California Settlers Places Tremont CA
 
Tremont Mite Society Biennial Social, Sunday April 30, 2017 2-4 PM see below.

Tremont is a farm community about 4 miles south of Davis and five miles northeast of Dixon.
Tremont is variously referred to in old records as "Tremont" and "Fremont." Speculation among some historians it was meant to be "Fremont," and either it was mispronounced or, because spellings were often a matter of interpretation, it became "Tremont."

Settlers:
The early settlers tended to be Germans who came for the gold and stayed for farming during the 1850s. Most started with 1/4 section of land (1/2 x 1/2 mile - 160 acres *) received as a land grant as part of the Homestead Act of 1862. Roads were built along section boundary lines.
See families below for more.
* Note: The sections are around 152 acres in this area because they are parallelograms rather than squares to compensate from a mismatch in surveying lines coming from the north and south.

Community:
The closest thing to a town was a community hall (good for holding meetings and dances), a school and a combination post office and store at Tremont and Eggert Rd.
The one-room school was located upstairs. Students ranged from age 6 to 18. Heated rocks and water bottles kept the students warm in the winter.

For a time, trains stopped at nearby Tremont Station if there were passengers or freight.

Church:

They needed a local church and in 1863 some local women formed The "Ladies Mite Society of Tremont" for that purpose. The idea was for various families to contribute 50 cents each from time to time to help fund a church. There were various church-related mite societies around the U.S. at that time, named after a biblical story about a widow donating what little money (a "mite" [copper coins]) she had [Luke 21:1-4].

The families sold their share of the Silveyville church, about 10 miles away, for $700 and raised $600 from the Mite donations, and while temporarily meeting in the community hall, began to build their church.. They built at this location because that's where two acres of land were donated by the Hyde family.

Much of the actual labor in constructing the church was volunteer. The pulpit was built by the Gordon brothers and Judge and Justice of the Peace Cloutman.

1871 Westminster Presbyterian Church, Tremont
More at the Silveyville Cemetery District page

The Gordon brothers were also responsible for most of the inside woodwork. Some items of furniture for the church were bought, some hand constructed and others donated by Hale's and Breuners' stores in Sacramento. Tremont Mite Society Biennial Social

The classic country church design was said to be in the Dutch Renaissance style, and it was named the Tremont Westminster Church (of the Presbyterian persuasion) when dedicated on April 25 in 1871 and was active until 1921. Because the church still wasn't paid for, the Tremont Mite Society continued on, meeting and collecting donations. Mrs. Hyde was the society's first president.

One local woman, Thelma Dietrich, was 101 in 2013, remembers attending Sunday school at the church in the early 1900s. At first, traveling pastors served the church; eventually it gained a resident pastor, Reverend Fairbairn. However, with the arrival of motor vehicles, the church didn't have the congregational size to support a pastor, and regular church services ended in 1912. Still, the Society worked to keep the building up and occasional weddings and funerals were held there over the years.

The exterior was well-kept through the years, but the interior needed work. When the Tremont community hall burned during the '70s, the insurance money was donated to refurbish the inside of the church. The Mite Society has also received memorial donations over the years.

The "Tremont Mite Society" has been a functioning organization since that date and is considered to be the longest continuously chartered women's organization in California.

Emily Brooks Rowe, Tremont Mite Society Historian, is in the process of applying to have the Tremont Church listed in the California State Register of Historic Places.

Besides continuing to raise funds for the church, the Society is a social organization that over 150 years now has kept Tremont-area farm women and their descendants connected. The Society has kept the minutes of its meetings over this long time span - it's "a remarkable chronicle of life," says Emily Rowe - and many of the current members (the membership is 50) now meet in various homes eight times per year.

They hold a biannual open house from 2 to 4 on the ff See below. The Mite Society raises funds periodically for major upkeep.

The Tremont Cemetery around the Church is part of the Silveyville Cemetery District - (707) 678-5578
7661 Rio Dixon Rd., Dixon 95620

Farming:
The area is primaily Class 1 & 2 soil, the most fertile in the Sacramento Valley. In the late 1800's and early 1900's primary crops were wheat and barley. Crops were rotated and fields lay fallow for a year to allow the land to replenish its nutrients and regain its fertility.
Most of the farms had some livestock to provide meat and eggs and pull the plows and wagons.

