Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: Place-Names of California's North San Joaquin Valley

Place Names of California's North San Joaquin Valley: Includes San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties, by David L Durham, Word Dancer Press, Clovis, California, 2000.

It is fascinating how many place names there are.  There are rives and sloughs and channels and islands surrounded by rivers.  That is what you get with a delta.  Of course this is not room to hit on every place name, so let me offer some high lights.  The San Joaquin River shapes much of the area, with its many channels. 

Charles Weber laid out Stockton and French Camp.  This was after he received a land grant Campo de los Franceses.  The are was called this based on some French fur trappers who had camped in the area.  Stockton is the County Seat, and most prominent city of San Joaquin County.  Weber laid out the town of Stockton in 1847 on his land grant.  Other names were suggested, but in the end Stockton took the name of Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who was commander of military forces in California at the time and largely responsible for conducting of the Mexican American War in California and the annexation of Alta California into the United States.  In Stockton there is Mormon Slough, but no idea why it took this name.

Manteca, which means butter or lard, took its name from the local creamery.  The rail way station was first called Cowell in honor of Joshua Cowell who had granted the rail company right-of-way. 

New Hope, the Mormon community is mentioned in the section on the Sanislaus River.  This community was near the mouth of the Stanislaus River, and lasted only about a year.  This was later known as Staislaus City and there was a ferry in the area.  Ripon developed nearby.  There is another New Hope in the county in the Lodi area.  Lodi is north of Stockton.  It was originally named Mokelumne.  Lodi Lake is located near Lodi (originally Smith Lake.)

Banta is near Tracy where Kasson and Grant Line roads meet.  There was a prominent Inn there.  Lathrop is along the San Joaquin River.   Tracy took the name of Lathrop tracy, an official of the rail road.  The alternate is Judge F.P. Tracy, a contemporary of Leland Stanford. 

Also south of Tracy in the Diablo Range is Corral Hollow.  I had heard of the name being the result of a corral made to catch wild horses.  This book gives and alternative.  It may have been named for Edward Corral.  The canyon and creek were also known by the Mexicans as Buenos Ayres Creek.

San Joaquin City was a river town with the Dunham Ferry close by.  From here originally oak, and later wheat was shipped.  Sturgeon Bend in the San Joaquin River is close to this spot. 

Knights Ferry fascinates me.  The name-sake of the town was actually killed in a gun battle.  There is a geologic feature near here known as Lover's Leap or The Jumping Off Place.

There of course is much more in this book available at the Manteca Library.  I have focused mostly on San Joaquin County. 

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