Stockton California History

Stockton California History 1846 to 1900

Disclaimer! Informational page only, I do sell, lease or manage Commercial Real Estate.

Tuleberg's First Inhabitants

At the close of the Mexican War Captain Charles Weber again made an effort to settle up the grant. He was successful after considerable hard work and in the fall of 1847 the following immigrants, hunters and trappers located at Tuleberg: Andrew Baker, John Sirey, George Fraezer, P. B. Thompson, James McKee, Joseph Buzzell, Eli Randall, a clerk in Weber's store; Harry F. Fanning, a former sailor on the sloop Portsmouth, and William H. Fairchilds, who had just crossed the plains with the Nicholas Gann party. The party, on their arrival here en route to San Jose, camped on the peninsula for the night. Weber, however, persuaded them to remain throughout the winter. While here the wife of Nicholas Gann gave birth to a son, whom they named William. This was the first boy born in San Joaquin County. Colonel F. T. Gilbert, compiler of Thompson's San Joaquin history, says that about this time twins were born, a boy and a girl, to the wife of Turner Elder on Dry Creek; he also says that the first marriage in the county was that of Edward Robinson to Mrs. Christina Patterson, a widow then living at Dry Creek. Her husband died of fever while crossing the plains.

Early Stockton on the Waterfront showing Captain's Weber's original store
 Watercolor by W.H. Creasey for Captain Weber. A representation of the 1849 Stockton Waterfront showing Captain's Weber's original store. This view shows a tent city a levee full of supplies and a harbor full of ships

The people that were located on the grant gave Weber some hopes of a permanent settlement and he had the land surveyed and sectionized by Walter Herron, a deputy of Jasper O'Farrell, the surveyor of Yerba Buena (San Francisco). He also had surveyed into town lots a block of land on the south side of the channel, said block now lying between Main, Center, Levee and Commerce Streets. There the men lived in tule and brushwood tents. Whether they agreed to remain permanently and accept land from Captain Weber does not appear. We know, however, that Joe Buzzell was a permanent resident, and Carson in the spring of 1848 speaks of "Joe Buzzell's log cabin with a tule roof." He also received 160 acres of land that he selected on the north side of the Calaveras River. The land later passed into the hands of Jeremiah Sarles as a dairy ranch, John W. Moore being one of his employees. Then it was owned by John W. Dooley, the stage proprietor, and later by Henry Barnhart, who died a millionaire.

There were quite a number of immigrants who settled outside of the Weber grant and took up government land. They were Missourians, pro-slavery men who would accept no favors. Among the number were Dr. J. C. and James Isbel, who took up land in November, 1846, on the north and south side of the Calaveras River on what is now known as the Waterloo and Lockeford roads. It is stated that John C. Fremont camped under a tree at that point in 1844, and there crossed the river on his way south. Dr. Isbel erected a log cabin which stood on the place for over thirty years. In 1848 the doctor sold the ranch to a Mr. Hutchington and he in turn sold the land to Jonathan A. Dodge in 1858. The land is still in the possession of the children of the deceased pioneer. Turner Elder, his wife and three children, came into the county about the same time as the Isbels, November, 1846, erected a log cabin on Dry Creek and later the town of Liberty was there founded. Elder remained there about a year, then removed to the so-called "Benedict Rancho." Thomas Pyle and his family settled at what was later known as Staples Ferry on the Mokelumne River, but in 1848 they removed to San Jose. After Thomas Pyle left, the place was occupied by his brother, John F. Pyle, he and John W. Laird becoming partners. These two men sold to Staples, Nichols & Company in February, 1850, and then was established Staples Ferry. "Johnny" Laird, as he was familiarly called, remained with his family in this county until the early '60s. A strong secessionist, he then removed to Stanislaus County, where he could find company more congenial to his political ideas, and there became a prominent citizen of the county.

• The Stockton Mining Company

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Captain Charles Weber

Under Captain Weber's instructions a joint stock company was now organized, known as the Stockton Mining Company. The word Stockton was used for the first time, Weber selecting the name because of his great admiration for Commodore Robert F. Stockton , the naval commander-in-chief and governor of California during the Mexican War. The company was organized for the purpose of carrying on a general merchandising business at the creek. Among the members of the company was John M. Murphy of San Jose, Joseph Buzzell, Andrew Baker, Thomas Pyle, George Fraezer and Dr. J. C. Isbel. The company again started for the gold fields, taking with them supplies of goods and implements from Weber's store, and twenty-five head of cattle. Weber had agreed to furnish all of the necessary supplies, but not having sufficient stock for an extensive mercantile business, he went to San Francisco in a whale boat, and there bought additional supplies. They were shipped by water to Sutter's embarcadero, and transferred from there to the creek by ox teams. Among other things which Weber bought was calico, beads, small silver coins and other trinkets to exchange with the Indians for gold nuggets. They highly prized the silver coins as ornaments to hang around their necks. The Indians at first had no idea of the value of gold, and Gilbert tells us that Dr. Isbel's wife made a piece of old cotton cloth into short skirts, and the doctor sold them to the Indian squaws for ten dollars in gold dust.

