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Why Did They Name It That? Area Street Names Part 2

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

By Kathy Brown, Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum/Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society

Hetch Hetchy Railroad Tressle crossing 120 in Big Oak Flat looking west, 1920s

Information on our area street names and their origins was begun in the last Taking You Back In History article with general information and an alphabetized list of streets names for historic family beginning with A to F. That list continues in this article along with other street name sources and a request for your help.

Gamble - Alexander, builder and owner of Wells Fargo/Gamble Building, the big stone structure containing connected mercantiles and a Wells Fargo Office in Big Oak Flat; brother John, teacher in Big Oak Flat in late 1800s.

Golden Rock Court - the Golden Rock Ditch and Golden Rock Water Company built in mid -1850s to bring badly needed water from the South Fork of the Tuolumne River to the miners and businesses of Garrote, Big Oak Flat and beyond, functioned until the mid-1870s.

Harper - mining family, father Charles businessman in Big Oak Flat, sons owned mines on Grade that were noted for beautiful lace gold; noted carpenters for early local homes.

Henderson - Big Oak Flat families who lived there.

James - original owner of Ranch, later owned by Sal Ferretti and then Dr. Dunn, which became part of Pine Mountain Lake.

Jimmie Bell - one of the last MeWuk on the Big Creek Rancheria, which was located along Big Creek, which forms Pine Mountain Lake.

Jones Hill - early pioneer family owned Jones ranch, Gene last of old time teamsters hauled freight to and from from Chinese Camp.

Jonny Degnan - well-loved doctor at Hetch Hetchy's Groveland Hospital in 1910s -1920s, born in Yosemite Valley where parents ran a bakery, delivered many area babies.

Laveroni Park - pioneer Groveland family, early family home now Mountain Sage, sawmill and lumber business; Mary Laveroni for whom park is a named, community activist instrumental in obtaining water for Groveland and the land for town park from the City of San Francisco.

Lumsden - brothers James and David, miners, ranchers, covered bridge builders in Tuolumne Co., hollowed out Tunnel Tree in Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite.

Merrell- Josiah Merrell owner of Cosmopolite mine located between Divide Cemetery and current Merrill Road; son Millard, mining engineer, continued as owner and supervisor of the Cosmopolite, Millard also served as Judge of the Groveland Judicial District Court from 1922 to 1926 and served as Chairman of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors as well as President of the California Supervisors Association. He was also instrumental in the formation of Groveland’s Community Services District.

Mills - doctor, absentee land owner, later Phelan ranch.

Mueller - owner of brewery just east of Groveland near Second Garrote, supplied area with beer and across the Sierra to Bodie.

Phelan Mogan - Owners of two neighboring ranches north of Ferretti Rd.

Priest Grade - William Priest, road engineer helped build toll road to Yosemite and Tioga Road to Bennetville in the high pass; Margaret Priest owned and ran Priest Station as the first travelers rest stop and restaurant on the Big Oak Flat Road.

Raboul - Casimir Raboul, builder and proprietor of first trading post in Groveland, later to become the Cassaretto Store, site of Helping Hands.

Reid - Thomas C Reid, 49er miner, early settler in Groveland; son Thomas R. Reid, in youth a guide to Yosemite; brief owner of the Savory Hotel (Washington Hotel, Groveland's first hotel), later one of many owners of the Groveland Hotel; owner Rhode Island Mine in Groveland.

Rolph - James “Sunny Jim” Ralph mayor of San Francisco during Hetch Hetchy project or is it for area watercolor artist Leslie Rolph whose work was much admired?

Salvador Court - probably also for Salvador Ferretti, previously mentioned.

Scofield - family once owned property now know as “The Scar” in Big Oak Flat; Ray Scofield, foreman of county road department, wife Martha well-loved Big Oak Flat teacher.

Smith - owner of ranch and Smith Station, Big Oak Flat Road stage stop east of Groveland, grazing land bought for construction of Hetch Hetchy dam.

Sprague - earliest owner of Smith Station, Director of Tuolumne County Bank.

Tannahill - Owner of Iron Door when it was the Granite Store, a general store, before becoming a saloon.

Vassar - A local town Constable, lived on the road.

Old original road leading east of Groveland from James Ranch (Ferretti Ranch) through what is now Pine Mountain Lake.

The Gold Rush inspired some names. Blue Bell, NonPareil, Longfellow, Mohrman, Mount Jefferson were area mines. Jackson Mill was a gold processing stamp mill. Powder House Rd. is named for a stone explosives storage building found on it. Wells Fargo, of course, is for the company that assayed, exchanged and transported the gold.

Back Street, Clifton, Cresthaven, Hillcroft, Long View, Main St., Marina Court, Nob Hill, Pleasant View, Point View, Ridge Crest, Rising Hill Circle, Rock Canyon, School, Sunnyside, and Woodside Way are descriptive names, though the validity of the description of a few might be questioned.

Nature is the theme for many streets, especially those around the airport with Antelope, Beaver Court, Grizzly Circle, Mule Court, Otter Court, Ponderosa, and Weasel adopting the name of animals. Chaparral, Hemlock, Elderberry, Iris Court, Manzanita are botanical names.

There are two unexplained names by the airport - Yorkshire and Jimmersall. Of course Yorkshire is a county in Northern England but why was it chosen? Was a road engineer or Boise Cascade planner from there? Jimmersall, also by the airport is very puzzling. It is among the streets with the botanical names but in my many nature books I could find no plant with that name even under alternative spellings or in slang. I did find that Jimmer is an old Yorkshire word meaning hinge. Is it possible those two names are somehow related? Do any of you know the answer?

I have no doubt I overlooked a few names and for a handful I was unable to find probable origins such as Dyer, Sean Patrick and Baraca Way. If you happen to know the sources of these street names or others I have omitted or if you have corrections please call the museum (1-209-962-0325) and leave a message. We'd love to have your help in adding to this list.

Taking You Back in History is provided by the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society (STCHS) and the Groveland Gateway Museum. The Museum is open Friday - Sunday 10a - 2p

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