The biographies provided on this page were reproduced from
Davisville '68: The History and Heritage of the City of Davis
(Copyright 1969) with the permission of the copyright owner, the City of Davis.
The City of Davis reserves all rights to this copyright.
1855 is the date of the earliest grave marker in the Davis Cemetery which is located on land originally purchased by Col. Joseph B. Chiles in 1850. Descriptions of boundary markers between the property of Jerome C. Davis and his brother-in-law Gabriel F. Brown dating to 1861 refer to a "graveyard fence" but few records of early burials exist today. Only one wooden headstone survived the ravages of vandals and grass fires which swept through the grounds in past years. As a result many of the area's earliest residents, in particular a large number of Chinese settlers, now lie in unmarked graves, their identities lost forever. However, headstones of all descriptions still mark the burial place of many pioneers who were laid to rest in the Davisville and Tremont cemeteries.
Records of the Catholic Church show that Mrs. I. S. Chiles gave one acre of land for a cemetery in 1874, and county records show she deeded "one acre of land south and adjoining the Davisville cemetery" to Bishop Alemany May 28, 1880. The Davisville Enterprise on September 27, 1900 reported the formation of a Cemetery Association and listed G. W. Pierce, Jr., W. S. Wright, Dr. Walter Bates, Mrs. J. W. Anderson, and Mrs. Minnie Collins as members of the Board of Trustees. W. D. Chiles, who had continued to pay taxes on the cemetery property, agreed to deed an unstated amount of land to the Board of Trustees and plans were made to beautify the plots. Another article on February 8, 1901 announced that the cemetery association had ordered 80 palm and cypress trees to be planted. The Board also voted to have a water tank repaired and had erected a new windmill, the generous gift of William H. Marden.
A petition signed by many local residents asking for incorporation of the Davis Cemetery District was acknowledged by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors on August 31, 1922 with the appointment of trustees J. A. Harby, Mrs. Virginia Saunders (Dixon), and Miss Hattie Weber.
In 1958 the Catholic Diocese deeded to the Davis Cemetery District three acres of cemetery land originally donated by the Chiles family. Acquisition of 20 additional acres purchased from George Chiles between 1962 and 1964 will meet projected needs of the community for the next twenty years.
return to top . . .
Melvin W. Blanchard
Born July 14, 1836 in Saratoga County, New York, Melvin White Blanchard was the second of three children of Martin and Matine Shaw Blanchard, both Canadians of French parentage. After public school Blanchard became apprenticed to a blacksmith in Glen Falls, New York. He then enlisted in Company F, Tenth United States Infantry, and was detailed as government blacksmith in frontier service. Later he became a member of General Johnston's regiment continuing in service until 1860 when he was honorably discharged.
That same year he crossed the mountains to California on horseback, locating permanently in Yolo County. He worked seven years on the ranch of Simon H. Lettner, followed by a single year on the farm of Dr. H. P. Merritt, and then (1867) purchased from Anna Tryon a quarter section 3.5 miles northeast of Davisville. There he was successful in raising grain and stock on a large scale. An excellent manager, by 1897 he operated a tract of 5,000 acres of grain, including large acreages owned by others. Adding to his own property, he and his sons eventually owned 800 acres.
He was married in Sacramento on April 21, 1867 to Mary Neary of County Mayo, Ireland. Daughter of a well known and successful livestock dealer, Mrs. Blanchard came to the United States in 1862 with her aunt, Mrs Catherine McDonald, and in 1864 came west via Panama, settling in Yolo County. The Blanchards had four children that lived to maturity: Louis and Martin, who assisted their father in farming, never married; Mary (m. Adolph Luttges of Binghampton, who farmed a 320 acre farm in Solano county), who herself had four childred, Oleta, Louis, Clarence, and Marie (m. William Kroeger), of Davis; and Josephine (m. Barrett J. Sanderson, well known Yolo County rancher), who has twin sons, Martin and Melvin.
The Blanchard ranch is still in the family, owned by Martin and Melvin Sanderson. Melvin White Blanchard died August 1, 1917. Mary Neary Blanchard died April 26, 1913. They and their four children are buried in a family plot in the Davis Cemetery.
return to top . . .
Elijah W. Brown
Elijah William Brown joined several relatives living in the Putah Creek area in 1858 and became a prominent citizen of early Davisville. After coming to California (via the Isthmus of Panama) he located on a ranch 2.5 miles east of the town where he owned land with his half brother G. F. Brown who married Col. Joseph B. Chiles' daughter Fanny.
A native of Montgomery County, Missouri, Brown was born September 1, 1833, the only child of Elijah and Cynthia (White) Brown, natives of Kentucky. He had several half brothers and half sisters, children of his mother's first and third marriages. His father had settled in Missouri in 1828 on a farm where he died in 1834. Elijah W. Brown received his education in Missouri before coming to California.
For several years after arriving in Davisville he worked as a clerk for William Dresbach. In 1872 he went into the hardware business which he maintained until his retirement in 1901. He organized the Sinclair Chair Factory and was a writer of some note, his published stories including "A Strange Voyage" and "Bicycle Equipped as a Flying Machine". He was a frequent contributor to the Yolo Democrat and the Davisville Enterprise under the byline of J. O. N. Besides his property in Davisville he owned a 330 acre farm in Tehama County.
Elijah Brown, a Mason and Democrat, married the former Amanda Beck of Davisville, a native of Indiana (died September 13, 1901). Their only daughter, Georgia, married G. B. Ellsworth and had no children.
Mrs. Guy Miner, present owner of the quaintly ornamented Elijah Brown home (417 "G" St.), reports that the house was moved into town from the Brown's rural property in the 1880's. It was remodeled in about 1887 into one of the most fashionable houses in Davisville. The low-lying back yard of today was one of the several offshoots of Putah Creek, which formerly meandered through the City. The octagonal tank house is another unique feature of this early Davis home.
return to top . . .
James Campbell came overland to California in the mid 1860's. He worked in the mines of the Sierra, drove mule drawn freight wagons, and engaged in the lumber business before entering farming. In 1876 he purchased 265 acres one mile west of Davisville from Jerome C. Davis, and on this property he built his home and raised his family. In 1896 he also bought 400 acres from the S. Green McMahon estate on the south side of Putah Creek, eight miles west of Davis near Stevenson Bridge in Solano County, paying $60 per acre, $2,000 down in gold coin. Until his death, he successfully farmed these ranches of fine sandy loam, some of the finest soil in Yolo County. After his death the ranch was further expanded by additional land purchased for $300 per acre from the LaRue estate in 1918. It was on the home ranch that the Jerome C. Davis branding iron, which was donated to the City of Davis, was discovered.
Campbell, as son of Mr. and Mrs. James Campbell, Sr., was a native of Ireland. As a small child he came to America with his parents in 1848 settling first in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1850 they moved to Lee County, Illinois where the senior Campbell died in 1856. While there, young James heard the Lincoln-Douglas debates. His next residence was in Kansas where he took an active part in the Kansas rebellion of 1857. He enlisted in an Illinois regiment in 1861. From there he went west to Carson City, Nevada driving freight by mule team through the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento. He often relieved Hank Monk, who drove an old Concord stage that is now in Sutter's Fort. This pioneer was also sworn in as a deputy by James McClatchy, Sheriff of Sacramento County during the threatened secession of California.
It was in Sacramento that he met and married Miss Ellen Fitzgerald on July 8,1867. Born to this union were four children: Ella Rosemond (1868-1951); Mary Claire (1870-1964); Francis A. (1876-1941); and Charles Joseph (1879-1960). The entire family is buried in the famly plot at the Davis (Catholic) Cemetery. James Campbell's death, in 1913, preceded his wife's by two months.
