HISTORY – Historic Buildings in Heritage Park


The Foulks House

The original home, the oldest remaining original residence in the Elk Grove area was moved to its present site, the Elk Grove Stage Stop and House Heritage Park in 2006 and has been awaiting restoration. This home was constructed in 1853 on a ranch located at Elk Grove Boulevard and Bruceville Road. Slated for demolition in 2004 it was donated to the Elk Grove Historical Society by Frank Stathos for restoration. It has been our dream to restore it back to its original 1853 condition. At the time the house was completed it consisted of three rooms; a parlor, a kitchen and dining room combination and upstairs sleeping quarters. A small lean-to addition that was added in the late 1800’s will be kept to house a small museum documenting the lives of this prominent Elk Grove Family.

Foulks Family History

We have a long detailed and extensive history of the entire six generation Foulks Family dating back to the early 1800’s, the trip out to California, and their ranch life in Elk Grove.

Without all the detail, a simple basic version is, Euphemia “Effie” Foulks lost her husband Alfred Foulks in 1847 in Ohio. Her brother Jonathan Pugh felt she had a better chance for success in California, so in 1851 she and her four remaining children headed west.

There were many trial and tribulations, but ultimately Effie received a 320 acre land grant selected by her brother in Elk Grove in 1853. They called it Oakwood Ranch because of all the oak trees. She and the children lived in the covered wagon until their house was finished in 1854. They all lived in that tiny house for many years while they built up the ranch. The first vineyard of Mission grapes in Sacramento County was established on the Foulks ranch in 1858. One son George, attended college and returned in 1881 to take over the ranch. George had a son Guy who rose to further prosperity taking over the ranch from his father and was a prominent and key public figure in the local community.


When the house was moved to Heritage Park and placed on its new foundation in 2006, only the original structure was brought without all the added and broken down additions. Our goal is to restore the house to its original structure. This unique single wall construction that was common during the Gold Rush which no others are standing in Elk Grove or surrounding area. Upon preparing the inside for renovations we noticed that some walls had the outside paneling directly against the inside wall with out any insulation or space in between.

Because of the many fundraisers and generous donors we have raised and saved enough money for restoration. Permits and plans for a historic building are very complicated, because present day standards didn’t exist over 150 years ago. We are very close now as the inside has been striped and we are preparing and hope to complete the restoration this year.

For many photos of the Foulks House, the move, and restoration, go to the menu on the right and look in the “Photo Gallery.”




The Reese School

The David Reese School was built in 1884 on the land donated by the Reese Family on the West side of Bradshaw Road, between Calvine and Gerber roads (just north of present day Vintage Park Drive). It was closed in 1951 and students were incorporated in to the Pleasant Grove School. For a time the combined schools was named the Pleasant Grove-Reese school until the new modern David Reese school was opened in 1966 and the schools split. Meanwhile, the original school was moved to the Bill Hanson Ranch on Freeman Road in 1965. There it sat in disrepair until it was donated, funds raised, and moved to Heritage Park in 2007. It is the last known remaining one-room schoolhouse in the EGUS District.

There was a lunch and cloakroom, several blackboards, a library, and a large round stove everyone would gather around in cold weather. There were rows of desks for each year (1-8) and when you graduated, you moved to the next row. There was a porch and a playground with a monkey bar, slide, and a covered area where girls played hopscotch and other games. Everyone played tag and red rover.

 History of the Reese Family

The Reese Family had been prominent in the development of Florin, particularly with the fruit industry. John and Elizabeth Reese had five children: Catherine, Thomas, John, Elizabeth, and David. John Reese was a shoemaker who brought his family from Llsaint, Wales landing in New Orleans in 1854 and from there to Salt Lake City, Utah. They moved to California in 1860 where he bought land here in the San Joaquin Township. Their youngest child, David Reese married Mira Kilgore and they bought 275 acres in 1878. They also owned 253 acres in Colusa County. He was a very good farmer, had vineyards, was one of he founders of the Florin Fruit Growers Association, was the sheriff of Sacramento County in 1902, and was involved in several charitable organizations.


