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Full text of "Solano Historian December 1985"




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Solano 
Historian 

The Solano Historian is pub- 
lished twice yearly at Vallejo, 
California, by the Solano 
County Historical Society. 

Edited by 
Matthew and Lee Fountain 

and Robert Allgood. 
P.O. Box 922, Vallejo, Ca. 94590 

Printed by 
Gibson Printing and Publishing, Inc. 

The purpose of the Solano 
Historian is to stimulate the 
enjoyment and preservation of 
history by publishing pictures, 
stories, articles, and letters fur- 
nished by its readers. Much 
valuable material that would 
flesh out our knowledge of the 
past is lost each year because 
those who might save it either 
do not realize its value or lack 
the motivation to take any 
immediate action. The Solano 
Historian will supply the moti- 
vation by showing there is an 
appreciative audience for such 
material and that people are 
intensely interested in items 
relating to their own back- 
ground, that jog their memory, 
remind them of memorable 
events, and satisfy their 
curosity. 

Readers who furnish material 
for publication will find they are 
amply rewarded by their own 
feeling of satisfaction and the 
recognition earned by their 
contribution. 

The Solano Historian is now 
soliciting material of Solano 
and North Bay interest for 
future issues. More details con- 
cerning this may be obtained by 
contacting President Mary 
Higham or Lee Fountain. Com- 
ments on this issue are also 
welcome. 

The Society does not assume 
responsibility for the accuracy 
of statements or opinions of con- 
tributions although every effort 
is made to be historically 
correct. 

Solano County Historicat Society 
P. O. Box 922, Vallejo, CA 94590 



On the Cover 

Preservation and restoration of fine 
old Solano homes are vital concerns of 
the Solano County Historical Society. 
The Monterey Colonial on Green Val- 
ley Road, known at different times as 
the Stiltz house and the Jones home, 
was open, empty, vandalized, and 
being used by transients in 1983 when 
the Solano County Historical Society 
solicited the efforts of the Sheriffs 
Department, the absentee owner, and 
preservation experts. 

After a year of quiet work the signifi- 
cance of the house was established. 
Meanwhile the house had been sold 
and the new owner set about saving the 
structure. Now the venerable ranch 
house which contains an early adobe 
under a portion of its clapboard exte- 
rior is beautifully restored. Its gleam- 
ing white exterior, new roof, and 
pillared verandas make it a treasure 
for the entire valley. 

Ernest Wichels in his column "Pages 
from the Past," August 20, 1967, quotes 
Dorothea Jones, owner of the home at 
that time, "One of the first non-Indian 
settlers in the Valley was the John 
Stilts family who bought a good por- 
tion of their land from General Vallejo. 
Stilts also purchased one of the first 
prefabricated houses that came around 
the horn in 1847. ..He built it near an 
adobe which was on the property." 

Actually the adobe is incorporated 
into the house as a summer kitchen. 
Few people have been aware of the hid- 
den adobe. Historians have not deter- 
mined the origin of the rubble stone 
structure, but rumor has it that it may 
be the adobe General Vallejo had built 
for a contingent of his soldiers. 

The interest of the Solano County 
Historical Society acted as a catalyst to 
start appropriate preservation mea- 
sures to save this important ranch 
home. It is unfortunate this pattern of 
concern was not evident when the 
Hastings House in Benicia was des- 
troyed. Read the story about Benicia's 
mansion elsewhere in this issue of our 
Historian. 

About Our Authors 

Eileen Hogan DeLaMater is a 

native Vallejoan and member of a pio- 
neer family. Although an avid traveler, 
she has lived here most of her life. She 
taught elementary school to several 
generations of local school children. 
Her quiet expertise on things "Vallejo" 
make her a resource person for inquir- 
(Continued to page 16) 




Dear Members: 

It gives me great pleasure and a 
profound sense of pride to add a 
message to our Society's very first 
journal. 

This issue is the result of the fore- 
sight of our Past President and Editor 
Lee Fountain and her committee. 
Many of you may recall when the first 
thoughts were put into action. Last 
year at our annual Christmas party, 
Lee spoke to our members regarding 
the collecting of material for a publica- 
tion. Now, after nearly a year, a goal 
has been realized. A sincere thank you 
to the committee members and the con- 
tributors for bringing our goal to frui- 
tion. We present this work to our 
members and readers with pride. What 
better way to celebrate our thirtieth 
anniversary! 

The Society has a busy year planned. 
We look forward to seeing you at our 
scheduled programs. The Christmas 
party committee is hard at work to 
bring you the merriest Christmas 
party ever. General meetings will be 
held at three of our county's museums, 
which are always in full operation and 
offering many exciting exhibits. 
Please join in giving support to our 
museums; they are the backbone of 
local history. 

During the summer it was learned 
the historic Waterman house in Fair- 
field is being restored and occupied by 
the new owner and his family. We are 
invited to tour the old house when the 
February meeting is held in the adja- 
cent renovated barn. We are lending 
our support in placing the house on the 
National Register. 

Many future projects and ideas sug- 
gested by the membership are still in 
the planning stages. With your con- 
tinued support and cooperation, these 
too will become achievements we can 
be proud of. 

Mary Higham 

SCHS President, 1985-86 



General John Frisbie, 
Solano Entrepreneur 



by Thomas Lucy 

John Frisbie was not only the 
founder of the city of Vallejo, but also 
one of the builders of California, and in 
later life a dominant figure in Mexico. 
He was the patriarch of the American 
colony of successful industrial promo- 
ters in Mexico. 1 

He was born in Albany, New York, 
on May 10, 1823. After attending the 
Albany Academy, he and another stu- 
dent, Leland Stanford, later famous as 
a railroad magnate and governor of 
California, studied law with a promi- 
nent lawyer in that city. Frisbie 
enjoyed a lucrative practice, and in 
1846 was elected captain of the Van 
Rensselaer Guard, acknowledged to be 
the best drilled in the state. 2 - 3 

During the Mexican War Frisbie re- 
cruited a company which joined the 
New York Volunteers under Colonel J. 
D. Stevenson for duty in California, 
arriving in San Francisco, March 5, 
1847. Captain Frisbie was given com- 
mand of the Sonoma Barracks in 1848 
and remained there until mustered out 
on August 25, 1848." 

After his discharge, Frisbie per- 
suaded General Mariano G. Vallejo to 
open stores in Sonoma, Napa, and 
Benicia to outfit the miners. In 1849 he 
ran a mercantile brokerage in San 
Francisco with his brother Eleazer, 
and in the same year established a 
home in Benicia where he was engaged 
in the sale of property and cattle. 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 

Even though he was not a delegate, 
Frisbie took part in the Constitutional 
Convention of 1849 held in Monterey 
and helped develop the political future 
of California. He ran for lieutenant 
governor, but lost to John Mc Dougal. 9 

In 1850 General Vallejo gave Frisbie 
power of attorney over all his claim to 
Suscol Rancho, which amounted to 
84,000 acres in the present Solano and 
Napa Counties, allowing him to bar- 
gain, grant, and sell land on the Ran- 
cho. Frisbie sold substantial portions 
of the claim to San Francisco capital- 
ists who with the aid of Frisbie and 
Vallejo made the new city of Vallejo 
the capital of the state. 10 - 11 

In 1851 while residing in Benicia 
Frisbie was promoting the sale of prop- 
erty in Vallejo among capitalists and 
the general public. On New Year's Day 
of 1851 he was the Speaker of the Day 

December 





John Frisbie at his prime. 

at the first celebration of the Society of 
California Pioneers in San Francisco, 
and he was on the first Board of Direc- 
tors of that organization. On April 3, 
1851, he married Epifania Vallejo, eld- 
est daughter of General Vallejo. An 
attendant at the wedding was Colonel 
Joe Hooker, who was to command the 
Army of the Potomac during the Civil 
War. 12 - 13 - 14 

While Frisbie was busy in Vallejo 
and Benicia, the United States was 
investigating sites for a Pacific Coast 
naval base. A commission appointed 
by the United States Government 
decided to locate a navy yard in Sausa- 
lito, but Frisbie lobbied for a new com- 
mission, which after a thorough 
investigation, recommended Mare 
Island. 15 The government purchased 
Mare Island in 1854 for its west coast 
navy yard. Frisbie was therefore 
instrumental for both the state capital 
and the navy yard being located in 
Vallejo. 

In the spring of 1853 Frisbie and his 
wife left for New York where he sold 
portions of General Vallejo's Suscol 
and Petaluma properties. When they 
returned to San Francisco early in 1854 
they boarded with the Thomas Larkin 
family. 16 

General Vallejo deeded the Town of 
Vallejo to Frisbie on December 9, 1854, 
for $25,000, 17 and for the next twenty- 

SOLANO HISTORIAN 



two years he promoted the City of Val- 
lejo, engaging in enterprises with 
energy, perseverance, and sagacity. By 
1876 he had invested in a livery stable, 
the Maine and Georgia Street wharfs, a 
wharf in Contra Costa County, schoon- 
ers on the Bay for transporting freight, 
the Vallejo Water Company, the Val- 
lejo and Benicia Telegraph Company, 
the Pacific Insurance Company 
agency, the California Pacific Rail- 
road of which he was vice president, 
the Vallejo-Sonoma Stage Company, 
the Vallejo Building Association, the 
Vallejo Grain Elevator, the Vallejo 
Savings and Commercial Bank of 
which he was president, the Vallejo 
Coal Mining Company, the Emma 
Mine in Utah, Vallejo Land and 
Improvement Company in partnership 
with Leland Stanford and others, the 
Vallejo Gas Light Company, the Rus- 
sian River Water Company, the Vallejo 
Tanning Company, the Vallejo Boot 
and Shoe Company, a ranch outside 
Vallejo, and the Vallejo Dock Com- 
pany. 18 

In 1860 Frisbie chartered the ship 
Oracle to ship wheat grown near Val- 
lejo to Liverpool, the first shipment of 
wheat overseas from California. 19 

In 1861, to help secure California for 
the Union, military units were formed 
throughout the state. One of these, the 
Vallejo Rifles, was mustered in on Sep- 
tember 8, 1861, with Frisbie appointed 
the first captain of the unit. He was 
appointed to the rank of general by 
Governor Leland Stanford in 1862, a 
title which was to remain with him for 
the rest of his life. 20 , 21 

Frisbie was the heaviest taxpayer in 
Solano County during the period from 
1867 to 1875 and was also a heavy tax- 
payer in Napa County. 

Frisbie purchased the White Sulphur 
Springs, now known as Blue Rock 
Springs, in 1869 for $30,000 and spent 
large sums of money renovating the 
park, making it one of the finest in the 
state. 23 

In 1871 Frisbie, in order to further 
promote the City of Vallejo, offered 
parties who would furnish one-fourth 
the capital and establish manufactur- 
ing of any description in Vallejo a loan 
on the balance at ten percent. 24 

He was generous in his donations of 
land for churches, schools, and for 
civic purposes. He gave land for the 
original Methodist Church on Virginia 
Street, the first Catholic Church on 
Marin Street, the second Catholic 
Church (St. Vincent Ferrer) on Florida 
Street, the Episcopal Church, the 
Presbyterian Church, and the Advent 



Christian Church. He donated land on 
York Street for the Baptist Church but 
the Baptists chose to build elsewhere. 
His other donations included lots for 
public schools in Vallejo and South 
Vallejo, for a cemetery on the Benicia 
Road which in 1859 was divided into 
the present St. Vincent and Carquinez 
cemeteries, and one square block of 
land for a city park. 25 , 26 27 

One of Frisbie's most important con- 
tributions toward improvement of Val- 
lejo was the Bernard Hotel which was 
completed in 1872. The hotel, one of the 
finest in the state, had eight stores on 
the street level and forty rooms on the 
second floor. 28 In 1876 the Frisbies 
moved into the magnificent residence 
he had built at the corner of Sutter and 
Virginia Streets in Vallejo. 29 

General Vallejo had purchased the 
Suscol Rancho from the Mexican 
Government in 1844, but after the 
Americans' take-over of California 
there were many who questioned Valle- 
jo's claim to the Rancho, thereby trig- 
gering a run on the Rancho by 
squatters. Frisbie devoted much of his 
time for fifteen years before the Land 
Commission, the Courts, and Congress 
attempting to secure his claim and to 
eject the squatters. 

