Scope and Content
Wolfskill, Edward, 1850-1939
Title: Wolfskill Family Collection
26 linear feet
Abstract: The Wolfskill Family Collection contains genealogical and biographical information
about a pioneer family of Solano and Yolo Counties, California. John Reid Wolfskill (1804-1897) settled on the
Rancho Rio de los Putos Grant near present-day Winters, Calif., in 1842. The Wolfskill Family collection
includes correspondence, ephemera, realia, and photographs related to John Reid Wolfskill and his family as well
as reference materials related to the history of California.
Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many
are stored offsite.
University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special
Davis, California 95616-5292
Collection number: D-023
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
John R. Wolfskill and Family
In 1842, John Reid Wolfskill (1804-1897), who was also known as John Reed, John R. or J.R., became the first
American pioneer settler in the Solano County and Yolo County region of California. Before his journey to
California, John Reid worked as a teamster in Santa Fe and in Mexico, where he lived for ten years, and later
worked for a French merchant as the manager of a pack train of forty mules packing silver bullion and
In 1838, John Reid traveled to California via the Santa Fe Trail and arrived at his brother William's house in
Los Angeles. After working for William for a few years, John R. wanted to have his own property. He surveyed
Northern California and ultimately liked the present-day Winters area the best. William, a naturalized Mexican
citizen through his marriage to Magdalena Lugo, petitioned the Mexican government for the land that John R.
desired. Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted William his request by giving him the Rancho Rio de los Putos Grant,
also known as the Wolfskill Grant, which encompassed 17,754 acres of land on both sides of Putah Creek in Solano
and Yolo Counties.
By agreement between the two brothers, John R. settled on the Rancho Rio de los Putos Grant while William
remained in Los Angles. John R. brought to the rancho a herd of about ninety cattle and some fruit cuttings from
William's farm. John R.'s farm became well-known for growing a variety of fruits, including oranges, olives,
figs, peaches, pears, and grapes. In 1849, William deeded half of the Rancho Rio de los Putos to John R., who
then sold off lots at a low price to bring more settlers to the area.
John R. Wolfskill married Carmella (Carmelita) Knight, the daughter of William Henry Knight and Carmen (Carmel) Tapia de Arce.
Their son, Edward, often referred to as “Ned” or “Ed,” was born on the Wolfskill Ranch in 1850. In 1851, Carmel Knight Wolfskill
died. In 1860, John R. Wolfskill married Susan Cooper, daughter of Major Stephen Cooper. Susan Cooper Wolfskill, herself a
child of pioneers, made the first Fourth of July flag for California. The flag was raised in 1847 at the celebration party
for California’s independence from Mexico. John R. and Susan had four daughters: Nellie, who died during infancy; Melinda
(“Linnie”); Virginia (“Jennie”); and Frances (“Fannie”).
Before his death in 1897, John R. Wolfskill divided his land amongst his children and his wife, leaving about
1,200 acres to his children and 1,000 acres to Susan.
Edward "Ned" Wolfskill and Family
Edward ("Ned") Wolfskill (1850-1939) attended private school at home along with other children in the
neighborhood. In 1873, Ned was a member of the original board of directors and a cashier for the Bank of Dixon.
He was made a life member of the State Agricultural Society around 1886 or 1887. Ned and Annie Bollinger
Wolfskill had four children but one child died young. The surviving three children were Frank, John Reed, and
After Annie's death, Ned traveled around the world. He lived in the Philippine Islands from 1899 to 1911. Ned
also worked as a storekeeper in the Quartermaster Corps in the War Department.
Ned and Annie's eldest son, Frank, married Myrtle Jane Cooper. Their second son, John Reed (generally known as
Reed or Reid), married Ina Winn. They had a daughter named Annie Rowena. Reed died in 1927 and Ina
Aldanita, the youngest of Ned and Annie's children, received her education at the Irving Institute in San
Francisco. Around 1900, she spent six years in Germany studying music at the Scharwenka and Stern
Conservatories. In May 1913, Aldanita made her debut as a contralto opera singer in San Francisco with Madame
Bernice de Pasquali, a Prima Donna Soprano of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. In 1915, Aldanita sang at
the opening ceremonies of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. After the birth of her
son, Edward, Aldanita decided to end her career on stage. She leased a part of the Wolfskill Grant from her
father and started a new career as a farmer.
Aldanita's husband, Charles R. Detrick, was secretary to the California Railroad Commission from about 1900 to
1918. In 1925, Charles was elected as California's Insurance Commissioner. He served as the first vice-president
for the commissioner's national organization in 1927 and in 1928 was elected to the presidency of the national
organization. Charles' brother, Edington Detrick, Jr., was the collector of the Detrick family genealogy.
