J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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postmaster. A branch office of the Western Union Telegraph Company was
established there in 1870. Since the days of railroads the town has been
on the down grade. The immediate surrounding country would support a
town of any size, and the outside supply was shut off, of course, by the
railroad. The town looks old ; the buildings are unpainted, rickety, and
dilapidated. A general air of lonesomeness and desolation seems to pervade
the place, and a stranger is glad to get away from the place. It is a good
shipping point, and the time may come when it will regain some of its pris-
tine glories, but this is doubtful.



Geography: — Montezuma township is bounded on the north by Denver-
ton township, on the east by Rio Vista township, on the south by the Sac-
ramento river and the bay of Suisun, and on the west by Suisun township.

Topography : — By far the major portion of this township consists of
large, steep hills, known as the Montezuma hills, from whence the township
derives its name. To one traveling over the level plains of the northern
townships, these hills seem like small mountains, and it is a great surprise
to strangers to learn that they are cultivated. On the southern and western
borders there is a belt of swamp and overflowed land, but it bears a small
relation to the entire township.

Soil: — The soil of the Montezuma hills is mostly adobe, and it is unex-
celled for growing grain, but is of little use for other purposes. The
marsh soil is alluvial, but as it is a salt-marsh, it is good for but little except

Climate: — The trade winds sweep over this township with great force,
bearing with it more or less dampness. It is very healthful throughout,
even on the marsh land. The climate cannot be called delightful, although
it is in California, but is doubtless preferable for many reasons to warmer
sections further north.

Products: — The principal products are grain and hay. Wheat and bar-
ley thrive magnificently on these hills, while the growth of wild oats is still
luxurious wherever they have a chance. Fruits and vegetables do not thrive
very well; the adobe soil is too stiff and cold for vegetables, while the strong
winds destroy the trees.

Industries: — The principal industry of the people is farming, but the
fishing for salmon, and canning the same has of late years assumed consid-
erable proportions. There are two canneries located at Collinsville, and one
on Chipps Island. The three combined have a capacity of about 60,000
one-pound cans a day. They afford employment to about 300 men, and
about 250 more are engaged in catching the fish.

Early Settlement: — Among the first houses built in Solano County was one
erected in this township. It was an adobe, and still stands, and is occupied
by Mr. L. P. Marshall. This house was constructed in 1846, by L. W.


Hastings. He was a Mormon agent, sent into California to seek an eligible
site for the location of a colony of Mormons. He chose this point, at the
head of Suisun Bay, and near the junction of the two great rivers of the
country — Sacramento and San Joaquin — and laid out a town site. Owing
to the fact that there was no timber land conveniently located, the Mormons
refused to settle there. Bayard Taylor, in his "Eldorado," mentions the
"Montezuma House," as it has always been called, ""as "the city of Monte-
zuma, a solitary house, on a sort of headland, projecting into Suisun Bay,
and fronting its rival three-house city, New-York-of-the-Pacific." Hastings
established a ferry between the site now occupied by Collinsville, and the
Contra Costa side of the bay, for the accommodation of travelers passing
either way. This was probably the first ferry ever established on the Sac-
ramento or San Joaquin rivers. Hastings remained at this place about
three years, but when " the gold-excitement broke out he went into the
mines. In the winter of 1853, L. P. Marshall and his sons John and C. K.,
arrived from the States with a band of cattle. In passing down the Sac-
ramento river they came upon the adobe house built by Hastings, and
were glad to take shelter in it from the storms. The house was in a very
dilapidated condition, but was easily repaired, and served well the purpose,
of a shelter. In and about the house they found numerous appliances for
the manufacture of counterfeit coin, such as crucibles, dies, copper, etc. It
is supposed that a band of counterfeiters had found the place deserted, and
taken possion of it. It is possible, however, that Hastings had used them
in coining money to be used by the Mormons when they arrived. Hastings
had a sqatter's claim to the premises, which was bought by John Marshall
for his father (the latter being at the time absent from the State) who gave,
as a consideration, two mules and six head of cattle, all valued at $1,000
The second house built in the township was a frame-building, erected by
F. O. Townsend, in 1853. It was located on what is now known as the
Kir by farm. Lucco laid claim to all the land in this and Denverton town-
ship as a Spanish grant, but he failed in establishing his claim, and in 1855
the land was declared to be Government land, and open for pre-emption.