In 1862 Frisbie and his associates 
persuaded California Representative 
John Phelps to introduce a bill in Con- 
gress which would enable those who 
were in possession of land purchased 
from a discredited Mexican claimant to 
preempt it at the government price of 
$1.25 an acre. The bill was tabled. They 
tried again in 1863. This time they won 
a major victory when both houses 
approved the Suscol Bill on March 3rd. 
It was not until 1867 and 1868, how- 
ever, that patents were issued by the 
United States Government and signed 
by President Andrew Johnson grant- 
ing the City of Vallejo and portions of 
the Suscol to Frisbie and purchasers 
from Frisbie. 30 

In 1867 Frisbie was elected Califor- 
nia state assemblyman in a bitter elec- 
tion, serving one term. 31 In 1871 he was 
elected to the Vallejo Board of Trustees 
and was selected president of that 
body. 32 In 1873 and 1874 he was one of 
the leaders in a scheme to move the 
county seat to Vallejo, agreeing to 
donate land for county buildings. 
Although the move was approved by a 
majority of voters of Solano County, it 
was killed by the State Legislature. 33 

Frisbie had embarked on many and 
important enterprises in Vallejo and 
elsewhere. These required expendi- 
tures of large sums of money, much of 




Frisbie Mansion, later the Widenmann home, and still later the Vallejo 
Elks Club until it burned in 1933, was built on the corner of Virginia and 
Sutter Streets. The group posed in the garden are possibly members of the 
Frisbie family. 



which was borrowed. Some of these 
investments proved remunerative and 
others did not. He held 18,000 shares in 
an extension scheme for the California 
Pacific Railroad, a $50,000,000 corpo- 
ration promoted with a view of build- 
ing a network of railroads in the coast 
states. 34 , 35 Because of the collapse of 
this grand scheme, the Vallejo Savings 
and Commercial Bank closed its doors 
on September 28, 1876, and went into 
liquidation. To satisfy his debt Frisbie 
sold all his holdings, including his 
home, the Bernard Hotel, the White 
Sulphur Springs, and all his other 
property. In addressing the depositors 
he stated that the assets of the bank 
exceeded liabilities. His statement 
proved true as no depositor lost any 



money and the bank reopened. 36 Fris- 
bie, however, had lost everything. 37 , 38 , 

39 

Frisbie borrowed money from his 
brother-in-law Patrick Lynch for funds 
to visit New York with the hope of re- 
establishing himself financially. The 
press dispatches announced his arri- 
val in New York on November 4, 1876. 
While in the east he made plans to visit 
Mexico to determine if there were 
opportunities for him to recoup his 
fortune. 40 

Rutherford Hayes was president at 
the time. His administration did not 
recognize Porfirio Diaz as the Presi- 
dent of Mexico and had plans to annex 
the northern states of Mexico. The 
State Department upon hearing that 




Commercial building built by Frisbie and called variously Bernard Hotel 
and Bernard House. It was on the S.E. corner of Sacramento and Georgia 
streets where Levee's store was, and is now called Georgia Street Plaza. 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 




Epifania (Fannie) Vallejo before her 
marriage to John Frisbie, her father's 
trusted associate. 



Frisbie was going to Mexico and that 
he was taking General Vallejo with 
him, asked him to check into the situa- 
tion there. Rumors in the American 
press that Vallejo and Frisbie were in 
the northern states of Mexico as secret 
agents for the United States proved to 
be false. While in Mexico Frisbie won 
the friendship of Diaz and agreed to 
represent him in Washington to see if 
he could resolve the problems between 
the two countries. Proceeding to 
Washington with a letter from Diaz, 
Frisbie was told by the Secretary of the 
Senate that there would be war 
between the two countries. Frisbie met 
the congressional delegation for Cali- 
fornia, Nevada, and Oregon and pre- 
vailed on them to adopt his view 
favoring recognition of the Mexican 
Government. An attempt was made at 
this time by the State Department to 
discredit Frisbie with the Mexican 
agent in Washington because they 
believed he was gaining concessions 
from Diaz of a personal nature. They 
failed in their attempt. Frisbie met 
with Senator Roscoe Conkling of New 
York, who was also a native of Albany, 
in a long session resulting in the sena- 
tor introducing a resolution in the 
Senate asking for a committee to look 
into Mexican affairs. A similar resolu- 
tion was introduced in the House, and a 
clash with the Hayes Administration 
commenced. 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 
Frisbie left for Vallejo but received a 



telegram from Senator Conkling call- 
ing him back to Washington to appear 
before the congressional committee on 
Mexican affairs. Appearing before the 
committee Frisbie spoke for an entire 
day favoring the recognition of Diaz. 46 
He then returned to Vallejo for a short 
visit and returned to the east coast on 
January 18, 1878, with three of his 
daughters. The rest of his family joined 
him there after settling their affairs in 
Vallejo, and all proceeded to Mexico. 47 

With his family settled in Mexico, 
Frisbie, now fifty-four years old, began 
a new career. The Hayes Administra- 
tion at last recognized the Mexican 
Government, so Diaz, grateful to Fris- 
bie for his part in the affair, gave him 
an abandoned gold mine in addition to 
a large fee. Frisbie had secured a con- 
cession from the Mexican Government 
to build a railroad from Mexico City to 
Cuernavaca. He was in the employ of 
the Huntington-Stanford Railroad and 
an agent for the Pacific Steamship 
company in Mexico. He became 
involved in mining, and in 1879 was in 
New York selling bonds in his mining 
company. 4 8- 4 9- 50 

Mrs. Frisbie was a frequent visitor to 
Vallejo, usually accompanied by one or 
more or her children to enroll them in 
California schools. Not fond of Mexico, 
she returned to Vallejo in 1899 and pur- 
chased the home her husband had built 
in 1876. 51 - 52 

Frisbie joined her in the winter of 
1899, his first visit to Vallejo in twenty- 
one years. He organized the Citizen's 
Bank of Vallejo, which was incorpo- 
rated November 29, 1899, holding 910 
shares out of a total of 1000 shares and 
was president of the bank. It was the 
intent of the Frisbies to remain in Val- 
lejo but their plans did not materialize. 
They returned to Mexico. 53 

In 1901 the Frisbies celebrated their 
golden wedding anniversary at their 
San Nicholas Rancho, a sugar planta- 
tion. In the same year Frisbie sold his 
El Oro mine to an English syndicate 
for $1,000,000, retaining his interest in 
another mine. 54 

When Frisbie died May 11, 1901, at 
the age of eighty-six, he was worth over 
$1,000,000. He had interests in rail- 
roads, banking, stock raising, dairy 
farming, sugar mills, and an electric 
light and power company. At the time 
of his death he was survived by three 
sons and four daughters, all married 
and all residents of Mexico. There are 
many descendents in Mexico today. 55 - 

56.57 

There are many memorials to Fris- 
bie, but perhaps the most appropriate 




Fannie Frisbie, although still young, in 
deep mourning after the death of a 
child. 

is from the Benicia Tribune, reprinted 
in the Vallejo Evening Chronicle on 
February 18, 1874, which read "Never 
was a city more indebted to one man 
than Vallejo to Captain Frisbie." 



Lighthouse A lert 

Lighthouses have recently become 
the center of national attention for pre- 
servationists. One by one these pre- 
cious structures that have sent out 
their life-saving beams for generations 
have been allowed to die — by storm, 
by neglect, by vandalism, and by re- 
placement — as the men and women 
who tended the lamps, lenses and fog 
horns were replaced by automation. 

Today there are keepers at but 30 of 
the roughly 500 light stations still 
standing in the United States. 

A new national organization for the 
preservation of extant lighthouses has 
emerged. The famous Fresnel lenses 
are being saved and restored, and local 
groups are being organized to save the 
structures. 

The recent Northern California His- 
tory Symposium held in Crescent City 
centered around local lighthouses. 
While heavy seas prevented close 
approach to St. George's Lighthouse, 
all attendees were able to visit Battery 
Point Lighthouse, still manned by a 
devoted couple. 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



The Village That Vanished 

A Suisun Valley Tragedy 



by Evelyn Lockie 

The following story is written from a tape 
made when Evelyn Lockie spoke before a 
California Historical Society tour of Solano 
County during its luncheon break at Joshia 
Wing's restaurant June 2, 1981. The story 
begins after a few introductory remarks. 

I was somewhat shocked to learn 
how few people nowadays remember 
Chinatown, a village of several 
hundred that stood on the shores of 
Suisun Creek near Rockville. It was on 
the old Hatch Ranch, so well organized 
it was destined to last forever, but on a 
bright August day in 1928, a sudden 
tragedy brought it to an end. Today it is 
forgotten; the majority of the residents 
hereabouts, meaning Suisun Valley , 
never heard about it. Those who do 
remember it have put it out of their 
minds. To me, it remains a vivid 
memory. I suppose it could be called 



"living through history", so I am writ- 
ing down this story as my contribution 
to Solano County history, to tell you a 
bit about Chinatown and a bit about 
the great influence the Chinese had in 
the settling of our valley. 

To begin with, why did the Chinese 
come here originally? Most of them 
came from the province around Can- 
ton. By 1848, 49, and 50 there had been 
much political upheaval in China, and 
then there were crop failures for sev- 
eral years in succession. And then 
came news of the great gold strike in 
California. News crossed the Pacific by 
ship almost faster than it reached the 
east coast of the United States. Canton 
was a huge port with lots of ships 
which offered low fares; sometimes a 
mere $40 could bring one to the Gam 
Saan or the "gold mountain" as Cali- 



fornia was known to the Chinese. 
When more and more laborers were 
needed, free fares were offered. The 
men and boys of the families came 
first, the women nearly always being 
left behind in China. 

And so they came, all expecting to 
get rich quickly. They worked hard and 
long. And because they were so strange 
with their baggy trousers, loose cotton 
jackets, dark olive skin, and their hair 
in long pigtails, much abuse was 
heaped on them. In gold mining, 
although they were successful, even 
inventing the famous sluice box, they 
were outrageously taxed as foreigners. 
In addition to mining, the Chinese did 
many other jobs, mostly menial work 
that the Americans wouldn't do. 

Almost our first introduction to the 
Chinese in Solano County is the census 
tabulation of 1870 which shows a total 
of 441 Chinese here. All came directly 
from China. There were 14 farm labor- 
ers in Montezuma township, (that is 
where Collinsville is), 53 wood- 
choppers in Rio Vista township, 10 
laundrymen in Dixon township, 13 




Suisun Chinese community gathered to celebrate 
memory of Sun Yat-Sen in 1925, three years before the 
Leung murders. Most of the members shown here were 
still living in the encampment at the time of the tragedy. 



Mrs. Wong is the tenth from the right in row one. Ruthie 
and Helen are the twelfth and thirteenth in the same 
row. Mr. Wong, superstitious about photography, 
refused to be photographed. 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



laundrymen and clothes washers in 
Suisun City, 90 woodchoppers in Green 
Valley, (address, Bridgeport), but there 
were 261 farm laborers in Suisun 
Valley. 

Today you can see many results of 
their labor-drive out to Grizzly Island 
where all the levees were Chinese con- 
structed. Drive into Green Valley 
where all the rock fences were built by 
Chinese and are still as solid and sub- 
stantial as they were more than one 
hundred years ago. 

The construction of the western half 
of the transcontinental railroad is a 
story in itself, but its success rests on 
the backs of the Chinese. It was consid- 
ered the outstanding engineering feat 
of the century, but when it was finished 
in 1869, there were 25,000 Chinese out 
of work and looking for new jobs. 

They turned to every kind of work. 
They went into fishing, manufactur- 
ing, even shoemaking, both here and 
on the east coast. They did everything- 
housework, laundry work, cooking. 
Even we on the ranch had a Chinese 
cook when the fruit crops brought in a 
profit. I remember our cook so well. His 
name was Wong and he always made 
cake by mixing and beating the ingre- 
dients with his hands. He beat them 
and beat them and beat them. He 
turned out the most beautiful cakes you 
ever saw. And today I can still tell by 
the pie crust if the pastry cook in a 
restaurant is a Chinese. 

There was nothing the Chinese did 
not do. They reclaimed swamp land, 
worked in vineyards and orchards, 
developed shrimp and abalone fishing. 
They clung together, followed customs 
of their own lands, living in China- 
towns. When they were able, they sent 
for wives and families. If they never 
were able to do that, they wanted their 
bodies returned to their native land for 
burial. And, oh yes, they opened 
restaurants. 

In Suisun Valley practically every- 
one had a "Chiny" cabin, usually kept 
for the bossman. You would never 
know if he'd be there alone himself or if 
the place would be full to overflowing 
with his friends. Ours was over on 
Ledgewood Creek, the creek being the 
western edge of our ranch. I remember 
it as a rather small, dark cabin with a 
well and a hand pump outside. I don't 
remember ever going into it nor do I 
remember the bossman who lived 
there. Maybe it was because it was a 
mile from the house. But I used to make 
regular visits to the bossman who lived 
a short way across the pasture on the 
Towner ranch. I loved his cluttered up 

December 




Near the east end of this bridge over Suisun Creek on Suisun Valley Road was the 
concealed exit from the tunnel that connected with the opium den. 



cabin and we used to talk by the hour. 
Once he had a brand new picture up on 
his wall and he told me that it was Sun 
Yat-Sen, the new president of China 
and that he was a great man. That 
must have been around 1912 as that is 
the year that Sun Yat-Sen took office. 

Out on the banks of Suisun Creek, 
about a mile north of Rockville, was 
Chinatown. Houses, bunk houses, big 
stables for the horses, wagon yards, 
fruit sheds, all were part of the village. 
A good Chinese friend always insisted 
it was not a village, absolutely not a 
village but always a camp, but it 
included a store and a Buddhist Tem- 
ple so that it seemed to take on the 
bigness of a village. 

There were gambling rooms too as 
the Chinese were great for gambling. 
And it was whispered about that there 
might be a hidden opium den among 
the buildings. In other words, it was a 
place sufficient unto itself. Oh, yes, 
among the buildings were a number of 
bunk houses for the single men whose 
wives were in China. Each bunk house 
had a good number of wooden beds and 
its own kitchen and cook. Sometimes 
these houses were full, especially dur- 
ing the fruit season, and sometimes 
almost empty. Also there were laundry 
facilities where the single men as well 
as the families could do their washing. 

