Guide to the Tuolumne County Water Company Records

Processed by Scott Baker and Sherrin Grout. Encoded by Larry Bishop.
California State Parks
1416 9th Street
Room 902
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 651-6959
Fax: (916) 653-3398
Email: vytur@parks.ca.gov
URL: http://www.parks.ca.gov
© 2005
California State Parks. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Tuolumne County Water Company Records

Scott Baker and Sherrin Grout
California State Parks Sacramento, California
Date Completed:
2003
Processed by:
Scott Baker and Sherrin Grout
Encoded by:
Larry Bishop
© 2005 California State Parks. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Tuolumne County Water Company Records, 1853-1909
Date (inclusive):
Collection number: 308-1072
Creator: Tuolumne County Water Company
Extent: 10.8 cubic feet (17 boxes)
Repository: California. Department of Parks and Recreation
Sacramento, CA 95814
Physical location: The collection is located at Columbia State Historic Park, Columbia, CA

Administrative Information

Access

The collection is open for research by appointment only. Appointments may be made by calling (209)532-0150.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the California State Parks. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact California State Parks, Columbia State Historic Park.

Preferred Citation

[Item]Tuolumne County Water Company records, Columbia State Historic Park, California State Parks, Columbia, California.

Provenance

The bulk of the TCWC records were discovered on Columbia State Historic Park premises. Apparently, for many years the collection was stored away and forgotten within the park, until about 1987, when park staff investigated an old trunk in the museum and discovered it full of TCWC documents. They were heavily damaged from water, mildew, and insects. The documents were removed, cleaned, and placed in storage boxes in the Archives building.
Staff later discovered that many of the documents that were in decent condition had been removed from the original collection, and dispersed throughout the subject and name files at some point before the trunk was discovered. For example, if a piece of water company correspondence relating to miner supplies was sent to Mr. John Doe it might have been filed under Doe or it might have been filed under General Store. Additional water company records arrived at the park through individual donations—in particular, the Conlin Family donation in the 1940s (see Conlin Family Papers).
In 2001 special funding was provided by California State Parks to reconstitute the collection, organize it according to archival principles, rehouse the records in acid-free folders and boxes, and create a finding aid to provide enhanced access to the collection. Additional materials relating to the Tuolumne County Water Company may be found at the Tuolumne County Historical Society archives, the Bancroft Library, and the Huntington Library.

Organizational History

Emigrants who rushed to California after the discovery of gold in 1848 discovered an environment whose climate and geography were sharply different from home. The California climate, with its periods of wet and dry, drought and flood emphasized the importance of resource management, espcially water management. As well as its domestic importance, large quantities of water were essential to large scale mining operations and the control of water became one of the biggest and most complex struggles facing the settlers and argonauts.
The Hildreth party has been given the credit for discovering gold in the Columbia area around 1850, although there is some evidence that a small settlement of Mexican miners may predate their arrival. The summer of 1850 was typically hot and dry; the creeks dried up and most miners moved either down to the river valleys or up to higher elevations. Winter brought miners back to the Columbia area following the rains and the return of the seasonal creek. Those merchants who managed to survive the summer realized that maintaining a market in the area relied on a steady supply of water, and local miners realized that a reliable supply of water was needed to make mining feasible year-round. Together, they established to Tuolumne County Water Company (TCWC) in June of 1851.
The TCWC was created as an employee owned and controlled company. The founders went to surrounding areas raising investors. By the end of June, 1851, 160 shares of stock had been sold and the route had been surveyed, but the company was forced to borrow money to finance the construction costs of sawmills, roads and equipment. Among the financiers who soon gained control of the company was D.O. Mills, the pioneer banker in Columbia. The TCWC incorporated in September, 1852, with a new issuance of shares initially valued at $275.
The availability of water and its price strongly influenced the fortune of the town. A struggle for control of the water, between owners of the TCWC and the miners who depended on reasonable rates and abundant supply, resulted in the formation of the Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Company in 1855. For a brief period competition lowered rates, but the new miner-operated company soon ran into financial problems and was sold; first to repay debts and later resold to the same financiers who controlled the TCWC. Disgruntled miners protested this perceived monopoly, which eventually led to the destruction of ditches and flumes and personal threats against employees and officers of the corporation. In 1858 many miners left Columbia after a boycott of the TCWC's water did not succeed in lowering rates.
In the following decades the water company continued to expand, taking over ditches, flumes and reservoirs and lakes constructed by other water and fluming companies in the county, but as gold production declined, so too did the population, resulting in less demand for water and less income for the company. By the 1880s many ditches were in disrepair and dams and reservoirs reflected a lack of maintenance. The demand for electricity resulted in the company going into the hydroelectric field, but even this could not sustain the fortunes of the company. By 1903 the remains of the company was being offered for sale, valued at $500,000 with an impressive list of ditches, flumes, dams, lakes and reservoirs all over the county.

