1840s Northern California Neighbors

ranch Swiss immigrant John Sutter was not the only eminent foreigner in Mexican-owned California during the sleepily pastoral 1840s decade, although for a while he was the only settler in the Sacramento Valley wilderness. Massachusetts-born Thomas O. Larkin, the U. S. Consul to Mexico, had lived in Monterey since 1832, where he was a successful merchant. Doctor John Marsh, a native of Boston who had arrived in California three years before Sutter, owned a ranch at the base of Mt. Diablo. A wealthy ship owner named William Leidesdorff held title to Rancho Rio de los Americanos, 35,000 acres that abutted Sutter’s eastern boundary. Most likely Leidesdorff spent little time on these lands that spanned present-day Folsom, preferring to reside in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) where he was a successful merchant and city official.  About three years after Sutter landed his boats near today’s 28th Street, a Scotsman named John Sinclair moved in across the American River from Sutter’s establishment as resident manager of the Rancho del Paso. Forty miles north of Sutter’s Fort, William Johnson owned a 22,000 acre ranch in today’s Wheatland.  Vermont native Jared Dixon Sheldon, at one time employed by Sutter, owned and lived on a Mexican land grant on the Cosumnes River that he shared with his friend and partner William Daylor. The Sheldon/Daylor grant encompassed today’s communities of Sheldon and portions of Elk Grove.


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