J. P Munro-Fraser.

History of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. online

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be considered the dark ages of the Pacific coast, the district had no resident
save the aboriginal Indians, the herds of undomesticated cattle and horses,
the beasts of prey, and the fowls of the air. Wild oats grew in every valley
and on every hill-top. Trees of any size were few and far between. The
rivers and bays teemed with fishes. ; while game, both large and small, of
every kind found shelter in the nooks and crevices of the canons. In that
year, or, perhaps, the following, the General undertook a pilgrimage to
these fair leagues of his from Sonoma — a town which he had already laid
out by direction of the Commander-in-Chief — accompanied by his youthful
bride ; both were full of promise, high in spirits and exultant in aspirations;
the journey Was an arduous one for the fair Senora, but made as comfort-
able as circumstances would permit, as might be expected for the wife of
a heroic soldier. Seated in her chair-saddle (the precursor of those of a
later date), she passed through mile upon mile and acre after acre of her
husband's possessions, looking with satisfaction upon a territory worthy, in
her eyes, of so great a hero. Her retinue were silent with wonder at what
they saw, and conversed in whispers ; while the proud owner of so fair a
domain, with head erect and eagle eye, pointed out the more prominent
land-marks. Coming in view of a hill, which he named the Balcony, about
six miles north of the present city, they rode to its summit and called a halt
to enjoy the ravishing prospect, and here the General, after the manner of
De Foe's hero, inferred :

" I am monarch of all I survey,

My right, there is none to dispute ;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I'm lord of the fowl and the brute."

Resuming their voyage of discovery they arrived on the site where the
Capitol was afterwards built, and ascended the knoll ; from this vantage
ground could be viewed the undulating wastes promising a rare fertility,
the sloping hills, the level shore, the Carquinez straits and the bay with its
many inlets and well protected harbor, and from this height, almost in the


spirit of prophecy he declared that here should he found a city, a city
which would not only hand down his name to posterity with honor, but
make a name for itself in the annals of the world — he not only foreshadowed
the line o f railway which now stretches its giant arms across this vast
American continent, but he also told of how ships of every flag would
peacefully ride upon the placid bosom of her bays, and how every nation
under the blue canopy of heaven should join in the busy whirl of business
and this future city of his become the vast emporium of trade on the Pacific
Coast, and the half-way house of commerce between Europe and Asia. To
this the lady listened with bated breath and answered that she feared he
was too visionary and far ahead of the times ; he may have replied thus, if
not in so many words, assuredly he did so in spirit — mark my words ! what
I have to-day spoken shall come true. I feel a spirit within which tells me
that this Hacienda of mine shall be the neuclus of a vast State, of which I
shall be Governor. It shall be bounded on one side by the Isthmus of
Panama, the northern sea shall only check its limits on the other hand,
while the Rocky mountains, high though they be, shall only encourage me
to surmount them, so that my Province may be widened ! ! ! 'Twas from
this spot that the Senora Vallejo cast longing eyes upon the fertile slopes
of Mare Island, at the time expressing an implied wish that it was hers,
when her magnanimous liege spoke forth " it is yours," and thereafter it
was looked upon and known as her own private property.

For twelve years after the above described journey General Vallejo ruled
his miniature kingdom of some 90,000 acres. The Aborigines were a happy
and pastoral race, knowing no guile and living in a state of nature, they
had quietly acknowledged the superior influence of the mighty mind and
paternal government of their white chief, who had never hurt their feelings
or ridiculed their prejudices. The Christian religion was expounded to
them by missionaries capable of undertaking so high a labor while with
filial obedience they looked to the General as their protector. He built an
adobe house on the Suscol fresh water creek, about eleven miles from the
sea, where he established Solano, the chief of the Suisun tribe, and former
lords of the soil, and after his death, one of his eleven wives found shelter
for years under the roof of this large hearted man. The following interest-
ing, remarks are taken from the Vallejo directory of 1870. " The toilet of
the women was more pretentious (than that of the males), consisting only
of a scanty apron of fancy skins or feathers, extending to the knees. Those
of them who were unmarried wore also a bracelet around the ankle or arm
near the shoulder. This ornament was generally made of bone or fancy
wood. Polygamy was a recognized institution. Chiefs generally possessed
eleven wives, sub-chiefs nine, and ordinary warriors two or more according
to their wealth or property. But Indian-like they would fight among
themselves long before the Spaniards came, and bloody fights they often


