George Henry Tinkham, "History of San Joaquin County, California : with biographical sketches of leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present" (1923)
(c) 2012, Mike Barkley
at http://archive.org/details/historyofsanjoaq00tink (multiple formats - the .pdf is searchable)
[This 1,638 page 1923 History is relatively removed from the times of
the 1861-62 floods so the treatment of those floods is minimal. There
are also a number of other floods mentioned - the County has suffered
a bunch of them.]
. . .Time passed;
by means of glaciers, icebergs, avalanches,
snow slides and heavy rains. Nature began
sending debris into the valley below. After a
time shrubs, plants and trees grew upon the
new-made earth. Then they disappeared, covered
by mountains of new soil. Through aeons
of time, this soil-building continued until the
Sierras were worn down to the present height,
an average of probably 6,000 feet. The soil
has been deposited over the inland lake to a
depth unknown. Borings have been made in
this county to a depth of 2,000 feet with no
indications of any different type of soil than
mountain soil. How many years was Nature
at work in the building up of the valley we
have not the remotest idea, except from the
great flood of 1862. In that year the entire
valley was covered with water for nearly two
weeks, and during that time the soil was covered
with debris from one to four inches in
depth. Old Mother Earth is still soil-building
along the river bottoms, and upon the swampy
lands. The rivers are fast filling up from the
debris brought down by the spring floods--
even San Francisco Bay is filling up--and one
of the great problems of the day is how to
keep our navigable rivers from destruction.
. . .Thousands of those majestic
oaks that have braved the storms of many
a century were cut down for firewood. For
over twenty years they supplied the homes,
flour mills, factories and steamboats with fuel.
In the flood of 1862 over one hundred cords of
white oak, piled upon the river bank for steamer
use, were swept onward to the Golden Gate. . . .
. . .Indian mounds were found in
many places around Stockton, and on February
8, 1862, the Stockton Independent said,
"Captain Hayes and Ben Sanborn yesterday
made a trip down the channel where an old
Indian burial ground had been discovered, the
flood having washed the earth from several of
the graves The parties dug up several skulls
and bones beads, arrow heads and ornaments
and brought them to this city. The curiosities
may be seen in the rooms of the Natural History
Society in the Agricultural Society
rooms." . . .
. . .We have never had a
failure of wheat crops but once, the year following
the flood of 1862, and a partial failure
in 1872. . . .
. . .The first
bridge in the county was erected in 1854 over
the Calaveras River at what was then known
as the Leach & Frost ranch. The river was
not wide but during the spring months the
water ran deep and swift, the banks were
steep and during these months of spring floods
it was impossible to cross the stream. Leach
& Frost had built a toll bridge across the river.
In December the farmers of that vicinity made
liberal donations, money was liberally subscribed
by Stockton merchants, the bridge was
purchased and opened free to the public. In
giving an account of this enterprise the press
declared, "All we want now is a bridge over
the Mokelumne River to have a fine road to
Sacramento." In 1858 Jeremiah H. Woods
built a toll bridge across the Mokelumne River
at Woodbridge, at a cost of $1,000. His toll
charges were one dollar for two horses and
wagon and fifty cents for each additional pair
of animals. He is said to have taken in $9,000
the first year. The bridge was swept away in
the flood of 1862. Soon after a better and more
substantial bridge was built by Leonard, the
San Francisco bridge builder, and soon after
Woods' tragic death it was purchased by the
farmers and opened free to the public. . . .
. . .The principal part of the town had
been destroyed in the fire of May 5, [year?] and in the
spring of 1851 came the first of those floods
that since that time have caused hundreds of
thousands of dollars damange [sic] because the citizens
made no movement to prevent damage by
floods until some ten or fifteen years ago. In
the winter, of 1851-52 a very peculiar condition
of weather existed for it was the heaviest rainfall--17.98
inches in 1851 : 27.40 inches in 1852--in the history of
the county, save that of 1862. . . .
. . .They obtained a lot on
the north bank of the channel on Miner Avenue
near Hunter Street, the rear of the lot
being under water much of the time. . . .During
the flood of 1861-62 there was two feet of
water on the floor of the synagogue and a
rushing river on the front and rear of the
building, and as soon as possible the building
was removed to a lot on Hunter Street opposite
the home of Wm. Kierski. It was set
three feet above the ground and provided with
a portico and fence. . . .
. . .In the great flood of 1861-62 the entire country
was under water and there was considerable
suffering in the mountain camps because
of the scarcity of food. Dr. D. J. Locke
conceived the idea of chartering a steamer in
San Francisco, loading it with provisions, sailing
the vessel to Lockeford, and make the
town a depot of supplies for the mining camp.
Then Lockeford would rapidly grow as the
head of navigation on the Mokelumne. Going
to San Francisco he chartered a small steamer
called the Fanny Ann, Captain Haggerty. The
steamer was loaded with supplies and left
San Francisco February 12, 1862, bound for
Lockeford. Mr. Locke instructed the captain
to spend two weeks time if necessary to reaching
that point, as he considered it a very important
business proposition, which it was, if
successful. In the meantime J. H. Woods, the
founder of Woodbridge, did not propose to
have the rival town of Lockeford be declared
the head of navigation, and he bribed the
captain of the Fanny Ann to loaf on the job
and cast anchor at Woodbridge. The stearner
was eight days making that point and arriving
February 20, the captain told Dr. Locke that
he would take no chances of a shipwreck by
snags in steaming to Lockeford. The goods
were unloaded at Woodbridge and hauled to
the mining camps by team. Woods had certainly
put one over Dr. Locke, as the saying
goes, and in the town there was great rejoicing. . . .
