Daily Alta California, Volume 1, Number 104, 30 April 1850
REPORT FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE
On the Derivation and Definition
of the Names of the several Counties
of the State of California, &c.
Calaveras. — This word signifies skulls, and the so called creek which gives name to the county, derives its own name from the fact of an immense number of skulls having been found lying in its vicinity from time immemorial.
According to the diary of Captain Moraga, who headed the first incursions made on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, and the Sierra Nevada, the chiefs of the tribes encamped on these rivers made war against the tribes of the Sierra, who came down to fish salmon, with which those rivers abound. This was considered a trespass on rights acquired by occupation, and war was in consequence declared between the tribes of the valley and those of the Sierra, during which a sanguinary battle was fought near the creek Calaveras. The tribes of the valley were victorious, and more than three thousand killed on both sides remained on the field. Hence the name of the creek as given by Captain Moraga.
This is one of the counties abounding in gold mines, and has a population of about 15,000.