The original Stockton boundaries were North Street (Harding Way), West Street (Pershing), East Street (Wilson Way) and South Street Charter Way) all ending in the 1500 blocks. Some of the early street names were Tule Street, Racoon Street, Otter Street, Bear Street, Elk Street, and Beaver Street. All were later changed to presidents names.

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Stockton Street Map - 1850s"

Previous to his departure for Yerba Buena, Weber sent word to José Jesus, then living at Knights Ferry, to send him twenty-five able-bodied young Indians to dig for gold. Weber was of a firm belief that gold in paying quantities could be found south of Coloma and he wanted to have these Indians learn how to prospect for gold. He would then have them work the streams in this territory. In time the young native sons arrived here, and accompanied with a guide they rode horseback to Weber's Creek. The Indians, after being properly instructed, found plenty of gold. During this time the company were selling goods and beef at enormous prices and prospecting for a pastime. The Indians when well coached in prospecting were sent home with instructions to prospect in the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. If they found gold, they were to report that fact to the "major domo" at French Camp. Prospecting in the Stanislaus River near their rancheria at Knights Ferry they found some coarse gold. They took the specimens to the overseer and in accordance with previous instructions he sent the news and gold by an express rider to Weber. On receiving the news Weber was greatly pleased and announced that fact by the blowing of a tin horn, which was the usual method in that day of proclaiming an unusual event and calling together the crowd. The miners came flocking in and seeing the large pieces of coarse gold, were very much excited over it. A consultation was then held and the company concluded to abandon the creek claim, close out the merchandising business, and engage in prospecting in the new gold region. Captain Weber without doubt was behind entire movement. Leaving two men to close up the business the entire company returned to Tuleberg. Replenishing their stock of goods they moved to the Stanislaus River and began prospecting for gold. With them were quite a number of new men who had accompanied the Stockton company to this place. The prospectors slowly moving up the Stanislaus into the mountains found plenty of gold. Then took place that restless, feverish, roving movement so common to the tens of thousands who followed later; the men were not satisfied with making big wages in one locality but scattered in every direction looking for gold. Then were founded dozens of mining camps, many of them named after the men who founded them such as Carson's Creek, Jamestown, Angel's Camp, Murphy's Camp, Sullivan's D<

Stockton's First Mercantile House

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Main & El Dorado Freight wagon and trailer headed to the waterfront for supplies - 1860's

The founding of these mining camps was the forerunner of Stockton as a great trading depot, and Weber's store was the pioneer. Was it keen foresight, sound judgment or just luck on the part of Captain Weber in settling up the wilderness now called Stockton? Call it what you may, the founding of this merchandising store formed a very important part. As we have already stated, he founded a trading store in San Jose, planning at some time in the near future to establish a similar store on El Campo de los Franceses. The Mexican War caused a postponement of all of his plans. In the fall of 1847, however, he came to Tuleberg and erected a log cabin on the south side of the Stockton Channel, near the foot of what is now Commerce Street, there established a small trading store. His customers were the settlers, travelers and immigrants that passed over the road to and from Sutter's Fort to San Jose. The goods, bought in San Francisco, were transported to Stockton in whale boats, Eli Randall acting as his clerk. The discovery of gold in the mountains east of Stockton, changed completely the route of travel and hundreds began passing through the settlement eastward and westward bound.

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Weber House - Center Street - 1860s

As these travelers must of necessity have food and other supplies Captain Weber now concluded to establish a large commercial house. He planned to locate his store on the peninsula, as the most suitable spot for a wholesale and retail house, but the mistake of the supercargo in misunderstanding Weber's orders caused Stockton to be founded on the block lying between Levee, Commerce, Main and Center streets. Going to Yerba Buena Weber chartered a vessel with instructions to sail to Santa Cruz and for a load of redwood lumber and transport it to Weber's embarcadero, the settlement being known by a half dozen different names. The supercargo had been ordered, on arrival at Weberville, to unload the lumber on the north bank, but he unloaded on the south bank and Weber was compelled to erect his store where the lumber was because of a scarcity of laborers, and no bridges nor boats to move it across.

