“I went to R. Livermore’s, which is about 20 miles from Marsh’s, nearly W[est]; he has a Spanish wife and is surrounded by 5 or 6 Spanish families.”
John Bidwell was eager to explore the California landscape and find out what the opportunities were for a farmer. Dr. Marsh must have told him that Robert Livermore had a ranch about 25 miles to the southwest of Marsh’s ranch, so Bidwell set out to learn more.
Robert Livermore was an Englishman, one of those sailors who jumped ship and stayed in California. Born in 1790, he landed in California in 1822 in San Pedro and worked as a ranch foreman until he could acquire his own land grant. In 1834 he and his partner Jose Noriega started running cattle on a ranch in what became Alameda County, and in 1839 they acquired title to Rancho Las Positas. In 1838 he married Maria Josefa de Jesus Higuera Molina. They had eight children.
He had a reputation as a hospitable and honest man. He stayed out of politics. He didn’t even go prospecting for gold during the Gold Rush, knowing that his land, livestock, and crops would be more valuable in the long run than gold could ever be. John Bidwell would have agreed with him on that.
Robert Livermore died in 1858, and the town of Livermore is named after him.