An Historical Time Line of West Sacramento
2000BC -2002

2,000 BC

The Patwin tribe lived in West Sacramento.  They were hunters and gatherers who fished in the river and used acorns for their staple carbohydrate.  They lived close to the river in villages on high ground and built dome-shaped lodges of tule and mud. (*1)


The Missouri Compromise banned slavery west of the Mississippi River and north of the 36°30’ latitude, except in Missouri.


The Erie Canal opened, linking New York City with the Great Lakes.


Andrew Jackson is President of the United States.


The Monroe Doctrine warned European countries not to interfere in the Americas.


A malaria epidemic killed many of the Patwins.


John Sutter arrived in Sacramento.


John Swart settled in West Sacramento.  He was joined by his brother, and they fished for salmon, raised livestock, and grew potatoes and melons to sell.


John McDowell, an adventurer, purchased 600 acres from John Swart in the Broderick area, and built a log cabin for his wife Margaret and their three daughters.  Later, the McDowells had two more children.


Mexico was defeated and the Unites States took control of the Republic of Texas and of Mexican territories in the West.


Gold was discovered in California, leading to a rush of 80,000 people going to look for gold.


Colonel Joseph B. Chiles and his son-in-law Jerome C. Davis ran a rope ferry for miners near the current location of the I St. Bridge.  They also had a dairy, but when the ferry franchise was lost and the cows drowned in a flood, Davis moved west to Putah Creek where UC Davis is now.


The widowed Mrs. Margaret McDowell (Taylor) laid out a town to be called Washington after the president.  She had 600 acres surveyed, and divided the space into town blocks.


Isaac Newton Hoag and William Carlyle started a steam-powered ferry to take passengers and freight across the Sacramento River.


Mrs. McDowell married Dr. Enos Taylor and they sold city lots and built a city hall. 


Peter McGregor started a dairy near the intersection of Linden Road and Jefferson Road.  He also ran a ferry across the river.  By 1897, there were thirteen dairies in the area.


Mike Bryte purchased a dairy in what is now Bryte.


The Washington Post Office opened, but burned down two years later and was closed.


Residents organized the Washington Public School District.  The Taylors donated two lots on Elizabeth Street for the school.


The first bridge, a swingspan bridge made of wood that opened to permit ship traffic, was built across the river where the I Street Bridge is today.  Ferry traffic dropped, and travelers spent less time in West Sacramento.


The California Steamship Navigation Company purchased the shipyard.


Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.


The Monument Bend School opened, five miles upriver from Washington.  There was severe flooding this year, with water over eight feet deep in much of the town.


The Sacramento River School opened three miles downriver from Washington, near McGregor’s ferry.  Charles Wesley Reed’s Washington Nursery grew fruit trees and ornamentals.


The Civil War ended.


The first railroad connecting the east and west coasts of the United States was completed.


California Pacific Rail Service replaced the wooden bridge built in 1858 with one suitable for trains.


Ruben Merkeley planted hops in the Monument Bend area, northwest of Bryte.


Washington had a one-room schoolhouse, with one teacher/principal, and 64 students ages 4 through 18, including 11 orphans.


A fire district was established in Washington because of the danger from having many wooden buildings close together.


The United States won the Spanish-American War and gained control of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.


The Yolo Independent newspaper began publication.


The Panama Canal was begun. It was finished in 1914.


A severe flood put most of Washington under twelve feet of water.


Henry Ford introduced the Model T car, priced at $850.


Circa 1910 Russian and other Slavic immigrants began moving to an area three miles west of Sacramento along the Sacramento River to an area known as Riverbank. These early immigrants were lured to the area by work for the railroad, food processing plants, and agriculture. (*2)

The first newspapers in Bryte were delivered beginning in 1910, on horseback by Bertha (Birdee) Lee. The Lee family carried the Sacramento Bee until 1944, progressing from horse and buggy to automobile. The family was awarded a citation from the Bee for its outstanding 33 yrs of service.


The Sacramento Northern Railroad built the M Street Bridge to accommodate trains.  A lower deck was added to the I Street Bridge for trains.


Riverbank, which became Bryte, was settled by Russians, Portuguese, and Japanese.


Thelma Lee (2/25/1913 - 1991), First baby born in Bryte (Riverbank), mother was Minnie Conrad Thijelbahr Lee, father was Judson Bogert Lee,Sr.(8/29/1872-1/18/1947). Thelma married William Pillers and lived in Bryte, Calif. They had 2 adopted children ( Bill & Susan ) and Dwayne (Butch) a foster child.


The town of Washington changed its name to Broderick.  The Riverbank School on Lisbon Street opened.  It was a K-8 school. .


