Click the RED DATE on the Time Line to find out what events happened that year

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Student Activity 5

Create a Time line

You will gather information to create a time line about John Sutter's life and the same period of time in American history. Use the information, as well as facts gathered from the internet to write a brief history about John Sutter and his significance to the Gold Rush and the development of California as a state.

1. After reading the Biography of John Sutter and after visiting the following web sites, begin gathering information about important personal events that happened in his life, from birth through death. You will also gather information about events that occurred during the same period of time in American history.

2. You are now ready to create a time line. You must make a minimum of 10 entries about Sutter's life. Also include at least 5 events that occurred in American history during the same period of time.

Supplies:You will need a light-colored strip of construction paper, 6'' x 18'', a ruler, pencil, and dark marker. Turn the paper lengthwise and draw a horizontal line through the middle. Write the events as phrases on lines which you have drawn in their appropriate places. Be sure to write the dates of the events. You may use other reference materials if necessary and when appropriate.

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June: Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence.

November: Mexican Governor Neve establishes San Jose with 66 settlers as the first Alta California site settled as a pueblo, or farm community.


Feb.15: John A. Sutter is born in Kandern, Baden, Switzerland


Oct. 24: Sutter marries Annette ("Anna") Dubeld


Sutter sails for New York; travels overland to St. Louis


Sutter goes on a second trading voyage to Santa Fe.


Sutter arrives at Ft. Vancouver and then sails on the ship "Columbia" for the Sandwich Islands.

December 9: Sutter lands at Honolulu.


July 3: Sutter arrives at Monterey, California, after sailing from Hawaii and coming to California by way of Sitka, Russia.

Aug: Sutter settles in northern California and establishes his fort where the Sacramento and American Rivers meet.


August 29: Sutter becomes a naturalized Mexican citizen; he is then appointed Alcalde.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 100*

Sutter receives 47,827-acre New Helvetia Grant from Gov. Juan Alvarado

Sutter establishes the Hock Farm on the West bank of the Feather River a few miles south of what becomes Yuba City.

Sutter buys Russian settlements of Ross and Bodega for $32,000, secured by mortgage on New Helvetia.

John Bidwell arrives from Missouri, works for Sutter.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 200*

New governor, Manuel Micheltorena, arrives from Mexico with army.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 2,000*

Sutter is awarded the Sobrante land grant of 96,800 acres.

John C. Fremont and Kit Carson arrive at Sutter's Fort after winter crossing of Sierra Nevada Mountains from Missouri.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 5,000*

Sutter rides to aid Micheltorena against revolt by Jose Castro, Alvarado and others.

Feb.19: Battle of Cahuenga; Sutter is taken prisoner but released with honors.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 1,000*

Mexican-American War breaks out in Texas.

March 13: Col. Castro issues a proclamation that declares John Frémont and his party to be a band of highwaymen.

April 18: Pio Pico is confirmed as governor by the Mexican government, and is sworn in at Los Angeles. Col. Castro is named Commandante General.

May 23: United States declares war on Mexico after American troops are killed while crossing the Nueces River. Commodore Sloat has been instructed, upon hearing of any war with Mexico, to establish American authority in California.

June 14: John Frémont launches the Bear Flag Revolution, and establishes the California Republic and occupies Sutter's Fort. He puts Edward Kern in control of the fort.

Governor Vallejo is taken prisoner during a skirmish and is moved to Sutter's Fort.

June 15: U.S. Treaty with Great Britian sets the Oregon boundary at the 49th parallel.

July 7: American flag is raised at Monterey by Commodore John Drake Sloat, U.S.N. Sloat decides to take possession of California because he fears the British might occupy Monterey.

July 11: The American flag replaces the California Republic flag at Sutter's Fort.

The population at the pueblo of Yerba Buena (San Francisco) is estimated at about 1000

non-natives. There are about 50 buildings in the pueblo.

William. B. Ide serves as President of the Republic of California until July 9.

Americans annex Alta California, John Sutter is commissioned a lieutenant in the US Army.

July 31: Led by Elder Sam Brannan, a shipload of people, who are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), arrives at Yerba Buena .

August 2: General Vallejo is released from Sutter's Fort.

