“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Knights Landing in Yolo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Knights Landing

Knights Landing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Loren Wilson, April 19, 2015
1. Knights Landing Marker
Inscription. It was here on the Sacramento River that William Knight settled in 1843. This natural landing place was to become an important landing and shipping point in this area.

It wasn't until 1853 four years after Knights death that the townsite was officially named Knights Landing.

Dedicated by
Sam Brannan Chapter No. 1004
E Clampus Vitus
March 23, 1974
Erected 1974 by Sam Brannan Chapter No. 1004, E Clampus Vits.
Location. 38° 48.078′ N, 121° 43.113′ W. Marker is in Knights Landing, California, in Yolo County. Marker is on Third Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 42244 Third Street, Knights Landing CA 95645, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Yolo County Courthouse (approx. 8.9 miles away); Yolo County War Memorial (approx. 8.9 miles away); The Woodland Opera House (approx. 9 miles away); Woodland begins (approx. 9 miles away); Original railroad (approx. 9 miles away); Main and Second Street 1920’s (approx. 9 miles away); Woodland's First Post Office (approx. 9.1 miles away); Yolo County Savings Bank (approx. 9.1 miles away).
More about this marker.
Knights Landing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 28, 2009
2. Knights Landing Marker
Marker at previous location.
The marker is located in the lawn area west of the old Post Office.
Regarding Knights Landing. The Town

Knights Landing, built on a mound that marked the ancient meeting place of Native Americans inhabiting the region, and near the confluence of Cache Creek and the Sacramento River, was founded in 1843, by Dr. William Knight, a physician who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1800. Knights Landing, the oldest town in Yolo County, rapidly became a shipping point on the river and “was once of the most noted points in the Sacramento Valley during and before the territorial era of California.” Early on, this steamboat landing became a place of importance for communication and transportation of goods for the people living on both sides of the Sacramento River. When the town was initially laid out, in 1849 it was called Baltimore, but disagreement over the sale of the new town’s lots caused that name to be discarded. It was subsequently called Grafton for a short while. Dr. Knight established a ferry here, which was later taken over by J. W. Snowball when he moved his family to Stanislaus County. The posted rates were one dollar for a man and his horse, and five dollars for a wagon.

In the 1850’s the new town grew, boasting a hotel run by S. R. Smith, and 1853 Charles F. Reed surveyed and laid out a town site
Knights Landing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Loren Wilson, April 18, 2015
3. Knights Landing Marker
and the settlement officially became Knights Landing. That same year Captain .J. H. Updegraff opened his hotel, the Yolo House, with suitable fanfare and a grand New Year's party. Tickets were sold for ten dollars, and a steamer was run from Sacramento to the party for the convenience of his guests. The year 1853 also saw the opening of a large general merchandise store operated by J. W. Snowball and J. J. Perkins. By 1860, the Yolo House had been converted into a private residence which prompted entrepreneurs D. N. Hershey and George Glascock to build a brick hotel. In 1890 a branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad was constructed to the town. The railroad, and later the completion of a bridge crossing the Sacramento River, contributed greatly to the town’s prosperity
Once one of the most noted towns in the Sacramento Valley, today Knights Landing (population just under 900) is largely a town of farm workers and their families, but it seems to be on the cusp of a revival. In 2000 Gil Plubell, our host, purchased all of the old town including the old bank, the post office and two additional brick buildings and has spent the last fifteen years restoring and refurbishing them. According to Crafting and Valley Jewel by David L. Wilkins, the First National Bank building in Knights Landing was designed by William Henry Weeks in the Classical Revival style. It was decorated with
Knights Landing - Looking Downstream from Sacramento River Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 28, 2009
4. Knights Landing - Looking Downstream from Sacramento River Bridge
In the above picture, the former location of the marker (by the guardrail) is barely visible, located on the right bank atop the levee. This is roughly the area where the landing would have been.
exterior columns of “classical detailing (which) were constructed of terra cotta tile”. William R. Fait, a local building contractor, was involved in building the bank. In the post office, Gil has accumulated a collection of photos and other items that pertain to the town’s history. The cemetery, just south of town on County Road 102, is one of several purported final resting places of Charles Bolles, also known as Black Bart, the notorious stagecoach bandit. If he is interred there, the grave is unmarked. Although the town has seen better days, it is a busy little village sitting at the junction of three well-traveled roads, County Road 102 and State Routes 45 and 113 and appears to have a promising future.

