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Sunday, October 06, 1996

County cash squeeze cut judge’s, DA’s pay

Kristin Delaplane

County offers raise, then pulls it back

The scandal in Solano County government the year of 1858 involved the salary of the district attorney: At that time, when high prices were universal and people were bringing down expenses, the people were being informed that the Board of Supervisors put in for a bill to beef up the DA’s salary by $500 a year. Prior to this resolution the DA was making $1,000 year. In addition, he could have outside clients as long as it wasn’t a criminal case. Interestingly, this resolution on the upgrade in the DA’s salary did not appear in the board’s minutes.

At that time, the county was in debt to the tune of $50,000. As regards the DA’s services, they were in cases of assault and battery, stealing and the like. And then, in a conviction, he was entitled to $15 from the defendant in addition to his annual salary. For his services, the editor pointed out, “All that was necessary was to know the names of the different law books and read an extract or two from them.”

By April, the board reversed itself on the matter of salaries. The salary of the county judge had been $3,000 a year and the DA was up to $1,500. A bill was passed reducing the judge’s salary to $1,500 and the DA was back to $1,000.

As to the county’s debt, by April there were petitions being circulated throughout the county to ensure that the county treasury would be put on a cash basis vs. county script.

When the French ship Amiral Casy was unloading coal at the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. wharf in Benicia, 16 crew members deserted. Previously, three had deserted in San Francisco. It was guessed that the cause were a group of land sharks in San Francisco who induced “poor jack” to leave his ship, then drugged him so as to gain his advance pay on another ship.

Another case of desertion occurred when was one of the soldiers from the barracks disappeared. It may be assumed his reason was not the same as the French sailors’.

A wedding party took place in Benicia for Mayor Storer and his wife. This occurred after the couple returned from traveling over the state. The party was held at the residence of Oliver Hyde, father of the bride.

On March 31, 1858 Anthony Howe was having a sale on a piece of property opposite Judge Leviston’s brick house. For sale were the two dwelling houses, six head of American cows with calves and furniture.

H.L. Davis reported that a 2-year-old filly had either been stolen or had strayed from his Suisun Valley place.

That winter there was a fierce hailstorm in Benicia that lasted some 10 to 15 minutes, completely covering the ground. When it the hail stopped, the citizens viewed the hills of Contra Costa which were now covered with snow.

Winds of change were in the air. The removal of the county seat was first reported March 20 in the Solano County Herald. The editor noted that the valleys of Suisun and Vaca were filling up with an industrious population, farms were being fenced in at ever turn and the towns were growing in proportion. The most important of these growing towns was Suisun City and Fairfield. The people were to vote on this matter in the September election.

The Hon. Charles L. Scott, a congressman, sent some English seeds to the town of Benicia. These included crimson clover, ellipse purple topped yellow hybrid turnip, London particular long scarlet radish, large early London cabbage and white globe onion.

Ms. Felicia Autier married A. Chrysler, both of Suisun City. A. Chrysler owned the Cordelia House in 1856 and at some later point he established A. Chrysler’s Saloon on Main Street in Suisun City.

An “elegant” billiard table at the St. Charles was being sold cheap for cash or on approved security.

Giuseppe Tasso, who had been convicted of grand larceny in October 1856 and sentenced to three years in the state prison, was making an application for a full pardon.

Mrs. D. Cook was operating a millinery and fancy store in Benicia at Sanborn’s Building on First Street. She advertised that she would be keeping a large assortment of bonnets, embroideries, trimmings, shoes, etc. from the latest New York styles. She also offered services in altering bonnets to the latest fashion.

Brochman’s Springs, which was located five to six miles from Benicia, was said to be in a beautiful mountain valley. The medicated waters and pure air were suggested for the relief of sufferings.

On March 13 the Marysville and Vallejo Railroad Co. asked for an exemption of taxes for three years to build a drawbridge across the Sacramento River, a permanent bridge across Cordelia Creek and to build water craft that would take passengers between Vallejo and San Francisco.

A fatal accident occurred on the farm of E.G. Winne near Benicia. While plowing a field, James Lennon was shot in the back by David Doak. Doak was walking by the field with his shotgun on his shoulder when it got caught in a projecting fence rail. The piece of rail raised the hammer of the gun, causing it to go off.

Five thieves, boys ranging from 10 to 14 years of age, got off the San Francisco boat in Benicia. Shortly after their arrival, they were caught in the act of taking $15 from an establishment’s cash drawer. Three were caught. In the end, two were kept in jail and the other was sent back to San Francisco.

On the entertainment front, O’Milley’s Minstrels, a band of black minstrels, came to Benicia with a “sable music and dancing show.” Professor Bray, the “Bones” of the troupe, was accused of splitting the sides of the audience.

In March, there was a major fire in Vallejo that originated in a jeweler’s store on Georgia Street. The fire burned that building and the adjoining house belonging to a Mr. J.J. Barry of Benicia. Two other houses were pulled down to prevent the fire from spreading. The total loss was $3,000.

The American Hotel in Benicia was offering good, clean single rooms at reduced prices, a price lower than that paid at “inferior houses.”

In 1855, George Mann murdered Mr. Cook of Solano County. Lewis Sifford was Mann’s accomplice. Both men were still at large and a reward was being offered for their capture. Mann was describe as 5-feet-11, weighing 160 pounds with light hair and blue eyes, 25 or 26 years of age. Distinguishing marks were a crippled finger and a mark on the back of one hand. Sifford was 5-feet-10, weighing 130 pounds with brown hair and 24 years of age. Mann was worth a $5,000 reward and Sifford half that amount.

One of the latest books being advertised which could be ordered from New York was the “Hydropathic Encyclopedia: A Complete System of Hydropathy & Hygiene.” The book was said to illustrate the physiology of the human body, hygiene agencies and the preservation of health, dietetics and hydropathic cookery, theory and practice of water treatment, special pathology and hydrotherapeutics including the nature, causes, symptoms and treatment of all known diseases.

For Easter Sunday, a mass was held at St. Dominic’s Chapel. Probably it was the first time a high mass was celebrated there. The sisters of St. Catherine’s Academy and the pupils sang the parts of the mass.

At the Mare Island Navy yard, they were having a grand sale. Included were jackets, clothing, boots, overshirts, yards of dungaree, shoes, tin pots, a jackknife, shaving boxes, a mess kettle, scissors, three bottles of mustard and more. The barracks also had items for sale, including several horses and mules and a wagon for hauling.

A proposal was made regarding the City Hall, which had been the site of the Second Annual Fireman’s Ball that year. Serranus C. Hastings proposed that he be given the lower part of the building and the city retain the upper part. It was pointed out that if this went through, the city would be compelled to maintain the upkeep of the building while Hastings was paid the rents.