J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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Mr. Pearson, laid claim to the valley, hewing the bark from the side of a
huge pitchpine tree, standing at the west or lower end of the valley, near
where the trail crossed the Merced river ; upon the bared trunk they set
forth their claim to the valley, with the names of the claimants, eleven
in number.

In 1856 Mr. Pearson returned to Chicago and embarked in the general com-
mission business with marked success, until the year 1867, when failing
health compelled his retiring. In 1867 he located at Vallejo, which, from
its position, favored milling and grain-shipping ; when returning to Cali-
fornia he brought the plans for a grain-elevator, and outlined the plans
for operating it by a company — which was organized. There being no
statutory provision relative to warehouse receipts, he drafted a bill, which
failed to become a law. Mr. Pearson, fully aware of the necessity of such
a law, in order that the enterprise should be successful, withdrew from
any active participation, but gave the company his plans, from which was
erected the first and only grain elevator on this coast. After repeated
failures, Mr. Pearson finally succeeded in having this warehouse bill passed
April 1, 1878. The advantages derived from such a law, by all classes,
is manifest throughout the Northwestern States.

A partnership was formed in 1868 between Mr. G. C. Pearson and Mr. A. D.
Starr, under name of Pearson & Starr, for carrying on a general com-
mission business. They located and built the Starr mills, at Vallejo, one
of the largest and best-arranged mills in the world. The firm was dis-
solved about the first of January, 1871, Mr. Pearson selling out to Mr.
Starr. September 13, 1864 Mr. Pearson married Hattie, youngest daugh-
ter of Judge A. C. Brown, of Ogdensburg, New York. They have had
four children — three sons and one daughter.

Though determined and positive in character, with decided convictions, Mr.
Pearson is not sectarian in religious matters, nor a partisan in politics.
He writes and speaks his sentiments freely, never hesitating through fear
of being unpopular. His predelictions are democratic, and sympathizes
with the people. He shuns notoriety, and has never accepted a nomina-


tion or held any office. He is a member of the " Old Settlers' Society,"
of Chicago. The records of said society being burned in the great fire,
he, in 1876, presented the old records — which he had kept — to the His-
torical society of that place.

POWELL, ABRAHAM, lumberman, of Vallejo. Was born in the city of
Philadelphia, on the 24th day of January, 1828. At the early age of
twelve he visited the West India islands, with Captain John Rue. In
1841 he sailed from his native city in the bark " Madoline," Captain Wil-
liam Shanklin, to Europe, making the return trip in the same vessel. This
voyage, which occupied the lengthy period of seventy-three days,
was of the most tedious nature, and the hardihood of the young voyager
was much tested, for provisions ran out among the steerage passengers, of
whom there were a great number, so that all on board were necessarily
placed on the meagre allowance of one bran biscuit and a quart of water
per diem for three weeks, a lesson of endurance which has not been lost
on our hero through his stirring life. In his early days Mr Powell was
employed in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, and there learned the trade
of a ship-joiner and civil engineering, under his father, remaining at this
occupation until 1849. On the 2d December, 1846, he married Sarah L.,
daughter of James Paxon, of Philadelphia, the ceremony being performed
by the Reverend Thomas Brainard, at what was then known as the Old
Pine Street church. Mrs. Powell was born on 23d October, 1829, in the
native city of her husband.

The intelligence of the discovery of gold in California having now taken
the world by storm, every face looked eagerly toward the New Dorado,
and Mr. Powell, among thousands of others, started for the land of gold.
Leaving Philadelphia, his family, and early associations, he took passage
on the brig " Osceola," on the 16th day of January, 1849, and on the
morning of Sunday, the 5th August, after a voyage of 202 days round
Cape Horn, twelve of which were passed at Rio de Janiero, in the Brazils,
and fourteen at Talcahuana, on the coast of Chili, he anchored in the
beautiful bay of San Francisco. Mr. P., with characteristic energy, was
up and doing. He entered into partnership with one of his fellow-passen-
gers named William Butcher, in the business of builders and joiners.
They had brought out many of the necessaries for carrying on their
trade — even the frame work for houses was not forgotten — and at once
established themselves in San Francisco, on Jackson street above Kearny,
having erected their own premises, on the site now occupied by the old
Philadelphia Engine house, No. 12. Orders now came in fast ; their first
was to build the old Philadelphia auction-house, for Berry & Middleton, on
Jackson street. At this business did he continue till the beginning of
1850, when he returned to the Eastern States, via Panama. Finding


