J. P Munro-Fraser.

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

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and in 1853 came by the way of Nicaragua to California, arriving in San
Francisco in December of that year. Here he resided until the spring of
1854, when he went to the mines, but settled in Benicia in July follow-
ing. February, 1855 went to Mare Island, working for the Government,
but in 1857 moved to Salt Point, Mendocino county, Cal., where he had
the contract of cutting the stone which was to build the north battery at
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco bay. Returned to Mare Island that year,
removing to Contra Costa county in 1859, engaging in the stock trade-
Again in 1862 we find him in Benicia, where he has since made it his
home. Was elected to the office of County Assessor in 1871, since which
time he has been agent for S. C. Hastings. Married Ellen A. Haggarty,
at Vallejo, in 1855. They have Nellie J., Olivia R, Andrew J., Joe H.
Orville L., Charles H., Walter D., and Maggie E.

KINSTREY, THOS. T., was born in New York City, August 30, 1819,
where he resided till 1852, when, on March 19th, he sailed for California
in the ship " Pioneer." After being wrecked, he arrived in San Francisco
September, 1852 ; thence coming to Benicia, and began business as boiler-
maker for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. In 1864 he commenced
his present business, which he has since continued. Mr. K. married Laura
Valentine, in 1854, by whom he has a family.

KUHLAND, WILLIAM, was born in Germany, in 1835, and emigrated to
America in 1852, first settling in New Orleans, where he resided until
1858, when he came to California. He resided in Tuolumne county, and
began his trade of boot and shoe maker, at Chinese camp, where he lived
till 1861, when he moved to Copperopolis, Calaveras county, where he
continued his trade for two years and a half, when he came to Benicia,
August, 1867, where he again worked at his trade, and in 1870 he began


his business in the sale of gents' furnishing goods. Mr. Kuhland married
Mary Seibert, in 1856, by whom he has four children : Lewis, Kate, Lillie
and Mary. Mr. K. is a member of the I. O. O. F., Benicia.

McKAY, THOMAS, was born in Nova Scotia, in 1845, where he resided
till 1862, when he went to Woburn, Massachusetts, remaining there until
1865 ; thence going to California and settling in Benicia, where he be-
came a partner of the firm of Brown & McKay. In 1878 partnership
was dissolved, and since, the firm has been McKay & Chisholm, engaged
in the business of tanning and currying. Mr. McKay married Louise
Harris, July 26, 1876, she also being a native of Nova Scotia, and born
February 14, 1852. He has an only child, George Arthur, born Septem-
ber 7, 1877.

McNALLY, BERNARD, farmer ; was born in County Cavan, Ireland,
November 12, 1847. In 1860 he came to America, first settling in New
York City, where he resided eight years, when, in 1868, he came to Cali-
fornia, and settled on his present property. Married at San Francisco,
August 18, 1873, Mary Fitzpatrick, a native of County Cork, Ireland.

MIZNER, LANSING BOND, was born in Monroe county, Illinois, on the
5th day of December, 1825. His father was educated for the law, in
Geneva, New York, and settled in Illinois, in 1821, where he died eight
years thereafter. His mother was the only daughter of Dr. Caldwell
Caines, a leading member of the convention which formed the first con-
stitution of Illinois, and niece of Shadrack Bond, the first Governor of
that State.

Mr. Mizner was educated at Shurtliff College, Alton, Illinois, and in 1839
went with the American Legation, to New Granada, in South America,
where he became familiar with the Spanish language. Returned to Illi-
nois in 1843, and resumed his studies at the same college, and read law.
In 1846 he joined the Third Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, en route for the
Mexican war, and was appointed Commissary of the Regiment. On arriv-
ing at Carmarqo, on the Rio Grande, he was detailed as Interpreter,
on the staff of Gen. Shields, and ordered to join Gen. Wool's column, then
invading Mexico from Texas. Was the bearer of dispatches to Gen. Taylor
through the enemy's country, alone, from the Rio Grande to Monclova and
Saltillo, and took part in the battle of Buena Vista, in February, 1847.
Returned to Illinois in July, of that year, and resumed the study of law.
Arrived in California, via New Orleans and Panama, on the 20th day of
May, 1849, and in the same month settled in Benicia, purchased real es-
tate, and a quarter interest in the mercantile firm of Semple, Robinson &
Co., the then owners of the ship " Confederation " and her East India


cargo of goods. Took an active part in electing the delegates to the Mon-
terey Convention, which formed the first Constitution of California, and
on the formation of the State government, was elected an Associate Jus-
tice of the First Court of Sessions, of Solano county.

