History of Tracy, California with Biographical Sketches - Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, CA - 1923
Tracy, Banta, Ellis, Mountain House
A busy, ambitious little village, about twelve miles
Lathrop, at the junction of the Martinez and Livermore (or Niles)
branches of the railroad, and was started in 1878 by the removal of
Ellis to this point, at the time the junction was made by the
building of the Martinez branch. The "West Side" railroad, standard
gauge, it is said will soon be built by the Southern Pacific
Company, from Goshen, on the main line, by way of Los Banos,
Tracy. When this is completed, an eating house will be established
at this point, and possibly many trains will be made up here that
are now made up at Lathrop. The branch to Los Banos is about sixty
miles in length, and twenty-two miles of this is already built.
In Tracy there are now three large hotels. The Tracy Hotel is
conducted by Edward Wachsmuth, who has been in the hotel business
since 1871. The San Joaquin House is managed by C. Ludwig, and he
has had that since 1872. The Castle House was built during the
summer of 1889, by Thomas Castle.
The greatest fire that ever occurred in Tracy was in 1879, which
destroyed two stores and Castle's old hotel building, which he had
removed from Ellis.
One of the principal business enterprises of Tracy is John Hay's
manufactory of harvesters, which he has been running ever since the
village was established. Faebian & Levinsky have a store and
warehouse, who are the largest shippers , the principal exports
being grain and live-stock.
The Catholics of Tracy, served by priests from Stockton the last
Sunday of each month, erected a frame church building in 1887, at an
expenditure of about $1,800.
The Presbyterian church at Tracy, was organized probably in 1886,
with only three or four members; there are now about fifteen. In
the fall of that year they built a house of worship at an expense of
over $2,000. The elders are J. M . Kerlinger and J. G. Dean. A
Sunday-school is maintained. The congregation is served by Rev. J.
N. Hubbard, the installed pastor, who has been a resident here for
The Methodists held meetings at this point long before the town was
started. Rev. August Lemkau, who preached both in English and
German, organized the first class here. There are now about twenty
members, consisting of both English-speaking and German Methodists,
who united in 1887, and are now led by Judge W. B. Hay. The meet in
the Presbyterian church, and Rev G. J. Jaoser, of Stockton, is their
A Lutheran minister from San Francisco, named Koenig, preaches in
Tracy once a month.
Summer Lodge, No. 177, I.O.O.F., was first instituted in
Ellis in 1871, with about sixty-eight or sixty-nine members. Since
then the number has been even greater, but there are about
sixty-eight now, and the lodge is in good financial condition.
First officers: H. L. Atherton, N. G.; Maring Lammers, V.G.; Edward
Wachsmuth, Sec. The first hall in which they met was burned down,
and a neat wood building was substituted, which they moved to Tracy
and enlarged. The present officers are: Peter Smith, N. G.; George
Luhrsen, V.G., and William Schultz, Sec. The lodge meets every
West Side Loge, No. 118, K. of P., was instituted March 10,
1885, with about twenty-eight members. The first officers were:
Martin Loomis, P. C. C.; C. Ludwig, C.; J. S. Moulton, V. Co.;
William Schultz, Pre.; William Pruser, Treas. The present are
William Ahlen, C. C.; Charles Canale, V C.; William Schult, Pre.;
William Pruser, Treas.; D. A. Buschke, Sec. There are now
forty-four members, who meet Tuesday evenings in Odd Fellows' Hall.
