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Chronology
1839 ~ 1847


~ 1839 ~

AUGUST 1839 ~ Thirty-six-year-old Swiss-born Johann Augustus Suter (John Sutter) arrives in the California territory where the Sacramento River meets the American River. He convinces Mexican Governor Alvarado to give him a 48,000-acre land grant there, where he starts building his empire called New Hevetia, or Sutter's Fort. This is the first inland settlement and the closest fort to the Sierras. Other settlements, mostly Mexican, are in the valleys on the Pacific coast.


~ 1841 ~

NOVEMBER 4, 1841 ~ John Bidwell leads the first California pioneers into the San Joaquin Valley after nearly six months of travel from Independence, Missouri.

DURING 1841 ~ John Sutter purchases Fort Ross from the Russians, trying to expand his empire.


~ 1842 ~

MARCH 1842 ~ Rancher Francisco Lopez finds gold in the San Fernando Hills while digging onions. One hundred miners come to work the gravels, but by 1845, when John Bidwell visits there, the gold has almost been depleted and only 30 miners are still there, working hard for 30 cents a day.


~ 1845 ~

JULY 1845 ~ New Jersey-born James Wilson Marshall arrives at Sutter's Fort on a wagon train from Oregon.


~ 1846 ~

MAY 13, 1846 ~ War breaks out between the United States and Mexico.

JUNE 14, 1846 ~ A group of Yankee ranchers, fearing Californios (Mexican settlers) will run them out of the territory, ride to Sonoma, capture General Mariano Vallejo, and declare California the Bear Flag Republic.

JULY 7, 1846 ~ The U.S. Pacific Fleet lands at Monterey under the command of Commodore John Sloat, who raises the American flag there, and claims California for the United States.

JULY 9, 1846 ~ The U.S. flag is raised on Yerba Buena Island in the San Francisco Bay and replaces the Bear flag at Sonoma.

OCTOBER 1846 ~ The emigrant wagon train led by George Donner is trapped in the early storms of a fierce Sierra winter. That winter, 39 of the 87 members die of exposure and starvation in the worst tragedy of the migration west.


~ 1847 ~

JANUARY 13, 1847 ~ The war over the California territory ends with the signing of the Cahuenga Capitulation by Captain Fremont and Californios leader General Pico.

LATE JANUARY 1847 ~ The Mormon Battalion (300 from Utah) arrives too late to fight in the battle, but some decide to stay and work for Sutter.

FEBRUARY 10, 1847 ~ John Fremont is unhappy with his acquisition of a large tract of seeminingly worthless land near Mariposa. However, it ultimately becomes the richest of the Southern Mines along the Mother Lode.

MAY 16, 1847 ~ James Marshall sets out for the foothills to locate a good site for a sawmill at the request of John Sutter. He selects the valley on the South Fork of the American River that native Americans called Culluma.

AUGUST 27, 1847 ~ Sutter and Marshall enter into a written agreement to build the mill, Sutter providing the money and manpower, and Marshall providing the expertise.

SEPTEMBER 1847 ~ Work begins on the sawmill in Culluma Valley, mostly Mormons from the battalion working under Sutter and Marshall.


GOLD RUSH COUNTIES:
MARIPOSA | TUOLUMNE | CALAVERAS | AMADOR | EL DORADO | PLACER | NEVADA | SIERRA




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