Riot on the Cosumnes


In 1851, a dam was built by Jared Dixon Sheldon on the Cosumnes River at the north side of what is now Rancho Murieta.

Researched and written by Ellen Cothrin Rosa, historian and great grand daughter of Jared Dixon Sheldon.
Source: Elk Grove Historical Society (https://elkgrovehistoricalsociety.com/dam-on-the-cosumnes/)

Jared Dixon Sheldon (1813-1851) owned all the land from Grantline Road to the Cosumnes River as part of the Omuchumnes Land Grant that he was awarded from the Mexican government. Sheldon gave half of his grant to his friend and partner, William Daylor (1810-1851). Sheldon built the first house on the slough. It was later called “the slough house.”

Later the two friends married the Rhoads sisters, Catherine (1832-1905) and Sarah (1830-1898) both in 1847. Jared was 34 and Catherine was 15 and William was 37 and Sarah 17, and so it was in those days.

The two families were the first settlers on the Cosumnes River, other than the migrating Miwoks of course, living in the present day Sloughhouse area. Most of the history of Sloughhouse is connected to those two families even though both Sheldon and Daylor did not live very long and both died in 1851. Sheldon (age 41) was killed in a gunfight by miners because he was damming up a stream on his property during the Gold Rush and Daylor (age 38) died of Cholera. 

An earthen dam was constructed by Jared Dixon Sheldon to provide water to his Omochumnes Rancho. The construction of this dam had the potential to cause gold mining claims located upstream of the dam to be flooded by the rising water.

On Sunday July 12, 1851 in an example of “gold rush justice” the conflict between the farmer and the gold miners erupted in gunfire in what was known as a “Riot on the Cosumnes.” At the end of the melee three men lay dead: Jared Dixon Sheldon, James M. Johnson and Edward Cody. Three more were wounded: Calvin Dickerson, Emanuel Bush and an unnamed miner.

This event marked the first but by no means the last time that Farmers and Gold Miners fought over the control of California water.