Threshing operation at John Alva Sikes Ranch - 1884

Click for larger picture

In the 1960's much of the land was leveled and wells drilled to expand the number of crops that could be grown. Sugar beets were a popular crop then.
The advent of synthetic fertilizers meant crops could grown every year, increasing productivity.
Current crops still include wheat, but also tomatoes, peppers, beans, and others.

Our family still owns the property, as do many of the descendants of original families. It is farmed on a share crop basis.


Click on map for larger version

 
Families:
Many Solano and Yolo County families trace their ancestry to the founders of the Tremont church.

Cornelia Jane Saunders came to California in 1853 and married S. Fred Hyde in San Jose in 1855. The couple moved to Tremont where a farm was homesteaded.
The Hyde's donated the land for the Church
  Jane Hyde was the first president of the Tremont Mite Society.

Jonathan Sikes and his brother Alva, who had come to California from Ohio in 1850 to try their luck in the gold fields, moved to Tremont somewhere between 1852 and 1854 and worked on local farms before applying for land of their own in 1856. Jonathan established the farm at the corner of Sikes Rd and Tremont Rd., and received his Homestead Certificate in 1869. The ranch was operated by Jonathan's son Alvin and grandson Jack until 1953 when Jack succumbed to polio. The ranch is still in the family and farmed by Timothy Farming on a sharecrop basis.

  Patricia Sikes, Jack's wife, had a distinguished career as an author, editor and chief speech writer for
Governor Edmond G. (Pat) Brown.

  William B. Davis M.D. (Grandson of Alvin and Clara Sikes), a physician in Winters, is well know for his personal care of patients and his nationally recognized stand against assembly line medical care.

  Jason Davis is a retired professional baseball player who played for the San Francisco Giants triple-A team.

  Dr. Benjamin Davis, who succumbed to an ALS (Lou Gehrig) type disease in 2014, dedicated his career to groundbreaking research on the causes and treatment of emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

See Sikes family members at U.C. Davis below.

1877 Tremont Map
Click on map for a larger version.
1877 Map
from www.SolanoHistory.org
 
The Foster farm was one of the most noted in Tremont. It is word-of-mouth history that Manuel Vaca was buried on the Foster place.
  In 1853, George Foster joined one of the many wagon trains heading West. In 1856, he bought 160 acres in Tremont at $1.25 an acre. In 1860, he married a woman who lived in Santa Rosa.

When the railroad was established in 1869, George Foster donated 3 acres and built a depot-warehouse known as Foster's Station. It was later renamed Tremont Station. Trains stopped only if a flag was put out.

In 1871, Foster added a general merchandise store at the station, but his farming and warehouse duties took up so much time, he was unable to keep the store going and it closed.

Another well-known Tremont resident was Betsy Ann Judd, who was born in 1835 in Ohio.
In 1855, she came out West with her married sister, Amanda Wire, her infant son, Franklin Wire Jr., and a brother-in-law. The family group met up with Amanda's husband and all settled in the Tremont.
  Betsy married Bartlett J. Guthrie, who had large land holdings near what is today Vacaville.

The Greive family with 12 children moved to the area in 1864.

Johann H. Stick left his native Germany and set sail for San Francisco in 1851. In 1865, he married and purchased property in Tremont.

Stick's nephew by marriage, Jochim Jahn, joined him in 1873.

Andrew Maxwell, a native of Dumfriesssbire, Scotland, drove a herd of cattle across the Plains for his brother-in-law and then spent five years panning for gold.
  In 1865, Maxwell arrived in Tremont, taking up on 160 acres. He added to his property until he owned 640 acres by 1873, the time of his death.

John Rowe (known as "John O.") was born in Solano County on a farm that was part of the Armstrong Estate (half of which is now part of UC Davis). Around 1917 he and his brother bought the old Wilson Ranch in Tremont for $100 an acre. In 1924 he bought the Innisfail heard of Milking Shorthorns. In 1927 his new wife Lillian Barrett Wood, who also raised shorthorns, brought some of her cattle from Indiana to California.
The herd developed an international reputation and produced a number of national Grand Champions. The herd was still in the family at the turn of the century.
See "One hundred years at the State Fair for local shorthorn cow herd" | Davis Enterprise
Three of John O. and Lillian's daughters and their daughter-in-law are active in the Tremont Mite Society.