November 2: While crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Truckee, the Donner Party stops for the evening and is trapped by a snowstorm. Many of the party survive by eating the flesh of the dead. 40 of the 87 people in the Donner party die. They remained snowbound until February of 1847.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 2,000*

January 9: Yerba Buena's first newspaper, "The California Star," publishes its first issue on the press Sam Brannan brought with him from New York. Brannan is the publisher and Dr. E.B. Jones, editor.

January13: Treaty of Cahuenga cedes all of California to the United States.

Febrary: Sutter sends relief expeditions to the Donner Party and lets the survivors stay at the fort.

March: Sutter regains control of the fort.

March 27: 12,000 American troops capture Vera Cruz, Mexico.

April 19: Mail service is begun between San Francisco and San Diego by two soldiers on horseback.

August 19: Captain Sutter and John Marhsall entered into an agreement to construct a lumber mill on the American River at a place known to the Indians as "Culloomah".

September 14: American troops capture Mexico City.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 4,000*

Jan. 24: James Wilson Marshall and Peter L. Wimmer discover gold at the new Sutter's Mill on the American River.

January 28: James Marshall meets privately with Captain Sutter to show him the gold he has found at Sutter's sawmill.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War, and California is seceded to the United States. All persons then living in Alta California are granted U.S. citizenship. Claims are also ceded to lands in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and part of Colorado.

February 2: The ship named the "Eagle" brings the first shipload of Chinese workers to San Francisco.

March 15: "The Californian" newspaper reports that gold is discovered along the American River. The news is not widely believed in San Francisco.

May 12: Sam Brannan set off gold fever in San Francisco when he waved a bottle of gold dust and shouted "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!" He received the gold as payment for goods he sold in his store at New Helvetia at Sutter's Fort.

May 27:In San Francisco, ships' crews deserted and rushed to the gold fields. Some coastal cities saw a major drop in population as men rushed to the Sierra foothills.

June 14: "California Star" ceased publication because the staff had rushed to the gold fields.

July 11: Governor of California, Gen. Richard Barnes Mason, visits the gold fields to gather information for a report to the U.S. Government. He is accompanied by his aide, Capt. William T. Sherman.

August: John A. Sutter, Jr. arrives in San Francisco from Switzerland.

August 19: "New York Herald" prints an item about the discovery of gold in California.

September 10: Gold dust price is set at $16 per ounce; San Francisco citizens demand that the United States open a branch mint in San Francisco.

November 1: John A. Sutter, Jr., son of the captain, announced plans to building a new town, called Sacramento City, along the Sacramento River.

November 28: "U.S.S. Lexington" departs San Francisco with $500,000 in gold destined for the U.S. Mint in the East.

December 7: Lt. Lucian Loeser arrives in Washington with 230 ounces [6.5 kg] of gold stuffed into a tea caddy. It is placed on display at the War Department and causes much excitement.


Gold rush begins

Estimated number of Americans moving west- 30,000*

January: Sacramento City is founded by Sam Brannan and John A. Sutter, Jr. They survey, map the land and sell lots. Captain Sutter is not pleased, because it conflicts with his plans to establish Sutterville as the area city.

Captain Sutter sells his fort to Alden Bayly for $7,000 and moves to Hock Farm.

July 29: There is ameeting at Rose's Bar on the Yuba River about Col. Thomas Jefferson Green. Green a slave owner, has several slaves working his claim in the gold fields. A resolution is passed that said "that no slave or negro should own claims or even work in the mines." The meeting demands that the slaves be gone by the next morning.

August 23: Mail service is established to the Interior of California. Stops include Benecia, Sacramento City and San José.

September 1: California Constitutional Convention at Colton Hall, Monterey. Legislative session continues to September 15th. Gen. Maríano Guadalupe Vallejo represents Sonoma.

October: Sacramento has a population of 2000

October 13: State Constitution is approved by convention in Monterey. The motto of California is to be "Eureka."

November 13: In preparation for statehood, voters approve a State Constitution. Peter H. Burnett is elected governor. General John Sutter also runs for governor but comes in third.

December 1: Six steamers sail the Sacramento River between San Francisco and Sacramento City, the fare is $30.