When I was very small, I made many 
trips there with my father, driving in 
the spring wagon with a pair of fast 
stepping horses. My father and Wong 
Gee, the bossman, were good friends. 
My father raised hogs and the Chinese 
were his main customers. Too, we 
bought rice there. It came from China 

SOLANO HISTORIAN 



in fifty pound ricks, sacks made from 
woven reeds. Papa and I would go into 
a sort of office for our business with 
Wong Gee. He always gave me a bottle 
of strawberry soda pop that was 
always warm. This was before the days 
when ice was abundant. Anyway, 
because I was unused to soda pop at all, 
I always thought it was a special kind 
of Chinese concoction. How I savored 
it, drinking it slowly to make it last, 
loving those biting tastes that soda pop 
brings, even to the tingling in the nose. 

But most of all I remember Wong Gee 
coming to our house on Chinese New 
Years. He always brought a bulb plant, 
Chinese lilies mostly, in a beautiful 
pottery bowl for mother as well as a 
basket of jasmine tea. And there was 
always a little Chinese doll for me. 
How I loved those dolls with their 
straight black hair in bangs over their 
wee almond eyes and their dresses of 
brocaded silk. There were lichi nuts 
and such good candy, like sugared 
coconut strips, brown sugar candy, 
and sugared melon candy. Then there 
was my favorite special candy, the 
rich, rich almond cakes. One of the 
things I remember most about China- 
town was the swinging bridge across 
the creek. It was on cables and bounced 
with every step. No doubt it was easy to 
cross if one could adjust to the up and 
down motion. But the only time I tried 
it, I got to the center and I froze. There 
was nothing to hang on to as the cables 
swooped down to the walkway itself at 
the center. There I was, screeching at 
the top of my lungs, the creek below 
looking like a grand canyon. My father 



rescued me but you may be sure that I 
never stepped on that bridge again. 

So that was Chinatown, thriving 
and happily existing in 1928. In 
August of that year, as happened each 
August, it was augmented by many 
tents full of campers, all helping in the 
fruit harvest. Peaches were in full 
harvest and the days began at dawn 
and ended at dusk. 

At that time I was the correspondent 
for the Sacramento Bee from Fairfield, 
and I received an early morning tele- 
phone call that all hell had broken 
loose in Chinatown. There were deaths 
by shooting, and for me to get there 
pronto if I wanted a grim story. 

Knowing I needed help, I called 
Sacramento, telling them I needed a 
photographer and reporter, telling 
them I would meet them at the sheriffs 
office, and hurry. In less than an hour 
they were down and we joined the sher- 
iffs deputy and reporters from Oak- 
land, San Francisco, and Vallejo. 

Our guide, the sheriffs deputy, knew 
the facts and gave them to us. A young 
Chinaman had gone berserk and mur- 
dered a number of people, including 
nearly an entire family. Hardly a ques- 
tion was asked. About the only noise 
was the scratching of pencils on note- 
books, as we furiously wrote away, 
flinching at the more gruesome details. 

All of Chinatown was in a state of 
confusion. People still seemed to be in a 
state of shock, with very little talking 
going on. 

We first went to the old office where 
as a child I used to drink my straw- 
berry pop. It looked the same, maybe a 
little dustier, and a little more bed- 
raggled, but our guide stooped over, 
flipped over a rug, and raised a trap 
door leading to a dusty room beneath, 
lit by a rather dim electric light globe. 
There was a short ladder and four 
bunks down there. "Here," said the 
deputy, "is where Wong Gee was lying 
having a pipe of opium before he went 
to work. And the way we reconstruct it, 
one of his men came down to get the 
orders for the day. Then a young 
Chinaman by the name of Leung Ying 
appeared with a sawed-off gun, shoot- 
ing Wong Gee first, then the farm 
worker." 

The bodies had been removed, but 
the blood, a lot of it, was still there. 
Wong Gee had never risen up but his 
companion had gotten halfway to the 
door. I stared at the blood, looked at the 
dim electric bulb giving light, heard 
the buzzing of a fly, and felt panic 
creeping into my being. The man con- 
tinued, "Now here is the other exit," he 



said, opening a door into a tunnel that 
emerged into Suisun Creek. The 
entrance from the creek was com- 
pletely covered with vines. No one 
would ever guess that such an under- 
ground chamber as this existed. The 
long suspected opium den was just a 
little room, not much after all. 

On we went to the laundry, where 
another man was killed, to the cutting 
shed where several lost their lives. And 
then into our cars to drive to Wong 
Gee's home, a half mile away. We 
talked practically not at all. We were 
too shaken; there was just so much 
blood. 

The guide continued, "Leung got 
over here just as Nellie, Wong Gee's 
fifteen year old daughter, was coming 
down the front steps to go to school. He 
shot her in the abdomen." Nellie was 
gone. She was still alive at the hospital, 
but her books were there lying on the 
steps covered with blood. "They don't 
think she will survive," said the 
deputy. 

Then he went inside. We followed. 
"This man met Mrs. Wong Gee at the 
door. She was carrying her ten-day old 
baby. He shot her. She fell to the floor 
and in her dying moment flung herself 
over the baby to protect it. He walked 
over to the crib where Johnny, four, 
was sleeping. He shot him. He must 
have run out of shells by then because 



he picked up a cleaver from the kitchen 
table and split three-year old Willie's 
head. And then he grasped Mrs. Wong 
Gee by the shoulder, turned her over, 
and cut open the baby's head. He did 
not know that Ruthie and Helen, seven 
and nine years old, were upstairs still 
in bed. He had killed eight people out- 
right and three more were believed 
dying, eleven in all, in barely no time at 
all." 

We were through the gruesome reci- 
tation. We went out to our car. My Bee 
photographer pulled out a pint of whis- 
key and handed it to me. "Here take a 
slug," he said, "before you pass out. 
You are as white as a sheet". And I did, 
a heavy slug, and so did he. And I'm 
sure that was what got me back to nor- 
mal. Somehow, somewhere along the 
way, I kept remembering little Chinese 
dolls dressed in rusty red brocade, the 
same color as all those pools of half- 
dried blood we had been seeing-and 
seeing. 

The murderer was Leung Ying, a 
young Chinese of about thirty, if I 
remember correctly. He had driven 
away in Wong Gee's car. The proper 
bulletins were sent out and finally he 
was apprehended up near Grass 
Valley. 

I remember when the sheriff and dep- 
uty brought him back the next day. 
There had been no word as to when 




Chinese houseboys, wearing work clothes, in the garden of a Vacaville 
home. 



6 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



they were expected, but there was a big 
crowd gathered at the jail entrance. 
Many Chinese. It was a scary moment, 
totally unexpected by the lawmen, but 
outside of mutterings softly voiced, 
nothing happened. It was with great 
relief that he was finally lodged in a 
cell. 

Meanwhile there was a funeral. I had 
best tell you about that by quoting an 
article from the Sacramento Bee. "Chi- 
nese of Suisun Valley and the neigh- 
boring countryside as well as many 
from San Francisco and other cities 
gathered in Suisun City to bury their 
dead. Slowly they filed through the 
funeral chapel to gaze at the bodies of 
ten who met death at the hands of a 
drug-crazed maniac. (Nellie didn't die 
until five days later, after the shoot- 
ing.) With reverence they looked upon 
their friends, from the aged man who, 
it is said, cried out to his dead mother in 
his last moments, to the wee ten-day 
old baby nestled in the arms of its beau- 
tiful mother. 

"And the unemotional Chinese for- 
got they were unemotional. Tears 
rolled down the checks of men who 
probably had not wept since they were 
children. Sobs racked their bodies for 
there was not one amongst them that 
did not behold a close friend or relative 
among the slain. Revenge was forgot- 
ten. Only sorrow and sadness held 
sway. 

"Then the caskets of those to be bur- 
ied here were loaded in the six hearses. 
And car after car of both Chinese and 
white followed in line. Devil papers 
were stewn along the funeral line, a 
superstition of old China wherein it 
was believed the devil, being of curious 
nature, would stop to read each one, 
thus permitting time to inter the body 
before the devil reached the grave. To 
each person in the procession a coin 
wrapped in red paper was given, as 
well as a piece of Chinese candy, both 
ancient beliefs. 

"When the peaceful Rockville ceme- 
tery was reached, closely tucked 
against the hillside and a mass of color 
from the myriad blossoms that fill it, 
the huge crowd gathered around the 
grave site with people mingling, white 
people mingling with the Chinese, for 
they had come to pay their respects to 
those who had won from them their 
esteem and admiration. 

"Slowly the caskets were lowered 
into the six graves, side by side-- Wong 
Gee, Mrs. Wong Gee and her baby, Wil- 
lie, Johnnie, Wing Hong, and Young 
Gum Foon. (Later Nellie joined them, 
seven graves in all.) 



"Then silence. Gone was the out- 
burst of grief, and the stoic mask of the 
Chinese was readjusted back with one 
exception. Little nine-year Helen 
sobbed as her mother, father, and three 
brothers were lowered into their final 
resting place. And her arms stole 
around Ruthie, her seven-year old sis- 
ter, as if to protect her from the fate of 
the others. 

"A Chinese minister, holding a tiny 
Chinese Bible in his hand, began the 
services. In a soft melodious voice he 
seemed to speak an international lan- 
guage, for all present realized he meant 
his words for every one-the story of 
Christ and of the Resurrection-The 
Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. 
Blessed be the name of the Lord." 

And then it was over. 

As for Leung Ying, the murderer, 
after due trial he was sentenced to be 
hanged. 

Why did he commit these murders? 
Well, as far as we could find out, and 
according to his own version, he had 
been the subject of much teasing. He 
was an ugly little man, whose face was 
deeply pock-marked, probably from 
small pox, and he wasn't too bright. 
The teasing irritated him. He found out 
that opium swept away his unhappi- 
ness and became addicted to it. As 
"hopheads" were not encouraged on 
this ranch, he couldn't get any opium, 
and this coupled with his being teased 
so much led his warped mind to the 
path of murder. He knew exactly who 
his targets would be and methodically 
went about disposing of them. 

He was never once remorseful. The 
only regret he ever voiced was that he 
hadn't been able to find a certain 
elderly Chinese woman he wanted 
dead. In fact, he once propositioned the 
deputy at the County Jail that if he 
could be free long enough to find and 
kill this particular woman he could 
come right back. 

Yes, he was sentenced to be hanged, 
but before that day arrived, he braided 
a towel and a strip of blanket into a 
noose and hanged himself on Death 
Row in San Quentin. 

As for Chinatown-that was its end. 
In about six months no one was living 
there. Little by little the many build- 
ings were either torn down or 
disintegrated. 

Today (1981), some fifty-three years 
later, no solitary vestige remains. The 
little village of Chinatown has van- 
ished from the face of the earth. 



While Mary Higham and 
Donna Marie Girton were tak- 
ing pictures of the Chinese 
graves in Rockville Cemetery, 
they met a Chinese woman 
putting flowers on the graves 
of relatives. After a friendly 
chat, Mary asked if she knew 
about the Suisun murders. She 
responded that her mother 
was nineteen in 1928, living at 
the camp, but was not present 
at the time of the murders 
because she had gone shop- 
ping early, something she 
ordinarily never did. She 
knew about the unpopular 
Leung. After talking with her 
mother who now lives in San 
Francisco, Mrs. Quan said the 
two girls, Helen and Ruthie, 
were spared because they 
slept in a small porch attached 
to the back of the house. The 
girls were later taken to San 
Francisco where they went to 
school and were graduated 
from nurses' training. They 
worked many years in their 
profession and are now 
retired. 

Mrs. Quan loaned the 
Society the picture of the Chi- 
nese community taken in 1925 
when almost every member of 
the Chinese community was 
present; however, Mr. Wong, 
who was present, declined to 
be in the picture. 

The remains of those mur- 
dered in 1928 were later 
removed by the Teung Sen Ton 
Benevolent Society of San 
Francisco and buried at 
Colma. 



The Historian recognizes the 
debt that Solano County citizens 
owe to columnists and writers of 
local history who have contrib- 
uted to the knowledge of the 
County, the North Bay, and the 
land around the "inner Golden 
Gate." Ernest Wichels, Robert 
Power, Wyman Riley, Sue Lem- 
mon, and Harry Gray have writ- 
ten well of our past. Their fine 
books, stories, articles and 
vignettes are an inspiration to the 
hundreds of second, third and 
fourth generation Solanoans who 
have family letters, diaries, sto- 
ries, and pictures that hold the 
keys to many a fine story yet to be 
told. 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



Cordelia, When 
I Was Young 

by Pearl Fowler 

I was raised in Green Valley when all 
the trees and vineyards were young 
and green. I was surrounded by a green 
orchard of pears and apricots. It was 
three miles to Cordelia, my home town 
where I went to school and church. My 
brother drove the horse and cart to 
school for three of us. We put a sack of 
hay under the seat and tied it on for the 
horse's lunch. We picked up the neigh- 
bor's kids, three of them. One hung on 
behind and one sat on each shaft of the 
cart. Yes, six small kids can get into a 
cart. 

There was always a center of interest 
in my young world. It was the old yel- 
low depot with the post office opposite 
and the general store run by Peter 
Siebe and Sons nearby. 

The store had groceries and rows of 
glass jars with candy in them. It had a 
pot-bellied stove, a coffee grinder, stacks 
of blue overalls, and bolts of calico. It 
had a warehouse joining, filled with 
sacks of beans, rice, sugar, flour, pota- 
toes, chocolate, and a stack of daily 
papers. Every one read the paper as 
there were no T.V.'s yet. Such was our 
supermarket to date. The farmers 
charged their groceries until the crops 
came in and then they paid the bill. 

