History of California, Pa.
From: A History of Washington County, Pennsylvania
By: Earle R. Forrest
Published By The S. J. Clark Publishing Company, Chicago 1926

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The early history of California was furnished by Miss Elizabeth Morgan, of that place, from the writings of her father, L. W. Morgan, who was one of the first settlers of the town. Prior to 1784 the first settler at what is now California was Samuel Young, who in that year sold out to Robert Jackman. In 1848 a company composed of W. W. Jackman, Job Johnson, Abraham Frye, G. W. Hornbake, John Wood and Samuel Ashmeade purchased 304 acres of this land and in May 1848, they laid out a town, calling it California because it was laid out in the year in which gold was discovered in that state. Job Johnson surveyed the original plat, at which time not a building stood on the site of the present town.

The first house in California was built in the summer of 1849 and occupied by Thomas W. Moore; and it was in that house that Job Johnson Moore, the first child born in the new town, first saw the light of day in 1849. Mr. Moore spent his entire life in that vicinity, and for many years worked on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. He died of pneumonia in the Monongahela Memorial Hospital, July 18, 1923, at the age of seventy-four years.

The first general store was started in May, 1851, by Solomon Sibbitt and L. W. Morgan, partners, in a brick building known as the Van Dyke block. Mr. Sibbitt was the first burgess after the incorporation of the borough on November 26, 1853, when the postoffice was established.

In 1856 A. J. Gibson established the first newspaper, which he called "The Valley Spirit," which was still in existence in 1866 but was discontinued shortly after that year. At present "The Sentinel" is a weekly newspaper published in the town.

At one time boat building was the leading industry of the town, and in 1851 the old ship building yard was established by the founders of the town. This continued in operation until 1879 when it was discontinued to make room for the construction of the railroad. During those years many river steamers were launched there.

The Arlington, California's one hotel, was purchased by Dr. A. J. Letherman in 1887 and has been managed by him ever since.

The old California Glass Works was built in the early nineties, but it failed, and in 1905 it was started up again by Robert C. Campbell and conducted for several years. At the present time the Vesta No. 4 mine, of the Vesta Coal Company, and the Crescent mine, of the Pittsburgh Coal Company, are the principal industries of that vicinity,

Harry Billingsley Post, Grand Army of the Republic, is still active, although there are only three Civil war veterans left in the town. California Post No. 377, American Legion, is now located in the town.

E. M. Copenhaven, the present burgess, took office in January, 1926, succeeding H. W. Wilson. In 1914 the present borough building was completed at a cost of $20,957.54.

A grade school building was erected in 1908 at a cost of $67,701.32. This was followed in 1922 by the new high school, which cost $81,566.09 to date, but it is not entirely completed. R. G. Dean is the principal, and under him are eleven grade teachers, eleven high school teachers and eight special teachers. The assessed valuation is $965,600, which brought in $31,605 for school purposes on 28 mills levy. There are 833 school pupils.

The First Methodist Episcopal is the oldest church in the town and the church erected at that time is still in use, although it has been remodeled several times.

The Presbyterian congregation was organized in 1897 as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The building was destroyed by fire a short time later, and in 1900 the present edifice was erected. Rev. John R. Burson is the present pastor, and the membership is 254.

The First Christian Church may be said to date back to 1858 when Edward Riggs moved to the town and began to declare the gospel to his neighbors. This resulted in the organization of a congregation on March 24, 1859, in his home. This society began to hold meetings in the old school house, January 7. 1866, where it continued until the present edifice was erected. The present pastor is Rev. Thomas Wood.

The First Baptist Church was organized in March, 1889, and the present building, which was secured later. was erected as a Presbyterian church in 1878.

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