A Visit to the Center for Sacramento History

CSH-BuildingYesterday I went with John Rudderow to the Center for Sacramento History. I have done a fair amount of research at the California State Library and the Bancroft Library, but I never knew (until now) about the Center for Sacramento History. It houses archives for the City and County of Sacramento.

The Center is in a building in an industrial part of Sacramento, near I-5 and the American River, that could house any kind of office or business.

The thing to know about CSH is that if you are interested in early California history, before statehood, they may just have something you want, even if your area of research is outside Sacramento. Before counties were created in 1850, deeds and other legal papers for northern California were filed in the District of Sacramento.

What were we looking for?

John wanted to find the deed recording the sale by John Bidwell of 640 acres of Rancho Chico to Alfred H. Stout. I was hoping to find out who Bidwell gave his power of attorney to when he left California to go to Washington D.C. in May 1850. He knew he would be gone for four or five months, so he probably left his affairs in the hands of someone he trusted. Who might it be?

Unfortunately, neither of us found what we were looking for. But our trip was not wasted. We found some other items of interest, plus I just like going to archives and looking at old records. That’s my particular quirk.

Bidwell went to Washington in company with Samuel Hensley. Hensley owned the land grant on the south side of Chico Creek, but he lived in San Jose and did not plan to develop the grant himself. In 1849 he sold two leagues to John Bidwell. That gave Bidwell control of land on both sides of Chico Creek. The deed was executed on July 6, 1849, while both men were in Sacramento.

Here is the deed:


Know all men by these presents I, Samuel J. Hensley, of the Sacramento district and Sacramento valley for and in consideration of the sum of Five thousand dollars to me in hand paid, the receipt whereof I hereby acknowledge, have given, granted and transferred and by these presents do give, grant and transfer, unto John Bidwell of said district and valley his heirs and assigns, the undivided half of four square leagues of land situated between Bute and Chico Creeks and bounded as follows, on the west by the tract of land granted to E.A. Farwell by the Mexican Government and Chico Creek, on the northeast and east by the barren land along the base of the Sierra Nevada and by Bute Creek, and on the South and Southwest by a tract of land granted by by me, the said Saml. J. Hensley unto one James W. Marshall and by the grant of the aforesaid E. A. Farwell  . . . .

Next time: Another item from the Center for Sacramento History.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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10 Responses to A Visit to the Center for Sacramento History

  1. russ says:

    these details are given in a book by EDNA reynolds Durham b. 1906. “Samuel Neal California Pioneer.”

    • nancyleek says:

      I am not sure what details you are referring to, but that book is a good one about Sam Neal.

      • Russ W. Taylor says:

        Charles Taylor, my ggrandfather’s brother, who was killed in a horse wreck 1853 was a business associate/friend to Sam Neal.

      • nancyleek says:

        Here is a quote from a letter written to John Bidwell by Nelson Blake, who worked for Bidwell in 1851-52, and who knew Charles Taylor:
        “You say Charley Taylor is dead. Is it possible He! the gayest of the gay, light-hearted and cheerful, almost to frivolity. Almost compelling everyone to smile wherever he went. He seemed to see or know no dark side to this world. There was no bemoaning the lost in his character, so full of animation and joyous spirits, it almost seemed as though he was not born to die.” (Oct. 16, 1853)

      • Russ W. Taylor says:

        Thank you so very much.
        I will forward this to my cousin Dori who lives in Winters.
        Russ Taylor

      • Russ W. Taylor says:

        Hi Nancy, My ggrandfather A. Judson Taylor and his two minor brothers(Benjamin E. & Johnathan W.) were brought to Cailfornia on a trail drive by William H. Fairchild from Illinois, coincidently at the same time that Charles Taylor(their older brother) was killed in 1853 in Butte. Wm.H. Fairchild was the half brother and he was designated as all three minor boys guardian by San Joaquin County. Nathan Taylor had married Elizabeth (Betsy Fairchild He also became the administrator of the Charles Taylor estate in Butte. NFairchild and these minor boys lived 5 miles East of Stockton along near the intersection of the Waterloo Rd.(88) and Fairchild Rd. They were residents of S.J.County 1853-1859. Fairchild was a S.J. County Supervisor 1873-7. We have contacted S.J County board of supervisors and also S.J.County Historical Museum @ Micke Grove attempting to obtain an (A) photo of Wm.H. Fairchild. We have also failed to find (B) the guardianship document through S.J.County Genealogical society and S.J.County Superior Court Records Management. The only thing we could find was the case index which clearly identifies the case. The case is just one of many in S.J.County which has no assigned number in the S.J County case index.
        State archives has NO S.J.County Court records whatsoever that I can identify.
        All efforts have failed to produce these records of my relatives & ggrandfather.
        Do you have any ideas/suggestions regarding locating A & B?
        Russ Taylor

  2. Russ W. Taylor says:

    Thank you so very much.
    I will forward this to my cousin Dori who lives in Winters.
    Russ Taylor

  3. nancyleek says:

    Dear Russ– It sounds to me like you have done all that can be done. You have already talked to folks at the S.J. Historical Society and Genealogical Society and County Archives. Unfortunately, many California counties lost or destroyed many old records before the state passed a law requiring them to be preserved. That may be what happened.

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