John O's brother Ray met Verna Thomas, Clara Sikes sister, when she was visiting. They got married and settled near the Thomas family home in Lake County.
Many of the Rowe and Sikes family members my age recall memorable summer vacations at Uncle Ray and Aunt Verna home on Clear Lake.

Several of the residents lived to the age of 100.
Betsy Judd Guthrie lived to be 106 or 107.
Lillian Barrett Wood Rowe, died April 1, 2004 in Dixon at the age of 100.

Families whose descendants have attended the biannual gathering recently:
Anderson, Armstrong, Becker, Burnett, Burns, Dietrich, Eggert, Foster, Gordon, Graham, Greive, Guthrie, Hamel, Hyde, Rehmke, Rohwer, Rowe, Runge, Saltzen, Sikes, Stick, Taylor, Wire

Other Families: Behrens, Brady, Briggs, Brunson, Bulkley, Carey, Cloutman, Cooley, Drummond, Dunningsworth, Finadore, Frahm, Fredricks, Guysi, Henning, Holdridge, Hood, Hyland, Keister, Knuppe, Kuhl, Lennox, Ludington, Marden, Mastin, Mattox, Maxwell, McCann, McClure, Mntgomery, Mooney, Morgan, Poten, Priester, Reid, Royce, Slayback, Stelling, Watkins, Weber, Wester, Wilson

Many of the families descendants went to UC Davis.
Evelyne Rowe Rominger tells of her familie's connection in "A Century of Connection" in the Spring 2009 issue of the UC Davis Magazine. John O. Rowe '13 was one of the first full time students.

As of 2011, 10 of the Sikes family descendants and their spouses have attended UCD spanning 3 generations with a total of 15 degrees, including a MD, 3 PhDs, 2 MSs, 9 BSs and 2 Ag Certificates.

Tremont Mite Society Biennial Social
Tremont Mite Society of the 1871 Westminster Presbyterian Church 150th Anniversary The "Tremont Mite Society" started in 1863 to raise funds to build the church originally known as the Ladies Mite Society of Tremont (Named for the Bible sotory of the "widows mite" [Luke 21:1-4]), is considered to be the longest continuously chartered women's organization in California.
Amanda Wire Sikes became the charter president.
They host a biennial social on the last Sunday in April every odd year which usually includes a presentation of the history of one of those families. Third, fourth and fifty generation descendents of the original families attend and the public is welcome. Refreshments will be served.

In 2017, Claude Rohwer will share the history of the family of pioneer Johann Stick. Descendants of Johann Stick include the family names Eggert, Hamel, Holly, Jahn, Jones, Rohwer, and Wolff.

Questions about the Tremont Mite Society may be directed to Susan Rohwer McCaffrey at TremontMite@aol.com.
Tremont Church - 8290 Tremont Road, Dixon

 
Sources:
Most of the above came, with permission, from an April 2011 article at Dixon.Patch.com, by Bil Paul, who interviewed Emily Rowe, the unofficial historian of the Mite Society.
I've also included information from my Mother Jean McBride and my Aunt Dorothy Davis, who grew up on one of the farms in Tremont.

Also "Pioneers blazed trails in fertile farming region: Echos Of Solano's Past", by Kristin Delaplane at SolanoArticles.com. There is more information at that page.

Books:
Dixon - The Dixon Women's Improvement Club - Google Books
Davisville '68; the History and Heritage of the City of Davis, Yolo County, California. in Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of:
Amazon.com: After the Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley (Revisiting Rural America)

Articles:
Dixon Then and Now: The Mite Society and its Charming Country Church, by Bil Paul - Dixon, CA Patch
  Pictures
Pioneers blazed trails in fertile farming region: Echos Of Solano's Past at SolanoArticles.com
Tremont Church celebrates 140 years | Davis Enterprise
The Tremont Church and Cemetery - Davis Wiki
A Century of Connection - Evelyne Rowe Rominger tells of her families connection with U.C. Davis. Evelyne's father, John O. Rowe

Links:
Solano County Genealogical Society Index
  Solano County 1900 Census
Solano History Database www.SolanoHistory.org
Genealogies: John O. Rowe, Alvin Sikes

Historical Collections | Dixon Public Library - Contact Shirley Parsons - 707-678-2749 - parsonss@dixonlibrary.com

 

Contact - with Comments, Corrections, Additions

last updated 20 Aug 2016