Trip, March, 2004:
On a recent trip to Rio Vista, CA, Jane and I
decided to try to locate the Hastings Adobe.
Little known, it is the second oldest structure in
Solano County--after the 1843 Juan Felipe
Peña adobe, which is about 30 miles north of
it near Vacaville. I knew only that it was located
somewhere near Collinsville, and that it was in
existence--indeed, occupied--into the 1960s.
we drove west on Highway 12, then turned south onto
the Birds Landing Road, and turning off again
toward Collinsville, finally traveled along dirt
roads used only by local farmers, ranchers, and
fishermen as we headed toward the River.
Rivers, actually, as the location is just
below the confluence of the mighty Sacramento and
San Joaquin Rivers, at the upper end of the Bay of
Suisun, where the breadth of the combined waters is
nearly two miles wide. In this season, the
treeless, wind swept, Montezuma Hills and Jepson
Prairie are brightly covered with blue-eyed grass,
poppies, lupine, meadow foam, brodiaea, ham 'n'
eggs. There is not a lot out there other than herds
of cattle and flocks of sheep. In
the 1840s, it
would have been herds of deer, elk, and
The 1846 Lansford
1842, Lansford Warren Hastings, a young lawyer (age
23) from Ohio journeyed to Oregon as part of the
Elijah White Party. He returned east two years
later and in 1845 published the Emigrant's
Guide To Oregon and California.
Returning to California in 1845, he and John
Bidwell surveyed the town of Sutterville for
Captain Sutter. I live in a part of Sacramento that
was once the town of Sutterville, and the Civil War
site of Camp Union Sutterville--now William Land
Traveling east once again in 1846, Hastings
determined to lay out a new and shorter route to
California, which would avoid going north to Fort
Hall on the Oregon Trail. His Hastings
Cutoff, part of which he established by
backtracking Frémont's 1845 route south of
Salt Lake, was used by a number of immigrants in
1846, but proved too difficult for wagons. One of
the groups was the ill-fated Donner Party.
Hastings returned west with the Harlan-Young
wagon train in late 1846. Later that year, acting
as an agent for the Mormons, he searched for a site
to establish a colony and built a small three room
adobe house (left in photo) on a knoll overlooking
the junction of the San Joaquin and Sacramento
rivers. Seen here, Mount
Diablo is due south across the rivers. In
anticipation of a Mexican land grant, Hastings laid
out a plan for the Mormon community and named it
but these plans were interrupted by the Bear Flag
Revolt and the war with Mexico in California.
During the months of the Conquest, Captain
Lansford W. Hastings commanded F Company of
Battalion. My 2-great grandfather, William
Edgington, who came overland in 1846 and married
John Grigsby's daughter Teresa, served in Hastings'
F Company. My 3-great Grandfather, Captain John
Grigsby (Grigsby - Ide party, 1945) commanded
Frémont's E Company.
In Monterey, in 1846, Alcalde Walter
"THURSDAY, Nov. 12. Capt. Grigsby arrived today
from Sonoma with thirty mounted riflemen and sixty
horses, and joined Col. Frémont's
encampment. Capt. Hastings is expected in every day
from San Jose with sixty men, well mounted, and
twice that number of horses. Every rider here,
destined on an arduous expedition, must have one or
two spare horses, especially at this season of the
Following Frémont's Capitulation
of Cahuenga, Hastings returned to and
continued to live in the adobe, running a ferry
service across the river to the Contra Costa side,
until 1849 when he removed to Monterey to
participate in the convention to draft a
constitution for the new possession of California.
That 300+ page Constitution is today the
Constitution of the State of California. In 1850,
Hastings became the attorney for the Northern
District of the new State of California.
In 1853 Lindsay Powell Marshall arrived in
California from Missouri with his two sons and a
herd of cattle. Hearing of the vacant Montezuma
House from Dr. Robert "Long Bob" Semple in
Benecia, they went there and took possession.
Semple, with Alcalde Walter Colton,
published the The Californian, in
Monterey--the first newspaper in
California. With Gen. Mariano Vallejo,
Semple was the co-founder of Benicia, the
second State Capitol.
He was with the Bears at the capture of
Soloma, and with Frémont when
Frémont and his Battalion
of Mounted Riflemen entered Monterey,
in July of 1846. On that occasion, Long
Bob was described by Lt. Walpole of
the HMS Collingsworth. "One man [of
Frémont's men], a doctor, six
feet high, was an odd looking fellow. May
I never come under his hands!"
Semple was actually six-eight and
it was said his legs were so long that he
strapped his spurs to his calves.
The adobe was already in poor condition--mud
walls and probably originally roofed with
tule thatch--but they repaired it. The
following year, Hastings attempted to reclaim the
property. Marshall, not wanting any trouble, gave
him some of his livestock as compensation, even
though neither of them had any actual legal claim
to the land other than that of possession. Marshall
later brought his wife and six children out from
Missouri to the then much-improved ranch. Between
1866 and 1873, he and his sons added more than
1,000 acres to their original holdings. After his
death, the property passed to his wife and in 1897,
to his eldest son, Lindsay P. Marshall Jr.
original house was was 27 feet by 27 feet with
22-inch thick walls. It was
divided into four rooms by 11-inch thick adobe
walls. As you can see in the photos, the house does
not look like an adobe. As with log houses,
a common practice was to later sheath them with
siding to protect the walls from erosion by the
weather. But the mud brick walls can be seen where
some of the siding is missing today, and in the
interior of this very dilapidated house. Notice the
2 foot depth of the window caseing below. This
sheathing was added by the Stratton family about
the turn of the century. Lean-to additions were
also added, but the rough, heavy timbers, thick
wooden doors, and hand-hewn woodwork in the
original three rooms and attic remain.
In 1964, the property was purchased by PG&E
as the site of a planned atomic power plant. The
plant was never built.
1972, the adobe was placed on the National Register
of Historic Places through the efforts of local
historian, Wood Young and the Solano County
Historic Society. A corrugated metal roof was put
on to protect it. Unfortunately, the structure has
since suffered from continuing vandalism and fallen
into further disrepair. The pile of dirt on the
floor at left has flowed from the walls when rain
leaked in and rodents burrowed into them.
This important historic site, the one-time home
of Captain Lansford W. Hastings, one of the framers
of the Constitution of California, is in very real
danger of eventually disappearing forever.
One of the entrance doors; an interior
wall with mud and straw plaster; an
exterior wall sheathed inside and out.
time for another side
Almost directly across the bay
is the resting place of famous
mountain man and explorer
Reporter, Historic Adobe Slowly
Deteriorates, by Jerry Bowen, Vacaville,
Reporter, Early Homes Were Made of
Adobe, by Jerry Bowen, Vacaville, 2004.
Historic Spots in California, Hoover,
Mildred Brook, Rensch, Hero Eugene, Rensch,
Ethel Grace--third edition revised by Abeloe,
William N, Stanford University Press, 1966.