A Short History of the Delta (Part III)


European Settlement

The Mexican Government surely became concerned about the interlopers ferreting around in their territory and it is believed that this is what led them to grant John Sutter his vast tract at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers.    Leaving what is now San Francisco in August of 1839 it took Sutter and his band eight days to find the entrance to the Sacramento after passing through Carquinez Straits which speaks to the maze of waterways even then.  One of Sutter’s boats was the schooner Isabella which legend has it had been the private yacht of King Kamehameha the Great of the Sandwich Islands, possibly the first yacht in the Delta!  Sutter eventually landed on the bank of the American River at about where the city dump of Sacramento is located.  He built his fort nearby at what is now the corner of 27th and L streets in Sacramento.  Sutter became a Mexican citizen on August 29, 1840 and was appointed Captain in the Mexican Army as well as judge and representative of the “Government at the Frontier of the Rio Sacramento”.  Sutter’s treatment of the Indians is a matter of controversy. Certainly he treated them no worse than did the Mexicans or the Spanish before them. What is known is that he minted tin coins with stars stamped into them for payment to the Indians for work performed and the coins could be redeemed later for food or dry goods in Sutter’s store.

Charles Weber migrated westward and arrived at John Marsh’s ranch at the base of Mt. Diablo in October of 1841.  Weber made his way to Sutter’s fort and was employed there in the winter of 1841.  Sutter sponsored Weber to obtain Mexican citizenship, which made Weber eligible to receive a land-grant from Mexico.  In 1844 Captain Charles Weber and William Gulnac obtained a Mexican land grant for the Rancho del Campo de los Franceses of about 48,000 acres.  Weber later bought out Gulnac for $200 and started the settlement of Slough Town later renamed Tuleburg. 

During the Mexican-American war the Mexicans imprisoned Weber for refusing to raise arms against the Americans.  Commodore Robert F. Stockton the American military commander of California rescued him.  In gratitude Weber renamed his settlement Stockton which name it still bears today. The Steamer John A. Sutter was the first power boat to arrive in Stockton in November 1849. 

On June 16, 1846 the settlers in California under the command of John Fremont declared independence from Mexico and created the Bear Flag Republic.  On July 11, 1846 Paul Revere’s nephew Lieutenant Joseph Revere sent a United States flag to Sutter and the U.S. annexed California under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which included paying Mexico a cash payment of $15,000,000 and the United States assuming claims of American citizens against Mexico of $3,250,000. This ended Mexico’s 21 year control of California.  On September 9, 1850, by act of congress California became the 31st state in the Union.


About Bill Wells - A retired yacht broker, Bill is currently the Executive Director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitor's Bureau. He is an active member of the Northern California Fleet of the Classic Yacht Association. In their spare time he and his beloved wife Sue cruise their 1937 Stephens cruiser Ranger to boating events throughout the Delta. Bill is active in matters helping to preserve and protect the California Delta. He chronicles his adventures in the monthly Delta Rat Scrapbook column for Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine.



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