Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Report: ***Manteca; Selected Chapters from its History

This book was published 31 years ago by the Manteca Bulletin and it written by Evelyn Prouty who is a docent at the Manteca Historical Museum.  I checked it out from the Manteca library.  It presents the prehistory, Native American history first, and then important persons in the history of Manteca, emigrants and founders.  It isn't until chapter eight that it presents the history of the city of Manteca.  However it is a great book to imagine what the area was like long ago.  It actually covers most of the area, rather than just Manteca, talking about Lathrop, French Camp, Mossdale and Atlanta.  It mentions that one of the oldest buildings still standing is the Zinc House barns at Wagner and 120.  This is well East of town. 

In a brief synopsis, Manteca was first populated by persons who turned from farming after the gold rush, and some he served in the transportation industry for those in the gold mines or farming--hotels, stage station managers etc.  However farming was the main industry.  There was also transportation via the river, taking wheat to Stockton.  The first manufacturing industry was a creamery.  Here they extracted the cream from milk for shipping, returning the milk product to the farmers for feeding cattle etc.  The fat was made into butter and ice cream. 

This book talks about many little things.  I now know that the first sewage plant is off of union where the park and gold course are now.  At a railway restaurant in Lathrop.  By chance, two feuding men where on the same train.  Judge David Terry had previously threatened to kill Judge Stephen J.Field. When Judge Terry discovered the presence of the other man, he approached him and hit him a couple of times.  Judge Field's body guard, David Neagle, drew a pistol and shot Judge Terry twice, killing him.  The two men then boarded the train and continued on their way.  They were arrested and brought back  for trial but where found not guilty.

The area was hampered by floods for many years, one of the most tragic was in 1950.  It talks about the response to the flu epidemic of 1920, which in a different part of the country killed a couple of my father's siblings, before my father was born.

This book gives a very good background history of e area.  I would recommend it for those seeking out local history.  However there is a lot of history which has taken place since it was written.

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