The Nisenan Maidu

For thousands of years the Nisenan Maidu Indians lived a peaceful hunting and gathering existence along the Yuba, Consumnes, Mokelumne, Sacramento and Natomon (American) Rivers. The Nisenan were a southern linguistic group of the Maidu tribe. The word "Nisenan" (meaning from among us, on our side) was used as a self-designation by the Maidu who lived near the Yuba and the American Rivers. The largest group of Maidu lived along the north side of the American River. Their temporary summer homes were small conical shaped shelters made from thick rectangular slabs of tree bark. The shelters provided protection against the long and hot valley summers.

Volimhu, a permanent village, was located about a mile downstream, on the south side of the American River, where modern Natoma is located. In a permanent village, a meetinghouse or "Kum" (coom) was usually the center of community life. The "Kum" was where ceremonies were held and visiting guests were housed. It was conical and approximately fifty feet across, four feet deep, with a framework of poles, crossbeams and layers of bark, sticks, twigs and dirt placed over the framework. The thickness of the walls made it comfortable all year around.

Food was plentiful for the Nisenan Maidu people. They ate both large and small game, roots, berries, seeds, salmon and acorns. The women harvested fresh acorns using long sticks to knock them out of the oak trees, gathering them in large burden baskets and storing them in granaries until the acorns were needed for food. To prepare the acorns, the women split the shell off the acorn with an elongated, cylindrical rock pestle, using the same tool to grind the acorn kernels into flour. This grinding was done using one of the many holes that had been worked into a massive slab of bedrock next to the river. You can still see evidence of their labor in the grinding rocks located below the Folsom Power House.

Clothing was minimal for the Maidu in the moderate climate of the Sacramento Valley. In the summer the adults wore shredded grass or tule skirts. During the winter, they added blankets or capes made of woven rabbit fur for warmth.

Known as excellent basket weavers, the Maidu women gathered tule, milkweed, sedge grass and wild grape vines to create their baskets. The baskets were used to gather food, catch fish, cook acorn mush, and carry their babies, and store tools and supplies.

Maidu communities began disappearing very early in the Gold Rush Era when many miners arrived and began extensive mining operations along the river bars and surrounding hills. Peaceful hunting and gathering cultures were almost immediately overwhelmed as traditional forage areas and ancient milling sites became the scene of mining and commercial activities.

Folsom prior to the Gold Rush

In 1827, Jedediah Smith led a group of trappers through the area. His search for a pass over the Sierra Nevada's opened up the land to trappers and traders drawing the attention of John Sutter and William A. Leidesdorff. In 1842, the latter was granted 35,000 acres along the American River called "The Rancho Rio de los Americanos."

Jedediah Strong Smith (1798-1831)

In the fall of 1826, Jedediah Smith and his men arrived at Mission San Gabriel in Southern California via the Mojave Desert. They were the first group of American trappers to reach California overland. They were well treated by the mission padres, but the Mexican governor in San Diego had instructed them to leave at once by the route they had entered. (They were illegal immigrants!) Smith was determined to continue his trapping and explorations. He quietly led his men into the San Joaquin Valley and headed north trapping and taking furs as they went. His plan was to scout the new territory and then return home via a mountain route.

April 30, 1827 his small band of men traveled east across the Sacramento Valley toward the Sierra foothills looking for a place to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They carried with them skins of beaver and river otter. Along the banks of the river they saw many Maidu Indian villages.

This marks the beginning of the history of Folsom. He and his men were the first recorded white people to come here. The spot Smith had chosen for a campsite was later to become part of the City of Folsom. After their stopover here, his group journeyed north and east where they joined a traders and trappers rendezvous in Utah.

Smith, was one of the most exciting and picturesque "mountain men" of the old west. He was known for his endurance, integrity, and leadership. Smith was tall, thin man in buckskin, whose brown hair hung long and straight about his ears to hide scars caused by an encounter with a bear. On one of his earlier expeditions, a bear attacked his group; Smith was almost scalped tearing one ear severely. He calmly directed one of his companions to sew up his wounds and stitch the ear back in place. Despite his thin physique, he was exceptionally strong. He never wore a beard and was known for his habit of carrying a well-used Bible with him at all times.

