In the fall of 1842, John A. Sutter leased the land that would later become the City of Marysville to Theodore Cordua. Cordua raised livestock on the land and in 1843 built a home and trading post at what is now the southern end of D Street and where the Silver Dollar Saloon stands today.
In 1844, Cordua obtained an additional seven leagues of land from the Mexican Government, adjacent to that leased from Sutter.
Charles Covillaud, a former employee of Cordua, struck it rich in the gold fields and returned to buy one half of the Cordua Ranch in 1848. The other half was purchased by Michael C. Nye and William Foster in January of 1849. Nye and Foster, brothers-in-law to Covillaud’s new wife Mary, then sold their interest to Covillaud. In October of that same year, Covillaud sold three-fourths of the ranch to Jose Ramirez, John Sampson and Theodore Sicard.
During the Gold Rush, the ranch became a point of debarkation for riverboats from San Francisco and Sacramento filled with miners on their way to the dig sites. Due to this influx, in 1850, the four partners (Covillaud, Ramirez, Sampson, and Sicard) hired French surveyor Augustus Le Plongeon to create a master plan for a town.
Newly arrived attorney, Stephen J. Fields, purchased 65 lots and drew up a proper deed for the land being sold. Along with land development came government and the name Marysville. The name was chosen in deference to Covillaud’s new wife, Mary Murphy who was a survivor of the ill-fated Donner Party.
Shortly afterward, Marysville was incorporated by the new California legislature and the first mayor was elected in 1851.
By 1853, Marysville’s tent city had been replaced by brick buildings, mills, iron works, machine shops and factories. Schools, churches and two daily newspapers had brought ‘civilization’ to Marysville. The population was nearing 10,000.
Marysville prospered during the Gold Rush era, becoming one of the largest cities in California. In 1857 alone, over $10 million in gold was shipped from Marysville’s banks to the U.S. Mint in San Francisco.
Sediment from hydraulic mining on the Yuba River above Marysville raised the riverbeds of the Feather and Yuba Rivers making Marysville vulnerable to flooding during winter storms and spring run-off causing the city to build a levee system. That system still protects Marysville today.
Unfortunately, the raising riverbeds also made the rivers more difficult to navigate. The riverboats could no longer make the trip to Marysville. With the raising riverbeds and the levee system construction, Marysville’s growth has been limited. The population has not increased much since the days of the Gold Rush. However, today, Marysville is still a walkable friendly town with numerous historic buildings and a great place to visit and live.