Along about 1878 the Southern Pacific
Railroad built a branch road to San Francisco, by the way of
Martinez, and extended the road along the West Side of Fresno,
making a junction at Tracy. They made this a terminal railroad point
and the "laying off" place of hundreds of their employees. This gave
the town a permanent foundation, and nearly all of the inhabitants
of Ellis moved their business houses and homes to Tracy. Among the
first hotels were the Tracy Hotel, conducted by Edward Waschuth, the
Castle Hotel moved up from Ellis and the San Joaquin Hotel, managed
by Charles Ludwig. The town began to build up slowly, but sure, and
in 1888 Front Street was almost solidly lined with business houses
for nearly a half mile. A fire swept through June 19 of that year
and destroyed entirely the business part of the city. Starting in
Mrs. Mary Mannis' restaurant near the corner of North D and Front
streets, it destroyed four buildings belonging to Mrs. Anna
Fairchild, the Mann restaurant, Mrs. Kepler's vegetable stand, D.
Silverstein, dry goods, Edward Curran, Commercial Hotel, Peter Kalni,
saloon, C. A. D. Burschke, four stores, Lydia Cox, millinery, C. A.
Deglisy, grocery store, and postoffice, Charles A. Slack, Arlington
hotel, Fabian & Co., general merchandise, Henry Ludwig, saloon, Odd
Fellows' building, Henry Statemeon, saloon, Grant Wilson, dry goods,
Dr. J. L. Murrell's office, F. O. Housken's office and law library,
Cunale Bros., general store, Mrs. Maurice Byrne's bakery, Ernest
Gieseke, livery stable.
The buildings were all of wooden
construction except the Odd Fellows' three-story brick. It was
believed that this building would check the fire but the wind was so
strong it carried the flames over and around the building and it was
soon on fire in the upper stories. The Odd Fellows were among the
heaviest losers as they lost all of their paraphernalia and
furniture entailing a loss of over $15,000.
In 1910 the city was surveyed and laid
off by City Engineer Robb and the plan was approved July 22 by the
trustees. The town covered considerable ground, 6,600 feet north and
south, and 4,500 feet, east and west. It was incorporated in 1910 as
a city of the sixth class with a population of 2,000. The first city
election took place in April and the following officers were
elected: Abe Grunauer, mayor; Dave R. Payne, Wm. Schmidt, Charles
Canole and James Lamb, trustees. In the second election, April 8,
1912, the women voted for the first time and the entire set of
officers were re-elected. The officers elected in 1914 were: D. R.
Payne, Nelson S. Dwelly, W. G. Lang, Thomas Garner, Fred Penny, O.
E. Lee and W. J. McArdle, trustees; J. D. Van Ormer, treasurer; and
Ben R. Clark, who later resigning, Geo. Frerichs was appointed
clerk. The present officers are Nelson S. Dwelly, D. R. Payne, W. G.
Lang, Thomas Garner, and Sullivan, trustees; Geo. L. Frerichs,
clerk; and J. H. Canale, treasurer. The city hall, a very pretty
two-story brick, was erected in 1917 at a cost of $15,000. In the
rear of the city hall is housed the fire apparatus, a $6,000 La
France chemical and motor pump, together with a large steam engine
purchased from the San Francisco fire department for $150. It is
held as a reserved engine and will play five heavy streams of water.
They have a volunteer department, a fire alarm system and a siren
run by motor power.
In 1868 a few of the families of Ellis
met one day, says Thomas Garner, and organized the Willows district
school, and by subscriptions built a small schoolhouse. In 1878 the
school had an enrollment of thirty-six scholars. At that time the
exodus from Ellis to Tracy took place and the inhabitants in moving
took the schoolhouse with them. It was moved to a lot then owned by
Dr. Luce. Sometime later the Pacific Improvement Company deeded the
school trustees two lots for school purposes. The school was moved
to those lots and in time an additional room was built. Still the
cry was more room and it became necessary to rent outside rooms. In
1910 the trustees decided to call for bonds for an up-to-date
building to cost in the neighborhood of $35,000. The bonds were
voted by the citizens at a special bond election and carried by a
big majority. On October 27, 1911, the cornerstone was laid by the
Odd Fellows under the auspices of Summer Lodge No. 177.