The town of Riverbank changed its name to Bryte (after Mike Bryte) to avoid confusion with the Riverbank post office in Stanislaus County. Riverbank Grammar School was built.  It later was renamed Bryte Grammar School.  Alyce Norman began teaching here in 1915 and was a teacher/principal for 40 years.  The school was located on Lisbon Avenue.  Before its construction, children attended Washington Elementary School in Washington.


Levees were built to reduce flooding.

"The Sacred Heart of Mary" Catholic church at Hobson Ave. and Yolo St. built and first mass. The primary parish church was "Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament" in Broderick, both later to be abandoned and torn down, replaced by a new church on Jefferson Blvd., WS. , "Our Lady of Grace" & The Bryte/Broderick Church "Holy Cross" built in 1957.


After a $40,000 school bond passed, a new Washington Grammar School was built between 3rd and 4th Streets on C Street to replace the school built in 1856.  This site is now Metro Place at Washington Square.


The Allies won World War I.


The Delta King and Delta Queen carried passengers and freight between San Francisco and Sacramento.


In May,1922, a Catholic priest (Father Pedro Jardim) was visiting areas of Madeira Island immigrants raising funds to build a monument to "Nossa Senora da Paz" ("Our Lady of Peace") in Monte above the City of Funchal, Madeira Island. The monument was built and is still in existance. A gathering (Festa) was held in Riverbank (Bryte) to solicit donations to help pay for the construction. The San Pedro Association continued with an annual Festa, purchasing property for the annual Festa on the river levee between Short and Water streets. In the 1940s, during World War II, the Festa was suspended. The River property was purchased for levee reinforcement during that period. In 1947 the Association reestablished the Festa at its newly acquired park at 708 N. Hobson ave. in Bryte.


After a $3,500 bond drive, the Sacramento River School, built in 1864, was moved to West Sacramento, to E Street between 3rd and 4th Streets.  It was renamed West Sacramento Elementary School.


West Acres Elementary School opened.  The M Street Bridge was completed.


Hughes Popsicle plant made popsicles and shipped them packed in dry ice as far away as Redding, Modesto, and Reno. 


The stock market crashed, marking the beginning of the Great Depression.


A suspicious fire destroyed 14 wooden river boats.


Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States.


The old M Street Bridge was replaced by the Tower Bridge, which was painted a grayish green.  The bridge was the first vertical lift bridge in the California highway system, and was designed to handle traffic from heavy military vehicles in case of war.


George and Louisa Palamidessi purchased the Hideaway Café.


The El Rancho Motel opened, and quickly became a popular spot for high school and college proms, retaining its popularity until the late 1950s.

Germany and Japan surrendered, ending World War II.


There were four public elementary schools:
• Bryte School in Bryte School District (now an apartment building)
• Washington and West Acres schools in the Washington School District
• West Sacramento School in the West Sacramento School District in Southport

There were no high schools.  Southport students went to Clarksburg High School, and Bryte, Broderick, and West Sacramento students went to Woodland High School.


West Acres School was enlarged.  It was enlarged again in 1948.  The Palamidessi’s added to their café and renamed it Club Pheasant.  Bob Watts and Jack Rich built the Capitol Inn, which had a dome like California’s capitol building, and opened the Capitol Sky Park, which had a runway so small airplanes could fly in.  In 1960, the sky park relocated and became Executive Airport in Sacramento.


Several subdivisions were built, including Linden Acres, Westfield Village, Westmore Oaks, Elkhorn Village, and Arlington Oaks.  In the 1960s, homes were built in Southport.


West Sacramento School District built a new West Sacramento Elementary School.


The Washington School District built Westmore Oaks Elementary School.  Woodland Unified School District passed a $975,000 bond and built James Marshall High School, the first high school in the area.  The school is now River City High School.


In Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States ended racial segregation in public schools.  The Bryte District built Bryte Elementary School.  The Washington School District built Westfield Village and Elkhorn Village Elementary Schools.  Washington Elementary closed because Elkhorn Village opened.


Washington School District built a new Washington Elementary School.


Washington Union School District was formed from joining the Washington and Bryte districts.  West Sacramento School District built Arlington Oaks Elementary School.


Washington Union School District took in James Marshall High School and became the Washington Unified School District.

Holy Cross Church and School established in 1957. The parish school staffed by Sisters of Mercy at the request of pastor, Father Patrick O'Regan. This new church and parish replaced the "Sacred Heart of Mary" church at Hobson Ave. and Yolo St, Bryte and the "Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament" church in Broderick.


Washington School District built Evergreen Elementary School.


