The Gold Rush:
has been a landmark in the Northern California Sierra Nevada
Foohills since the earliest days of the California Gold Rush.
John Greenwood, the son of the famous mountain man, trapper
and covered wagon guide, Caleb Greenwood, arrived in the area
around 1849 just after the discovery of gold in nearby Coloma
in 1848. The town of Greenwood derived its name from Mr. Greenwood.
|At the same time, Mormon Hiram
Gates came West with Greenwood in 1849. To serve the growing
population of gold miners, Hiram started a livery stable and
way station which would become known as the Penobscot public
One of the
most informative books written about the era of the Gold
Rush is entitled History of El Dorado County California
– Historical Souvenir of El Dorado County, California
with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent
Men & Pioneers. The book was first published in 1883
and authored by Paolo Sioli. Unlike later publications that
relied on second-hand information, Sioli’s work was
published only thirty-five years after the first documented
discovery of gold. The Penobscot House is mentioned several
times in this historical book.
|Lewis B. Meyers subsequently
acquired the livery and way station from the estate of the
Gate’s family in 1851. Mr. Meyers is described in Sioli’s
book as “one of the first men to reach California in
1849”. He was a trapper to the Rocky Mountains and an
interpreter among the Sioux Indians. Meyers bought the Penobscot
House, which he kept until 1854, when it passed into the hands
of Page and Lovejoy.” (Sioli, Page 252)
Ranch has been a landmark in Northern California since
Gold was discovered in Coloma in 1849.
|Mr. L. H. Lovejoy, as written
in Mr. Sioli’s book (Page 251), “was born in
1820 and was but 13 years old when he was thrown upon his
own resources and worked at whatever his hands could find
to do until 1853. He came to California and spent his first
year near Redwood city in lumbering. In 1854 he moved to
El Dorado county, and acquired and improved the Penobscot
property in 1855. He kept it one year, leased it one year,
and then sold it, and moved to Murderer’s Bar in 1857.”
Mr. Lovejoy operated a stagecoach line, using Penobscot
as a stagecoach stop.
|According to the
local newspaper, the Mountain Democrat, which was established
in 1851, “Cool’s (then called Cave Valley) most
prominent pioneer was Loriston (Loren) Lovejoy, who was
born in Maine in 1820 and came to California in 1853.
|Lovejoy was an extremely active
entrepreneur in gold country. He first engaged in the lumber
business in Redwood City on the San Francisco peninsula.
He came to El Dorado County in 1854, acquiring the Penobscot
hotel and ranch in Cave Valley, previously owned by Lewis
Meyers since 1851. Lovejoy sold out in 1857 and moved to
Murderers Bar to mine for gold.” The name Penobscot
was penned to the entire area during ownership of Mr. Lovejoy
because the land reminded him of Penobscot Maine from where
1859 Benjamin F. Pollard deeded property to Joseph D.
Lord described as “That certain ranch public house,
barnes stable and property situate about two miles south
west of Greenwood valley and known as the Penobescot House
and property and containing within enclosure about one
thousand acres of land and owned and occupied by me for
about two years last past.” (Recorded in Book “E”
of Deeds at page 356 and sold for $3,000). Mr. Pollard
at the same time also sold “the steam saw mill situated
about one and half miles South of the said Penobescot
| As more families moved into
this friendly neighborhood, a school district was formed.
Many of our leading citizens can remember trudging three
or more miles to receive their early education in the one-room
Penobscot schoolhouse which was built in 1889.” (From
‘A Country Woman Remembers’ by Lillian Lafaille,
1991, Page 6. Mrs. Lafaille lived across the road from Penobscot
Farm for many years on the property now known as the Tin
Man Ranch. ) This one-room schoolhouse was in use until
the 1940’s. There are still visible remnants of the
playground, including a see-saw and chin-up bars.
|In 1890 the United States
issued Homestead Certificate No 2685 to William Morgan in
order “to secure Homesteads to Actual Settlers on
the Public Domain” for one hundred and sixty acres
described as the “West half of Northwest quarter and
West half of Southwest quarter of Section Fourteen in Township
Twelve North of Range Nine East, M.D.B. & M”.
The original Homestead still exists today.
|On May 19, 1919 Elizabeth
Morgan, widow of William Morgan, and their children deeded
the “West half of Northwest quarter and West half
of Southwest quarter of Section Fourteen in Township Twelve
North of Range Nine East, M.D.B. & M. together with
all and singular the tenements, etc, to Mr. Charles R. Sharp
(Recorded in Book “90” of Deeds at page 449
in El Dorado County). For the tax year 1919 Mr. Sharp paid
$47.92 for the House, Barn, & Fencing for W _ W _ of
Section 14 – 12 – 9.” This was for State
and County taxes (Vol. 4, Page 45 Tax Rolls of the County
of El Dorado.)
|On May 26, 1919, Charles R.
Sharp deeded the same to The Penobscot Farm, a Corporation
organized and existing under the laws of the State of California
– State Corporate No. 88114. (Recorded in Book “89”
of Deeds at page 107)”. In June of 1919, the property
of West half of Northwest quarter and West half of Southwest
quarter of Section Fourteen in Township Twelve North of
Range Nine East, M.D.B. & M. appraised at $6,500 (appraisal
filed as Certificate of Inheritance Tax Appraisers for the
County of El Dorado No. 1389).
|The President of The Penobscot
Farm was Mr. Jacob Paul Rettenmayer and the Treasurer was
Mr. E. A. Weymouth. Mr. Rettenmayer was a Principal and
President of the Acme Brewing Company in San Francisco.
According to his biography, ‘anticipating the passage
of national prohibition, Mr. Rettenmayer struck out in an
entirely new direction’.
|An article in the Placerville
Mountain Democrat of August 28, 1920 reported that “J.P.
Rettenmayer will be visiting Penobscot Farm after taking
over the interest of the retiring owner. Mr. J. P. Rettenmayer,
Mr. Geo. H. Eberhard and their associates who are identified
with Mr. Chas. B. Sharp in the Penobscot Farm, are actively
identified with some of California’s most successful
business enterprises. They expect within the next five or
six years to develop one of the finest herds of Ayrshires
in the State of California. They have purchased the Ganow
ranch from Mr. F. D. Wilson, which will make their total
holding over 1200 acres. They also plan to set out several
thousand more pear trees.”