In 1897 Campbell built a fine residence on the ranch which served as a home for his children until 1951. Mary and Ella lived in the family home and farmed the ground until the University condemned and bought the land for expansion. The house was torn down, but the barns are still standing west of S.H. 113. Both Ella and Mary Campbell, who never married, died in Woodland.
Frank married Antonia Pausback of Sacramento and farmed the former LaRue property until his death. His widow carried on until 1951 and is now living in Davis.
Charles married Katherine Clancy, daughter of Elizabeth and Matthew Clancy, also pioneer farmers of Davis. They had two children: James (m. E. Barbara Stetson), who lives with his family of seven children on the Solano County ranch his father inherited; and Helen (m. Joseph Czuleger), of Redondo Beach, who has a joint interest in the Campbell ranch, part of the original Wolfskill grant. James Campbell's capabilities as a farmer live in his descendants who have carried on his heritage through four generations.
return to top . . .
John Caulfield, who settled in Yolo County in 1867, was born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1840. Both he and his wife-to-be (Mary McCabe) were living in New York City in April of 1865 when President Lincoln was assassinated. They were married in 1866 and sailed to California shortly thereafter, via the Isthmus of Nicaragua. They arrived in San Francisco in June of 1866, and in 1867 Caulfield leased part of the Melvin Blanchard ranch, northeast of Davis, where he worked as a warehouse foreman and was later proprietor of the Rancher's Saloon, on the northeast corner of what is now Third and "G" Streets.
John and Mary Caulfield's first child, Peter, was born in San Francisco on December 6, 1866 and had no offspring. Mary Louise (McDonald), born in Davisville on November 1, 1869, had two daughters: Alice Marie Haines (Mrs. Walter C. Dodge), Sacramento; and Hilda Jane Grauel (Mrs. F. E. Howes). Nell (McEwen), the youngest child, was born April 17, 1873. Her only daughter, Helen, married Louis Towne.
John Caulfield died in 1905 and his wife in November 1914.
return to top . . .
Samuel Stewart Cecil
Samuel Cecil (1817 - 1896), one of seven children born to John and Mrs. Cecil in Virginia, was a descendant of Lord Burleigh (Thomas Cecil) and Lord Salisbury (Robert Cecil) of England. After emigrating to Tennessee he married Lillie Richardson, born and reared in that state. Accompanied by his young wife he sought a home in the then undeveloped region of Missouri, where he ultimately acquired various large farms, including his home place, near Memphis, Scotland County. When news came of the discovery of gold in California, he crossed the plains with oxen and engaged in mining and freighting for three years, only to return to Missouri. In 1863, he came West again, this time crossing the plains with horse teams in a party of 105 wagons and settling in Yolo County, near Davisville. He improved a tract of 160 acres northwest of the Mace Boulevard overpass, making his home there until his death. Lillie Cecil died later, in Missouri. Of seven children, six reached maturity: Abigail Jane, Logan, John, Burlin, James Granville, and Carroll. All but the eldest were born in Missouri.
Abigail Jane, born in Tennessee on December 5, 1837, married William Richard Callaway of Delaware and traveled overland to settle in Oregon in the early 1860's. Three of the fourteen children met their future husbands while visiting Grandfather Samuel Cecil at Davisville: Eliza E. married Malford Drummond, Clarissa Lee married William Dee Chiles, and Frances May married Fred Hamel.
Logan Cecil was born on November 5, 1840. He lived for many years on his father's ranch near Davisville, later moving to Grimes, Colusa County, where he owned three ranches totaling over 1,200 acres. Five children were born to the union of Logan and Mary Ella Bedell Cecil: Samuel, a bachelor, deceased; Lillie Ann (m. Ernest Sachreiter), deceased; Diana and Mary Gail, who presently live on the home ranch in Grimes; and Calvert (m. Henrietta Hoover).
Carroll Cecil married Ollie Bedell, sister of Mrs. Logan Cecil. Four children were born to this union: Homer, J. C. (Pat), Louis, and Vera. After 1871, Carroll and Logan settled on cattle ranches near Willow Creek and Silver Creek, Oregon. For 25 years they trialed large herds over the route between Oregon and Sacramento, and then divided their holdings.
John Cecil married Susan Baylis, a widow with a daughter, Myrtle. He and his family lived on the Cecil ranch near Davisville.
James Granville Cecil (1836 - 1892) married Mrs. Eliza Fritz (1838 - 1912), whose daughter, Clara, married John W. Anderson, a Davisville orchardist. The family home formerly stood west of the intersection of Olive Drive and Interstate 80.
Burlin Cecil (1845 - 1917) farmed with his father near Willamette, Oregon, and on the former Isaac Chiles ranch east of Davisville between 1863 and 1870. For twelve years prior to purchasing his own ranch northwest of Davis in 1882, he worked as a clerk in a Davisville store and farmed the Lillard ranch northwest of Davisville. Upon his retirement from active management of his ranch, in 1910, Burlin moved into Davisville. His son, Granville, continued to manage the ranch. A staunch Democrat, Burlin Cecil could always be engaged in a discussion of politics. On May 12, 1872, Burlin married Eliza A. Lillard (1854 - 1908), daughter of pioneers James T. and Mary Merea Lillard, born in the Davis area. Eight children were born to this union: Bertha (m. George A. Gordon), mother of George G. and Buryl R.; Ida Bell (m. William P. Gordon), mother of Cecil and William B.; Burlin, Jr. (Jack) (m. Grace Rogers), father of Grace and Merea; Grace (m. Roy Alters), mother of Wesley; Lola (m. Wilfred H. Pike), mother of Ruby, Beryl, and Wilfred Jr.; Hazel (m. Richard Hildebrand), mother of Helen and Elizabeth; and Granville (m. Evelyn Poole), father of Constance G.
Ownership of the original Samuel Cecil Ranch east of Davis was maintained by Logan Cecil's son, Samuel, until 1967, when the ranch was sold to settle his estate.
return to top . . .
Isaac Skinner Chiles
Isaac Skinner Chiles, a pioneer of 1849, was among the earliest settlers in the Davis area. His father, Joel Franklin, eldest brother of Joseph B. Chiles, married Azubah Skinner on August 6, 1828. Isaac Skinner (July 9, 1829 - June 5, 1874), the eldest of twelve children, was born in Kentucky and educated in the public schools of Missouri. In 1843 he took charge of his father's large warehouse operation, located near Independence on the Old Santa Fe Trail. Reportedly at the request of his uncle, Col. Joseph B. Chiles, he crossed the plains by ox-team, arriving in Sacramento in the fall of 1849. Having little confidence in mining as a means of a livelihood, he settled in Yolo County and worked as a telegraph operator for the Sacramento and Napa Stage Line. He later became superintendent of the Jerome Davis farm, devoting many years to this operation. He saved his earnings and in 1862 acquired from Gabriel F. Brown a 3,200 acre tract located on part of the original Rancho Laguna de Santos Calle, purchased by Col J. B. Chiles from Marcos and Manuel Vaca on November 8, 1850. From a modest beginning in the post-war depression years of the 1860's he developed a large farming operation and became a highly respected member of the pioneer community of Davisville.
On February 10, 1863, Isaac Chiles married Bridgett Dee, a native of Ireland. They had two sons, James Franklin and William Dee. Chiles took an active interest in the early development of Davisville, in 1869 purchasing one of the first business sites, and later acquiring some 12 city lots. He also served as vice-president of the Sacramento Society of Pioneers. A memorial tribute from this society on his death stated: "Be it resolved, that in his demise this society has lost a worthy member, society a useful citizen and his family an affectionate protector."
