courtrecordflight

THE FABLE OF THE STOLEN COURTHOUSE

It will always be a popular rip–roarin’ tale of Santa Rosa’s early days: How a few guys sneaked into the town of Sonoma, snatched the county records, then raced back to Santa Rosa amid fears that a furious mob of Sonomans were in pursuit. Unfortunately, it’s not true – well, not much, anyway.

Santa Rosa was born in 1854, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say it was declared by fiat. The previous summer Barney Hoen and his partners joined with Julio Carrillo to lay out a future town of 70 total acres – from the creek to Fifth street, from E to A street – small enough for anyone to walk across any direction in a couple of minutes or three. At the time there was only one house (Carrillo’s) and a store. It had no reason to exist, much less thrive, except for roughly being at the crossroads between Sonoma city and settlements north and west.

But in the state election of 1853 a local land squatter, James Bennett was elected to the Assembly. The only accomplishment in his single term was to pass an act in 1854 calling for a vote on what town should be the county seat, which came as a surprise to residents of Sonoma city, which had been county central since statehood. To sway county voters (who were mainly squatters), promoters of the nascent town of Santa Rosa threw a blowout Fourth of July BBQ that was said to draw 500 people, and is heavily credited with Santa Rosa winning the vote a few months later – a story told here earlier in “CITY OF ROSES AND SQUATTERS.” When the voting results were announced on September 18, Hoen and Julio Carrillo threw another beef-a-palooza even more riotous than the July shindig, this event supposedly lasting two days and involving firing an anvil one hundred times.1

(RIGHT: James R. Williamson portrait from the Press Democrat, September 21 1904)

Besides all the free meaty eats, another argument for making Santa Rosa the county seat was that the existing county courthouse in the town of Sonoma was on the verge of falling down (that old adobe actually did collapse in 1862) and had been condemned by a grand jury. Hoen et. al. promised to donate land and build a new courthouse within six months and until then court could be held at Julio’s house, in part because he also had room to store the official county record books.

And here our questionable adventure begins – those important books had to be transferred from Sonoma once Santa Rosa was officially the county seat. And the person to do that was Jim Williamson.

Today’s housing shortage in Santa Rosa pales in comparison to the lack of places to live when the town became the county seat in the autumn of 1854. As there were then only eight (or so) houses in Santa Rosa, Williamson likely still had his camp near the corner of Fourth and D streets. Jim later boasted he was “the first white man to reside on the actual site of the city,” which I hope was a clumsy joke about the Pomo village which was here and not a racist slur against Julio Carrillo, who had an actual house on Second street.2

Jim may have been living in a tent, but he did have a light spring wagon and a pair of good mules. Here’s the version of the story which appeared in the first published history of Sonoma county:


On the day appointed, Jim Williamson, with a four-horse team and wagon, accompanied by Horace Martin and some others, went down to Sonoma, captured and brought up the archives, amid dire threats of injunction and violence from the Sonoma people, who saw, with no little chagrin, the county seat slip through their fingers. The Santa Rosans had the law, wanted only possession, and would not have hesitated to use all the force necessary to get that; as it was, they captured the archives by strategy, and the dry and dusty documents of former drowsy old alcaldes were whirled over the road as fast as Jim Williamson’s four-in-hand could take them to the new capital…

That was written in 1877 by Robert A. Thompson. When it comes to evaluating the accuracy of a historic account, generally the closer an author is to that time and place, the better – which would seem particularly true in this case, as Thompson lived here and was writing after only 22 or 23 years had passed. But it turns out Jim Williamson later was interviewed and told the story himself, revealing almost nothing in Thompson’s version was true.

Thompson either made up/exaggerated details or swallowed a dramatic interpretation he might have heard told over beers at local saloons. And this is not the first time he seems to be caught writing historical fiction; it appears he also invented Chanate, the friendly Indian who supposedly discovered the bodies of Bear Flag martyrs Cowie and Fowler.

