Walter Fiddyment with his Sunday school class circa 1890.
MARTIN SHELLHOUS (1819-1873)
Martin A. Schellhous was born in 1819 in Ohio. In 1849 he joined others who were gold-seekers, crossing the country by way of the Santa Fe route. He arrived in California in 1849, and left Los Angles on a chartered sailing vessel to take him to San Francisco. With his brother E.J. Schellhous, they hired a small sailing ship to take them to Sacramento. After purchasing mining equipment and supplies, they struck out for the American River mining country where they soon earned several thousand dollars in gold.
In 1851, Martin returned to Michigan were he married Caroline Ferris and they returned to California where they purchased a ranch in the rich Dry Creek District. Having brought a number of cattle with him from Michigan he began raising livestock. In later years, Martin starting new ventures in agriculture, by planting a vineyard, orchards and dry crops. Martin A. Schellhous died in September 1873.
THOMAS S. DUDLEY (1820-1879)
Thomas S. Dudley was born in Massachusetts in 1820. He like many other young adventurers traveled to California to be a part of the gold rush. He arrived in San Francisco by ship in September 1849 and like others traveled to the American River area to look for gold. Because he had experience building stone walls, he knew how to pull rocks and boulders from the bottom of the river and stack them up, so they didn’t fall back into the cleared mining area. He soon learned he could make more money in removing the stones than in the actual mining operations.
By the end of 1849, he opened a supply store, and in December of 1850 he sold his store and moved to Sacramento. There he met and married Eleanor Stuart. Shortly after the marriage he built a home in Sacramento. The next year he decided to go into the hog raising business, and after being in business he discovered that pork being shipped into San Francisco was being sold cheaper than he could raise them. He soon learned that hogs could be raised in the Dry Creek District for a cheaper price than the imported ones, so he quickly purchased property in the area. October 1856, Roseville’s first school operated in the Dudley barn. Thomas S. Dudley passed away in Sacramento in 1879.
ZACARIAH ASTILL (1813-1874)
Zacariah Astill (some spell it Zachariah) was born in England in 1813. He along with his wife Ann, and children, including James who went on to become a local business man in Roseville, settled in the St. Louis area for three years, before heading West. They traveled to Salt Lake, where one son remained, before heading to California.
The family arrived in the Roseville area in 1852. At that time a home was taken apart in Folsom, then brought by wagon to the family ranch and rebuilt. Five generations of Astills lived in the home until it was destroyed by fire in December 1951.
Zacariah spent his entire life farming the land and operating a small blacksmith shop. Because his blacksmith shop was so close to where the new railroad track was being laid, he along with his oxen teams and horses were hired to help build the Central Pacific Railroad through the area. Zacariah Astill died November 1874. His grandson, Walter, would eventually level off one of the pastures to accommodate airplanes landing and taking off from the family ranch. This photograph shows Walter’s daughter Viola is standing next to one of the planes.
TOBIAS GRIDER (1810-1886)
Tobias S. Grider was born in Kentucky in 1810. After living in several states, 1853 he decided to travel to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. He arrived in San Francisco in October of that year, and almost immediately he headed to the gold country. Spring of 1855 found him in the Roseville area where he purchased 640 acres from the government. In 1859 Grider sold his ranch to the California Central Railroad which was in the process of building their railroad from Folsom to Lincoln. He then moved to Nevada County where lived for two years. In 1861 he returned to Placer County where owned a hotel. Tobias moved his family several more times before settling in Downey. Tobias Grider died June 1886.
THE FIDDYMENT FAMILY
The longest continuously residing family in the Pleasant Grove District is the Fiddyment family. Their original ancestor, Elizabeth Jane Fiddyment came to California in the early 1850s as a widow, with her baby boy named Walter. Elizabeth Jane remarried, and with her new husband, began a ranching empire in what is now West Roseville. Over the years Elizabeth Jane outlived a total of three husbands (Fiddyment, Hill and Atkinson) but she would acquire vast land holdings and would be the largest Placer County tax payer at the time of her death. Her son, Walter Fiddyment, married and raised his family on land next to his mother’s. At one point the Fiddyment land holdings in Placer County totaled over 10,000 acres. Walter also owned and operated Fiddyment Block at the corner of Lincoln and Vernon Streets from 1910 until 1925. While the land has all been sold, the old homestead still stands in West Roseville.
