The seeds for the Ripon community were planted along the Stanislaus River following a short-lived settlement established in 1846 when a group of Mormons planted crops of wheat on land near the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers that they named New Hope.
Their party of more than 200 under the leadership of Samuel Brannan had sailed out of New York and landed in San Francisco. Twenty men led by William Stout headed inland to form New Hope. They were threatened by a flood in the Central Valley a year later causing them to abandon their encampment.
Four years later Henry Grissim took over the land, selling it to W.H. Lyon and then in turn to H.B. Underhill. A number of ferry crossings were established along the Stanislaus with Murphy’s Ferry being the first in 1865 by John Murphy.
Murphy was from Canada – a man who had come to California during the Gold Rush and mined in the Sonora area as well as Columbia. He would injured while being too close to a verbal conflict between two miners and was hit by a stray bullet – losing his arm due to poor medical care.
Surveyors for the railroad were planning a route between Stockton and Fresno in 1869 and set their route toward the Old Murphy Ferry’s Crossing of the Stanislaus River. The original rails were laid between the Stockton waterfront and a half mile south of the ferry.
What is now known as Main Street through Ripon was developed by the 1880s with the first commercial structures erected, however most structures were either later moved or demolished to make room for additional store fronts.
The first brick building – two stories high – was completed in 1884 and would later become the Odd Fellows Hall on the second floor with general merchandise sold down stairs – complete with a hand pulled elevator for merchandise going up to the second floor. The elevator can still be seen today in the Ripon Road House with commercial offices up stairs.
The Bank of Ripon was built in 1909 and within a year the community boasted having a church, a grammar school, three general merchandise stores, a drug store, a resident physician, meat market, ice plant, two hotels, a plumbing shop, a livery stable, blacksmith shop, barber shop, lumberyard and two hay and grain warehouses, skimming and cream-receiving station, a post office and a telephone office with three rural lines running into the county.
The construction of the Markham Hotel started a building boom along Main Street. Chiapella and Gottschalk constructed a large brick structure that would house a drug store. In 1912 construction began on what would be a new Ripon Grammar School on Main Street.
The Ripon Telephone Company had located at the corner of Second and Locust streets and was purchased in 1919 by George Francis Green who had arrived in ripon with his family from Brewster, WA to purchase the company.
The Green’s daughter Grace, adopted son, Orville, along with their married daughter Myrtle Reinhardt, husband Oscar and grandson Norman moved to Ripon with them. After Green’s wife Lizzie passed away in 1921 he married Della bearing a daughter Vallere Joyce in 1925.
Ruby and Ella Kisthart were his telephone operators during the day while their brother Doug did the line work. Niece Ina Green Roome was the night operator with her daughter Violet operating the board during the evenings from 7 to 8 p.m.
George Green was also a photographer as well as a jeweler. He occupied both of these professions in the telephone office. In 1930 he sold the company to the Shipley family and they it turn sold it to Sally and Talbot Kendal of the Manteca Telephone Company.
Ripon officially became a city in 1945 spurred on by the Board of Trade. Hans Madson was elected as its first Mayor with its city hall having a history as a Christian Reformed Church building back in 1917 and later owned by the Women’s Improvement Club and donated to the city.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.