J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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Director. The present officers are S. B. Saunders, President ; T. G. Whit-
ney, Secretary and Treasurer, and J. K. Bateman, Director. The member-
ship is thirty-seven. This club has already rendered the Cantata of Queen
Esther, on four occasions, with marked success, and in a manner which would
put into the shade towns and societies of greater pretensions ; indeed, so
much musical talent is seldom found in so small a compass. Let the Suisun
Glee Club proceed ! ! !

News Papers: — The first paper published in Suisun Township was the
Solano County Herald. The first number of this paper was issued on the
2d day of October, 1858. This paper had been published at Benicia, having
been established there in November, 1855, by Messrs. George and Cellers.
At the time of its removal to Suisun it was under the management of Wm.
J. Hooton & Co., the late Judge Wm. Wells being the other member of the
firm. It was printed in a building on the south side of the plaza. Decem-
ber 17, 1859, J. G. Lawton, Jr., assumed control of the paper as" editor and
publisher, although he had been the editor previously. On the 10th of May,
1860, the management was again changed, Powers & Gunnison assuming con-
trol, with Gunnison in the editorial chair. Later in that year E. E. Hatha-
way became connected with the business, and the firm name was changed to
O. B. Powers & Co. In 1862, H. Hubbard & Co. began the publication of
'the Solano Press, and continued the publication until September, 1866, when
they disposed of their interest to G. A. Gillespie and Woodford Owens. In
the fall of 1869 the Press and Herald were consolidated, and a new name
given to the paper. It was called the Solano Republican. October 13th,
1875, O. B. Powers, who was the sole proprietor, disposed of the paper to
Messrs. C. F. Montgomery and W. N. Bowen. Previous to this the paper
had always been a six-column folio. At this time the subscription-list did
not exceed one hundred, and the advertising patronage was merely nominal.
The size of the paper was increased to a seven-column folio the second issue
under the new management. The business prospects of the paper began at
at once to get brighter. The subscription-list was increased during the first
year to nearly one thousand, and the advertising patronage increased in
proportion. In the spring of 1877 a quarter-medium Nonpariel job press
was purchased, and a full assortment of job type. In October, 1877, the
paper was again enlarged, to a six-column quarto, (8 pages) and in June,
1878, it was again enlarged, to a seven-column quarto, which is its present
size and form. Feb. 14th, 1879, the management again changed hands, W. N
Bowen disposing of his interest to L. L. Palmer, and the business is now


conducted under the firm name of Montgomery & Palmer, with C. F. Mont-
gomery as editor and L. L. Palmer as associate editor. The Republican is
a fearless defender and advocate of the rights of the people, and is a wel-
come weekly visitor to nearly every house in the upper portion of Solano

The Solano County Democrat, with Thompson & Sinthicun, publishers,
was established at Suisun, April 30, 1868. In 1870 it was moved to

The County Hospital. — This building is situated about three miles to the
east of Fairfield, the county seat, and covers an area of 30x64 feet. It is a
building two stories high, on the first floor there being the office of the
physician and drug store, the dining room, general sitting room, and six
small wards, and bath houses as well. On the upper floor there are four
large wards, while in the rear there is an addition for cook, stewards, and
store rooms. It is throughout fitted with every modern improvement, its
system of drainage being connected with a creek at the distance of a quarter
of a mile. The physicians are Doctors A. T. Spence and W. G. Downing,
both gentlemen well practiced in their profession.and much liked in the

The Embarcadero : — Time was when the scene was busy on this landing
place. Before the railroad came to fly off with the large profits of grain
from the upper part of the country, wagons by strings were wont to arrive
to start their precious sacks of cereals, boxes of fruit, and hampers of vege-
tables to market, on board of schooners, sloops, and steamboats which then
plyed to this point. A warehouse of considerable proportions was con-
structed for the storage of freight, and all " went merry as a marriage bell."
To-day a few regular traders arrive and depart at stated intervals ; while a
steamer makes the journey to San Francisco thrice a week. On the wharf
are deposited tons of cobble stones, procured in the mountains near Kock-
ville, and heaps of marble from Swan's quarries, awaiting shipment to San
Francisco, there to be utilized, but, there is not much sign of life, for portions
of the warehouse have fallen in and much desolation abounds.



