Tuolumne Connection...we're glad to be back!
family’s California saga begins November 27, 1849, when
Dr. John Strentzel, his wife and two children, arrived in San
Diego by wagon train from Texas. They bought merchandise, wagons,
and teams and began a slow journey north on January 7, 1850.
The following are excerpts from an autobiography dictated by
Dr. Strentzel late in his life.
“We arrived on the Tuolumne River April the 14th ;
were very much pleased and concluded to settle down…. I
selected a beautiful location about 2 miles below Lagrange, the
nearest mining camp, established a ferry, hotel and store of
general merchandise for trade with the miners, put up large tents
on[or] canvas houses for all needs, as boards or plank were not
to be had. Paid all hired help 125 dollars per month. Flour $30
per sack of 50 pounds. Milk $1 per quart, fresh butter $3 per
pound, and provisions of all kinds proportionately high.
"Our experience at this place was varied and exciting. There was a great
deal of travel at that time from Stockton and other points to the Maryposa
and Burn’s mines, and one day we would entertain Col. Fremont, Lieut.
Beal, Gen. Miller and other noted persons, and probably the next a lot of desperados,
passing through the country for the purpose of murder and robbery….
"We remained at this place less than 2 years, carried on a very
flourishing business all the while, and if the mines had held out,
could in a few years have made a great amount of money….I in
partnership with my brother, purchased 600 acres of choice land on
the Merced River about six miles below Snelling….. Everything
grew and flourished most luxuriantly, giving promise of an abundant
harvest, but the floods came and all was lost…
"I then concluded to go to Benicia…On arriving there I met an old
neighbor from home, at that time residing in the town of Martinez just across
the Straights…I immediately went over with him ‘to view out the
land’, and was so charmed with the location, that I at once resolved
to make this my resting place.”
Dr. Strentzel and his family settled in Martinez in April 1853
and began planting all manner of fruit trees and other plants.
An enthusiastic amateur winemaker, Dr. Strentzel submitted wines
from his crop to compete at the California Exposition - now the
California State Fair.
When John Muir married Louie Strentzel in 1880, they were given
a portion of the ranch as a wedding present. Muir eventually
took over operation of the entire ranch, later turning it over
to other family members to manage.
After Muir’s death, his daughter Wanda and her husband, Tom Hanna,
and their children operated a portion of the ranch. Tom and Wanda’s
second son, John Muir Hanna, moved to Napa with his family in
Today, John’s son Bill and his wife Claudia, with their
children Michael and Kristin and their families carry on the
tradition of farming - and winemaking! - in California.