In 1853, Mr. Mizner was appointed by President Pierce Collector of
Customs for the Northern District of California, which then included
all that part of the State north of the Bay of San Francisco, and west of
of the Sacramento River, to the Oregon line ; the Custom- House being
located at Benicia.

On the breaking out of the Rebellion in 1861, Mr. Mizner took strong grounds
for the preservation of the Union, and has ever since been a firm Repub-
lican, and was elected to the State Senate in 1865, from Solano and Yolo
counties. At the Session of 1867-8, was chosen President, pro tern., of
the Senate, and was Chairman of the Committee on Commerce and Nav-
igation, and also of the Committee on Swamp Lands.

As early as 1852, Mr. Mizner began to take a deep interest in connecting
Benicia by rail with the interior of the State, and was a Delegate to the
Convention, held in San Francisco in that year, on the general subject of
Railroads. In 1866, he was sent as a special agent to Washington City,
to procure Congressional aid for a railroad, from Benicia to Marysville,
and succeeded in having a bill passed through the Senate making the usual
land grant for that purpose ; but, for want of time, it failed in the Lower
House, since which time he has been the active leader in securing the
completion of the great Overland Railroad through Benicia.

Mr. Mizner was admitted to practice law in the 7th District Court of Cali-
fornia, on November 5, 1850, to the Supreme Court of the State
March 9th, 1860, and to the Supreme Court of the United States, Dec.
6, 1866, and has been almost continually engaged in the practice of his
profession ever since the first named date. He is a permanent resident
of Benicia, has a wife and seven children, the oldest son a graduate of
the State University of California, Class of 1879. Mr. Mizner is a life
member of the Society of California Pioneers.

NICHOLS, J. B., was born in Fall River, Mass., June 17, 1844, where he
remained till about nine years old, when he went with his parents to
California, first settling in Benicia, where he has since resided, being chiefly
engaged in farming. Mr. Nichols married Mary K. Freeman, December
25, 1866, who was born in Michigan, September 21, 1847, and by whom
he has five children. Mary 0., born October 10, 1867, Clara B., born Dec.
5, 1869, Joseph T„ born April 26, 1871, Hattie, born August 5, 1873, and
Oscar H., born January 17, 1877. Mr. Nichols is a member of the
Solano Lodge, No. 22, 1. O. O. F.


NICHOLS, WILLIAM H., was born in Berkeley county, Massachusetts,
March 20, 1819, where he resided till seventeen years of age, when he
went to North Carolina, remaining there thirteen years, and being en-
gaged in merchandizing, lumbering, and ship building. In 1849, he re-
turned to Massachusetts, and the following winter went again to North
Carolina, and settled up his business. He sailed from New York, on
board the steamer " Crescent City," June 1, 1850, via the Isthmus of
Panama, and arrived in San Francisco August 24th. He immediately
proceeded to Sacramento county, where he engaged in mining for about
a year.

In November, 1851, he came to this county and purchased his present
place, but returned to the mines, which, in November, 1852, he left and
permanently settled where he now resides. For the last ten years Mr.
Nichols has carried on a hay and grain business in San Francisco. His
farm consists of 167 acres, all of which is under good improvement. He
married at Fall River, Massachusetts, August 17, 1843, Eliza Dean, and
has five children ; Joseph B., William D., Abbie A.. Nathan D. and Mary G.

OPPERMAN, JULIUS, was born in Brunswick, Germany, in 1831, and
emigrated to the United States in 1854, first settling in New York City,
where he worked as a tailor till 1857, when, in the spring of that year,
he came to California, via Panama. While in New York he enlisted in
the Regular Army. From San Francisco he proceeded to Vancouver,
Oregon, which was the headquarters of the 4th Infantry. He was after-
wards stationed at Humboldt, remaining there three years and eight
months. While at the latter place he acted as Hospital Steward for a
time, thence he went to Hooper Valley, the port of Fort Gaston, to estab-
lish a new military post, where he remained till November, 1861, when
the regiment was ordered East ; but, on arrival at San Francisco, he ob-
tained his discharge on January 17, 1862, where he again worked at his
trade till May of that year, and on the 28th came to Benicia, where he
has since resided and carried on his present business.

Mr. Opperman married Maria Mitchell, a native of Ireland, at Humboldt,
Cal., September 3, 1860, and has a family ; Katie, Mary, Lewis, Joseph,
Julius, and William. Mr. O. has been Secretary of Phoenix No. 2, and
an exempt fireman for several years.