Smith was not all seriousness and often displayed a sense of humor and an ever-present desire to try new and adventuresome things. When he and his men were making their way back down the American River from the rendezvous in Utah, he apparently decided to mark the occasion with special daring. They made a small craft and rode the last two miles down the river. Spring floods filled the river to its fullest, and Smith and his men had a wild ride. They passed and Indian lodge along the way, and they watch as the terror-stricken natives fled in panic.

Even though he left California soon after this wild ride, Smith had led the way. Word spread of the excellent fur trapping along California's inland rivers, and American trappers started appearing in increasing numbers. Smith's explorations of the far west lasted only nine years, but in that time he covered between 8,000 and 9,000 miles. Indians near Santa Fe killed him in 1831. Some writers claim he traveled farther than any other mountain men.

The Sacramento County Historical Society marked Smith's role in the history of Folsom on April 30, 1960. A bronze marker was dedicated on that day in his honor at Folsom City Park.

William Alexander Leidesdorff (1810-1848)

IN 1841, the schooner Julie Ann sailed into the San Francisco harbor and dropped anchor by the village of Yerba Buena. The owner of the Julie Ann was William Alexander Leidesdorff, who would become one of California's leading citizens and the owner of the land on which Folsom is now located.

A year earlier he had been a successful trader in New Orleans. Leidesdorff owned 12 ships and a prosperous business. He was engaged to be married and was head over heels in love with his fiancée. Then, without warning, he was refused admission to her home and the engagement ring was returned. Her parents informed him that she was no longer interested in seeing him. Though there is no proof, it seems that her proud Creole family had learned his West Indian mother had Negro and Carib blood in her veins thus making him unacceptable as a son-in-law.

Heartbroken, Leidesdorff sold all his property and ships, and left New Orleans forever. He sailed the Pacific, trading and moving on, until he arrived in Yerba Buena. He traded with both the Mexicans and the Russians. By 1844, trade in wheat, tallow and hides earned him enough money to purchase a lot at Clay and Kearny Streets. He also had a warehouse built at California and Leidesdorff Streets.

He became a naturalized Mexican citizen and received a land grant of eight Spanish leagues, or more than 35,000 acres. The grant, called the Rancho Rio de los Americanos, began at about the point where Bradshaw Road connects with the river. A sign was posted there, one side faced west and was lettered Sutter while the east facing side said Leidesdorff. The grant extended upriver to where Folsom Prison is today. Two years later Leidesdorff had an adobe home built at the western end of his property, but he never lived there.

Meanwhile, Leidesdorff's career in San Francisco was spectacular. He became the contract agent to furnish supplies to the Russians and collect Sutter's debt. He built the City Hotel, the finest in San Francisco. He was a treasurer of San Francisco. He served on its first City Council and the first school Board. He was a close friend of Commodore Robert Stockton and was appointed Vice Consul by Thomas Larkin.

He brought the first steamboat to San Francisco Bay, the double side-wheeler SITKK. In 1847, the year after he had the adobe built, he took the SITKK to Sacramento. Little is recorded about the trip except that he raced an ox cart on the downstream trip to Benicia and lost.

The plans he had for the Rancho de los Americanos will never be known. On May 18, 1848, as the first reports of rich gold strikes on the banks of the American River came filtering into San Francisco, William Alexander Leidesdorff died of pneumonia or typhus (two different accounts list different causes of death).

The Gold Rush (1848-1850)

When gold was discovered in 1848, mining camps sprang up along the rivers. Folsom might have faded away with the other camps had it not been for two pivotal events in 1856. First, was the completion of Joseph Folsom's dream of a "Granite City", surveyed and laid out by Theodore Judah. Lots were sold and the town was renamed in honor of Joseph Folsom, who sadly passed away a year earlier.