were. Their weapons were bows and arrows, clubs and spears, with which
they were very adroit. They had also a kind of helmet make of skins. In
times of peace they kept up the martial spirit by sham fights or tourna-
ments. Their women participated in their battles not as actual belligerents
but as a sanitary brigade ; they followed their wairiors and supplied them
with provisions and attended them when wounded, carrying their pappooses
on their backs at the same time. These Indians believed in a future exis-
tence and an all powerful Great Spirit. But they likewise believed in a
Cucusuy.. or Mischief-maker, who took delight in their annoyance, and to
him and his agent they attributed all their sickness and other misfortunes."

It may not be out of place to relate the following legend : When the
Spaniards were crossing the mountain called Bolgones, where an Indian
spirit was supposed to dwell, having a cave for his haunt, he was disturbed
by the approach of the soldiers, and, emerging from the gloom, arrayed in
all his feathers and war paint, with very little else by way of costume,
motioned to them to depart, threatening, by gesticulation, to weave a spell
around them ; but the sturdy warriors were not to be thus easily awed.
They beckoned him to approach ; this invitation, however, the wizard
declined, when one of the men secured him with his lasso to see if he were
" goblin damn'd " or ordinary mortal. Even now he would not speak, 'but
continued his mumblings, when an extra tug caused him to shout and pray
to be released. On the relation of this, the Indians pointed to Bolgones,
calling it the mountain of the Cucusuy, which the Spaniards translated into
Monte Diablo. Hence the name of the mountain, which is the meridian of
scientific exploration in California.

The first authentic record of a carriage to be found is that in which Gen-
eral Vallejo's family traveled from Sonoma to Benicia in the year 1848.
The undertaking was a difficult one enough. The country was innocent of
roads or bridges, so that when a creek was gained the horses were unyoked
and forded over, while the vehicle was lifted bodily and carried to the
opposite side. This may be called the first streak of daylight in the hith-
erto darkness of locomotion on this part of the coast. About this period
would-be settlers first made their appearance, and, after viewing the country,
returned to whence they came. In the following year, with the discovery
of gold, people from every quarter of the habitable globe flocked to Cali-
fornia, which was admitted into the United States of America. The
position of this hitherto unpopulated spot was brought prominently forth.
Government Surveyors commenced operations, and towards its latter end
the settlement of the city may be said to have commenced. No accurate
data can be procured of what transpired in the first settlement of the city,
or who were the very first families to locate here ; but this is beyond dispute,
that in the spring of 1850, the name of Vallejo was given to the city out of
compliment to that gentleman, who had worked so indefatigably in its behalf,


with what result will be hereafter shown. It had been decided that the Capi-
tal should be removed from San Jose hither — a decision which was carried
by an almost unanimous vote of the people — therefore the State House was
finished toward the end of that year, and, to celebrate the event, the follow-
ing card of invitation was issued for a grand re-union in the State building.
There being few of these now extant, while, from the eminence since gained
by many of the managers, this historical card — historical alike to California
as a State and Vallejo as a city — has been deemed worthy of being repro-
duced in its entirety :

" A grand Christmas ball will be given at Vallejo, on the evening of the
25th instant, in the Senate and Assembly Chambers of the new State
Capitol, on which occasion the Hon. Isaac E. Holmes will address the
ladies and gentlemen at 7\ o'clock.