December 15: New legislature and governmental officers meet at the state capital of San José.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 55,000*

Jan 21: The rest of John Sutter's family arrives at San Francisco from Switzerland: wife Anna, daughter Anna Eliza, and his sons Emil and Alphonse.

February 18: Sacramento County is created.

September 9: California formally gained statehood. California becomes the 31st state.

People come to California from all over the United States and the world, by land and by sea. The gold rush compresses a half century of normal growth into a half decade.

Squatters take over Sutter's land throughout the Sacramento Valley.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 50,000*

San Francisco becomes an instant metropolis and is said to be half populated by Irish people.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 20,000*

Feb: Legislature appoints John Sutter a Major General in the California Militia.

A partial exodus of miners takes place when gold is discovered on the Fraser River in British Columbia.


Sacramento becomes the state capital.

Estimated number of Americans moving west- 10,000*

California goes into an economic depression. Many people take their earnings and leave the state.

People are still looking for gold in the mountain streams, but it is not being found as easy as before.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 5,000*

The US Land Commission rules that John Sutter's New Helvetia and Sobrante land grants are valid


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 10,000*

All that is left of the fort is the main building.

The U.S. Supreme Court denies the validity of John Sutter's Sobrante land grant.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 15,000*

Sacramento is designated the western terminus for the Pony Express.

Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker begin planning for a Transcontinental railroad.

November: Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 5,000*

January 1861 -- South Carolina secedes from the United States. Soon, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas join South Carolina. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina follow the others. These eleven states eventually form the Confederate States of America.

April 12: The Civil War begins with shots fired on Fort Sumter. It eventually is surrendered to South Carolina.

July: First Battle of Bull Run.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 5,000*

March: Battle of the "Monitor" and the "Merrimac".

September 15: Harper's Ferry falls to Confederate General Jackson, along with a great number of men and a large body of supplies.

September 17: Battle of Antietam. Confederate forces under General Lee are caught by General McClellan near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This battle proved to be the bloodiest day of the Civil War; 2,108 Union soldiers were killed and 9,549 wounded -- 2,700 Confederates were killed and 9,029 wounded.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 10,000*

January: The first track for the Transcontinental railroad is laid at Front and K Streets in Sacramento.

January: Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln declares that the slaves of the south are freed.

November 19: President Lincoln dedicated a portion of the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery, and delivered his memorable "Gettysburg Address."


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 20,000*

The California Legislature approves for John Sutter a $250 a month pension for 5 years, later it's renewed for 4 more years.

California's gold rush has ended. The rich surface and river placers are largely exhausted; hydraulic mines are the chief sources of gold for the next 20 years.

July: Confederate Troops approach Washington,D.C.

November: General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea.

November: Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president of the United States.


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 25,000*

January: The Fall of the Confederacy.

February: General William T.Sherman marches through North and South Carolina.

April: Richmond falls to Sherman.

April 9: Lee surrenders to Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse.

April 14: As President Lincoln watches a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater in Washington,D.C., he is shot by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln dies the next morning.

June 21: Arson destroys Sutter's house at Hock Farm; thought to be burned by a disgruntled worker.

Sutter and his family move to Washington D.C..


Estimated number of Americans moving west- 25,000*

John Sutter sends the first of many petitions to the U.S. Congress asking $50,000 compensation for damages caused to his properties by American gold seekers.


John Sutter moves to Lititz Pennsylvania with his family and builds a $10,000 home.


John Sutter presides over the Swiss festivities at the Philadelphia Centennial.

Sutter is interviewed by historian H.H. Bancroft.


Rheumatism and kidney problems cause John Sutter many health problems.


June 16: Congress adjourns without considering the latest Sutter relief bill.

June 18: Sutter dies at the Pennsylvania Hotel, Washington D.C. from a heart attack.


The Native Sons of the Golden West purchase what is left of Sutter's Fort.


The Native Sons of the Golden West give Sutter's Fort to the State of California.

The California Legislature agrees to accept the fort and promises to restore it to it's former glory.

Rebuilding of the fort, it's walls and buildings begins.


Sacramento celebrates the centennial of the founding of Sutter's Fort.

* Merrill J. Mattes. The Great Platte River Road, Vol 25, Publications of Nebraska State Historical Society, 1969.