Pioneer William Daylor

One of the first cooks at the wilderness outpost called Sutter’s Fort was a thirty year old English sailor named William Daylor, said to have deserted his ship in California five years before Sutter hired him in 1840. There he met and became fast friends with Jared Sheldon, a carpenter in Sutter’s employ. A year later, as the story goes, Daylor was riding out to find a band of strayed horses when he found the beautiful Cosumnes River Valley south of today’s Sacramento. Excited about the glistening river, willows and stands of oak, Daylor told his friend about his find. Jared Sheldon officially received Rancho Omochumnes, an 18,662 acre land grant, in 1844. The grant extended 17 miles, from beyond today’s Rancho Murieta community on the Jackson Road to Highway 99. William Daylor was the first to move there, to fulfill requirements that the grant be occupied. Sheldon divided the grant with his partner, retaining the central section, while William Daylor took the upper and lower pieces. Three years later the friends married teenaged sisters, the daughters of Thomas Rhoads, another name that appears often in John Sutter’s ledgers. Daylor’s wife was Sarah Rhoads; the couple had no children. William Daylor became successful as a farmer-businessman and even more successful as a gold miner in 1848, so much so that his ex-employer Captain Sutter borrowed money from him “at exorbitant rates” in order to bring the Sutter family from Switzerland. William Daylor contracted cholera from an immigrant on a routine visit to Sutter’s Fort and died in October 1850. Six months later his widow remarried. Sarah and her second husband William Grimshaw had 12 children together and the new family continued to live on William Daylor’s share of Rancho Omochumnes until her death in 1898. A high school in Elk Grove is named for William Daylor.

 

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