When this, the first commercial house in the San Joaquin Valley, was commenced or completed we do not know. John Doak, who arrived overland in the fall of 1847, said in July, 1877, "On arrival I found but one house to be seen, and that a mere shed on the bank of Stockton Channel, somewhere in the vicinity of Reed's Landing," Warehouses now cover that site. There was also a tule tent on the peninsula occupied by Mexicans and Indian vaqueros employed by Weber. In May, 1865, a pioneer in the press said, "I arrived here in the latter part of September, 1848, with Bernard Murphy and Thomas Knell. We met Daniel Murphy, who had just arrived from San Jose, and a man named Eli Randall, who was keeping store for Captain Weber. We camped two or three days up the slough, after which two of the others went below (San Francisco). Captain Weber having arrived, engaged me to erect a store and kitchen for him. I built the kitchen first, which was the first frame building ever erected in Stockton, and the store was not completed until January, 1849." A. H. T. says, "My first view of the village of the San Joaquin was from the deck of a launch which I had chartered, at a cost of $600, from that old pioneer, Robert Parker, to bring a load of merchandise to Weber's Landing as Stockton was then called. The launch would carry about ten tons and it took six or seven days to make the trip. The trip was made in the latter part of 1848. The stream was tortuous and winding and the distance eighty miles from the mouth of the San Joaquin to Weber's embarcadero. In due time we entered the slough on which Stockton is now situated. After passing up about three miles we found we were near the settlement. It comprised one partly constructed wooden building on the slough belonging to Captain Weber, a few tents occupied by George Belt and Lunt & Grimes as a trading post, and these with a few tule tents were all we found to constitute the settlement. After placing our cargo in a room allotted to us through the kindness of Captain Weber the launch returned to San Francisco. We stayed through a long and tedious winter, living on beans, canned meats, ducks, geese and hard bread. Once in a while some daring hardy miner would make his way here, generally on foot, swimming streams and carrying his wet blankets, sleeping under trees or in the open air, sometimes drenched to the skin, in his walk of sixty or eighty miles."

The Magic City

Stockton was built up in a period of four months, and Bayard Taylor, the correspondent of the New York Tribune, traveling through Stockton in 1849, said he found a canvas city of 1,000 inhabitants and twenty-five ships at anchor in the harbor. James H. Carson, passing through the town in the same year on his return from the mines, wrote: "When I arrived May 1, 1849, a change had come over the scene since I had left it. Stockton that I had last seen graced by Joe (Willard) Buzzell's log cabin with a tule roof was now a vast linen city. The tall masts of the brigs, barques and schooners, high pointed, were seen in the blue vault above, while the merry 'yo-ho' of the sailor could be heard as box, bale and barrel were landed on the banks of the slough. A rush and whirl of human being was constantly before the eye; the magic wand of gold had been shaken over the desolate place and a city had arisen at the bidding of Minerva full-fledged."
 

Necessity is the mother of invention, said the author, and it is oft times the mother of location, because it was necessary for the merchants, especially during the winter months, to be located as near as possible to the steamers and sailing vessels. In 1850 we find almost the entire business section within a radius of 200 yards, with Center Street as the axis. Within the circle we find Buffington & Lum, house carpenters, opposite the steamboat wharf; Davis & Smith, wholesale dealers in provisions, dry goods, mining tools, etc., Center Street; MacPherson & Nichols, general merchandise, Main near Center; Von Detten-Waldrow & Company, merchants, on the Peninsula; Coma & Washburn, Levee Street, dealers in provisions, hardware, mining tools, crockery, tinware and clothing; Marshal & Nichols, auctioneers, Levee; Morton & Ward, butchers, El Dorado; McSpeden & Company, merchants, corner Main and El Dorado; Dr. Simpson, drugs, medicines, books, stationery, Main and El Dorado; George Belt, merchant, Levee; Todd & Bryan, express company with Adams & Company, Center; Starbuck & Spencer, merchants, corner Levee and Commerce; Slocum & Company, Peninsula, two doors from the Stockton House and opposite the post office; William Dutch, watchmaker and jeweler, Center, next door to the Central Exchange; Sparrow & Navarro, Hunter Street, bricks on sale; Guibal & Dharboure, wholesale merchants, Center and Washington; Drs. Clements & Reins, drugs, corner Center and Weber avenue; R. J. Stevens & Company, Peninsula; J. R. Foster & Company, merchants, Peninsula, Corinthian Building, next door to post office: Peninsula Livery Stable, Channel Street; Henry Jones, boots and shoes, Center, five doors from Main; Ware's Daguerrean saloon in the Gault House, Center and Market; bath house, B. W. Owens, between Main and Weber Avenue; Emil Junge, general merchandise, store ship Susannah, Mormon Slough; Stockton Hospital, corner Center and Market; Drs. Radcliffe and Lasvignes, of Paris.