O'DONNELL, JOHN, farmer, was born in County Limerick, Ireland, in
1824. In 1847 he emigrated to America and farmed in Onondaga county,
New York, till 1852, on January 5th of which year he sailed from New
York for California, being shipwrecked on the voyage, arriving ultimately
in San Francisco in April of that year. In 1852 he proceeded to Benicia,
where he remained two years, then moving to his present farm, consisting
of 230 acres. Married in San Francisco, September 7, 1856, Ellen Kelly,
by whom he has Mary F., Anna Eliza, John, and Thomas W.


PERIN, AARON, was born on March 4, 1806, and has a twin brother,
Moses, who is living thirty miles back of Sandiago, Cayuga county, New
York, where he resided till 1810, when he with his parents sailed down
the Ohio and located in Madison, ten miles from Cincinnati, Ohio, where
he remained until 1814 ; thence he went to Fayette county, Indiana, near
Cannonsville, where he lived till about 1840 ; after which he removed to
Scott county, Iowa, and remained there until 1846, when he went to
Dubuque, where he worked at the trade of blacksmith. On February
24, 1852, he, with his family, started for California across the plains, and
arrived in Benicia early in October of same year, continuing his trade
until 1877, when he retired into private life. Mr. Perin married Eliza-
beth Simpson, March 3, 1825, she being born in Kentucky, and died May
6, 1847, in Dubuque, Iowa, by whom he had eight children : Mary, born
November 16, 1829 ; Zackariah Taylor, born April 18, 1847, still living;
Rachel, Simpson, John A., William, Theodore, Isaac, deceased. Mr. Perin
married his second wife, Mrs. Lucy A. McMan, December 19, 1847, she
being born August 27, 1808, by whom he has no family.

PRESTON, WILLIAM E., farmer, is a native of England, and came to
America about 1847, first settling near Buffalo, New York, where he
worked on a farm for two years. He then moved to Michigan, and there
resided till the year 1852, thence removing to New York City, from
whence he sailed in that year for California. On arrival he proceeded
to the southern mines in Tuolumne county, and there remained four
years. We next find Mr. Preston farming on what is known as the
Pearson tract in Napa county, where he lived till 1871, then purchasing
a ranch in Contra Costa county he removed thither for ten months,
when he finally settled on his present farm of 90 acres. Married in
1860, Eliza Jane Powers, by whom he has Willie F., Mary G., Carrie
Belle, and Catherine F.

QUIGG, CHARLES, was born in County Deny, Ireland, in 1831, and
emigrated to America in 1845, settling in New York City, where he
remained till January 20, 1851, serving an apprenticeship of boiler
maker, when he sailed on board the " Brother Jonathan " to Nicaragua,
thence to San Francisco on the ship " Pacific," arriving there March 16,
1851. There he stayed but three or four weeks, when he came to
Benicia and engaged to work at his trade in the service of the Pacific
Mail Steamship Company. In 1863 he opened his present place of
business. Mr. Quigg is an exempt fireman and has held the office of

RAUM, E. C, was born in Harrisburg, Pa., October 23, 1818, where he
remained until 1828, when he removed to Franklin county, Pa., staying


there nine years, when he again moved with his parents to Wooster, Ohio.
When at the age of twenty-five he went to Jefferson county, Iowa,
remaining there about one year, spending a part of his time in Iowa City.
He then proceeded to Lake Superior copper mine, when, after the lapse
of nine years, again returned to Jefferson county and began a grist mill,
which business he conducted till the breaking out of the Rebellion. In
1862 he crossed the plains to California, first settling near Woodland,
Yolo county, where he engaged in farming, but at the end of- two years
was compelled to leave on account of drought. Thence he went to Car-
son valley, Nevada, where he remained four years, when he went to
Marysville, and, in July, 1868, engaged in the manufacturing of gloves.
Mr. Raum married his first wife in Jefferson county, Iowa, April 2, 1857,
Louisa Muller, by whom he has five chil iren living. She died in 1875.
Married his present wife, Mary F. Acres, at Benicia.

