Redding or Reading?

Pierson B. Reading, the head fur trapper for Captain John Sutter in the early 1840s, was well known and respected in early California. He was the first known permanent settler in Shasta County, where he established a ranch on a 26,632- acre land grant awarded by Mexican Governor Micheltorena. Reading took part in the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846, and as a commissioned major participated in the Mexican-American War.  In 1848 he made the first known gold discoveries in the northern regions—triggering the spread of the Gold Rush into Shasta and Trinity Counties—and established Shasta County’s first grist (flour) mill. He was a candidate for governor of California in 1851, appointed a Special Indian Agent four years later, and received an award from the California State Agricultural Society in the early 1860s for having the finest stock farm in the state. However, today’s Redding is not his namesake. Major Pierson Reading was four years dead when the Central Pacific Railroad arrived and laid out a town they named for Benjamin Redding, their railroad land agent, a man who had been both a mayor of Sacramento and a California Secretary of State. The legislature changed the town’s name to Reading in 1878 after local residents submitted a bill to honor their first settler; but because of the resulting confusion, changed it back to the original spelling of the man for whom it had originally been named. Both names are pronounced the same.


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