After Chiles' untimely death, at 44, his brother, Phineas, was summoned from Missouri to help manage the large estate. A native of Missouri, Phineas Skinner Chiles (May 7, 1842 - January 22, 1919) saw government service in both New Mexico and Colorado during early manhood, settled on a series of frontier stock farms, and participated in many a skirmish with the Navajo before settling on a Missouri farm. A widower from a marriage to Mattie Adams, Phineas eventually disposed of his Missouri property and, on January 2, 1877, was married by Bishop Alemany of San Francisco to his brother's widow, Bridgett Dee. The Chiles ranch, under his guidance, continued to prosper, and he became a loving father to his young stepsons. At the death of Bridgett Dee, on April 9, 1893, her two sons inherited the Davisville ranch. Phineas later purchased part fo the estate of J. B. Chiles on Rancho Catacula, in Chiles Valley, Napa County. There he married Minnie Roberts and lived his remaining years, leaving the Chiles Valley property to the four sons of his younger stepson, William D. Chiles.
James Franklin Chiles (November 20, 1863 - September 25, 1936), the elder son of Isaac and Bridgett Chiles, was born in the family home. He was educated in the schools of Yolo County, and attended Santa Clara College in 1874-1877 and traveled extensively before farming the land inherited from his father. Large plantings of orchard and nursery stock were his chief interest for some twelve years. In addition, he raised grain and purebred stock on his own property and on a ranch to the north, which he and his brother owned jointly.
James Franklin Chiles was prominent in community affairs and active in Democratic politics. He was elected to represent his district in the State Assembly on November 6, 1900. In 1897 he married Maude Buneman (1875 - 1921), a native of San Francisco. Their children include: Henry Gardner (m. Geraldine Hale), of Point Richmond; Marjorie (m. Robert O. Prael), deceased, who had one son, Robert Jr., of Piedmont; and John Preston (m. Vivienne Caire), of Piedmont, whose children are Catherine, Mary Bridget, John, Richard, and James.
William Dee Chiles (April 11, 1868 - October 6, 1936) was born in Sacramento. He attended public school in the Davisville area and Christian Brothers' College in Sacramento. Carrying on family tradition, he devoted his energies to developing a large dry farming and purebred stock raising operation which prospered under his practical management. An active participant in community affairs, he donated land to the Davis Cemetery, was a school trustee, and helped organize the Bank of Davis.
On September 9, 1890, William D. married the daughter of another pioneer family, Clara Callaway (May 4, 1871 - February 1, 1941) of Oregon, granddaughter of Samuel Cecil. Five children were born of this marriage: William Earl (m. Olga Ketelsen) both deceased, parents of Austin, of Whittier; Eugene (deceased); Lucille (deceased); and Clara Sue (m. Andrew Gyorke) and Patricia (m. Walter A. Schlabes), both of Davis. Richard Francis (Frank) married Virginia Rogers, both still living in Davis. They are the Parents of Frances (m. Helm Pleasants) of Winters; twins June (m. George Bowker), of Santa Paula and Joan (m. William Schultz), deceased; Richard, of Davis; and Roger, of Sacramento. Isaac Skinner (deceased), whose first wife, Eleanor Messerer, died, later married Mrs. Mae Powers, now of Davis. Carol C. (m. George R. Wilson) (both deceased) had one child, a son, George C. (Tim) Wilson, of Walnut Grove. George Dee, the youngest child of William D. and Clara Chiles, married Katherine Trainor (deceased) and continues to live in Davis.
The original Chiles home, built in 1852, has been dismantled, and the home east of the cemetery, built in 1902 by W. D. Chiles, is not longer in family hands. However, descendants of one of the Davis aras's "first families" still hold an interest in this historic ranch.
return to top . . .
(Hartman) Henry Hamel
(Hartman) Henry Hamel was born November 5, 1831, in Hatzback, Germany, the son of George Hamel and Elizabeth Hoos Hamel. He sailed for America aboard the vessel Harriett in May, 1851, to join his brother John at La Salle, Illinois. According to his daughter, Carrie M., he arrived in California in 1853 by overland caravan in the company of a Mr. Fredericks of Winters.
He settled in Hangtown (Placerville). Being unsuccessful in the mines of the area, he took up freighting from Sacramento to various mining camps. On June 29, 1858, in Sacramento City, he married Anna Maria Wirtz, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, raised and educated in Cincinnati, Ohio. She had come to California with her family via the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in Sacramento in 1856. Fourteen children were born to this union. Nine attained maturity and received their early education in the Davisville school: George F. (April 13, 1859 - May 3, 1923); Henry J. (August 10, 1863 - March 10, 1938); Carrie M. (October 30, 1865 - May 27, 1956); Fred (December 23, 1867 - 1934); Alma M. (February 24, 1870 - August 6, 1959); Charlotte E. (September 20, 1871 - July 20, 1962); William C. (December 19, 1873 - February 27, 1952); Edward (February 26, 1876 - February 2, 1944); and, Elizabeth M. (April 28, 1882 - ), the only one still living.
Hamel operated a meat market in Placerville from 1862 to October, 1867, when he brought his wife and three children to the Davis area and established them on a 1200 acre ranch just south of Davisville in Solano County. This ranch became the center of a large scale cattle and farming operation.
While living in Placerville, Hamel was a volunteer fireman and a member of the Masonic Lodge and Commandery. After coming to Davis, he became a charter member of Athens Lodge No. 228, F.&A.M. He was also a member of the Woodland Cmmandery No. 21, K.T., and was a trustee of the Davisville School for twenty-two years. He died on October 5, 1911, and is buried in Davis beside his wife, who died on February 9, 1928.
George Frederick was the eldest of H. Henry and Anna Wirtz Hamel's fourteen children, four of whom were born in Placerville. After attending private schools in Sacramento and Benicia Military College, he married Lena Dietrich, a native of Sacramento, and farmed Hamel property northeast of Davisville. For many years the family lived in a Monterey colonial brick home south of Road 31 (built by Simon H. Lettner in about 1859), later moving into Davisville. Children of George F. and Lena Hamel are Caroline Marie, who still lives in Davis; Lestenna H. (died June, 1868); and Georgia F., who died in infancy.
Henry Jacob married the former Lida O'Dea, a native of New York City who was brought to Davisville in 1866 by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick O'Dea. Orphaned at 12 years, she lived with the O'Neal and Hayden families until her marriage. Two children were born of this union. George Hartman, now of Woodland, farmed land seven miles west of Davis. Three children born of George's marriage to Georgia Everett are: Gene H. and Gloria Loraine (Mrs. Carl Bremmer), both of Woodland; and Ruth Elizabeth (Mrs. Fred Greeley), of Fresno. Irma Marie Hamel married Thomas Albert Sparks, Jr., the grandson of Martin V. Sparks, a pioneer of '49, who sold his Davisville ranch for the University Farm. Their children are Henry Alva, Chief of Medicine at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital; Robert Edward, of Martinez; and Charlotte Marie (Mrs. James Hudd Beattie), of Newcastle, California, where Marie Hamel Sparks also lives.
Carrie Marie, Alma Marie, Charlotta Elizabeth, and Edward did not marry. They remained a part of this close-knit family at the home of their parents.
Fred Hamel, who attended Atkinson's College in Sacramento, married Frances May (Cecil) Callaway, a native of Corvallis, Oregon. They became the parents of three sons, who for many years jointly operated the extensive Hamel "home" ranch: Fred C. married Elsie Stick, daughter of a pioneer family in the Tremont area (three sons were born of this union: Ray Warren and Owen Ward, who are still farming with their father; and Fred Alan, deceased). Richard Henry, who now ranches with his son at Herald (Sacramento County), was recently named Cattleman of the Year; he married Marie Afton Hannon, and their children are Richard Ward and Frances Ione (Mrs. Jerald M. Henderson). Lester John, the third son of Fred and Frances Hamel, still resides in his parents' home with his wife, the former Grace Irene Corneliussen; their children are Mary Jane (Mrs. Clyde W. Rust, Jr.), of Sacramento; and John Fredrick, of Dixon.
