No one ever knew the exact reason why wealthy
and sophisticated David Hewes and his new bride, Matilda, selected the small
community of Tustin for their home in 1881.
Just back from a yearlong
honeymoon in Europe, they had come south looking for a climate beneficial to
Mrs. Hewes, who suffered from bronchitis.
It would seem that many
southland communities would have satisfied their requirements, but after a
short time in Tustin, they purchased land at the corner of Main and B and
had a fine Victorian Greek Revival home built.
No records exist regarding
either the original owner of the property or the builder. However, the house
is a county landmark of public interest, perhaps because Hewes was the
wealthiest man in Tustin at that time.
In addition to being
recognized in San Francisco for the great fortune he had earned as a
contractor there, Hewes was well-known for his part in the ceremony
celebrating the joining of the East and the West by rail at Promontory
Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869. A friend of California Gov. Leland Stanford,
he had provided the golden spike used in the dedication.
After hiring San Francisco
jewelers Schulz, Fischer & Mohrig to cast a 55/8-inch-long, 17.6-carat gold
spike weighing 14.03 ounces, he had them engrave it with the words, “May God
continue the unity of our Country as the Railroad unites the two great
Oceans,” names of Central Pacific officials and “the last spike.”
Gov. Stanford traveled to the
ceremony by private rail coach, carrying both the spike and a polished
laurel tie drilled with four holes. A silver plaque designated the tie,
which had been commissioned by West Evans, tie contractor for Central
Pacific, as “the last tie laid on completion of the Pacific Railroad, May,
1869.” L. W. Coe, Pacific Express co-president, provided a silver-plated
maul to be used in the ceremony.
Other spikes were provided by
newspaper owner Frederick Marriott, Nevada Railroad Commissioner F. A.
Tritle and Arizona Territory Gov. Anson P. K. Stafford. After Stanford
placed the California spikes in the first and fourth holes of the
commemorative tie, the Arizona and Nevada spikes were added and all were
tapped in with the silver maul.
All spikes were removed at
the end of the ceremony and returned to their donors. We presume the “last
spike” was kept at the Hewes home in Tustin until 1892 when he donated it to
Stanford University, where it joined the silver maul and the spike from
Nevada in a display. The Arizona spike eventually went to the Smithsonian.
Despite their wealth and
social prominence in the Bay City, Mr. and Mrs. Hewes became part of the
Tustin community. They donated property at the corner of Main and C and
raised a sizable amount of money for the building of the Tustin Presbyterian
Church. Mr. Hewes was one of the 22 charter members.
Mrs. Hewes died in 1887. Two
years later, Mr. Hewes married Anna M. Lathrop and returned to San
Francisco. He later came south to live at Anapauma, a ranch he developed
near El Modena. The Tustin house was rented out until his death in 1915.