The oldest version of Jim Williamson’s ride is exciting, but mostly fiction

 

The easiest parts of Thompson’s tale to debunk are simple facts; Williamson had two mules, not a team of four horses. Thompson omits mention County Clerk Menefee who played a major role in the doings, but claims Horace Martin was an accomplice. Martin was a remarkable fellow – see extended footnote – but it’s clear he wasn’t part of this adventure.3

Then there’s Thompson’s claim of “dire threats of injunction and violence” from Sonomans who wanted to keep the records in town and that the Santa Rosans “would not have hesitated to use all the force necessary” to get away with the books. Williamson certainly had some concern there might be legal pushback (discussed below) but he never feared being chased like a survivor on The Walking Dead.

To the contrary, the editor of the Sonoma Bulletin seemed resigned, if not downright pleased to be rid of the county seat. In his first comments right after the election, A. J. Cox remarked, “The up-country people battled furiously against us, and have come out victorious…’it is as it is, and can’t be any ’tis’er,’ which incontrovertible truth consoles us, at least.” A week later, Cox added:


Last Friday the county officers with the archives left town for the new capitol amidst the exulting grin of some, and silent disapproval (frowning visages) of others. We are only sorry they did not take the courthouse along – not because it would be an ornament to Santa Rosa, but because its removal would have embellished our plaza…

The editorial continued with a mock lament that they were now going to lose the political blowhards and “country lawyers and loafers in general” who hung around the veranda of the courthouse whittling. (Other sources mention they were not whittling so much as carving stuff into the posts holding up the veranda, which might help explain why the place went to pieces.)

Thompson later backed away from his melodramatic tale. In a smaller 1884 history just about Santa Rosa he didn’t mention the “capture” at all, only that Jim was paid $16 “for getting away with the records.” Of the six local histories which were later published, only half describe something about Williamson’s wagon ride, as summarized here.4

So what’s the real story about how the county records got to Santa Rosa? According to Jim Williamson himself, the events were more comic than dramatic.

Jim’s own telling appeared September, 1904 in the Press Democrat, which followed an April article providing further details from Williamson and others involved. My summary here mixes the two sources, but everything is transcribed below so anyone can untangle the details if desired. As it turns out, only Tom Gregory’s county history came closest to being accurate. It was written while Williamson was still alive and he loved to gab about the old days, according to his PD obituary, it is quite likely Tom heard the story directly from Jim, as they both lived in Santa Rosa. But be forewarned Tom Gregory was also a serial exaggerator and unreliable historian, so the colorful additional details he provided have to be carefully swallowed.

The first Board of Supervisors meeting following the vote was to be Friday, September 22, 1854 at the courthouse in Sonoma. After an official canvass of the returns, they were to formally declare Santa Rosa as the new county seat. Daniel Davisson, a Sonoma real estate investor with his own horse stable, was asked to have a team ready to move the official records – but when word got out around town he was apparently threatened with a boycott or harm, so he declined. This likely was where historian Thompson got the idea that there might be danger lurking.

Plan B was to hire someone from out of town, so County Supervisor R. E. Smith tapped Santa Rosa’s Jim Williamson, who was not known in Sonoma City. Smith told Jim to take his wagon there the day before and keep a low profile. He hitched up his mules (named “Jim” and “Liza” per Tom Gregory) and he and the team camped that night in a creek bed outside of town.

The next day Jim walked into town and hung around the courthouse, waiting for a signal from Smith. Once the meeting was over Smith gave the sign and Williamson fetched his wagon. “The Supervisors and clerk helped to load the archives into the wagon,” Williamson later wrote. In other words, there was nothing at all sneaky about it – the records left via the front door in the middle of the afternoon. And there really weren’t that many books; Jim recalled there was only about two wheelbarrow worth.

Riding back to Santa Rosa with Jim was County Clerk N. McC. Menefee, who had a jointless peg leg. He must have lost his leg above the knee, as the artificial limb was so long he could only ride comfortably in the wagon by resting it on the top of the footrest, which meant it was sticking straight out towards the backside of the mules. “[W]hen the wagon wheels struck a chuck hole and there would be a jolt, first one and then the other mule would receive a prod from the tip on the end of his wooden leg,” Williamson wrote.

