Lewis, Gatzman, Davies, Baker and Flower Families
The first person to be assessed for the lands on Baker’s Flat was Joseph Lewis in 1858. That year, his assessment noted ownership of 320 acres, 300 enclosed under fence, located 2 miles south of the Log Cabin Ranch and 5 miles northwest of Scorpion Gulch, which included a residence, a barn, wagon, horses, cows, and hogs, and was valued at $1,000. The ranch was situated on the Salt Spring Valley–Knights Ferry Road, with the dwelling on the east side of Littlejohns Creek. Although the description simply noted the ranch as bounded northwest by McCarty’s Log Cabin Ranch and south by Peachy’s (in the northwestern quarter of Section 27, T1N, R12E and along Littlejohns Creek in the Grant), it appears likely that the residence and barn were located on the flat, the only large level area in the territory.
In 1860, Joseph P. Lewis, and his wife, Mary, both age 55, were listed as farmers residing with their son Jenkins, age 22; all were born in Kentucky. Sometime about 1864, Joseph sold the southern half of his property, also noted as on Littlejohns Creek, to his son Jenkins. By 1867, Jenkins was assessed for the entire 320 acres. In July 1869, Jenkins sold the ranch to Thomas Gatzman for $500, noting that it was bounded on the north by McDonald’s Ranch, on the south by the north line of the Grant, and on the east by Smith’s Ranch (formerly Clott’s), which would place it on Baker’s Flat and southerly along the creek to the Grant. That same year, Gatzman was assessed for 40 head of cattle and 10 hogs, as well as a house, a barn, and a fence.
Two homesteads were depicted on the 1870 GLO plat: “Gatesman’s” (Gatzman’s) (located in the southern half of Section 16, T1N, R12E) and McDonald’s field, just westerly. That same year, Gatzman, listed as a 45-year-old farmer and native of Baden, Germany, was noted as a farmer and residing on the property with his wife, E.; and children, Flora, Lizzie, Emma, Edward, and Albert. His real estate was valued at $400, and his personal estate was valued at $1,975. By 1880, Gatzman and his family were residing in Empire in Stanislaus County, where he was listed as a farmer still.
In 1873, R. Patterson, a nonresident, was assessed for the Gatzman property in the Flowers Ranch area, with a house, a barn, and a fence, as well as 960 sheep and 400 lambs. By 1881, the land and a small house were assessed to William Davies, along with furniture, firearms, sewing machine, wagons, a harness, farming utensils, seven horses, three cows, five calves, poultry, 28 hogs, and a dog. By 1884, David Clinton Baker and his wife, Elizabeth, had purchased the land (still known as Baker’s Flat today) and patented the entire Section 16 that same year. Baker registered to vote in 1888, stating that he was 34, was born in Iowa, and was working as a stock raiser, but by then he was residing northeast of the project area.
By 1887 Nathan Flower was assessed for all of the Baker lands in the Flowers Ranch (Section 16, T1N, R12E), as well as lands in Sections 20, 21, and 28. His assessment noted a house, two barns, a fence, an orchard, furniture, farming utensils, three wagons, three old horses, three colts, 50 calves, 70 stock cattle, and 6 tons of hay. When Nathan and his son John Clary registered to vote in 1888, they listed themselves as stock raisers (1). The use of the land had shifted from sheep to cattle grazing.
Nathan and Mary resided on their lands until they moved to the Gwin Mine near Paloma in the late 1890s (2). Over the next few years they resided in the Valley Springs area, and then they moved to Stockton, where Nathan died in 1919. The Flower family continued to be assessed for a house, a barn, and a fence on the Lewis/Gatzman/Davies/Baker land until the mid-1920s (noted as an old house in 1921); after that time, only a barn and a fence were listed on the assessment rolls.
Some of the parcels purchased by Nathan Flower evidently were patented by friends or employees, in order to sell them to him immediately upon them being proven. Others, however, were taken up by farming families that built dwellings, barns, and outbuildings and raised livestock. Most of the farmers who resided in the area in the 1880s and 1890s were assessed for the same types of property: a watch, furniture, firearms, a sewing machine, farming equipment, a harness, wagons, horses, colts, cows, hogs, poultry, and varying amounts of stock cattle. Only Patterson on Baker’s Flat and the Callahans in Sections 9 and 10 raised any amount of sheep. These “bedrock ranches” appeared to be subsistence farms, raising enough foodstuffs to supply family members, and enough grain and livestock to market for some small income.
2. Calaveras County Deed Book 41:28