Joseph Libby Folsom (1817-1855)

Joseph Libby Folsom was born in New Hampshire in 1817 and he was an 1840 graduate of West Point. Captain Folsom, U.S. Army quartermaster department, arrived in California in 1847 with the Stevenson Regiment. After the Mexican War, he remained in San Francisco. By 1848, Folsom was collector of the Port. The following year he became interested in capitalizing on the future potential of California. He purchased several lots in San Francisco and became interested in the estate of William A. Leidesdorff.

In June of 1849, Folsom left San Francisco for the Danish West Indies to locate Leidesdorff's heirs. There he found Anna Maria Spark, who had never married Leidesdorff's father, but had been granted an act legitimizing her children. Folsom contracted with her to purchase title to Leidesdorff's San Francisco holdings and Rancho Rio de los Americanos for $75,000 dollars to be paid in three installments. Anna Spark, knowing nothing of land values in California, was only too happy to accept Folsom's offer.

When Folsom returned to San Francisco, he found land values to be skyrocketing, and his newly purchased title to the Leidesdorff estate already in question. The government was claiming right to the property purchased by Folsom. The claim was brought because under old Mexican law foreigners could not inherit property. The dispute was brought to the courts, where legal entanglements over the conflicts of Mexican, American and Danish laws kept it for over ten years.

Meanwhile, as the value of his holdings increased, Folsom was faced with the near-impossible battle to finance his legal defense to their title. He was forced to borrow repeatedly, sometimes paying interest as high as 3% per month for short-term notes. His troubles were further complicated by Anna Spark's refusal to accept the second installment payment on her son's estate.

By 1855, Folsom's health as well as his cash had begun to give out. He hired Theodore Judah to survey and lay out a town site near the mining camp of Negro Bar to be called Granite City. There had been talk since 1852 of a railroad, the first in the West, to be built from Sacramento at least as far as Negro Bar. In February 1855, Folsom accepted the post of president of the fledgling railroad.

Joseph Libby Folsom died at the age of 38 on July 19, 1855, of renal failure or pneumonia at Mission San Jose. (Different sources give different causes of his death). Like Leidesdorff, he died too soon to see the development of Rancho Rio de Los Americans, part of which was to become the town of Folsom. Only three weeks after Folsom's death, the first rail was laid on the new Sacramento Valley Railroad; and the first train completed the trip to Folsom in February 1856. In the same month, town lots in Granite City, which was renamed Folsom in his honor, were placed on the auction block, with most of the 2,048 lots sold the first day.

More History

Mormon Island

The once important town of Mormon Island is almost forgotten and is now buried under Folsom Lake. Mormon Island was situated where the North and South Forks of the American River join on the route from Sutter's Fort to his sawmill at Coloma. It was one of the earliest mining camps set up after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill. Six weeks after the initial discovery of gold a small group of Mormons, originally employed by Sutter to work his mill, was mining gold a Mormon Island.

By summer of 1848, the camp had over a hundred men. Samuel Brannan, the "Spiritual Guide and director for the Mormon population of New Helvetia and other districts of California" opened a store there. For quite some time, Brannan required the miners to tithe. That is, give one tenth of their earnings, to the Mormon Church. The camp was called Mormon Island because the early miners cut a channel across one edge of the gravel bar there, forming a small island. The town quickly outgrew the small gravel bar.

Because Mormon Island was a natural stopping point between Sutter's Fort and Coloma, there were two stage lines operating there by 1850. One ran from Sacramento to Coloma, stopping at Mormon Island. The other ran from Sacramento to Mormon Island and back. The town had become one of the main communities of the Mother Lode. In 1851, a post office was established at Mormon Island. By 1853, the population of the town was about 2,500, and by 1855, four hotels, seven saloons and about fifteen other businesses flourished.

