The Wood Family of Sycamore Valley

July 1988 Bulletin

In 1852 William M. "Philip" Mendenhall, former "Bear Flagger," Built his home and settled on land previously occupied by Leonard Eddy in Sycamore Valley. Ten years later he sold his property and moved to Livermore. Thus Wood Ranch became the possession of Charles Wood, grandfather of the present owner.

Charles Wood had come from New England to California via the Nicaragua route in 1852. After entering into a pack train business operating out of Marysville, he became a merchant. Charles Wood married the sister of a prominent physician and in a few years moved his family to Sycamore Valley. In addition to farming, he was a charter member of the Danville Grange, served two years in the State Assembly, and held several local positions. Among them was Justice of the Peace. Wood was one of several prominent citizens who attempted to bring a railroad line from Oakland to Alamo; the line went through Martinez and Antioch instead.

One of Charles Wood's children was Charlotte E. Wood, teacher. The Mendenhall-Wood house was her home for 97 years. Miss "Lottie" Wood attended nearby Sycamore School for eight years and later returned to teach there for 31 years.

Another of Charles Wood's children was Charles Joseph Wood, father of George Clifford Wood. He managed the home ranch, was active in Grange affairs, and with his wife, the former Kate Howard of Walnut Creek, shared an interest in furthering education. He helped to organize San Ramon Valley Union High School. In addition, Charles J. Wood started a countywide Good Roads league and helped bring about the issuance of road improvement bonds.

Three sons were born to Kate and Charles J. Wood, and all of them graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. His son George Clifford Wood and wife Maevis lived at Wood Ranch. Before he took over farming the ranch, George Wood had been a businessman. Land bank appraiser, and range examiner for the old AAA. He also has been active in Grange affairs, helped to establish the Mt. Diablo state park, and since its founding has been an active member of the San Ramon Valley Historical Society.

George Wood's second son, Donald Charles Wood, graduate of U.C. at Davis, now manages and operates Wood Ranch. He raises wheat, oats, barley, and livestock and poultry. Donald Wood is the fourth generation member to live at Wood Ranch.

An historical service of the Contra Costa County Historical Society.

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Fax: 925-229-1772

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