Alviso Township

This worthy pioneer and prominent citizen of Alviso township was born in Winsor, Kennebec county, Maine, March 6, 1812, and is the eldest son of Robert and Ruth Hutchinson.  At twenty-one years of age he had not received sufficient of an education to allow him to transact the most ordinary business, but by close application and diligent attendance at the Winter schools, besides careful research in private, as well as a three month's term at the Vassalborough Academy, he found he had absorbed enough knowledge to permit of his embarking in the tuition of a common school in the year 1837.  After that he followed the art of teaching as a profession, having taught as many as twelve schools in eight Winter, contriving to compass this by being present at two schools during some of the seasons.

 In 1840 he was appointed by John Fairfield, Governor of the State of Maine, Justice of the Peace and Quorum, the jurisdiction of the former office then extending over the entire county, positions he occupied for seven years.  About this time he was elected one of the Board of Superintending School Committees, whose duty was the examination of teachers and visitation of schools; he was also elected one of the Board of Selectmen and Assessors of his native town which office he held until his removal to Cherryfield, Washington county, in 1844.  In the year 1843  was the Democratic candidate for Representative to the Main Legislature ,but was defeated by the Whig nominee, the town having a large majority of that party.

 On arriving at Cherryfield he joined his father and brother in the lumber business, and there continued until 1849.  In that year Mr. Hutchinson took an active part in the formation of an association having for its object  a voyage to California.  It was styled the Sacramento Navigation and Mining Company, and was organized for two years.  The association comprised forty-eight members who each owned one share of five hundred dollars.  With the capital thus raised the brand-new Belgrade, then lying on the stocks at Cherryfield,  was purchased; she was loaded with provisions enough for a two-year's voyage;[transcribers note- see information on journal of this voyage at bottom of this bio] a number of houses already framed were put aboard, and a quantity of loose lumber.  The steamboat Fashion was bought from Hinkley & Egery of Bangor, taken to pieces, and with her machinery placed in the bark.  Mr. Hutchinson was chosen Secretary of the company and so continued until its dissolution.  On November 27, 1849, the subject of our sketch sailed for already far-famed Dorado, having received on taking leave of his native to he following testimonial, couched in honest language, which he holds  to-day in much esteem:

 "The bearer, Robert Hutchinson, Esq., is a gentleman whom we have known from his boyhood and we can most cheerfully recommend him as a man of strictly honest  principles, correct moral habits and in every way worthy of implicit confidence.  He is also well qualified by his learning, talent and tact for the transaction of any common business.  Windsor, November 12, 1844.  (Signed) Asa Heath, Town Clerk of Windsor; Wm. Hilton, Justice of the Peace and Quorum; A. S. Coombs. Wm. Perkinds Selectmen of Windsor." 

Having touched at Rio de Janeiro and admired its renowned harbor; at Juan Fernandez, and pondered over the solitude of De Foe's hero; and having rounded "The Horn" with its inhospitable coast and tempestuous winds, he arrived in San Francisco bay, May 27, 1850, precisely six months from the date of sailing .  Here one of the houses brought out in pieces was erected in the Rincon Point Cove; the steamboat was landed, its keel relaid and in two months completed, when the company was dissolved.  The property was disposed of to a new association for the sum of forty thousand dollars, and divided into forty shares of one thousand dollars each, though any member of the original company was given his choice, either to receive cash or a share in the new corporation . Mr. Hutchinson elected to take the latter, and received the position of steward on the little boat he had brought out, at one hundred and fifty dollars per month wages. 

 On the 1st of August the first start for Sacramento was made.  When getting as far as Benicia it was found necessary to put back to San Francisco, the top of the fire-box having burned away.  After six weeks consumed in repairing she was put upon the Stockton route to take the place of the Sagamore which had lately been blown up.  After Mr. Hutchinson had been running on this line for two months a combination was  formed between the steamboats Fashion and Governor Dana to take the freight and passengers of the New World and Senator from Sacramento to Marysville.  On her initial voyage on this mission the Fashion was "snagged," but reached her destination after undergoing certain temporary repairs.  On the return voyage she ran aground at Hock Farm, where the subject of our memoir was discharged.   Thence he took passage in the Hartford for San Francisco, where he landed at midnight.  He had gone but a few yards along Long wharf when he was attracted by the cry of "Fire!" he wheeled around in time to see the flames burst from the steamer Santa Clara, which lay alongside the boat from which he had just landed.  The flames were with little delay communicated to the Hartford, which although not sharing the disaster of her ill-fated sister was all destroyed but the hull.