Geography : — Denverton township is bounded on the north by Maine
Prairie township, on the east by Rio Vista Township, on the south by
Montezuma township, and on the west by Suisun township. It is rect-
angular in shape, and is a little longer north and south than east and west.
Nurse's slough extends through a portion of the south-west portion. It is
navigable for small craft as far up as Denverton. The western boundary
line is the Mt. Diablo meridian line. Hence it lies in range 1 east, and it is
in range 4 north, Mount Diablo Meridian.

Topography: — The western and northern portions of the township are
comparatively level, but the southern and eastern portions, including a large
part of the central portion, is quite hilly. This is especially eo of the south-
eastern portion, which extends into the heart of the Montezuma hills.

Soil: — The soil in this township is as varied as the State itself. The
southwest portion is a salt-marsh, on which the tule thrives. It is not con-
sidered productive. Further northward, the soil is alluvial and adobe in
sections, and white alkali and hardpan in other sections. The belt of alkali
and hardpan extends along the northern portions of it. The eastern and
south-eastern portions are almost exclusively adobe, and is very rich and
productive. Of course nothing but a short, wild grass ever grows on the
alkali land. It is used principally for grazing purposes. There is a gravel
belt of very peculiar formation extending through the western portion
of the township. It seems to be the bed of some old-time and long-
since-forgotten stream, although at present it is not in the least depressed as
compared with the adjacent land. The boundary lines of this gravel belt
are clearly definable, to a single rod. The gravel ranges in size from a pea
to a boulder a foot in diameter. This is an interesting topic for the
geologists to discuss.

Climate: — The climate of this township is very similar to Rio Vista.
The cold, damp west winds sweep the entire surface of the country, making
the weather delightfully cool in mid-summer, while only a few miles to the
northward they are suffering with heat.

Products: — Wheat and barley are the only grains which thrive to any
great extent in this township. Little or no fruit or vegetables are grown
except in occasionally favored spots. The yield of the former is fair on


most of the arable land in the township, but they are grown with unusual
success in the Montezuma hill section.

Schools : — The school interests are represented by two districts, viz : Den-
verton and Montezuma. Only one teacher is employed in each of these
schools, and the attendance is not very large.

Churches : — The Cumberland Presbyterians have a church building and
organization near the location of the Montezuma District School-house.
This church organization is the outgrowth of a Sunday school, started in
November, 1864, with Mr. Parish as Superintendent. The building was
erected in 1870. In 1875 it was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1876.
The organizing members were : Mrs. E. D. Carey, Wm. Wight, Mrs. T. R.
Stewart, Daniel Barnett, Nancy Barnett, Jas. L. Barnett, Sam'l Barnett.
The pastors have been, Rev. D. E. Bushnell, who served till Jan. 1, 1874,
and Rev. J. M. Crawford, who has served the church ever since. It is
known as the Shiloh church. This is the only church building or organiza-
tion in the township.

Totuns : — Denverton is the only town in this township. It is located 10
miles east of Fairfield, at the head of navigation, on Nurse's slough, and
was formerly called Nurse's Landing. Its name was changed to Denverton
in 1858, at which time the post-office was established there. It was so
named in honor of J. W. Denver, at that time member of Congress from this
district. It contains a few houses and perhaps 50 inhabitants. It is sup-
plied with city water — a private enterprize of Dr. Nurse's.

Early Settlement : — The first house erected in the township was built by
Dr. S. K. Nurse in 1853. The entire country was then one great stretch of
wild oats, reaching to a man's shoulder while on horseback, through which
herds of elks, antelope and deer roamed at will. This building was soon
followed by a residence erected by D. K. Barry, located about one-half mile
to the eastward of Nurse's house. The old house was standing in 1878, on
its original site. In 1854 Dr. Nurse built a store-house. He also con-
structed a wharf, with 100 feet frontage. It has since been extended to 300
feet. Mr. Stewart and his son Samuel, the Arnolds, Daniels, Cooks, and
others, followed in rapid succession, until the land was all taken.