himself once more in the town of his birth, he assumed his old position
in the Navy Yard, where he continued till September, 1854, when he re-
ceived the responsible post of master-joiner to the yard at Mare Island,
in California, a new station just established on the Pacific coast.
On the 5th of September, after only a very few days preparation, we find
Mr. Powell, this time accompanied by his family, once more turned towards
the golden west, and, on the 1st October, 1854, he reported his arrival to
Captain D. G. Farragut, assumed the dutiesof his office, and resided on the
the island for three years, from which time, until the year 1858, he had
full control of all the building operations in the yard. Between the years
1858 and 1861 Mr. Powell went home on furlough, and again returned to
Mare Island and filled his former position. In 1864, in conjunction with
his own legitimate employment, he was called upon to perform the duties
of Civil Engineer, both of which offices he continued to fill up to July,
1865, when he finally severed his connection with the Government. In
this year he commenced the lumbering business in Vallejo, a branch of
industry which he still pursues. Mr. Powell is a prominent member of
the Society of California Pioneers, and in 1869, on the occasion of the
fete given to that body when the Central and Union Pacific Railroads
were joined, he, accompanied by a portion of his family, made the excur-
sion to New York, attended the banquet tendered to them at Delmonico's
on the 13th October, and returned to the State in the following Novem-
ber. In 1874 once more did Mr. Powell visit the Eastern States, on this
occasion, to be present at the death, as he was led to expect, of his mother,
who had reached the ripe age of 88 years. On such an errand he thought
not of tide nor time, but traveled night and day, and on arrival found that
his mother still lived ; whether the sight of her son, now full of years and
blessed with much of the world's goods, gave her a new lease of life, or
what other cause soever, suffice it to say, that she rapidly improved in
health, and it was not till full three years after that she was called to
" that bourne from whence no traveler returns," at the old age of 91. Mr.
Powell is a man of vast and varied information ; his conversational pow-
ers are of the most captivating kind, abounding with anecdote and full of
humor, while, as a citizen, he is held high in the esteem of the public.
Added to these qualifications, a goodby list in themselves, he is a prominent
Mason. He was Master of Naval Lodge while working under dispensa-
tion, and was continued so after the charter was received from the Grand
Lodge of California, while he holds high degrees in both the York and
Scottish Rites of Masonry. Mr. Powell's family consists of James H.,
born in Philadelphia, Nov. 2, 1847 ; Mary L., born in Philadelphia, May 1,
1851 ; Abraham, born on Mare Island, August 8, 1855 ; Priscilla Florence,
born in Vallejo, June 10, 1864 ; Eva Paxson, born April 2, 1866 ; Lurena
Blanche, born May 19, 1868 ; Fannie Elizabeth Vallejo, born February
17, 1858, died March 5, 1863.


Mr. Powell was one of Vallejo's first School Directors, and for many years
a member of the Board of City Trustees, and chairman of the same ; also,
one of the founders of its charter.

RICHARDSON, HENRY DOUGLASS, was born in Maumee, Ohio, October
18, 1847. His father's name was George,and mother's, Mary Louisa Richard-
son, who moved from the place of his birth about one year thereafter to the
city of Buffalo, New York, in which place he was apprenticed to the
printing business, which he was engaged in at the breaking out of the
Rebellion. At the time of the raid into Pennsylvania, in 1863, the 74th
regiment of the N. Y. S. N. G. was called out and sworn into the national
service. At the time the subject of this sketch was a drummer in com-
pany " G," of that regiment, and with them went to the scene of conflict.
After the battle of Gettysburg, the riots at New York and other cities
took place, the regiment was transferred from Pennsylvania to New York
city, where it remained until the riots ceased, when they were ordered
back to Buffalo and there mustered out of the U. S. service. Immedi-
ately following, Mr. Richardson shipped in the navy, for one year,
sent to New York, and was attached to the U. S. S. store ship " Courier,"
that was employed in carrying ammunition and provisions to the South
Gulf squadron. The last voyage in this ship was from Boston bound for
New Orleans, which place she never succeeded in reaching as she ran on
the reef at Lyniard's Keys, Abbaco Island, and was sunk within an hour
after she struck, in the dead hour of night. The crew, with Mr. Richard-
son among the number, were enabled to reach the shore by the aid of the
ship's small boats in safety. The island was barren of vegetation, but the
crew were enabled to subsist on bread that was saved and large green
turtles that were caught. For sixteen days they remained on the Island,
until one of the boats that had been fitted up and, with a crew, of which
Mr. Richardson was among the number, sent to Nassau, N. P., for assist-
ance, which was secured in shape of a schooner that was lying in that
port, partly loaded with old junk that had been gathered for shipment to
the United States. The schooner came to the island for the remainder of
the crew, some ninety in all. But before she was ready to depart for the
States, the yellow fever broke out that caused a further detention on the
island ; several of the castaways sickened and, in a short time, died.
Finally the scourge abated, and the vessel proceeded to New York and
went into quarantine and the crew transferred to the U. S. S. " Union,"
from which ship Mr. Richardson was discharged, his term of enlistment
having expired. From New York he went back to his home in Buffalo,
and remained until just before the close of the war, when he re-enlisted
in the navy and again went to New York ; and, at that time, the U. S. S.
" Pensacola " was being fitted out for the Pacific Squadron, and to which


