J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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Co., Davis & Rider, and Jones and Brown. The city had been then already
surveyed and divided into town lots. The first person he met on the river's
bank was Professor Sheppard, of Harvard College, who had come to the
Pacific coast on scientific explorations, but was then attired in the typical
costume of the Californian pioneer, and driving an ox team. Mr. S. im-
mediately commenced the transporting business,, to the mines, with
thirteen yoke of oxen, divided into three wagons. In his first trip up to
Rose's Bar, on the Yuba, with one division of his outfit, he cleared the
sum of $3,300. He followed teaming with good success till June, 1850,
when he sold out for $76,000, with which, he purchased from the
Kelsey's the entire Clear Lake country, of sixty-four miles square, with
all the stock, numbering ten thousand head of cattle and a thousand
horses. This was a most disastrous speculation, for in eight months after
the purchase he was dragging his way to the mines with three mules and
an old horse. In February, 1851, he arrived on Salmon river, during the
epoch of the memorable starvation, when he carried about $800 in his
bosom, but could not buy a breakfast anywhere. In 1852, along with
Capt. Best Reynolds, John Chapman, Bill Stevens, and others, discovered
the first quartz ledge on the South fork of Scott's river. A . hundred
pounds of this rock was despatched to Mofiett & Co., assayers of San
Francisco, who returned $13.90 as the proceeds, on the strength of which,
he, with his comrades, purchased machinery, shipped it to Oregon, and
thereafter brought it 350 miles overland to the river, and erected the first


quartz mill in the northern part of the State. This adventure too was a
failure. The following spring returned to Salmon river and bought out
a man named Jessup, and all that season cut a quantity of timber. In
the winter of 1853, he and Best built the first saw mill on the Salmon
river, getting the machinery from San Francisco via Humboldt bay, and
conveying it on mules to the place of erection. The mill was a success.
In that year built three miles of flume in different "riffles." After re-
maining there till the fall of 1854, having achieved a certain amount of
success, he determined to revisit the Eastern States, and with that view
purchased a ticket in the "Yankee Blade," on the voyage in which she
was lost. He did not go on board the ship, however, but went to Placer
county and engaged in quartz mining. In 1855 commenced business as
a butcher at Gold Hill, Placer county, which he carried on till 1860, when
he moved to the Allison Ranch mine, in Grass Valley, Nevada county,
where he stayed till 1865. In that year followed up the Meadow Lake
excitement, after which, went as butcher with the workmen on the
Central Pacific Railroad, remaining with them till its completion in 1869.
Remained at Truck ee until October of that year, when he came to Vallejo
and opened a butcher store, which business he still continues. Is a mem-
ber of the Vallejo Pioneer Association. Mr. Shirland married in 1856,
Miss Mary Orr, of New York City, at Pine Grove, Placer county, who
died in 1865. By her he has one daughter, Frances, born December 17,

SIMONTON, GEORGE W. The subject of this memoir was born on April
21, 1824, in Waldo, now Knox county, Maine, where he received his early
education and resided until December, 1859. In 1848 Mr. Simonton en-
tered that career which has, in after life, placed him at the head of that
long list of teachers in California whose scholars are now fast coming into
prominence in the world. The first school in which he taught was that
in Prospect, Waldo county, prior to which he had been associated with
his uncle, Dr. Putnam Simonton, at Searsport, a most accomplished gen-
tleman, and from whom young Simonton received much of that learning
which has stood him in such good stead. His next tuition was under-
taken in the seminary of the Hon. M. C. Blake, the present Judge of the
Criminal Court of San Francisco, after which he entered an academy
taught by Rev. Edward Freeman, with whom he remained until the year
1848, when he became Principal of the school, and as such continued till
1859, when he retired, on account of failing health. On December 1, 1859,
he sailed from New York city, by way of Panama, and arrived in San
Francisco on the day after Christmas of that year. He at once pre-
sented himself before the Board of Education, and being examined re-
ceived a first-grade certificate. Remaining in San Francisco but a short