In 1853, the first tent school was held in a grape patch on the Haxsel ranch, and the first teacher was Mrs. Sterling B.B. Clark. This school may have been the first in Gold Rush country. It was followed by a more substantial school building that was destroyed by fire around 1900. A second school was built in the Blue Ravine area opposite the Jim Hoke home. In about 1910 the school was moved, due to dredging activities, to property owned by the W.B. Plumb family.

The completion of the Sacramento Valley Railroad in 1856 to what was then Granite City and the subsequent establishment of the town of Folsom marked the beginning of a long decline for the once important town. Mormon Island gradually decreased in importance despite the construction of a very fine winery. By 1880, the population had dwindled to zero.

The final end of the town came seventy-five years later, when the water of Folsom Lake flooded the site. By this time, the town had nearly vanished, and a chicken ranch was located where the thriving town square had once been. Today, all that remains is a marker on Green Valley Road east of Folsom and the relocated Mormon Island cemetery.

Chinese Influence on Folsom

During the mid 1800's, many Chinese men left their homes and families to look for fortunes in other countries. When the Gold Rush hit California, there were a few Chinese already here. The news spread, and by 1852 thirty percent of the population in some mining areas was Chinese.

Chinese workers played an important part in early mining activities. They utilized their own knowledge for developing and refining gold as well as their won mine engineering techniques. Because of cultural differences, appearance, and speech; they were generally regarded with suspicion and resentment. The Chinese were sometimes employed by regular mining companies, but more often they formed companies of their own to work claims which the with miners did not consider worth the effort. Often, because of their diligence and patience these claims paid off. This, coupled with the fact that the Chinese were so "different," often sending money back to China rather than spending it in the community, was a source of resentment. In 1878, there were over 3,500 Chinese mining in and around Folsom.

When the gold began to run out, the Chinese worked at many other jobs, including such tasks as building the first Delta levees and constructing the transcontinental railroad. They also developed small businesses becoming laundrymen, cooks, storekeepers, farmers, and fishermen.

Few people are aware that Folsom once had a Chinese community numbering about 2,500 persons, complete with its own shops, churches and mayor. The first mayor was Oak Chan. He came to Folsom while in his teens, during the 1850's. First he worked in the gold fields, earning the sum of #3 per month, plus room and board. Later he became chief translator, labor agent, banker, scribe, and all around liaison between the Chinese and other cultures. For many years, he operated the Wing Sing Woo store at River Way and Reading Street. He was revered as a humanitarian among the Chinese community for his willingness to personally assist anyone medically w, with housing, financing or their burial arrangements.

Folsom's Chinese community once extended between Leidesdorff Street and the river, from just below the old powerhouse. Three major Chinese cemeteries, Benevolent Associations and Joss Houses were located on the river bluffs, and a small Buddhist shrine was built at one. The Chung Wah Cemetery is a national registered landmark and a state registered landmark. The Young Wo Cemetery is a state historical point of interest.

Chinese communities were also located at Alder Creek and Nimbus, with many of the inhabitants working in fruit packing sheds there.

Folsom's Chinese community prospered for almost half a century. Eventually many people moved away to other parts of California. However, some of Oak Chan's descendants still live in Folsom. They are 3rd and 4th generation Folsom residents. In 1989, the Folsom Cordova Board of Education named a new elementary school in honor of Oak Chan.


While the demographics of this specific area don't include many school-aged children, there are a few schools relatively close by.

The El Dorado County Office of Education has a wealth of information on all schools in the area.
The El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce - Schools page also has some valuable information.

These are some of the schools in the immediate area.

Lake Forest Elementary School - 10/10 at GreatSchools

API Score - 914 in 2006, 911 in 2007

2240 Sailsbury Dr, El Dorado Hills, CA
(916) 933-0654‎

Marina Village Middle School‎ - 9/10 at GreatSchools

API Score - 878 in 2006, 877 in 2007

1901 Francisco Dr, El Dorado Hills, CA
(916) 933-3995‎

Oak Ridge High School‎ - 9/10 at GreatSchools

API Score - 839 in 2006, 841 in 2007

1120 Harvard Way, El Dorado Hills, CA
(916) 933-6980‎

It is interesting to note, that although all of these schools have above average API scores; when compared to schools with similar demographics in the state, these schools scores are much lower than would be expected.