Tall milk cans were perched beside 
the depot and the boys lounged around 
them until the train came in. Then the 
cans were put on a platform and 
wheeled into a freight car. 

There were three hotels and four 
saloons. The two families running the 
hotels near the depot each had beauti- 
ful daughters. They would doll up, put 
on their hats and come over to the post 




The Siebe store that had glass jars of candy, sacks of beans, chocolate, and daily 
papers. 



office at train time. They got their mail 
and saw their friends. People of the val- 
ley drove down to get the paper and 
the mail. 

The railroad track ran through the 
center of Cordelia and it is still there for 
freight trains. There was a gravelled 
road on each side of the track, (now 
paved), with ditches beside them. The 
sidewalks were gravelled and narrow. 
There was a row of houses along the 
gravelled walks. Most of them had 
white picket fences and luscious 
gardens with grape arbors. There were 
fields in back of the houses for a cow 
and chickens and a pig pen hidden. 

There was Dunkers meat market, a 
saloon side by side and a dance hall 
upstairs where many dances and meet- 
ings were held. Also a small white 
Methodist Church and later a Luthe- 
ran Church. I attended a two-room 
grammar school with eight grades 
which I went through. We were pro- 
moted from one grade to another by 
written exams. On graduating from 



PETER SIEBE. 



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ESTABLISHED 1875. 



OTTO GLASHOFF 



•«•••• 



-t XSealers in. J- 



Ala BDERCHAMDISJE. 

Groceries and Provisions, Dry Goods, Hardware, Glassware, Crockery 

Cigars, Tobacco, Confectionery, Boots and Shoes, Paints 

and Oils, Guns and Ammunition, Fishing 

Tackle. Large stock of Tinware 

IpST'Agricultural Implements at Lowest Prices. 

PUBLIC TELEPHONE. Agency CHRONICLE, CALL, EXAMINER 



the eighth grade there was a real pro- 
gram, a speaker and the presentation 
of diplomas. 

The following year we could go to 
high school. We went by train from the 
Cordelia Depot to Suisun and walked 
into Fairfield. The train came from 
South Vallejo through Napa Junction 
to Cordelia where we all got on to go to 
Suisun. 

We walked from Suisun to Fairfield's 
Armijo High School. We named the 
train "the old plug." The train went 
from South Vallejo to Suisun in the 
morning, then turned around at Suisun 
and went back to Vallejo. It carried 
most of the county officers, such as the 
tax collector, the assessor, the auditor, 
the district attorney and us, the high 
school kids. I have forgotten how they 
got to the Court House, but we walked 
all the way from Suisun and I suppose 
they did also. 

Although Armijo building is still 
standing it has been changed to a 
Court House, and the walk is still there 
but the palm trees along the walk are 
towering over everything now. 

The Cordelia Depot, the store, post 
office and meat market with the dance 
hall on top burned on one awful hot 
summer day. 

I remember the winery on the other 
side of the hill from school. The wagons 
drawn by horses brought lug boxes of 
grapes from Green Valley vineyards 
owned by Pierce. They stopped the 
horses and let the kids climb on the 
back of the wagon to get a bunch of 
grapes. We got beautiful muscats, 
pinots, large purple grapes, and one 
called "sweet waters." 

The vineyards of the upper Green 
Valley have all died and the lower ones 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



were just taken away recently. There is 
still one vineyard left. The old winery 
in Green Valley is gone as is the one in 
Cordelia. My memory is faint like the 
seventh carbon sheet of print, pale and 
fading but still there. And I remember 
the poem that we sang in school that 
began — 

When all the world is young lad 
And all the trees are green 
and ended — 

God grant you find one face there 
You loved when all was young. 

There is one face, or rather, place left 
in Cordelia I loved when all was young. 
The old Thompson Corner. It was Stud- 
er's Corner then. It too had a dance hall 
above it. The men still play cards there 
and use it for their social club. The fire 
department gives its dances across 
from it in a larger hall and the ladies 
still make cake for supper time for the 
dance I loved when all was young. 




The Cordelia Station where high school students caught the train for Suisun. 




The flourishing community of Cordelia had three hotels 
and four saloons as well as its railway station that 



shipped out tons of fruit and nuts each year. Social life 
centered around the buildings at Studer's Corner. 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



John Frey and the 
Vallejo Water System 



by Sally O'Hara Woodard 

Experts admonish writers of history 
"not-to-begin-with-the-flood!" One, 
writing about water, is more tempted 
than others for, after all, the flood was 
of water, and water is the substance 
that makes life possible. The presence 
of water, plus a physiologically mild 
temperature, led to the start of the evo- 
lution of life on earth 1.5 billion years 
ago. And hydrogen was formed in the 
"big bang" 15 billion years ago. The 
stunning words of Genesis tempt us 
even more to carry our subject back to 
the creation of life, but we must resist. 

We know that water covers about 
70% of the earth's surface in the oceans, 
lakes, rivers, and glaciers. We know 
that 97% of earth's water, the oceans, is 
saline (salt) water and that only 3% of 
earth's water is fresh. Of this 3% fresh 
water, we know that 2/3 of it is locked 
in polar ice caps and glaciers and that 
the remaining 1/3 is found in ground 
water, lakes, streams, and in the 
atmosphere. It is this 1/3 of 3% — one 
percent of all earth's water-from 
which we draw our sustenance-our 
life. 

What portion of earth's fresh water 
was available to those who first settled 
Vallejo? If we could have flown on high 
for a bird's-eye view of our land, we 
would be struck by the fact that Solano 
County was largely defined by boun- 
daries of abundant waterways. In the 
north, Putah Creek (Rio do las Putas) 
leads the boundary eastward to the 
Sacramento River which carries it 
southward and thence westward to 
Suisun Bay and then to the Carquinez 
Straits and into San Pablo Bay. From 
there the Solano line proceeds north- 
west to where Sonoma Creek and Napa 
Slough enter the Bay. Running then 
due east across numerous islands and 
salt marshes, it crosses the Napa River 
at the northern end of Napa Bay at 
Slaughterhouse Point. It continues 
east until up in the hills of eastern 
American Canyon it proceeds north- 
ward, passing west of Elkhorn Peak, 
west of Wildhorse Valley, and through 
the Vacaville Mountains until it 
returns to Putah Creek. 

Thus, water appears on all but one 
side of Solano County. Vallejo, near 
the southwestern corner of the county, 
fronts on the Carquinez Straits, on the 



Mare Island Straits, and Napa River. 
Water, water, everywhere...? 

If we had read the diary of Jose de 
Canizares, first sailing master of the 
San Carlos, written as he brought the 
first Spanish boat into San Francisco 
Bay, we would have gained some 
insight about our future water supply. ' 
Canizares noted, as he neared Carqui- 
nez Straits from San Pablo Bay, that 
the hills were without trees and 
barren. Also, his boat was miles (four 
or five leagues) northeast of Vallejo at 
Suisun Bay before he found fresh 
water "that could be drunk." Of 
course! Vallejo's boundary waters are 



saline. Must the water supply then 
come from inland -from this land 
which appeared so dry to Canizares? 

Again viewing from on high, we 
would have seen that there were no 
rivers or natural lakes in Solano 
County. We would have seen many 
small creeks or creek beds, but only 
nine that would seem sufficient for a 
water supply. Of these nine, five were 
north of or close to Vacaville. These 
were Putah Creek on our northern 
border, Sweeney, Ulatis, Alamo, and, 
to the west, the Pleasants Valley 
Creek. In central Solano County, 
Suisun Creek, rising in Napa County, 
flowed southeast to the salt marsh 1.5 
miles east of Bridgeport (Cordelia), 
and Green Valley Creek with a 
watershed roughly between Wildhorse 
Canyon and Twin Sisters Mountain 
emptied eight miles downstream in 
Cordelia Slough at Bridgeport. 

In southern Solano County there 



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Beautiful Green Valley Falls, the scene of many happy outings and picnics before it 
was secured as one of the primary sources of the Vallejo water system. 



10 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



-Lake Madigan 



Lake Curry 

Gordon Valley Treatment Plant 




Fleming H 
Water Treatment Plant 



were but two streams appearing suffi- 
cient. Rising on the eastern (Benicia) 
side of Sulphur Springs Mountain was 
Sulphur Springs Valley Creek, which 
ran a southeasterly course through 
Sulphur Springs Valley and emptied 
into the salt marsh two miles north of 
the U.S. Barracks (at the Benicia Arse- 
nal, the source for Lake Herman). In 
the Vallejo area was Sulphur Springs 
Creek, rising from the watershed of the 
western Sulphur Springs Mountain, 
coupled with the runoff from White Sul- 
phur Springs, three miles east of Val- 
lejo. This creek ran a westerly, then 
northwesterly, course, emptying into 
Napa Bay three miles north of Vallejo. 2 

It is the Sulphur Springs Creek 
which would later become the source 
for Vallejo's first water system. This 
stream "like all other Coast Range 
streams, is torrential in character. 
Their flow in summer time is almost 
negligible, though rising to floods in 
times of heavy rainfall. To equalize 
their flow and utilize them for water 
supply purposes, storage is necessary. 
Storage means reservoirs, transmis- 
sion mains, distribution pipes--an 
entire networking system-a costly 
enterprise for a struggling town." 3 It 
would be eighteen years from the time 
Vallejo became capital of the State of 
California in 1852 until Vallejo had its 
first water system. It would be twenty- 
two years from the date of its founding, 
1854, that Mare Island Navy Yard 
would wait for its water supply. 

Thus, Eden, Eureka, or Vallejo, as it 
has been variously called, relied upon 
ground water and rain water for over 



City of Vallejo. California 

Existing Water Supply System 

K/J 4075 
June 1985 

Figure 2.01 



twenty of its early years. 

Ground water-natural underground 
reservoirs or storage basins-has sev- 
eral advantages over surface water 
storage. It is often cheaper; the water is 
filtered naturally by percolation; and 
there is little loss through evaporation. 
The basin also is a natural distribution 
system enabling water to be pumped 
out when needed. In 1975 it was esti- 
mated that 40% of California's water 
needs was supplied by these ground 
waters. The quality of underground 
water depends upon the balance 
between the amount filtering into the 
basin and the amount going out. With 
little rain or precipitation when the 
basins are not replenished and with 
excessive pumping, contamination by 
salt water intrusion in basins that are 
connected hydraulically with the 
ocean or other bodies of salt water is 
common. 4 Such was the case in Valle- 
jo's early years. There are many refer- 
ences to the harsh and brackish well 
water. In the dry season, the saline in 
the wells was intolerable in Vallejo. 

The town depended heavily upon 
rain. Cisterns and water tanks were 
the best hope for pure water. The qual- 
ity of the water stored in these 
depended upon the cleanliness of the 
container and the method of catch- 
ment. It was not easy to keep roofs and 
drains clean. Animalculae were contin- 
uous problems. Pollution from one's 
own earthclosets and those of neigh- 
bors ever threatened the cisterns and 
wells in the ground as did the occasions 
of tragic leakage. Water tanks, made of 
boards, were subject to rot and warp. 



Evaporation lessened precious 
supplies. 5 

When the rain was heavy, the town 
suffered from endless mud. In dry 
spells, water was too precious to sprin- 
kle the dusty streets. Water in those 
lean times became a luxurious com- 
modity. Enterprising men brought 
water barges from Benicia, Contra 
Costa, and the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Rivers where water was in bet- 
ter supply, and sold this vital sub- 
stance by the bucket or the barrel. 

For many years, Mare Island was 
especially dependent upon the water 
bargemen. In 1870 the Vallejo Direc- 
tory commented on the Navy Yard, 
saying, "The arrangements for supply- 
ing the Yard with water are at present 
wretchedly defective. There is not a 
well in the Yard, and the inhabitants 
are compelled to use cistern water, not 
only for culinary, but drinking pur- 
poses. Some years ago an attempt was 
made to sink an artesian well (near the 
S.E. corner of Bldg. #45), but after bor- 
ing some four hundred feet, the appro- 
priation gave out and the work has 
never been resumed, although there is 
no doubt an abundance of water can be 
found if they go deep enough. The neg- 
lect of the Government, in this particu- 
lar is the more striking when it is 
reflected that in case of war, should the 
Island be blockaded, it would be at the 
mercy of the enemy, who could easily 
cut off its present precarious water 
supply. One or more artesian wells are 
an imperative necessity, and should be 
sunk without delay." 6 

The hazard to the health of the resi- 
dents was obvious. The growth and 
development of a healthy and prosper- 
ous economy were impossible without 
more and better water. The spectre of 
fire must have been haunting. The first 
two fire companies were formed in 1859 
and 1865. In 1866 Vallejo suffered its 
first major fire. A poignant petition to 
the Board of Trustees in July, 1878, 
makes the reality very clear. One of the 
fire companies requisitioned the city 
"to replace the many tin buckets lost in 
fighting the last fire." 7 

Life was not easy in the early years, 
but Americans had already conquered 
a continent. Their spirit and enthusi- 
asm were unquenchable. In the late 
1860's Vallejo's population neared 
6500. In 1869 the intercontinental rail- 
road would be linked to the west. Val- 
lejo became a city on April 6, 1868. The 
Civil War was over-many would look 
to the west for their fortunes. The Gold 
Rush was over-prosperity would now 
come from commerce. Vallejo stood at 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



11 



the headlands of the "western Bos- 
phorous, the strait of Carquines, the 
inner golden gate of San Francisco 
Bay. ..where much of the wealth of the 
country would flow." 8 Vallejo must 
have water. 