Williamson and Menefee believed there was a chance they might be stopped. After the results of the vote were known, Lilburn Boggs, the most influential man in Sonoma after General Vallejo, asked Menefee to issue a restraining order blocking the transfer – but the County Clerk demurred “on account of pressing business.” Why Boggs sought to keep the records there is not clear; he was not challenging the validity of the election. It was probably because Boggs had been Alcalde for all of Northern California during the last years of Mexican rule, and the county books included those pre-statehood court records; had Boggs planned to write his memoirs he certainly would have wanted access to his decisions from those crucial years.

Menefee thought Boggs still might seek a restraining order from the court in Napa and send the sheriff after them. If they were pursued, their plan was for Menefee to get off and hide in the brush. As no one knew Williamson, any court order would have had to name Menefee, so the plan was for Jim to claim he was alone. (Always the colorful fabulist, historian Tom Gregory claimed the handicapped Menefee “intended to take to the woods giving the injunction a run through the brush.”)

But nothing happened. The constant poking from Menefee’s wooden leg is probably why the mules made the trip back to Santa Rosa supposedly in the record time of a hundred minutes – it was considered good time for a man on horseback to travel between Sonoma and Santa Rosa in two hours.

A more realistic interpretation of what happened

 

Then just as they reached Julio Carrillo’s house and were getting ready to unload the books, “we heard the thud of a horse’s hoofs in the distance,” Jim Williamson wrote.


As the sound came nearer and nearer, we saw that the rider was Israel Brockman, the sheriff. His horse was panting furiously, and was covered with foam. We saluted the sheriff and inquired what was the occasion of his apparently fast ride from Sonoma to Santa Rosa. He replied. “I just thought that I would get over here quick and find an office so as to avoid the rush.”

And there you have it – no hot pursuit, no attempted arrest, no vigilante threats and no actual showdown over the county records. The biggest concern of the day was really about someone finding housing in Santa Rosa.

Was ever thus.

 

 


1 “Firing anvils” was a popular way to celebrate political victories in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It involved packing the indentation on an iron anvil with gunpowder and placing another anvil upside down above it. When the gunpowder was ignited, the top anvil flew into the air making a deafening boom remarkably like a cannon. It was insanely dangerous – hopefully the anvil straight up, and not arcing into a crowd – and one has to ponder what sort of reckless idiot thought of trying it in the first place. Watch a video here where a “world champion anvil shooter” launches one 200 feet in the air.

2 Jim Williamson (1830-1913) operated Santa Rosa’s main livery stable through the Civil War at the corner of Third and Main, but there’s no evidence it was yet built in September 1854. The previous year he was found growing barley on ten rented acres just east of the town plaza. Farming and camp details from “Early Recollections of Santa Rosa”, Sonoma Democrat, October 6 1877; first resident remark from “Coming Golden Jubilee in Santa Rosa Recalls Memorable Drive With the County Records,” Press Democrat, April 10 1904

3 Few in Sonoma county today will recognize the name Horace Martin but we’re all familiar with his work; he was County Surveyor 1861-1862 and a contract surveyor for the county for several years before and after. He laid out the road from Santa Rosa to Healdsburg, several roads in West County, the plat map for Bodega, and probably lots of other work we don’t know about. You’ll still sometimes see mention of maps by “H. B. Martin” in the property notices which appear in the Press Democrat. But Horace’s real talents lay in inventions. He engineered miniature steam engines to run home sewing machines and ones large enough to power the printing plant of the Sonoma Democrat. It was reported he further designed a machine for making rugs, a rain-making machine he called the “Pluviator,” San Francisco’s first hydraulic elevators in office buildings, a fast steam-driven plow called “Old Jumbo” that burned through a ton of coal a day and a “Magic Calculator,” which supposedly was particularly adapted to calculating taxes. His brother-in-law, Richard Gird, operated a stock farm called Gird & Co. on the Russian River in the 1860s before moving to Arizona. There he happened to meet a penniless prospector with a bag of rocks which he had been told were mostly lead. Gird – who had a background in assaying but was himself nearly penniless – recognized the samples actually were rich in silver. They perfected the mining claim and created the Tombstone Mining District, which became the town of Tombstone. Gird and his partners walked away with millions. (More in The San Bernardino County Sun, March 31, 1963 or an internet search for “Dick Gird”.) Gird returned to California and used his wealth to buy the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and adjacent land in San Bernardino County, creating a 47,000 acre ranch. Horace joined him there and platted out the town of Chino. Horace B. Martin died in Chicago in 1903.