time he proceeded to Benicia, and there received a school certificate for
the county of Solano from Dr. Woodbridge, and proceeded to the Green
Valley District, in 1861. Here he remained, teaching school, till 1864,
when he came to Vallejo, and there took charge of the public schools on
September 2, 1864. At the time of his taking charge of these schools
there were but seventy scholars, while his daughter, a young lady of some
fifteen years of age, was the only assistant teacher procurable ; here Mr.
Simonton labored until 1872, when he received a well-earned leave of
absence for one year. Proceeding to Ukiah City, Mendocino county, Cal.,
he there purchased a private school, but giving it up in May, 1873, he
returned to Vallejo, and, assuming his former duties, continued to per-
form them until December, 1874. Mr. Simonton was elected to the posi-
tion of County Superintendent of Schools in 1863, filled the office for
six years, and is now employed in the Constructor's Department in the
Navy Yard on Mare Island. He married March 4, 1847, Harriet A. Ross,
of Rocklin, Knox county, Maine, who died January 3, 1868, by whom he
had eight children, there being now living, Fred. W. ; Sophia A. ; Frank
R. ; Willis E. and James G. Married secondly, Mrs. E. J. Monroe, a na-
tive of New York State, on April 16, 1870.

SMITH, JAMES G., is a native of Cheltenham, England, having been born
January 27, 1836. He came to America in 1857, and having spent one
winter in Rochester, New York, went westward, and, on arrival at Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, he enlisted as a cattle drover to the Government,
for the purpose of driving stock to Salt Lake City. Was there discharged,
and in company with fourteen others, made the journey to Sacramento
on foot, arriving there in November, 1868. His first permanent settle-
ment was made at Feather river, where he engaged in farming, and hav-
ing remained there for two years, in the winter of 1860, went to the
mines at Nevada city. In the fall of 1864 he arrived at Vallejo, and
opened his present studio, where he carries on the business of photo-
grapher. Married at Vallejo March, 1865, Adelaide A., daughter of Ben-
jamin Ingolls, of Boston, Mass., by whom he has Cheltie A. ; Waldo E. ;
Alfred G. ; and Saxon I.

STEFFEN, JACOB, born in Germany, in 1841, where he remained until
1857, and then emigrated to America, and settled in New York city, re-
siding till 1863, when he came to California. He first took up his abode
in San Francisco, but, in 1865, moved to Napa, but only sojourned
there two years, when he came to Vallejo, and in 1872 commenced his
present business. In 1875 he entered into partnership with Mr. M. Fors-
tenfeld, under the style of Steffen & Co., in a meat market, which they
still continue. Is unmarried.


TAYLOE, M. D., WILLIAM E., Medical Inspector U. S. Navy, was born
near Richmond, Virginia, December 7, 1837. Early in life, his parents
removed to Winchester, Virginia. Received his education at the Win-
chester Academy. Graduated in medicine at the Winchester Medical
College in April, 1859. Entered the U. S. Navy as Assistant Surgeon on
the 3d of July, 1859. His first service was on board the U. S. S. " Sa-
vanna," flag-ship of the Home Squadron, from October, 1859, till Novem-
ber, 1860. Joined the U. S. S. " St. Mary's," at Panama, in January, 1861.
Remained on board this vessel till May, 1862, during which time she
visited a number of ports on the Mexican coast, and spent several
months at San Francisco and Mare Island. Returned to the Eastern
States in June, 1862. Promoted to the grade of Surgeon U. S. Navy
September 5. 1862. On special duty at the Naval Rendezvous and Naval
Asylum, Philadelphia, till December, 1862 ; then on duty on board the
U. S. steam-sloop " Iroquois," and subsequently on board the U. S. steam-
sloop " Tuscarora," serving in both vessels off the Wilmington blockade
until the spring of 1864 ; then ordered to the U. S. receiving- ship "Ohio,"
at Boston, Massachusetts, remaining there until the spring of 1866 ; then
ordered to the U. S. iron-clad steamer" Meantonomoh,"at New York, in
which vessel he made a cruise to Europe, returning to Philadelphia in July,
1867. Placed on waiting orders until October, 1868 ; then ordered to the
Navy Yard at Mare Island, Cal. Reported for duty at that station Novem-
ber 26, 1868. In November, 1871, ordered to the U. S. S."Pensacola;" from
that ship to the U. S. S. " Saranac," in December, 1872 ; made a cruise of
three years in these two vessels. Detached from the " Saranac " Novem-
ber 30, 1874, and ordered to the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Cal. Promoted
to the grade of Medical Inspector U. S. Navy on the 31st of December,
1876. Detached from Mare Island on the first of October, 1878. On the
first of November, of the same year, reported for temporary duty in charge
of the Naval Hospital at Mare Island, Cal. Remained there until De-
cember 31, 1878 ; then detached, and placed on waiting orders.