William Charles Hamel settled on farmland east of Mace Boulevard after his marriage to Mary Jane Dukelow, a native of Durrus Bantry, County Cork, Ireland; they had no children.
Elizabeth Mathilda (Mrs. William H. Dunn), the only living child of H. Henry and Anna Wirtz Hamel, was the only daughter to marry. She was later divorced and eventually returned to Davis.
After 100 years, two grandsons of H. Henry Hamel - Fred C. (with sons Ray and Owen) and Lester J. - are still on the "home ranch," raising purebred Hereford cattle. It is to be hoped that urban expansion will not force the century-old traditions of family unity and agricultural productivity to be abandoned, and that the buildings on this pioneer ranch can be preserved for future generations.
Among the oldest structures in the Davis area are those surviving on the Hamel ranch, some built by Frederick Werner, who developed the property in the 1850's. The Greek Revival home, which stands south of Interstate 80, near the Davis interchange, to accommodate the large family of H. Henry Hamel. Another stately home, built in 1895 for Fred Hamel and his bride, is now a comfortable residence for Mr. and Mrs. Lester Hamel. Located between the two homes are several interesting structures. A rectangular brick building, dating from before 1859, was used by Mr. Werner as a distillery for the production of grape brandy. Since 1880 it has served as a storage area. A large wooden barn, built before 1867, is believed to have been prefabricated in the East and shipped around Cape Horn on an early sailing vessel. Upon arrival at the ranch it was assembled with square nails and wooden plugs. This stable is still used as a horse barn. Another building, thought to have been made of bricks formed of ranch soil, was constructed shortly after H. Henry Hamel's arrival, in 1867, and was used as a slaughterhouse for hogs until 1945, when the bricks began to deteriorate. A smokehouse at the rear of the slaughterhouse is also gone. In a nearby cow pasture is a dome shaped structure resembling a "brick igloo," also built by Mr. Werner. This circular underground room served as a cold storage area and was used as a "milk cellar." The historical and architectural importance of these century old structures cannot be measured monetarily, and the wisdom to the Hamel family in preserving this rich heritage is to be commended.
return to top . . .
Henry Foster Johnson
Henry Foster Johnson, born in New York on January 28, 1832, traveled to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama in about 1860. For a few years he lived in Sacramento, where he drove stage between Sacramento and Placerville. In about 1865, Johnson purchased acreage one mile northwest of Davisville, where he lived the remainder of his life. For Several years he farmed with Frank Meyer. Johnson, a Protestant, was a political independent and belonged to Athens Lodge No. 228 F.&A.M. He died in Davisville on December 19, 1907.
Emiline Fisher (January 21, 1845 - January 18, 1884), a native of Illinois living in Sacramento, became the bride of Henry Johnson on November 26, 1865. The Johnsons had four children: William (1866 - 1939); Laura (1870 - 1906), (m. George Covell); Frank (1872 - 1929); and Olive E. (1875 - 1954), (m. George Fissell). Forrest Fissell, son of Olive and George Fissell, still lives in Davis, with his family.
return to top . . .
The Montgomery Family
Listed as among the earliest settlers in the South Putah district are William Montgomery (May 15, 1802 - May 8, 1877) and his four sons. A native of Logan County, Kentucky, from about 1825 he farmed and raised stock in Missouri. In 1850, accompanied by three sons (Hugh, Alexander, and William W.), he journeyed overland to join another son, Robert, in search of gold in El Dorado County, California. Robert Montgomery found suitable land for agricultural operations in Yolo County. They are believed to have settled early in 1851 in a triangular area (thereafter known as the "Montgomery Sink") where the original flow of Putah Creek disappeared into the Tular, or tule swamplands, to the east.
William and Alexander Montgomery returned to Missouri for their wives in 1853. Rebecca Simmons, wife of William, had been born in North Carolina and reared in Kentucky. Thereafter, she made her home northeast of Roads 32A and 104 until she died in her 85th year. The original Montgomery homestead was consumed by flames in 1935.
William Montgomery, a successful stockman and farmer whose horses won premium awards at the California State Fair as early as 1859, was a member of the State Agricultural Society, and a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party.
Robert Montgomery, whose name first appeared in Yolo County land records on September 23, 1852, did not remain in the Davisville area. It is reported that he had two daughters: Clara, who lived in Washington; and Becky, who married W. H. Bradshaw of Davisville.
Hugh Montgomery (March 12, 1834 - April 25, 1869) was born in Missouri, died at 35, and was buried in the Davisville cemetery. He married and had two daughters who were schoolteachers, and a son, Henry Duff.
Alexander Montgomery (March 3, 1822 - April 12, 1884) was born in Kentucky. He farmed a section of land where the present Willowbank and Oakside subdivisions are located, and built a small house south of Road 32A. He then returned to Missouri for his wife and two children. Susan Martin Montgomery, whom he married in 1845, was born January 8, 1828, in Fairfax County, Virginia, and moved to Missouri with her parents, Andrew and Katherine Harrison Martin. She died in April 1906.
Of the fourteen children born to Alexander and Susan Montgomery, three died in infancy.
William S., the eldest, was born in Missouri. He farmed his father's ranch on shares from 1872-1876, before settling in Willows, California. He and his wife, Nancy Jane Rall, had four children, three of whom, Etta (Mrs. Jack Johnson), Elmer and Ida M. (Foster), lived past childhood. After his first wife died he married Magdalena Glockler, daughter of Charles Glockler, by whom he had six children; Frank, Gertrude, Caroline (Mrs. Tracy Hoag), William, Marie, and Oleta.
Rebecca M., also born in Missouri, married William King, who owned land southeast of Davisville. The Kings had seven children: Kathryn Amanda, Edna, Belle, Nell, Jackson, Joseph, and Daisy.
Susan Josephine married John A. Johnson of Woodland and had three children.
Sarah E. married Enoch Johnson of Lincoln.
Dora Alice married L. L. Ralls. Their children were Clinton and Josephine (m. Del Fenton), of Woodland.
Minnie Jeff Davis Montgomery married Eli Snider, who served on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors (1907-1911). He owned the Putah Creek Nursery, where he practices progressive theories of horticulture, and lived with his wife and only son, Alexander, in a home east of Road 103, where the palm trees stand today.
Lee Jackson Stewart married Katherine Glockler. Their children were: Lee, Delbert, and Mabel (Mrs. Frank Hamilton), all of Davis.
Andrew, who married Louisa Glockler, had one daughter, Marguerite, a retired school teacher of Davis.
Orlena married Ed Glockler, also a child of Charles Glockler, a pioneer who, in 1870 owned sixty acres northwest of Road 31 and the railroad.
James Carey built the home which still stands south of the intersection of Montgomery Road and 103. He married Glory Miller and had two children: Richard, of Pacific Grove; and Ethel (Mrs. Keith Stewart), of Arizona.
John Pelham married Letta Tamm. They had one daughter, Madge. Both Carey (owner of Dan Logan) and "Pel" Montgomery raised trotting stock and trained them on a track south of Willowbank.
Children of this large family received their education in the Montgomery School, near their home, and in Woodland, where Alexander Montgomery built a three story home, in 1872, so that his children could attend Hesperian College. After the deaths of Alexander and Susan Montgomery, their 640 acre ranch was divided among their many children. Subsequent sale of these properties has left none of the original homestead in family hands, although many of their descendants live in Davis and continue to promote its development.
