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Names in the 209: Stockton, Lodi, Ripon and SJ River
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What’s in a name?

The discovery of gold on the American River in 1848 transformed this part of California, from small settlements to thriving commercial centers for miners heading up to the Sierra foothills.

In turn, San Joaquin County was changed forever. With it, came the names of the towns along with some of the waterways and railways.


Capt. Charles Weber was a German immigrant who decided to try his hand at gold mining in late 1848.

Once known as Tuleburg and Mudville, he, instead, chose to honor Commodore Robert F. Stockton.

In 1849, Weber founded Stockton after purchasing over 49,000 acres of land through a Spanish land grant.

While he never quite struck gold, Weber, who provided supplies, turned the needs of the gold-seeking miners into a profitable opportunity.

The City of Stockton became his legacy.

San Joaquin River

The largest river of Central California has a history dating back to over 8,000 years.

In the late 18th century, for example, successive waves of explorers settled along these banks, in turn, driving away the indigenous tribes.

Sections of the 366-mile long river had many names during the course of time, but it was explorer Gabriel Moraga, who, while surveying east for potential mission sites, happened along a tributary of the river. That part of the river remains unknown.

What’s known is that Moraga named it for Saint Joachim, husband of St. Anne and father of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

By 1810, this entire waterway was referred to as the San Joaquin River.


For those in the know, Ripon was once called Murphy’s Ferry.

But it was Amplias B. Crooks, born in Ripon, Wisconsin, who not only re-named the area but opened a business.

He came here in 1874 – that’s about when the nucleus of the town was started – and was not pleased with the name at the time, Stanislaus City.

Instead, Crooks, on Dec. 21, 1874, officially changed it after his birthplace, Ripon.


Long before this region was the center of wine production (see: “Zinfandel Capital of the World”), this area had been settled by the likes of Ezekiel Lawrence, Reuben Wardrobe, A.C. Ayers, and John Magley.

It had been called Mokelumne and the Mokelumne Station after the nearby river.

At the time, in 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad was in the process of creating a new route and station.

The earlier names often caused confusion with other nearby towns. It took an assembly bill in Sacramento to re-name the town to Lodi, a city in northern Italy.

According to some of the reports, those among earliest settlers more than likely had families from Lodi, Illinois.


209 staff reporter