Center Street was so named because it was the center of business, but in less than four years the business places had extended along El Dorado and Hunter streets and east on Main Street and Weber Avenue to Sutter Street, and even beyond that street. In 1853, a meat market was established at the corner of Main and Sutter, together with a boarding house, this indicating that quite a large number of persons worked and lived in that vicinity. The livery stables were the first cause of the extension of business. They required a large space of land for their stables and yard room for the use of the teamsters. There were two stables on the south side of Main Street between Sutter and California. Andrew Wolf was the proprietor of one and "Stuttering" Smith the other. A. J. Colburn had a stable on Main near Grant Street. Simon Weterau, a stable and the Avenue hotel, on Weber Avenue opposite the San Joaquin engine house. Charles Dallas conducted a livery on Weber Avenue near San Joaquin Street. These stables caused the erection nearby of blacksmith and wagon shops, and then boarding and lodging houses. Four of them were on Main Street in 1856 within a space of three blocks, the American house, kept by Mrs. Cadien, the Western hotel, Mrs. Pope, Sutter and Main, Cottage Home, one block west, Charles Mead, proprietor, and the Main Street Hotel, opposite the court house, George Allesworth, landlord. And then the Crescent City Hotel, where later stood the Hippodrome Theater.

Among the prominent merchants at that time was B. F. Cheatham and Thomas E. Ketcham, a lieutenant in the famous Stevenson Regiment, and a captain in the Third Regiment, California Volunteers during the Civil War. The two men were partners in a merchandise store on the Levee, the firm name reading Ketcham & Cheatham. One night a wag changed the sign, and the following morning the whole town was laughing, for the sign said, I. Ketcham & U. Cheatham. The story was frequently told thirty years later. Cheatham later kept the Hotel de Mexico. He was a man of southern birth, a gambler and sport, but nevertheless one of the prominent men of the town. He was also a leading Democrat, and returning to the South in December '52 the Democratic paper said in fulsome praise, "This gentleman who has long been amongst us and who by the courtesy of his manner and his noble character has won the esteem of his fellow-citizens, leaves next week for his home in Tennessee. The gallant colonel served in the Mexican war, as colonel of the Third Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers." He never again returned to Stockton. In the Civil War he took up arms in defense of the Southern Confederacy and became a general. One day during the war he noticed a burly Irishman cruelly abusing his team. Cheatham, cursing the army teamster, commanded him to stop whipping the mules. The language of the officer quickly aroused the anger of "Pat" and turning to Cheatham, he exclaimed: "General, you are a coward. You know your shoulder straps protect you or you would not use such vile language to me."  Hastily dismounting, and throwing to one side his coat, Cheatham said, "A coward am I, you miserable devil. Look, McCue," pointing to his coat, "There is General Cheatham and his shoulder straps. Here is Frank Cheatham. Come and take satisfaction." The Irishman waltzed in and whipped Frank Cheatham in about two minutes. As the General mounted his horse, McCue, throwing him his coat, said in parting, "There is the whipped Frank Cheatham of the Cumberland Army; and Major-General of the division. General, you can repeat as often as you wish, you will always find Pat at home."

California for over twenty years exported a very small amount and imported an immense amount of supplies of every description. They were imported principally by the wholesale merchants of San Francisco, they in turn selling to the retail merchants of the cities and the retailers in part supplying the mountain camps. These goods all came into San Francisco by steamer across the isthmus tri­monthly or by slow sailing vessel or clipper ships around Cape Horn. By the slow sailers it was a six months' voyage, but by the clipper ships built especially for speed the voyage from New York to San Francisco was sometimes made in three months or less. All heavy or bulky merchandise was shipped around Cape Horn, because the cost of freight was much less than by steamer or the "ocean grey hounds" as the clipper ships were known. The first Stockton steam fire engine came around the Horn, the parts packed in boxes, so did the Episcopal Church organ. Then it often took from six months to a year to receive goods from the Eastern States. Now one may telegraph, and the goods are here in ten days or less.

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1856 Weber Home and Sloop Maria - The first permanent home in the county, located on the Weber Point Peninsula. The home was built from native adobe, wood and imported brick. The Maria was Stockton's first cargo ship

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Jones & Hewlett 1860s.Main & Hunter - Importers and dealers of farm implements. They sold the celebrated chisel cultivators, hand and horsepower seed sowers, fanning mills, hay and straw cutters, corn shellers and road scrapers.

