When young Joshua arrived in San Francisco in 1850, he had thirteen copper sous in his pocket and dreams of gold on his mind. It had been a difficult sea-voyage of seven months around the Horn from Le Havre, and he was eager to get on to the motherlode to try his hand at mining.
A tough, demanding childhood had accustomed him to hard work, but that first season was, as it was for most, a miserable disappointment. The bread Joshua baked for the other miners, on the other hand, proved a far better return for his efforts. His first bakery was in Mokelumne Hill, and was a great success.
But flour was quickly increasing in cost to as much as $120 a barrel, while his bread only sold for $1 a pound; so Joshua sent for his father, François, a millwright and miller still living in France, asking him to bring two grindstones.
The two men wandered around the towns and cities of the region with these stones for another year or so, looking for a good place to set up their grist mill. They finally found it here in 1856, at the confluence of Asbury and Sonoma Creeks. It took eighteen months after that to get fully into operation, but happily their hard work met with eventual success.