J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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the mines, his destination Toeing Washoe, now known as the district
around Carson and Virginia Cities. Remained there till October 20, and
again returned to San Francisco, remaining at his business till the Spring
of 1861, when he was called to the Navy Yard at Mare Island as a jour-
neyman sailmaker, was put in charge of the sailmakers' department in
1865, and remained in charge till the 23d of February, 1872, when he was
superseded, along with fourteen others. In 1876 Mr. Ay 1 ward visited the
Centennial Exhibition — his first trip to the Eastern States since he first
left them in 1849. He sojourned there three months, during which he
visited Missouri, Kentucky, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland,
Quebec, Montreal, and elsewhere, and started for California on the 13th
of July, 1876. Is a member of the Society of California Pioneers, of
which association he is one of the charter members ; he being also a
member of the Vallejo Lodge, No. 64, I. O. G. T. Mr. Aylward has made
nearly all the sails for the several vessels which have been built in Vallejo.

BERGWELL, GUSTAF, (deceased), born in Sweden in 1810, and came to
America in or about the year 1840, and to California via Panama, arriving
at Monterey July 4, 1849. In that year he commenced the dry-goods
business in San Francisco, which he continued up to the fire of 1851,
when he moved to Sonoma, where he remained till 1855, and moved to
Vallejo in the following year, where he died on July 10, 1871 ; since
which time his mercantile affairs have been carried on by his widow.
Mr. Bergwell was a member of the Vallejo Pioneer Association, being
Vice-President of the society for some •"• time. He was also a member of
the Scandinavian Society of San Francisco. Married in Grace Church,
in that city, April 20, 1852, Miss Laura Kamp, a native of Denmark, by
whom there are two children — Jennie, born in Sonoma, February 4, 1853,
married William York, April 17, 1873 ; and Gustaf A., born in Vallejo,
July 14, 1861.

BINGHAM, GEORGE, was born in Philadelphia, May 1, 1820. At the age
of seventeen he went to learn the trade of bookbinding, with the firm
of R. P. de Silver & Co.; and the next year he shipped on board the
sloop-of-war " Dale," as first-class boy, and sailed to join the. Pacific squad-
ron, of which Commodore Jones was in command. Was present at the
hoisting of the American flag at Monterey in August, 1831, when the
coast was taken by the United States Government, eight days after re-
turning it to the Mexicans. Remained on the coast about two months,
then sailed to Callao, where he was transferred to the " Yorktown," and
proceeded to New York, where he arrived in July, 1843. From 1843 till
1846 he remained in the Eastern States, and in the latter year he volun-


teered for the war in Mexico. In December of that year left Philadelphia
to join the expedition ; was present at the capture of Vera Cruz, Cerro-
Gordo, taking of Conteras, Cherubusco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec,
and the storming of the city of Mexico ; was with the forces two years,
when, on the proclaiming of peace, he returned home, where he remained
until 1849, when, on May 5th, he sailed for California, and arrivedin San
Francisco September 15, 1849. On arrival, joined the police force on its
first organization, under Malachi Fallon, John W. Geary being Alcade.
Resigned in the spring of 1850, and went to the mines at Long bar,
Yuba river, immediately prior to the discovery of gold in that part ; re-
maining there one month he started for Slake creek, staying there until
the Gold Lake excitement, when he proceeded thither. From there he
went to Grass Valley, now American, and followed up the different ranges
of mountains between the Pitt and Feather rivers to the head-waters
of the latter at Goose lake, but found nothing. Returned to Nelson
creek, where he struck good claims ; stayed there a few day, then went
to the east branch of Feather river and arrived at Rich Bar, where he re-
mained two weeks, after which, he returned to San Francisco. Remained
in that city five months, establishing himself in a saloon, but was burnt
out in the fire of November, 1850. After this catastrophe he once
more returned to Feather river ; but, not being successful, he proceeded
to Yreka, where gold diggings were found in Humbug creek. In 1851
Mr. Bingham again arrived in San Francisco, paid a visit to the Sandwich
Islands ; returning shortly after, he proceeded to the southern mines, in
Sonora, from whence he went back to Yreka, and remained there six
months, at which time the Gold-beach fever started every one in that di-
rection, he amongst the others. In June, 1853, he found his way to Scott's
bar, and, after two months, again removed to San Francisco, staying there
for some time, when he once more departed for Sonora, and lived there
seven years, at the end of which he returned to San Francisco, and at the
outbreak of the rebellion, enlisted in the Second Cavalry, (Sacramento
Rangers) in Company F, in which he remained for nine months, serving in
the Provost's Guard at San Francisco, receiving his discharge there in
1862, when he came to Vallejo. From 1865 he worked for six years in
the completing of the capitol at Sacramento, and returned to San Fran-
cisco, where he sojourned for one year, then locating in Vallejo in 1873.
In 1876 visited the Centennial Exhibition, and finally came back to Val-
lejo, where he has since resided. Is a member of the Vallejo Pioneer's
Association. Mr. Bingham's grandfather served in the Revolutionary war,
under George Washington, and his father took part in the war of 1812.
He married in the Sandwich Islands in 1850, and has one daughter,
Madeline, who was born in Honolulu in 1851. '


