Turlock is a city in Stanislaus County, California, United States. Its estimated 2019 population of 73,631 made it the second-largest city in Stanislaus County after Modesto. Founded on December 22, 1871, by prominent grain farmer John William Mitchell, the town consisted of a post office, a depot, a grain warehouse and a few other buildings. Mitchell declined the honor of having the town named for himself. The name “Turlock” was then chosen instead. The name is believed to originate from the Irish village Turlough. In October 1870, Harper’s Weekly published an excerpt from English novelist James Payn‘s story Bred in the Bone, which includes the mention of a town named “Turlough” (translated from Gaelic as “Turlock”).
Local historians believe that the issue of Harper’s Weekly was read by early resident H.W. Lander, who suggested the alternate name.Mitchell and his brother were successful businessmen, buying land and developing large herds of cattle and sheep that were sold to gold miners and others as they arrived. They were also leaders in wheat farming and cultivated tracts of land under the tenant system. Eventually, the Mitchells owned most of the area, over 100,000 acres, from Keyes to Atwater. In the early 20th century, 20-acre lots from the Mitchell estate were sold for $20 an acre.While it grew to be a relatively prosperous and busy hub of activity throughout the end of the 19th century, it was not incorporated as a city until February 15, 1908.
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