Etcetera: — In 1866 Dr. Nurse erected a fine brick store building. In
1867 he built a brick warehouse, 60x160 feet, with a storage capacity of
2,500 tons. The post-office was established in 1858, and Dr. Nurse ap-
pointed postmaster ; he has held the office without interruption ever since,
thus making him an incumbent for 21 years. He is probably the veteran

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^Y V


officeholder in Solano county, if not in California. In 1875 Dr. Nurse con-
structed a telegraph line, connecting Denverton with Suisun. In 1876 this
line was merged into the Montezuma Telegraph Company, of which Dr.
Nurse has always been president. In 1870 the Good Templars erected a
building for lodge purposes. The lodge has thrived and sustained a good
membership at that place for a great many years. Nurse's Slough is the
intended outlet of the drainage canal which it is proposed to open from the
head of Cache slough to the head of Nurse's slough. The canal will pass
diagonally through Denverton township, but Maine Prairie and Rio Vista
townships would be the ones who would reap the benefit of this.

Denverton Lodge, I. 0. G. T. : — Was organized November 16, 1866, with
twenty-three charter members. The dedication took place in Dr. S. K.
Nurse's hall, where they continued to meet until 1870, then in the School-
house in Denverton until after the erection in November, 1871, of their
new hall. The charter officers were Judge J. B. Carrington, W. C. T, ; Mrs.
S. K. Nurse, W. V. T. ; and Miss E. D. Kerry, Secretary.




Geography : — Maine Prairie township is bounded on the north by Silvey-
ville and Tremont townships, on the east by Yolo county and Rio Vista
township, on the south by Rio Vista and Denverton townships, and on the
west by Elmira township. It is located in range 2 and 3 east and 5 and 6
north, M. D. M. Linda slough, an offshoot from Cache slough, and quite
a stream of water, forms the line of division between it and Rio Vista
township on the south. Prospect slough, another offshoot of Cache slough,
is the boundary line between it and Rio Vista township on the east ; Cache
slough, from its intersection with Prospect slough, extends in a northwest-
erly direction through the township for a distance of about ten miles ; near
the head of Cache slough it branches, and the north branch is known as
Bounds slough ; Cache slough is navigable for small vessels and light
draught steamers.

Topography : — The entire surface of this township is almost a perfect
level. The southeastern portion of it is tule land, which, as you pass north-
ward or westward, passes off into a vast level plain.

Soil: — We are sorry that we cannot say as much in favor of the soil in
this township as in some others in the county. Of course the tule land is
the usual rich alluvial soil of that class of land, but the most of the other
land is composed of alkali soil and " hard pan," as it is called, old " salt
licks," and " buffalo wallows," are numerous in that class of land. There is
some adobe, and it is the most productive of all the land except the tule.
A number of years ago the most of the land bordering on the tules on the
west side of them was entered by settlers in small tracts from 80 acres to
640. In less than five years every settler had found out his mistake and
had left for a more productive section, and to-day their deserted houses dot
the plains, a sad faced finger-board pointing to blasted hopes and wasted
fortunes. Where those hardy pioneers hoped some day to see happy homes
and prosperous families, there is nothing but desolation. All these farms
have been bought up by persons for sheep ranges.

Climate : — The climate of this township is milder than that in Rio Vista
on its south, yet not so warm as that in Tremont on its north. Being so
level the winds have a fair sweep across the vast stretch of plain and moor.
The barrenness of these plains causes the heat to reflect to a great extent,
and rising from the earth it mollifies and tempers the cold damp sea breeze,


making it one of the most delightful zephyrs. But on the other hand,
when the north wind blows, it converts it almost into a veritable sirocco.
In common with the entire county, it is very healthful.

Products : — The principal products of the township are wheat and barley.
A considerable number of the farmers in the township are engaged in
dairying on a limited scale. The yield of grain is seldom very great to the
acre. Fruit and vegetables grow but very indifferently in all parts of it,
except in the tule land.

