FAIRFIELD — A local family welcomed dozens of history enthusiasts to their property Saturday for a tour of an asistencia, or sub-mission, dating to the 1800s.
Jerry Bowen, of the Vacaville Heritage Council and a member emeritus of the Solano History Exploration Center, hosted a presentation and tour of the Asistencia Santa Eulalia, which sits near Rockville on land owned by the Pienovi family.
The rubble-stone structure features a sacrarium, where holy water and unused wine was dumped to “return to the earth,” Bowen said. Outside is a basalt baptismal fount, which was rediscovered in 1957 by historian Bert Hughes, and a mortar and pestle likely used by the American Indian residents at the asistencia.
Jan Groth, of the Chief Solano Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, came to the property Saturday to explore the local history.
“It’s always interesting to learn about our area,” she said.
“Our heritage is important,” she said.
Believed to be the death place of Francisco “Chief” Solano, or Sem Yeto, the rancheria near Rockville was established by Friar Jose Altamira in the early 19th century as an asistencia to Mission San Francisco Solano at Sonoma, Bowen said. Chief Solano, according to Bowen, resided in the Sonoma mission until he was granted the asistencia property in 1838 for his service under Gen. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.
Bowen started studying the site about 2005. His examinations of the walls with adobe mortar and handmade “cut nails” hinted that the structure was dated prior to 1830. A study by Sonoma State University in 2007 confirmed his belief that this was the lost Santa Eulalia Rancheria, he said.
The Pienovi family purchased the 1½-acre property on Suisun Valley Road in 1904 for a $10 gold coin. The rubble-stone building, once covered in ivy, is topped with a wooden structure that was built in 1878 by the Canevascini family, former owners of the land. The wooden addition was used as a winery, and the rubble-stone walls of the old sub-mission likely served as the cellar, Bowen said. Nowadays, the lofty former winery serves as a party room.
Resident Mike Pienovi said it’s exciting to know that a former mission is on his property.
“(We’re) honored to have such a historical site in our family,” he said.
Fairfield resident Dan Stodden, who came to the tour with his wife Peg, said he’s hungry for more.
“An event like this whets our appetites,” he said.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.