. . .In 1861 a 100
cords of wood piled on the levee for the use
of the steamers was swept away by the flood
and floated through the Golden Gate. . . .
ANDREW W. SIMPSON
. . . opened a lumber business
which was carried on by them together until
Andrew Simpson's retirement. It was soon demonstrated
that of the two, Mr. Simpson was a very
capable buyer of stock, and it came to pass that all
purchases were left to him; and eventually Mr. Gray
attributed much of the success of the firm to this
wise division of activities. For more than fifty-five
years their office was in the same location and was
one of the best known business headquarters in
Stockton, although at first its front faced Commerce
Street; but in 1861 such changes were made that it
fronted on Weber Avenue. The main yard was
bounded by Commerce, Main and Madison streets
and also Weber Avenue, and they had three other
yards in the city to further protect their interests,
doing in early days a large wholesale trade. This
location and long tenure of position enabled the
authorities, by means of marks made by Mr. Simpson
on the cornerstone at the main yard, to determine
the record of the high water in 1906, and to
prove conclusively that the waters rose higher then
than during the memorable flood of 1861-62.
ROBERT L. GRAHAM.
. . .Arriving
in San Joaquin County he purchased a claim of
a man named Adams, situated nine and a half miles
from Stockton and five miles from what is now
Lodi. He sold the place in 1857 and went down to
the Lower Sacramento Road, where he purchased
200 acres where he had stock. He remained there
until the fall of 1862, when on account of flood
he came back and purchased again near the old
place. . . .
MRS. ALICE M. TONE.
. . .Her father, Nicholas Walsh,. . .
With his neighbor, Mr. Kenyon, Mr. Walsh built
the first schoolhouse in that part of the county on land
owned by G. Moore. The school is known today as
the Moore School. Mr. Walsh, Mr. Kenyon and
Jacob Peters were the first trustees. When the new
building was erected it was built on land donated by
Mr. Walsh. In 1862, the year of the flood in this
county, the people of the section about the Walsh
ranch ran out of supplies. They built a boat, and
starting from Walsh's house rowed direct to Stockton
to the stores for their supplies, and out into the open
and back to the ranches.
GEORGE FALKENBOROUGH SMITH.
Mr. Smith bought a block of land in Stockton, and
in the fall of 1861 the family home at 347 East Poplar
Street, which is now the property of his daughter.
Miss Nellie Alice Smith, was ready for occupancy.
After selling his ranches in Stanislaus County, he
purchased the Fish slough range of 8,000 acres, and
moved his horses and cattle there, while Mrs. Smith
made a visit to her brother, James Bell, near Sonora.
Her brother, Thomas Bell, was taking her to Stockton
to their new home when they were caught at
Knights Ferry by the flood and had many exciting
experiences. She was the guest of the Edwards family
for six weeks, and saw the Two Mile Bar Bridge
(a toll-bridge built and operated by her brother,
Thomas Bell) go down the Stanislaus River. She
also saw the Knights Ferry Bridge go off. The present
bridge at Knights Ferry was also long operated
as a toll-bridge, in which all the Bell brothers held
large interests. During the disastrous flood, Mr. and
Mrs. Smith had no knowledge of each other's welfare,
and Mr. Smith did not succeed in reaching Stockton
until two weeks after his wife had arrived.
. . .and in 1860,
with a party of fifteen ox-teams started across the
plains; after six months they arrived in Clements,
Jackson Valley, Calaveras County, Cal. The company
experienced many hardships and adventures,
but had no trouble with the Indians. Securing land
they began to farm, but in 1862 a disastrous flood
almost ruined the settlers of Jackson Valley. . . .
. . .He established his first
home on Union Isle and engaged in raising grain
and stock until the winter of 1861-62, the year of the
disastrous flood that inundated the island and caused
great financial loss to the farmers. . . .
JOSEPH F. STUART.
. . .Daniel S. Stuart was
a Californian forty-niner, who started West, but was
shipwrecked at Acapulco, Mexico [???], and packed and
walked across the Isthmus; they encountered severe
hardships, and many died from the Panama fever.
He arrived in San Francisco, Cal., and went to Amador
County, where he engaged in mining, meeting
with considerable success on the North Fork of the
American River; in 1850 he returned East and spent
seven years at his home in Bangor, Maine; then in
1858 he came around the Horn to San Francisco with
his wife and five children and they located on the south
end of Grand Island in Sacramento County, where he
became a successful horticulturist. The flood of 1862
completely inundated Grand Island and Mr. Stuart
and family lost all their personal property as well as
the houses and barns, horses, cattle, hogs, etc., including
1000 cords of wood, which was swept away into
San Francisco Bay. . . .
JOHN MILAN THORNTON.
. . .The Thornton
family took up their residence on the John Pollock
ranch near Bellota and experienced the great flood of
1862, but remained there until 1864; . . .
WILFORD H. BURGESS.
. . .born in San Francisco, Cal., on July 10, 1870, the son
of a California pioneer who came from Newark.
Wayne County, N. Y., via the Isthmus of Panama in
1SS8, locating in San Francisco, where he remained
until 1862, when he located in Sacramento and there
conducted a livery stable, but was driven out by the
floods of that year. . . .
. . .work for his uncles, Bisagno Brothers,
in a crockery store, and six months later he was
sent to Stockton to take charge of a branch store
which was erected at the corner of Washington and
El Dorado streets. . . .Mr. Alegretti related
interesting experiences during his lifetime. During
the flood of 1862, when the lower part of the city was
covered with water, an old barge from the river
floated down the street and went aground at the
corner where he was employed in the store; . . .
--Mike Barkley, 167 N. Sheridan Ave., Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817
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