Early Settlement: — Maine Prairie Township was mostly settled in the Fall
of 1861, and in the years 1862 and 1863, it being included in what was known
as the Luceo grant, which was previously in litigation but finally decided in
favor of the United States, was immediately opened as public land for entry,
the survey being made in the Summer of 1862. Among the earliest settlers
in this vicinity were Mr. J. F. Brown, J. B. Jameson, Sherman Brown, who
came in 1861, Albert Bennett, D. B. Brown, James Ourk, H. N. Bentley, in
1862. The above-named are nearly all of the first comers that remain until
the present time, very many having remained but a few years, others coming
to take their places. The early settlers being mostly thorough-going Ameri-
can citizens, they thought the first thing to do was to establish schools and
have a place for meeting; so a school district was petitioned for, taking in
all vacant territory, it being about ten miles square, known as the Maine
Prairie School District; since which time the districts of Bingham ton, Morn-
ing Light and Enterprise have been carved out. A subscription was at
once started, and some six or seven hundred dollars was received, with
which two school-houses were enclosed and made to answer the purposes of
school-room and church, free to all denominations, one at what is now Bing-
hamton, and one at Maine Prairie Landing, George King (now of Dixon), J.
B. Jameson and Albert Bennett being the trustees. For several years all
efforts in this direction were heartily seconded by the older settlers who
were carrying on business at Maine Prairie Landing — Mr. J. C. Merrithew,
John N. Utter, Widow Lewis (the hostess of Maine Prairie Hotel), Deck &
Co. (Mr. Deck, H. Wilcox, W. D. Vail), J. k Charles S. Gushing, merchants.
On the completion of the C. P. Railroad the main business of Maine Prairie
was cut off, the thousands of tons of grain and other products being trans-
ported by rail to market, instead of being shipped by water at the landing.

Mr. W. D. Vail at present carries on the business of warehousing, lumber-
yard, etc.

Captain James A. French has a large and well filled store. F. W. Petrus
carries on blacksmi thing in all its branches; also owns a farm, a mile or so
out of town, which he farms.

The Widow Lewis keeps the only hotel in town.

The public school at present is taught by Miss Lizzie Furgerson.


Formation of a Military Company: — During the Summer of 1863, when
the country was in great excitement growing out of our civil war, our patriotic
and loyal citizens thought it advisable to organize a military company.
Many were more than anxious to enroll themselves as soldiers, subject to
the call of the State. The company was speedily formed, under the laws of
California, and enrolled as a company of the State militia, receiving the
name of "Maine Prairie Rifles," on the 19th day of September, 1863, Leland
Stanford then being Governor, and William C. Kibbe Adjutant General.
About sixty men were enrolled at the organization, subsequently numbering
seventy-two. At the first election of officers Albert Bennett was elected
captain (still residing at Maine Prairie); John Low (now of Capaz Valley),
first lieutenant, A. S. Hopkins (now of Sacramento) and James Bingham
other lieutenants. Binghamton was chosen as the headquarters of' the com-
pany. It was soon decided by the company to build an armory, resulting
in the erection of a brick fireproof building, about 35x50 feet, one story high.
The many meetings of the company for drill, target practice, picnics and
other things which grew out. of the formation of the company, had a most
salutary and happy influence in binding the whole community together in
that harmony and good feeling for which Binghamton has been so noted.
The company continued in a healthy condition until disbanded. The
" Maine Prairie Rifles," together with about half of the companies of the State,
were disbanded under the administration of Governor Haight; Albert Ben-
nett, having been the captain of the company during its existence, being
from time to time almost unanimously re-elected. The company sold its
armory to Mr. D. L. Munson, who was engaged in merchandising, he fitting
it up for a store, adding another story for a public hall. The building was
subsequently sold to the school trustees for a school-house — the former
school-house having been destroyed by fire — the lower story being fitted for
school purposes, the hall being for public use. Mr. F. M. Righter is the
the present efficient and popular teacher.

Lodge of Good Templars : — Was organized at Binghamton, June 9, 1863.
Mr. H. N. Bentley and wife, Jos. Bingham and wife, O. Bingham, and G. W.
Frazer and wife being among the charter members. It became a large and
flourishing lodge, numbering, at one time, about one hundred and twenty-
five members. It has continued from its organization until the present time
without a break — nearly sixteen years. At present its membership is about

The late H. N. Bentley was one of its most efficient and earnest workers.
A book containing the names of those initiated, from the organization until
now, is kept, showing at present nearly four hundred names.