Bibliography

A History of Tuolumne County California : compiled from the most authentic records, San Francisco: B. F. Alley, 1882.

Buckbee, Edna Bryan, The Rise and Fall of Columbis: The Saga of Old Tuolumne, New York: The Press of the Pioneers1935.

Cassel, Bonita M., Columbia: A History of the "Gem of the Southern Mines," Arroyo Grande, California: Bear Flag Books, 1995.

Davis-King, Shelley, et al, Contextual History of Tuolumne County Sonora: County of Tuolumne, 1994.

Eastman, Barbara, John Wallace and the Tuolumne Water Company Sonora: Tuoloumne County Historical Society, 1970.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Tuolumne County Water Company (TCWC) Records consist of approximately 10.8 cubic feet of materials dating between 1853-1909 and document all aspects of the TCWC ’s business, with particular emphasis on the company’s financial records. The water company was a large operation and an intricate part of the economic and social life of the area for many years and the documents reflect significant aspects of mining life. Time and wage books and scrip receipts indicate the miners’ dependence on the company; purchase invoices and correspondence detail the costs of constructing the massive flumes and ditches, and shares and stock receipts indicate the relative wealth among the company founders. Other documents indicate the location of specific mines, the ethnic constitution of the townspeople, and the operations of other local businesses. Some correspondence details the problems of the water system itself and the “water war” which engulfed the area and its people with violence and mistrust. The bulk of the collection consists of the financial records of the company, including account books, water receipts for water purchases, and checks and payroll documents.

Arrangement

The collection has been organized into the following series:

Series I: Administrative Records, 1856-1908. .8 cu. ft.
Series II: Legal Records, 1856-1886. .1 cu. ft.
Series III: Operational Records, 1853-1909. .1 cu. ft.
Series IV: Financial Records, 1853-1907. 9.8 cu. ft.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Columbia (Calif.) History.
Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Co.
Columbia Main Gulch Fluming Co.
Columbia State Historic Park (Columbia, Calif.)--Archival resources.
Enterprise Water Co.
Nil Desporandum Water Co.
Northern Light Fluming Co.
Tuolumne Co., Calif.
Tuolumne County Water Co.
Tuolumne Redemption Co.

Related Material

Additional materials relating to the Tuolumne County Water Company may be found at the Tuolumne County Historical Society archives, the Bancroft Library, and the Huntington Library.

Collection Contents

 

307-1072/I/1-76 Administrative Records, 1856-1908.

Physical Description: .8 cu. ft.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains documents that deal with some aspect of the administration of the Water Company. This includes business correspondence, board elections, notices, reports, customer lists, contracts and agreements, personnel, shares, stocks and dividends, liquidations, and acquisitions. Under acquisitions is included companies bought up by the TCWC; Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Co., Enterprise Water Co., Columbia Main Gulch Fluming Co., Nil Desporandum Water Co., Tuolumne Redemption Co., and Northern Light Fluming Co.
Box 1, Folders I/1-23