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Political Organization

El Dorado Hills is an unincorporated part of El Dorado County. Most of the government services and agencies are run by the County and this includes the El Dorado County Office of Economic Development. For county residents and people interested in starting or moving a business to El Dorado Hills, this is an invaluable source of information. Visit their website at http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/economic

The El Dorado Hills Community Services District (EDHCSD) provides the community with public parks and recreation services and facilities, CC&R oversight, design review approval and enforcement, cable television and waste/recycling collection.

This local, special district is led by the EDHCSD Board of Directors, who are elected by the residents. They employ professional management and staff who manage the diverse services and facilities to the El Dorado Hills community. District offices are conveniently located on El Dorado Hills Boulevard and Harvard Way (here’s a map.)

Click here to view the latest activity guide for El Dorado Hills.

Specific to my area parks and athletic facilities are non-existent. Most of the homes are custom and built on some sort of uneven terrain. A number of them do have tennis courts and/or basketball courts and there are walking trails to the lake from the main roads. Also the lake is completely surrounded by a State Recreation Area, however living on the steep hills will make almost any activities away from your own property require a vehicle for travel. With launch-ramp access only a few miles away, it is no surprise to see a plethora of boats in driveways around here.

Real Estate Matrix

Through my personal travels I have found numerous different agents and agencies representing homes within my logic study area. However only one seems to have the competitive edge as far as listing volume.

Coldwell Banker Previews was the sign posted in front of most of the listed homes in the area. They specialize in luxury custom homes, and have an international clientele.

Coldwell Banker also had a few listings in the area, but significantly less than their sister company.

REMAX only had a handful of listings in the area.

Also, while I'm sure other Realtors have a small grip on the area, a name I recognized multiple times throughout my travels was Patricia Seide - Which may have something to do with Coldwell Banker taking most of the listings.

Community Organizations

Click here to open the area map - Then select which Places of Worship you would like to see. Mapped by Google

A comprehensive listing of Places of Worship can be found here - iloveeldoradohills.com

El Dorado Hills has a Rotary Club which meets on Wednesdays - edhrotary.org

El Dorado Hills has an active Chamber of Commerce as well - eldoradohillschamber.org


According to Zillow.com there are currently 9-10 listings within my logic study area.

Low - $725,000
High - $2,650,000
Average price per square foot of listings - $318
Average price per square foot of recent sales - $298

Households and Income within El Dorado Hills

Total Number of Households - 9,020
Family Households - 7,502
Average Family Size - 3.57
Average Household Income - $159,848
Median Household Income - $115,567
Percentage Income Change Since 1990 - 105%
Percentage Income Change Since 2000 - 0%

Information from ReloHomeSearch

Most of the homes within the area are custom, and the architectural styles vary. The majority are contemporary modern styles, built within the last 20 years, with a surge in building over the past 10 years.

South Pointe is a gated community with large upscale custom homes and views of Folsom Lake. Real estate options include custom homes and custom lots. Homes from $975,000 and land from $375,000 to $2 million.

Commercial Development

The Closest shopping center to my Logic Study area is at Francisco & Green Valley Road. It is anchored by a Safeway, and now hosts numerous pizzerias, salons, delis, boutique shops and multiple coffee shops.

The quality and selection of shopping and dining experiences is growing in El Dorado Hills in number and variety:

Raley's Center: Anchored by Raley's Superstore on Park Drive near Serrano Blvd., this shopping center also includes eating establishments such as Bella Bru Cafe and Catering, Steve's Pizza and Pick Up Stix, several quick-food options and a deli, plus banks, a hairdresser, specialty shops and a pre-school/daycare center.

