By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca Stake marks 30 years
Mormons were first Manteca area settlers
Placeholder Image


• WHAT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Manteca Stake with an open house
• WHEN: Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. until moon
• WHERE: Manteca Stake Center, 6060 Northland Road
• MEMBERS: There are 14,300 members in the Manteca Stake boundaries that include Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop and Tracy.

They were not lured to California by gold.

Instead the first settlers to what is now the Manteca area came here in 1846 with the goal of creating an agricultural colony in the great expanse of California’s then largely unchartered Central Valley.

A group of 20 men - part of a larger band of 200 sent to California by the Church of Latter-day Saints leader Brigham Young - founded the first agricultural settlement in the Central Valley known as New Hope about a mile and a half north of the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers. It is in an area that today is where Manteca Road (which is Main Street in Manteca) meets Division Road and Avenue D west of Caswell State Park.

It wasn’t the first settlement of non-Yokut Indians in San Joaquin County. That distinction goes to the trappers with the Hudson Bay Company who formed French Camp in 1832 although they had annual forays into the area to trap beaver, mink, bear and other fur-bearing animals.

But New Hope was the first attempt at developing the agricultural potential of the Central Valley that today is considered the world’s most bountiful farming region.

Sam Brannan, who was to become an instrumental figure in the Gold Rush era and early California, led the band of 200 East Coast Mormons around the Horn to Yerba Buena - the original name of San Francisco  - where they arrived in the autumn of 1846.

The area was ‘purist of all’
A group of 20 men led by William Stout departed Yerba Buena on the launch dubbed “Comet” in a bid to scout a site for their settlement. They left their families behind in Yerba Buena. Along the way they crossed paths where a trapper by the name of Ezekiel Merritt. The trapper told them of the Great Valley and a place that he called “the purist of all” located just six miles south of modern day Manteca.

Most of the 20 men - all farmers by trade - landed at what is known today as Mossdale Crossing with all of the implements, seeds, and tools needed to establish shelter, build a saw mill and plant a crop. Others had walked after purchasing a team of oxen and a wagon at what was known as Livermore ranch near Antioch.

A passage from the book “Historic Spots in California” describes the New Hope settlement:

“Soon after their arrival a log cabin, constructed in the Western manner and covered with oak shingles fashioned on the spot, was put up, while with a crudely improvised sawmill boards were hewn from oak logs for the cabin floor. Elk bear, and wild geese was so abundant that one man with a rifle could bring in enough game in three hours’ time to supply the colony for a week. The little settlement did, indeed seem full of hope and promise.”

Grizzly bears - plentiful in the area - were used for lard,

The central house was completed as was a primitive irrigation system. They then began to plow and plant wheat. By mid-January of 1847 they had 80 acres cultivated and fenced.

The winter rains soon changed everything. The winter of 1846-47 was extremely wet and stormy. The river reportedly rose at eight feet per hour and by the end of January overflowed it banks. At one point opposite of Corral Hollow the river was reportedly three miles wide.

Making matters worse was Stout.

The History of San Joaquin County published in 1879 noted that after the wheat was planted as well as some potatoes he called the other men together to make a speech.

Excerpts of the speech from the history book indicated that Stout began, “Now boys, we have got through putting in our crop, and have got it fenced in; now go to work each of you and select a good farm of 160 acres and make out the boundaries; we will go to work to put up houses, one at a time, so that by the time the crop is ready to harvest, you will all have your houses and farms. But I selected this place; this house and farm is mine.”

The last 11 words of his speech were what started to unravel things. Brannan soon came from Yerba Buena to hear grievances and hold a church meeting where he set aside the original house and farm to be used by the Twelve Apostles of the Morn church.

Stout left New Hope a few days later. He never returned.

A short time later, the settlers dug upon their crop of potatoes. According to the San Joaquin History book only to discover the centers were rotten.

New Hope is abandoned in 1847
Whether that was what prompted the exodus back to San Francisco isn’t made clear in various history books. One of the group - a Mr. Buckland - remained for a short time but the he departed as well eventually building what was known as the Buckland House in San Francisco. New Hope ceased to exist in 1847. Some Manteca articles  make reference to traces of the New Hope irrigation system still being visible as late as 1900.

In addition to a historical marker near Mossdale Crossing that makes note of the New Hope settlement and the Comet, there is a marker in Ripon that makes reference to the San Joaquin Valley’s first agricultural colony. It also references the ship Brooklyn they arrived in San Francisco on as well as a ferry that was put in place that accessed a settlement on the west side of the river that eventually known as Stanislaus City that for much of the 1860s and 1870s was used as the southern most shipping point for wheat. Stanislaus City, like New Hope, now longer exists.

The Manteca Stake is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Manteca Stake Center, 6060 Northland Road, with a public open house. A display of the New Hope settlement will be part of the open house.