[Original Handwritten, Signed, and Notary Certified Deed of the Sale of the Millerton Ferry across the San Joaquin River (now the site of the Millerton Lake, Fresno County) from Jesse Morrow to Ira McGray on June 9, 1855].
Millerton: 9 June 1855.
Quarto bifolium (ca. 24,5x19 cm). 2 pp. Brown ink on bluish wove paper. Annotated and docketed on verso of the second leaf. Fold marks, minor creases, paper worn and with mild stains, but overall a very good document written in a legible hand.
Historically important early deed from the pioneer days of Fresno County, central California. The document regards the sale of the Morrow & Carroll’s (later known as McGray’s) ferry across the San Joaquin River, which operated in 1853-1868 near the town of Millerton. Grown around Fort Miller (1851-52), Millerton became the original seat of Fresno County in 1856, mainly because of the abovementioned ferry. The town started losing its prominence after a major flood on the San Joaquin River in the winter of 1867-68, which also destroyed the ferry. In 1872, a station of the Central Pacific Railroad was built near the site of the future city of Fresno, thus overpassing Millerton, and the county seat was moved to Fresno in 1874. In 1944, the site of Millerton was flooded with the completion of the Friant Dam.
Jesse Morrow came to California from Ohio in January 1851 and started as a gold miner on the San Joaquin River. After operating the ferry at Millerton, he got engaged in cattle raising, flour making and later real estate, living mainly in Centerville. In 1853 “with Hugh Carroll, late of the U.S. Army at Fort Miller, he established the ferry about half a mile below the county seat. Jesse Morrow evidently acquired possessory rights to a considerable extent of the San Joaquin shore, for in June, 1855, he sold to Ira McGray his claim to the land upon which the latter subsequently built his famous Oak hotel. At the same time, he also deeded his interest in the Morrow and Carroll ferry to McGray, who had come to the settlement supplied with ample means. Those papers of conveyance were among the first to be recorded when the county of Fresno was organized in 1856” (Winchelle, E. Fresno Memories; Jesse Morrow// The Fresno Morning Republican. Freson, 4 October 1931, p. 4). Hugh A. Carroll, a Fresno County pioneer, served as a postmaster in Millerton in the 1850s.
Overall an important original document from the pioneer days of Fresno County.
See more about the history of the Millerton ferry in: Winchell, E. Fresno Memories: The Ferry at Millerton// The Fresno Morning Republican. Freson, 1 February 1931, p. 4.
The text of the deed:
“The State of California. Country of Mariposa. Know all men by these presents that I, Jesse Morrow of the County and State aforesaid of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of twenty five hundred dollars cash to me in hand paid by Ira McGray of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have this day bargained, sold and conveyed and do by these presents grant bargain, sell and convey unto the said Ira MacGray, party of the second part, all my right, title, interest, claim and demand in and to a certain Ferry across the San Joaquin River, formerly known as Morrow & Carroll’s ferry, located at and situated in the town of Millerton on the said San Joaquin River, county and state aforesaid, and one half mile below Fort Miller, together with ferry boat, small boats, ropes, tackle &c., including everything belonging at or appertaining to said ferry necessary to carry on the same. And I the said Jesse Morrow party of the first part hereby agree to warrant and defend the title to the said ferry, <…> against the claim or claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever and warrant that the same is free from all encumbrances of any kind whatever. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal using a scrowl for seal at the town of Millerton this the 9th day of June AD 1855.” The deed is witnessed after Morrow’s signature by Hugh A. Carroll and Jas. Cruikshank; additionally witnessed by Hugh A. Carroll and certified by Charles A. Hart, J.P. on December 1, 1855. The notes on verso of the second blank leaf certify that the document was recorded in the Book of Deeds of the Fresno County on May 21, 1857.
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