ABOUT OUR FOUNDERS
Josiah Buckman Greene & caroline beal Greene1818-1893:
EXCERTED FROM: Reed, G. Walter, History of Sacramento County, California With Biographical Sketches, Page 442-447. Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, CA. 1923.
"Josiah Greene’s father was a traveling jeweler in New Hampshire, and when he died, Josiah B. took up his father’s business and became an expert jeweler. He extended his business from New Hampshire to the southern part of Old Virginia, and established a route that took him a whole year to cover. He was paid a salary by the farmers along the route to inspect and keep their respective clocks in good condition, and he traveled this route in a spring wagon. In 1846, Josiah B. Greene moved to Leesburg, Va., and there established a jewelry store. He also built a hotel, and later rented this hotel out to a man by the name of Turner; and this hotel became one of historic fame on account of its relation to the Civil War.
Josiah B. Greene was called the “blackest of black Republicans,” when war was brewing, and the Southerners began making things very unpleasant and unsafe for his life. He was an out-and-out Abolitionist, and his life was threatened many times. In the gold excitement in California he saw an opportunity for slipping away from this hotbed of trouble; so he sold out his jewelry business at Leesburg, Va., and moved to Salisbury, N. H. There he left his wife and son, George B. Greene, and set off for California by way of the Nicaraguan route, accompanied by his brother Sylvester and a friend named Willard Hazen. They landed in San Francisco in the first week of January, 1850. In San Francisco, Josiah Greene bought a “squatter quit-claim title,” for a ranch up the Sacramento River, paying $600 cash for it. He completed the deal without seeing the land, because he had observed that wherever farmers cultivated river land, they seemed to prosper better than the farmers on the prairies.
In January, 1850, the three men who had come to California together boarded a Sacramento River boat to go up to the newly purchased ranch; but the river was so swollen by the heavy rains that the boat passed right by his land, and Mr. Greene was unable to locate his property. The three companions went on to Sacramento, the trip requiring three weeks from San Francisco, and there they purchased lumber to build a flatboat. They then floated this flatboat down stream, and finally found the property sought, by asking everyone along the river who owned the next ranch. Josiah B. Greene at length landed just below a point called Oak Grove, and camped there, for his ranch was still under water several feet deep at this time; the water was clear as crystal, like that of a mountain stream, and it was most interesting to look down into its depths and spy the objects beneath. Many settlers became discouraged at the state of their land, and did not hold on to what they had; but Mr. Greene, like the true Yankee, was a man of unyielding will and determination. He was conscientious, serious-minded and industrious, and he made up his mind that eventually this river land must become very valuable. He built on this ranch, and then left his brother Sylvester and Mr. Hazen in charge of the place, and went to the mines. He took a claim, followed placer mining all summer, and made good wages, finally selling his claim at a good figure; but within three weeks’ time after he had disposed of it, the purchaser struck a pocket of gold that netted him $10,000----giving Mr. Greene food for thought. Upon selling his mine, he returned to his ranch and found that his brother and Mr. Hazen had harvested and stacked fifty tons of wild hay; the hay was of blue-grass and wild clover that had grown four or five feet tall, and that year the hay had a value of $50 per ton. After that year, Mr. Greene remained on the ranch, raising vegetables and hauling them to the mines on the hills, and in return receiving big money for them.
In the fall of 1851, Josiah Greene went back to New Hampshire, and on his return to the Coast he brought with him his wife and son George, then three years old, traveling by way of Nicaragua, and arrived on Merritt Island, in Yolo County, on May 16, 1852. George Greene was the first white boy on the Sacramento River below Sacramento, and his mother was the third white woman. On the way to California with his family, Josiah Greene made a contract with a Mr. Julien (who afterward settled below what is known as Freeport, in Sacramento County) to have him drive a bunch of cattle from St. Joseph, Mo., to California; and although the herd was depleted in numbers by the trying trip across the plains, Mr. Greene took the herd to Hangtown, now Coloma, and there started and conducted the first commercial dairy in California. This herd was kept at Hangtown for a season, and then Josiah Greene returned to his ranch on the Sacramento River, and there for years continued dairying.
In 1866, Josiah Greene, father of Josiah B. Greene, died in New Hampshire, and his son Sylvester Greene returned to New Hampshire to settle the estate. He never returned to California, but died at Salisbury, N. H. During his stay in California, he had purchased the “Ding” ranch from Daniel De Gross, and just previously to his going back to New Hampshire, his brother Josiah B. Greene bought this ranch from him. The way the Ding ranch received its name is unique, and worthy of mention. In 1852, a stroller along the Sacramento River fished from a stream a piece of board with the letters “Ding” painted on it, for the board had originally been part of a sign advertising a “boarding” house, but that portion with the first four letters had been broken off. The party nailed it upon a tree, and there it remained for years afterward, the ranch thereafter always bearing that name.
In 1852, Josiah B. Greene built the first levee that was ever erected in California. It was built for the purpose of keeping the flood-waters from his dwelling, and was thrown up around his home in Yolo County. He constructed it with his own teams and men. The reinforcements were made of sycamore logs and sticks, and when Merritt Island was finally completed in the reclamation district, the actual cash output amounted to more than $350 per acre, and this did not include the value of the labor which the Josiah and other property-owners had put into it. Josiah B. Greene lived on the home ranch adjoining the Ding ranch until his death. Although he was not a churchman, the Sabbath day was always kept on his ranches. Mr. Greene’s estate on Merritt Island at the time of his death included 1,125 acres and he owned an additional 750 acres in the Pierson district, in Sacramento County, devoted to dairying. He was a lover of flowers; and his home, the first to be built on Merritt Island, was a truly beautiful spot."
(Source: Reed, G. Walter, History of Sacramento County, California With Biographical Sketches, Page 442-447. Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, CA. 1923.)