On this date (Nov. 8) in 1861, a Watsonville rancher was producing "a peculiar quality of oil." This report was published in the California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, Volume 16, No. 8. It originally appeared in the Monterey Union.
The Monterey Union says a Mr. James has established Oil-Works about twelve miles from Watsonville, near the Pajaro River, where he manufactures from asphaltum found on a ranch belonging to Sargent & Carlisle, a peculiar quality of Oil named "Sargent Oil." It is said to produce a stronger light than Camphene, can be used in Camphene-lamps, is not explosive, and can he furnished at cheap rates.
Clearly, Watsonville had a long history of manufacturing.
Camphene or "burning fluid" cost about 50 cents a gallon in 1850. Camphene and coal oil were the cheapest lighting fuel for people back then, but Camphene was the leading lighting fluid at the time. It combined alcohol, turpentine and camphor oil, creating a bright light and a sweet smell.