4 Notes of local history book coverage:

1877 (Thompson; Historical and Descriptive Sketch of Sonoma County, California) “On the day appointed, Jim Williamson, with a four-horse team and wagon, accompanied by Horace Martin and some others, went down to Sonoma, captured and brought up the archives, amid dire threats of injunction and violence from the Sonoma people, who saw, with no little chagrin, the county seat slip through their fingers. The Santa Rosans had the law, wanted only possession, and would not have hesitated to use all the force necessary to get that; as it was, they captured the archives by strategy, and the dry and dusty documents of former drowsy old alcaldes were whirled over the road as fast as Jim Williamson’s four-in-hand could take them to the new capital, where they safely arrived, and were deposited pro tem. in Julio Carrillo’s house, which was rented for that purpose…”

1884 (Thompson; Central Sonoma) Thompson did not mention the “capture” at all, but quotes the editorial reaction from the Sonoma Bulletin: “When the archives were finally taken the irrepressibly witty Sonoma editor gets off the following: Departed.–Last Friday the county officers with the archives left town for the new capitol amidst the exulting grin of some, and silent disapproval (frowning visages) of others. We are only sorry they did not take the Court-house along–not because it would be an ornament to Santa Rosa, but because its removal would have embellished our plaza…” Thompson continued: “Board District Attorney McNair put in a bill for $250, for helping the Supervisors to get legally out of Sonoma; he was allowed $100. The Board thought they did most of the work–at least two-thirds of it. Jim Williamson modestly put in a bill of $16, for getting away with the records, which was allowed, without a groan, as it ought to have been.”

1880 (Munro-Fraser; History of Sonoma county, including its geology, topography, mountains, valleys and streams) quotes Thompson 1877. Per the vote, Sonoma City was “feeling a presentiment of impending evil [and] were afraid to raise the issue”

1889 (Cassiday; An illustrated history of Sonoma County, California) repeats Thompson 1884

1911 (Gregory; History of Sonoma County California) Section, HOW JIM WILLIAMSON STOLE THE COURTHOUSE: By a vote of 716 to 563 the “court-house” left Sonoma, as a newspaper man of that period graphically writes, — “On Jim Williamson’s two-mule wagon.” Even with the popular decision against them the Sonoma people were loth [sic] to let the institution go, but a little head-work by N. McC. Menefee, and no little foot-work by Jim Williamson’s team of mules quietly passed the county government from the pueblo. The man and the mules also have “passed,” but their part in “the stealing of the court-house” merits honorable mention. Menefee was the county clerk, having only one leg, but he could get around rapidly. “Jim” and “Liza” were the team, but unlike the general run of mules, could, and would — and did — move with speed. By arrangement with the supervisors Williamson camped near Sonoma the night before the day of the removal, and next morning having received a quiet notification that the board had officially adopted the “move” resolution, he was at the door of the building. William Boggs and several other persons anticipating the move were trying to get out an injunction, even rushing a courier off to Napa for that purpose — but before the citizens in the vicinity were fully alive to the job, the county records, including the dusty old documents of the alcaldes, had been “rushed” aboard the wagon, and Jim and Liza were treading the “high-places” for Santa Rosa. Williamson was at the brake — which he never used in all thai wild, twenty-two mile flight, and which lasted just one hundred minutes. Menefee beside him on the spring-wagon seat, had to let his jointless artificial leg — a mere wooden stick — rest on the dash-board, the end of the “peg” only a few inches from Liza’s lively body. If she lagged ever so slightly in the mad pace she touched Menefee’s peg-leg and this would almost jump her through the collar. Dropping down into a gulch or any of the many low places of the rough road and starting to rise in the corresponding ascent Liza would not fail to get “a good punch,” and this, reports her owner, “sent the team up faster than it had come down.” Menefee expected they would be overhauled by Sheriff Israel Brockman with the writ, and he intended to take to the woods giving the injunction a run through the brush; knowing that as an official he would be sought for service of the paper, and Williamson would be left to continue the journey. Even with a wooden-leg he grittily determined to keep Brockman on the trail until Jim and Liza got home. They were not overtaken, but landed the “court-house” in Santa Rosa, — time, 4:54. Jim Williamson — everybody calls him “Jim,” is yet a citizen of the county-seat he “stole,” and the petty-larcenous character of the act in nowise detracts from his popularity. Liza and the other Jim are no more, but their famous Hundred Minute Run is a living record. District Attorney McNair for his services allowed himself $250, but the supervisors amended it to $100. Jim Williamson modestly thought $15 was enough for the mules and himself, and the board thought likewise.

