The Partnership of Thomes and Toomes

Melinda said their story would make a good buddy movie. Maybe they were too similar to give their story the contrast it needs, but pioneers Robert H. Thomes and Albert G. Toomes certainly were life-long friends.

tehama museum1Yesterday I went to the Tehama County Museum to hear Melinda Rist give a talk on the Mexican land grants of Tehama County. Melinda is an archivist working at the Butte County Hall of Records.

If you have never visited the Tehama County Museum, stop by some Saturday afternoon and check it out. It’s a great little history museum in the town of Tehama, just over the river from Los Molinos (on Highway 99).

The museum is housed in the Masonic Lodge built in 1856, which also served at one time as a schoolhouse.

Thomes and Toomes came to Tehama County looking for a place to settle in 1844, along with some other men from Monterey (Job Dye, William Chard) and guided by John Bidwell and Peter Lassen. They found the land they wanted on either side of the Sacramento River: Robert Thomes got Rancho Saucos on the west side of the Sacramento River, and Albert Toomes took Rancho de los Molinos on the east side, just above Lassen’s Ranch.

tehama land grants

Melinda’s map of the Mexican land grants in Tehama County.

The thing I have always wondered about is: How are their names pronounced? Toomes is not too hard — it’s pronounced like Tombs. Thomes? Is it pronounced Thomas, Tomes, or Toms? Melinda said “Tomes,” (long O) but I came across an old newspaper article referring to “Tom’s Creek” which is Thomes Creek, the creek that runs through his ranch.

So how did Robert H. Thomes pronounce his own name? Inquiring minds want to know!

More about Messrs. Thomes and Toomes next time.

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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