Who Was William Land?
William Land was a quiet and self-contained man who was viewed as an active businessman in the community and who gave the city nearly half a million dollars to enhance the conditions of its citizens. His will and probate records are larger in volume and weight than the man himself. When he died on December 31, 1911, the 74-year-old bequest $250,000 for a public park and $200,000 for the poor of Sacramento.
Land, one of 14 children, was born in Herkimer, New York on October 11, 1836. At a young age, his father sold him into indentured servitude to a local farmer for a payment of $50 per year. Young William bought his way out of the agreement and in time worked his way through Iron City Commercial College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors.
Short careers with Remington Arms and American Express provided him with enough money to move west. Arriving in San Francisco in 1860 with three dollars in his pocket, he walked from San Francisco to Sacramento to save the cost of transportation. His first expenditure according to newspaper accounts was 50 cents for a room at the Western Hotel, an establishment he would go on to own in less than 12 years.
Land invested heavily in the Sacramento area only. He said that he would not take money out of the city that gave him his fortune. Though we know little of William Land the man, his legacy speaks volumes through the beautiful park and golf course that bears his name.
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