1926 (Honoria Tuomey; History of Sonoma County California) No mention of the ride

1942 (Finley; History of Sonoma County, California: Its People and Its Resources) No mention of the ride

1985 (Lebaron et. al.; Santa Rosa A Nineteenth Century Town) Summarizes Thompson 1877, repeats Thompson 188. Has Williamson and Martin stealing the records at night, then riding back to Santa Rosa at daybreak “standing up in the wagon, whipping the mules, and emitting whoops of triumph.” Also claims the two-day BBQ was held to celebrate obtaining the records, not the announcement of winning the vote four days earlier.
 

Supervisor R. E. Smith employed Jim Williamson, still an honored resident of Santa Rosa Township, to go for the records. Jim hitched up a two-horse team one afternoon, went to, and through the town and camped on the other side. The next morning he drove up to the Court-house door, the records were hustled into the wagon and County Clerk Menifee on the box with Williamson, who cracked his whip, and in less time than it takes to tell it, the dusty old documents were rolling out of Sonoma…At the second meeting of the Board in Santa Rosa, Jim Williamson modestly put in a bill of sixteen dollars for getting away with the records — and the Clerk. That bill was allowed, as it ought to have been, without a groan.

– Sonoma Democrat, March 29 1884

 

Coming Golden Jubilee in Santa Rosa Recalls Memorable Drive With the County Records

In connection with Santa Rosa’s golden jubilee in September which celebrates the fiftieth anniversary as the county seat of imperial Sonoma many interesting bits of history are recollected of that memorable day half a century ago when the Board of Supervisors met in the historic town of Sonoma and after a canvass of the votes formally declared Santa Rosa to be henceforth the county seat.

There are several old pioneers residing in this county who have vivid remembrances of the stirring times circled about the making of Santa Rosa the capital city. Among this number is J. R. Williamson, who resides near this city. He is the man who handled the ribbons over the stout pair of mules who hauled the wagon carrying the county documents from Sonoma to Santa Rosa after the formal declaration of the change of county seats. It was a memorable drive across the apologies for roads leading from Sonoma to Santa Rosa of 1854. Mr. Williamson prides himself as being the first white man to reside on the actual site of the city, and the man “who stole the county seat,” as he smilingly puts it.

Some time before the canvass of the election returns in view of the bitter agitation over the removal of the county seat, Robert Smith, a brother of W. R. Smith, the pioneer Santa Rosa blacksmith, saw Mr. Williamson and arranged with him to be on hand with his wagon and team as soon as the vote was canvassed for the purpose of hurrying the county records to Santa Rosa. Mr. Williamson took his light spring wagon and span of mules and drove over to Sonoma the day before the Supervisors met. He did not go into the town as that would have been dangerous. He camped over night beside a little creek in order to avoid anybody’s suspicion as to Santa Rosa’s expectations regarding her victory.

Mr, Williamson recalls that the canvass of the election returns was held in the little adobe courthouse on the south side of the historic. Sonoma plaza. Before the meeting Smith and Williamson had agreed that the latter should be within hailing distance when the formal order should have been made by the County Fathers. The sign was to be a note from Smith to which Williamson was to get the wagon without delay.

The meeting was called and if any one hand to look from the old courthouse they would have seen a man standing outside leisurely whittling away at one of the posts supporting the porch, a favorite pastime judging from the appearance of the posts as described to a Press Democrat interviewer.