The school has been on the museum grounds for 11 years (in 2018) and we have steadily worked to build funds for restoration. The building is in two sections. The original school in front and a back addition added later to handle larger classes. Once we procure enough funds we will restore the school part in front as an example of early education. In the future we hope to re-add the back extension to use as a meeting hall for local organizations and to allow staged events like weddings, wine tasting, music presentations, parties or other gatherings.

For many photos of the Reese School, the move, and restoration, go to the menu on the right and look in the “Photo Gallery.”




San Joaquin Township Court and Jail

The Native Sons of the Golden West plaque on the front of the San Joaquin Township Justice Court and Jail reads, in part…

In 1850 the young Sacramento City needed a place to secure the bad elements of its population. The city purchased a ship, the Le Grange, to be moored on the Sacramento River and converted it to a floating prison. Cells were fabricated locally and installed. On November 18, 1859, the vessel sank and 33 prisoners in all, including two females were transferred to the Station house on land. The cells were salvaged in 1863 and 21 of its cells were placed in the new county Jail on dry land. In 1911 Sacramento constructed yet another City Hall and jail, but this time new cells were built along with a new building.

The original cells were given to different townships in Sacramento County. On September 23, 1911, Elk Grove Constable “Pinky” Brenton and his men secured two cells from the old County jail and were “made into a calaboose on the county’s lot back of the Odd Fellow building.” Further, the Elk Grove Citizen of February 3, 1912 said, “…workman in the employ of J.M. Derr are erecting an 18’ x 24’ building on a concrete base for the cells recently donated by the County.” It was used mostly for intoxicated citizens and hobo’s. The Gold Rush era cells served the community of Elk Grove until the 1940’s.

In 1983 this building was moved from its original location on 1stAvenue in Old Town Elk Grove by members of the Delta Patrol of the Sacramento Sherriff’s Department and the Elk Grove Historical Society, thus preserving an example of Gold Rush Era Justice in Elk Grove. The building stands erect in Heritage Park, completely renovated with judge’s desk and the last two surviving 4-bunk cells that remind us of an earlier time. Take a photo with the kids before you leave, it will be a great memory!!!!!

For many photos of the San Joaquin Township Court and Jail and Prison ship, go to the menu on the right and look in the “Photo Gallery.”




The Rhoads School

Even though the Rhoads School is not contained in Heritage Park it is still part of the Elk Grove Historical Society’s buildings and is located in the center of the Elk Grove Park. Here is the history…

In 1840, Jared Sheldon and William Daylor both worked at Sutter’s Fort – Sheldon as a carpenter, and Daylor tending herds. While seeking strays one evening, Daylor viewed the Cosumnes River Valley and reported back to Sheldon of its desirability and potential for settlement. Sheldon applied to the Mexican government for a land grant of over 18,000 acres and, in partnership with Daylor, established the Omuchumnes grant.

Both Daylor and Sheldon married daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Rhoads. The Rhoads family had arrived in California in October of 1846 and their son, John Rhoads, became a member of therelief parties. He is credited with carrying Naomi Pike out of the mountains to safety on his back. While the reason for naming the school district “Rhoads” is historically uncertain, it seems most likely that it was to commemorate this heroic deed.

The first Rhoads School was built in the 1850’s by pioneer Jared Dixon Sheldon. It was close to the Cosumnes River, which was subject to flooding. Children became sick from mosquitoes bites, which we now assume was malaria, so the school closed in 1872.

In 1872 the second Rhoads School was built on Sloughhouse Road as a community effort. Its financing was by public subscriptions, cakes and pickle sales, and a benefit ball with tickets at $3.50 each. Total expenditures were $1,312.60, which included the schoolhouse, outhouse, insurance and some furnishings that were simple; desks for students, a desk and chair for the teacher, a stove, clock, broom, bucket, and dipper.

Both schools were named after John P. Rhoads, who arrived in California from Illinois in 1846.