Washington School District built Alyce Norman Elementary School.  The Post Office moved to its current Merkeley Avenue location.


John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.


Washington High School (now Golden State Middle School) was built.


The Deep Water Channel project was completed.


West Sacramento voted to annex their district to Washington Unified, and the area had a single school district.  West Sacramento Elementary closed, and Arlington Oaks became the only school south of the canal.


U.S. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.


The Bryte Bend Bridge (takes I-80 over the river) was completed.


The California Highway Patrol opened their training academy on 454 acres west of the bridge.


The City of West Sacramento was incorporated.


Southport Elementary School opened on Linden Road.


Bridgeway Island Elementary School opened in the Bridgeway Lakes subdivision.


The Tower Bridge was painted in its current bright gold, replacing the weathered gold applied in 1976.  The color is intended to match the dome on the State Capitol.


Over four thousand years ago, the Patwin Indians were the first inhabitants of the area now known as the City of West Sacramento. These Native Americans established villages on the west bank of the Sacramento River and their members often numbered in the hundreds. The Patwin Indians took advantage of the abundant natural resources offered by the land and water that surrounded them. They hunted and fished; they also crafted baskets, fishing nets, boats, and rafts from willows, tough grasses, and vines. All of their needs were provided by their environment. The tranquil lifestyle of the Patwin Indians changed dramatically with the introduction of European settlers during the 19th century. Many hunters and trappers were attracted to the Sacramento Valley by the abundance of fur-bearing animals. Tragically, with the arrival of these European explorers came diseases which decimated the Patwin Indian population. Malaria and smallpox epidemics swept throughout the Patwin and other surrounding Native American villages in 1833 and 1837. By the time the epidemics had been contained, the Native American population in the Sacramento Valley had dropped from 60,000 to 20,000 people. Over time, more and more settlers came to the valley. The few remaining Patwin Indians either became employed or enslaved by the Euro American settlers, thus bringing to a close the Patwin cultural lifestyle.

In 1844, Jan Lows de Swart, a Flemish traveler, was the first Euro-American to permanently settle in the area of West Sacramento. Jan, who came to be known as John Schwartz, built a shack along the west bank of the Sacramento River six miles south of the confluence with the American River. In 1845, Schwartz acquired a land grant from the Mexican Governor Manuel for an area of land one mile wide and twenty miles long. He named his newly acquired property "Rancho Nueva Flandria" after his native homeland. Shortly after settling here, John, with the help of his brother George, established a salmon fishery along the river. Besides drying and pickling the salmon, they also engaged in raising livestock and cultivating potatoes and melons. Little did John and his brother realize that within a few years, the great gold rush of 1848 would begin in California. The announcement of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill brought thousands of miners to the area.

In 1846, an adventuresome jack-of-all-trades named James McDowell bought 600 acres of "Rancho Nueva Flandria" from John Schwartz. With his wife, Margaret, and their three daughters, McDowell settled in the area we know today as Broderick. The McDowell family was not untouched by the violence that often marked the tumultuous times of the Gold Rush. In May of 1849, James McDowell was shot and killed in a barroom brawl that he had supposedly instigated. With the loss of the sole supporter of the McDowell family, Margaret had to find the means to support herself and her children.

At first, Margaret McDowell took boarders into her home as a means of gaining some income, but she soon realized that this was not enough. It became apparent that the land she owned was her most valuable asset. In October of 1849, Margaret hired a land surveyor to map out 160 acres, which was subsequently divided into forty one blocks. She sold individual lots within this platted area which she named the Town of Washington. The first lot was sold to August W. Kaye for $500. During the ten years following its creation, the rural Town of Washington experienced a significant increase in business development and shipping activity. One of the earliest companies to be established in the town was the California Steam Navigation Company, which was attracted to the area in 1859 by the close proximity of the Sacramento River. Other economic enterprises that marked early Washington included hotels, saloons, and restaurants catering to the needs of weary travelers. Many travelers making the harsh journey through the marshlands on their way to Sacramento welcomed the rest stop at the Town of Washington. Other enterprises that found success in the early days of West Sacramento were the fishing and farming industries. Fishermen saw the profitable potential in salmon, sturgeon, catfish, eel, crayfish, and clams. The river community was thriving, supplying fish markets not only in Sacramento, but in San Francisco as well. In addition, the rich soil of the valley produced abundant crops of com, melons, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes The dairy industry also established roots in West Sacramento around this time.