Melinda "Linnie" Wolfskill and Family
Melinda Tate ("Linnie") Wolfskill (1860-1929) was the oldest daughter of John R. and Susan Cooper Wolfskill.
She married Henry Clay Goodyear in October 1880. Henry Clay Goodyear, a native of Benicia, California, had
membership in the San Francisco Wheat Exchange for several years and also grew fruit. In 1899, business took him
to the Philippine Islands. Linnie and Henry Goodyear had three children: John Murray Goodyear, Edward Andrew
Goodyear, and Henry Clay Goodyear. Later, Linnie separated from Henry C. Goodyear and married Charles C.
Councilman. Linnie and Charles had no children.
Virginia "Jennie" Wolfskill and Family
Virginia Lee ("Jennie") Wolfskill (1864-1935) was the second daughter of John R. and Susan Cooper Wolfskill. In
1883, Jennie married Franklin (generally known as Frank) J. Bonney, a well-known attorney in San Francisco.
Frances "Fannie" Wolfskill and Family
Frances Ann (Fannie) Wolfskill (1866-1934) was the youngest daughter of John R. and Susan Cooper Wolfskill. She
married Colonel Samuel Taylor on September 4, 1889. Fannie and Samuel Taylor had four children: Bayard Taylor,
Don L. Taylor, Frances Iris (generally known as Iris) Taylor, and Virginia Taylor. Fannie and her husband built
the "Rancho 96" in Winters after an 1892 earthquake destroyed his father's house. After Colonel Taylor's death,
Fannie married Lawrence H. Wilson.
John R. Wolfskill lived with Fannie and her family until his death. Upon John R.'s death, Fannie received about
1,000 acres of land. In 1936, she willed to the University of California, Davis, a portion of her estate for the
creation of an experimental farm with the condition that the olive trees planted by her father be left as a
memorial to him. She also stipulated that all of her heirs would have to be deceased before the university could
take possession of the one hundred and eight acres. However, her heirs agreed in court to allow the university
to take immediate possession of the property. The university tract became known as the Wolfskill Experimental
Orchards and is currently used by the department of Pomology.
Romance and History of California Ranchos. San Francisco: Harr
Wagner Publishing Company, 1935. pp. 165-166.
Hussey, John A.
The Wolfskill Party in California. Thesis. Berkeley: University of
California, Library Photographic Service, . 1 reel: positive; 35mm.
Larkey, Joann Leach.
Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, a Harmony of Purpose.
Woodland: Yolo County Historical Society, 1991.
History of Solano County: Comprising an Account of its Geographical Position....
Fairfield, Ca: J. Stevenson Pub., 1994. pp. 59-60, 70.
Walters, Shipley with Tom Anderson.
Knights Landing: the River, the Land, and the
Woodland: Yolo Historical Society, 1992.
Scope and Content
The Wolfskill Family Collection contains genealogical and biographical information about a pioneer family of
Solano and Yolo Counties, California. John Reid Wolfskill (1804-1897) settled on the Rancho Rio de los Putos
Grant near present-day Winters, Calif., in 1842.
The Wolfskill Family collection includes correspondence among members of the Wolfskill family and their
relatives and friends; land records; ephemera; realia, including scrapbooks and family Bibles; and a large
number of photographs, including images of family members and family property. The collection also includes
reference materials related to the history of California.
Arrangement of the Collection
The Collection is arranged into fifteen series: 1. Genealogy and Biographical Materials; 2. John Reid
Wolfskill and Family; 3. Edward "Ned" Wolfskill and Family; 4. Melinda ("Linnie") Wolfskill Goodyear
Councilman and Family; 5. Virginia ("Jennie") Wolfskill Bonney and Family; 6. Frances ("Fannie") Wolfskill
Taylor Wilson and Family; 7. Aldanita Wolfskill Detrick and Family; 8. Edington Detrick and Family; 9. Other
Correspondence; 10. Other Legal Documents; 11. Other Financial Documents; 12. Subject and Reference Files; 13.
Other Ephemera; 14. Other Photographs; 15. Realia.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public
Wolfskill, Edward, 1850-1939--Archives.
Pioneers -- California -- History -- 19th century.
California -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
California -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Women -- California -- History.
Solano County (Calif.)
Yolo County (Calif.)
Collection is open for research.
Payne Vang, Special Collections intern, processed the bulk of the collection and created its finding aid under
the direction of University Archivist John Skarstad and Manuscript Curator Melissa Tyler. Elizabeth Phillips,
Manuscript and Photograph Archivist, completed the processing and encoded the finding aid.
Gift of Iris Taylor Dart, 1965-1972.
[Identification of item], Wolfskill Family Collection, D-023, Department of Special Collections, General
Library, University of California, Davis.
Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to
publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission
for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, University of California, Library,
Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright
holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.