Merced Sun Star
July 1, 1930
Rad's Ramblings


In the Bancroft Almanac of 1863, heretofore quoted in this column, Merced county comes in for official listing, The article states by announcing that the Merced Banner, a county newspaper, was established at Snelling and issued its first number June 28, 1862. "A destructive fire at Snelling occurred Sept. 12, 1862. Loss about $25,000."

In 1862 Merced county had just passed its seventh birthday. The District Court with jurisdiction here was the Thirteenth Judicial district, Hon. Ethelbert Burke, judge; sessions, fourth Monday in January, May and September. The County Court held its sessions on the first Monday in January, March, May, July, September and November. John G. McCullough, of Mariposa, was our state senator and Hon. James W. Robertson of Snelling was the assemblyman.

The county officers were J. W. Fitzhugh, judge; Samuel H. P. Ross, district attorney; R. R. Leak, (father of Miss Amelia Leak of Merced) county clerk; George Turner, sheriff; G. W. Halstead, treasurer (grandfather of Mrs. Addie Maxfield of Merced); Job Wheat, assessor; W. G. Collier, surveyor; R. B. Huey, county superintendent of schools. There were three supervisors -- J. N. Ward, Dry Creek, first district; Silas March, mouth of Merced river, second district; Peyton Y. Welch, Plainsburg, third district. There was no representation in those days from the West Side unless Silas March may be said to have lived on the bordering San Joaquin.


There were two judicial townships. Each one had two justices of the peace -- Nick Breen and E. Eagleson of Snelling and Alfred Herald and Hueben Hall of Gwin, the latter town being in the extreme eastern part of the county on the Millerton road.

In 1862 the floating debt of Merced county was $1500. Receipts last fiscal year $12,000; expenditures, same period, $13,500. Taxable property, $1,250,000. The taxable property in Merced county today, according to Assessor Fred Robinson, is roundly $48,000,000.

As we all know, Snelling was the county seat in 1862. The Almanac gave Snelling's legal distance from Sacramento, 115 miles; from Stockton, 70 miles; from San Quentin, 200 miles. The population was 150.

Snelling's attorneys were Wm. A. Johnson, J. W. Robertson, Samuel H. P. Ross, F. J. Woodward. The doctors outnumbered the lawyers, contrary to the present rule in Merced. The physicians were W. J. Barfield, W. J. Esmond, J. W. Fitzhugh, D. W. Lewis, D. C. McCroskey, J. W. Tucker. There were four general stores -- Simon & Co., J. Goldsmith, Skelton's and Simon, Jacobs & Co.

There were only two other postoffices in the county beside Snelling. At Merced Falls the postmaster was J. M. Wooster, and the three general stores were those of Davis & Co., A. Rosenthal & Co., and L. Hadligh. At Gwin Hiram Beighle was postmaster of Gwin, heretofore unmentioned by any Merced county historian, will be the subject of another ramble.

Transcribed by: Alma Stone