Mokelumne Hill, CA


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The village of Mokelumne Hill nestles on a small flat surrounded by hills and within a few miles of the Mokelumne River. The first inhabitants of the village were the Miwok Indians who lived along the Mokelumne River, in nearby Happy Valley, in Chili Gulch, and elsewhere. The name Mokelumne was first recorded by Father Narcisco Duran as Muquelumnes in 1817; according to A.L. Kroeber, it is named from the Indian Mokelumni, "people of Mokel"; but it is also listed as a corruption of the Indian name for big river.
The first white men to reside in the area were reputedly the French trappers who settled in Happy Valley in the 1830s. The first known white men mining in the region were Captain Charles M. Weber and a company who mined along the Mokelumne River in the autumn of 1848 between Big Bar and Lower Bar. A party of miners from Oregon who discovered Big Bar induced a provision wagon to drive to the area and this was so successful that a store was opened in November in Mokelumne Hill by Mr. Syree. Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson's Regiment of New York Volunteers reached Mokelumne Hill in 1848 and Samuel Pearsall of the Regiment was the first to discover gold in Mokelumne Hill on the north side of Stockton Hill. In later years Colonel Stevenson claimed to have been the first alcalde of the town.
Mokelumne Hill thus had its beginnings as a trading center for the miners from nearby Chili Gulch, Lancha Plana, Big Bar, Sandy Bar, Poverty Bar, Rich Gulch, Mosquito Gulch, and Happy Valley. By November of 1848 twenty men were engaged in mining, Mr. Syree was keeping his trading tent, G.B. Dickenson and family were running a boarding tent, and the Fourcade brothers had settled there. By 1850 Mr. Grigoire was operating a general store and Davidson and Sommers opened a store in 1851 which operated until 1914.