The Sinclairs of Rancho del Paso

Scots-born John Sinclair had been the resident manager of the 44,000-acre Rancho del Paso for two years when 16-year-old, English-born, Mary Eyre appeared at Sutter’s Fort in January 1844 with fellow wagon train companions who were headed to the Napa Valley.  As Sutter’s closest neighbor just two milesnortheast, Sinclair happened to be at Sutter’s establishment when the immigrants arrived. John, in his mid-thirties, immediately “laid siege to her hand and heart,” said a witness to their meeting. They married that same year, and probably expected to lead quiet country lives… but their location at a geographic crossroads put them square into the middle of history-making events in California: the Bear Flag Revolt, the Mexican-American War which led to the American conquest of California, and the gold discovery at Coloma in 1848. John and Mary Eyre Sinclair are two of the most important and mysterious personas in the history of the Sacramento Valley.  Read their complete story in Before The Gold Rush – The Sinclairs of Rancho del Paso 1840-1849, available on