History – Foulks Family

The original Foulks house, 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. 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, moved there in 2006 and restoration was completed in 2020. It has been made into a small museum highlighting the family.

Here is the story of the Foulks family and how everything came to pass….

           Foulks Family History:

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.

FOULKS RANCH

The following article is a more detailed version of the Foulks Family history and has been edited, revised and updated by Jackie Mauger Linn, great-great granddaughter of Euphemia Pugh Foulks in November 15, 2019.                                                                           

‘OAKWOOD’

In the year 1852, Euphemia Pugh Foulks, a widow with five children, was struggling to make a living in the town of Mansfield, Ohio.  Euphemia, lovingly known as “Effie”, had lost her husband, Alfred Foulks, more than five years earlier.  She had made the decision to make a new life for her family in California.  In 1851, Euphemia’s brother, Dr. Johnathan Wood Pugh, and her oldest son, George Washington Foulks, then 11 years old, came to California to see what the new frontier had to offer.  Dr. Pugh led his first wagon train across the plains and mountains and, eventually, found land south of Sacramento that he deemed suitable.  He put options on this land for his sister.  It was truly a new, wide-open land and he felt that Effie and her children could be successful here.  Dr. Pugh returned to Mansfield, leaving George with friends, and recommended that Euphemia go to California.

On April 2, 1852, Euphemia and her four remaining children, John, Louisa, Satira, and Josephine prepared for their trip West.  After selling their property, furnishings and goods, they packed everything else they owned to take with them.  Effie wanted to take her piano, but she decided not to.  She did include a drop leaf table and rocking chair, which were two of her favorite family pieces.  The family went by train to Cincinnati, Ohio, then boarded a large riverboat steamer traveling down the Ohio to the Mississippi, then up to St. Louis.  Dr. Pugh had arranged for rooms at a hotel for a week while he completed acquisition of the wagons, teams, and supplies they would need.  From there, they departed on their journey West from St. Joseph, Missouri.

The wagon train included eighteen people from the Pugh and Foulks families, a hundred cattle, thirty horses and a few cowboys going west to hunt for gold and care for the cattle.  With the wagons full of bags of flour, salt, hard tack bread, bacon, furniture and household goods, there was little room for riders.  The children took turns riding on the wagon, walking most of the way each day.  The men hunted for fresh meat along the way.

The wagon train traveled along a road that led to Oregon, California and the Pacific Ocean.  Many wagon trains traveled this route so the ruts were deep from those who had gone before.  It rained as they crossed the Platte River so they carefully stayed on the trail to avoid damage or loss of a wagon or livestock.

In June, they met their first Native American, a Lakotah Sioux.  The Lakotah wanted to make a trade—his tomahawk for Josephine’s hair, which was in one big long braid—but Effie wanted no part of such a trade.  Instead, she whipped the oxen to go faster.  On June 28, the wagon train arrived at Independence Rock.  In the distance, one could barely see some mountains and it began to get very hot.  They passed many graves, both with and without names, and were told that hundreds of people had died from cholera the year before.  They saw a large herd of buffalo, so many that it was as if someone had painted the grass dark brown.  The buffalo were grazing on the horizon, so the train steered away fearing that the buffalo might stampede and scare their cattle.

The wagon train finally reached Carson City, Nevada on July 20, 1852.  There they were reunited with George who had made the trip from Franklin Township to Carson City to meet his family once again and help them cross the Sierras.  On August 28th, they reached Donner Lake.  It was slow going over the mountains as they could only travel over two or three ridges per day and time was of essence.  On September 5th, they reached the summit of the Sierra’s and the first snow had already fallen.  The decision to leave Ohio in April had been a good one.

On September 20, 1852, the family finally reached Sacramento after having traveled for half a year from Mansfield, Ohio.  Sacramento was smaller than they had thought but there were lots of people.  Most of those people were miners who had gold fever who came into town to buy supplies then go right back to the creeks in the foothills.  Effie and her family came south of Sacramento to Franklin Township and looked at the land her brother had selected.

Euphemia received a land grant of 320 acres, a larger tract of land than most people in the Mansfield area owned.  She and her children lived in the covered wagon during the winder of  1853-54 while their house was being built.

Euphemia continued living in the house on the ranch that was named “Oakwood” due to the large stand of native oak trees on the property.  Her children continued their educations in Elk Grove.  George graduated from Elk Grove Union High School and attended Healds Business College in San Francisco.  He was employed by the Central Pacific Railroad as a station agent and operator at Verdi, Nevada for several years.  He also was in the sawmilling and lumber industry in the Verdi area.

