edwards Addition. Later the Westley Hill tract became an addition of Winters. The town pioneers were John Abby, W. P. Womack, Charles Wolf, A. McDonald, E. Ireland, E. A. Humphrey, D. P. Edwards, Dr. Bell, Henry Crane; O. P. Fassett, S. Harriman, James Wilson, J. Jeans, V. Morris, A. J. Pipken, Ed. Dafoe. The first buildings were John Abby's residence, also his blacksmith shop; W. P. Womack's store; Terrell and Ray's tinshop, and Dave Scroggins' boarding house. The first large merchandise establishment was owned by Mansfield and Theodore, and two livery stables by Tucker and Bandy and Robert Brown. The first harness shop was owned by E. A. Humphrey, and this business is still carried on by his sons, Walter and R. L. Humphrey. Mrs. Parker ran the Parker house. The first church edifice was the Methodist, erected in 1875, which is yet standing on Russell street. B. W. Russell was the first pastor and Elders Norton and Canterbury the officers. The Cumberland Presbyterian was organized in 1876 with T. M. Johnson pastor. Dr. H. C. Culton succeeded him the next year and is the pastor at the present time. The Baptist Church, organized at Buckeye, was reorganized in 1880 at Winters by Rev. Mr. Barnes; the Christian Church in 1877 with S. B. Dunton pastor; the Catholic Church was organized by Father Wairath, pastor.
WINTERS "DRY" AND PROGRESSIVE
April 1, 1907, the large concrete county bridge which spans Putah creek at Winters was dedicated with a celebration
and appropriate ceremonies. This fine structure was jointly erected by Yolo and Solano counties at a cost of $40,000.
This and the concrete bridge erected by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company at that place cost about $110,000.
DUNNIGAN AND HIS TOWN
The town of Dunnigan - or what was afterwards the town - was started into being by two early settlers, J. S. Copp and John Wilson. During the year 1852 they were living down nearer the Sacramento river, but the winter flood washed them on to higher ground and they settled on new claims here. Next year A. W. Dunnigan came and gave name to the place. With him were Henry Yarick and Abial Barker, the former going into the hotel business with Dunnigan, the inn being known as "Dunnigan." Other neighbors were Irving W. and William Brownell, Isaac Rice, D. T. Bird, Harry Porterfield and M. A. Rahm. The first store was opened in 1866 by G. B. Lewis, who sold out to William Earl. Z. J. Brown was the proprietor of a drug and notion store for several years, after which he was succeeded by G. W. Gray. In 1876 the railroad came along, and the town plat of Dunnigan was filed for record at the county seat November 1 of that year.
The place on the railroad known as Black's was the pioneer home of J. J. Black, who located there in 1865. When the road, extending northward towards the Oregon line, reached his farm he donated ten acres for depot and grounds and the station was the result. C. H. Smart was the first resident thereof, constructing for his use a dwelling house and a blacksmith shop. He was followed by William Dorgan and Robert Huston, who with his brother Edward established the first store in 1876. A. C. Turner started the first hotel, and Thomas and Hunt erected the first grain warehouse. Among other builders were D. N. Hershey, Ed Huston, George Glascock and John Wolff. Black's Station from the first was an important shipping station, the great farms in the vicinity sending in their harvests to this point for transportation to market. The coming of the Yolo County Consolidated Water Company's system in 1903 to Black's added much to the importance of the place and stimulated business. The new packing plant was finished that year, making the station a fruit center.
ALONG THE RIVER FRONT
Along the Sacramento river from Knight's Landing on the north to Clarksburg on the south are many shipping points, from which are shipped the product of Yolo's never failing fields. During the last fifty years millions of tons of freight have passed down that splendid stream. Knight's Landing since the day in 1843 when William Knight built on the Indian mound that marked the ancient meeting place of Cache creek and the Sacramento river has been favored of fortune, as early was demonstrated its importance as a steamboat landing and point of communication between the people east and west of the big central river. When the town was laid out in 1849 they called it Baltimore, but an agreement over the sale of the new town lots could not be amicably arranged and the title Baltimore was lost. Knight established a ferry there, which afterwards passed to the ownership of J. W. Snowball. In those days the ferry tolls were for a man and horse, $1; for a team and wagon, $5. In 1850 S. R. Smith kept a hotel in the settlement and in 1853 Charles F. Reed surveyed and laid off a townsite and it was given officially the name of Knight's Landing. That year J. W. Snowball and J. J. Perkins opened a large general merchandise store on the Indian mound. On the 1st of January Capt. J. H. Updegraff opened his hotel under festive auspices, with a grand New Year's party, with tickets $10, a steamer being run from Sacramento for the accommodation of guests. The establishment was called the "Yolo House." In 1860 D. N. Hershey and George Glascock erected a brick hotel, which took the place of the Yolo House, that inn being retired to the status of a private residence. March 25, 1890, the Knight's Landing branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad was completed and ready for business, and later the completion of the bridge across the river added immensely to the prosperity of the town. J. W. Snowball died February 6, 1906, aged seventy nine. He was one of the pioneers of '52 and was a son in law of the late William Knight.