Stockton had at least three merchants who imported goods, P. M. Bowen & Company, Avery & Hewlett and C. T. Meador & Company. His advertisement in February 1850, stated that he had just received by the ships Sierra Nevada and Indiana, direct from Boston, 200 cases of candles in cartons, 150 cases of lard in ten-pound tins, 116 half-barrels clear pork, 40 cases of eggs, 50 barrels Carolina rice, 14 drums St. John codfish, 15 cases of ginger one-half pound bottles, 25 cases pineapple, 150 kits mackerel, 25 cases handle axes, 200 dozen three-hoop pails, 100 cases spirits of turpentine. Although for a time this state was the largest wheat producer in the Union, and San Joaquin County the largest grower of wheat, for several years wheat was imported from Chile. It was so full of weevils, however, that the legislature in 1854 passed a law prohibiting its importation. Brown sugar in 200-pound barrels, and molasses in 5-gallon kegs and 63-gallon barrels, was imported from New Orleans. Later rice and coarse brown sugar in 100-pound mats was imported from China. Black and green tea came from Canton, packed in large chests. H. O. Mathews was the largest importer and an expert on tea. Bottled pie fruits of the finest quality put up for the California trade were imported from England and from the same isle came the anthracite coal used by the blacksmiths. Raisins were imported from Italy and the finest quality of wines, "liqueurs" and champagne from France. At a Thanksgiving dinner in 1850 there were twenty varieties of wine on the list, including the famous Chateau Laffitte and Haute Sauterne Margaux of the vintage of 1825. Tobacco was imported from Virginia and the finest "segars" from Havana. As to fruits and vegetables they were imported for several years from various places outside of the county. Large fine limes, lemons and oranges came from Mexico; bananas from the Sandwich Islands; grapes, large, sweet and juicy, the Mission variety from Los Angeles; and peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines and watermelons from the Sacramento River country. Apples then, as now, were imported from Oregon; and especially large apples weighing a pound and a half were grown for the holiday trade. They were packed in cotton in small square cartons and retailed at four and five dollars each.

Court House and City Hall

Poverty makes no distinction between the individual and the corporation poor, and as the young county had no money or revenue they were compelled to rent rooms. These rooms were in what was then known as the McNish Building, a large two-story wooden structure on the northwest corner of Hunter and Channel streets. It was occupied by the county officials, the court of sessions, lawyers' offices, sleeping and jail. The prison was in the basement. The expense to the county was heavy, $7,900 a year, this including $290 a month for two watchmen to guard the jail. The grand jury in their December, 1851, report to Judge Stakes said, "the rent money, if applied to the erection of an edifice (court house and jail) would give to the county suitable buildings and relieve the county of one of its heaviest expenses." "The county at the time was heavily in debt, $45,000," said the judge, "and the county securities were almost valueless." We must keep in mind that the court of sessions managed the entire business of the county, and the county was enabled to considerably decrease the debt during the following two years, says the Times, "for the court is disposed to economize in every particular in order that public buildings soon may be erected." The press was strongly partisan and the editor continuing, says, " Albeit Judge Stakes is a Whig, we must do him the justice to say he has exhibited a sincere desire to place the county financially on a stable basis."

Necessity is oft times the mother of action, and the court losing no time, in the spring of 1853, a bill was introduced into the legislature and passed granting them permission to erect a court house and jail. The city council also took action, and in May both agreed to the plans and specification and bids were called for, for a court house and jail. The call was signed by Judge A. G. Stakes for the county, and B. E. Owens, P. E. Jordan, two merchants of the city, and W. W. Stevenson, a pastor of the Christian Church, for the city of Stockton. The contract to erect the court house was signed early in July, the work was rushed along, and in August the foundation was ready for the laying of the cornerstone.

This honor was offered to the San Joaquin Lodge of Masons; they refused to accept it because F. E. Corcoran, the architect of the building and a member of the lodge, had not been appointed as constructing supervisor. The invitation was then offered and accepted by the two Odd Fellow lodges, Charity No. 6 and Stockton No. 11. The laying of the cornerstone, August 6, 1853, was a very crude affair. The Odd Fellows, assembling at their Center Street hall at 9 o'clock in the morning, marched to the site of the new building. The articles to be placed in the cornerstone were placed in a glass jar and sealed, the cap of the stone was then cemented in place by Deputy Grand Master Edward W. Colt; an address was delivered by Judge Stakes and an oration by George Ryer, a favorite actor then playing an engagement in the city. This was the only cornerstone laid by the Odd Fellows save their own building in 1867. The Masons cornered all of the subsequent honors.

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222 East Weber Avenue - First San Joaquin County Courthouse - 1862

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Court House Plaza - Wagons

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Hunter Square Fountain - Looking west at Weber Avenue Buildings - 1860

The building, of the Doric style of architecture, in size 60x80 feet and about 50 feet in height, was completed late in 1853, and occupied jointly by the city and the county officials. The city occupied the south and the county the north half of the building. There were twelve rooms on the lower, two court and two jury and a city hall on the upper floor, with a single stairway. The building was of brick, walls and foundation faced with Vallejo sandstone. There were two wide halls on the first floor leading to the entrances on the four streets of the square. The city hall was the assembling place of the common council, firemen and military balls, church festivals, political conventions, etc., until the erection of the agricultural hall in 1861 on the east side of the square. In that year the court house clock and bell tower were erected, both of which were later installed on the Hunter Street engine house. The building is said to have cost about $80,000 and to have been paid for equally by the city and county, but in the court evidence in 1885, S. Williams, a supervisor in 1855, testified that the city paid the principal part of the debt, as no great revenue was derived from the county until 1870 because the land was of so little value.