George returned home in 1881 to continue working the 320 acres for his mother.  He had planted his first grape vines on one acre of the ranch in 1860.  Effie had brought grape vine clippings from Ohio, which had inspired his interest.  He had maintained that interest and became a pioneer in grape culture.  “Mission” grapes were his favored and principal variety.  He expanded the vineyard from one to seventy acres while the rest of the ranch was devoted to general farming and raising livestock.

George built a large beautiful two-story Italianate Victorian home for his 24-year-old bride, Miss Nellie Griffin.  They married on September 1, 1886 and, subsequently had two children, a son, Guy George born November 25, 1887, and a daughter, Dana Vaughan, born September 4, 1889. Unfortunately, Nellie died when she was only 28, leaving George with two very young children to raise.  

George Foulks identified himself with the various movements looking to better farming, social and educational condition in his part of the state.  He was a director in the Farmer’s Protective Association and led the Elk Grove District.  He served as a trustee for the Elk Grove Union High School from the founding of that institution.  He was one of the founders of Elk Grove Wine Grape Grower’s Association and one of its directors.

Guy G. Foulks followed in his father’s footsteps continuing with the tradition of living at the Foulks Ranch and helping his father run the ranch.  His love affair with Elk Grove grew more intense as he grew from a child into a young man.  Guy graduated from Elk Grove Union High School in 1906 along with three other boys.  The class originally had five students, four boys and one girl, L Elizabeth “Bess” Graham.  It was said that Bess and Guy were sweethearts from the first day they met.  Bess was the grandchild of the early day Graham family pioneers who farmed about 2500 acres in Elk Grove from, 1859 until 1891.  Her parents, Frank and Mary Graham, ran the Elk Grove Hotel and Stage Stop where she was born.  Before her senior year in high school, Bess’ widowed mother Mary remarried and moved to Sacramento.  Bess graduated from Sacramento High School, went on to Humphrey College in Stockton (now UOP) obtaining a teaching credential, and taught for five years prior to marrying.  Guy and Bess were married on December 14, 1911 and immediately took up residence in the “big house” at the Foulks Ranch.  Guy and Bess had three children:  George Washington, Mary Elizabeth, and Hazel Vaughan Foulks.

Guy became an active member of the Native Sons of the Golden West both in Elk Grove, serving as President of the Elk Grove Parlor, and at the state level, rising to the position of Governor General of the California Assembly.   It was Guy’s creativity and determination that began the famous NSGW sponsored Oratorical Contest in 1914.  Also, through NSGW, Guy, along with the late Judge Philip Wilkins, established a Cleft Palate Clinic at UCSF in the 1940’s.  Guy and his father George established Elk Grove Park, the first in Sacramento County, and Guy was a member of the Elk Grove Park Board, the Elk Grove Fruit Growers’ Association, and the Elk Grove Winery (until Prohibition shut it down.)  Guy and Bess started the Valley Investment Company in the 1930’s, one of the first financing companies in Sacramento County.  Guy purchased the Oldsmobile agency in Sacramento and it operated as the Foulks Motor Company from 1936 through the 1980’s.  

Bess, as a new rancher’s wife, found herself cooking and feeding a large group of ranch hands three meals a day, taking care of the house and children, gardening and caring for the grounds surrounding the family home.  She was active at the children’s school and, with other mothers, provided hot soup and chocolate to drink for lunch that they brought to school in five-gallon milk cans.  Bess served as PTA President, helped start the Elk Grove Book Club, was an avid reader and bridge player, and was active in the Elk Grove Community Church.  

Guy Foulks was born in the big house on the Foulks Ranch and it was his wish to die in the house on the ranch that he loved so dearly.  This he did at age 86 in 1973.  The Foulks Ranch was home to Bess for the 63 years of their marriage; she left the ranch after Guy’s death, moving to Sacramento near her daughter Mary Mauger, returning to Elk Grove before her death in 1985 at age 96.

For the last on hundred and fifty-one years, the Foulks Ranch on Elk Grove Boulevard has been the continuous home to six generations of the Foulks family.  Beginning with Euphemia, followed subsequent generations led by George, Guy, George, Mary, Hazel, Marylyn, Jackie, and ending with Linda and her two daughters.  Now Elk Grove has grown and the last of the land Euphemia came from Ohio to settle has been sold to a developer for modern houses and commercial businesses.  Our historical link to “Oakwood”’ the Foulks 1853 Ranch, will fade into just memories as the original 1853 house of Euphemia is moved to its new location in Elk Grove Park.  The large two-story 1886 house has been moved off the property to the town of Franklin.

We can only wonder what Euphemia, George, Guy and Bess would think of the Foulks Ranch today and what is being planned for the future.