Dr. Taylor was married in Pittsburg, Pa., October 20, 1863, to Miss Char-
lotte W. Irwin, a native of that city. He has an only daughter, Grace
Lee Taylor; born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

THOMPSON, J. D., born in Sangamon county, Illinois, March 27, 1846
and resided there until 1859, when he moved with his parents, to Monroe
county, Iowa. In 1861 he returned to his native county, and in the fol-
lowing year left for California, arriving in Honey Lake valley, Lassen
county, California, in August, 1862. Here he engaged in freight and
staging till 1867, when he went to San Francisco, coming to Vallejo on
March 10, 1868, being variously employed until 1873, when he established
his present draying business. Mr. Thompson married April 28, 1872, Miss


Jennie Currier, by whom he has Frankie J., born July 11, 1873, and
Charlie, born September 8, 1876.

THOMFSON, H. M., born in Sangamon county, Illinois, February 25, 1852,
where he stayed with his parents until 1858, when they moved to Mon-
roe county, Iowa. In the spring of 1855 he returned to the place of his
birth, and came to California in August, 1874, and took up his permanent
residence in Vallejo. He married, November 8, 1877, Miss Emma J. Ham-
ner, a native of Ray county, Missouri, by whom he has one daughter,
Alice V., born October 8, 1878. Mr. Thompson is occupied in the busi-
ness of a drayman.

THORNTON, T. A., is a native of Yorkshire, England, where he was born
in the year 1826. In 1847 he emigrated to New York, and from there
to Massachusetts and back to New York, and finally sailed for California
March 5, 1852, arriving in San Francisco in the following April. He was
variously employed at his trade of machinist, and at the mines until No-
vember, 1853, when he came to Mare Island and commenced working in
the sectional dry dock, as Engineer. Has been Dock Master there since
1877. Is a member of the I. 0. 0. F., and one of the building association
for the construction of the hall. Is also a vestryman of the Church of the
Ascension. Married, March 29, 1859, Margaret McDowell, a native of
New York city.

TOBIN, J. F., was born in Kilkenny county, Ireland, on August 15,
1830. When nineteen years of age he left the green shores of his native
country, arriving in America in 1849 and settled in New York, from
which place he emigrated to California, landing in San Francisco on
July 9, 1855. He remained here only a few months and proceeded to
Vallejo, where he at once embarked in the occupation of a butcher, a
business he still continues. In connection with this trade, Mr. Tobin has
been largely interested in farming and stock-raising enterprises, while at
this writing he is classed among the largest land holders in the county
he owning no less than three thousand acres of land. Mr. Tobin is a man
of much sterling worth ; is esteemed by his fellow-citizens, while his
energy has brought him to the position which he now holds among his
compeers. He married in San Francisco, October 12, 1860, Miss Catha-
rine Lynch, by whom he has a family of five children living : William
J., born Sept. 1, 1861 ; Lizzie, born June 13, 1863 ; Marie E., born Dec.
18, 1868; Lilly A., born Jan. 1, 1872; and Cecilia, born Dec. 6, 1878.
Two children have died, Martin E. and James F.

VANDERBILT, WILLIAM W., was born in New York in the year 1815,
where he studied and engaged in the profession of a machinist and engineer >


and afterwards as shipbuilder ; was for many years in the service of his
cousin, Commodore Vanderbilt, of New York. He was Chief Engineer
of the pioneer steamer " California " when she made her voyage to this
coast. In 1849, he visited Benicia and, in this connection, relates that
water was so deep there that the steamer was made fast to the shore,
where she rode in perfect safety. Mr. Vanderbilt was in the employ of
the Pacific Mail Company from 1849 to 1869, and for ten years was their
General Superintendent of the Bureau of Hulls and Machinery, during
which time he designed and superintended the construction of many of
the company's largest steamers. Having retired for some time, he again
entered the service of the P. M. S. S. Co. in 1873, which he left in the
following year to superintend, in the interests of Phineas Burgess, of
Brooklyn, New York, the rebuilding of the single turreted monitor
" Comanche," and the construction of the double turreted monitor " Monad-
nock" now building at Vallejo. Is a life member of the Society of Cali-
fornia Pioneers of San Francisco, and is a member of long standing of the
fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. He was married in New York,
in July, 1840, to Miss Sarah Remer, by whom he has two daughters who
are married and living in Vallejo.