man-of-war Mr. Richardson was sent aboard as ship's printer. The vessel
came out to California in 1867, calling in at all of the principal ports on
the Atlantic as well as the Pacific side of the continent. In 1869, his
service having expired, he went to San Francisco and started in the print-
ing business for himself, but, it not proving as remunerative as expected,
he sold the establishment and came to Vallejo, February 22, 1870, and
secured a position on the " Vallejo Evening Chronicle," where he remained
for some three years, and then was engaged in the cigar and tobacco trade
for himself, on Georgia street, opposite the Bernard House, for a year and
a half, after which time he gave it up and went to work on the navy
yard, in charge of the government printing office, and remained until
March 1, 1879, when he secured a position as "local" on the "Vallejo
Evening Chronicle," where he is engaged at the present time. Mr. Rich-
ardson is a Republican in politics," and, during his residence in Vallejo, has
three times been elected as a delegate to the Republican County Conven-
tion. On March 23, 1876, he was married to Miss Jennie Alice Pratt, of
and at Grass Valley, California, who was born in Utah, May 29, 1858,
and is now 21 years of age. The lady's father and mother's name was
Mr. W. O. and Mrs. C. Pratt. They have had two children born unto
them, one of whom, a daughter, Mabel Alice, is living ; the first, also a
daughter, having died when an infant. Mr. Richardson is a member of
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and other societies. In the Odd
Fellows' Order he has attained the highest rank obtainable in the Subord-
inate and Encampment branches of the Order, and for the past four years
has been successively elected to the office of M. W. District Deputy Grand
Master, of that Order, for this District, comprising all of the Lodges in
Solano county. Mr. Richardson, at one time, was President of Neptune
Hose Company, and one of the trustees of the Odd Fellows' Library
Association at its organization. He has, at various times, been solicited
to accept the nomination for office under the county or city, but has de-
clined each and all that have been tendered him.

ROBINSON, A. T., was born in Bristol, Waldo County, Maine, Septem-
ber 14, 1828. ' In 1836 he, with his parents, moved to Montville, Waldo
County, Maine, where he was engaged with his father, farming, until
twenty-one years old, when he took up his abode in Ellsworth, Hancock
County, Maine. Commenced business on his own account in the butcher's
trade. Here he married Mary L., daughter of Captain James Plummer,
of Bristol, Maine, on June 12, 1853. In March, 1854, they came to Cali-
fornia, on the ship "North Star" to Panama, then on the "Yankee Blade"
to San Francisco, arriving on May 6th of that year, but went to Nevada
City shortly after, working in a livery stable owned by John A. Lancaster.
Eight months thereafter purchased some mines, which he operated until


the Fall of 1857, when he came to the Sacramento Valley, in Yolo County,
where he farmed and raised sheep. During his residence — in 1859 or
I860 — he purchased one half -interest in the livery stable of John A. Lan-
caster, at Nevada City, from Mr. Saxly, the junior partner of the firm.
He sold his interest about four years ago. He maintained a continuous
residence in Yolo County until 1870, at which time he came to Vallejo,
buying a stock of goods of Mr. Van Schaack. A. J. Plummer is now his
partner, and they are doing business under the firm name of Plummer &
Robinson. Since Mr. Robinson's residence in Vallejo he took an active
part in organizing the Vallejo Savings and Commercial Bank, and was
appointed one of its directors, being a heavy stockholder. During the
bank's financial troubles a few years since, and when all thought it must
surrender, Mr. Robinson accepted the position as its president, and was
one of the number who paid all its indebtedness, again placing it on a
solid foundation, and then resigned his position. His children are Thomas
L., born June 23, 1858; Elmore E., born February 5, 1862; Mary L., born
December 3, 1866; Ralph, born August 23, 1869.