Talk of water abounded. On April 13, 
1867, the Vallejo Recorder wrote of the 
Sulphur Springs, "after 24 hours expo- 
sure to air the water is freed of its sul- 
phurous taste and becomes far more 
palatable than the well water of Val- 
lejo. Parties are looking into the ques- 
tion of conducting surplus water from 
the springs in pipes to supply the town. 
There is sufficient water to supply all 
those who are likely to patronize. We 
may have water conducted to our own 
doors this summer!" The Chronicle, 
June 29, 1867, reported, "Finally the 
talk about introducing water from Sul- 
phur Springs Creek into Vallejo will 
come to pass. Outside of cistern water 
there is little if any good water to be 
had in town. During the dry season the 
masses have to use the saline water 
from wells." On July 20, 1867, The Val- 
lejo Recorder wrote, "Parties in Vallejo 
are figuring upon the matter of intro- 
ducing water into the town from Amer- 
ican Canyon and the White Sulphur 
Springs. It is the best speculation we 
know." And, on February 14, 1868, the 
Recorder said, "Vallejo can obtain by 
an artificial channel thirty (30) miles 
long, a supply of 40,000,000 gallons 
daily from Clear Lake, and the abun- 
dance will make it cheap." 

There were venturesome ideas about 
the source of water. Who would bring it 
into town? Six water companies were 
incorporated and their certificates of 
incorporation filed in Solano County 
during the period of July, 1867, to 
November, 1871. 9 It was their intention 
to bring water to Vallejo. This flurry of 
incorporations hints at the profitabil- 
ity of the water business. The compan- 
ies that were formed, the dates filed, 
and proposed source of water, and the 
incorporators were: 

The Vallejo Water Company, July, 
1867; from the several springs and 
creeks to the north and westward; Cal- 
lender, Brownlie, Wood, Snows & 
Wright. 

The Vallejo Water Company, March 
2, 1868; From Solano White Sulphur 
Springs and other sources; Marvin 
(S.F.), Conolly & Frisbie. 

The Vallejo City Water Company; 
August 1, 1868; from the several 
Springs and Creeks to the north and 
eastward; Wright, McCue & 
Edgecumbe. 

The Suscol and Vallejo Water Com- 



pany; October 29, 1869; from waters 
found between the road at Suscol in the 
County of Napa and the fountainhead 
of the stream crossing said road...; 
Shirley, USN, H. Cullum, W.L. Brown. 
The Vallejo Water Company; 
October 11, 1869; from Solano White 
Sulphur Springs, and American 
Canyon, and Clear Lake, and artesian 
wells to be sunk near Vallejo and other 
sources; Rutter, Musheimer, Toomy, 
Denio & Lickens. 

The Russian River Water Company; 
November, 28, 1871; to supply the 
towns of Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, 
Sonoma, and the City of Vallejo with 
water from the Russian River, Santa 
Rosa Creek, Los Guilleros Creek in 
Sonoma County, Sonoma Creek and 
Huichira Creek in Napa County and 
other sources; by Frisbie, Atherton, 
Babcock, Lathan, Parrott, Green, and 
de Laske. 

We have no record of negotiations, if 
any there were, between the City and 
companies other than the Vallejo City 
Water Company. It was this Company 
that petitioned the City of Vallejo, on 
August 24, 1868, for "leave to lay down 
water pipes and to erect hydrants and 
reservoirs within the city limits for the 
purpose of supplying the city with pure 
water from the Sulphur Springs 
Creek." The City awarded this fran- 
chise only after negotiating an agree- 
ment whereby the company would 



furnish "water for the extinguishment 
of fires gratuitously"- a good bar- 
gain. 10 The franchise was to run until 
1891. Another corporation, the Vallejo 
Water Company, organized in 1883, 
acquired all the properties and the 
franchise of the Vallejo City Water 
Company in 1883 and continued to 
serve Vallejo, 11 apparently with the 
same principals involved, Joseph 
Edgecumbe, Michael Reese, and 
Anthony Chabot. 

There is excellent documentation of 
the construction of the storage reser- 
voir built north of Vallejo called Cha- 
bot Reservoir or Lake Chabot, 
including maps, diagrams and draw- 
ings of the transmission lines and 7.2 
square mile watershed of the Sulphur 
Springs Creek. 12 The new water distri- 
bution system was based on gravity 
flow from Chabot to the City of 6500 
inhabitants. By 1869 many lovely 
homes and St. Vincents Church were 
being constructed on the hills sur- 
rounding central Vallejo. Early in 1872 
the City Board of Trustees formed a 
reservoir committee assigned to 
explore the possibility of a reservoir on 
Capitol Street hill-obviously the grav- 
ity system was insufficient to serve the 
higher areas. On April 25, 1872, Mr. 
Edgecumbe of the water company 
received permission to erect a tank on 
Napa Street north of Capitol to meet 
the need until the completion of the 




John Frey, left, clasping hands with the other men involved with the development 
of the municipal water supply 



12 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



reservoir. It is interesting that the City, 
rather than the water company, built 
and paid for the Capitol Hill Reservoir 
property, for this property was listed as 
a company asset in later years. John 
Frisbie, of the Vallejo Land and Devel- 
opment Company, agreed to loan the 
city $50,000 for fire and water purposes 
including the building of the reservoir. 
The loan was for 90 cents on the dollar 
plus interest. The minutes of the Board 
of Trustees contain detailed informa- 
tion on the costs, specifications, bids, 
and construction of the reservoir. 13 

The Vallejo Chronicle on December 
24, 1875, reported that, "water was let 
into the Capitol Street Reservoir yes- 
terday" thereby ending the problem of 
pressure pumps and private wells. 14 

In July, 1876, happy news came for 
Mare Island. 15 "Orders from Washing- 
ton D.C. have been received to com- 
plete the reservoir on Mare Island." 
Thus ended the twenty-two year period 
in which the Yard's only water was 
from cisterns or the water barges. Mare 
Island was soon connected to the Cha- 
bot system by two pipelines, one run- 
ning from the Capitol Hill Reservoir 
and the other from the Chabot Reser- 
voir. The Mare Island contract was an 
important source of income for the 
Water Company. The company's 
annual receipts were $32,000 to $35,000 
per year (16 to 17.5% on their $200,000 
investment), of which $9,000 would 
come from Mare Island. 16 

Were the dreams of Vallejoans com- 
ing true? Did a surge of growth and 
prosperity follow the acquisition of 
water? The diary of John Frey answers 
our questions. Mr. Frey was elected to 
the Board of Trustees in 1890. He was a 
business man who owned a jewelry 
and stationary store, but it was his per- 
severance, dedication and spirit which 
earned him the title: "Father of Valle- 
jo's Water System". His diary says: 

"This new water company, called the 
Vallejo Water Company, located its 
storage reservoir — its source of supply 
— about three miles from Vallejo on a 
creek whose source is the White Sul- 
phur Springs. A portion of this sulphur 
water would find its way into the stor- 
age reservoir, called Lake Chabot, but 
nearly all the water for the supply of 
Vallejo had to be made up by catch- 
ment from the winter rains which 
would have been well enough had the 
watershed been fairly clean. But such 
was not the case. White Sulphur 
Springs was operated for a time as a 
public resort and for a while as a state 
institution, a home for the feeble- 
minded for the whole state, occupied by 




TA.It1)TTI2?Kll, 



rr — A vf? F agr x»- 



Map SHowine 
Vicinity of Vallejo 

AMD 

Chabot Reservoir. 



several hundred human beings. The 
balance of the watershed was all occu- 
pied by 8 or 10 different farms so that 
all the sewage or filth that would 
accumulate during the summer or dry 
season would find its way to this reser- 
voir, so-called Lake Chabot. 

"During the storms of the winter or 
rainy season, while this filth may have 
increased the quantity it certainly did 
not increase the quality of the water 
furnished by this company. While no 
doubt this kind of water was dangerous 
to the health of the consumers, one of 
the worst features was that the water 
supply was inadequate for the needs of 
the community. At one time the water 
supply gave out entirely for ten 
months. The people had to go back to 
the primitive method of supplying 
themselves. The old wells were brought 
into use again. The water cart again 
went from door to door. Flat boats 
brought water from the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin Rivers and some 
brought water by various conveyances 
from San Francisco. 

"The farms in the catchment area 
were under cultivation, and if the rain 
fell in such a manner that the ground 
could absorb it, there would be little or 
no catchment and the natural conse- 
quence would be a water famine for 
Vallejo. If the water consumer was fur- 
nished with water for one hour a day, 
he considered himself a happy fortu- 
nate being for a little water was better 
than no water at all." 17 



Easily the most colorful description 
of Vallejo's water was in a document 
written by John Frey in 1892: "(the 
Company proposes to) furnish the peo- 
ple of this city for all time with a sort of 
nauseous soup composed of vegetable 
refuse, animalculae and pollywogs, the 
water in the mixture seeping to the catch 
basin from a watershed composed in 
part of the drainage from barnyards, pig- 
pens, and water closets and pastured 
and enriched by numerous hogs and 
cattle which bathe and wallow in the 
shallow". 

We are told that the Company greet- 
ed every request for relief or refund 
with a stock statement: "If you don't 
like the way we serve you, you can have 
your water shut off." It was apparent 
that the Board of Trustees, prior to 
1890, was lenient with the water com- 
pany and allowed it to collect water 
rates as high as the traffic would bear. 

Frey states that the election of an 
entirely new Board of Trustees in 1890 
was "apparently by the merest of acci- 
dents", but it is certain that an angry 
and thirsty populace was "accident" 
enough to account for the new slate. As 
one of its first official acts, the new 
Board, consisting of Trustees Hackett, 
Rounds, Frey, Bergwall, Brown, 
Saunders, and Michaelis, in June, 
1890, passed a resolution, offered by 
Trustee Frey, acknowledging the im- 
portance of "a good reliable and whole- 
some water supply" for the city and 
"Respectfully" requesting the Corn- 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



13 



pany to "take such action as lies in 
their power to secure an unfailing 
supply of good wholesome water." The 
Trustees pledged that, thereafter, 
water rates would be full rates for full 
service, and proportionally lower for 
shorter supplies; and that they would 
use all of their powers to remedy the 
existing danger and protect the inter- 
ests of the city. 

For over one year, the Water Com- 
pany replied only with scorn and inac- 
tion. On August 5, 1891, the Board 
again acted, this time with more resolu- 
tion. The Board had not been idle. They 
were now armed with the conviction 
that the city could, and would, if neces- 
sary supply itself with water. A com- 
mittee of three Trustees was appointed 
to recommend solutions for this prob- 
lem. They were Frey, Rounds, and 
Brown. After a thorough investigation 
this committee recommended that: the 
Chabot Dam be raised no less than 10' 
to increase capacity and that the Com- 
pany acquire the lands necessary for 
this increase; that the Company lay a 
10" pipe from American Canyon Creek 
to double the watershed; that the Com- 
pany remove all sources of pollution; 
and that if the Company refused to 
comply with the above, the City would 
proceed to construct new water works 
itself. The Company replied that it 
would not spend one dollar on improv- 
ing its plant and that the people of Val- 
lejo could "help themselves if they 
could". Under pressure from the 
bondholders of the Company, who held 
$185,000 in outstanding bonds, the 
Company suddenly reversed its tac- 
tics, and humbly agreed to all requests 
and posted $50,000 bond to cover the 
necessary work. Unconvinced, the 
Trustees investigated and found the 
bond to be worthless. Meanwhile 
secretly the Company had secured a 
court order enjoining it from raising 
the dam even an inch. 

The city had had enough. The Trus- 
tees called for an election to be held 
March 16, 1892, to authorize the issu- 
ance of a $250,000 bond issue to finance 
the purchase of 1,200 acres of Suscol 
Creek property in Napa County and to 
construct a municipal water system. 
The election fell 30 votes short of the 
required 2/3 majority needed. The 
Trustees, undaunted, called another 
election for June, 1892. This time the 
Suscol water bond issue carried by 39 
votes over the 2/3 majority. 

Elated with its success, the city 
water committee rushed to complete 
purchase of the Suscol property. The 
owners had agreed orally to the sale. 




Surprisingly, two insurmountable 
obstacles intervened. The Vallejo 
Water Company had secretly offered 
the owners $45,000. Now, the owners' 
price was $60,000 — an impossible 
amount. Secondly, the disgruntled 
water company had filed suit in Napa 
County for the condemnation of the 
Suscol properties. Suscol appeared to 
be hopeless. 

It was clear that the water company 
would try to defeat the city at every 
turn and "had plenty of coin." What- 
ever was to be done must be carried out 
in secrecy. The committee knew that 
the Green Valley Creek, with its "never 
failing mountain stream of the purest 
of soft waters" must be its objective. 
The difficulties seemed insurmount- 
able — the distance of the stream from 
Vallejo was 21 miles by wagon road; 
there were innumerable right-of-ways 
that must be secured; the 1657 acre 
watershed, the Hastings ranch, must 
be purchased; and a low pass for the 



transmission mains would have to be 
found. It seemed almost impossible to 
accomplish all of these things for 
$250,000 and without the water com- 
pany hearing of it. John Frey knew 
that it had to be done and took com- 
plete charge of the matter. 