The Tracy Carnival
The three days carnival in October,
1910, was only one of the many joyful events of the progressive
city. The citizens had voted Vesta Ludwig as queen of the carnival,
and she appointed Ruth Groinmett, Ella Miller and Lila Hart as her
maids of honor. On arrival at the throne the Queen was welcomed to
the city by the Rev. W. L. Fredrich and after the coronation C. G.
Goodwin as chairman of the executive committee presented the Queen
and her attendants purses of money as the gifts of the people. Mayor
Abe Grunauer then tendered her the keys of the city and she then
read her proclamation to the people bidding them have a good time
during her reign as Queen, the fun ending Saturday with a masquerade
The Presbyterians were the first
religious denomination in Tracy, dating back to 1878, when the
worshippers assembled in the homes of their members. In the fall of
1886 they erected a small wooden edifice at a cost of $2,000, and it
was used as a union church for several years. Last year they erected
a neat little brick edifice, the brick being obtained from the old
brick pottery at Carnegie. The members and other persons assisted in
the good work, and the building was erected at no great cost. The
Methodists, either the German or English, held services in that
district long before the founding of Tracy. After the Presbyterians
erected their edifice of wood, the German and English Methodists
united and held religious services in the Presbyterian Church.
The Catholics also had their services.
Father O'Connor of St. Mary's parish visited Tracy once a month, and
mass was celebrated in the railroad section house. In 1888 James
Egan, Dennis Looney and Edward Kern, interesting themselves in the
erection of a church, obtained subscriptions for that purpose and
purchasing a lot a pretty little building was erected. St. Bernard's
Church was erected on the site of the old building in 1911, Father
Moran being in charge of the parish.
The Lutherans were holding services in
Tracy twenty-two years ago, Rev. Koenig from San Francisco visiting
the town monthly. They erected a small edifice, which was much too
small for their use in 1921. In that year they erected a concrete
house of worship at a total cost of $7,600, the building costing
$6,000. It was dedicated in March, 1922, by the Rev. George C.
Jacobson of Stockton, who was the pastor from 1908 to 1918.
A building of which the Tracyites may
well be proud is their Union high school, erected in 1917. A union
high school district was formed, namely, the Tracy, Carnegie,
Naglee, Jefferson and Lammersville districts and cheerfully voted
bonds of $100,000 for a high school. The building, the fourth of its
kind in the county, is located on a twelve-acre tract east of the
town and faces the State Highway. Built in the mission style of
architecture it contains eighteen classrooms together with a large
auditorium seating nearly 1,000 people and a meeting place for the
Farm Bureau and any public and civic event. It was dedicated May 1,
1917, Dr. J. S. West, "the father of the West Side high school,"
receiving much praise for his untiring efforts for a broader and
higher education. After a parade all marched to the new building and
entered the auditorium. The president of the board of trustees,
William Schlossman, as chairman of the meeting, called upon the Odd
Fellows to dedicate the building. After the performance of the
beautiful ceremony, Grand Master Clinton H. McCormick delivered an
address appropriate to the occasion. On December 7, 1922, there was
another interesting educational event, the dedication of Tracy's
second fine grammar school building. Located in the western part of
town, it is of brick construction finished in stucco and occupies an
acre and a half of ground. It is designed in the unit system with a
handsome assembly hall, class room, gymnasium and all other rooms in
the latest improvement.
Sumner lodge No. 177, I. O. O. F. was
instituted in Ellis September, 1870, by Grand Master C. W. Dannals,
assisted by Past Grands Dean Woolf and Levinsky. It was instituted
with five charter members, each one elected to office except John C.
Bonney. The first officers were: H. L. Atherton, noble grand; Martin
Lammers, vice grand; E. Wacksmuth, secretary, and E. B. Stiles,
treasurer. That evening they initiated Phillip Fabian, R. A. Murphy,
Jr., Olaf Nelson, William S. Law, and Charles Herring. September 1,
1921, they celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the lodge with a
street parade, some seventy members in line, led by the Tracy band,
followed by a program in their hall.
