The Wolfskill Grant
Four leagues was relatively small compared to other Mexican land grants, but local legend has it John wanted only as much land as he could cover on horseback in one day from sunup to sundown. On current maps, the four leagues include 10,750 acres in what became Solano County and 7,004 acres in Yolo County.
“According to local legend, John Wolfskill judged the fertility of the soil by the height of the native grain, cutting back toward the creek whenever the grain no longer came up to the highest point on his horse’s back,” says historian Larkey, author of the book, Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, a Harmony of Purpose. “That could explain why the land grant’s northern boundary, now marked by Russell Boulevard, follows an irregular stair-step contour roughly parallel to Putah Creek.”
John arrived at Putah Creek in mid-July 1842 and set about settling the property he called “Rancho de los Putos”. The property stayed in William Wolfskill’s name until 1849, when half of it was transferred to John. Legal issues ensued when California became part of the United States in 1850, but by 1854, William was finally able to transfer the entire ranch to John.
Read the full article, "History Lessons," (pdf) from The Leaflet, UC Davis Plant Sciences, by Diane Nelson.
Olive trees planted by John line the entrance and a bronze plaque reads:
"In 1842 John Reid Wolfskill arrived here laden with fruit seeds and cuttings. He was a true horticulturist and became the father of the fruit industry in the region.
In 1937 Mrs. Francis Wolfskill Taylor Wilson, his daughter, bequeathed 107.28 acres to the University of California for an experimental farm.
From this portion of the Rancho de los Putos the University's research has since enriched the state's horticultural industry."
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 804. Plaque placed by the California State Park Commission in cooperation with the Solano County Historical Society - May 30, 1996