M , the pleasure of your company is respectfully



Hon. Isaac E. Holmes ; Gen. P. A. Morse ; Hon. T. Butler King ; Hon. L.
M. Boggs ; Hon. William Smith ; Hon. Martin Cook ; Hon. Robert Hop-
kins ; Hon. Daniel Fisk ; Hon. E. Heydenfelt ; Hon. B. F. Keene ; Hon.
Geo. Walton ; Hon. James Walsh ; Hon. Wm. H. Lyons ; Hon. J. C. Fre-
mont ; Hon. P. W. Keyser ; Hon. Jas. Hudspeth ; Hon. James Law ; Hon.
G. D. Hall; Hon. A. J.' Cost; Hon. N. Smith; Hon. Jas. F. Graham; Hon.
Jas. F. Burt ; Hon. J. B. Weller ; Hon. T. J. Henley ; Gen. M. G. Vallejo ;
Gen. D. F. Douglass ; Gen. John E. Addison, Gen. A. M. Winn ; Gen. S. M.
Miles ; Gen. D. P. Baldwin ; Gen. Richardson ; Gen. Thomas J. Green ; Gen.
A. McDowell ; Gen. G. F. Rains ; Majors P. B. Reading ; S. Cooper ; George
Wyatt ; Loring, U. S. A. ; E. H. Fitzgerald ; N. Davis, U. S. A. ; Wm. Mc-
Daniel ; Robt. Allen ; F. A. Sawyer ; Colonel J. Hooker, U. S. A. ; Gens. J.
M. Estell, and S. A. Booker ; Captains Folsom, U. S. A. ; John A. Sutter ; H.
Riddell ; J. B. Frisbie ; Steel, U. S. A. ; Doct. Dyerlie, U. S. A. ; Lieut. G.
Page,U. S. A. ; Captains J. Watkins, P. M. S.Co. ; Randall, P. M. S. Co. ; Totten,
P. M. S. Co.; Walsh, P. M. S. Co. ; Cols. John C. Hays ; William Smith ; H.
Clay Mudd ; J. B. Starr ; Captains C. Hyatt ; George Yount ; Sam Graham ;
Wm. McMickle ; E. Barry ; J. W. Hulbert ; S. Smith ; Thomas Hunt : Col.
R. Rust ; Harvey Sparks, Esq. ; H. Lee, Esq. ; Hon. J. C. Winston ; F. C.
Ewer, Esq. ; Judge M. Lewis; L. P. Walker, Esq.; M. T. McLeland, Esq. ;
Judge Stark ; Judge Kilbourn ; M. Combs, Esq. ; Wm. Baldridge, Esq. ;
George M. Cornwell, Esq. ; J. D. Bristol, Esq. ; J. S. Cripps, Esq. ; J. O.
Farrell, Esq. ; E. L. Stetson, Esq.; F. Vassault, Esq.; J. E. Lawrence, Esq.;
L. B. Mizner, Esq. ; T. J. Harnes, Esq. ; S. Barnum, Esq. ; James Cooper,
Esq. ; L. Q. Wilbur, Esq. ; E. F. Willison, Esq. ; John Nugent, Esq. ;
Samuel Martin, Esq. ; Col. John R. Boyd ; Dr. Robert Semple ; Dr. Morse ;


B. F. Osborne, Esq. ; Capt. F. Marryatt ; Capt. W. A. Howard, U. S. R. S. ;
George N. Shaw, Esq. ; Dr. P. C. Pope ; Cols. J. C. Johnson ; A. M. Latham ;

C. K. Fish; Stewart Perry; Dr. Pickering; Dr. Nicholas Parr; Hon. P.
Tompkins ; Major John Caperton ; Col. J. Long ; E. C. Kemble, Esq. ; F.
Argenti. Esq.; Charles P. Strode, Esq.; Richard Maupin; Dr. Levi
Frisbie ; S. C. Massett, Esq.; Major Burney ; Dr. Archibald Tennant;
Richard Barry, Esq. ; J. L. L. F. Warren, Esq. ; T. K. Batelle, Esq. ; Col.
Gregory Yale ; E. G. Austin, Esq. ; F. R. Loomis, Esq. ; W. F. Kelsey, Esq. ;

