Autobiographical Sketches of Fred C. Hemenway
I started to school soon after arriving in Winters. The principal gave me a reading test and put me in fifth grade. I was fourteen. Two of the pupils, Tom Downey and Leon Defoe, had moustaches. The first recess when the kids all ran down the steps to the playground, they gathered around me and Jerky McCoy jumped me. I put him down three times and didn’t have to try hard. (Jerky told me in later years they picked him to jump me because he was about my size). They then lined up a bunch of boys my size to race. I came in second. Then they jumped high and broad. I out jumped them all. I was off to a good start and could hold my own in any of their games.
I could play the snare drum, so the principal got me a drum and the kids would line up and march in by drumbeat when the bell rang. In the spring of my graduation year the earthquake came. The old school house began to shake about 9:30. The principal motioned for me to get the drum and the kids all marched out in order, by drumbeat. I was the last one out. That was April 19, 1892.
During summer vacations, we kids spent most of the time swimming in Putah Creek, and cutting apricots a little. I cut one season for Uncle Dwight, and another for Jim Wilson. One year Dad produced 10 tons of dried apricots from the Wood’s place (near City Park). He was Postmaster then. The Wolfe sisters cut for us, Cassie and Ada. Charlie Cole was on job one season. Scoot was on job also. Dad told me after the season that we had cleared $500 and that I had done a good job.
Dad, as did pretty nearly all families in those days, kept a cow and horse and buggy, which we kids used at our pleasure. We kids had spending money, but we didn’t spend it. We grew up feeling to spend was almost a sin, and in that way we were not sinners.
My brother Harvey (Scoot) and I played a lot together. Playing catch with Scoot I got to pitching curves. We formed a baseball club. “The All Stars” we called them. Tailor Frank Wyatt made our suits of yellow flannel. We played clubs from all the neighboring towns: Vacaville, Dixon, Woodland and Davis, and we played several years and never lost a game. Jackie Burris was catcher, Paul Roskie first base, Scoot second base (he was good), Jerky McCoy third base, and Sam Dunton center field. Billie Hulen of Dixon, a big leaguer, came over to scout me for Coast League, but I didn’t want to play big league baseball.
Will Fassett had a band for which I played valve trombone. Then Professor Hazen, a cornet player and band instructor came to town and organized a band. He got me to play the cornet. When Hazen quit, Charles Sinclair, a good violinist who played for dances, was his logical successor. The band was called Sinclair’s Cornet Band. He liked the way I played so I played in his dance orchestra and he told the boys they should make me band leader. Billie Cooper, sister Ella’s husband, was playing tuba in the band at that time, but he soon quit. Ella wanted him to be home nights.
I led the Winters Band for fifteen years. We gave concerts in the Opera House to which we charged admission. We had packed houses. On occasions of this kind, we would hire help from Sacramento. Every Saturday for years the band played street concerts, paid for by merchants to draw crowds to town on Saturday nights. Our services were in demand all around the country in political campaigns, Fourth of July celebrations, May Day picnics, street parades, street concerts, dances, etc, etc.
About 1896, a Methodist preacher, B.J. Waugh, undertook to run a newspaper. At that time, Edwin C. Rust was owner and editor of the Winters Express, a weekly. Waugh started The Independent. He got my father, who was a printer, to help. So, I was in the shop and learned to set type and Waugh put me on the payroll. I also worked for Frank Clough who followed Waugh, and also for Frank Owen who bought out Rust. When I quit UC, Editor Owen gave me a job on the Express. Later, Owen had a lung hemorrhage and was advised to leave Winters and go to Arizona. He sent for me and I bought the Express from him. When I bought the Express it was all hand set with a hand operated news press and a foot pumped job press. It was located at the corner of NW First and Main streets. The Post Office was in the corner and the print shop was in the back. When the Post Office went to Ora Woods, I moved the print office to the Hemenway Building at the SW corner of Main and First where it was located until I sold it to Walter Stark in 1944, and a lot to John Lorenzo.
Fred C. Hemenway married Miss Eva Harris and raised a family on a farm he purchased in the Wolfskill district of Solano County. Eva, born in Louisville Kentucky to George Harris and Margaret Ann Burris, was an active member of the Pioneer (Cumberland) Presbyterian Church. Fred also served as the postmaster in Winters. He was part of the first graduating class of Winters High School in 1895. He went on to teach school in the Buckeye, Union, and Fairfield school districts and also served as principal of the Winters Grammar School.
Click to enlarge
Fred left school teaching to work on the Yosolano Citizen, and then moved over to the Express. In 1908 Fred purchased the Winters Express newspaper and owned it for the next 37 years. He was active in community affairs. He was also involved with the Farm Labor Association, and Republican in politics.