BROOKS, WILLIAM S., was bom in Franklin County, New York, in 1820.
When quite young he removed with his parents to New Orleans, and at
twelve years of age returned to Brooklyn, New York. In 1832 shipped
on board the "Henry Clay," then the largest vessel sailing out of the port
of New York, and made a voyage to Liverpool, England, following a sea-
faring life up to 1846, when he shipped in the United States sloop-of-
war "Prebble," as convoy to Stevenson's regiment, which was then on
its way to California, and arrived in San Francisco in March, 1847. The
vessel lay two months in that harbor, during which time a party of eight-
een men, under command of Lieutenant Lanman, afterwards Commodore,
was despatched up the Carquinez straits in search of a boat reported
missing, which was conveying $80,000, or thereabouts, pay for the troops
at Sutter's fort. (The boat has never since been heard of.) On the cruise,
landed at what is now called Mare Island, where he remained about two
weeks. On making the island, they saw two wigwams standing where
the magazine and flagstaff now are, while on the Vallejo side, there was
one at the foot of Main street, of to-day. Since then he has, on more
than one occasion, dug up the bones of Indians who had been buried on
the spot where Woods Hotel is built, on that street. On another occasion,
a party landed where Starr's flour-mills are now, in South Vallejo, to
shoot beef, but after killing one animal, the cattle gave chase, when they
were driven back to the boat. Up till 1850 was in government employ,
on board of men-of-war, during which time he visited China, Japan,
and the Sandwich islands ; then shipped on board the Revenue brig
"Lawrence," and was wrecked in her outside the heads at the Golden
Gate in 1852. Afterwards was employed in the Appraiser's store of the
Custom House in San Francisco, where he remained seven years and four
months, then came to the Navy Yard in Vallejo, in 1858, where he has
ver since been employed. Has been Acting Gunner of the U. S. S. "In-
dependence," guard ship at the Yard, and is now Machine Tender to the
sectional docks there.

Mr. Brooks married, firstly, at San Francisco, B. M. Maguire, in 1856,
(died 1858) by whom he has one son, William Charles, born 1856. Sec-
ondly, Catherine Irena Coen, married 1860, by whom he has : George T.,
born October 30, 1862 ; Mary Emma, born April 8, 1865 ; James C, born
June 26, 1868 ; John, born March 26, 1870 ; Gertrude B., born January
26, 1873, Loretta Anna, born January 28, 1876 ; and Angeles Agnes, born
February 18, 1878.

BROWN, CALVIN, Civil Engineer in charge of Department of Yards and
Docks, Marelsland, a gentleman of rare attainments, was educated at Rox-
bury Grammar School, 'Mass., where he graduated in 1828. In 1834, he
commenced the study of civil engineering in Boston, serving undejr several


of the leading engineers of the time, when, in 1841, he was appointed to the
post of Civil Engineer to the United States Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine,
where he remained five years, during which time he carried on the con-
struction of the Quay wall at that place, where was first introduced into
the United States the practice of blasting rocks in deep water. Thereaf-
ter he was engaged in sundry works, principally railroads, until 1852>
when he was appointed Civil Engineer at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Vir-
ginia. During his term of office of nine years at this post he superin-
tended the erection of a lame number of the buildings there, and carried
on the construction of the Quay wall. In 1861 Mr. Brown was ordered
from Norfolk to Mare Island, where he has been ever since, with the ex-
ception of from 1S64 to 1809, when he constructed the large dam and
reservoir at Pilercitos valley for the Spring Valley Water Works, and ex-
ecuted the surveys, designs and location of the canal and locks at the
Willamette Falls, Oregon. For a portion of the time he was connected
with the Board of Commissioners on the Central Pacific Railroad, and was
subserpiently appointed one of the Government Commissioners both on
that and the Southern Pacific line of railroads.

