Planting the Yolo Valley Settlements
From: The History of Yolo County, California
History By: Tom Gregory
The Historical Record Company.
Los Angeles, California 1913


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.


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:

"On a lot in the town of Woodland, 80 feet front by a depth of 145 feet, one seventh of an acre, the following trees, plants, vines and flowers were found in full bearing, twelve navel orange, one lemon, one cherry, three apple, two fig, two olive, two apricot, four almond, and two plum trees, fifty eight grapevines (nine varieties), plots of dewberries, raspberries and loganberries, fifty varieties of rosebushes, a small vegetable garden of onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, sage, parsley and beds of bulbous and other flowering plants."

Buckeye was an early planted town and grew among the bushes of that name on the bank of a summer dry wash that was a roaring creek in winter. The village began in 1856, when J. P. Charles was made postmaster there. J. O. Maxwell was the second arrival and succeeded Charles. Then came Benjamin Ely, followed by R. A. Daniels. In 1875 the Vaca Valley and Clear Lake Railroad passing two miles to the west ended Buckeye's greatness and its future distinction moved to Winters and Madison.


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.

Madison, a child of the railroad, was built in 1877 by the construction of a number of large warehouses along the track; also a flouring mill at a cost of $16,000. Almost immediately there followed business blocks and dwellings. A list of the buildings of the town at that early period gives two large stores and one each of everything else in the way of business features except saloons, and of these there were four.

The iron rails threading this incomparable valley passes Esparto, Capay, Guinea and terminates at Rumsey, a village well up in the coast range, 400 feet above the sea, located by Capt. D. C. Rumsey, a charter member of Yolo's pioneers.


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.

During the first year of the town the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Good Templars lodges were organized in Winters and later the Order of Eastern Star, Foresters of America, Woodmen of the World, Women of Woodcraft, Native Sons Parlor, Pythian Sisterhood and Redmen were established there. Being centrally located for a shipping point for the surrounding agricultural country, Winters was soon a big place and the second city of importance in the county. It was incorporated in 1897 with Dr. Z. T. Magill, L. A. Danner, A. Prescott, E. Ireland and R. L. Day the board of city dads. Winters was early in the march of progress, and in 1901 there were issued water works bonds in the sum of $17,000, while in 1911 bonds for a complete sewer system in the sum of $28,000 were issued. The grammar school was moved from Pine Grove in 1875 and its first teacher was H. B. Pendergast. This school now occupies a large, modern, two story building and employs five teachers. In 1892 the Winters high school was established, with L. B. Scranton principal. At present there are five teachers and 104 students on the register.

As an indication of the financial and business standing of the town, there are two banks, the First National, also the Citizens' Bank of Winters. The Bank of Winters was incorporated in 1885, and in 1911 was made the First National of Winters, with a capital and surplus of $96,500. The Citizens' Bank was incorporated in 1907, capital and surplus $89,672. Both institutions have savings banks. The principal business firms and incorporations at present are the Winters Canning Co.; Notion Store (Dunnigan); Jacobs & Wilcox, butcher shop; Archer & Son, butcher shop; F. B. Chandler Lumber Co.; J. M. Sowle, grocery store; Winters Fruit Exchange; Humphrey Harness Store; Wyatt & Wilson, real estate; R. L. Day, drug store; The Baker Co., merchandise store; C. E. Wyatt, jewelry; Winters Dried Fruit Co.; Winters Grocery & Hardware Co.; Winters Garage Co.; Winters Orchard Co.; Producers' Fruit Co.; W. P. Womack, real estate; J. H. Wolfskill, livery stable; D. O. Judy, livery stable; Fenley Mercantile Co.; Grangers' Warehouse; Parker & Wertner, groceries; J. A. Henderson, Commission; J. Rummelsburg, Merchandise; Earl Fruit Co.; William Betz, restaurant; E. B. Kemper & Co., drugs; Campbell & Son, groceries; A. J. Bertholet, bakery; Brattin & Hamilton, Temperance saloon; J. Vasey, merchandise; Adams Lumber Co.; B. Conners, electrical supplies; Pacific Fruit Exchange; Kirkbride Bakery, and R. Baker, garage.

The Winters Express - formerly the Winters Advocate - has been for many years ably conducted by E. C. Rust.


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.

The liquor saloons of Winters, with like institutions through Yolo, were voted out of business and existence several years ago, and their loss is a gain. Winters in her rich fruit belt of about 50,000 acres is prosperous and progressive, though the town has received its share of disaster. August 12, 1888, all the business portion of the south side of Main street was burned and April 19, 1892, an earthquake damaged or destroyed every brick and stone building in the town, causing a heavy loss. In 1891 the Occidental Hotel was burned and in 1898 the Masonic Hall was consumed by fire. In 1902 the Winters Dried Fruit sheds, F. B. Chandler's lumber yards and the Grangers' Warehouse were totally destroyed with a loss of over $100,000. Out of these destructive flames Winters has come with better, finer and stronger buildings of brick and stone, so even from the ashes of disaster has issñed good.


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 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.

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