One of the area's most well known dairy farmers was Mike Bryte. Bryte came to California in 1849 to try his hand at gold mining. Although he did not make a fortune in gold, he bought a dairy farm in 1853 which was very successful. When the California Steam Navigation Company came to Washington, Bryte used the steamships to carry his dairy products to regional markets. Profits from this allowed Bryte to expand his holdings. By 1879, he owned 1,500 acres of land, raised 150 cows and 100 young stock, and farmed 2,500 acres in Sacramento County. Mike Bryte's status in the community was marked by his election to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and later as sheriff. During the 20th century, Mike Bryte's property was subdivided and became known as the community of Bryte.

With time, the area continued to grow, prosper, and develop. The Town of Washington was renamed Broderick in honor of U. S. Senator David D. Broderick. After 1900, the three communities known as Bryte, Broderick, and West Sacramento were cumulatively known as "East Yolo. " From 1900 to 1920, the population of East Yolo doubled from 1,398 to 2,638. These communities are the foundation on which the current City of West Sacramento is built.


Circa 1910 Russian and other Slavic immigrants began moving to an area three miles west of Sacramento along the Sacramento River to an area known as Riverbank. (In 1915 the area would be re-named Bryte and then in 1987 would be incorporated and known as West Sacramento.) These early immigrants were lured to the area by work for the railroad, food processing plants, and agriculture. Wanting more than material fulfillment these early immigrants began to look for spiritual fulfillment. They found that Sacramento had a Greek Orthodox Church and began to attend the services. However, they missed their Slavic traditions and customs.

In the early twenties waves of Russian immigrants began to arrive at San Francisco and the Sacramento area, especially Bryte. These immigrants, also lured by work and the fact that there was already an established Russian settlement, came from China and Canada. Soon after the arrival of the first of these waves inspiration came of forming a parish and building an Church. In 1925 a blessing was received from Archbishop Alexei for the building of a church and forming a parish. Money was quickly collected to buy land on the corner of Hobson Ave and Water St. Solicitations were made to various Sacramento businesses for funds and building materials.

While the Church was being built a blessing was received from Archbishop Alexei to hold services at the home of the prominent parishioner Afanasy L Cote. One of the first resolutions made by the parish was that parishioner labor only was to be used. Many parishioners who worked on the railroad took advantage of their position and with the permission of their supervisors began using railroad equipment and materials to build the Church. Women played a major role in the building of the Church--they were not only involved with fundraising, but also the actual construction of the Church. These "Lady Builders" inspired Fr Vladimir Sakovitch to suggest the name Holy Myrrhbearing Women for the Church. Fr Vladimir served from 1925-1927. The first permanent Rector was Archimandrite John (Zlobin) who served from 1927-1933. It was under his supervision that the building of the Church was completed. From 1933-1943 Archimandrite Policarp (Filatoff) served as Rector. Under his supervision in 1940 an adjacent lot was purchased. A rectory was also bought in the 1930s with money donated by Fr Policarp. On December 15, 1943, Archimandrite Policarp fell asleep in the Lord. Archimandrite Varnava (Karateev) became the Rector from 1943-1952 and under his supervision a parish hall was built in 1948 and finished in 1949. The parish hall was built on land bought under the direction of Fr Policarp.

Shortly after the end of World War II a new immigration of Russians came to the Sacrament area from war ravaged China and Europe. This immigration increased the size of the Parish greatly. From 1952 the following Priests served as Rectors: Fr John Karateev [1952-1954], the brother of Archimandrite Varnava, and Fr John Froloff [1954-1963], who landscaped the Church grounds. Due to the retirement of Fr John Froloff, no permanent Rector was assigned here, and priests would commute from San Francisco and other neighboring towns to serve. Fr Froloff came out of retirement [1970-1971] and during this time a new modern Rectory was built. Other Priests were Archimandrite Ambrose (Pogodin) [1971-1973], under whom an adjacent piece of land was built and a parking lot built; Fr David Black [1973-1975]; Fr James Worth[1975-1976]; Fr Daniel Cherry [1976-1977]; Fr Nicholas Czaruk [1977-1978]; Fr Theodore Krapcevic [1978-1983], who oversaw the purchase of adjacent apartments as housing for the elderly during this time; Archimandrite Dimitri (Egoroff) [1983-1986]; Fr Aatoly Fiedoruk [1986 until his falling asleep in the Lord in 1990]; Fr Basil Kalinowski [1991-1994], and Fr Gregory Szyrynski, the current Rector since 1984.

Starting in the early 1990s, a new immigration of Russians began to arrive in the Sacrament Metropolitan area from the former Soviet Union. Even though the majority of these immigrants are zealous Protestants, some are Orthodox. Like Russian immigrants before them they also felt a need for spiritual fulfillment and found their way to Holy Myrrhbearing Church. In 1995 the Parish of Holy Myrrhbearing Women celebrated 70 years.