The Rocklin Historical Society


WRITTEN FOR THE WOMEN�S IMPROVEMENT CLUB OF ROCKLIN
By Mrs. George Allen


Here are just a few memories of the early days of Rocklin:

Where the little town of Rocklin now stands, was, in 1862 and 1863, a small portion of the John Dixon ranch (now belonging to the Whitney estate), the Bolton tract (now the Huff ranch), the Moor ranch and state lands with big stock and grain joining.

And the site of Rocklin was then covered with beautiful oak and pine trees.

And it was to gather the acorns and pine nuts that the Indians came every fall for their winter stores, grinding the acorns into coarse flour in crude stone mortars to be used to make their bread.

But the abundance of acorns and pine nuts was not the only attraction for the Indians -- there was the spring, now known as Huff�s Mineral Spring. Even then it was known to the Indians who believed the spring water possessed great healing powers � �heap big medicine, him good for Injun�, they would say.

The Digger Indians as they were, are now almost extinct.

The old Indian burial ground, about a mile-and-a-half from Rocklin was for a long time a place of great attraction to many boys and girls would go out there and dig for beads and arrowheads. Some succeeded in getting quite a collection.

For many years after Rocklin became a town, the Indians still had a regular Campoodie in the eastern part of town near Oak Street. There they would all come to spend the winter, the men hunting or idle. Some of the squaws would do wash for families, provided they were paid their price.

I believe twins were never born to the Indian women, so that fact explains the following story:

A friend of mine, who had twin baby boys lying in their cradle when a squaw came to wash, was very much surprised to a grunt behind her. Turning around, she found the Indian woman staring first at the crying babies and then at her. �Him you papoose,� she muttered, and when answered, �Yes�, the Indian woman strode to the door say, �No good, No. Me Injun, me good squaw,� holding up one finger, papoose and she left.

One summer while the Indians were gone to the mountain lakes to fish, someone set fire to their Campoodie and destroyed it. They never rebuilt their winter home.

I think their last rabbit drive near Rocklin was in 1869 on the Layton ranch (Clover Valley) that at the time was an Indian paradise. The entire valley was studded with immense oaks, yielding great quantities of acorns. And Clover Ravine ran full of clear water until late spring when it was filled with suckers (WHAT)? which the Indians speared. In addition, the Indians shot the hares and rabbits with bow and arrows.

With the disappearance of the great trees and the settling of the surrounding country, it marked the passing the Indians from this locality.

In 1864 the Central Pacific Railroad was running trains through Rocklin, carrying freight and passengers. The railroad did not reach New Castle until January 1865.

Near, but not quite so far west, stood the first hotel � named the Van Trees House.

Very soon the first quarry was opened by Brigham and Hawes, closely followed by one opened and run by S. D. Smith. The latter quarry furnished much of the stone that was later used to build our state capitol.

This old-time quarry is at the present known as the California Granite Company, operated by Mr. Pernu. So you see, we have a claim on the state capitol building,

Soon, Rocklin was a lively little railroad town, following close the construction camp of the railroad.

In August 1866 the Rocklin School District was formed and Miss Ellen Hinckley taught the very first school term. Her home for many years has been Santa Paula.

The first clerk of school trustees was Mr. John Ertle. The first postmaster, I believe, was L. G. Smith who also kept a general merchandise store.

And if we cannot boast over neighboring Roseville in anything else, we had a school first for about six years before Roseville was formed in 1872.

But Roseville possessed a railway station. The railroad was passing through there as early as 1863, crossing the American River at Folsom, with stops at Roseville, Lincoln and Marysville.

This railroad route continued in business until June 1864 when forced to yield after a bitter struggle with the Central Pacific Railroad. The route was brought by Central Pacific and the route has since been known as the Oregon Route.

Many people have stared in disbelieve and astonishment when I have told them of this little road which passed so near to the present site of Rocklin when Rocklin had not even been thought of and Central Pacific had not yet begun turning the earth the Great Transcontinental Railroad.

Rocklin has been visited several times by the most destructive fires � in three of them, lives were lost. One person died in the burning of the Trott�s Hotel, located where the Post Office now sits. Trott�s Hotel was the first of the series of fires and it burned in 1869. Later in 1873 the Round House together with the locomotives inside it was destroyed by fire.

In 1870 the Van Trees House was destroyed by fire and a strong wind. It was only by the hardest fighting that the town was saved. Rocklin people have lost very heavily many times through the terrible scourge of flames devouring homes and business buildings alike.

People who lived near here and who had spent most of their lives working and mining for gold. As the struggle to make a living became harden and more uncertain, they eventually drived to Rocklin. Most families had some member, especially the younger ones, in the employ of the railroad.

And as the white settles came, so came the Chinese workers. First they started washhouses, then a store. Before Rocklin became aware of it, a small Chinatown grew in their midst located at the back of the old Round House.

About a mile and a half south of town were the Chinese gardens. It was there the Chinese grew the vegetables they peddled from great round baskets suspended from the ends of a bamboo pole carried over their shoulders from house to house. They were well patronized by many people of the town up to September 1876 when the whole (WHAT)? County was aroused by one of the most brutal murders ever committed. The scene of the crime was on the old Ryan ranch about two miles north of Rocklin. The three victims were H. N. Sargent, Xavier Odor and his wife. The murderers were led by a Chinese man name Ah Sam.

Rocklin citizens were so enraged over the horrible affair that they called a mass meeting and decided that henceforth no Chinese people could live here. Residents decided to give the Chinese notice to leave town by six o�clock. The advice was immediately acted upon. By that time not a Chinese person could be found in town, not even those employed by the railroad, and not one has lived here since.

In due time the town of Rocklin became incorporated. It has at different times boasted a weekly newspaper; has been well represented by lodges and orders. Among the latter, Granite Lodge No. 222 of Free Masons, I think was first and formed in 1872. Not long after, an Eastern Star Chapter also was formed, but for some reason, its charter was later surrendered.

The town was for 40 years a lively little railroad place. It is fair to state that in all those years, however, the quarry business has contributed largely to the stability of the Rocklin community.

I assure you, we older �Rocklinites� know of the has-beens and we all hope for the will-bes.

So hoping you have not been altogether bored and that I have succeeded in helping you pass a pleasant afternoon.


Annelia E. Layton