Frey dared not hire a surveyor to test 
the elevations, lest the news leak to the 
water company. He purchased survey- 
ing equipment and, alone, made the 
measurements. Knowing that property 
owners would charge astronomical pri- 
ces if they knew of a major public 
works project, Frey enlisted the help of 
J.M. Gregory, a former Solano County 
Superior Court Judge and trusted 
friend, to assist with the purchase of 
the lands, in cases where Frey's pres- 
ence might reveal the nature of the 
project. 

Frey's diary details his many adven- 
tures. A low enough pass was found, 
the property rights were secured and 
Mrs. Remi Chabot, the city's most 



14 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



dogged opponent, was eluded. With 
careful management, Frey believed 
that the project could be accomplished 
for the bonded amount. In all, Frey 
made 245 trips out of Vallejo to secure 
the project. 

The first and second elections in 1892 
referred to the Suscol properties. This 
legal technicality could only be cleared 
by a third election. It was called for 
November 7, 1892. Mr. Chabot was not 
through fighting. At his request, Con- 
gressman English introduced a bill in 
the U.S. Congress proposing that the 
government buy the Water Company 
for $250,000 as a water supply for Mare 
Island. The city needed the Mare 
Island contract. At that time, Mare 
Island produced $9,000 in water 
revenues. Representative English was 
contacted. He admitted little interest in 
the bill. It failed to pass in Congress. 

Next, the water company filed suit to 
enjoin Vallejo from selling water to 
Mare Island on the grounds that it had 
no jurisdiction to do so, even if the 
Island was within the city limits, 
because the Yard was under the juris- 
diction of the U.S. Government. The 
decision of Judge Buckles, included in 
the Frey Collection, favored the city. 

Prior to the election, the Company 
had spread vicious rumors. The most 
common tale was that the water com- 
mittee would profit handsomely from 
hidden deals involving the Hastings 
Ranch property. John Frey met every 
charge with openness and full disclo- 
sure in numerous letters published by 
the local press. On the eve of the elec- 
tion the water company placed 50 
workmen prominently about the 
streets digging and measuring to give 
the impression that the company was 
eager to please the people of Vallejo. 
The people were not fooled. On election 
day, the measure passed by a vote of 
1066 to 397. Construction began imme- 
diately thereafter. 

On January 27, 1894, five thousand 
Vallejo residents joyfully crowded 
around the street square at the corner 
of Georgia and Sacramento streets. It 
was a Saturday evening. The town was 
lighted by bonfires; a salute of 1 01 guns 
was fired; music, fireworks, and the 
ringing of bells added to the celebra- 
tion. Vallejo owned its own water 
supply! The fact that the celebrants did 
not see their precious water that night 
due to a break in a pipe did not dim 
their enthusiasm. A banquet later that 
night honored John Frey. The bever- 
age accompanying the first course was 
Green Valley Water. 

Did the new municipal water system 

December 



work? Yes. In 1914, a glowing tribute to 
the system confirmed its success: "If 
there is one thing Vallejoans can point 
to with pride, it is the municipally 
owned water system, one of the first 
successfully operated in the State, and 
a criterion of what municipal owner- 
ship can accomplish for the people 
when intelligently managed. 

"...the reservoirs were natural, as far 
as it was possible to secure them and, 
located 1200 feet above the city's base, 
provided for a complete gravity flow. 
This gravity feature has been one 
important factor in the success of the 
enterprise. Other features are an ade- 
quate supply of good quality and the 
enthusiasm of the people in their own 
property. With the worth of the system 
demonstrated, the voters have never 
hesitated to authorize money for 
improvements and extensions when 
they became necessary, and now the 
city's investment represents an actual 
value of more than a million dollars. Its 
moral value is many times that 
amount. 

"It is now at its highest state of devel- 
opment. Two lakes, (Frey and Madi- 
gan) with a capacity of 1,002,741,000 
gallons, constitute a supply to the city 
and navy yard for three years. From 
these lakes, the water sparkles over a 



mile and half of picturesque cascades 
to the diverting dam, from where it is 
piped to the distribution reservoirs at 
Fleming Hill, a mile and a half from 
the city. Two mammoth concrete bas- 
ins, with a joint capacity of 11,633,700 
gallons, here pick up the ice (sic) cold 
water and from the elevations of 216' 
above the city's base, send it into the 
local mains at a high pressure. The 
reservoirs are so located that they can 
be used singly or together, this 
arrangement providing easy facilities 
for constant cleaning, thus insuring at 
all times a perfectly pure product. 

"The city system consists of 3,000 
taps, 150 fire hydrants, and distribut- 
ing pipes cover about 50 miles. Most of 
the consumers are on meters with a 
minimum rate of 75 cents per month, 
and meters are being connected at all 
taps as fast as they can be installed. 
The average consumption is one and a 
quarter million gallons daily, the navy 
yard using about half this amount. 

"Not only has this system saved the 
consumers exactly one-half of their 
former tolls, but it has saved the Uni- 
ted States approximately one million 
dollars since it has been in operation. 
Every month this amount is aug- 
mented. The advantages are especially 
noticeable by naval officers when war- 





- J5»i»_rf» 




Lake Chabot during its draining for construction of Marine World, spring of 1985. 
SOLANO HISTORIAN 15 



ships are forced to take on inferior 
water in other ports at more than dou- 
ble the rates. 

"Not only has the consumer benefit- 
ted by a lower price of service, but the 
tax rate is reduced by the handsome 
annual surplus that goes to meet the 
running expense of the city. (Ed. add. 
$55,796.18 fiscal year 1910-11). So sub- 
stantial is this surplus that street 
sprinkling and water for schools and 
public buildings is (sic) supplied to 
other branches of the city government 
free of cost. 

"Vallejo is justly proud of its water 
system, one of its best assets, and every 
week inquiries come to the city clerk 
from other cities, asking for data on the 
plan. He explains to them that we not 
only have the best water in the state, 
but that its cost to the consumer is the 
most reasonable, and that every year it 
reduces taxes by diverting to the city a 
good sum of money to meet the 
expenses of government." 18 

In July, 1985, the Vallejo City Water 
System served approximately 90,000 
persons. By the year 2000 estimates 
show it will serve 115,000. By 2020 it 
will serve 150,000. During the 1940's 
the draft from Green Valley averaged 
one million gallons a day. The highest 
annual draft in recent years has been 
one-third million gallons a day. All of 
this water is consumed by customers in 
the Green Valley Country Club area. 
Lake Chabot, purchased by the city in 
1947, is part of the city's recreational 
system and at the moment is drained in 
preparation for construction of Marine 
World. The city now draws 37.66 mil- 
lion gallons per day from 5 sources — a 
marvel of planning and engineering 
skills. But that is another story... 



C ommencement Program 






About our authors . . . 

(Continued from inside front cover) 

ies about long-time Vallejo residents 
and early school personnel. 

Marion Devlin, who wrote "Hast- 
ings' Folly" in 1937, was Women's Edi- 
tor for Gibson Publications for 
forty-seven years. A native Vallejoan, 
she had press credentials to cover the 
coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and 
the marriage of Prince Charles and 
Lady Diana. 



16 



March from "Athalia" Mendelssohn 

Miss Dorothy Doyle 

Invocation Rev. W. H. Johnstone 

Vocal Solo "O Wondrous Youth" 

Miss Edith Nash 
(Violin obligato, Russsll Mayhood) 

Address, "The International Peace Move- 
ment" Miss Alice Mason 

Address "A Local Educational Problem" 

Marshall Woolner 

Piano Solo, "Dance of the Demons," Ed- 
ward Hoist Miss Pearl Mason 

Address, Prof. Thomas H. Reed, University 
of California. 

Violin Solo, "Simple Confession," Thome 
Russell Mayhood 

Presentation of Diplomas, Mr. S. R. Bar- 
nett. Secretary of Board of High School 
Trustees. 



The above program of the 1912 Commencement of Armijo High School was 
thoughtfully saved in the Mezclah yearbook. The pianist, Pearl Mason, is the 
author of the story «on Cordelia. Such artifacts are indispensable in historical 
research. 



Pearl Mason Fowler was born on 
a ranch in Green Valley. At one time 
her family, the Masons, owned the 
largest cherry orchards in Solano 
County. She taught at the Rockville 
Grammar School for sixteen years. She 
was teaching there the day of the Chi- 
nese massacre described in the story by 
Evelyn Lockie. She is an accomplished 
painter. 

Evelyn Woolner Lockie, a Solano 
native, was a valedictorian of Armijo 
High School, attended Mills College, 
and spent three years studying theater. 
She was an official reader at KPO 
when radio was new, a correspondent 
for the Sacramento Bee, and a women 
deputy in the Solano County Sheriffs 
Department before she decided to see 
the world. For seven years she tra- 

SOLANO HISTORIAN 



veled, visiting over a hundred coun- 
tries before returning to retire in 
Solano County. Recently she has 
moved to a south Bay Area. 

Tom Lucy, a historian at the Vallejo 
Naval and Historical Museum, special- 
izes in Vallejo history. He is head of 
cataloguing and accessioning for the 
Museum as well as curator of the photo- 
graphic collection. 

Sally O'Hara Woodard, a fourth 
generation Vallejoan, attended Vallejo 
schools, but was graduated from Anna 
Head School for Girls in Berkeley. She 
received aB.A. from University of Cali- 
fornia at Berkeley and LL.B. and J.D. 
from Hastings Law School. She was an 
associate of the law firm of O'Hara, 
Randall, Castagnetto, and Kilpatrick. 
She is the great granddaughter of John 
Frey. 

December 



The Last Day of the Sehome 



A great part of the charm and impor- 
tance of life in Vallejo in the first quar- 
ter of the Twentieth Century was the 
busy and interesting ferry and steamer 
system that kept the city in touch with 
San Francisco and other Bay Area cit- 
ies. The master of the system was the 
Monticello Steamship Company which 
had a fleet of steamers coming and 
going constantly. Among these were 
the well-known ferries Sehome, Gen- 
eral Frisbie, and Napa Valley, all in 
service on the frightful day of 
December 14, 1918. 

The Sehome left Vallejo for San 
Francisco at 7:30 in the morning carry- 
ing 125 passengers and five automo- 
biles on her usual run. These included 
commuters on their way to work, tra- 
velers celebrating the month old 
Armistice, and Christmas shoppers 
wanting to take advantage of the large 
department stores. And among the 
passengers was a fifteen-year old girl, 



Eileen Hogan, who still has a vivid 
recollection of the events of that day. 
As her father had not indicated other- 
wise, Eileen assumed this Saturday she 
would be traveling alone. She had made! 
a number of such trips to the city, with 
her father escorting her down to the> 
ferry in Vallejo and her aunt meeting 
her at the docking in San Francisco. 

After a quick but delicious breakfast 
of eggs, toast, and cocoa, she rushed to 
make the early departure time her 
father had set. As they stepped out into 
the blackness of the December morn- 
ing, they were immediately aware of 
the dense fog, the moist deep silence 
that surrounded them as they searched 
for the familiar Georgia Street land- 
marks. Only the low, hollow warning 
of the fog horn on the Straits pene- 
trated the cloud that separated them 
from the well-known homes and fences 
they were passing. It was an easy walk 
for it was all downhill and the young 



girl was able to keep up with the long 
strides of her father. 

When they reached the dock, father 
and daughter joined the crowd that 
was waiting to file onto the Sehome, a 
favorite vessel that had been on the 
Vallejo-San Francisco run for a 
number of years and had been entirely 
rebuilt only four years before. Survey- 
ing the fog and the crowded ferry care- 
fully, the father suddenly changed his 
mind. Instead of bidding her goodbye, 
he said, "I think I'll go all the way with 
you today. There is no reason for me to 
stay home, and I'd enjoy a bit of a 
change." Eileen was pleased with the 
new arrangement even though she 
enjoyed the feeling of independence 
and freedom of the ninety minute trip 
when she spent her time watching the 
other passengers as they paced the 
deck, enjoying the passing shoreline, 
and seeing the sun come up from 
behind the Contra Costa hills. 

However, this day would afford no 




Vallejo waterfront 1912, showing ferries Napa 
Valley at left and Arrow at right, both operated 
by the Monticello Steamship Company for the 
Vallejo-San Francisco run. The Napa Valley 



assisted in the rescue of the Sehome passengers. 
The waterfront was the center of transportation 
activities until the advent of Carquinez Bridge in 
1927. 



December 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



17 



sight-seeing. The persistent fog was 
heavier than she ever remembered it; 
and the chill of the winter morning 
soon forced the passengers inside the 
spacious cabin where they settled 
down to reading the morning news- 
paper or to desultory conversation with 
a neighbor. 

An hour passed uneventfully while 
she told her father about her school 
activities, and enjoyed the five-cent 
Hershey bar he always bought her, 
when suddenly a shuddering crash 
startled all the passengers. A cracking 
noise and heavy vibrations warned the 
passengers that something was terri- 
bly amiss. In seconds the crew and pas- 
sengers were vividly aware that 
another steamer had struck the 
Sehome amidships and cracked open 
the hull. The invader was the General 
Frisbie, also from the Monticello 
Steamship Company. 