For some time no effort was made to improve the square, but in 1858 a chain fence was built by the city and county at a cost of $1,700. It was a curious fence made of posts painted and sanded; in each post four holes were bored, through which one inch link chains were run. It was neither rabbit nor hog proof, but it would have kept out the stray horses and cows, had the gates to the enclosure been put in place. This neglect caused the editor to inquire in 1861, "The cows were in the plaza Sunday afternoon regaling themselves on the flowers, shrubs and trees recently set out. Where are those whirling contrivances to be put upon the posts?" In 1860 there was a complete change in administration, from Democratic to Republican, and Mayor E. S. Holden presented a plan to the council for beautifying the plaza. The council accepted the plan and immediately appropriated fifty dollars for the work. An additional $100 was obtained by subscriptions. The ground was plowed up, sown with Bermuda grass and trees, shrubs and flowers planted from the beautiful home gardens of Dr. E. S. Holden, B. P. Kooser, George West and Captain Charles M. Weber. These improvements remained until the erection of the second court house in 1890; then the trees and flowers were all uprooted and single terraced blue grass lawn and palm trees planted.

When this, the first commercial house in the San Joaquin Valley, was commenced or completed we do not know. John Doak, who arrived overland in the fall of 1847, said in July, 1877, "On arrival I found but one house to be seen, and that a mere shed on the bank of Stockton Channel, somewhere in the vicinity of Reed's Landing," Warehouses now cover that site. There was also a tule tent on the peninsula occupied by Mexicans and Indian vaqueros employed by Weber. In May, 1865, a pioneer in the press said, "I arrived here in the latter part of September, 1848, with Bernard Murphy and Thomas Knell. We met Daniel Murphy, who had just arrived from San Jose, and a man named Eli Randall, who was keeping store for Captain Weber.

In the 1850s, the waterfront businesses, plagued by a series of floods and fires, started migrating towards Main Street. Early buildings included grocery and provision stores, saddle and harness shops, along with hardware and machinery merchants. Horse drawn carts and buggies traversed the unpaved road while pedestrians turned to wooden sidewalks