Collinsville: — Collinsville is the only town in the township ; it is a ship-
ping port on the Sacramento river, just at the de bouchure of that stream.
In 1859, C. J. Collins pre-empted the land where the town now stands. In
1861, he surveyed a town plat and built a wharf and store ; previous to
this time the steamers, which plied the Sacramento river, had never stopped
at this point. The embryotic town was christened for its projector — Col-
linsville. Some time during the same year a post office was established
here, and Geo. W. Miller was appointed the first Postmaster. In 1867, Mr.
Collins sold his property to S. C. Bradshaw, and he changed the name of the
place to Newport. The old Calif ornians well remember Newport and the


enterprise displayed by its proprietor in the disposition of town lots, and,
perhaps, a few at the East have cause to remember him also ; huge maps of
an extensive town plat were placed into the hands of agents, who visited
all the principal Eastern cities, and sold and resold lots covering all the
swamp land in that section ; excursions were gotten up in San Francisco,
and a person paid a certain amount ($10, we think) for a round trip ticket,
which included a claim to a town lot in the flourishing (on paper) town of
Newport. At the end of about five years, the property again changed
hands, E. I. Upham becoming the owner ; he changed the name back to the
original, and so it continues to this day. Mr. Upham is an energetic man,
and he has made quite a business and shipping point out of the town ; two
lines of steamers stop there, going each way, daily ; it is connected with the
outside world by the Montezuma telegraph.

Schools and Churches: — There is only one school house in the township ;
this one is situated near the town of Collinsville ; strange to note, there is
not a church in the township. Here is a broad and fertile held for some
zealous missionary.

It is also the chief salmon fishing ground in California, and large num-
bers are shipped daily to San Francisco. At certain seasons of the year there
are vast numbers canned for export to various parts of the world.

The village has two hotels, three saloons, billiards, etc., two stores, post-
office, telegraph office, and an agency of Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express.

The first salmon canning establishment in California was erected here by
A. Booth & Co., who afterwards discontinued and was succeeded by E. Cor-
ville & Co. who have carried on the business for two years. Other canneries
have since been erected and are now conducted by the Sacramento River
Packing Co.



Boundaries: — In the last apportionment of Solano county into townships
on June 27, 1866, that of Vacaville is ordered as follows : Commencing at
the N. E. corner of section 18, township 5 N., R. 1 E.; thence west on sec-
tion line to S. W. corner of section 3, township 5 N., R. 1 W.; thence north
to the N. E. corner of section 3, township 5 N., R. 1 W.; thence west on the
township line to the boundary line of the Armijo rancho at the N. W. cor-
ner of said township ; thence north and west, following said boundary to
the county line at the S. E. corner of Napa county; thence northerly along
the boundary line between Napa and Solano counties to Putah creek ; thence
down said creek to a point one mile W. of Mount Diablo meridian ; thence
south on section lines to the S. W. corner of section No. 1, township 6 N.,
R. 1 W.: thence east two miles ; thence south to the place of beginning.

Topography : — The area of Vacaville township is 66,790 acres, and is
diversified into mountains and valleys of the finest soil in the county. A
spur of hills extends from its boundary, and runs nearly north to the Putah
creek, the range having a general average . of three miles in width ; the
slopes, benches and valleys being renowned for early fruits and vegetables.
West of these hills lies Pleasants' valley, which extends to the above men-
tioned creek; also famed for its particularly genial climate and growing
properties, it sending the first fruits and vegetables into market from any
part of the State. The great Vaca valley, formerly known as the Ulattis>
lies to the north-east of that of Suisun, is five miles in length, and one and
a half broad: it runs between two ranges of hills of considerable altitude*
and opens into the Sacramento valley. It, and its two off-shoots, Lagoon
and Pleasants' valley, are the admiration of all travelers. This township is
also well favored as regards streams ; for we find that the Sweeny creek
rises in the Vaca hills, six miles north of the town of Vacaville, flows in a
north-easterly direction for the distance of eight miles ; thence in a south-
easterly course to the vicinity of Maine Prairie, and empties into Cache
slough. There is also the Ulattis creek, which rises in these hills, about five
miles west of the town, and after flowing in an easterly direction finds its
way into the west branch of Cache slough ; and the Alamo creek, which
rises about four miles from Vacaville, as also the Pleasants' valley creek,
which flows in a north-easterly direction through the valley of that name,
and discharges itself into the Rio de los Putos.


