(KTXL) — The 2022 election formed the first all-female city council in West Sacramento but this is not the first time the city had been shaped by female leadership.
Even before gold was discovered by James Marshall in Coloma, James McDowell purchased 600 acres of lanes in 1846 from Jon Schwartz in the area known as Rancho Nueva Flandria.
At the time McDowell was married to a woman named Margaret and had three daughters when they settled in the area known today as Broderick.
However, the wild nature of the Gold Rush would claim McDowell’s life as he was fatally shot in a saloon brawl that he is believed to have started.
Margaret McDowell was left in charge of raising her now five children, running her home and handling her husband’s property.
To bring in some extra money McDowell opened up her home as a boarding house, but with little cash coming in she looked for other solutions.
Considering that the value of her late husband’s property was her best option, she hired a surveyor in 1849 to map out 160 acres of land.
With the land mapped, McDowell had it divided into 41 blocks and began selling off the lots.
The first lot was sold to August W. Kayne for $500, according to the City of West Sacramento.
These 41 blocks would become known as Washington, after President George Washington, and would be the early beginnings of West Sacramento.
McDowell would remarry to Dr. Enos Taylor in 1851 and the two would sell off the parcels together and even donate property to the newly created Washington Public School District in 1856.
Beyond the 1850s there is little recorded history of Margaret Taylor and her husband, but Taylor’s decision to parcel out her late husband’s land would lay the groundwork for the City of West Sacramento.
Due to the quickly growing community in the newly formed county Yolo County, Washington became the political capital of the county in 1850. However, continued flooding would force the county seat to move to Woodland in 1862.