Both vessels had been going on "the 
slow bell" trying to make their way 
through the thickest fog any could 
remember when suddenly the Frisbie 
saw the Sehome loom up before her, but 
so close the collision could not be pre- 
vented. The Frisbie, loaded with 
marines going to a football game in 
Berkeley, plowed into the port side of 
the Sehome and was stuck fast in the 
gap in the side of the smaller vessel. 
Both steamers were locked together, 
but the General Frisbie had sustained 
much less damage than the Sehome. It 
was obvious the Sehome was doomed 
and would sink quickly. While the 
frightened travelers surveyed their pre- 
dicament, the captain of the General 
Frisbie, Captain Charles Sandahl, and 
the captain of the Sehome, Captain 
Fred Olsen, quickly conferred, realiz- 
ing the passengers from the Sehome 
had to be rescued immediately. 

Within fifteen minutes all the pas- 
sengers and crew were transferred onto 
the deck of the General Frisbie. In 
those short fifteen minutes young 
Eileen observing several ladies clutch- 
ing prayer books and rosaries realized 
how fortunate she was to have her 
father by her side. He seemed bigger 
and stronger than she had realized 
before and his calm and quiet assur- 
ance alleviated much of the fright that 
accompanied the groans and shudders 
of the doomed ship. She could even 
appreciate the lively music the Marine 
Band on the Frisbie was playing as 
each of the passengers was gingerly 
handed and guided to the uninjured 
steamer. Captain Sandahl had 
requested the band to help in the rescue 
by playing its most spirited tunes. The 




The steamer Frisbie was a regular on the Vallejo-San Francisco run. This picture, 
taken two years before the Sehome accident, shows how commodious the local 
ferries were. 



ragtime melodies lifted the spirits of 
everyone until all were safely trans- 
ferred. Because of the trouble on the 
Frisbie with her extra load of pas- 
sengers, the rest of the marines were 
ordered below deck to help stabilize the 
ferry. 

At almost the same time a second col- 
lision occurred when a tug, towing a 
rock barge, suddenly struck the Gen- 
eral Frisbie a glancing blow on the 
stern, the effect being to separate the 
two steamers, permitting the Sehome 
to sink slowly "to her hurricane deck 
on the mud on the side of the San Pablo 
Channel, close to buoy 3" opposite the 
rocks, The Brothers. The only victims 
to sink with the ship were the five auto- 
mobiles. 

Soon the Napa Valley, another Mon- 
ticello ferry, appeared on the scene 
making its way slowly through the fog, 
and seeing the tragic circumstances of 
her sister steamers, offered assistance. 
This alleviated much of the problem on 
the Frisbie as some passengers were 
transferred to the Napa Valley to 
return to Vallejo. 

The Frisbie, carrying Eileen and her 
father, returned to San Francisco. 
After landing, she and her father were 
amazed as they started up Market 
Street to find that the first extra about 
the collision and sinking was already 
being hawked on the streets by young 
newboys. How could some one get the 



information and write about it at the 
same time it was happening? 

Later the young Vallejoan learned 
that the ferry service between Vallejo 
and other Bay Area points would be 
considerably curtailed for sometime 
because of the loss of the Sehome but a 
new steamer, the Asbury Park which 
would accommodate 2500 passengers, 
was already being readied for service 
for the Monticello Steamship Com- 
pany, and she was so much faster, 23 
knots, the whole trip would be shor- 
tened to one hour. She was to be in ser- 
vice in approximately three months. 

Eileen also learned that the captains 
of both steamers were congratulated 
for their heroic efforts to save all pas- 
sengers and crews, and the entire 
blame for the collisions was put on the 
worst fog any one had experienced on 
San Pablo Bay. 

She realized gratefully, no matter 
how much fun it was to travel alone, on 
foggy, foggy days when vessels are in 
danger, a strong calm father is a most 
satisfactory traveling companion, and 
trips to San Francisco are more 
enjoyable when they are uneventful. 



The above article is a combination of the 
personal recollections of Eileen Hogan De 
La Mater and the newspaper account of the 
marine tragedy in the Dec. 15, 1918, San 
Francisco Chronicle. 



18 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 




The Hastings' mansion was considered one of the most 
beautiful homes in all of Solano County and dominated 
the residential area of Benicia. It failed to become the 



center of social and cultural activities, however, when 
the family found itself suffering serious financial 
problems. 



Has tings * Fo lly 



by Marion Devlin 

"Now wrecking; the Hastings Estate 
at West 2nd and L streets, Benicia; 
Save up to 70% on lumber, brick, pipe, 
etc." 

These few words, buried in the classi- 
fied columns of a 1937 issue of the Val- 
lejo Times-Herald, spelled the finale to 
Hastings' Folly-that magnificent and 
tragic monument to pride and rivalry 
that has been a landmark for more 
than half a century in Benicia. 

Built during the prosperous '80's, 
this 40-room mansion rivalled many of 
the palatial residences built in San 
Francisco during the bonanza days, 
and was pointed out with justifiable 
pride by Solano residents as the coun- 
ty's most beautiful private home. 

Yet behind those solid walls lies a 
story of financial worry, family trou- 
bles, and unhappiness-bearing out the 
name which has been attached to it 

December 



almost since its erection-Hastings' 
Folly. The appropriateness of that title, 
incidentally, was realized and admit- 
ted by Hastings himself, who knew as 
soon as the mansion was completed, 
that it had swallowed up almost his 
entire fortune and left nothing in its 
place but trouble and worry. 

Its inception dates back to the late 
'70's and early '80's in Benicia, and the 
rivalry between three of the town's 
most prosperous and influential 
citizens -Daniel N. Hastings, Andrew 
Goodyear, and Lansing B. Mizner, 
father of "The Many Mizners," whose 
family history has been published. 

Starting perhaps, as a casual discus- 
sion, the trio found themselves one day 
describing the homes they planned to 
build for their families in Benicia. As 
each enlarged upon the theme, their 
architectural plans increased corres- 

SOLANO HISTORIAN 



pondingly, with Hastings striving to 
outdo his two companions, and espe- 
cially Mizner. 

A native of New England, Hastings 
had come to Benicia many years 
before, and had established a comfor- 
table, though unpretentious, home for 
his family on G street. The Goodyear 
home, which was finished a few years 
later, was indeed a beautiful residence 
for those days, and represented an out- 
lay of perhaps $25,000. Mizner con- 
tented himself with the home he had 
been occupying already for many 
years, but to Hastings the dream of 
building a home to surpass anything 
ever seen in Benicia had become an 
obsession, and no time was lost in 
engaging a contractor and laying 
down the foundations. 

The site was selected at the corner of 
First and F streets and the foundation 



19 



was already laid when difficulties 
developed between Hastings and the 
Benicia Board of Trustees over the 
grading of the property. Provoked by 
the altercation, Hastings abandoned 
the foundation and moved to West 2nd 
and L streets. 

Contractor A. L. Ryder was engaged 
to do the work, and in 1881, Hastings' 
Folly -complete with twenty-one bed- 
rooms, a magnificent staircase costing 
$8,500, marble floors, and fireplaces, 
was completed to the envy and admira- 
tion of the entire city. 

In the rear was the huge dining 
room, the ceiling bordered with Bella 
Robbia garlands in rich shades of 
orange, sapphire, and green. 

In keeping with the general scale of 
the house, the kitchen was unusually 
spacious, with huge marble slabs on 
the tables and drainboards, and roomy 
cupboards and closets from floor to 
ceiling. Adjoining was a large pantry 
with sink and other cupboards, and 
through another door one stepped into 
a room the size of many a present-day 
kitchen, which was devoted entirely to 
the storage shelves for preserves and 
kitchen supplies. 

Bedrooms lined both sides of the 
wide halls on the second and third 
floors, and in front of the third story 
one mounted that last lap of the pol- 
ished staircase to reach the cupola, 
which offered what was undoubtedly 
one of the finest views of Benicia and 
the surrounding countryside. 

Not content with the reception rooms 
and library on the main floor, a games 
room and a billiards room were both 
incorporated into the house plan, one 
on either side of the basement stair- 
case. The walls were beautifully 
paneled and marble tiles covered the 
floors of the two rooms, where the Hast- 
ings' sons were wont to entertain their 
young friends. Hastings' own office, 
and a number of storerooms completed 
the casement layout. 

Aside from the staircase, woods in 
the interior were of oiled and varnished 
white cedar, teak, prima-vera, toa 
tomano, and St. Domingo mahogany. 
The floors were of yellow pine. 

Almost as famous as the staircase 
were the handsome mantels-five of 
which were of unusual beauty and 
value. One was entirely of white mar- 
ble, another of Tennessee marble, one 
of onyx and one black, and each was 
placed in a room where wall tinting 
and furnishings provided the most 
artistic setting for its particular shade. 

According to the contractor's plans, 
there were 88 doors and 85 windows. 



The house itself was 88 feet deep and 48 
feet wide in front, 30 in back, while the 
tower room on top of the house was 15 
feet in height. 

Heating was by the Harvey method, 
with hot water radiators, and circuits 
of hot water running through every 
room. Speaking tubes and electric call 
bells were installed throughout the 
three floors. 

Water was supplied from a spring 
and carried 10,000 feet through iron 
pipe. Under the residence was a cistern 
holding 50,000 gallons and a gas 
engine was used to pump from the cist- 
ern to the floors above. On top of the 
house another tank held 2,000 gallons. 

Unusual little shell-like decorations 
were in many of the bedrooms and 
upper halls, in the form of a cherub's 
head of plaster of paris, tinted to match 
the delicate colorings of the walls. 

The three bathrooms were in keeping 
with the grandiose scale, with huge 
tubs and washstands, and fixtures as 
modern as the period offered. 

During the construction period, 
Hastings devoted almost all his time to 
supervising the work. No detail was too 
small for his attention, and nothing 
short of absolute perfection, in his eyes, 
was acceptable. According to friends, 
when the plate glass arrived for instal- 
lation, Hastings found the panes not 
entirely to his liking, so the entire load 
was stored in the basement and a new 
order was placed. 

Under his orders, too, the house was 
made sound-proof and draft-proof, 
with double flooring. 

Laths were laid diagonally parallel- 
ing the walls and ceilings and sand 
was used to fill the two-inch space 
between. 

Financing the mansion was some- 
thing of a problem at first, but was 
finally managed with the aid of a loan 
from his brother-in-law. Hastings him- 
self owned extensive farm lands which 
he farmed himself and rented out, 
including the Daly Ranch, later known 
as the John Borges ranch, the O'Hara 
ranch, and the Sulphur Springs, Larry 
Barry, and Paddy ranches, all of which 
were later sold by his heirs. The income 
from these was inadequate, however, 
to meet the heavy building expenses, 
and Hastings obtained a loan of 
$85,000 from his brother-in-law, the 
affluent Jordan of the firm of Jordan- 
Marsh, one of Boston's leading depart- 
ment stores. According to Jordan's 
will, that debt was later completely 
canceled. 

That $85,000 was approximately the 
cost of constructing the house alone, 



while the complete furnishings, all in 
the approved fashion of that period, 
brought the total outlay to something 
like $350,000. 

Hastings was his own architect for 
the home, which represented an ideal 
he had cherished through years of 
activity and hard work. A native of 
Newton, Mass., Hastings was born in 
1821, and after living in several New 
England towns as a boy, moved to Bos- 
ton at the age of fourteen. There he 
entered the provision business, until 
1849, when he went to New York, and 
booked passage on the SS Florida for 
Chagres, Panama, since through 
tickets to California were not available 
at that time. 

After four days in Panama, he con- 
tinued his journey to San Francisco, 
arriving December 1, 1849. He 
obtained a position as a carpenter for a 
salary of $12 a day, and at the end of 
the week had so impressed his 
employer with his ability, that he was 
supervising the work of eight men and 
earning $20 a day. 

In 1850, Hastings set out for Sulli- 
van's Creek, and tried his hand at min- 
ing near Stockton. Another short stay 
in San Francisco preceded his coming 
to Benicia, where he built a small 
butcher shop and occupied the prop- 
erty four months. 

In 1852 he leased the property and 
went east to bring his family to Califor- 
nia. Accompanied by his wife and their 
sons, George A., who was born in Bos- 
ton in 1846, and William F., also born 
in that city in 1848, Hastings returned 
to Benicia aboard the SS Onward, com- 
ing around Cape Horn and arriving 
December 11. 

Arriving home, he found his prop- 
erty in possession of the sheriff, and an 
expenditure of $1,600 was necessary 
before Hastings could recover it. 

In 1862, he sold out his business and 
retired, owning at that time three-fifths 
of 44,000 acres of land. He took an 
interest in city affairs, held office 
under the city government of Benicia, 
and served as city trustee. 

Three more children were born after 
the Hastings' return to Benicia- 
Hannah, in 1857, and Alice and Eben, 
twins born in 1862. 

So into their home moved the Hast- 
ings family; yet strangely enough, 
instead of enjoying their palatial sur- 
rounds which understandably were the 
envy of their entire circle of friends, 
there was from the very first a hint of 
dissatisfaction and worry connected 
with it. Perhaps it could be traced to the 
fact that Hastings, ordinarily a jovial 



20 



SOLANO HISTORIAN 



December 



and cheerful person, was increasingly 
worried as he realized how deeply he 
had involved himself financially. 

While Benicia's younger generation 
eagerly awaited invitations to the 
round of parties they felt would inevita- 
bly follow the family's installation, 
Mrs. Hastings, a small woman, quick 
and capable in her manner, and her 
daughter found themselves far too 
rushed trying to take care of the forty- 
five rooms to further complicate mat- 
ters with lavish entertaining. There 
were, of course, several parties, but 
nothing on the scale as elaborate as the 
house suggested. 

