Click Here to Print This Story!   Click Here to get a PDF Copy of this Story!   

Sunday, January 05, 1997

Congregation locked out of its church

Kristin Delaplane

Suisun City gets official Thanksgiving date wrong

In the 1800s, religious camp meetings were common. These meetings could be a one day event or last even up to two weeks. They were called “camp meetings” as the people came from near and far and camping out during their stay. The preachers would usually commence at 9 a.m. and go on until night fell. Usually a well known preacher would be featured with local preachers also pitching in. In 1863, such a meeting was to be held at the Pacific Methodist Church in Vacaville. A food table was set up and all were welcome.

In other religion news, H. J. Bland was the pastor at the Methodist Church in Fairfield.

Due to some financial differences, J. Hamilton, who was building the Catholic Church in Suisun City locked the congregation out and so services were held in the Union Hall. Meanwhile, property known as Ball Alley House on Suisun Street was being sold by Hamilton.

Wright & Henry, who owned the Union Hall (formerly Wright & Henry’s), had a flag staff put over the building which was the site of many of the town’s activities.

The Good Templar’s were established as follows: Barton’s Hall in Fairfield; Washington Lodge in Silveyville; Tremont Lodge at S.F. Hyde’s residence; and Pleasants Valley Lodge possibly at G.W. Murphy’s residence. Mt. Delights Lodge was located 2 1/2 miles north of Rockville at the schoolhouse. And there was also a lodge in Vallejo.

The steamship C.M. Weber was fitted up with a boiler and other improvements to the tune of $3,800 and was making the Suisun City-San Francisco run faster than any other boat on that run.

Seaman Nelson Anderson had a finger smashed between the cog wheels of a wharf crane near the Ballard & Hilborn’s warehouse in Suisun City.

The sloop Fanny Frisbee, named for Vallejo’s daughter Francesca Vallejo Frisbee, challenged all the sailing craft on the Bay to a race for $500. The owners ended up paying out $100 in forfeit to the sloop P.M. Randall.

Solano’s Edward P. Pyne announced he was divorcing his wife Susan. A divorce was not taken lightly and, because it was so rare, it was considered news.

Five men out on the town in Suisun City got in a fight. One man received a severe cut from a knife. He was able to make his way to Jim Temple’s saloon and taken to the hospital, but the wound was so serious, it was assumed he would die. Three of his companions were arrested.

Another situation arose in Montezuma Hills when William J. Jones got into a beef with a Mr. Abell, a man he employed. The hired hand wound up with a broken leg.

A Grizzly Island ranch was being sold by Dr. W.F. Peabody. Whitman & Wells were his agents. The ranch was 3,500 acres with a house and an outhouse.

William T. Bell was murdered in Vallejo. M. Thornton of the steamer Saranac, which was undergoing repairs at the Navy Yard, was the assailant. It all began at dusk when Mrs. Bell heard something outside her house. On going out to inspect, she spied Thornton lurking about. She informed her husband who went outside with a gun. When he came upon Thornton, a fight started. Mrs. Bell went for help, but by the time she returned, her husband was dead. Thornton was seen running to the beach, stripping off his clothing and making for the open water. A schooner headed for San Francisco seemed to retrieve something from the water and rumors followed that the murderer was last seen in Martinez. None of these accounts proved true. Thornton’s body was recovered by Mr. Deming in Benicia and he was buried there.

A man named Murphy was put in the Benicia jail for stealing $680 from an employee of E. McGeary. A total of $90 was recovered. Murphy was later moved to the county jail.

Two hundred sacks of grain were stolen from the ranch of Jack Adamson located on Putah Creek.

A lawsuit was instituted against John M. Neville, sheriff of the county. The demand for $5,000 in damages was due to two people saying they were unlawfully arrested in Green Valley and imprisoned in Benicia for three days. Neville’s story was that he was under order from an attorney to seize some hay, but when he did so these two men drove the sheriff’s deputies off and retook the hay. On Neville’s orders the men were arrested. They were released on a court order declaring that the attorney did not have the authority to order seizure of property.