Early Settlement : — The first settlers in this portion of Solano county, as
has been mentioned elsewhere, were the two Spaniards, Vaca or Baca, and
Pena, who, having received a grant from the Mexican government, settled
here in the year 1841. In accordance with the provisions of all the grants
of land of those days, these early pioneers commenced the erection of
houses, the tilling of land, the planting of trees, and the rearing of stock.
Adobe residences were constructed, wherein they dwelt ; while others were
erected in far off corners for the shelter of their herders and laborers. Fol-
lowing the Vaca and Pena families, were Albert Lyon, John Patton and
three others who came with them, namely, J. P. Willis, and Clay Long.
These men entered into, the then, only occupation which offered itself, that
of stock-raising. Two or three years later there arrived J. H., W. B., and
Garard Long, who were shortly after followed by Marshall M. Bayse. This
was in the year of '49. In 1850 there came Dollarhide and his three sons.
Up to this year there had only two women arrived in the valley, they being
the wives of Messrs. Lyon and Hollingsworth ; though where the latter
family located we have been unable to trace. In 1848, Hollingsworth, and
a companion named Newman, while on their way to the mines, were mur-
dered by Indians. The bodies were shortly after found by one of the Messrs.
Longs and a party, while on a prospecting tour, and by them decently
buried. Hollingsworth's family remained in Vaca valley for ten or twelve
years after his death, when they broke up and removed to various parts of
the State. Settlers, after this era, would appear to have arrived more, rap-

In 1851, J. P. Long brought with him the first flock of sheep that had
ever crossed the plains to this State. They were three thousand in number
— he started with ten thousand head — which he drove to Vaca valley. Mr.
Long remained in the township until 1854, when he returned to Missouri,
and in 1859 went to Texas, where he follows farming, besides having a
large cotton plantation.

In 1852, Edward McGeary, John Fisk, Mason Wilson, McGuire and his
family, J. G. Parks, W. R. Miller, Richardson and S. W. Long, and W. A.
Dunn and family, located in the township, and affairs partook of a settled
appearance. The wonderful fertility of the district had been tested, and
the rank growth of vegetation was fast falling before the arts and sciences
of agriculture and - commerce.

Let us glance at the Vacaville township of to-day !

As viewed from the head of Pleasants' valley no more picturesque land-
scape can be found throughout the length and breadth of the Golden State
than that stretching to the southward. This glorious glen, though compara-
tively prescribed in breadth is possessed of a soil of the richest kind of al-
luvial sediment, formed mostly from the debris of the adjacent mountain
sides. Within the scope of vision there is nought to be seen but one


vast orchard and vineyard, arriving at a perfection which could only, in less
favored spots, be attained by the tenderest care of forcing and
training. Passing below the above-mentioned natural conservatory,
the eye wanders over the wider and more extended Yaca val-
ley. Here the orchards become less large and vast fields of

grain present themselves " long fields of barley and of rye,"

as Tennyson hath it; though on this occasion the latter cereal gives
place to wheat, a prospect which brings with it rare content, content
to the eye, as it rests on the limitless expanse of green, and content to the
mind as the thought is flashed back of the number of hungry mouths and
eager hands which will be fed and aided by the produce of these fields, in
every quarter of the habitable globe.

The first settler in Pleasants'' valley was J. M. Pleasants, who located
there in the year 1851. Mr. Pleasants has some eight hundred acres of val-
ley and hill land, that along the banks of the creek being well adapted for
the growing of fruit and vegetables, while back towards the hills the soil is
admirably adapted for the cultivation of grain. The hills offer abundant
pasturage. Mr. Pleasants has here a very fine orchard. To the south of
his lands lie the Pleasants' valley school, while at no great distance is the
mill lately erected by him. The motive power is oxen working on a tread-
wheel. Five of these animals are now used, but these have been found to
be inadequate to perform the required task; the power, therefore, will
shortly be augmented by the addition of others. Everything is ground in
this mill, from barley to XXX flour.

