California, Pennsylvania

How did California, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of California, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.

Village in northern Richland Township, nearly midway between Richlandtown on the east and Shelly on the west and on an old road between the two places. This road is crossed in the village by another from Quakertown to its junction with Route 286 in Springfield Township. Passer lies a mile to the north and Tohickon Creek flows by the village. All of the dozen houses, hotel and store are on the east side of the creek and on the creek is a grist mill and the ruins of a saw mill. Near the mill is an ancient log house, which was occupied until 1906 and then abandoned. The name was given to the village by Frederick Wolf, a German and an enterprising man of considerable means. In 1847 Wolf bought from the Walps, an old Richland family, a tract of 140 acres, including the mill and the village site. One of Wolf’s enterprises was a hotel. This is a large structure for a country village, three-storied and substantially built of brick. The hotel was finished in 1849, the year of the gold excitement in California. Wolf took advantage of the fervor attending the gold discovery, erected a sign board containing the figure of a man bearing a sack of gold slung across his shoulder, and called his house California Hotel, from which the village itself received its name. California is found on no map prior to 1876, when it appears in Scott’s Atlas in association with a figure of a school house. The California school district was probably established about 1850. The school house of that date was demolished in the summer of 1890 and replaced by a new building.

Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.

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