Rancho Arroyo Chico

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Rancho Arroyo Chico was a 22,214-acre (89.90 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Butte County, California given in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to William Dickey.[1] The name means 'little stream' and refers to Chico Creek. The grant was located along the north bank of Chico Creek, east of the Sacramento River and encompassed present day Chico.[2][3]


William Dickey, George McKinstry, and John Bidwell, had all worked at one time for John Sutter and were also partners in various mining ventures. George W. McKinstry, Jr. (1810 – 1882) came to California in 1846, and worked for John Sutter as clerk, sheriff of Northern California District, and assisted in the rescue of the Donner Party. In 1858, McKinstry moved to San Diego and practised as a physician there until his death. Dickey wanted to return to his eastern home, and sold Rancho Arroyo Chico to George McKinstry in 1849.

Bidwell acquired Rancho Arroyo Chico in two separate purchases in 1849 and 1851. In 1849, George McKinstry sold an undivided half of Rancho Arroyo Chico to Bidwell. In 1850 George McKinstry sold the other half interest to Justus McKinstry;[4] and in 1851, Justus McKinstry sold this half-interest to John Bidwell.[5]

John Bidwell (1819 – 1900) was born in Chautauqua County, New York, and lead the Bartleson-Bidwell Party to California in 1841. John Sutter employed Bidwell as his business manager shortly after Bidwell's arrival in California. Bidwell obtained the two square league Rancho Colus Mexican land grant in 1845. In 1848, John Bidwell discovered gold in Feather River, at a place now call Bidwells Bar.[6]

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Arroyo Chico was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[7] and the grant was patented to John Bidwell in 1860.[8]

Chico was founded in 1860 by John Bidwell, who laid out the community on the land of his Rancho Arroyo Chico on the north side of Chico Creek, and part of Rancho Farwell on the south side of Chico Creek.

Historic sites of the Rancho[edit]


  1. ^ Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
  2. ^ Diseño del Rancho Arroyo Chico
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rancho Arroyo Chico
  4. ^ John K. Driscoll, 2005, Rogue: a biography of Civil War General Justus McKinstry, McFarland & Company ISBN 978-0-7864-2385-9
  5. ^ Rockwell Dennis Hunt,1942,John Bidwell, prince of California pioneers, pp. 247-249, The Caxton Printers, Ltd
  6. ^ Hoover, Mildred B.; Rensch, Hero; Rensch, Ethel; Abeloe, William N. (1966). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4482-9. 
  7. ^ United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 38 ND
  8. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886

Coordinates: 39°45′36″N 121°50′24″W / 39.760°N 121.840°W / 39.760; -121.840