On May 13, 1869, he was reappointed Civil Engineer to the Mare Is-
land Navy Yard, and continues to hold the office. During his connection
with the yard Mr. Brown has made most of the additions on that admira-
bly fitted-out establishment. He has constructed a large portion of the
foundry and machine shops, built the saw mill, the ordnance and the office
building, one of the large timber sheds, the iron-plating shop ; superin-
tended the construction of the Marine Barracks, and was one of the su-
perintendentents, with Dr. J. M. Brown, U. S. N., of the Naval Hospital.
Designed and built the stone Dry Dock, one of the largest in the world,
as far as it has now progressed ; superintended the construction of the
new powder magazine, and also that of the reservoir, known as Lake
Rogers. Not the least of the many distinctions to which Mr. Brown may
lay claim is that, from under his training, several of the most dis-
tinguished engineers of the day have developed and are now a credit to
their country as well as to the scientific preceptor, who labored with them
during their tutelage. His family are among the oldest in the country,
having come to America in the year 1632. The subject of this sketch
was born at Roxbury, Mass., now known as Boston Highlands, on March
25, 1816, and married, in 1838, Miss Susan W. Sager, of that place, by
whom he has now living Harriet E., born 1840 ; Frank E., born 1841, and
Wilfrid L., born 1846.

BROWN, SAMUEL, born in Ireland in 1826, and came to the United States
in 1843, first settling in New York city, where he remained until 1856,
when he came to Vallejo. Followed the sea from 1843 till 1856, but on


coming to California he engaged in farming, and in May, 1870, he opened
his present meat market, on Virginia street, in Vallejo. Married in New
Orleans, 1854, Catharine Morris, a native of Ireland, by whom he has
Mary M., Robert H., Samuel J., Martha M., and Catharine.

BROWNLIE, ALEXANDER J., was born in the State of Arkansas, Octo-
ber 3, 1851. Accompanied his parents to California in 1852, being the
first white child to arrive in Vallejo. Was educated in the public schools
of that city. Is now a civil engineer in the employ of the Navy Yard at
Mare Island, where he has been continuously engaged for thirteen years.
Was appointed City Clerk, April, 1878. Is a member of the I. O. O. F.
Golden State Lodge and Mount Moriah Encampment, also Vallejo Lodge ;
No. 64, I. O. G. T., and takes a prominent interest in all matters of public
benefit to Vallejo and its community.

BROWNLIE, JAMES, Grocer of Vallejo, was born in the villiage of Car-
luke, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the loth day of August, 1836. In 1858
he left his native shores for California, arriving in the month of July of
that year, when he settled in Vallejo, but shortly after removed to Beni-
cia, where he was employed by the Pacific Mail Co. to repair the old
steamship " Oregon." After three months he started for the Klamath
river, in Humboldt county, and engaged in mining, but in four months
returned to Vallejo, and worked at his trade, that of carpenter and joiner,
which he continued until 1869, when he established his present business.
In March, 1869, Mr. Brownlie married Miss Mary Howie, the daughter of
Peter McMillen, of Campbelltown, Scotland, having issue one son, John

BROWLIE, JOHN, is a native of Scotland, and passed his early years
in that part of Great Britain, where he was apprenticed for some time
to the grocery trade, in Glasgow. On October 7, 1852, with some of his
relations who had revisited the " land o' cakes," he sailed from Liverpool
in a Cunard steamer for New York, where he remained a short time,
and then took passage for California in the S. S. " N orthern Light," but
was landed at Acapulco, from whence he proceeded to Barbacos ; thence
up the river by native boat to Gorgona, from which place he performed
the balance of the journey on foot to Panama. The hardships of this
walk were trying to our youthful voyager ; when but halfway his boots
gave out and were discarded ; in crossing the rivers he held on to the
tails of mules, and was thus ferried over ; and on the next day completely
prostrated, he and his party, with whom he had caught up, reached their
destination, only to find that their steamer for San Francisco, for which
they had tickets, had been burned in Valparaiso. The " Cortez " was on