E. M. Hayes, Esq. ; L. D. Slamm, TJ.'S. N. ; Capts., U. S. N. : Aug. Case ; J.
Alden ; S. R. Knox ; G. W. Hammersly; Lieuts., TJ. S. N. : T. H. Stevens ; L.
Maynard ; T. B. King, Jr., Esq. ; Wm. H. Davis, Esq. ; Hon. S. E. Wood-
worth ; R. H. Taylor, Esq. ; Capts. A. Bartol, Douglass Ottinger, TJ. S. R. S. ;
Col. Geo. McDougal ; Capts. W. D. M. Howard, C. G. ; N. H. Wise ; Henry

F. Joseph, Esq. ; J. H. Redington, Esq. ; Dr. Hitchcock, U. S. A. ; Hon. H.
Fitzsimmons ; James Hubbard, Esq. ; Theodore Payne, Esq. ; Wm. H. Tal-
mage, Esq. ; Dr. H. M. Gray ; Hon. P. A. Morse ; Charles L. Case, Esq., and
Joseph C. Palmer, Esq. On the reverse side of the card the names of the
committees were printed, as under :

Red Rose.


Captain John Frisbie; Major Robert Allen; Gen. T. J.Green; Capt.

Edward Barry; Major Wyatt; C. H. Veeder, Esq.; F. Argenti, Esq.; H.

Clay Mudd, Esq.

Blue Rose.


Hon. Isaac E. Holmes ; Hon. John B. Weller ; T. Butler King ; Capt. J.

Alden, U. S. N. ; Col. J. Hooker, U. S. A. ; Hon. B. F. Keene ; Major F. A.

Sawyer; Capt. G. W. Hammersley, U. S. N. ; Col. E. J. C. Kewen; Hon.

Tod Robinson.

White Rose.


For Senate Chamber — Gen. S. M. Miles ; Gen. J. E. Addison ; Col. Hervey
Sparks ; Levi D. Slamm, U. S. N. For Assembly Room — Dr. Dierly, TJ. S.
N. ; Capt. F. Marryatt ; Dr. L. Frisbie, and E. L. Stetson, Esq.

Thus by a ball of the most magnificent proportions was Vallejo inaugur-
ated as the seat of Government.

Let us now consider the establishment of the State offices, the erection of
the Capitol, its removal, its return, and then its final exit from Vallejo.


In the year 1850 General Vallejo, who had previously been elected to the
Convention called to frame a State Constitution, became convinced that the
capital of California should be established at a place which he desired to
name Eureka, but which his colleagues, out of compliment to himself, sug-
gested should be called Vallejo. To this end the General addressed a mem-
orial to the Senate, wherein he graphically pointed out the advantages pos-
sessed by the proposed site over other places which claimed the honor,
dated April the 3d, 1850. In this remarkable document, remarkable alike
for its generosity of purpose as for its marvelous foresight, he proposed to
grant twenty acres to the State, free of cost, for a State Capitol and grounds,
and one hundred and thirty-six acres more for other State buildings, to be
apportioned in the following manner :

Ten acres for the Governor's house and grounds.

Fives acres for the offices of Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State,
Surveyor-General, and Attorney-General, should the Commissioners
determine that their offices should not be in the Capitol building.

One acre to State Library and Translator's office, should it be deter-
mined to separate them from the State House building.

Twenty acres for an Orphan Asylum.

Ten acres for a Male Charity Hospital.

Ten acres for a Female Charity Hospital.

Four acres for an Asylum for the Blind.

Four acres for a Deaf and Dumb Asylum.