The servant problem was in itself a 
momentous one to the feminine 
members of the household. To care ade- 
quately for the four stories, a small 
army of servants was required, and 
aside from the expense of such a staff, 
few servants remained at Hastings for 
more than a few months, apparently 
finding too arduous their duties which 
involved climbing four flights of stairs 
to polish the woodwork, keeping the 
many recessed windows gleaming and 
having the marble spotless at all times. 

Hannah and Alice frequently 
brought home schoolmates from Mills 
Seminary for an inspection of the 
showplace, or for a quiet evening with 
the family on the wide veranda, which 
was illuminated with bright lanterns 
during the summer months. George 
was sent east to Harvard, but returned 
to Benicia for holidays and summer 
vacations, bringing to his sisters and 
their friends exciting stories of life at 
the eastern college. 

According to gossip, George sent 
home for money following his gradua- 
tion, whereupon Hastings, Sr., refused 
with the commentary, "if a Harvard 
education has not prepared one to earn 
his own way, it was none too soon to 
learn the rudiments of business." 

Some weeks later, George arrived in 
Benicia, his clothes showing hard 
wear, far from the smart attire 
expected of a recent college graduate. 

The first of the series of tragedies 
that pursued Hastings' family from the 
time of the home's completion was the 
suicide of their second son, William. 
Moody and depressed over the loss of 
an arm in a hunting accident, Will was 
further plunged into unhappiness by a 
romance to which his family objected, 
and shot himself. 

Grieving over Will's death, and real- 
izing the financial impossibility of 
maintaining the home in comfort, the 
family decided to move to San Fran- 
cisco shortly after the turn of the cen- 



ii u i .^-H^VWU "U ' l .■ ■ »!, ' ",-U) 




The Lansing Mizners' modest home in Benicia 



tury. Rather than leave the house 
unoccupied, Hastings asked Charles 
M. Prince, Benicia realtor, if he and his 
wife would make their home in it. For 
three years, Mr. and Mrs. Prince occu- 
pied the place until in 1906 the Hast- 
ings family was stricken by another 
misfortune. 

Their new home in San Francisco, on 
a much simpler scale than their former 
residence, but nevertheless comforta- 
bly and attractively furnished, was 
wrecked by the San Francisco earth- 
quake and fire. For the first week or two 
after the tragedy, they camped out with 
hundreds of other refugees in the city, 
guarding the few possessions they had 
managed to salvage. 

Arranging with the Princes to return 
to Benicia, the family again moved 
into the mansion for the few months it 
took until their San Francisco home 
was again ready to be occupied. 

Upon their departure, they were 
again confronted with the problem of 
leaving the house to the mercy of 
prowlers, so it was decided that Eben, 
commonly known as Zeb, should 
remain there until arrangements could 
be made to dispose of the property. 

Alone in the gloomy, silent house, 
with memories of the place as it had 
been when first occupied, Zeb, who was 
crippled, found pleasure chiefly in his 
phonograph, which was one of the first 
owned in Benicia. With a large collec- 
tion of recordings, Zeb spent much of 
his time at the open window of his 
room, playing the selections for the lit- 
tle groups of listeners who frequented 
the adjoining park for the informal 
concerts. 



As negotiations progressed for the 
disposal of the house, his brooding 
increased, and shortly before its sale, 
he died. Although he had been in poor 
health some time, worry and unhappi- 
ness over loss of the home were 
believed to have hastened his death. 

Actual details of the property sale 
are vague, but its reported purchase 
price was $10,000. It was bought by a 
Catholic priest, Father McQuaid, who 
obtained it chiefly to provide a home 
for his mother. Until her death, she 
occupied one of the upstairs suites, and 
was visited frequently by her daughter, 
Sister Christina, from St. Catherine's 
Convent, and other Dominican nuns. 

At Mrs. McQuaid's death, the prop- 
erty was deeded to the nuns, who util- 
ized it as a dormitory for the older boys 
boarding at the convent school. Much 
of the remaining furniture was 
removed and stored, with some of the 
elaborate framed mirrors, whatnots, 
and other articles, stored in the two- 
story laundry building and storehouse 
in the rear of the lot. 

According to rumors, some of the 
most beautiful of the marble mantels 
were removed and presented to various 
churches to be used in the construction 
of altars. 

Until 1936 the house was occupied by 
the schoolboys, who brought noise and 
life again into the big rooms after years 
of silence. 

Finally, however, the dormitory was 
abandoned, due to the fire hazard and 
to the escapades of the youngsters in 
scaling the cupola and exploring the 
roof, to the concern of the Sisters. 

As for the Hastings family, their con- 
tact with Benicia became increasingly 



slighter during their residence in San 
Francisco. George had married Anna 
Wallace of Benicia, and they had three 
children, Wallace, Aida, and Zeta. 
Alice became the wife of Charles Hunt, 
a San Francisco insurance broker. 

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hastings died in 
San Francisco, and all their sons and 
daughters have passed away. Thus the 
final chapter in Hastings' Folly was 
begun when the home was purchased 
by Ray Boldt of Vallejo, who started 
immediately on the job of wrecking the 
house, a task that took at least three 
months to complete. 

Publicity given its wrecking 
attracted many curiosity seekers to 
wander through the empty mansion, 
pathetic in its bareness and decay. Try- 
ing to imagine each room as it once 
might have been, they only saw dis- 
mantled fireplaces with a few loose 
bricks on the bare hearth; tarnished 
chandeliers, one or two cracked flower 
pots with hardened soil in the empty 
conservatory, deserted rooms with 
remnants of handsome tapestry, wall 
papers and ornate moldings as remind- 
ers of better days. 

And listeners in the little city park 
across the street no longer heard the 
melodies from Zeb's phonograph in the 
late afternoon — instead they heard the 
shouts of workmen and the beat of the 
wreckers' hammers sounding the 
death knell to Hastings' Folly. 

Gift Suggestion 

A membership to the Solano 
County Historical Society is a fine 
Christmas gift for any Solanoan or 
former Solanoan. It will assure him or 
her of receiving the first two issues of 
the Solano Historian. (Copies of this 
issue are for new members.) To pur- 
chase a gift membership, send to the 
Society a check ($7. 00 for a single, $10. 00 
for a family), the name and mailing 
address of whomever it is for and the 
name and address of the donor. 

We respectfully thank the following 

for use of photographs: 

Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum 

Ernest Wichels 

Mrs. Ellie Mullen 

The Rogers Collection 

Roberta Quan 

Times Herald 

Benicia Museum 

Frisbie — pp. 1-3 

1. James Callahan, American Foreign Policy in Mexi- 
can Relations, New York, Macmillan, 1932, p. 381. 

2. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, May 11, 1909. 

3. "Krisbie Reminiscences," Bancroft Library. 



4. Lynch and Clark, New York Volunteers in Califor- 
nia, Glorieta, N.M., Rio Grande Press, 1970, Vol II, p. 
43. 

5. Madie Brown Emparan, Vallejos of California, San 
Francisco, Gleason Library Associates, 1968, p. 258. 

6. Donald C. Biggs, Conquer and Colonize, Steven- 
son s Regiment, San Raphael, Presidio Press, 1977, 
p. 211. 

7. Augustus Menefee, Historical and Descriptive 
Sketch Book, Napa, 1 -ake, Sonoma and Mendocino, 
Reporter Publishing House, Napa, 1879. 

8. Bethel Phelps and Frisbie Ledger, John B. Frisbie, 
67/24, Bancroft Library 

9. M.G. Vallejo, "Power of Attorney to John B. Fris- 
bie," 23 July, 1850, Vallejo Naval and Historical 
Museum. 

10. Biggs, op. cit., p. 182. 

11. Paul Gates, "The Suscol Principle, Preemption and 
California Latifundia," HBK 1870, Vallejo Naval 
and Historical Museum. 

12. Emparan, op. cit, p. 258. 

13. John Frisbie, Clippings from an unknown news- 
paper, 1851, HBK 1870, Vallejo Naval and Histori- 
cal Museum. 

14. "Annals of San Francisco 1854," Appleton and Co., 
N.Y., p. 284, Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. 

15. The Vallejo Recorder, September 7, 1867. 

16. Emparan, op. cit., p. 264. 

17. M.G. Vallejo to John Frisbie, Deed dated December 
9, 1854, Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. 

18. "John Frisbie," HBK 1823, Vallejo Naval and His- 
torical Museum. 

19. Vallejo Recorder, January 4, 1868, Vallejo Evening 
Chronicle. April 25, 1871, July 21, 1875. 

20. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, May 29, 1871. 

21. "Frisbie Reminiscences," op. cit. 

22. Emparan, op. cit ., p. 267. 

23. Articles, File 1342, Vallejo Naval and Historical 
Museum. 

24. Frisbie, HBK 1823, Vallejo Naval and Historical 
Museum. 

25. Fraser, History of Solano County, Wood Alley Co., 
East Oakland, 1879, pp. 204, 206, 207, 210, 211. 

26. St. Vincent Ferrer Parish 1855-1980, p. 9, Vallejo 
Naval and Historical Museum. 

27. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, January 18, 1869. 

28. Ibid., January 21, 1872, August 8, 1872. 

29. Ibid, February 17, 1876. 

30. Copies of Patents, President Andrew Johnson to 
Frisbie etal., Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. 

31. Vallejo Recorder, September 7, 1867. 

32. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, September 16, 1871. 

33. Frisbie, HBK 1823, Vallejo Naval and Historical 
Museum. 

34. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, VII 
1860-1890 San Francisco, The History Company 
1890, p. 585. 

35. .Son Francisco Call, May 12, 1909. 

36. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, September 28, 1876, 
October 7, 1876, October 13, January 27, 1877. 

37. Callahan, op. cit., p. 379. 

38. Emparan, op. cit., p. 271. 

39. Biggs, op. cit.. pp. 217, 218. 

40. Emparan, op. cit., p. 271. 

41. Callahan, op. cit., pp. 381, 400. 

42. Emparan, op. cit., pp. 271, 272. 



43. "Frisbie Reminiscences", op. cit. 

44. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, June, 25, 1877. 

45. Concise Dictionary of American Biography, 2nd edi- 
tion, New York, Scribner's Sons, 1977, p. 194. 

46. "Frisbie Reminiscenses", op. cit. 

47. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, January 18, 1878. 

48. Emparan, op. cit., pp. 275, 372. 

49. San Francisco Call, May 12, 1909. 

50. Vallejo Evening Chronicle, November 5, 1877. 

51. Emparan, op. cit., p. 279. 

52. City of Vallejo Assessors Books, Vallejo Naval and 
Historical Museum. 

53. Vallejo Evening Chronicle. December 1, 1899, 
December 12, 1899. 

54. Emparan, op. cit., pp. 285, 286. 

55. Callahan, op. cit, pp. 381, 491, 507. 

56. Emparan, op. cit, pp. 285, 286. 

57. San Francisco Call, op. May 12, 1909. 

Vallejo Water pp 10 - 16 

1. John Galvin, ed., The First Spanish Entry Into San 
Francisco Bay 1 775, The Report of Jose de Canizares 

first sailing master of the San Carlos, to Captain 
Ayala, Published by John How ell -Books, San Fran- 
cisco, 1971, Translated from Bancroft Library 
Microfilm of documents in Archivo General de 
Indias, Estado 20, (Mexico 1) No. 19, reel 715/24/35. 

2. Thompson and West, New Historical Atlas of 
Solano County California, 1877. 

3. F.C. Herrman, "Reporton Vallejo Water Company", 
January 23, 1918, p. 2. 

4. Bicentennial Edition, California Yearbook. 1975, 
California Almanac Co., El Camino Press, pp. 185- 
186. 

5. Diary of John Frey, (Manuscript) (Vallejo Naval 
and Historical Museum Archives). Elma May Cree- 
don (Comp.), "John Frey, City Trustee, His Part in 
Solving Vallejo's Water Problems"., 1943. 

6. Kelly and Prescott, Vallejo Directory for the Year 
Commencing March, 1870, (Vallejo Naval and His- 
troical Museum Archives) p. 54. 

7. City of Vallejo Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Vol. : 
I, 1867- 1878, (Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum 
Archives) p. 20. 

8. Hubert Bancroft, Bancroft's Works, XXIII, History 
of California, VI, p. 18. 

9. "County of Solano Certificate of Incorporation", 
(Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum Archives). 

10. City of Vallejo Minutes, op. cit., p. 24 

11. Hermann, op. cit. 

12. Ibid, pp. 1-33. 

13. City of Vallejo Minutes, op. cit., pp. 180-210. 

14. Ernest Wichels, "Pages from the Past", Vallejo 
Times Herald", Dec. 19, 1965. 

15. Ibid. 

16. Tom Gregory and others, History of Solano and 
Napa Counties, California Biographical sketches. 
Historic Record Co., 1912, pp. 110-112. 

17. Diary of John Frey, op. cit. 

18. Program, Native Sons of the Golden West, Vallejo, 
California, Sept., 1914, (Vallejo Naval and Histori- 
cal Museum Archives). 

19. Kennedy/ Jenks Engineers, "Final Report, Water 
System Master Plan and Hydraulic Network Analy- 
sis. City of Vallejo, California", K/J4075. June 1985. 









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