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the interest created in the eastern haunts of the trappers by their tales of the loveliness of the great Sacramento valley, the fertility of its soil and the mildness of its climate. How these stories induced emigration, the settlement at Sacramento, from which radiated others, and the final settlement of the whole valley, has already been related. [See Settlement of the Sacramento Valley.] It is at that point, then, that the history of Butte county properly commences.
In the month of July, 1843, some emigrants started from the neighborhood of Sacramento to go overland by the Hudson Bay trail to Oregon. At the same time they disappeared from view, also vanished some animals belonging to Capt. John A. Sutter, and the coincidence was so striking that John Bidwell, Peter Lassen, James Bruheim and an Indian associated the two events together in their minds, and searched for the missing animals in the direction the party had taken, with the hope of finding them. The party was overtaken at Red Bluff, and the hope fully realized. This was the first trip any of the settlers about the junction of the American and Sacramento rivers had made to the upper end of the valley, and so pleased was Mr. Bidwell with the appearance of the country that he made an outline map of it upon his return to Sutter's Fort, upon which were marked the principal streams, with the names that nearly all of them now bear. From this map, a number of selections of land were made for the purpose of applying for land grants from the Mexican government.
The first grant made in this region was that to Peter Lassen, on Deer creek, lying partly in this county, but chiefly in Tehama. He settled upon it at the celebrated Lassen's ranch in the early spring of 1844. In the month of July, 1844, Edward A. Farwell and Thomas Fallon settled on the Farwell grant, the east line of which runs through the town of Chico. This was the first settlement within the present limits of Butte county, and the little habitation of these two men wins the pioneer of the many fine mansions and happy homes to be seen on every side.
Later in the same year, Samuel Neal and David Dutton settled on the Esquon grant, on Butte creek, seven miles south of Chico. In 1845, William Dickey, Sanders and Yates located on the Dickey grant, now the property of Hon. John Bidwell, and known as the Rancho Arroyo Chico. Also James W. Marshall, the discoverer of gold in 1848, and Northgrave located on the grant to S. J. Hensley. That year, also, Charles Roether, familiarly known as Dutch Charley, settled on the Huber grant, on the north side of Honcut Creek.
The discovery of gold on Feather river, in March, 1848, by John Bidwell, but two months after the discovery by Marshall at Coloma, was the beginning of a new era for this region. In the great rush of incoming gold-hunters in 1849, Feather river received its share, and soon every bar, ravine and gulch had its quota of industrious miners, while the smoke from their rude cabins, frail tents, and hastilyconstructed brush shanties marked the river's course for miles. On the more important bars, miningcamps of considerable size sprang suddenly into existence, some of them becoming quite populous towns, full of life and business, and containing many substantial buildings. Of these but few traces can now be found, save the one or two that have absorbed the others and prospered by the law of " the survival of the fittest." Their history, such as can now be traced, is given elsewhere in this volume.
THE SACRAMENTO DISTRICT.
We have seen in the preceding pages what steps were taken to form a government for California. At the constitutional convention, which met at Monterey September 1, 1849, in pursuance of the proclamation of Governor Bennett Riley, but four delegates were allotted to the Sacramento district. The portion of California thus denominated embraced all of the state lying north of the Cosumne river, and bounded on the west by the Sacramento river and east by the Sierra Nevada mountains. During the interval, however, between the issuance of the proclamation and the meeting of the convention, the population of the district had been so largely augmented that it was justly entitled to a larger number of representatives, and as authority to do so was given in the proclamation, a number of gentlemen were chosen in addition to Jacob R. Snyder, W. E. Shannon, Winfield S. Sherwood and John A. Sutter, the regularly-elected delegates.
