By Sherrin Grout

For The Union Democrat

While according to the “History of Tuolumne County,” Jacksonville was founded in the spring of 1849 by Col. Alden A. M. Jackson, he was not the first settler, “that honor belongs to a Mr. Smart, who located there a few weeks previously and engaged in agricultural pursuits. His property was known as Spring Garden … the first fruit garden in this portion of the state.”

In 1856, the Miners and Business Mens’ Directory reported that the garden had “upwards of sixty peach trees in bearing order, which produced the past season more than one hundred bushels of the finest cultivated fruit, embracing all of the most celebrated varieties. Here are thirty varieties of pears, fifty of apples, twenty of cherries, twelve of plums, and twenty of the finest European grapes, together with apricots, currants, goosberries, raspberries, pomegranits, figs, blackberries and strawberries — which will give the enterprising proprietor, Mr. W. S. Smart, a succession of fruits from April the time the strawberries commence to ripen in this highly favored climate, until November when the last of his one thousand bearing grape vines have been robbed of their delicious burden”

More information on this garden comes from Patricia Rhodes’ article in Chispa Vol. 33, Nos. 3 and 4: In the spring of 1849, William S. Smart from Maine settled at Woods Creek in the Jacksonville area and, finding water plentiful, the soil rich and the climate mild, he developed Spring Garden on the northside of Jacksonville. He sent to Maine for cuttings. By the summer of 1849, Smart was selling potatoes, carrots, turnips and beets, the next year he and his wife, Ann, were selling vegetable dinners to the miners, then started a trading post and shipping gold.

A short time later they were not only selling fruit and vegetables but cuttings from his nursery, then opened the garden to picnickers. During his time at the garden, his nursery stock went from one end of the county to another as the Jarvis Vine Springs Ranch at Gold Springs purchased much of their stock from Spring Garden.

In the early 1860s, after the death of his wife, facing difficulties getting clear title to the land, and the hazard of the flooding river, especially the very rainy, stormy winter of 1861-62, Smart and his son decided to sell the garden.