The M. E. Church of Binghamton : — Was organized about the year 1865.
There had grown to be, during the two previous years, quite a large and
flourishing society, under the name of " Union Service," as the christian
population was of almost all denominations. A large Sunday School, in the.
meantime, had developed.

The M. E. Church, with its accustomed shrewdness and tact, made the
first organization as a church. Nearly all fell in with the new order of
things, and thus was permanently established the M. E. Church of Bing-
hamton, always having a good influence on the community at large. The
Sunday School was carried on without being especially under the control
of the M. E. Church until November 11, 1866, when a resolution was
adopted " to reorganize and place the school under the especial care and
supervision of the M. E. Church." Mr. Geo. C. Mack, now of Westminster,
Los Angeles county, was chosen Superintendent.

Binghamton and Dixon, at present, constitute the circuit ; T. H. Wood-
ward, preacher in charge.

Protestant Methodist Church : — About the year 1865 an organization of
the Protestant Methodist Church was made at Maine Prairie Landing.
Among its movers were Rev. T. New, Rev. G. B. Triplett, and Revs. Dunton
and Graves, and a few others. The enterprise entirely failed in a year or

Cumberland Presbyterian Church: — About the year 1871 a Cumberland
Presbyterian Church was formed at Maine Prairie Landing by Rev. Mr.
Bushnell, then of Suisun, now of San Jose ; continuing his ministrations
until his removal to San Jose, since which time Rev. J. Naff. Crawford has
afficiated as pastor.

The town of the township is known by the township name — Maine
Prairie. It is a shipping and trading point at the head of navigation on
Cache slough. It lies eighteen miles north-east of the county seat. In the
year 1859 Capt. Merrithew, in company with J. H. Utter, located on the
south bank of the slough, and began a general merchandise, grain, and
lumber business. The following year, 1860, H. G. Deck, H. Wilcox, and
W. D. Vail formed a co-partnership, known as Deck & Co., and began a
general merchandise business on the north side of the slough, opposite Mer-
rithew & Utter. In 1860 a hotel was built by George King, and other
houses rapidly followed until quite a little village was built up ; but the
flood of 1862 swept things here as at Rio Vista. There was nothing left
to mark the site of the town. The water stood twelve feet deep in the
streets, and as deep for miles in every direction, which was lashed into a
seething sea by the howling south-east storm winds, sweeping everything
from existence, and blotting the town out of existence in its relentless fury.


As soon as the waters had subsided most of the settlers came back again ;
but, while some rebuilt on the old site, many preferred to go farther up the
slough where the land was a trifle more elevated. Accordingly Mrs. Rebec-
ca Lewis surveyed a town plat on her ranch about one-fourth of a mile
above the old site. This new town received the name of Alton, being so
named by a pioneer settler in the town, Mr. S. R. Perry, a former resident
of Alton, Illinois. The first business conducted in the town was by Cushing
Bros. (C. S. and J. H.) They were dealers in general merchandise. Perry
& Co. were the next to locate here. The firm consisted of S. R. Perry and
Wm. 0. Palmer, both now residing in Rio Vista. They carried a full stock
of general goods, also dealt in grain and lumber. They built a handsome
brick store building, also an extensive warehouse, both of which stand
to-day. as mute witnesses to the fact that " The best laid plans of mice and
men gang aft aglee." The buildings were erected before the railroad era in
California, and there was no more promising point for a business of that
nature in the State. The grain from all the valleys, away to the north and
westward, centered there for shipment, and the amount shipped from there
yearly was exceeded by no place in the State except Stockton. The year
of 1863 -was an uncommonly bountiful one, and in the fall the grain came
teeming forth from all directions in enormous quantities. One team is
reported to have drawn 36,800 pounds of wheat, at one load, from Putah
creek. During this year there were 50,000 tons of grain shipped from this
point alone. It is said that it was a common occurrence to see 180 wagons
in town with grain in a single day. But it might be of interest to note
that during the following season only one load of barley was brought to
the town. This was a dry year, and a hard one, too, it proved for the
farmers of California. Mrs. Lewis built a hotel there during the year, and
continues to this day to dispense rest and refreshments to the weary traveler
who chances to stray so far away from the line of ordinary travel. The
post office was established in 1862, Capt. J. C. Merrithew being appointed

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 35 of 57)