Click to Enlarge 121 Bridge Place - Philadelphia House - Built by Joseph Bridenback in 1871
129 Bridge Place - Sherwood Hotel (1876)
Click to Enlarge 24-34 North California Street - Land Hotel - Built in 1896
Click to Enlarge California & Channel - SE corner Stockton Business College - 189
Click to Enlarge California & Channel - NE Corner - Grand Hotel
Click to Enlarge Keyes House - California and Market
Click to Enlarge 228 S. Center Street - Colombo Hotel
Click to Enlarge SW Corner Center and Main Streets Occidental Hotel (center) and Weber House (foreground), ca. 1875
Click to Enlarge Center & Main - Looking at Main Street - 1880s
Click to Enlarge Center & Main - Occidental Hotel
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge  alt= Click to Enlarge 134 N. El Dorado Channel & Eldorado - Masonic Temple - 1890s - Demolished in the 1930s
Click to Enlarge 25 East Channel street. The building was directed in 1863 for the use of the "Weber's" of the Volunteer Department. It was then joined on the west by the Corinthian Building, a three-story structure which, when it was erected in 1850, was the largest building in a State of California. It was owned by Weber & Hammond and in 1851 contained the post-office, the court-room (presided over by Justice of the Peace S. Dean) a church, a theater, a public assembly room where society gathered in the early days to "trip the light fantastic," the law offices of Terry & Perley and Van Buren & Root, and a number of private lodgings
Click to Enlarge Channel & Hunter St. and Philadelphia House - 205 Bridge St. - Pioneer Coal - 315 North Hunter - 1880s
Click to Enlarge 191-193 East Channel - Europa Hotel & Weber Fire Department - 1880s
Click to Enlarge Channel and San Joaquin Yo semite Cash Grocery
Click to Enlarge Main & Commerce - Globe Iron Works
Click to Enlarge Main &Commerce - Columbo Hotel
Click to Enlarge El Dorado and Miner - St John's Church, Construction was completed in 1892, the same year the trolleys went electric.
19 N. Hunter - Nobel Hotel
35 N. Hunter - Plaza Hotel / The Plaza Rooms
Click to Enlarge Hunter Street - 1875
Click to Enlarge Hunter Square & Weber - The Boston Rooms (41 N. Hunter) - Demolished
Click to Enlarge Looking West on Weber Avenue - View from the Court House - Photography Studio
Click to Enlarge Hunter and Market Streets - NE Corner- 1863 Jail - Built in 1863
Click to enlarge106 North Hunter Street - Originally Mansion House, this building was constructed in 1873. The Mansion House was well known in early Stockton, both architecturally and within the business community. Located directly across the street from the county courthouse and one block east of the Channel, the building held a central location in the city. Before major alterations, the building was a strong example of ltalianate style-commercial building.
Click to Enlarge 26-28 South Hunter Street - Stationed here were Engine Company 2 and Hook & Ladder Company 1. It was erected in 1868 for the joint use of the "Hooks" and "Eurekas" of the Volunteer Department. During Chief Carroll's first term a room was partitioned off for an office in the rear end of the building and it has since been known as headquarters. The Hazelton Free Library adjoins on the south. The corporation yard is in the rear, and a blind alley running from Market Street serves as a convenient rear entrance.
Click to Enlarge Main & Center - Northeast corner. 1890's Black's Family Grocery Store - Operated by Alexander and Houston Black. The family later operated grocery stores all over the Central Valley including five stores in Stockton.
100 Block El Dorado Intersects
Click to Enlarge 192 East Main Street - 1889 Horse drawn Stockton Street Car heading north on El Dorado from Main Street. Part of the Holden Drug store is on the right.
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Main and El Dorado Streets. Holden Drug Store 1886
Click to Enlarge Main Street commercial buildings, 1890s - Looking SW on Main Street - 1880 - The building with the Society Bank sign was the home of the Bank of Stockton from 1875 to 1909. when the bank moved to Main and San Joaquin, the building was then occupied for many years by the Sterling department store. In the foreground is the office of R.E. Wilhoit, who was president of the Bank of Stockton from September 1909 to January 1917. In the center of the block was the Daily Evening Mail newspaper office, a clothing store, a barber shop and tobacco shop
Click to Enlarge 173-175 East Main Street - J. Pilcher Spooner - Photograph Parlor - 1878
200 Block Hunter Intersects
Click to Enlarge Main & Hunter - 1868 First National Gold Bank of Stockton - Next to the J.H. Condit and Company clipper and mower business. Also shown is the Perkins Brothers Grocery business. The First National Gold Bank of Stockton was founded by Henry H. Hewlett in 1872. Hewlett was a founder of the Stockton Savings and Loan Society in 1867, and owned one-fourth of its capital just one year later. He likewise owned most of the stock in the First National Gold Bank, and was elected cashier and manager of the bank.
Click to Enlarge 140 E. Main & Hunter SW Corner - McKee Block - Stockton Savings & Loan Society - Completed in 1908 and still standing today. The bank was started in 1867 and initially located at the SW corner of Main & Hunter. They later became the Bank of Stockton, the second bank chartered and the second oldest California bank operating under its original charter.
Click to Enlarge Main & Hunter SE corner - Stockton Oddfellows - The next building is 26-28 South Hunter Street - minus the bell tower - SFD Engine Company 2 and Hook & Ladder Company 1. It was erected in 1868 for the joint use of the "Hooks" and "Eurekas" of the Volunteer Department.
Click to Enlarge Main & Hunter looking south  - Stockton Grand Triumphal Arch with bases of twenty feet and a tower on both sides topped with golden eagles. On the arch itself was the words "1776 E Pluribus Unum 1876". Donated to the city by J.D. Peters
300 Block San Joaquin Intersects
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 337 East Main Street - The Yosemite House was thought to be Stockton's finest hotel before 1900. It had several horse drawn ommni buses to take guests to and from the railroad depot. Built in 1869 for $40,000 with 200 rooms. The dining room seated 110 people. it later became a rooming house and burned down in the early 20s
Click to Enlarge Main & San Joaquin - 1890s - Street Cars on Main Street
Click to Enlarge 317 East Main Street -1890 Stockton Street Car - Henderson's Carriage Factory