Justice Miner, on witnessing two boys about 12 years old fighting in the street, broke it up. He then went into his office. Soon afterwards he heard noise outside and on walking out saw several men urging the boys on in their fight. When someone attempted to stop the fight, the local peace officer stepped in to stop the interference. “How long will a clique, a dynasty be tolerated by the citizens?” an editorial asked.

The chef from the Pacific House tarred the local barber’s variegated barber’s pole. This started a fight between the two in front of the Suisun Bakery. The barber bit the chef and would not let go. Halsey, proprietor of the Pacific House, came to his chef’s rescue.

In Justice Miner’s court, a Chinese, Lowe, was accused of insulting a fellow Chinese. A jury trial decided in favor of the defendant.

Richard Reading’s wife lodged a complaint against him and on a bond of $200 he was to keep the peace for six months.

Ed Oakley was found not guilty in the charge of stealing some hogs.

There was a fracas in Suisun between Casey and McDermott. Casey, who was drunk, made a remark about the other’s wife. Window smashing, hair pulling finger biting, head pummeling and blood letting ensued. The fight ended when one yelled enough and the other was hauled off to have his wounds attended to.

D.E. Stockmon’s horse Barney, a harness, saddle and a buggy were stolen from his stable by Charles Smith. Smith, a recent arrival, had been working in Suisun as a carpenter. On his way out of town with the horse, Smith stopped at Gall’s saloon in Fairfield and stole 100 pounds of tobacco. Deputy sheriff Apgar, caught up with Smith at Tule House situated six miles west of Sacramento. Apgar was bringing Smith back to Fairfield when Smith jumped out of the buggy near Pena’s ranch. Smith escaped, but Barney and the rest of the stolen property was returned. The notice for the outlaw Smith noted that he was known to use several aliases including Charles Irving and Charles Wormwood. He was described as 30 years old, German, a carpenter, 5 feet 5 inches, 130 pounds and sandy hair.

A fire in Dutton’s field in the Vaca Valley jumped over to Edmunds’ field destroying a great deal of his crop.

The six-year old son of Thomas Coleman of Benicia drowned.

An intoxicated marine from the Saranac fell from the Georgia Street wharf July 4th and drowned.

The Union Engine Co. in Suisun held a meeting and Ballard, Dinkelspiel and McGarvy were appointed to ascertain the cost of a bell and procure subscriptions for its purchase.

As a saddle was being removed from a horse in Cannon’s Stable in Suisun City, an entanglement of the rigging frightened the animal causing it to flee down the streets dragging the saddle after him. In turning the corner of Main and Sacramento streets, he stumbled and fell, badly hurting a foreleg.

Mr. Maupin of Vacaville was thrown from his buggy when his horse became frightened and ran away. As J.C. Maupin was the constable of Vacaville in 1863, this item was considered newsworthy.

There was a fire in Benicia at the house of S.C. Hastings. Most of the valuables, including furniture, were saved, but two men were crushed by a falling wall and killed.

A stable in the rear of the brewery belonging to a butcher named Fischer caught fire and was burned to the ground. It was in 1849 that Joseph Fischer came to Benicia. Of German descent from Switzerland, he established his butcher shop. He went on to own cattle and a quarry. In 1854, he married Catherine Hall. In 1856, he purchased a hotel that had recently had a fire and moved it.

Suisuns’ Dr. Coffran came from Maine. A letter from a former Maine patient was used for his advertisement. The letter was mailed from Big Oak Flat, about 100 miles from Suisun. The lady stated that in 1851 her husband had taken sick. The local physician said what ailed him would pass, but as his sick condition continued, she wrote Dr. Coffran to ask him to come. He replied that he could not, but that sounded like her husband was in the last phase of typhoid fever. Indeed, he was and he died. When her son came down with the same symptoms, this began a daily correspondence with Dr. Coffran with him sending along medications. Everyone told her she was a fool to trust this to a doctor 100 miles away, but she continued. Her son recovered.

It was reported in an Aug. 8, 1863 newspaper that the Thursday before was the day appointed by the President as a time for Thanksgiving, praise and prayer. It was observed in Suisun with the hoisting of the flag and a Thanksgiving soiree at the Union Hall. (This news item date is in conflict with the actual setting of this national holiday. The first Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by President Washington as Nov. 26, 1789. President Lincoln revived it in 1863 proclaiming Thanksgiving Day as Oct. 3.)