Gold led We­ber to start Stock­ton

Escalon Times - - PERSPECTIVE - By VINCE REMBULAT 209 Liv­ing To con­tact re­porter Vince Rembulat, e-mail vrem­bu­lat@man­te­cab­ul­

In 1999, the orig­i­nal res­i­dence of Charles M. We­ber was ex­ca­vated while mak­ing way for the We­ber Point Event Cen­ter.

He was the founder of Stock­ton. A lit­tle gazebo over­look­ing the water­front in the 9.7 acre park marks the We­ber home de­stroyed by fire in 1917.

Four cor­ner­stones now rep­re­sent the ex­tent of the city’s first home with a plaque that tells the whole story.

That story can’t be told with­out the dis­cov­ery of gold on the Amer­i­can River in 1848.

A Ger­man im­mi­grant, We­ber, like the hun­dreds of thou­sands who came out west look­ing to strike it rich, tried his hand at gold min­ing un­til.

He dis­cov­ered that the real for­tune was sup­ply­ing goods and ser­vices to the min­ers.

We­ber op­er­ated out of small set­tle­ment that he even­tu­ally named in honor of Robert F. Stock­ton – the U.S. Navy com­modore was no­table for the cap­ture of Cal­i­for­nia dur­ing the Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can War – which quickly be­came a thriv­ing com­mer­cial cen­ter.

Thanks to a Span­ish land grant, We­ber pur­chased 49,000 acres of land in 1949 that be­came Stock­ton. Be­fore that, it boasted sev­eral names, in­clud­ing Tule­burg and Mudville.

Mudville was also the fic­tional name of Ernest Thayer’s base­ball poem ‘Casey at the Bat,’ first pub­lished 1888 in the San Fran­cisco Ex­am­iner.

Ban­ner Is­land Ball­park, which opened April 28, 2005 (home to Oak­land Athletics’ Class-A Stock­ton Ports), is be­lieved to be the ac­tual lo­ca­tion of the Mudville Nine’ base­ball field.

This ball­park and the orig­i­nal home of We­ber can both found along the Deep Wa­ter Chan­nel, which is part of the thou­sands of miles of wa­ter­ways that de­fines Stock­ton’s ge­og­ra­phy.

The city is about 90 miles in­land from the San Fran­cisco Bay, pro­vid­ing a nav­i­ga­tional chan­nel that al­lows Stock­ton to serve as a ma­jor ship­ping point for many of the agri­cul­tural and man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

As for Robert F. Stock­ton, who was from New Jersey and served as U.S. Se­na­tor from that state from 1846 to 1847, his legacy – be­sides Stock­ton, CA – in­cluded Stock­ton, Mis­souri and Fort Stock­ton, Texas.

There’s also a bor­ough of Stock­ton in New Jersey and Stock­ton Street in San Fran­cisco.

The Stock­ton founded by We­ber is the county seat of San Joaquin with a pop­u­la­tion of over 305,000.

The city con­tin­ues to re­de­fine it­self, emerg­ing from a fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 2012. At the time, Stock­ton was the largest city in the U.S. to file for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion, sur­passed the fol­low­ing year by Detroit.

The city is two years re­moved from ex­it­ing Chap­ter 9 bank­ruptcy.

In re­cent year, new busi­nesses con­tinue to pop up through the his­toric down­town in­clud­ing the brand new 13-story San Joaquin County Su­pe­rior Court build­ing.

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