The Man
William H. Knight was born in 1800 in Annapolis, Maryland and died on November 9, 1849 in Knights Ferry California. He was a practicing physician who had graduated in the study of medicine. He explored the west as a mountain man and fur trader. For a while, he lived in Santa Fe, where he became a Mexican citizen and met Carmen. The couple settled in the Cache Creek area in 1843 and William founded what would grow into a town on the Sacramento River

William and his wife Carmen played a vital role in the Bear Flag Revolt of June 1846, on e evening of June eighth, 1846 Carmen Knight obtained sensitive information from Mexican Lieutenant
E Clampus Vitus Detail on Marker Base image. Click for full size.
By Loren Wilson, April 13, 2008
5. E Clampus Vitus Detail on Marker Base
Unfortunately this is hidden by the guard rail.
Francisco de Arci, who was the secretary for General Castro. The lieutenant was crossing the Sacramento River with his horses on her husbands ferry on that evening and confided in the pretty woman from Santa Fe that he was on a mission for Mexican General Jose Castro to round up close to 250 horses and deliver them to the militia. These horses would be used to force Captain John C. Fremont and Governor Pio Pico and all American settlers out of the area and to help stop all immigration. Carmel told her husband who mounted his horse and rode to Fremont’s encampment at the confluence of the Yuba and Feather Rivers, and on the morning of June ninth informed Fremont and his small band of men of this development. Forewarned about this development, this small band of settlers and mountain men captured Lieutenant Arci and the horses and then headed to Sonoma where they captured General Mariano Vallejo and his soldiers without firing a shot. In celebration, some of the men fashioned a flag from red flannel and white cotton cloth adorned with a representation on a grizzly bear, raised the flag in the plaza, and declared California to be a free and independent republic. Dr. William Knight was one of this small band of some 24 to 33 men who on June 15th 1846 participated in this “Bear Flag Rebellion.” In the spring of 1849, William, having caught “gold fever” moved his family to a site on the Stanislaus River which was rich in gold and there, as he had done in Knights Landing, established a ferry crossing. Like many who went to the Mother Lode, William made more money from the miners who used his ferry than he made in the gold fields. Unfortunately, William was not destined to live into old age. On November 9, 1849, just months after he had founded a second town named after him, he was gunned down in the streets of Knights Ferry, a witness declaring that it was “one of the most cold blooded murders” he had witnessed. He is buried on a hill overlooking the Stanislaus River in a town he founded and in which he was killed.
The Plaque
In 1974, a revived Sam Brannan Chapter held its first function and plaque dedication in Knights Landing, a small town on the banks of the Sacramento River. The plaque was mounted on a concrete cube and mortared in place. In 1999 we returned to the site of our first function and re-dedicated the plaque on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, with Rich Benyo as our NGH. Humbug Bruce Frigard wanted to return for our 30th anniversary as well, but while planning for the event the Board discovered that the property was for sale and that the owners wanted the plaque removed. With the proper tools in hand, XNGH Rich Benyo, XNGH, Tom Crawford, and XSNGH, Loren Wilson travelled to Knights Landing, carefully removed the plaque, and delivered it to XNGH Bob Campbell who would fabricate a suitable structure upon which we could mount the plaque. When this was done, the plaque was re-located to a spot on the levee overlooking the Sacramento River, just a short distance from where it had been. It was in this location for our 30th anniversary Doin’s. A year or so ago the chapter received a communication from Gil Plubell, who told us that the plaque and mounting stand, had been uprooted and rolled down the levee, but that he had recovered it and would like to see it in stalled in a safer location on his property in Old Town, Knights Landing. He also offered to let us hold a function on his property to mark the relocation of this well-traveled plaque. We took him up on his offer, making this most likely, the only ECV plaque to have been placed in three different locations.
Additional comments.
1. Additional Information on the Marker Dedication
Ron Kiehl was Noble Grand Humbug when this monument was erected. Plaque wording by Edward D Hawkins. Monument constructed by Robert M. Campbell.
    — Submitted April 15, 2012, by Loren Wilson of Sebastopol, California.

Categories. Notable Places
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 31, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,119 times since then and 49 times this year. Last updated on June 4, 2015, by Loren Wilson of Sebastopol, California. Photos:   1. submitted on April 20, 2015, by Loren Wilson of Sebastopol, California.   2. submitted on March 31, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   3. submitted on April 20, 2015, by Loren Wilson of Sebastopol, California.   4. submitted on March 31, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   5. submitted on April 15, 2012, by Loren Wilson of Sebastopol, California.
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