Few Odd Fellows have had the trials of
Sumner lodge, their building destroyed by fire not once but twice,
in 1875, and in the big fire of 1898. Their first home in Ellis was
in a small wooden structure owned by Herring, the lodge renting the
second story. This building vas burned in 1875. The lodge then
erected a two-story building and moved it to Tracy in 1878. The
lodge increased in membership and wealth, and in 1896 they erected
on Front Street a handsome three-story brick, one of the prettiest
buildings in the county. In the fire of '98 their building was
completely gutted with a loss of $15,000 and only $7,500 insurance.
As they had not paid in full for the building it was a severe loss,
but with undaunted hearts they resolved to rebuild, and in time
erected the present handsome structure. It was mortgaged in part to
John Garwood of Stockton, but as soon as the crops of 1900 were
harvested, Martin Lammers took over the mortgage, which was
cancelled April 30, 1921, when the lodge celebrated the 102nd
anniversary of American Odd Fellowship, the mortgage being burned
with great ceremony.
The name of Samaria Rebekah lodge No.
193, was one of several names suggested by Past Grand Rudolph Gnekow,
a very active Stockton Odd Fellow. While attending the installation
of the officers of Sumner lodge in January, 1891, he observed that
quite a number of the women of Tracy were the wives and daughters of
the Odd Fellows. He suggested that they institute a Rebekah lodge in
the county. It was instituted April 29, 1891, by Deputy District
Grand Master George Schuler, assisted by Hoyle Greenwood as grand
marshal and S. M. Spurrier, grand secretary. The following officers
were elected and installed: Mrs. Mary Castle, noble grand; Ella
McNeil, vice grand; Caroline J. Buschke, recording secretary; James
C. Allen, financial secretary, and James Martin, treasurer. The
officers were installed by District Deputy Grand President Mrs.
Marion Greenwood, assisted by Etta Tinkham as grand marshal, both
from Lebanon lodge, Stockton.
Tracy Parlor No. 1866, N. S. G. W., was
instituted on Thursday evening, September 29, 1922, with the
following officers: George L. Frerichs, past president; James E.
Shields, president; Henry Brink, recording secretary; W. M. Lewis,
financial secretary; W. S. Peck, treasurer; John Fredericks,
marshal. A banquet was given at the San Joaquin Hotel, after the
installation. Among the toasts offered as "Our State," W. B. Nutter,
of Stockton, "Tracy Parlor, No. 186," J. E. Shields of Tracy;
"Stockton Parlor," E. M. Bransford of Stockton; "How a Successful
Parlor Should Be Conducted," Ewald M. Grunsky; "The Ladies," George
Housken of Stockton.
West Side Lodge No. 118, K. P., was
instituted March 10, 1885, with about twenty-five members. The first
officers elected and installed were Martin Loomis, past chief
chancellor; Charles Ludwig, chancellor; J. S. Moulton,
vice-chancellor; Wm. Schult, pre≠late; Wm. Pruser, treasurer; J. S.
The West Side Irrigation District began
operations in 1918. The total cost of construction was $495,000. It
has a bonded indebtedness of $42.26 an acre. Its source of supply is
Old River, really the San Joaquin. The intake canal is 550 feet in
length, 25 feet wide on the bottom and carries a depth of 6 feet at
low tide. The upper canal pumps, four in numbers each throws 10,000
gallons an hour, with a combined capacity of approximately 125 acre
feet every 24 hours. This canal is seven miles long, 10 feet wide on
the bottom and has 14.41 miles of laterals. At the lower canal are
three more huge pumps with a capacity of 96 acre feet every 24
hours. This canal is nine miles long, with a six-foot bottom and has
10.71 miles of laterals. The water from these canals will irrigate
over 30,000 acres of land in what is known as the West Side, Naglee,
Burk and the Banta Carbona districts. To celebrate the event the
Tracy Chamber of Commerce sent out invitations to all the country
round about and to the leading irrigationists of the state. It was a
great May 22, 1921, and after the visitors had been taken over the
thirty-five miles drive in viewing the canals they assembled at the
high school building, where the following program was given:
Selection by high school orchestra; address of welcome, Assemblyman
B. S. Crittenden; address, A. L. Cowell of Stockton; selection, high
school orchestra; address, R. T. Evans, treasurer Federal Land Bank
of California; address, Dr. Elwood Meade, chairman land settlement
board of California; selection, high school orchestra; address, C.