RIDDELL, GEO. HUSSEY, was born at Nantucket May 25, 1810, where
he resided till sixteen years of age and went to Boston and six years after-
wards returned to Nantucket engaging in the business of dry goods. In
1849 he left New York and arrived in San Francisco December 1, 1849,
thence coming to Benicia on December 8, where he again carried on a
business of general merchandise. In 1855 he was elected Justice of the
Peace, to which office he was again elected. In 1864 he was elected
County Auditor and held that office two years. During the re-election of
Abraham Lincoln he was chairman of the County Committee. Through
his perseverance the county gave a majority of between four and five
hundred. Mr. Riddell married Emma G. Barnard at Nantucket Septem-
ber 2, 1833, she being born October 14, 1814, by whom he has four chil-
dren, George William, Mary C, Henrietta and Herbert.

ROSE, ELISHA L., is a native of Ledyard, New London county, Connecticut,
where he was born in July, 1828. On August 20, 1849, he sailed from
New York City on the bark " Curtis " for California, arriving in San
Francisco on March 8th of the following year. After working at his
trade as a carpenter in San Francisco for two weeks he moved to Benicia,
and there following his occupation ; among other buildings built the old
Solano Hotel. Shortly after he tried his luck at mining but in 1851 he
returned to San Francisco and engaged for three or four months at ship
work. After this he moved to Contra Costa county where he started a
chicken ranch, when in the fall of 1852 he established himself on his
present property. Is unmarried.

RUEGER JOHN, is a native of Switzerland and born on January 9, 1817.
In 1834 he came to the United States settling in Washington City, where


he remained two years and a half when he returned to Switzerland. In
1848 he again came to America and in 1849 crossed the plains to Cali-
fornia locating where Marysville now is. He was unable to perform any
labor until 1850, when he began the erection of a brewery, it being the
first built outside of San Francisco in the State. In 1855 he disposed of
the business and came to Benicia where he again engaged in brewing.
Mr. Rueger was elected City Treasurer of Benicia in May, 1878, for a
term of one year. He was married in Switzerland to Barbera Shorwart
in 1838, who died in 1842, by whom he has two children, Eliza Matilda
and John. In January, 1843, he married his second wife Elizabeth
Wartenweiler by whom he has one son Carl who is at present in Nevada.

RYERSON, A. P., (deceased) was born in Patterson, New Jersey, Decem-
ber 11, 1822. When about thirteen years of age he went to New York
and there learned his trade of silversmith, which he followed up to 1849,
when he came to California passing his first year in Los Angeles. In
1850 he made a trip back to New York but returned in the same year
and settled in Benicia where he conducted a hotel, and in 1855 settled on
his present farm where great improvements have been made. Situated
on the farm is what is known as the Ryerson Cotton-wood Grove cover-
ing ten acres of land, one of the few clusters of trees to be found in the
township of Benicia. The trees are raised from seeds planted by Mr.
Ryerson in the year 1858. The residence is situated midway between
Vallejo and Benicia, and was up to his death on June 17, 1874, kept as a
place of entertainment by Mr. Ryerson. He married at Benicia, Esther
Bower, on March 1, 1855, by whom there is a large family, viz.: Henri-
etta, Isaac, Adrian, Virginia, Alice, George L., Clara M., Joseph G. and
Anna Rebecca, who are now alive. Mrs. Ryerson resides on the farm.

SAGE, TIMOTHY, was born in Middleton, Connecticut, November 12,
18 L3, where he remained till the age of sixteen when he began the man-
ufacture of Britannia ware at Yalesville, Connecticut, and stayed there
until twenty-one years old when he returned to Middletown, when in 1845
he removed to St. Louis, Missouri, and engaged in the same business till
the spring of 1850. In April of the same year he started for California
across the plains arriving at Sacramento the latter part of August. He
then went to the mines on the north fork of Dry Creek for a short time
and did very well. In the spring of 1851 he came to Benicia where he
has since resided, having started a brick -yard which business he carried
on for a period of fifteen years. He is now engaged in farming. Mr.
Sage married Mrs. Perlina Booth, September 20, 1853, by whom he has
one son Charles P., born November 3, 1857, having lost five children,
Edward T., Henry B., Nelson, William and Lillia. Mr. Sage is a Mason.


