Theodor Cordua was the first European known to have established a permanent settlement in the Marysville area. Cordua Elementary School in Marysville, Cordua Irrigation District slightly north of Marysville, and Cordua Canal between Mello and Iowa City are named for him.
He came to California from Mecklenburg, Germany in 1842. Shortly after his arrival in San Francisco (which at that time was called "Yerba Buena"), he met Charles W. Flügge, who was the nephew of a man Cordua had known in Germany, and who also happened to be a close friend of John Sutter. Flügge persuaded Cordua to lease land in the Marysville area from Sutter in 1842.1 Sutter named the leased land "New Mecklenburg" in honor of Cordua's birthplace. The lease was designated to last 19 years.2
In 1843, Cordua built an adobe farmhouse, storehouse and trading post at the southern end of what is now D Street, and in 1844, he obtained a grant of an additional seven leagues of adjacent land from the Mexican Government.3 Cordua's farm shipped produce and cattle to San Francisco by riverboat on the Feather River. There was already a Nisenan settlement in the area that would become Marysville, and Cordua depended on the Nisenan people to do all the hard labor on his farm—not necessarily willingly. Within five years of Cordua establishing his farm, almost all Nisenan people had left the area.4
History of Yuba County, California (Chapter 9) by Thompson & West, 1879
1. Hurtado, Albert L. John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.
2. History of Yuba County, California (Chapter 9) by Thompson & West, 1879
3. History of Yuba County, California (Chapter 9) by Thompson & West, 1879
4. Images of America: Marysville by Tammy L. Hopkins and Henry Delamere. San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2007.