The residence of W. J. Pleasants is situated on the opposite bank of the
creek to the mill in the midst of a splendid orchard and fine grounds. This
gentleman is the possessor of one thousand and fifty acres of magnificent
valley and hill lands.

As a criterion of what can be done in the matter of fruit trees and grape
vines, we would here enumerate the numbers of each that a few of the prin-
cipal growers have on their lands: John Dolan, Sr., has about ten thousand
vines and about one thousand each of peach and apricot trees ; M. R Miller
has one hundred acres in fruit and vines alone ; L. W. Buck has one hun-
dred and fifty-six acres on his ranch, ninety of which he has in cultivation,
where he has twenty-seven thousand vines of choice varieties, fourteen
thousand having been set out this spring (1879); twelve thousand cherry
trees, as well as a large number of apple, peach, and apricot ; he has also one
hundred and twenty-five orange and lemon trees in a most flourishing con-
dition, with every prospect of a speedy maturity ; while W. W. Smith has
as many as four thousand cherry trees in a prosperous condition. In addi-
tion to this particular line of cultivation, as we have already mentioned,
there are several large farms throughout the district, that of Dr. W. J. Dob-
bins, which contains about fourteen hundred and ninety-five acres, being


among the largest. In May of this year a visitor to the district writes :
" The crop prospect in that section is simply immense. The grain crop could
not look better, and, judging from the present outlook, there will be a heavy
yield this year. The outlook for fruit is very encouraging indeed. The
trees are fairly groaning under their burden, and we noticed limbs which
had broken off, owin^ to the amount of fruit on them. We were informed
that from one hundred to one hundred and fifty tons of fruit were shipped
daily from Vacaville during some months of the year. This will give a
person some idea of the amount of fruit grown in that section."

Vacaville. — On August 21, 1850, Manuel Cabeza Vaca deeded to Wil-
liam McDaniel nine square miles of land, the consideration for which was
that McDaniel should lay out a town site on one of the square miles, name
it Vacaville, and deed M. C. Vaca certain lots in said town, as well as pay
the sum of three thousand dollars. Here follows the document : " Deed of
Manuel Cabeza Vaca to William McDaniel. August 21, 1850. Considera-
tion $3,000. Doth grant, bargain, sell and convey unto second party, all
his right, title and interest in and to a certain tract of land in the County
of Solano, and known and described as follows : The point at which the
boundary. of this tract of land was found is one mile and a half a mile due
north of the point where the county road crosses the water beach or arroya
deoagua about one mile and a half east of said Manuel Cabeza Vaca's
Rancho, thence due west to the base of the mountains in a southerly direc-
tion three English miles, thence due east three English miles, thence due
north three English miles, thence west to the place of beginning. So as to
include three English miles square or nine square miles of land, and it is
hereby agreed that the said McDaniel is to lay off on any one mile square of
said land a town to be called Vacaville, and 1,055 of the lots in said town
are to be deeded to him, the said M. C. Vaca, said lots to be average lots.


Signed, Manuel x Cabeza Vaca. [seal]


Witness : L. B. Mizner.

Acknowledged August 21, 1850, before B. D. Hyam, N. P.
Recorded August 22, 1850.

William McDaniel, on August, 1850, deeded to L. B. Mizner, an undi-
vided half interest in this tract of land. They laid out a town site about
the centre of the township and in accordance with the deed of M. C. Vaca
named the place Vacaville, deeded to him two hundred lots on October 16,
1850. The town was surveyed by E. H. Rowe and a plat thereof duly
recorded on December 13, 1851. So much for the birth of the town of
Vacaville. The first building was erected in 1850 by William McDaniel ;
the second one put up was a rude edifice used as a hotel by James McGuire.


The first store was opened by E. F. Gillespie on block No. 16, it being a
small tool-house owned by Mason Wilson. The following year he removed
to a building he had erected on block No. 20, having previously purchased
the entire block. The stone building is still standing and is the property
of M. Blum. The first death which occurred in the township was in the
year 1852, it being that of a stock-raiser named McGuire,-who also kept a
house of entertainment in the village. The situation of the town is very
beautiful, surrounded as it is by such extensive farms ; it is a most ex-
cellent point for trade, the places of traffic of all kinds doing a thriving
business. About two years ago Vacaville was laid low by a fire which to-
day leaves no traces. The business houses are located on either side of
Main street, west of the Ulattis creek and embody all the variety of stores
required for the center of a largely populated district.