William W. Montgomery
William W. Montgomery (March 31, 1830 - April 12, 1894) was born in Missouri. Upon arriving in Yolo County he claimed land along the original Putah Creek both west and east of Mace Boulevard and south of Road 32A, where a brick residence was constructed in about 1860. To this home, which still stands, he brought his bride, Caroline Jones, whom he married in Santa Rosa on October 23, 1862. Caroline (1841 - 1925), the daughter of William M. and Nancy Bass Jones, was born in Missouri. In 1857, her family had come by ox-cart to Santa Rosa, California, where her father served as Justice of the Peace.
Two sons were born to William W. and Caroline Montgomery: John Elmo (1871 - December 24, 1937) and George (September 13, 1875 - March 10, 1884). William W., who raised grain and thoroughbred horses, was killed in a runaway accident in 1894. Afterward, his widow and son, John Elmo, continued operations with the assistance of Florentine Vaca, long-time ranch foreman. Under the guidance of Caroline Montgomery the properties were increased from 1,103 to 1,220 acres in Yolo County, plus 94 acres in Solano County. Several hundred acres were adapted to pasture, and the rest to dry farming. Purebred Shorthorn Durham cattle were raised and shopped elsewhere in California and to Nevada and Texas.
John Elmo, who became the sole heir to this ranch when Caroline died, was born in the family homestead in 1871. He was long identified with the Purple Circle and was noted for his purebred sheep and standard bred trotting and pacing horses. In 1908, he purchased the best-known of his race horses, the famous Jim Logan and mother, Effie Logan, from Mr. McInery of Hawaii. In 1911 at Woodland, Jim Logan broke the world's record for a three-year-old pacer, with a time of 2.04 1/4; and in 1914 he set a new California record of 2.01 3/4. His own son, Walter Logan broke this record in 1937, with a time of 2.0. Jim Logan, often referred to as "the horse that made Yolo County famous", was twenty-eight years old when he died. A special stone marks his grave, under the oaks on the Montgomery Ranch.
Portions of the Montgomery stables, where as many as 41 horses were kept at a time, still stands south of the site of the half-mile race track where Mr. Montgomery trained his prize-winning trotters and pacers, some of which sold for $10,000.
John Elmo married Margaret Elizabeth Stone (1878 - 1955), born at Knights Landing, the daughter of Yolo County pioneers Michael E. and Annie Kuhn Stone. She attended school in Yolo County and moved to Davisville with her family in 1881. After her husband's death, in 1918, Margaret Stone Montgomery continued the family interest in race horses and farmed the entire ranch with the assistance of her son, John Elmo, Jr., and son-in-law, Willis Towne, Jr. In 1955 the ranch was divided between the three heirs of John Elmo and Margaret Montgomery: Carolyn Catherine, Mary Maxine, and John Elmo, Jr.
Carolyn married Willis Towne, Jr. and still resides in the home her parents built in 1910. They are the parents of Willis Towne III, also of the family ranch; Thomas, of Colusa; and Charles, deceased.
Maxine, wife of the late Paul R. Cote, lives in Los Angeles and has two children, Mary Maxine (Mrs. Lawrence Corcoran) and Paul Raymond, Jr.
John Elmo, Jr., who lives west of El Macero with his wife, the former Florence Lamoree of Woodland, has a daughter, Joan Elmo, and an adopted son, Brent Lee, also of Davis.
Portions of the Montgomery ranch were sold in 1958 for development of El Macero Golf and Country Club, and additional lands to the north and south have recently been sold to developers of residential and commercial properties. In 1968, only 165 acres of oak-studded farmland, surrounding the homes of William W. and John Elmo Montgomery, remain in family hands. These are owned by Carolyn Montgomery Towne, who hopes to preserve the original brick home as a tribute to their pioneer grandparents.
return to top . . .
Jacob W. Oeste
Jacob William Oeste, the father of two sons who became prominent Yolo County farmers, came to California in 1868. A native of Hesse-Cassel, Germany, he married Anne Catherine Voigt, also of Germany. They and their children crossed the Atlantic Ocean in about 1854 and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they lived for fourteen years. A farmer and hotel-keeper by profession, Jacob Oeste was plagued by ill health and sought a milder climate. With his grown children he traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in May of 1868. Shortly thereafter he purchased 320 acres of land southwest of County Roads 96 and 31, while his son-in-law, Gotfried Schmeiser, settled on the western half of the same section. In 1872, failing health caused him to sell his farm property to his son William, and he died several years later, aged sixty-six. His wife, aged sixty-seven, also died at the family home in Yolo County. The original Oeste home, remodeled on several occasions and no longer ownded by the family, still stands.
Jacob and Catherine had seven children. Five who reached maturity and became California pioneers were: John Henry (1837 - 1913), who settled in the Plainfield District; Sophie (1841 - 1919), who married Gotfried Schmeiser; David Theodore, who farmed his father's land until his death, William (1847 - 1925); and Charlotta (m. Frank Ruhstaller), of Sacramento. All were natives of Germany.
John Henry Oeste
Family letters indicate that John Henry may have been the first of the Oeste family to emigrate to the United States. In 1870, two years after his arrival in Sacramento, he married Mary Marie Elizabeth Strippel (1843 - 1935), also a native of Germany, and established a home on ranch property one mile south of the Plainfield farm center. Her brother, Heinrich Strippel, farmed in Yolo County in partnership with John H. Oeste from 1876 until his retirement, in 1905. The family home stands southeast of the Plainfield Road (98 and Road 30). It is owned by a grandson, Laverne Oeste, of Davis. For the past one hundred years, extensive farming operations have been conducted by John Oeste and his descendants. Several residential subdivisions in the western section of Davis were formerly part of the Oeste farm properties.
John Henry and Mary Oeste had five children: Carl Theodore (June 7, 1875 - December 18, 1944), a farmer, never married. Henry (May 27, 1876 - March 29, 1951), also a successful farmer, operated the LaRue ranch in the 1920's. Adolph (October 1, 1878 - October 1, 1934), farmed west of Anderson Road, married Sadie L. Worth, of Winters, now living northwest of the intersection of Russell Boulevard and the Woodland highway (S.H. 113), in a home that Adolph remodeled from an earlieer structure in 1925. Their son, Laverne, and his two daughters are the only descendants of this pioneer family. Julius Oeste (June 27, 1883 - November 8, 1925) married Alta Kambert, and had no children. Sophie Elizabeth (October 15, 1885 - April 5, 1954) did not marry.
William Oeste, the third son of Jacob and Catherinie Voigt Oeste, was apprenticed as a carpenter and cabinet maker and worked in a varnish shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before coming to California, in 1868. He followed his trade in Sacramento until 1872, when he took over his father's 320 acre farm seven miles west of Davisville. He and his descendants, successful grain farmers, retained ownership of the home place until recent years. William, like his father, was active in Republican politics. He was an honored trustee of the Fairfield Schoold District for fifty years, and a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge. He married Barbara Niedecker (September 15, 1847 - March 26, 1888), a native of Germany who came to the United States as an infant. At her death, on the home ranch, she left seven children: Caroline Leopoldine, second wife of William S. Wright of Yolo County; Matilda Louise, (m. Edwin B. Taylor of Solano County); Edna Charlotte; William Charles (1878 - 1960); George David (1879 - 1955), who married Ruby Wohlgemuth; Amelia B., born in 1888 and now living in Davis; and Frank Frederick (1885 - 1957), who married Mary Hill.
Over the past one hundred years members of the Oeste families have contributed to the agricultural productivity of Yolo County and to the development of the immediate Davis area.
return to top . . .
