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Sunday, November 01, 1998

A year in the life of Solano County’s past

Kristin Delaplane

Among the State Fair entries in 1871 was a gangplow invented by G.W. Haines of Maine Prairie.
Theodore Winters of Putah and L.P. Marshall of Collinsville entered their thoroughbreds. Suisun’s livery man, R.B. Cannon, entered a bull. Amos Roberts of Suisun showed a ram. Charles Green of Putah Creek entered a boar.

Mrs. I.D. Burgess of Vacaville entered a patchwork quilt. William Cantelow of Vacaville entered a churn.


As of the summer of 1871, all overland passengers on their way to San Francisco would pass through Suisun.

C.W. Childs and Miss Nellie Childs were teaching at the Suisun public school where 100 students were enrolled. During the summer break, the school walls were whitened, new blackboards were installed, a library with maps and charts was added and a “cabinet of curiosities” was put up.

John Lambie established a dairy on the Jackson Ranch. He delivered fresh milk every morning and evening to the families in Fairfield and Suisun.

Stockmon set up a soda fountain in his drugstore, dispensing “healthful and cooling” beverages at a bit a drink.

The New York Circus arrived and pitched its tent for a grand show.

A new postmark was introduced at the Suisun post office, which marked the hour of the mailing as well as the day.

Suisun Valley and Rockville

H.G. Wetmore reported a banner crop of wheat on his ranch near Wooden Valley. He produced over 45 1/2 bushels of wheat to the acre.

Robbers did not find any money when they ransacked Thomas Oliver’s home while the family was at church. Nick Swetzer’s house burned down while he was at church.

A Ladies Aid Society was organized to raise money for the Rockville School.


Tom Hooper reported that a steam drum exploded on a ferry traveling to Antioch. One person died from scalding and a Chinese man received scald wounds and a fractured leg.


The grain crop was not great, giving the farmers only a relatively small amount to ship. Nevertheless, Dixon was taking on a town-like appearance and neat houses were being built.

Charles Buneman owned Buneman’s Hotel and Milton Carpenter obtained the contract to move the Mason Hall from Silveyville to Dixon.


There was a petition circulating to change the name of Mare Island to “Vallejo Navy Yard.”

Vallejo’s F.F.O. group visited the Suisun Skating Rink, arriving on the yacht Minnie Tucker under the command of Dillon Noyes, government pilot of Mare Island.

Two 11-inch Dahigron guns on the Kearage that played an active part in the sinking of the Alabama, were displayed on the Gun Park.

Deputy Sheriff Appleby arrested a man when he arrived in Suisun on the train from Vallejo. He had taken $700 and some jewelry from the proprietor of Cooke’s Circus. The robbery took place at Vallejo’s Metropolitan Hotel, where the man had cut open a trunk belonging to the circus man.

Ada Petet, 14 or 15 years of age, was highly acclaimed for her talent as a violinist after just a year’s worth of instruction.

Edmund Higgins devised an automatic “farm gaiter.” When the wheel of a wagon passed over a crank in the road, the farm gate would open.


Thomas Curley, an employee of the Vaca Valley Railroad, was pronounced insane and sent to the institution in Stockton. The same fate was met by Thomas Ahern of Vallejo.

Singing teacher Prof. Miller of Vacaville met with the residents of Suisun to discuss setting up a singing class in that place.

Eugene Lamonde only sprained his wrist and ankle when he fell some 50 feet from the cupola of the new church in Vacaville.


The county judge became annoyed when his proceedings were interrupted by loud laughter coming from the clerk’s office across the hall. The offenders were summoned. In walked a judge, a congressman, an attorney, a supervisor and a public administrator. The judge and congressman apologized for the group, who were duly reprimanded - and excused.

A number of persons were in the county jail; John Snyder for assault with the intent to murder. Antonio Manual for murder. Jesse O. Collins, a “Negro,” who worked in Green Valley was accused of attempted rape. The Vallejo Democrat picked up this story, but struck the word “Negro” and inserted “colored,” apparently the more politically correct word of the day. Dr. A.T. Miller, who had been charged with fraud, was released on bail. He skipped returning back east.

The main talk was the arrest and trial of the brothers Pansha and Guadalupe Valencia who were accused of the murder of Pleasants Valley’s Joseph Hewitt on March 3.

At the trial a number of people testified. First up was Mary C. Hewitt, wife of the deceased. That fateful night her husband was playing with the children when their daughter Belle stepped to the door to throw out a cup of tea. Two men approached out of the darkness, one small and one large.

The small man, Guadalupe, had a dark complexion and wore a white hat, dark coat and striped pants. When he asked if they might stay the night, Hewitt informed the men he had no room, but pointed out a neighbor’s place. At that, he was shot. With the assistance of a Chinese man employed as household help, Joseph was placed on the sofa. He exclaimed before dying, “I am shot. Oh, my pets!”

Lizzie Hewitt said it was the large man who shot her father. She had seen both men on horseback the day before at the Pleasants Ranch gate. She said the men scared her. The small man’s eyes were fiery. She had previously seen the men about a week before that.

Belle Hewitt had seen two Spanish men on horseback a week before heading for the Torres home.

Hosea Torres said he had known Hewitt for five years, having lived within 300 feet of him. He was sick the night of the shooting and said he did not know the Valencia brothers.

N. Kimberly, who lived on Putah Creek two miles from the Hewitt place, had seen the two men on horseback on the creek opposite Wiggins’.

R.C. Marshall met the pair the morning after the shooting about 6 miles from Hewitt’s. They were on their horses headed south and he was headed north. One of the men had a shotgun, which he turned around so that the muzzle was toward Marshall as they passed on either side of him.

Hamilton Thrift said the pair came to his Silveyville saloon the morning after the shooting and purchased a bottle of whiskey. They said they had come from Sacramento. Their horses were tired and they offered to trade a horse, saddle and gun for another horse.

Denverton’s William Smith said the pair called at his place the day after the shooting wanting to purchase a shotgun. He didn’t have one, but did sell them some liquor.

T.P. Hooper saw the men when they arrived at Collinsville to board the ferry for Antioch.

Lewis Hadsell received a wire to be on the alert and arrested the pair in Livermore Valley on March 6, three days after the shooting.

M.V. Owen, Solano County deputy sheriff, preserved the tracks around Hewitt’s place noting that one horse was not shod. He followed their trail to Silveyville, Suisun and Collinsville.

Dr. Platon Vallejo acted as interpreter for Pansha Valencia who said he didn’t remember when it was on March 4th that he crossed the Sacramento River at Collinsville. He knew Putah Creek and had crossed the bridge at Silveyville where he bought a bottle of whiskey. He lived at Searsville in San Mateo County.

The pair were judged guilty. Pancho (spelling varies) was the second man executed in Solano County in November 1871.