E. West, appraiser Federal Land Bank; address, Frank Adams,
irrigation manager of Department of Agriculture.
Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben
Banta California, a little unincorporated town located within San Joaquin County.
The community was named for Henry Banta, settler. Historically, at one time it was a key interchange point among the Southern Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads. It was on the transcontinental railroad route from Sacramento and to the San Francisco Bay Area using the Altamont Pass and Niles Canyon prior to the Central Pacific acquiring the California Pacific route which was north from the Carquinez Strait and ran to Vallejo. The Central Pacific rerouted the California Pacific route to Benicia, California and created a railroad ferry running across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa .
Somewhere in this history I said that
railroads can build up or ruin a town. Ellis, which gave
initial growth, is an illustration. Today you can scarcely see where
stood the town, but it is a part of country history and briefly we
will notice it. Ellis received its beginning from a place called Wickland. It was a small settlement founded in 1861 on Old River;
and was the point where vessels came to load with coal, and the
inhabitants of Wickland believing that Ellis would soon be a
prosperous town moved to that point. The town grew quite rapidly and
in November, 1870, it contained some forty-five or fifty buildings
of all descriptions, including two hotels, a store, blacksmith shop,
warehouse, saloon and livery stable, but ten years later it was
Mountain HouseThe Northern Valley Indian Yokuts Cholbon triblet originally inhabited the area of Mountain House. Their territory ran along Old River and just to the west of Bethany.
During the late part of the 18th century Juan Bautista de Anza, a Spanish explorer traveled the region from San Francisco on to the San Joaquin, Sacramento Delta. However, the Spanish never inhabited the area and the land generally was utilized for agriculture and trade and transportation stopping off points.
The Mountain House name originated during the Gold Rush. As miners traveled from the Sierra foothills to San Francisco, often they wound rest about half way at a house they called "Mountain House" which rested at the foot of a hilly range. The first structure in Mountain House was simply a blue tent which was erected by Thomas Goodall in 1849. Then, with the assistance of areal American Indians, Goodall constructed an adobe house upon the site and subsequently Mountain House developed into a rest stop of stockmen, miners,, immigrants and rancheros.
Simon Zimmerman later acquired the stop and in the course of his hard labor Mountain House turned out to be a well-known way station stop on the way to Stockton. During the mid-1850's, a place called Mohr's Landing was built-up surrounding Old River to sustain trade and commerce. Unfortunately, flooding of Old River during the early 1860s ruined Mohrís Landing. An area farmer, Eric Wicklund,
laid out a new town close to the present site of Mountain House. The town of Wicklund developed into the trade and transportation center for the region. However, with the coming of the Central Pacific Railroad during the 1870's allowed faster shipment of goods and subsequently Wicklundís commerce
waned. The first train stopped at the Bethany Railroad Station in 1878 and Bethany was transformed into a new trade center.
To handle the growth, in 1916 the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District was created to carry water, which alleviated dependency upon dry farming. During the 1920's, Bethany expanded to include a post office, general store, blacksmith shop, church, bar and dancehall,. During this period, the Mountain House School was erected in the area foothills. The last standing Bethany building the Post Office was leveled In 1940. Since that time, the Mountain house region land had mainly been agricultural use until the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors was officially launched a
new Mountain House in November of 1994.
Suggested Central Valley Books