George Washington Pierce
George W. Pierce (Nov. 17, 1814 - February 24, 1891) was among those who crossed the plains in 1852. Born in Herkimer County, New York, he was the son of Jonathan R. and Electra Buttolph Pierce. In 1835 he moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and married Eunice French on September 29, 1846. They arrived in Placerville, California, on August 4, 1852, following and overland journey of some 3 1/2 months that involved "no really bad luck". After mining in El Dorado County for a short time, they settled near the banks of Putah Creek on the "Big Ranch",then owned by C.I. Hutchinson and Charles E. Greene. The Pierce cattle brand was registered in Yolo County on December 20, 1859. In 1860, after the "Big Ranch" failed, Mr. Pierce purchased 1200 acres, which he continued to farm until his retirement to Davisville, in 1888. At that time the Pierces purchased (from W. H. Marden) several town lots and the Marden home on the southwest corner of 4th and F Street, where they lived until George Pierce's death. Eunice Pierce, who was born in Connecticut on October 28, 1821, died in Davisville on October 6, 1908.
In 1842, Pierce served in the 4th regiment of the Wisconsin Militia. In California he was active in Republican politics, serving as Justice of the Peace (1856-62) and Public Administrator (1865-69) of the North Putah Township. He helped organize the Odd Fellows Lodge in Davisville, in 1870, and both he and Mrs. Pierce were active in the Davisville Presbyterian Church from its founding, in 1869.
Two sons were born to George and Eunice Pierce while they resided in Wisconsin: Henry Albert (August 8, 1848 - April 15, 1850); and George Washington, Jr. (December 10, 1850 - March 10, 1929), who later made his home in Yolo County and died there. A third son, Frank Alonzo (December 23, 1859 - September 10, 1863), was born near Davisville.
George, Jr. had been left with relatives in Wisconsin when his parents came west. In 1859 his mother, traveling alone, returned via the Isthmus of Panama to get him. In 1875 George, Jr., had the distinction of being the first graduate of the University of California from the Sacramento Valley. He received his degree in civil engineering and subsequently studied law. However, his father's ill health, initiated by a farm accident, necessitated his return to the ranch. He assumed full control of the large operation in 1888, and through the years gained a reputation as an outstanding agriculturist and horticulturist.
He married Susan A. Gilmore at Glen Alpine on August 15, 1888. The bride, a daughter of Nathan and Amanda (Gray) Gilmore, was born October 29, 1858, graduated from San Jose Normal School, and had taught in the schools of central California. The newlyweds settled in the original Pierce home on the family ranch. Later, in 1915, they built a large three-story home, which still stands. Despite his commitments on the ranch, George, Jr., found time to participate in many local and statewide activities. He was a charter officer of the Davisville Almond Growers Association, in 1897, and from 1913 to 1923 was president of the California Almond Growers Association. He was also an organizer and president of the California Grain Growers Association, Trustee of the San Jose State Normal School, and an executive member of the Yolo County 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition committee. A strong Republican, like his father, he was a member of the County and State Central Committees and was elected to the State Assembly in 1898. He was among those who were chiefly responsible for promoting Davisville as the site of the University State Farm, in 1905-06, serving as chairman of the promotion committee and an organizer of the first Davisville Chamber of Commerce, in 1905. The gates which still mark the entrance to the former Pierce ranch off Russell Boulevard were built from stones collected by Mr. and Mrs. Pierce on their extensive world travels, during which Mr. Pierce frequently promoted the advantages of life on the West Coast.
Susan Gilmore Pierce died on October 1, 1918, and George, Jr., died on March 10, 1929. They had four children:
Eunice Evelyn and Gilmore Wellington Pierce both died in infancy.
Dixwell Lloyd (September 11, 1897 - August 22, 1964) graduated from the University of California in 1917 and received a law degree from Boalt Hall. He was executive secretary of the State Board of Equalizaiton for 37 years and on the board of trustees of the Federation of Tax Administration for 25 years. He and his wife, the former Katherine Bradley, made their home in Sacramento and were the parents of two daughters: Janet Worden, who died in infancy; and Susan (m. Charles Stewart), of Ridgewood, New Jersey.
George Gardner Pierce, born November 11, 1891, graduated in 1915 from the University of California at Berkeley, and lived on the ranch until 1926. He married Harriet Brigden; their three children were: Thaya Muriel (m. Maurice Worden), of Mill Valley; Marjorie Eunice (m. Charles K. Celio), of Santa Rosa; and George Edwared, of Marysville.
An extensive collection of documents and personal papers belonging to three generations of the Pierce family has been given to the University library at Davis. In addition, a $75,000 scholarship fund for agricultrual students enrolled on the Davis campus has been established in thename of the Hon. George W. Pierce.
Portions of the Pierce ranch, no longer in family hands, are now annexed to the UCD Campus and to the Hillcrest Stockfarm, owned by the T. S. Glide family.
return to top . . .
Louis Jefferson Plant
Louis Jefferson Plant was born in 1835 at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He crossed the plains in 1852 with the Peter Lantham Party, which he had joined in St. Joseph, Missouri. He first settled in Clipper Mills, Butte County, and before settling in Davisville he established eating places for railroad crews along the Central Pacific line between California and Utah. He is believed to have worked at the Davisville depot after it was established in 1868. In addition to frequent editorial contributions to the Sacramento Union, he is thought to have published an early Davisville newspaper before moving from the area
Another member of the Lantham Party of 1852 was Peter Lantham's sixteen-year-old daughter, Sarah Elizabeth (1835-1929). She and Louis J. Plant married and had five children. The family lived in Davisville until about 1880, moving first to Sacramento, and later to Santa Cruz, where Plant died in 1898. His widow died in Gridley at the home of one of her daughters, and is buried in the Davis Cemetery with other members of the Plant family.
The four daughters of Louis and Sarah Plant were: Eudora (m. Frank Swan), mother of Guy, Arista, and Lottie Swan: Laura (m. Charles W. Paine of Sacramento, connected with the California State Fair for many years, as were the couple's two children, Tevis and Edward Paine); Ethel (m. George Sutton), who lived in Gridley; and Edith, who never married.
The only son, Albert June Plant (June 2, 1859 - December 27, 1911), was born in Bangor, Butte County. After attending school in Sacramento and business college in San Francisco, and working as a young boy in a Sacramento cigar store, he returned to Davisville and became a bookeeper for Liggett and Drummond's General Store (1886 - 1905). Then, deciding to go into business for himself, he started the Plant Grain and Warehouse business on the corner of what is now Fourth and "G" Streets. At one time he owned three warehouse facilities. Albert, a Republican, served as Davisville Justice of the Peace, 1907-08, was a Notary Public, and was secretary of both the first Chamber of Commerce and the local committee which promoted Davisville as the site for the University State Farm, in 1905. He was an active member of Golden Seal Lodge, No. 110, Knights of Pythias, and served as Lieutenant and Quartermaster in Company G of the California National Guard. On December 11, 1888, he married Mary Ellen Borchers. They had four children: Forrest Albert (1889-1933); Lois Mary, born in 1895; June Rose, born in 1897; and Marion Borchers (1907 - 1968).
Forrest Albert Plant interrupted his college studies upon his father's death, to assume responsiblity for the Plant warehouse operations. After passing the State Bar Examinations he established a private law practice in Davis. Forrest played a major role in community development by preparing the Articles of Incorporation for the City of Davis in 1917. As City Clerk and City Attorney he also drew up the first Ordinances implementing local government, and continued to serve Davis in these two capacities until 1932 when he was elected Yolo County Superior Court Judge. In 1913, Forrest married Helen Ayer. Their daughter, Lois, now lives in San Francisco. He was widowed in 1918 when Helen Plant died in the influenza epidemic. In 1921, Forrest married Marie Phleger, who still lives in Davis. Their sons are Forrest A., Jr., an attorney in Sacramento; and Marshall, of Santa Rosa. Forrest, Sr., died in 1933 at the height of a promising career.
