Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Wolfskill Family Collection
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (198.47 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Access
  • Processing Information
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights

  • Creator: Wolfskill, Edward, 1850-1939
    Title: Wolfskill Family Collection
    Date: 1820-1975
    Extent: 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.
    Repository: University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
    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 supplies.
    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 Aldanita.
    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 remarried.
    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.
    Garrison, Myrtle. 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, [1959]. 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 People. 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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Wolfskill, Edward, 1850-1939--Archives.
    Wolfskill family.
    Bonney family.
    Detrick family.
    Goodyear family.
    Taylor family.
    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.

    Processing Information

    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.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Iris Taylor Dart, 1965-1972.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wolfskill Family Collection, D-023, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.

    Publication Rights

    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.