 At the end of two months the Fashion arrived at San Francisco and Mr. Hutchinson joined her as cook, but before she had left the port he took his discharge and became one of an expedition to proceed to the Klamath river where it was reported gold had been discovered.  Taking a share in the schooner General Lane  with six others the voyage up  the coast was commenced, but with what result Mr. Hutchinson' diary will best explain:  He  tells us that the voyage commenced with strong head winds which had so increased that they were out two weeks, and out-of-sight of land; they were obliged to lay too, but after three days the wind chopped round in such a manner that the vessel would not lay with her head to the sea, in this position the rollers swept over her, and finally shipping one larger than the rest, it stove in one side of her cabin, swept across the deck carrying with it the bulwarks and stanchions, stove up the whaleboat into splinters, knocked the vessel on her beam-ends, shifted the cargo, and otherwise did much damage.  That night the pumps were kept constantly at work.  In the morning it was found that had the craft been put on the other tack than that on which she was, nothing could have saved her from sinking, and her passengers and crew from a watery grave. She drifted towards San Franciso, where Mr. Hutchinson arrived on or about May 20, 1851.

After remaining here a few days he left for Alviso, Santa Clara county, where he arrived May 27, 1851, thus completing his first twelve months in California.  On gaining that town he formed a partnership with A. J. Wilson in a grocery store, a boarding-house and a freighting business, they having a vessel plying between that point and San Francisco.  At the end of six months the schooner William A. Tarlton was purchased and J. A. Morgan admitted to a share i in the  business, but Mr. Wilson dying in 1853, the partnership was dissolved, and the affairs transacted by Mr. Hutchinson alone.  In, June, 1854, he started to pay his native State a visit, there he was married in the town of Addison, September 4th, and in November, accompanied by his bride, commenced the return voyage to California, arriving at Alviso on the 11th December same year.  He then engaged in the storage and lumber business.

 In 1856 he joined the Republican party; in the following year was a republican delegate to the State Convention held at Sacramento that nominated Judge Stanley, a North Carolinan, for Governor.  In this year, in the month of November, he embarked in agricultural pursuits, which he gave up at the end of two years and returned to Alviso and once more engaged in the lumber business, and storing a shipping hay, occupations he followed until the Spring of 1869, when letting his warehouses and hay-barns he moved to San Jose and entered upon the charge of the lumber yard of Chase & Conley.  At the end of one year they stopped this manufacture.  Mr. Hutchinson therefore returned to Alviso, and reentered upon his original business, which he still continues.  He served as a Justice of the Peace for Alviso township, excepting during the times of his absence, from 1852 till 1869; besides this he was appointed by an Act of the Legislature a Trustee of the town of Alviso to sell town lots the proceeds of which were to be paid to the School Trustees for school purposes in the town.  His colleague was Col. A. B. Rowley.  Mr. Hutchinson at the age of tweny-one cast his first political vote for Andrew Jackson, being convinced that he was right on the "bank question," while at an early age he became impressed with the importance of speaking the truth, knowing that "lies, like chickens, ere bound to come home to roost."  Through a long life he has treasured up many good and wise saying ,legends and maxims, among them being: "Erros is unstable and seldom the same.  She built her lofty structures upon a sandy foundation- upon the applause of being every moment liable to change.  But Truth is certain , eternal, and built upon a rock are the towers of her habitation.  She looks to Him only for applause who is the same yesterday and forever."  Dr. Robertson's Lectures

page 562-565
Transcribed by cdf
History of Santa Clara County, California
San Francisco: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1881,

RESEARCH NOTE-----------

Hutchinson, Robert. Journal, November 25, 1849-May 17, 1850, of a voyage from Cherryfield, Maine to San Francisco, California in the bark Belgrade under the command of Captain Horatio N. Palmer. California State Library, Sacramento, California. Original typescript copy. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California, # C-F 72, and
Huntington Library, San Marino, California both have carbon copies of the typescript. List of the fort-eight members of the Sacramento Navigation & Mining Company and ten other passengers who worked their passage are included in the first entry. Journal stopped shortly before their arrival in San Francisco.