Lois Mary Plant married Smuel H. Beckett, a University State Farm faculty member, who was elected to the first Board of Trustees of the City of Davis. They had no children.
June Rose Plant, widow of Valente F. Dolcini, former postmaster of Davis, succeeded her husband and retired as Davis postmaster in 1967. Dolcini was an instructor in the Animal Husbandry Department of the Uinviersity of California at Davis, and a purebred stock breeder prior ot becoming Davis Postmaster. The Dolcinis had six children: Clare (m. Roger Guichard); Albert J. (m. Nancy Cooley), of Sacramento; Jeanne (m. Charles Bailey); Mary Ellen, now principal of Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School in Davis; Valente Forrest (m. Marjorie Pulati), of Davis; and Carol (m. Robert Porter).
Marion Borchers Plant, an attorney in San Francisco, married Bernice Boone. They had two daughters: Alicia (m. Lester Portello), living and teaching in Davis; and Brenda (m. Jerry Taylor), living near Esparto.
The large two-story home at 221 First Street, built by Albert J. Plant in 1905, served briefly as St. Martin's Episcopal Church in the 1950's and is now a private residence.
return to top . . .
Frederick Carl Roos (October 24, 1841 - June 9, 1922) was one of the many natives of Germany who settled in Davisville. He was born and educated in the Baden area. At twenty-one he sailed to New York City, and from there continued to San Francisco by way of Panama, aboard the ship Vanderbilt, arriving in 1863. He then proceeded to Yolo County. After ranching 1,100 acres of land rented from Simon Lettner for several years, he purchased six lots in Davisville, in 1874, and engaged in the transfer business. He also did general teaming. Mr. Roos was a member of the Davisville Yolo Lodge, No. 169, I.O.O.F., supported the Republican Party, and was a member of the Lutheran Church
In 1873, he married Adelia Gertrude Denzler (1853 - February 28, 1936), a native of Amador County, daughter of Ada Denzler, a pioneer music teacher in Woodland. They lived for a number of years on the George Hamel ranch, and then moved to Davis. Their home, on the southeast corner of Fourth and I Streets, was badly damaged by a cyclone in the winter of 1914 or 1915. They had nine children:
Amelia (January 1, 1874 - 1954), Mrs. Thomas Hinck, had one daughter, Grace Hinck McNeil.
Louise C. (born May 22, 1875, and still living), Mrs. George Little, had no children.
Fred C. (August 26, 1881 - August 15, 1935) married Edna Dixon, and had a daughter, Pearl Roos Bandrock.
Lizzie (1883 - 1898)
Charles P. (May 19, 1884 - June 27, 1964) married Myrtle Estelle Fritts, and had a daughter, Phyllis Roos Penn, now of Davis.
John A. (April 16, 1887 - 1963) married Elizabeth Carpenter, and was the father of Robert Roos and Gwynith Roos Tygart.
Marie E. (born July 14, 1888 - still living in Davis), Mrs. Frederick M. Michael, mother of Ruth (m. George James), Warren E., Melvin E., and Laurence A.
Barbara E., Mrs. William Jensen, mother of Frederick, George, and Gordon.
Louis W. (December 30, 1892 - August 23, 1968) married Mary King, and is crdited with laying the first concrete sidewalks in Davis, in 1914.
return to top . . .
Gotfried Schmeiser, who settled in Yolo County in 1868, was born near Stuttgart, Germany on January 26, 1835. He emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he learned the carpenter's trade, and came to California, via the Isthmus of Panama, in 1857. He mined briefly and became a successful engineer and machinist in the Stockton and Sacramento areas. The California State Agricultural Society Transactions of 1859 acclaimed one of his inventions, stating, "G. Schmeiser, Sacramento, has a beautiful piece of miniature machinery in use, turning the printing press of the State Fair Gazette, which has been made by him during the past year. It is a double engine, two-horse power, having a link motion, and working to perfection. It can be reversed with great ease. It is well finished and hightly polished, and attracts numbers of admirers."
On November 30, 1868, in Sacramento, he married Sophie Oeste, daughter of Jacob and Anne Catherine Voigt Oeste, who had come to California in May of 1868 (see Oeste). The newlyweds settled on 160 acres of land southeast of County Roads 31 and 95, where Gotfried built a home which still stands. After some difficulty, clear title to the land was given in a U.S. Patent signed by President U.S. Grant, and Mr. Schmeiser's success in raising grain enabled him to increase his property to 325 acres in Yolo County and 95 acres in Solano County. He became a naturalized citizen and was a member of the Republican Party, being a delegate to several state conventions before his death on September 20, 1901. His widow was a dedicated homemaker, often nursing neighbors in the Plainfield and Fairfield districts when they became ill. She remained at he family home until her death, on June 24, 1919.
Of the eight children born at their ranch, six were educated at the Fairfield School and became prominent citizens. Henry, the eldest child, died at birth; and Charlotte, born November 14, 1870, was killed in a runaway accident at the age of four.
Theodore, or T. G., as he was called, was born August 27, 1872. He inherited is father's genius for mechanical invention and became a well-known manufacturer of farm machinery - at first in Davisville, and after 1917 in Fresno. He married Chloe LaNette Klays, daughter of pioneers Frederick and Chloe Collins Klays. They had one daughter, Bernice, of Peoria, Illinois, whose husband, Edwin Burks, retired as vice president of the Caterpillar Tractor Co. T. G.'s second marriage was to Lella Cullingford, who lives in Fresno.
Pauline, born August 26, 1874, learned the art of dressmaking and enjoyed a six-month trip to Europe with an uncle in 1900 before her marriage to C. V. Schneider, an electrical engineer in Sacramento. In addition to raising three children, Pauline was a noted poet and helped organize the first Sacramento PTA. She was also charter president of the inter-community PTA Council and served in the statewide organization for many years. Her children, all deceased, were: Sophia (m. Norman Guy, of Berkeley); Virgil (m. Frances Melvin); and Lawrence, killed in an automobile accident in 1928.
Carl E. (June 6, 1876 - May 24, 1962) farmed Schmeiser property south of Putah Creek in Solano County, where he became a highly successful agriculturist. He married Bertha Runge, whose parents had emigrated to Artois, California, in 1869, then to the Dixon area. They had two children: Vernon (m. Marie Hall); and Elda (m. Ray Rohwer, son of a pioneer Dixon family and former major-league baseball player), all of Dixon. Carl Schmeiser eventually established a home in Dixon, and represented the 4th District on the Solano County Board of Supervisors, 1921-1944.
Louise C., born October 18, 1878, did not marry. She took an active interest in the Davis community, serving as president of the Women's Improvement Club in 1914. She and her sister, Elmine, managed the University Hotel when it was first constructed, in 1912, and they returned to the Schmeiser ranch to manage it after the death of their parents.
Robert F., born February 22, 1882, farmed and was in the highway construction business. He moved to the Fresno area, where he became an executive in the California Western States Life Insurance Company at its inception. He also farmed extensively in the Tulare Lake area where oil was discovered, and he helped organize the Associated Farmers, serving two years as state president. Robert married Jessie Crook, of Yolo County, and had three daughters: June, Mavis (m. Kermit Koontz) and Muriel (m. Earl Smittcamp).
Elmine Frederica, was born May 20, 1885. After several years of residence in Davisville, during World War I she took over her parent's original farming interests, driving and repairing heavy equipment with remarkable skill. She and her sister operated the ranch jointly until Louise's death. In 1931, Elmine married Emile J. Stabel, of Zamora, who died May 10, 1938. She still lives in the one-story residence her father built, himself, in 1868, although the property has recently been annexed to the Russell ranch.
return to top . . .
