first white explorers of the valley were a party of Frenchmen, trappers from
Being an alien Captain Weber could not secure a grant of land from the Mexican government; California was at that time the property of the Mexicans, so he formed a partnership with William Gulnae, a man born in New York who had married a Mexican woman and sworn allegiance to the southern republic, and he petitioned for and secured a grant to the eleven square leagues of land on the east side of the San Joaquin River.
known as Campo de los Franceses (Camp of the Frenchmen) grant and embraced that
ground upon which
The initial survey of the city was made by
Jasper O'Farrell and, as an induce-ment to settlers, "a block of land in
town and 480 acres in the country" was given to each white man who cast
his fortunes with the little band of stout-hearted pioneers. Slowly the
population increased until in 1848, the news of
He lived to see his dream become a reality, witnessed a steady and satisfactory progress toward the desired goal. Before his death, in 1881, he saw the small settlement established by him and his little band of undaunted associates expand into a city than which none more prosperous or delightful can be found in all the West.
Since the Captain's death the untiring
efforts and energy of its citizens has served to place
Situated on tidewater the city enjoys
exceptional facilities for shipping. Daily steamers ply between the port and
Stockton's streets are wide, well-kept thoroughfares, lined with magnificent shade trees, behind which cluster beautiful homes built upon mansion and cottage lines as the means of the owners have dictated, but contributing en masse, to the general adornment of the city. The streets are served with a score of miles of car lines run by electricity and which reach to every point of vantage and pleasure in the city.
Lodi, a thriving town of over three thousand population, situated 14 miles distant, in the center of the world-famous "flame tokay" grape district, is connected by the electric line of the Central California Traction Company, whose cars run every hour and lines are now being surveyed for extensions of the same to Modesto and other surrounding towns.
The governments of the city, county and school districts are all carefully organized and administered, and committed to policies that comprehend the public good and serve the taxpayer in every possible way--the non-partisan business spirit and basis being conspicuous in the handling of the people's affairs; a condition that serves to lessen taxation and increases property values and personal wages to a point commensurate with the expectations of a people who keep in close and constant contact with public administration.
While a certain foreword seemed due it has not been the purpose of the writer of the foregoing to give and exhaustive history of the city, that has been ably done by Mr. George H. Tinkham in his "History of Stockton," a work that shows unmistakable evidence of much careful and painstaking research and which, in our opinion could be read with profit by every Stocktonian who feels an interest in the place he sees fit to call his home. It is our privilege only to compile a few facts regarding one of the city's most important institutions, namely, the Fire Department. The early history of the volunteer organization is filled with many tragic, ludicrous but withal interesting incidents and we accept, with no small degree of pleasure, the opportunity to set forth, so far as we are able, the details of the doings of that splendid body of men--the Volunteer Firemen of Stockton.
THE BUCKET BRIGADES
As men who are successful in the hazardous business of subduing the most dangerous of all the elements are not, as a rule, of a particularly clerical or statistical turn of mind, but few reliable records have been left of the early organization. Unauthenticated matter coming from the memories of some of the pioneers, carries the history of the Volunteers back to the spring of 1849 when most of the city was housed in tents. A small blaze originating in the cuisine of a linen hostelry at that time, while it was quickly subdued, resulted in creating a spasmodic appreciation of the "demon" that was ever present and led to initial action for protection.
It was a primitive movement at best, being not even a tangible organization of a bucket brigade. Later a company was formed and called the "Weber Bucket Brigade." It was an informal organization, composed of a number of the leading business men. The names of the members, together with those of the gentlemen who officered the company, have been lost to posterity. As the city grew similar brigades sprang up in the different sections as far as the exigencies of the situation demanded. All of them responded to a call and great rivalry existed between them. Fighting fire in the old bucket-brigade style was a slow and tedious operation and consisted simply in the formation of a line by citizens from the scene of the fire to the nearest water and the passing of buckets back and forth. On December 23, 1849, a fire having its origin on the levee and fanned by a strong breeze from the west, soon laid the linen city in ashes. Merchandise to the value of $200,000 went up in smoke and the crude methods employed by the bucket brigades were proved to be of no avail. The rivalry between the brigades was not always of the good-natured kind and on the day of the big fire many encounters bordering on riots occurred. It had its good effect, however, for through it was brought about a compact, cohesive formally organized fire company with attendant elimination of all ill-feeling and a greatly increased usefulness.
Transcriber Sally Kaleta.
Proofreader Betty Vickroy.
© 2002-2007 Nancy Pratt Melton.
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