' T ;-'^


the berth for California, but she was full ; a passage, could not, therefore,
be procured by her ; thus, in the meantime, with so large a party, money
gave out, and he was obliged to dispose of his through ticket, so as to
provide the means of subsistence for the company, and rely on the prom-
ise that money should be remitted to him from California. Shortly after
his companions sailed for the Golden State, leaving the subject of our
memoir alone, moneyless, and friendless, in Panama. With that resource
» which the hardy sons of Scotia derive from their early training, Mr.
Brownlie cast about him looking for employment, whereby to occupy his
time, and provide food; this he soon obtained in the Louisiana hotel, at
the wages of sixty dollars per month ; but such is the fatal effects of the
climate that but few live to see the month out. While at his avocation
in this hostelry, he was prostrated by a swelling of the feet from jiggers,
contracted during his bare-foot tramp across the Isthmus, to add to which
he was seized with the Panama fever, but stoutly refused to be taken to the
hospital ; day by day he got lower, when an event occurred which may
have done much towards preserving the life of John Brownlie. Let us
tell it in his own words : " It was a Sunday morning, when, by luck, who
should come to my relief, but an uncle — one whom I had not seen since I
was a child. Of course, I did not know him, nor he me, until he asked
after my parents, and his brothers and sisters. I was so charmed that I
jumped right gut of my sick bed. He asked how I came to be at Pan-
ama, and how I came to be left by the party ; after explaining which, he
told me that he had just bought a ticket for California, and if I wanted
to get there he would give it to me, while he returned to Toboga (where
he had been working for some time), to earn enough to pay his passage
by another steamer." Thus, by the merest chance, at noon on the day on
which he parted with his new-found relative, Mr. Brownlie steamed away
from Panama on board the " Winfield Scott," bound for San Francisco.
On this voyage he again endured much suffering, and though many of his
fellow-passengers died, he lived, happily, to arrive at his destination, after
a passage of eighteen days.

On arrival, he fortunately met his uncle, Robert Brownlee, and with
him went to Vallejo, arriving when the Legislature was about to meet
and at once obtained work there ; on the removal of the seat of govern-
ment to Benicia, he followed them, and being employed in that city for a
short time, he finally went to Mare Island and obtained labor with the
Dry Dock Company, who were then constructing the sectional dock ; from
laboring work he rose to be a helper in the blacksmith's shop, and, being
of an economical turn of mind, he soon purchased a share in a livery
business ; after a lapse of some time he eventually became the sole
proprietor, and has ever since kept a stable in Vallejo. In 1858, in con-
junction with his livery business, Mr. B. purchased a farm of 500 acres,


and matters progressed favorably for him until the year 1873, when,
being connected with the Vallejo Bank, he was forced into the position of
Cashier of that concern by the Directors and Stockholders ; but such was
the revulsion in business at the time that the Bank was wound up, and
all creditors satisfied. Mr. Brownlie visited his native land, in the years
1857, and '67, and made the tour of the three kingdoms ; has served
as a Notary Public for two years ; a Supervisor for one term ; and is now
besides his above mentioned business, a real estate agent ; and also agent'
for a Fire and Life Insurance Company. Mr. B. was born in the year
1833, and married, December 22, 1874, Miss Margaret Wakely, by whom
he has Gracie May, born October 16, 1875, and Robert Arthur, born Nov.
11, 1878.

BROWNLEE, ROBERT, emigrated to America in the year 1836, and set-
tled in the city of New York, where he sojourned four months, working
at his trade of stone cutter. In September of that year he proceeded to
North Carolina, and was employed for thirteen months in the capital of
that State ; at the expiration of which he moved to Arkansas, arriving in
Little Rock on Christmas day, 1837. He there prosecuted his calling for
four years, working on the Capitol and State Bank, when he embarked
in the cultivation of land. In 1848 he retired from the occupation of
farming, and commenced prospecting for lead, getting blown up during
this employment. Mr. Brownlee was a resident of the State of Arkansas
altogether thirteen years. In 1849 the world was set agog by the dis-
covery of gold in California, and he was one of the many hardy sons of
toil who crossed the plains, enduring all its hardships, hoping occasionally
against hope, and putting aside any knowledge of fear; laboring incessantly
to buoy up those who were bordering on despair, allaying the woes of the
suffering and cheering the despondent. In this year, after a journey oc-
cupying six months and a half, coming by way of Santa Fe, this band