Joshua B. Tufts
Pioneers of '49, Joshua (John B.) and Mary A. Tufts are listed as among the earliest residents of the immediate Davis area. Born November 18, 1824, in Middlesex County, New Jersey, Joshua was the eldest of seven children born to John M. and the former Mary Wilson Davis (a relative of Jefferson Davis). His father, an 1820 graduate of West Point Military Academy, received honorable discharge from the army in 1823, married the daughter of John Davis of Smithville, N.C., and returned to manage the family homestead at Tufts Landing, N.J.
Joshua lived on his father's farm until 1845, when he went to New York City to learn the printer's trade. There he met and married Mary Kingsland, daughter of John Kingsland once sheriff of that city. The day after wedding, April 24, 1849, they boarded the bark Clyde for a six-month honeymoon voyage that took them around the Horn. Bringing all necessary goods and building materials with him, he was prepared to establish a business enterprise. San Francisco real estate prices proved not to his liking, however, and he soon went up-river, locating is first retail store in Sacramento. In 1850 he moved to Yolo County and built a hotel in the newly established town of Washington (Broderick). He developed a profitable truck garden and invested in Jacob Lewis' Ferry and the Yolo Plankroad Turnpike, an early toll road chartered in 1855. Elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisor's on the Democratic ticket in 1852, this highly respected gentleman served two successive terms at a time when the Board had the unpopular responsibility of imposing taxes on large landowners. After 1856 he became active in the affairs of Tremont Township, in Solano County. In 1855 he bought 500 fertile acres on the south bank of Putah Creek for a reported $850 and began to establish orchards and truck gardens. A hotel, livery stable, blacksmith shop, and general store were developed on this property, just east of the Vaca-Pena grants, seven acres of which were deeded to William Dresbach and William Krekeler shortly before the former was named postmaster. The subsequent development provided and early stage stop and a site of the Solano Post Office, established November 12, 1862.
In 1869, after completion of the railroad and development of a new town on the north bank of Putah Creek, Joshua Tufts and J. Martin offered for sale the "Solano House, a barn and six adjoining fenced acres". Thereafter, Joshua associated himself with community development and maintained an interest in his rural property until 1888, when the last tract was sold to G. C. Briggs for $600 an acre. At that time the house on the original homestead was moved into town; in 1890 he built the large home on the southeast corner of Fifth and J Streets (present site of Longview School).
A true benefactor of Davisville, Joshua Tufts was a pioneer member and long-time elder of the Presbyterian Church, assisted law and order by serving as Justice of the Peace, and helped his children establish themselves in business. Preceded in death by his wife, this energeetic pioneer was stricken while cording wood at the age of 90, dying at the family home on December 8, 1914. Joshua and Mary had ten children, three of whom died in infancy:
George, the eldest, became a carpenter and builder in Berkeley.
Charles L., a Yolo County farmer, married Bettie Drummond, daughter of John and Sarah Reid Drummond.
Lucy (1861 - 1950) married George B. Hoag (1859 - 1934), the son of Benjamin F. and Mary Conrad Hoag. They had six children: Percy, Clarence, Oliver, Tracy, Lillian, and Anna.
Dollie A. (1863 - 1943) married Charles L. Philliber, son of Davisville pioneers Joseph and Julia Philliber. They had two children, Mable (Liggett) and Charles L., before Charles, Sr., was murdered by an unknown assailant, in 1888. Dollie Philliber was married again in 1905 to Calvin A. Covell, Jr., a prominent citizen and long-time mayor of Davis.
Andrew J. (1863 - 1922) established Tufts cash store prior to 1898. This business, which offered a wide selection of the finest fresh vegetables and family groceries, enjoyed a high reputation among early residents of the Davis area. "Andy" Tufts married Adaline Kincaid, the daughter of Charles and Adaline Kincaid, pioneers who settled on land in the South Putah District of Yolo County in 1864. They had six children: Blaine, Milton, Allene (m. Craig Hyde), Bluebell (m. Dana Bowers), Jackson and John.
William E. established a mercantile business in Davisville in 1881 and later settled in Fresno, where he also followed a business career.
Belle, the youngest daughter, became Mrs. Agler of Concord.
Many descendants of this large family still make their homes in the community, which counts Joshua and Mary Tufts among its most prominent pioneer settlers.
return to top . . .
George A. Weber
The genial proprietor of Davisville's first saloon, George Augustus Weber, arrived in Califonia in the fall of 1853 from Liverpool, Medina County, Ohio, where he was born January 13, 1835. The overland journey, via the Nevada route, was reportedly made in the company of three older brothers, one of whom mined for a few years in the Hangtown (Placerville) and Nevada City areas. One brother died near Roseville, and the other two returned to Ohio briefly before rejoining George, who went to work for Jonathan Sikes in the Trimont District of Solano County in 1859. Eleazer Weber was listed as a laborer in Davisville in 1870, and Anthony Weber worked on the Miller ranch near San Rafael until his death, on September 11, 1898.
Prior to the founding of Davisville George Weber worked in William Dresbach's store, saving his money until he was able to open the Yolo Saloon. The one-room structure, originally located on the northeast corner of what is now First and B Streets, on property he owned jointly with Frederick Klays, was moved opposite the railroad depot in about 1875. This prime locaation, on the southwest corner of 2nd and G was purchased from William Dresbach for $400 in gold coin. George Weber's Yolo Saloon and Billiard Parlor continued to be a popular "gentleman's retreat" until his death, on August 20, 1914, although alcoholic beverages could not be sold after the county election of 1911. At one time he also owned farm land at the intersection of Russell Blvd. and 99W.
A successful businessman and property owner, Weber married Ann Hunt in 1869 in Catholic ceremonies in Sacramento. Born August 25, 1850, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, she had accompanied two brothers to California in 1862, shortlyh after the death of their parents. After traveling to California via the Isthmus of Panama, they had settled on farmland just south of Old Putah Creek, where Ann lived until her marriage. The Weber's first home was at 223 C Street. After 1880 a large Victorian home located on the northeast corner of Second and E Streets was the family residence until 1963, when the Brinley Building was constructed on the site. Ann Weber was very active in establishing a Catholic church in Davisville. Significant roles in the community's development were also played by the four Weber daughters:
Mary Ann (July 24, 1871 - December 27, 1932), the eldest married W. Jeff Montgomery. They had one daughter, Georgine (m. Jack Jackson), deceased.
Harriet Elisha (October 10, 1872 - December 14, 1961) was educated in Davisville, as were her sisters. After further schooling in Sacramento, in 1910 she became librarian of the Davisville Library, then housed in the Buena Vista Hotel. After Yolo County assumed operation of a newly constructed library, "Miss Hattie" became the first paid librarian, a position she held until her retirement, in 1955.
Ida Madora (August 16, 1874 - April 5, 1940) married William Greive, son of Charles S. and Annie Greive, who was a sheep herdsman at the University for many years. They had one son, Charles, deceased.
Gertrude Frances (September 27, 1885 - March 14, 1961), the youngest daughter, was educated in Davis and Sacramento. She was the first librarian at the University Farm, then was a stenographer and bookeeper in the University Farm Creamery Department. In 1916 she married Al Green (Sam) Brinley, born in 1885 in Harrold, Texas. He settled in Davis in 1912, became Southern Pacific agent, and upon retirement, in 1947, established Brinley's Real Estate and Insurance Office, now owned by his son, John. John, honored in 1968 as the "Citizen of the Year" for his many contribution to the Davis community, married Laurette Suez, and has four children, all of Davis. Gertrude and Sam Brinley also had one daughter, Betty Ann, who died in 1918.
return to top . . .