When the convention met at Monterey, Saturday, September 1, 1849, there was not a quorum present, and an adjournment wsis made until the next Monday, at which it was organized. Discussion at once commenced on the subject of representation, other districts also claiming seats for additional delegates, and the matter was difficult to settle satisfactorily. In the afternoon a report was made by the committee on privileges and elections, recommending the admission of eight delegates from the Sacramento district, and naming for the additional four L. W. Hastings, J. S. Fowler, John Bid well, and M. M. McCarver. The report called forth considerable debate, ending in the adoption the next day of a report by a special committee allowing this district fifteen delegates, and naming John McDougal, Elisha O. Crosby, W. Blackburn, James Queen, R. M. Jones, W. Lacy and Charles E. Pickett as the remaining seven. Of the fifteen, but eight are recorded as having participated in the deliberations of the convention, and are given in the list of delegates appended to the report of the proceedings, as follows:—
At the time the constitution was ratified and state officers elected, members of the Legislature, were also elected. The senators were Elisha O. Crosby, John Bidwell and H. C. Robinson, and the representatives Thomas J. Henly, Elisha W. McKinstry and George B. Tingley.
ORGANIZATION OF BUTTE COUNTY.
When this first legislature had so advanced in its labors as to be prepared to subdivide the state into counties, it was found to be a matter of great perplexity. Not only was the geography of the state but imperfectly known, but the population was so shifting and uncertain that a proper assignment of territory was impossible. Sections that were then unoccupied and almost unknown were liable in a few months to be filled with thousands of eager miners, or, perhaps, they might never become populated or become of sufficient importance to demand a county organization. In this dilemma they did the best the circumstances and a crowd of eager land and city proprietors as members and lobbyists would permit. The courses of the rivers and the character of the mountains were unknown, and thus many queer boundaries were given to counties of a most ungainly shape. From the Sacramento river to the eastern line of the state was a frequent and most absurd boundary, thus cutting up the valley into little patches and tacking each patch to the tail of a long strip of mountainous country, and, curiously enough, making "the tail wag the dog" by locating the county-seat in the valley portion, and generally at the extreme end. A little stream that scarcely floated a feather in summer, as the Honcuf. between Yuba and Butte, would separate contiguous and easily-accessible sections of valley land, while within the limits of the county to which each belonged were to be found high mountains, whose deep snows almost severed the one part from the other for months at a time.
One of the counties thus formed by the Act of February 18, 1850, was Butte, but far different in proportion from the county as it appears to-day. It included the present county, the county of Plumas, the major portion of Lassen, and a part of Tehama, Colusa and Sutter. The boundaries as then defined were :—
"Beginning on the Sacramento river at the Red Bluffs, in latitude forty degrees, thirty two minutes and twenty-three seconds, and running thence due east to the dividing ridge which separates the waters flowing into the Sacramento river above the Red Bluffs from the waters flowing into the Sacramento river below the Red Bluffs; thence following the top of said ridge to the Sierra Nevada; thence due east to the boundary of the State; thence due south, following said boundary, to the northeast corner of Yuba (now Sierra) county ; thence following the northwestern boundary of Yuba county to Feather river; thence due west along the northern boundary of Sutter county to the Sacramento river; thence running up the middle of said river to the place of beginning."
The territory thus bounded was nearly in the form of a parallelogram, and was about eighty miles in width from north to south, and about one hundred and sixty miles in length from east to west, containing a superficial area of some 12,800 square miles, or 8,330,000 acres. Butte county was then as large as the state of Vermont and the little state of Delaware combined.
The impression seems to prevail that the county as thus bounded included within its limits the three buttes from which it derived its name, but it can readily be seen that this is an erroneous idea. The line dividing Butte and Sutter counties was one running " due west" from the northwest corner of Yuba county, which was then, and always has been, the mouth of Honcut Creek. This line would leave the buttes entirely within the limits of Sutter county.. That the legislature supposed they were giving these mountains to Butte county is probable, but their ignorance of the geography of the state and the absence of any map whatever to serve as a guide fully explain the failure of their intention. It was not until a few years later that for a brief period Butte county possessed her patron mountains
By this same Act the county of Colusa was created, but on account of it sparse population was temporarily attached to Butte county for judicial purposes, and so remained till the following January.