Twenty acres for a Lunatic Asylum.

Eight acres for four Common Schools.

Twenty acres for a State University.

Four acres for a State Botanical Garden ; and

Twenty acres for a State Penitentiary.

But with a munificence casting this already long list of grants into the
shade, he further proposed to donate and pay over to the State, within two
years after the acceptance of these propositions, the gigantic sum of three
hundred and seventy thousand dollars, to be apportioned as under :

For the building of a State Capitol $125,000

For furnishing the same 10,000

For building of the Governor's house 10,000

For the furnishing the same 5,000

For a State Library and Translator's office 5,000

For a State Library 5,000

For the building of the offices of the Secretary of
State, Comptroller, Attorney-General, Surveyor-
General, and Treasurer, should the Commissioners


deem it proper to separate them from the State

House 20,000

For the building of an Orphan Asylum 20,000

For the building of a Female Charity Hospital 20,000

For the building of a Male Charity Hospital 20,000

For the building of an Asylum for the Blind 20,000

For the building of a Deaf and Dumb Asylum 20,000

For the building of a State University 20,000

For University Library 5,000

For scientific apparatus therefor 5,000

For chemical laboratory therefor 3,000

For a mineral cabinet therefor 3,000

For the building of four Common School edifices... . 10,000

For purchasing books for same 1,000

For the building of a Lunatic Asylum 20,000

For a State Penitentiary 20,000

For a State Botanical Collection 3,000

In his memorial, the General states with much lucidness his reasons for
claiming the proud position for the spot suggested as the proper site for the
State Capitol. Remark the singleness of purpose with which he bases
these claims : " Your memorialist, with this simple proposition " (namely,
that in the event of the Government declining to accept his terms it should
be put to the popular vote at the general election held in November of that
year), " might stop here, did he not believe that his duty as a citizen of
California required him to say thus much in addition — that he believes the
location indicated is the most suitable for a permanent seat of government
for the great State of California, for the following reasons : That it is the
true centre of the State, the true centre of commerce, the true centre of
population, and the true centre of travel ; that, while the Bay of San Fran-
cisco is acknowledged to be the first on the earth, in point of extent and
navigable capacities, already, throughout the length and breadth of the
wide world, it is acknowledged to be the very centre between Asiatic and
European commerce. The largest ship that sails upon the broad sea can,
within three hours, anchor at the wharves of the place which your memo-
rialist proposes as your permanent seat of government. From this point,
by steam navigation, there is a greater aggregate of mineral wealth, within
eight hours steaming, than exists in the Union besides ; from this point the
great north and south rivers — San Joaquin and Sacramento — cut the State
longitudinally through the centre, fringing the immense gold deposits on
the one hand, and untold mercury and other mineral resources on the other;
from this point steam navigation extends along the Pacific coast south to
San Diego and north to the Oregon line, affording the quickest possible


facilites for our sea-coast population to reach the State Capital in the fewest
number of hours. This age, as it has been truly remarked, has merged
distance into time. In the operations of commerce and the intercourse of
mankind, to measure miles by the rod, is a piece of vandalism of a by-gone
age ; and that point which can be approached from all parts of the State,
in the fewest number of hours and at the cheapest cost, is the truest centre.

" The location which your memorialist proposes as the permanent Seat of
Government is certainly that point.

" Your memorialist most respectfully submits to your honorable body,
whether there is not a ground of even still higher nationality ; it is this :
that at present, throughout the wide extent of our sister Atlantic States,
but one sentiment seems to possess the entire people, and that is, to build,
in the shortest possible time, a railroad from the Mississippi to the Bay of
San Francisco, where its western terminus may meet a three weeks'
steamer from China. Indeed, such is the overwhelming public sentiment
of the American people upon this subject, there is but little doubt to ap-
prehend of its early completion. Shall it be said, then, while the world
is coveting our possession of what all acknowledge to be the half-way house
of the earth's commerce — the great Bay of San Francisco — that the people
of the rich possession are so unmindful of its value as not to ornament her
magnificent shores with a Capital worthy of a great State?

