The Laquisimne Indians were the first people to inhabit the local area. They have inhabited this area for perhaps 12,000 to 25,000 years. By 1823, the Mexican Revolution had given the Spanish complete control of California.
The Indians were moved to Mission San Jose to be educated. Estanislao and his followers rebelled against the Spanish and fled to the San Joaquin Valley. They set up camp in an area now known as the Spring Creek Country Club at the edge of Ripon.
The first documented legal European owner of Ripon land was William Gulnack, native of New York with Danish descent. He and his friends Peter Lassen formed a partnership in 1842. Later Gulnack developed a business relationship with Captain Charles Weber. They opened a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a flourmill in San Jose. Then they expanded into manufacturing their flour into sea biscuits to sell to merchant seamen near San Francisco Bay, a shoe factory, and the Weber House hotel. Gulnack became overwhelmed by all the business activities and sold out to Weber.
Longing for a quieter life, in 1843, Gulnack set out for the San Joaquin Valley. On June 12, 1844, Gulnack obtained a land grant for over 48,000 acres. Shortly after, he gave the northern half (Stockton) to Weber.
About the same time, Captain John C. Fremont started making maps of Ripon and Stockton areas. He fell in love with the San Joaquin County. With the help of the U.S. Government, Capt. Fremont fought to overthrow the Mexican government. When Gulnack returned to his homestead, everything was burned to the ground and his friend Lassen's body was found dead. Discouraged by what had happened, Gulnack had sold the remaining half of his ranch to Weber on April 3, 1845.
The city of Ripon was originally known as Murphy's Ferry. When a settler named W.H. Hughes bought a settler's rights of 160 acres by the Stanislaus River, and by 1870 acquired another 761 acres, which is what makes up most of what is now Ripon. Establishing Stanislaus City, Hughes built a home or his family at the river (the end of Robert Ave.)
The first school was known as Crow School started in 1862, and was located about two miles from the town.
In 1874, a man named Amplias B. Crooks, born in Ripon, Wisconsin, came to this area and started a store. He was not pleased with cities' name, Stanislaus City, so he declared himself the postmaster and changed it to Ripon. It was officially changed on December 21, 1874. At that time, Ripon then consisted of a hotel, blacksmith shop, a school, two warehouses, and fourteen homes.
Murphy's Ferry continued to be the only way to cross the river until a wooden bridge was built in 1885. This bridge was replaced with a concrete bridge in 1905. The first brick building, the General Store and Warehouse were erected by Perry Yaples in 1886. Evidence of the remains of the kiln was seen during the reconstruction of Main Street in the summer of 1995. By 1806, the building became the McKee and Reynolds Store of general merchandise. This building still stands on East Main.
Ripon Union High School opened on September 1, 1910, in the Odd Fellows Hotel above McKee and Reynolds store.
George Markham and his sister opened a restaurant in their home on the corner of Main and Stockton. The Markham's built the Markham building in 1912. They tore down their old house to build the First National Bank.
The first Holland settlers came around 1916 being attracted to the rich farming soil. This group of ten families and nine single men built the first "Holland Church" on the corner of Locust and First Streets. The official name of the church was the First Christian Reformed Church of Ripon, California.
A.J. Show issued Volume 1 of the Ripon Record on April 20, 1912.
The first Fire Department was formed in 1921.
The Ripon Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1923 for the purpose of encouraging additional persons to live in the city.
Today, the farming community of Ripon is made up of primarily almonds and grapes.
The city of Ripon was incorporated in 1945, with the Chamber of Commerce as a leading sponsor and financial backer. From February 1, 1947, the council met at the Women's Improvement Club, which had originally purchased the first "Holland Church" building to use for the club meetings. The club donated the building to the city as a memorial to those who had served their country during World War II. On March 18, 1947, the property on First Street was deeded to the city of Ripon from the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. From 1947 to 1991, the building was used as the Ripon's City hall until the new one was built on Wilma Avenue. The "old" city hall has been returned to the Chamber of Commerce.
The first Police Chief was Avon Graham, appointed on February 1, 1946. Today, there have been zero homicides in 2001, 2000, and 1999. The overall crime rate is low.
Following WWII, the Ripon Lions Club inaugurated a drive for public subscriptions to build the Ripon Memorial Library Building. When completed, building was dedicated to all the service men from the Ripon area that served in the Armed Forces during WWII. The building has since been enlarged to four times its original size.
The city of Ripon started with a commission type of administration in which each Councilman was Commissioner of a branch of the City Government. As the offices of Mayor and Councilmen were not paying positions, it was difficult for them to take time away from their businesses and take care of city affairs.
Small manufacturing shops developed to meet the needs of the almond industry which grew tremendously and several small housing subdivisions had been added to the growth in Ripon.
In 1961, the citizens and the Chamber of Commerce planned a weekend of festivities that included a parade on Saturday, September 30, 1961. This celebration is now called the Ripon Annual Almond Blossom Festival, first held in 1963 on the last weekend in February.
Ripon has been building upscale homes near golf courses on both sides of Highway 99, which splits Ripon. Downtown streets have older small homes that are shaded by many trees. The city is limiting home construction to about 215 units a year and zoning for high-quality homes.
The downtown has kept and is continuing the old-town flavor with shops, hardware, plumbing, appliances, drug store, an athletic club, restaurants and sandwich-diners. There are modern shopping centers with a supermarket near city hall.
For your entertainment, there are about seven parks, a skate park, community center, a senior center, and many programs for kids and adults. The city is I the process of building a 60-acre sports park with nine soccer fields, two baseball diamonds, four softball fields, a dog run, and a beautiful fountain.
Education is by the Ripon Unified School District. Academic rankings, on a state comparison, are landing in the 70th to 90th percentile. Ripon also has a K-12 Christian School.