ROE, GEORGE, was born in Elmira, New York, August 28, 1854. He
came to California in March, 1870, with his parents, and took up his resi-
dence in Suisun, Solano county, where he clerked for several months in
Dr. J. F. Pressley's drug store. In the Fall of 1870 the family moved to
Vallejo, and in December, 1871, young Roe entered the office of the "So-
lano Democrat," a weekly paper published by Thompson & Linthicum, as
• printer's devil. He was soon promoted to the case, and afterward, when
his employers started the "Daily Independent," he was made city editor.
Subsequently he purchased the material of the office, and commenced the
publication of a daily morning paper.

RONEY, JAMES, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born Sep-
tember 20, 1847, and here received the ordinary elements of education as
well as the academical branches of learning. When only sixteen years old
he went out to defend the honor and integrity of his country he loved so
well, enlisting in Company B, Second Pennsylvania Artillery, serving in
the Army of the Potomac, and honorably discharged at the close of the
war. April 1, 1869, he emigrated to this State, coming via the Isthmus,
and settled in Vallejo. On June 30, 1874, he bought the "Vallejo and San
Francisco Express," and is now transacting the business with Mr. Good,
the firm being Good & Roney. Married, in Vallejo, Miss Anna E., daughter
of William Shillingsburg, on July 31, 1870. William S., born April 19,
1872; Isabella M., born August 18, 1874; Walter A. and George A., born
December 18, 1876; and Jessie, born March 26, 1879; are the names
of their children.


SAUNDERS, JAMES 0., born in Gottenburg, Sweden, on December 13,
1819, remaining there till he was bound apprentice to Captain James Nye,
on board the brig " Fornax," in which he sailed for New Bedford, Massa-
chusetts, where he arrived on November 10, 1830. Was with Captain
Nye for two years, when he left, but still continued to follow the mercan-
tile marine till 1837, when he returned to Sweden to visit his mother, and
in that year brought her out to America. In 1843 he first shipped in " the
service," and served in the "Falmouth," sloop-of-war, one year, afterward
in the "Constitution" for thirty months, during which he sailed round the
world, having visited China and other countries, arriving on the Pacific
coast on January 1, 1846, off Monterey. Immediately after proceeded
with the squadron, under Commodore John P. Sloat, to Mazatlan, where
they anchored for three months; after which he sailed, calling at Val-
paraiso and Rio de Janeiro, convoying eight vessels from the latter port
to Boston, where they paid off in 1846. In the Fall of the same year he
reshipped in the "Edith," belonging to the Quartermasters' Department,
and sailed for the coast of Mexico, acting as a transport, and remaining
there until the cessation of hostilities, when he returned to New York, in
June, 1847. Mr. Saunders next purchased a sloop, and sailed out of New
York for six months ; and having reshipped, ultimately came back to New
York, and remained there till 1849, when, on March 2d, he sailed in the
ship "Loo Choo," of Boston, for California, and arrived in San Francisco
on September 8th of that year. He lost no time in going to work, first
as a lighterman, but, only remaining at this occupation for two weeks, he
went to Hangtown, now Placerville, and stayed there a week, and finally
left in disgust. He then moved to Sacramento, and there bought a lighter,
and started for San Francisco. On the way he and his partner chopped
four cords of wood, which they sold on the journey for twenty-five dol-
lars per cord. On arrival at San Francisco, went to chopping wood on
Mission Bay, and, bringing it round to the city, he sold the four cords at
fifty dollars each. He now employed himself with lightering until the
end of June, 1850, when he returned to the mines, going to the Yuba
River, at a place called Indian Valley. Stayed there two months, and
returned to San Francisco, and again engaged at lightering till Novem-
ber, when he went to the southern mines in Garota, Big Oak Flat,
where he settled down for the Winter, having built himself a log cabin
and made all snug. In the Spring of the following year proceeded to
Maxwell's Creek, remaining there six weeks ; then returned to San Fran-
cisco, where he arrived on May 4, 1851, two or three days after the big
fire, when the whole city was in ashes. Mr. Saunders now shipped on
the "Northerner," for New York, arriving there in June, and after two
months he removed to Detroit, Michigan, where he lived two years, and
once more sailed for California, arriving on April 1, 1854. After sojourn-