How Butte county failed to organize in April, the time set by law, is best told by Hon. Warren T. Sexton, in his able article on the Past and Present of Butte County. He says :—
"The Act of* March 2, 1850, provided for holding elections for the election of county officers in all the counties of the state, to be held on the first Monday of April, 1850. The Act provided that certain prefects might establish the election precincts, and give notice of the same to the voters of the county, but in case the prefects did not act in the matter in time, the law provided that the voters might still hold the election on the day named, and themselves establish a precinct wherever there were thirty voters. No notice ever came to Butte, but as limited as mail facilities were, some of them had learned of the Act of the legislature, and determined to have an election at any rate, and an election was held on the first Monday of April. The only precinct we have with certainty in our memory as opening polls, was at Long's bar. A full set of county officers was voted for, all of them residents of Long's bar, or its immediate vicinity. Owing to a little circumstance which occurred on the eve of the election, this vote was not counted, never returned anywhere, and there is no record of it now in existence. Among the residents of the bar was a man known and generally called 'Old Dick Stuart,' intelligent, sharp, witty, and withal a most inveterate joker. Old Dick had labored for and with the candidates all the day long, with voice, money and whisky. About the time the polls closed, Stuart explained the matter by saying that 'it was the most successful April-fool joke he ever saw played off on a people.' It was, in fact, the first day of April. So little was known of the law, that not one of the voters there could say with any certainty that the election was a proper or legal one. The successful candidates smothered their chagrin over their lost money and lost offices as best they might, and bore the badinage of the defeated ones for a time with philosophic equanimity."
The failure to organize under the law of March 2, 1850, was not confined to Butte county alone. For this reason the legislature, which was still in session, passed the Act of April 18, 18.50, providing that any county that had failed to properly organize could petition the county judge of any adjoining county, and he should order an election. Application was therefore made to Hon. Henry P. Hann, county judge of Yuba county, who issued an order for an election in the county of Butte, to be held on the tenth of June, 1850, for the purpose of electing county officers and locating the seat of justice, as provided in the organic act. Each center of population selected its own inspectors and judges of election, and the inspectors of the various precincts formed the board to canvass the votes and declare the result. The election having been held, the board thus constituted met at Chico on the eighteenth of June, and had the following proceedings :—
PROCEEDINGS OF BOARD OF INSPECTORS.
The board of inspectors for Butte county having met, pursuant to law, at Chico, the meeting was called to order by Mr. Sanders. Major J. W. E. Brown having been called to the chair, A. T. Perry was nominated and duly elected secretary. On motion of Mr. M. H. Darrach, the board adjourned until sundown in order to give the utmost time for those precincts as yet not represented.
(Signed) A. Th. Perry, Sec.
The board met pursuant to adjournment. After some debate the resolutions offered by Mr. Perry were amended. After a closely contested vote the resolutions of Mr. Perry were adopted. Discussions were closed by a motion to read the minutes of the meeting. An amendment of the resolutions obtained.
By the board of inspectors of elections for Butte county, California:—
Resolved, That, in this early stage of the settlement and legislation of this state, the difficulty of
communication with the seat of government and the absence of authorized exponents of the law, it is
almost impossible that the law as regards elections should be complied with in its fullest sense.
Resolved, That a too strict regard to mere technicalities in the law would rather have the effect of defeating than furthering the ends of justice.
Resolved, That when, in the judgment of this board, a poll has been conducted in the spirit of the law, with a sincere desire to do justice to the different candidates as well as to the people, the returns from such poll shall be received and duly canvassed, notwithstanding the minor forms of law may have been omitted.
Resolved, That the returns from the different precincts, as received and canvassed by this board, are believed to be the proper expression of the opinion of the voters of Butte county, and as such have been received by this board; and, therefore, this board declares that the candidates whose names are attached to this report, as having the largest number of votes, are fairly and justly elected to the several offices opposite their names.
J. W. E. Brown, Inspector.
June the 18, 1850.
A. Th. Perry, Secretary.
Filed June 18, 1850.