WALKER, WILLIAM, lumberman, was born in Perth, Scotland, and
came to America in the year 1842, settling in Albany, New York, and
after at Schenectady, New York ; when, after a year in each place, he went
to Detroit, Michigan. In this State he commenced farming in Lexington
county, but, in 1852, he crossed the plains to California, with his family,
arriving at Hangtown, now Placerville, in August of that year. There
he remained for about eighteen months, when he removed to Sacramento
and thence to Benicia, and commenced working in the establishment of
the P. M. S. S. Co. as a machinist. Mr. Walker remained eighteen months
at Benicia and, on February 1, 1854, came to Vallejo, where he has re-
sided ever since. For the past sixteen years he has been engaged in the
lumber trade. He married, first, Jane, daughter of William Allen, of
Ayrshire, Scotland, on November 6, 1848, who died in April, 1877, and
secondly, Mrs. Mary A. McKay, on August 18, 1878.

WARD, JAMES, of the Bernard House saloon, was born in Ireland on
December 18, 1843, and emigrated to this country in 1849, settling in
Franklin county, New York, where he lived five years, after which he
moved to St. Lawrence county, New York. In June, 1862, he emigrated
to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and returned to St. Lawrence county, New
York, in 1865, coming to this State on May 25, 1867, and in December of
that year, settling in Vallejo, where, up to the commencing of his present
business in December, 1876, he was engaged in various pursuits* Married


Mary, daughter of James Rice. September 21, 1877, and has three
children : John F., Mary Ann and Margaret.

WENIGER, CHARLES, resides at the Summer Resort, about one mile dis-
tant from Vallejo. He was born in Prussia, September 13, 1824. In
1842 he emigrated to America, and settled in the city of New York,
where he remained till the outbreak of the Mexican war, when he en-
listed in the 6th Infantry of N. Y. Volunteers, and proceeded to the scene
of hostilities, being present at some of the principal engagements. After
one year and nine months' service he was honorably discharged ; he then
returned to New York, remaining there until 1850, when, on January 6th,
he sailed for California, and arrived in San Francisco on February 23d.
He soon started in the liquor business, carrying it on till 1855, when he
removed to Vallejo, and opened a restaurant. Sold out this business in
1859, and entered on his present premises, which is a great resort for the
lovers of sport for that portion of the county. Married, May 16, 1855.
Frederika Ovir, a native of Wurtemberg, by whom he has Julia ; Charles ;
George ; Emma ; Peter ; John and Fannie.

WENTWORTH, JOHN, was born in Lincoln county, Maine, on January 14,
1827, and, when an infant, was moved by his parents to Waldo county, in
the same State, where he remained till 1845, when they returned to Lin-
coln county, and settled in Thomaston. Here he attended the Academy,
but being possessed of a restless and adventurous spirit, the quiet life of a
school-boy became monotonous to him ; he, therefore, at the age of eight-
een, sailed in the ship " Mountaineer," on a voyage to Europe, the cruise
occupying six months. On his return he now joined the ship " Pyramid,"
and again visited Europe, and, making the return voyage, he was there-
after, in 1848, landed at Cairo, Ills., from whence he returned home by
way of Cincinnatti, Ohio. On his arrival at Thomaston he bound himself
apprentice to Nathan Reed, a ship-carpenter of that place ; remaining at
his trade till 1851, when he proceeded to Virginia, for the purpose of pro-
curing ship's timbers, but remained there only a short time, when he again
returned home, and resided there till January, 1853. In this month he
sailed for California, and arrived at San Francisco on February 19 of that
year. He at once proceeded to El Dorado county, and engaged in mining
till 1854, when he returned to the Eastern States, remaining there but
three months, when he once more proceeded to El Dorado. In Novem-
ber, 1854, he came to Vallejo, and obtained employment on Mare Island,
where he worked at his trade. In 1862 he left the Navy Yard, and en-
gaged in farming, which he pursued for four years. In 1867 Mr. Went-
worth was elected Treasurer of Solano county, which office he held for
two years. In 1869 he began business as a real estate agent/and con-
tinued it till 1875, when, on May 27th of that year, he was appointed Fore-
man Shipwright on Mare Island Navy Yard. He married at Union,


Maine, October 22, 1852, Miss Maria D. Cummings, a native of that place,
by whom he has John W., born in Vallejo, October 3, 1858, and George
A., born September 1, 1862.
WILSON, E. J., is a native of New York, having been born in that State
in the year 1829, being in the earlier years of his life engaged, principal-
ly, in the manufacturing and lumber interests. On the twentieth day of
February, 1856, he sailed for California, and arrived in San Francisco in
the following month, and remaining there but a short time he proceeded
to Shasta county, where he resided for one year, being, for the most part,
engaged in mining. In 1857 he came to Vallejo, where he has ever since
been identified with many of the interests of that city. Mr. Wilson is
President of the Vallejo Savings and Commercial Bank ; Vice President
of the Vallejo Land and Improvement Association ; and is President of
the Board of Trustees, to which office he was elected in 1876. He mar-
ried in 1851, in New York, Miss Helen M. Chamberlain, by whom he has
George W., born in 1852, and Hattie, born in 1862.

