Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Old Times

The Vallejo Evening Chronicle of May 22, 1877 published the following column under the heading of “Old Times”

Events of Early Days in Vallejo

"Several days since a number of questions were propounded to the Chronicle relating to early events in the history of Vallejo. We herewith give the desired information in the order of request."

Mare Island

"The tract of land embodying what is known as Mare Island was sold by Victor Castro in the year 1850 to John B. Frisbie and a man named B. Simonds, for the sum of $7,000. About one year thereafter these parties sold the property to Messrs. Aspinall & Birrell, of New York for $17,500 and the latter named sold the Island to the Government for $80,000. The property was taken possession of by the late Admiral Farragut for Navy Yard purposes in 1854."

"The largest number of workmen ever employed on the Yard was in 1869 when there were about 1,750 men on the rolls."

"The Saginaw was built of Pacific Coast timber in the year 1859."


"The first newspaper published in Vallejo was a weekly called the Bulletin No. 1, Vol. 1, of which appeared November 22d, 1855 and was published by Messrs, Eaton & Cox. The latter is resident of Napa."

"There was an amateur journal printed on the Navy Yard about three years subsequent to the Bulletin, by a lad, M. L. Hanscom."


"Before the settlement of this section by the whites, this immediate section was inhabited by a tribe of Indians called the Soscols. From the best information it is believed there is no remnant of them left."

Political Incident

"James Buchanan was hung in effigy immediately after his election, it was supposed by some members of the Filmore club. The stuffed figure was run up on the flagpole that now stands at Connolly’s corner, and the halyards were cut away. The Democrats had great trouble in getting the effigy down. It remained there for nearly forty-eight hours; several sailors form off one of Uncle Sam’s ships essayed to climb the pole and cut the offending figure down, but all failed. Finally, a young man was found who accomplished the much desired object, and was paid $20 for his work."

Public Schools

"J. G. Lawton was the first Superintendent of Public Schools in Vallejo and the first Board of Education was composed of the following: J. G. Lawton, Chairman; I. S. Halsey, B. S. Osborn, E. M. Benjamin and M. J. Wright, Secretary. Their first meeting was held June 23d, 1870. Prior to this Board the schools were managed under the general State law by three Trustees. The first Principal was G. W. Simonton, both under the Board of Education and under the Trustee management."

Burning of The Old State House

"The old State House was situated on the very summit of the hill back of the Eureka Hall. It was a tall, two story structure, with from forty to fifty feet in up to its eaves, and forty by fifty feet in other dimensions. It was a frame building and had a zinc roof. The Senate used to meet in the upper story and the Assembly in the lower; below the latter was a half-basement, devoted to what purpose we cannot say. The building had belonged to General Vallejo, who gave the use of it to the State. After the removal of the Capitol it reverted to Vallejo, who owned it when burned. At the time of the conflagration, J.B. Frisbie and Burcham had a considerable quantity of hay stowed in the basement. The day before an incendiary attempt on Georgia street had aroused apprehensions among the citizens, and Mr. Topley and some others who had examined the State House with the possibility of a fire there in view, found evidence of the occupation at night of the place where the hay was stored. They nailed up everything securely so that no access was offered to the hay, and left. It was on the next day after-the morning of August 20, 1859, that the building burned. The flames first broke out on the water-side and were seen first by a man in a sloop on the bay. The alarm was given and the people rushed to the spot. But there was no fire apparatus in that day and the building burned to the ground before their eyes. There was a report at the time that those who first reached the burning house found a hatchet lying on the outside and evidences that a way had been forced into the basement nailed up the day before. But this is apocryphal. Anyhow, an incendiary attempted followed the night after, and then the people met and formed a police organization, which saved them from further fires for some considerable time."

Vallejo Rifles

"The Vallejo Rifles were organized in 1861 with J. B. Frisbie as Captain and John King, First Lieutenant."


  1. J.G.Lawton was my great-great grandfather. ~Susan Lawton Reynolds

  2. Well hi get at me I lov
    e history