400 Block Sutter Intersects
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 431 E. Main St - Commercial Hotel - 1891 and 1902 - 425-435 E. Main (1902 Directory)J. Pilcher Spooner Photo
500 Block California Intersects
Click to Enlarge 500 East Main Street - Avon theatre - 1890s - By 1935, J.C. Penny until 1950 - It was originally known as the Avon Theater. It once has a seating capacity of 1200 and reportedly excellent acoustics. The seats were arranged in an amphitheater format. The entrance. was located on California Street and the theater occupied the second and third floors, while businesses were housed on the first floor. Historic photos reveal a Classical Revival building, with a row of small pediments on the cornice line, arched hooded windows,. and pilasters. A small temple' like structure was located at the corner above the projecting cornice. In the 1890s, with the opening of other local theaters, the Avon's popularity declined. The building still stands today, although heavily remodeled
Click to Enlarge 500 East Main & California - Bailey, Badgley & Company Hardware - The building still stands today, although heavily remodeled
Click to Enlarge 546 East Main Street - Austin Brothers Hardware
Click to Enlarge Main & Sutter - Wells Fargo and Co. Express Banking House and T. Robinson Bours and Co., built 1853. Taken 1860
Click to Enlarge Market & Hunter - Frank Stewart Library - Demolished
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 25 S. Parker's Alley - The Record made its debut on April 8, 1895. Time has erased not only the wooden building where the Record was born but the very street on which that stood, or sagged, according to some reports. Parker's Alley ran east and west between Hunter and El Dorado streets, south of Main Street. A half century ago, residents could point to it by directing people to the downtown Odd Fellows Temple and Central Fire Station.
Click to Enlarge 19 N. Pilgrim St - Stockton's new $20,000 fire station was completed and ready for occupancy on August 1st, next. It was one of the handsomest and most up-to-date engine houses on the Pacific Coast. It was the Chief's intention to stationed the La France engine in the new house which is located on Pilgrim between Main Street and Weber Avenue.
Click to Enlarge San Joaquin Street looking South from main Street
Click to Enlarge 00 Block North San Joaquin - Yosemite Building Looking East of the court house- 1880s - Demolished and replaced with a parking garage
Click to Enlarge San Joaquin Street - The Yosemite building looking out the East walk of the Courthouse. Located between Bank of Stockton and Bravo McKeegan on San Joaquin. I believe at one time it was also The American Trust / Wells Fargo Location
Click to Enlarge 201-215 North San Joaquin - Columbia House - Channel & San Joaquin
Click to Enlarge Weber & El Dorado - Farmers Market - 1890s - Showing the head of the channel. In the background is the second county courthouse and the Yosemite Building
Click to Enlarge Weber Avenue and El Dorado Street Taken 1886
Click to Enlarge Weber Avenue at El Dorado - 1880s - Preparing for the construction of Hotel Stockton
Click to Enlarge Weber and Hunter Square buildings with train, 1895 - Photo taken from the top of the courthouse
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 222 East Weber - Second  San Joaquin County Courthouse - Completed 1890 - Of all the substantial buildings erected in the late-19th-century boom years in Stockton ("destined to become the Chicago of the West," according to one writer at the time), the courthouse was the most impressive. Among its many marvels was a gas well "providing heat and light without cost to taxpayers" and a statue of Justice atop a dome that rose 172 feet above the street. The building was demolished in 1961 to make room for a new courthouse.
Click to Enlarge 275 Weber Avenue - Eagle Hotel- Stockton buildings, late 19th century
Click to Enlarge Weber & San Joaquin - NW Corner - San Joaquin Hotel -1850-1891
Click to Enlarge Weber Avenue and San Joaquin Streets - Southeast corner - Lauxen & Catts building Est. 1888.... Furniture, Carpets, Draperies, Upholstery And Similar Household Goods.
Click to Enlarge Weber & Sutter - Stockton Hall of Pioneers - The Society of Pioneers was established in 1868. The first hall of pioneers was erected in 1890 on the Southwest corner of Weber and Sutter. The archives and commemoration to the pioneers survives to this day in the Haggin Museum
Click to Enlarge Weber & California - Grangers Union Hardware - 1891 - Later became the Columbus Buggy Works, then the H.C. Shaw Company. The building is still here but today although it's a stucco blob
Click to Enlarge 401-407 East Weber Hart & Thrift - The Hart & Thrift Building, designed in a vernacular interpretation of the Renaissance Revival style, was built in 1869 and is one of the oldest buildings in Stockton. Although the building has undergone substantial alterations, the building remained significant because of its extreme age and association with the early development of commerce in Stockton. The building's original owners, John Hart and E.E.Thrift, were two of Stockton's commercial pioneers and regarded as highly respected gentlemen. Their grocery store carried a "choice lot of groceries and provisions." - Today, it's part of the RTD Block
Click to Enlarge Weber & American - 1880s - Avenue Market
Click to Enlarge 590 East Weber - CHEMICAL COMPANY & ASSISTANT-CHIEF MURPHY .... Stationed at 590 East Weber Avenue, in the house built in 1869 for the use of the "San Joaquins" of the Volunteer Department. Equipped with an excellently speedy pair of horses, this light piece of apparatus is enabled to arrive at any fire within a few moments after the sounding of the alarm, and it can be safely estimated that more than ninety per cent of the fires are extinguished by the Chemical. Should a fire have reached great headway before its discovery, the use of a heavy stream of water is absolutely necessary, but whenever blaze is found in its incipiency no matter how combustible may be its fuel, the Chemical is soon master of the situation, and without the heavy loss always accompanying the use of water.


Transcribed by Kathy Sedler

Courtesy San Joaquin Registrar of Voters and State Bar of California

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Photos courtesy of California State Library, Bank of Stockton, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library, National Library of Congress,