Stocks, shares and dividends 1856-1899

Box 1, Folder I/24

Book of shares (stubs), No. 511, No. 2 1854

Box 1, Folder I/25

Book of shares (stubs), No. 3 1854-1855

Box 1, Folder I/26

List of stockholders 1890

Box 1, Folder I/27

Trustees elections and minutes 1895-1905

Box 1, Folder I/28

Constitution and by-laws 1864

Box 1, Folder I/29

TCWC company stationary

Box 1, Folder I/30

Tabbed index dividers

Box 1, Folder I/31

Personnel; job requests to TCWC 1889,1901

Box 1, Folder I/32

Trustees elections and minutes 1895-1905

Box 1, Folder I/33

Liquidation

Box 1, Folder I/34

Contracts 1876-1894

Box 1, folder 35

Contracts 1895-1908

Box 1, Folder I/36

Contract – proposals 1874-1901

Box 1, Folder I/37

Tuolumne Redemption Co. check book (oversize Box 16) unknown date

Box 1, Folder I/38

Acquisitions: Northern Light Fluming Co. 1878-1879

Box 1, Folder I/39

Acquisitions: Northern Light Fluming Co. 1880-1883

Box 1, Folder I/40

Acquisitions: Northern Light Fluming Co. 1884-1899

Box 1, Folder I/41

Acquisitions: Northern Light Fluming Co – Taxes 1879-1897

Box 1, Folder I/42

Acquisitions: Columbia and Stanislaus River Water Co. 185(?)-1860

Box 1, Folder I/43

Acquisitions: Nil Desperandum Water Co. 1860

Box 1, Folder I/44

Acquisitions: Land (misc.) and acquisition proposals 1860-1899

Box 1, Folder I/45

Acquisitions: Columbia Gulch Fluming Co. 1857-1865

Box 1, Folder I/46

Acquisitions: Columbia Gulch Fluming Co. – stock certificates 1855

Box 1, Folder I/47

Acquisitions: Columbia Gulch Fluming Co. – stock certificates 1856

Box 1, Folder I/48

Acquisitions: Related but not in this collection

Box 1, Folders I/49-75

Correspondence 1857-1906 and undated

Box 1, Folder I/76

Correspondence: re – water wars

 

307-1072/II/1-14 Legal Records, 1858-1886

Physical Description: .1 cu. ft.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains documents associated with judicial legal action and judgments.
Box 1, Folder II/1

Power of attorney: Lilley to Pownell 1858

Box 1, Folder II/2

Power of attorney: Lilley to Pownell 1871

Box 1, Folder II/3

Power of attorney: Hooker to Mills 1860

Box 1, Folder II/4

Table Mountain Tunnel Co. vs. S. N. Stranahan 1861

Box 1, Folder II/5

L. F. Carpenter Estate; probate, sale of TCWC stock 1861

Box 1, Folder II/6

W. O. Sleeper proposal to TCWC 1864

Box 1, Folder II/7

Wage attachment on Labiershe (..the?) 1856

Box 1, Folder II/8

A. G. Wiedekend vs. TCWC: Appellants briefs, points and authorities 1883-1886

Box 1, Folder II/9

Knight vs. Murray; wage attachment on Murray with TCWC 1891

Box 1, Folder II/10

McCormick vs. Russell Case; Wage attachment notice 1900

Box 1, Folder II/11

Rawhide Gold Mining Co. vs. TCWC; circuit court 1904

Box 1, Folder II/12

Settlement disbursement statement and correspondence 1904

Box 1, Folder II/13

TCWC vs. John King 1885

Box 1, Folder II/14

Related documents not in this collection

 

307-1072/III/1-5 Operational Records 1853-1909

Physical Description: .1 cu. ft.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains documents pertaining to the actual maintenance of the equipment, facilities and grounds of the Water Company. This would include ditches, reservoirs, flumes, lakes, cabins, offices, roads, trails, hardware, tools and land. Also, maps, graphics, blue line drawings and surveys of lands, ditches, flumes, etc.
Box 1, Folder III/1

Miscellaneous notes and letters

Box 1, Folder III/2

Water streams note

Box 1, Folder III/3

Maps and graphics

Box 1, Folder III/4

Report: Pole line survey 1904

Box 1, Folder III/5

Report: Measurement of power at Jumper Mine 1900

 

307-1072/IV/1-264 Financial Records 1853-1907

Physical Description: 9.8 cu. ft.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains documents pertaining to the actual maintenance of the equipment, facilities and grounds of the Water Company. This would include ditches, reservoirs, flumes, lakes, cabins, offices, roads, trails, hardware, tools and land. Also, maps, graphics, blue line drawings and surveys of lands, ditches, flumes, etc.
Box 2, Folders IV/1-123

Accounts payable 1853-1907 and undated

Box 3, Folder IV/124

Accounts payable: Promissory notes and receipts 1890-1905

Box 3, Folder IV/125: Promissory notes and receipts on Nicol loan

Accounts payable 1889-1896

Box 3, Folders IV/126-137

Checks 1856-1905

Box 4, Folder IV/138-140

Check stubs book; general 1895-1906

Box 4, Folders IV/141-152

Payroll: notes 1859-1895 and undated

Box 4, Folder IV/153

Payroll: receipts 1900

Box 4, Folder IV/154

Payroll:: payroll ledgers/registers (oversize Box 17) 1891-1892

Box 4, Folder IV/155

Payroll: time worksheets unknown date

Box 4, Folder IV/156

Payroll: scrip account book & cover 1856-1859

Box 4, Folder IV/157

Payroll: scrip stubs book (oversize Box 17) 1857

Box 4, Folder IV/158

Treasurer’s accounting 1864 & ?