Mrs. Maud Culton McArthur was a writer for the Express for almost 40 years. Like Fred Hemenway, she was in the first graduating class of Winter High School in 1895, and was graduated from Mills College. She taught at the college before returning to Winters to marry N. A. McArthur, a local blacksmith and fire chief. She started writing for the Express when Hemenway took over the paper and worked until 1949, when she retired because of her husband's failing health. Her son, Henry C. McArthur, got his start in the newspaper business as a printer's devil at the Winters Express and went on to be a reporter for the Woodland Democrat, the Sacramento Union, and was editor of a Stockton paper prior to founding Capitol News Service, which covered events at the State Capitol for newspapers throughout California. He operated the service until his retirement.
from the Winters Express Centennial Supplement June 7, 1984
The newspaper, one of the foremost editorially in Northern California, includes three old papers – The Referendum, The Independent, and the Yosolano Citizen. It has stood out in its consistent demands for prohibition and refusal of liquor and tobacco advertising. Mr. Hemingway, during his thirty-one years on the job, has aimed to maintain an independent paper, supporting men and measures irrespective of party label. The ‘Express’, has been prominent during this time in all of the forward movements of the community. It championed a bond issue for a new high school in 1908, ten miles of sidewalks and curbings throughout the town, a sewer system that was voted a few years later, extensions of the municipal water system, a motorized fire department, and the installation of a street lighting system, all since made realities.
from the History of Yolo County – by William Russell
The Winters Concert Band was renowned throughout Northern California during the early 20th century. Fred Hemenway is seated front row center, holding his baton.
The year 1900 was greeted with a ball given by the “Merry Woodsmen” (the local chapter of the Woodmen of America). An account of this festive occasion said:
Better music has not been heard in Winters. It was simply superb, and was made by Professor [George] Marvin of Sacramento, Mrs. Betty Sinclair and Fred Hemenway [both of Winters]…Everybody danced – no wall flowers or statues – and Professor Marvin introduce several new figures in fancy quadrilles…
From Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, A Harmony of Purpose - J. Larkey
JAPANESE SCHOOL BUILDING DEDICATED
A large crowd of Japanese from here and neighboring towns assembled at the new building Thursday afternoon to formally open the schoolhouse for use. The program started at 1 o'clock: "America" and the Japanese Anthem were sung by the assemblage. Congratulatory Addresses were offered from the Winters School by Yasao Hiramatsu and the Buddhist Church by Ben Shimamura. A Song was sung by Hatsumi Nishikawa and Congratulatory Remarks were offered by Fred C. Hemenway. The Japanese-American News, Japanese Association, and the Japanese School Superintendent of San Francisco were all in attendance. In the evening a variety program was enjoyed which began at 7 o'clock.
from a Winters Express article of 10/28/1930
WORLD WAR II
Prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese-Americans helped with the war effort. Roy Hiramatsu, a native of Winters, served in military intelligence and interrogated enemy prisoners of war.
GREAT EXODUS OF JAPS FROM THE WINTERS AREA ON THURSDAY
-- Fred Hemenway - Editor
It was felt by some that the relocation of Japanese-Americans was necessary for their own protection in the prevailing social climate. Before the war, the Japanese community had been insular for the most part, having been made up of first (Isei) and second (Nisei) generation Japanese-Americans. It had therefore been unclear to many in the larger community where their loyalties stood. Many people were losing loved ones in the war and strong feelings ran deep. War hysteria, and the very real threat of Japanese attack brought out the worst in people. Ignorance, suspicion, and racist tendencies led to regrettable actions. Strong feelings persisted even after the war's end…
After the first (Japanese) family returned to the ranch west of town in late 1945, resistance became overt on the day a young woman and her child went downtown to buy supplies. According to the recollections of Gregory Vasey and Yolo Briggs, who were eyewitnesses that day, the pair was taunted by local citizens and a large, hostile crowd quickly assembled on Main Street. Finding no one to offer assistance and seeking to avoid confrontation, the woman and her child ran down Railroad Avenue and into the alley. An account published in 1975 continues the story saying:
Jack Vasey, who was outside the
rear door of his
store, motioned the fleeing pair to come into the store, then locked
the back door to keep the howling mob out and went through the store,
locking the front door to protect the woman and child.
from Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, A Harmony of Purpose - J. Larkey
We will never know if the internment prevented any acts of disloyalty. Of the hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans, only the infamous women called 'Tokyo Rose' are known to have aided the enemy.
To maintain community ties and gain social acceptance by the larger community, Japanese-American families gathered for the annual "Japanese Picnic." Held in the foothills west of town, this event attracted families from far and wide. The usually insular community turned outward. Japanese food and games were enjoyed by all, Japanese and non-Japanese alike. For many years an invitation to this picnic was coveted by non-Japanese, until finally so few Japanese families remained in the area that the event was discontinued. What was once a substantial community of 40 to 60 families withered to three as migration to the cities took place.
Fred also developed
extensive ranching interests over the years near Winters and also in
Mendocino County where he eventually retired. He paid his employees
The Bank of America began as the
Bank of Italy, a
small neighborhood bank in North Beach, the Italian section of San
Francisco. After the 1906 earthquake, B of A helped with the
reconstruction. Later the bank initiated branch banking, expanding into
the agricultural areas of California, lending to farmers. This began
their ascent to become one of the world's largest banks.
Back row L to R Fred, Eva, George Harris - Eva's cousin
Front row L to R Ann, Harvey, George, Mrs George Harris