ing in San Francisco for three months we again find Mn S. on the Feather
River, where he worked till the month of November, when he again
sought San Francisco and recommenced boat-work, which he continued
till March 1, 1855, when he came to Vallejo and got employed in the
Navy Yard on Mare Island, where he has been ever since. Is one of the
directors of the Vallejo Pioneer's Association. Mr. Saunders married, in
Boston, July 26, 1851, Miss Josephine Gunnison, by whom he has living:
John 0., born August 17, 1853; James H., born August 1, 1856; Charles
F., born March 8, 1857; Annie, born October , 1864; and Maria E.,
born December 25, 1869.

SHEEHY, ROBERT, grain merchant, was born in the county of Kerry,
Ireland, in 1821, and came to America early in 1849. The spring of the
following year found him struggling in the human tide which had set
towards California; arriving in Tuolumne County, he first engaged in
the occupation of mining in May, 1850, but, only remaining there four
years and a-half , he started for the Eastern States, crossed the plains, and
purchasing cattle, returned by the same route, bringing his stock with
him, and once more entered the Golden State in 1855, establishing himself,
in the Suscol Valley, at that time included in Solano County. In the
year 1858, he commenced farming on a large scale, an occupation which
he now combines with his other business. Mr. Sheehy is the proprietor
of 3,000 acres of land in Napa county, a fine estate, which includes large
tracts of pasture lands. In 1869 he removed with his family into the city
of Vallejo, where he still resides. Mr. Sheehy married in Napa county,
on the 8th of January, 1860, Miss Margaret Tormey, a native of Ireland,
who was born in 1840, by whom he has five sons, John P., Augustine L.,
Robert V., Francis B., and Eugene V. P.; and five daughters, Ellen S.,
Mary A., Josephine, Louisa, and Ada M.

SHIRLAND, H. R. FRANCIS, butcher, of Vallejo, was born in Westhaven

Rutland county, State of Vermont, on September 22, 1818. In 1828 went
to school in Potsdam, St. Lawrence county, New York State, remaining
there until he was eleven years of age, when he was seized with a desire
to see foreign lands, and ran away to sea ; made two voyages to the West
Indies, and was, on his return, again sent to school at the Castleton, and
afterwards to Poulteney Seminaries, in Rutland county, from whence, he
worked with Peter Comstock, in his store at Petersville, Washington
county, where he stayed for two years ; was then steward of the Troy
House, in Troy City, for two years, after which, he went to Howard's
Hotel, where he remained five years and six months. In July, 1846, he
left the United States and visited, in turn, South America, the East
Indies, Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, Mauritius and Isle of France ;


made an attempt to cross the Egyptian Desert from Suez, in the Red Sea,
to Alexandria, on the Mediterranean, but did not go further than Aden,
in Arabia, from whence, he returned to Bombay, in the East Indies,
where he took ship and went to London, England. He then visited
Bremen, in Germany, Havana in Cuba, thence back to New York. At
this time the city was in a state of the most intense excitement, on
account of the discovery of gold in California. Mr Shirland, therefore,
only remained eight days there, when he started for Chagres, on the
Atlantic side of the Isthmus, in the steamer " Falcon," calling at Charles-
ton, Savannah, and Havana, thence to port of destination. On arrival he
hired a canoe, with one Indian and a boy, to take him up the Chagres
river, landed at Gorgona, and performed the rest of the journey into
Panama on foot. The year was the eventful one of 1849. At this time
there were two thousand one hundred persons at Chagres in one day
awaiting passage, and no vessel to take them, but, there was one which
had her full complement on board, and to her captain Mr. S. agreed to
pay fifty dollars coin, as well as work his passage, to be allowed to proceed
in the ship, which he did, and arrived in San Francisco about 18th May,
1849. At once proceeded up the river to Embarcadero, now Sacramento,
where there were but four houses, belonging to Sam. Brannan, Priestly &

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 44 of 57)