Vaca Valley and Clear Lake Railroad Co: — Chief among the interests of
the town, and which adds considerably to its prosperity is the railroad
which now extends fiom Elmira to Madison in Yolo county passing through
Vacaville and Winters. In the summer season this line does a prosperous
business in freight and passengers. At present its managers are busily en-
gaged in supplying the C. P. R. R. with gravel for ballasting their track.
The road was incorporated and built in the year 1869 from Elmira to Vaca-
ville to accommodate the shipping of fruit and vegetables. In 1876 it was
extended to Winters, Yolo county. In 1877 it was incorporated as the
Vaca Valley and Clear Lake Railroad Co., and extended to Madison, Yolo
county, making the entire distance now laid about thirty miles. The officers
are : President, A. M. Stevenson ; Treasurer, T. Mansfield ; Secretary, E.
Allison ; General Superintendent, G. B. Stevenson ; General Freight Agent,
T. Mansfield.

Churches. Baptist Church: — The Baptist Church of Vacaville was
organized in the chapel of the California College with seventeen constituent
members. Mr. P. C. Dozier was elected church clerk ; Professor M. Baily
being requested to fill the pulpit when no other preacher was provided by
the church. Ministers from abroad filled the duties until February, 1873,
when Rev. J. B. Saxton was appointed pastor and W. J. Sandefur, church
clerk. Mr. Saxton resigned his charge in August, 1877, as did also Mr.
Sandefur, since when the following gentlemen have officiated as church
clerk : Prof. Kelly, J. T. Wallace, C. C. Bateman, M. Young and J. Donald-
son. On October 13, 1877, the Rev. S. A. Taft, D. D. was elected to the
pastorate and served for several months. In January, 1879, the Rev. W.
Gregory, D. D. was called to the pulpit and is the present incumbent. The
following have been the Deacons since the organization of the church :
Professor M. Baily, elected February 8, 1873, Messrs. Brier and Walker,
elected February 9, 1878, and J. Donaldson on March 16, 1879.


The Church of Seventh-day Advents : — In December, 1877, there came to
Vacaville B. A. Stevens, who commenced a series of lectures which resulted
in the organizing of a church community under the above doctrine, consist-
ing of between fifty and sixty members. This congregation has been ever
since kept up by the indulgence of the members. There is no resident pas-
tor, but occasionally the pulpit is supplied from San Francisco or elsewhere.

The Christian Church : — This church was organized in 1855 about two
and a half miles from Vacaville with eleven members, but shortly after
they moved into the town. Before this, 1874, their membership numbered
two hundred. The first pastor was the Rev. Mr. McCorkle who remained
with his congregation for two years when he was followed by various
preachers, the last being Alexander Johnson. The value of the church
property is $1,500.

Davis Hotel : — This house is situated on the northeast corner of block
No. 14 and fronts Main street. It was built by Mason Wilson in 1858 and
finished in October of that year. The main building is 30x65 feet, two
stories, of brick ; there is an L 18x45 feet, two stories high with a kitchen
extending east which is 12x16 feet, all of brick, while the establishment
contains thirty rooms as well as a large double parlor. The building cost
$14,000 including fixtures. On April 20, 1874, it was purchased by E. S.
Davis, when his brother, J. F. Davis, took charge of it and has been the
proprietor ever since. To the west and rear of the hotel is a garden with
neatly laid out walks, ornamented with flowers and beautified by shade
trees, while to the east of the property, and having the same owner, is a
grove of Eucalyptus trees fronting Depot street, forming a favorite resort
for picnics and such like.

California College : — This institution was started by Professor Anderson,
of San Francisco, in the year 1855, as a private school, the building being
one of the earliest erected away from the city of Benicia and the rising
town of'Vallejo. This school Professor Anderson maintained until the year
1858 ; it was a frame building, but his undertaking having been crowned

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 36 of 57)