Box 4, Folder IV/159

Audit statement for 1898-1901 1902

Box 4, Folder IV/160

General receipt book 1885-1891

Box 4, Folder IV/161

Columbia city taxes; receipts 1859-1872

Box 4, Folder IV/162

Excise tax 1862-1865

Box 4, Folder IV/163

Tax opinion 1864, 1866

Box 4, Folder IV/164

Taxes: Tuolumne County 1859-1884

Box 4, Folder IV/165

Taxes: Tuolumne County 1887-1898, 1905

Box 4, Folder IV/166

Accounts receivable: collectors ledgers misc. dates

Box 4, Folder IV/167

Accounts receivable: collectors ledgers misc. dates

Box 4, Folder IV/168

Accounts receivable: collectors ledgers misc. dates

Box 4, Folder IV/169

Accounts receivable: misc. notes and statements misc. dates

Box 4, Folder IV/170

Related financial documents, not in collection

Box 5, Folders IV/171-183

Collectors accounts books 1854-1859 and undated

Box 5, Folder IV/184

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 1 unknown date

Box 5, Folder IV/185

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 2 1856-1857

Box 5, Folder IV/186

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 3 1857-1858

Box 5, Folder IV/187

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 4 1858-1861

Box 5, Folder IV/188

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 5 1861-1864

Box 5, Folder IV/189

Accounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account bookAccounts Receivable: Treasurer’s account book, no. 5 1865-1867

Box 5, Folder IV/190

Accounts Receivable: Collector’s reports (oversize Box 17) 1865

Box 5, Folder IV/191

Accounts Receivable: Collector’s report books 1867-1888

Box 6, Folder IV/192

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pownall) 1856

Box 6, Folder IV/193

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Mandeville) 1856

Box 6, Folder IV/194

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pownall) 1856

Box 6, Folder IV/195

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Bartlett) 1857

Box 6, Folder IV/196

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1857

Box 6, Folder IV/197

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1857

Box 6, Folder IV/198

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1857-1858

Box 6, Folder IV/199

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1857-1858

Box 6, Folder IV/200

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Lyons) 1858

Box 6, Folder IV/201

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Kendall) 1858

Box 6, Folder IV/202

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Clark) 1859

Box 6, Folder IV/203

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Clark) 1859

Box 6, Folder IV/204

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1859-1860

Box 6, Folder IV/205

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1860-1861

Box 6, Folder IV/206

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Lyons) 1861

Box 6, Folder IV/207

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gibbs) 1863

Box 6, Folder IV/208

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1863-1864

Box 6, Folder IV/209

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1865

Box 6, Folder IV/210

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (O Neill) 1866

Box 6, Folder IV/211

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1867

Box 6, Folder IV/212

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1861, 1867

Box 6, Folder IV/213

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Fairley) 1869-1870

Box 6, Folder IV/214

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1870-1871

Box 6, Folder IV/215

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Stewart) 1873

Box 6, Folder IV/216

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1878-1879

Box 6, Folder IV/217

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1878-1879

Box 7, Folder IV/218

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (O Neill) 1888-1893

Box 7, Folder IV/219

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1895

Box 7, Folder IV/220

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/221

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gurney) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/222

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/223

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gurney) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/224

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/225

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/226

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/227

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/228

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pope) 1903

Box 7, Folder IV/229

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gurney) 1903-1904

Box 7, Folder IV/230

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pope) 1903-1904

Box 7, Folder IV/231

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/232

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/233

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/234

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/235

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gurney) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/236

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pope) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/237

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/238

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/239

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/240

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Gurney) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/241

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/242

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pope) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/243

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/244

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1904

Box 7, Folder IV/245

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Byrd) 1904-1905

Box 7, Folder IV/246

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904-1905

Box 7, Folder IV/247

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904-1905

Box 7, Folder IV/248

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1904-1905

Box 7, Folder IV/249

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/250

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/251

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Blair) 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/252

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/253

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/254

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/255

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1905

Box 7, Folder IV/256

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book (Pope) 1905

Box 8, Folder IV/257

Accounts Receivable: Water receipt stubs book 1855-1862

Box 9, Folder IV/258

Accounts Receivable: Water rent receipts 1863-1866

Box 10, Folder IV/259

Accounts Receivable: Water rent receipts 1867-1905 (Also unknown dates and blanks)

Box 11, Folder IV/260

Accounts Receivable: Collectors Receipts 1855-1875

Box 12, Folder IV/261

Accounts Receivable: Collectors account book covers

Box 13, Folder IV/262

Accounts Payable: scrip 1856-1857

Box 13, Folder IV/263

Accounts Payable: scrip 1857

Box 13, Folder IV/264

Accounts Payable: scrip 1857-1863

Boxes 16-17

Oversized items