" To enumerate more especially the local advantages of this position your
memorialist will further add, that it is within two hours' steaming of San
Francisco, and six hours from Sacramento and Stockton cities, and between
these points much the largest travel in the State daily occurs. From this
point three days' steaming will reach either Oregon on the north, or San
Diego on the south ; besides, the above named location is unsurpassed for
abundance of lime and other building materials, with large agricultural ad-
vantages in the immediate neighborhood."

Upon receipt of General Vallejo's memorial by the Senate, a committee
composed of members who possessed a thorough knowledge of the country
comprised in the above mentioned document, both geographical and topo-
graphical, were directed to report for the information of the President, upon
the advantages claimed for the location of the Capital at the spot suggested,
in preference to others. The Report, in which the following words occur,
was presented to the Senate on April 2, 1850. " Your Committee cannot
dwell with too much warmth upon the magnificent propositions contained
in the memorial of General Vallejo. They breathe throughout the spirit of
an enlarged mind and a sincere public benefactor, for which he deserves the
thanks of his countrymen and the admiration of the world. Such a prop-
osition looks more like the legacy of a mighty Emperor to his people than
the free donation of a private planter to a great State, yet poor in public
finance, but soon to be among the first of the earth."


The Report, which was presented by D. C. Broderick, goes on to point
out the necessities which should govern the choice of site of California's
Capital, recapitulates the advantages pointed out in the memorial, and fin-
ally recommends the acceptance of General Vallejo's offer. This acceptance
did not pass the Senate without some opposition and considerable delay.
However, on Tuesday, February 4, 1851 ; a message was received from the
Governor, Peter H. Burnett, by Mr. Ohr, Private Secretary, informing the
Senate that he did, this day, sign an Act originating in the Senate, entitled
''An Act to provide for the permanent location of the Seat of Government."
In the meantime General Vallejo's bond had been accepted, his solvency
was approved by a Committee appointed by the Senate, the Report of the
Commissioners appointed to mark and lay out the tracts of land proposed to
be donated by General Vallejo was adopted, and on May 1, 1851, the last
session was held at San Jose, but the archives were not moved to the new
seat of government then, which was a source of dissatisfaction among the
members. The Legislature first met at Vallejo on January 5, 1852, bring-
ing with it the concomitant influx of settlers, the Capitol being erected on
a piece of ground situated on what now is called York and Main, and
facing Sacramento street. It was a two-storied building, in the upper one
of which sat the Senate, the lower one the Assembly, while in the base-
ment was a saloon and ten-pin alley, which rejoiced in the nick-name of the
Third House. The office of the Secretary of State stood on Main street,
above Sacramento, but it was afterwards removed to Georgia street, when
the original building was converted into a drug-store by Doctor James
Frost. This erection was some years subsequently destroyed by fire. The
offices were built of hewn planks from the Sandwich Islands.

Vallejo was now in reality the Capital of the Golden State. The gen-
erosity of General Vallejo had been appreciated ; houses commenced to
spring up on every side, but there was wanting that vortex of dissipation
which would appear to be necessary in the seat of every Central Govern-
ment. With these Sacramento abounded, from her close proximity to the
mines. The Assembly, therefore, with a unanimity bordering on the mar-
velous, passed a bill to remove the session to that city, ball tickets and
theatre tickets being tendered to the members in reckless profusion. The
bill was transferred to the Senate, and bitterly fought by the Hons. Paul
K. Hubbs and Phil A. Roach. The removal was rejected by one vote.
This was on a Saturday. The people were greatly rejoiced at the prospect
of retaining the prestige conferred by the presence of the Legislature ; but
never was the proverb of we know not what the morrow may bring forth,

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 21 of 57)