William Semple Green was born in Kentucky back in 1832. He moved to California during the California Gold Rush arriving in San Francisco in 1849, he was 17. For several years he operated piloted a steamboat up the Sacramento River for his uncle, founding the town of Colusa. He also held different jobs as a hotel keeper, writing magazine articles and founded a bakery. During the 1850’s California experienced a series of droughts, he was a promoter of irrigating the Sacramento Valley.
In 1863, he purchased the Colusa Sun newspaper. He held many titles, including the U.S. Surveyor General for California, California State Treasurer, and Director of the State Board of Trade. In 1900, he helped to found the Sacramento Valley Development Association. Elected its first President, where he served until his death in 1905.
What you may not know about William is that in 1883, on an oak tree he posted the first water notice of river water being diverted for the irrigation of lands on the west side of the Sacramento River in the Sacramento Valley. A first for California. He became known as the “father of irrigation” in California.
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