CHARLOTTE MAUDE PITCHER (1852-1920)
Charlotte Maude Pitcher was born May 1852 at the Star House, nine miles from Sacramento. The family ran a flourishing stage stop, hotel and supply point for those traveling along the road. After the death of her father, her mother ran the business until 1864. At that time the store was sold, and they moved to a ranch that was located at present day Sunrise, near Antelope Road. At one time Charlotte had been planning a wedding to a Mr. Patton, but he died before they were married and it was reported that she never thought about marriage after that time.
“Lottie” as she became known as, attended a one room school house. She went on to become a schoolteacher and taught for over twenty years. She taught at several schools in Placer County, including Roseville. She served as Superintendent of Schools for Alpine County and she was the first and only woman to be elected to that position in that county. She also ran for Superintendent of Public Schools for Placer County, but was defeated. After her teaching career ended she went to work for Lee Thomas in his mercantile store. It was during this time that Lottie was appointed as Roseville’s first and only postmistress. Charlotte Maude Pitcher passed away in January 1920.
GEORGE K. CIRBY (1826-1895)
George Kirk Cirby was born in Pennsylvania in 1826. He traveled across the county and arrived in California in 1849. By 1850, he located in Sacramento where he worked in the freighting operations. In 1858 he married Mary Jane Newinglam, and he gave up his freighting operations. He purchased a farm in what is now known as Citrus Heights, but questions of his title were challenged he came to Roseville in the early 1860’s. George farmed extensively and later had a large dairy business. He served as a trustee for the local school district in the 1880s. For several years he served as a clerk on the school board. George Cirby died in February 1895. Cirby Way and Cirby School are both named for this early pioneer.
CASSIE TOMER HILL (1854-1955)
Cassie Tomer was born in Iowa in 1854. Two years after her birth, the family packed up and joined a wagon train headed to California. She first passed through Roseville at the tender age of 12 and her travels frequently took her through the small village. She married George Hill in 1876, and when he was transferred to Roseville in 1881 as a telegrapher for the Central Pacific Railroad, Cassie called the area her permanent home. When her husband passed away in 1885, Cassie took over her husband’s job in spite of the doubts of many who considered a telegrapher a “man’s job.”
She successfully continued at her post for the next twenty-two years. She made her home upstairs over the depot, in a building housing the depot at one end and a local bar at the other end. Following her retirement in 1907, Cassie built the Cassie Hill building (which no longer stands) next to the Roseville Banking Company building on Lincoln Street. Cassie Tomer Hill died in 1955 at the age of 101.
CORA MAY WOODBRIDGE (1862-1949)
Cora May Utter was born in Sacramento County, September 1862. There isn’t a lot known about her early childhood, but in December 1886 she married Dr. Bradford Woodbridge in Stockton. While in Stockton, a daughter Anna Rebecca was born and later became a very popular opera singer in the Bay Area.
The Woodbridge family moved to Roseville in 1908, as Dr. Woodbridge became a physician and surgeon for the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1909 he was elected as a City Trustee when the city incorporated. Cora was interested in civic affairs and was instrumental in forming the Women’s Improvement Club, and served as their first president. Under her leadership the community saw many improvements, including the planting of trees along the main streets in town. The train depot was also the beneficiary of improvements, including newly planted trees and a flower garden. A new High School and Library were built under her leadership.
Cora caused quite an uproar in 1922 when she decided to run for the California State Assembly. She was the first woman elected from the Ninth Assembly District, when she won the election. She was reelected two more times to that position. After her third run for office, which she lost, she continued to play an active role in the community. Cora May Woodbridge passed away June 1949. There is a school and park named for this couple who did so much for the community.