The Rhoads wagon train traveled part of the way west with the Donner Party, though the Donners were about three weeks behind them as the Rhoads passed through Salt Lake City.

History has revealed the tragedy that met the Donner Party as they attempted to cross the mountains in what proved to be and unusual ferocious winter.

John P. Rhoads was one of seven men who volunteered for a rescue party to carry supplies to the Donner Party and bring survivors to safety. In all, he made three rescue missions.

The school opened in May 1872 with Agnes S. Jaycoax as teacher. There were 21 students enrolled, with an average daily attendance of 15. The school taught 1st through 10th grade. Ages 6 through 17 were taught and the school started out as non-graded, but when then was rated as “first grade” meaning that the teacher passed the county examination with a very high score.

All teachers were required to be at least 18 years of age and to hold a valid teaching certificate granted by the County Board of Examiners. Teacher’s salaries at Rhoads from 1872 to 1906 ranged from $55.00 to &84.80 a month, including room and board. The teacher would board with different families throughout the year. Some families were gracious and some were reluctant. Most times the teacher would walk 1-3 miles to and from school, rain or shine, carrying lunch, books and school papers.

Drinking water was carried by bucket from the well across the road at the Taylor (later the Murphy) Ranch. The bucket, with a dipper sat on a wooden bench in the cloakroom. The children drank from the dipper, and returned it to the bucket. The Taylors and the Murphy’s also allowed watering trough privileges for the horses of the children that rode to school.

Besides carrying water, students’ chores including hauling wood. The stove stood in the middle of the classroom, and was the schools only source of heat. There was no artificial light, and on very dark days, kerosene lanterns were used to add light or class was dismissed early.

The schoolyard was large, but not improved and very little play equipment and only one out house. After the first year, a second out house was built. The boy’s facility was northeast of the school – the girls was to the southwest.

Graduation exercises were usually school performances and entertainments. Usually, no more than 5 or 6 students graduated, some years none or only one. Students traveled to Sacramento to take graduation examinations to allow them to go on to high school. (Note: Elk Grove HS was built in 1893).

The 1866-1867 school year was the last time that Rhoads School District appeared in either state or county school records until 1872 when classes resumed in the newly constructed school building. It is also uncertain why the original Rhoads School closed down, but it is believed that too many children were becoming ill by exposure to “bad night air”. That is, they were contracting malaria, possible due to the school’s location in the bottomlands of the river. It was also a fact that many families were moving away. The original building burned to the ground, possibly while it was closed due to the malaria outbreak, but the timing was unclear.

In 1946 the Rhoads, Michigan Bar, Stonehouse, and Wilson Districts combined into the Cosumnes River Union School District. In 1959 the Cosumnes River Union School District became part of the Elk Grove Unified School District.

In 1976, the Bicentennial Year, the Rhoads School was moved from its home on Sloughhouse Road to the Elk Grove Park. The school was given by the Murphy family to the Sacramento County Parks Department. Members of the community contributed hundreds of hours restoring the deteriorating building and returning it to its appearance around the end of the century.

With the school in Elk Grove Park, the newly formed Elk Grove Historical Society assumed responsibility of administering it for the community.

Today the Rhoads School serves two purposes. It is a Living History Program for school classes in the Sacramento County area, and it is also a museum that is open to the public several days a year, when there are special events at the Elk Grove Park. We have expanded our open hours from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the first Saturday of each month when the Elk Grove Stage Stop Museum is also open.

The Rhoads School Living History Program introduces children of today to the education life of children of the 1890’s. Third and fourth grade classes spend a day at the school, learning what it was like to be a student in a one-room schoolhouse so long ago. They come to school wearing clothing typical of what would be worn by farming children of that time.

Their subjects are the usual reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, and also elocution and penmanship. They played the recess games that were played so many years ago. – Marbles, jacks, hoops, jump rope, and stilts.

Presently, we schedule 80 classes a school year that are taught by 6 docents. Contact us at rhoadsschool.com for information.

For many photos of the Rhoads School, go to the menu on the right and look in the “Photo Gallery.”