WILSON, JOHN, farmer, in Vallejo Township, was born in county Tyrone,
Ireland, and emigrated to America, in 1851, first settling, for a few
months, in Philadelphia, and left, on December 25, 1851, for San Francis-
co, which he reached on March 4, 1852. On his arrival he proceeded to
Hangtown, now Placerville, remaining there till the following May, being
engaged principally in mining operations ; he then moved to Solano county,
and was employed by Curtis & Clark, the former owners of his present
estate, with whom he stayed till 1855, when, together with his brother,
Joseph Wilson, they purchased a drove of 400 head of horses, and took
them to New Mexico, where they were exchanged for 4,000 head of sheep,
which latter the brothers drove back to their homes on the Suscol Ranch,
the undertaking occupying about sixteen months. In 1857 Mr. Wilson
purchased a portion of his present farm, 900 acres of which he owns, and
has under the finest and latest improvements. He is a large breeder of
stock, the horses reared by him being among the finest in the county.
Mr. Wilson married in San Francisco, October 10, 1870, Lavonia Wright,
a native of Oswego, New York ; they have one son, Edward.

WILSON, JOSEPH, farmer in Vallejo township, is a native of county Ty-
rone, Ireland, where he was born in April, 1826. In 1846 he emigrated
to the United States, and settled in Philadelphia, but embarked from
there in December, 1851, arriving at San Francisco on March, 4, 1852,
and at once proceeded to Hangtown, now Placerville, and Weaver ville,
where he engaged in mining until May, 1852, when he came to Solano
county, in company with his brother John, and found employment with
Curtis & Clark, the former owners of the estate now owned by the broth-
ers Wilson. In 1858 he purchased and now possesses 854 acres of land,
comprised in the finest farming district in the county. Mr. Wilson mar-


ried in Lake county, Indiana, January 15, 1866, Miss Margaret W. Young,
a native of Logan county, Ohio, by whom he has Jennie Belle, born Octo-
ber 10, 1866 ; John Andrew, born July 9, 1868 ; Joseph Ross, born Octo-
ber 7, 1873 ; Eldana Agnes, "born April 22, 1876, and George Wallace,
born January 4, 1879.

WILLISTON,^ JOHN EDWARD, the subject of our memoir, was born in
Portsmouth, Norfolk county, Virginia, October 14, 1841, where he con-
tinued, with the exception of three years, until 1855, when he went to
Boston and there attended school. On April 20, 1858, he embarked for
California. Came up on this side on board the steamer " John L. Ste-
phens," arriving in San Francisco May 15th of that year, and came di-
rectly to Vallejo, to join his father, who was at the time Assistant Civil
Engineer on Mare Island Navy Yard. On July 4th of the same year Mr.
Williston, Sr., with his son, left for Victoria, en route for the Fraser river,
on board the clipper ship " E. F. Willetts," but returned from British Co-
lumbia in the following November, per steamer " Santa Cruz," and settled
in Vallejo, where the latter has since resided. Mr. John E. Williston
was employed in various branches of business up till 1866, when, in part-
nership with Mr. H. B. Bell, he opened a grocery store, but, unfortu-
nately, in 1869, the establishment was destroyed in the great fire ; with
that perseverance, however, for which he is so famous, Mr. Williston im-
mediately rebuilt his grocery and continued its business until January
25, 1879, when, on account of failing health, he sold his interest to Mr.

D. W. Harrier. He was elected Sheriff of Solano county, by the Demo-
cratic party at the general election of September 1, 1875, and the like
honor was for the second time conferred upon him on September 5, 1877;
he has also served for two years on the Board of Trustees for the City of
Vallejo. Mr. Williston is a member of the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, of Mount Moriah Encampment, as also a member and Secretary
of the San Pablo Lodge of Odd Fellows. He was also a member of Naval
Lodge and Naval Chapter F. & A. M., and a member of California Com-
mandery No. 1, of San Francisco. Married March 29, 1869, Miss Sarah

E. McLeod, by whom he has Edgar, Eugene, John E., and Alice B.

YOUNG ANDREW J., born in Lincolnville, Waldo county, Maine, on March
20, 1829, where he resided until 1850, when he moved to Rockland, Knox
county, at which place he learned the trade of ship carpenter, remaining
there till 1859, when he emigrated to California, crossing the plains,
and first settling in San Francisco, where he sojourned until 1870, when

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