The Southern Pacific Railroad operated on kind of a “pay as you go” basis. The Railroad had title to land through “patents.” In exchange for these patents, the Railroad owners were required to build the line within a specific time. The Railroad could sell the land to raise the cash to continue building. This process had been successful on the Central Pacific. But California had complications: The Mussel Slough Shooting, and specifically James Patterson’s role, was based on the position that the Railroad didn’t legally own the land they were selling. Settlers claimed they had violated the patents, and forfeited ownership.
The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the settlers, but the Railroad went to the Federal Courts. Following the release of the Mussel Slough Five, James Patterson and Thomas J. McQuiddy began making frequent and harsh speeches against the railroad all over California, focusing on the same ownership issue and the Railroad’s refusal to obey California law. Unknown, the Railroad, and specifically the Pacific Improvement Company (“PIC”) was being pulled to its financial limits. The Railroad was running out of cash and taking out loans to cover construction. During 1883 and 1884 when Patterson and McQuiddy were roiling the Railroad, the railroad was concerned about its credit rating. In 1884, the Franchise Tax Board taxed the railroad rolling back stock, which was already pledged as collateral on loans. If Patterson succeeded with his speeches, the Railroad and the four owners would all go broke.
When the Federal Court turned down Huntington’s plea to avoid the tax, the Big Four turned to politics. In April 1884 a special emergency meeting of the Democratic Party was called in San Francisco. Gov. Stoneman had called a special session of the legislature to deal with the Barry Bill, an attempt at blocking the Railroad’s monopoly. The Governor and the Senate were on the Railroad’s side; the Democratic Party against. Mr. F.J. Clark, State Controller wrote Patterson on official stationery, strongly urging him to continue speaking and “not let the railroad get away with their hellish scheme”. The Legislature considered the land grants void and was trying to force the U.S. Government to act against the Railroad, which would have ruined The Big 4. To counter the State’s action, the Railroad packed the Senate with Railroad cronies. In the middle of this high stakes fight was James Patterson, an activist against the Railroad.
THE SOURCE OF THE NAME
Circa 3,000 BC, a fierce people known as Danubians lived on the Capatho-Danubian Plain. The Danubian Plain is protected by impenetrable mountains with a fertile plain to grow wheat. The area is still known as the Danubiuan States. Credited as being the very first people to farm wheat, the Danubians warred with the Greeks and later the Romans. Danubians were tenacious and in 600 BC conquered Italy, Europe, and most of Asia Minor. Danubians were known as a “people that cannot be beaten, and never give up”. In 170 AD, Roman Emperor Marcus Arelius, and later his son Commodus, waged a futile 70 year war with to Danubians. In the opening scene of the recent Hollywood film Gladiator, the Roman Army is about to do battle and General Maxiumus’ top commander comments “people should know when they are beaten!” The Opponents in the battle were Danubians.
In the 1880’s, public interest in archeology was peaking. In 1870, Heinrich Schleimans’s excavations of Troy captured headlines. Greek and Roman archeology was a popular topic, and during this same time many articles were written about discoveries of the Danubian culture. In 1887, F.S. Douty was made Secretary of the PIC reporting directly to C.P. Huntington. Douty was an insider in the Big 4. He was an educated man and a member of the San Francisco Arts Council. His involvement in Dinuba’s lot auction was no accident; he was taking care of an old problem for his boss; the Mussel Slough settlers.
Mr. D. Purnell of the PIC, named the Railroad towns in the valley. But Dinuba documents were filed by Douty. The name Dinuba was a direct reference to the Mussel Slough Shooting, the Mussel Slough Five, and James Patterson. They just did not know when they were beaten, and refused to give up. Like Danubians, Mussel Slough settlers had been tenacious and war-like over wheat land and when they (including James Sibley) came to Dinuba, it was a chance for the Railroad to finally have the last word with Patterson and the rest of them.
None of Mussel Slough settlers wanted the new town connected to the notorious gun battle. They just wanted to move on with their lives, so they never talked about the name of the town, and the Railroad had the last word on the matter. By the time Dinuba incorporated, the Pacific Improvement Company was broke and was being dissolved. Why the slight mis-spelling? The town was originally pronounced ‘da nU-ba” not “dI-nu-ba”. While the pronunciation is the same, the spelling was likely intentionally changed to make the circumstances less obvious. The records do not indicate why.