History of the Dodge House



“The Dodge House” property began as fishing grounds for the Valley Indians as far back as 1776.  Trespassers caused a war along the nearby stream, resulting in more than 3000 deaths.  Jose Noriega, a Spaniard, discovered the remains and named this stream, “Calaveras,” meaning, “place of skulls.”  Over 200 years ago, the Plains Miwok Indians were considered the original owners of the property.   The first known Americans visited this area in 1825 due to the abundance of wild grapes found on the banks.  The most recognized were John C Fremont and Kit Carson.


The first permanent settlers here were Dr Isaac and Olive Isabel, immigrants from the east.  They obtained lands claim in October of 1847.  With large quantities of gold found between the Calaveras and Stanislaus Rivers, Stockton Mining Co. was formed.  Olive became California’s first American school teacher.  The doctor built a log cabin along the river which was the first structure here and considered the oldest home in the San Joaquin Valley at the time.


Jonathon Holt Dodge, a native of Vermont, traveled to San Joaquin County with interests in coal mines and gold mining.  He purchased the property in 1857 which consisted of 900 acres, the tract being part of the famous Pico Grant.  The existing log cabin became his first home where he resided with his wife until 1866.  In 1866 he built the home that stands on this property today.  This home was built at an expense of 4500 dollars, and was initially comprised of a parlor, sitting room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, a wide covered entry, and outdoor porch, and three fireplaces all on the first level.  There were four additional bedrooms on the second level, and a basement beneath the living quarters.  This was considered a giant home for its time.   A firm believer in education, Dodge donated the original log house as the first school of this locality in the late 1860’s.  It was called Calaveras Grammar School, which is currently located at Micke Grove.  Dodge planted a 50 acre successful vineyard of imported wine and table grapes.  The vineyard was planted in collaboration with George West, a viticulturalist and founder of the El Pinal Winery.  It was one of the first in the county.  Jonathan Holt Dodge died in 1894, and his two daughters remained in the home.  It remained in the family until 1920. 


We have now obtained ownership of the property, and would like to honor the Dodge Family and their home by preserving it and its history.


                                                                               Sorelle Winery  *  Scott Family