SPALDING, CHARLES, was born in Maine, February 9, 1819, and went
with his parents when young to Suffolk county, Massachusetts, near Boston,
where he remained till 1849, when he started for California via Cape
Horn, arriving in San Francisco in September, whence he proceeded to
the mines in Shasta and where he remained until the fall of 1850 when
he went to Sacramento and began business in general merchandise which
he continued till the fall of 1851. He then went to Colusa and engaged
in the same business till 1868 when he came to Benicia and erected the
Benicia Flouring Mill in the fall of the same year. Mr. Spalding was
engaged in taking the census of the county ; was also resident of Marshall
in 1870. Mr.__Spalding married Mary A. Silsby at Boston, Massachu-
setts, April 30, 1843, who died in Benicia January 3, 1876. Their only
child Edward A. was drowned in the Sacramento river at the age of nine

VON PFISTER, E. H., among the California pioneers Benicia claims sev-
eral who still reside here and were of the most important citizens of the
State in the days of '48, '49 and '50, and some were her citizens who have
long since passed away, whose names will forever grace the pages of
history of this part of the United States. Of the former, we propose to
give herewith a brief biographical sketch of one who has been a resi-
dent of Benicia for over thirty years : we allude to E. H. Yon Pfister.
" Von," as he is familiarly called, first came to the coast of California in
1846 ; being so well pleased with the climate, he determined to settle in
the State. With this object in view, he went down to the Sandwich
Islands and purchased a stock of general merchandise and returned to
this State in March, 1847. He had intended to open a store at San Jose,
but, while yet at Yerba Buena (San Francisco), Dr. Semple, the founder
of the city of Benicia, had heard of the advent of the enterprising Yon
Pfister. and he determined that the new stock of goods and its owner
should be brought to Benicia. So he went to San Francisco in a whale-
boat, and succeeded in getting Mr. Yon P. to at least consent to visit
Benicia. Embarking in the whale-boat with the Doctor, they occupied
four days in making the voyage. They made soundings all the way up
to verify the claims made by the Doctor that Benicia's location was un-
surpassed for commercial purposes. Yon Pfister says, being a sea-faring
man, and finding a fine, ample channel for deep-sea vessels, and the result
of his observations being that almost all large commercial cities were sit-
uated near the head of navigation, concluded this was the place for him
to locate. He purchased an unfinished adobe building, and, after putting
it in condition, opened out his stock of goods in August, 1847. The
building is standing and is still his property ; it is situated in the rear of
Jos. Ewing's store, on First street. His trade was of a very satisfactory


character. The prices obtained for goods were much the same as those of
the present day. There was very little cash. The standard currency of
those days was hides, valued at $1 50 each, which were frequently styled
" California bank-bills." Corn, barley and other articles of produce were
readily taken in lieu of coin. Early in May, 1848, one evening while a
number of persons were assembled in Von's store talking over the pros-
pects of the State, a gentleman present said a good coal prospect had
been found near Mount Diablo. Another said if that was true and coal
should be found to exist in quantity, a great future was in store for Cali-
fornia ; but without coal he did not think much of the State's prospects.
A stranger, who had been a quiet listener to the conversation, said:
" Gentlemen, I have something here which, if it is what I think it is, will
beat a coal mine and make this the greatest country in the world." He
then produced a little buckskin bag holding about $100 worth of gold-
dust. The dust varied in size from a flax-seed to a good-sized pea. This he
handed around for the inspection of those present. He said his name was
Bennett, and that the " stuff" had been found in Coloma while digging
the race for the Sutter mill. Thinking it might be gold, he had brought
it down to Sutter's Fort to find out ; but as there were no chemicals there,
he was on his way to Monterey to submit the metal to Governor Mason.
If *it was gold, there was any quantity of it. The Beniciaites were quite
incredulous. A few days after this there was a great rush down the
river and by land of people who possessed samples of the new discovery.
Some carried it in old stockings, old boots, and anything that would hold
the yellow dust. Some of those who came down the river had old rattle-
traps of boats which required constant bailing to keep afloat ; pieces of
blankets were utilized for sails, and all were greatly excited. About this
time Samuel Brannan, Esq., who had been a shipmate of the subject of
this sketch, came along, and said gold had really been discovered and that
the mines were good. He advised Von to pack up his goods and go to
the mines with them. This he did. He chartered Dr. Semple's flat-boat,
and in six days reached Coloma with his goods. At Sacramento he was
joined by Brannan with an equal quantity of goods, and the firm of Von
Pfister & Brannan did a thriving business until October, when the former
sold out and left the mines. In the spring of 1849 he returned to Benicia
and rented the adobe building where stands the present Benicia Brewery >
and opened a hotel. He paid $500 a month rent, and $150 per month for
a cook ; $125 each for two stewards ; $100 each for a housekeeper and
barkeeper. Notwithstanding these heavy expenses, Mr. Von Pfister
cleared $12,000 in eleven months. During his long residence in Benicia

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 51 of 57)