Town Center (Click for map): Located at the El Dorado Hills Blvd. Interchange at Highway 50, Town Center is home to the 14-screen Regal Theatres, the El Dorado Hills Sports Club and a myriad of boutiques and restaurants. With its manmade lake, Town Center is designed to be enjoyed by shoppers, diners and outdoor enthusiasts. There's hiking and biking trails, an amphitheatre for entertainment, and edge-of-the-lake outdoor dining for restaurant patrons.

Town Center dining highlights include A Maad Tea Party Café, Asahi Sushi, Café Campanile, Chantara Thai Cuisine, Chili's Grill & Bar, Cold Stone Creamery, Debbie Wong's Express, Hot Peppers Taqueria, Infusión Restaurant, Mama Ann's Italian Deli, Nestle Toll House, Pueblo Chico Restaurant, Sizzling Fresh Mongolian BBQ, Strings Italian Cafe

Town Center does include the practical, too. Shoppers can buy necessities at Longs Drugs; a new Target store opened this past fall and the much-anticipated Nugget Market opened in December 2007. There are also banks, a hairdresser, dentist and doctor offices and many more services. There's luxury big-ticket shopping, too: El Dorado Hills' one and only car dealership, Mercedes Benz, is located here. For guests or business associates coming to town, Town Center offers a Holiday Inn Express.

Dining & Shopping in Folsom

Folsom boasts significantly more shopping and dining options than El Dorado Hills proper, and with access to Green Valley road it is just a few miles away.

Costco Wholesale; Sam's Club, Best Buy, REI, Bed Bath & Beyond in Folsom Gateway Center, just off of Highway 50 at the East Bidwell exit.

Home Depot: East Bidwell off of Highway 50 in Broadstone Plaza (also home to Borders Books, Linens 'n Things, Pier One Imports, Babies R Us, and many more).

Target, Mervyn's, Trader Joe's and Lowe's: East Bidwell and Blue Ravine.Kohl's and Walmart: Riley Street and Glenn Drive.

Folsom Premium Outlets: Eighty discount stores ranging from Liz Claiborne to The Gap; located just off of the Highway 50 Folsom Blvd. exit.

Historic Folsom: Located on Sutter Street, 100-year-old buildings, houses, restaurants, specialty stores, and antique shops that attract visitors from far and wide.

Some extra dining and community info can be found here

The Good and the Bad

Money Magazine - Best Places to Live: Top 100 - "For this year's list we focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community."

El Dorado Hills, California - Ranked 77th
Population: 22,200
Median home price (2006): $672,335
Average property taxes (2006): $4,434

El Dorado Hills knows the golden rule in real estate: Location, Location, Location. Nestled in between the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe, the community enjoys the kind of geography that Californians dream of - close to skiing, the ocean, wineries and state parks. And with elevations ranging from 200 ft to over 10,800 ft, it's no wonder that El Dorado County (which boasts a million acres of national forest land) lies in the most diversified recreational area in the state.

The Good

- Proximity to Folsom, Sacramento, San Francisco, Tahoe
- Access to multiple lakes and rivers
- Seasonal weather
- Animals - Wild and domestic
- Recreational Activities
- Land value
- Property sizes (Acreage and Living space)
- People live here because they want to
- The scenery and topography of the land
- Quiet lifestyle
- Rural yet close to services
- Low crime rates

The Bad

- Seasonal weather & lots of rain
- Commute time (Traffic getting worse)
- Air quality
- Soil is inhospitable for most plants
- Lack of high end shopping
- Lack of high-paying jobs
- Only 1 sports team in the area - distance prohibitive
- Lack of quality restaurants and suppliers
- Lack of a University of California
- Airport lacks routes

Buyer & Seller Profiles

A potential buyer in this area is more than likely an educated professional with a fair amount of acquired wealth, looking for a place to live out an active retirement. He/she will most likely be of an age from 45-55 whose children are grown or will be soon. They will probably have some interest in the recreation offered nearby, lakes, trails, rivers, forests and such.

While many of the homes being offered on the market are new and have never sold before, some are currently being sold by investors who cannot afford to finish the property or have no desire to. Also possible sellers are those who inherit properties they cannot or choose not to keep.