• crossed the Colorado river in the latter end of August and entered Cali-
fornia, the land of promise, on the first day of September, 1849. For
days before this event, water with them had been scarce, the canteens
which they wore slung over their shoulders being nearly empty ; at
last, however, pools of water were discovered, and he, riding at the head
of the cavalcade, was the first to lave his parched throat with the wearily
looked for liquid. Dipping his pan deep into the pool, to procure the
water in its. coolest state, he found it on drinking to be potently charged
with alkali ; to resort to the first rude method of counteraction, namely,
the eating of quantities of fat pork, was the work of a moment, and he
recovered ; not so two of the others, who, even when cautioned, recklessly
partook of the beverage, both dying in great suffering on the evening of
the same day. They were buried by their comrades, while one of the


number, gifted above his fellows with the power of speech, offered up a
prayer at their graves, which, for impressive eloquence, Mr. B. asserts he
has never heard equalled. From the oldest to the youngest there was not
a dry cheek. Let us now follow the fortunes of Mr. Brownlee. He ar-
rived in Mariposa county in the first rains. He labored in the mines for
six days, in the first hour and a half of which he dug up eightv dollars
worth of ore, his only implements being his jack-knife and tin pan. This
was in October, 1849. With this sum he entered into partnership with
John W. Clarke of Vermont, who had also been moderately lucky, pur-
chased a team of six pack-mules, and commenced what is known as a
"packing" business, between Stockton and Ajuafria, two towns, one
hundred miles apart. The first trip took these two pioneers some six
weeks to accomplish. The roads were so bad from the excessive rains
that the hardships endured were sufficient to deter men of less persever-
ance ; always at their destination, however, such matters were treated
lightly, for, after all, their business prospered, and miners would pay a
dollar and a quarter per pound for tea and flour, while other necessaries
commanded as high a price. Mr. Brownlee thus describes some of his
experiences on this eventful first trip. On leaving the Stanislaus River,
an eight-mule team, drawing a boiler, was come up with, but such was
the deplorable state of the roads that mules, boiler and truck had sunk
into the mud, nothing being left to view but the heads of three mules and
the highest point of the boiler. Here was a fix ! What was to be done ?
Quick of resources, desperation lending wit to native acumen, the team-
sters incontinently drove their animals on to the boiler, from which perch
they daintily picked their steps on to the backs of their less fortunate
brethren, one after the other, until once more terra Jirma was reo-ained.
There were four of these adventurers — -James Mc Vicar, Mr. B., his part-
ner, and a negro. During a blinding snow storm they proceeded on-
wards; and arrived at Dry Creek, where each mule had to be repacked,
the cargo having shifted, on account of the many slips and falls which the
quadrupeds had sustained. On relieving them of their burdens and
placing the sacks of flour on the clay, the first two tiers sank out of sight,
causing no inconsiderable damage. There was not the wherewithal to
build a fire whereby food might be prepared, so they supped on flour,
mixed with water, and raw fat pork ; cold and hungry, they lay on the
saddle blankets, striving to wheedle the gentle goddess — the four of them
— Mr. Brownlee next to the negro. During the night the snow and sleet
ceased, and a hard frost set in, making the cold intense. The water in a
pair of long boots, the property of the darkey, froze to a solid mass, which
was not perceived until he had tried to put them on ; but, whether on
account of the size of his feet or the frigidity and rigidity of the ice, they
would not be coaxed into their proper resting place till thawed by the


water of a convenient stream. The morning, however, lent a brighter aspect
to the state of things, for daylight showed where fuel was to be obtained,
a hearty meal was made off coffee and flapjacks, which they enjoyed, for,
on the principle of hunger being the best sauce, McV. would, now and
again, observe, "Eh, man, Bob, but aren't they good !" On the following
day the Tuolumne River was gained, in another snow storm, they camp-
ing in a " wash " of the river. This night a splendid fire was built. Three
large trees, which were lying in the bed of the now dry stream, were
piled over with brush and set alight, while the banks gave shelter from
the driving sleet and snow ; and comparative comfort, with a certain
amount of satisfaction, was being taken out of the burning mass of tim-
ber, some forty feet in length. Of a sudden, without the slightest warn-
ing, their gigantic hearth was seen to float away ; the water rose with in-
credible speed, so that they were wet to their waists while securing their

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 38 of 57)