The vote was finally canvassed and Williamson got the tip and hastened to get his team. This was accomplished and in less than fifteen minutes he was at the door of the old Courthouse. Not a moment was lost as it was feared that an attempt might be made to stop the removal of the records from the old town to the new capital. All five of the Supervisors and County Clerk Menefee assisted Mr. Williamson in loading the books into the wagon. Mr. Williamson remembers that there were about two wheelbarrow loads of volumes.

Former Governor Boggs, was one of those opposed to the moving of the county records and he sought to have County Clerk Menefee to issue a restraining order to stop the taking away of the books, as he knew that they would never be returned. Mr. Menefee declined to issue any papers, “on account of pressing business,” Mr, Williamson says, and taking his seat beside Mr. Williamson in the wagon, the lash fell smartly upon the anatomy of the mules and the hurried drive to Santa Rosa with the county records was commenced.

Mr. Williamson says that they knew there was no time to lose and they fancied that in his wrath Boggs might go across into Napa county and endeavor to get the restraining order there. Both Menefee and Williamson cast their eyes behind ever and anon to see whether they were being pursued. If the restraining order was secured they knew that the Sheriff would endeavor to stop them. Menefee and Williamson planned in the event that the man of the law hove in sight that Menefee was to alight from the wagon and hide in the brush. The Sheriff did not know Williamson and Williamson was to try and bluff him out of his purpose.

The road to Santa Rosa, as stated, lay over a rough country. When the whip failed to meet with the response desired from the mules, there was another method to urge them forward. County Clerk Menefee had a wooden leg, and it was of the pegleg style. He had to let the peg rest on the dashboard of the wagon out over the backs of the mules. Consequently when the wagon lurched at every chuckhole in the road Menefee’s wooden leg served as a goad to the mules and kept them going at a breakneck speed. Mr, Williamson fifty years later cannot restrain a smile as he recalls Menefee’s pegleg goading the mules. So that a man’s wooden leg has somewhat of an important motive factor in the removal of the county records to Santa Rosa on that memorable day.

Spurred on by Menefee’s wooden prod the mules fairly flew across the country. Mr. Williamson remembers how tired he was in holding anything like a check on the animals. Santa Rosa was reached in a little over two hours. They drove direct to Julio Carrillo’s house. It had been arranged, Mr. Williamson says, as a temporary place for the keeping of the records until some other arrangements could be made. The men had not been far wrong In their guess that they would be pursued. The last of the county records had not been carried into the house when up the road, riding for dear life, his horse panting and covered with foam came the Sheriff, Isreal Brockman. If he had any papers to serve or whether he would have stopped Menefee and Williamson is a matter for conjecture. When he saw the last of the records disappear Into Carrillo’s house he explained that he had come over hurriedly to secure office room in Santa Rosa, “before the rush begun.” There were no up-to-date office buildings with electric lights and free Janitors in those days.

This Is but a glimpse of the historical significance of the golden jubilee which will be celebrated in Santa Rosa in September. Williamson and others of the pioneers who remember the incidents of fifty years ago, have enough to make an interesting novel with the central plot the removal of the county seat from the old town of Sonoma to Santa Rosa.

D. D. Davisson, the pioneer of this city, is well posted on the doings of those memorable days. He was living in Sonoma at the time and he had a number of teams. He was approached and asked if he would have a team ready to haul the county records to Santa Rosa. It had leaked out that a proposition had been made to him and he was given to understand that it would be dangerous for him and his business if he lent his team, and he did not do so. Pioneer Williamson will never forget the ride he and Menefee took or the incident connected with the pegleg.

– Press Democrat, April 10 1904

 

WILLIAMSON’S WILD RIDE
How the County Records Were Brought to This City

The accomplishment of the purport of Supervisor Fowler’s motion, namely, the removal of the archives from Sonoma to Santa Rosa, occasioned some foreboding. There were open
threats of violence from those who disliked to see the county seat removed from Sonoma, and it was also hinted that the law of injunction might be called into exercise to balk the removal of the records. It was realized that to remove the documents in safety and with success strategy would have to be employed. And so it came to pass that James R. Williamson, the well-known pioneer, whose picture appears in connection with this historical sketch, and who, still hale and hearty, resides just outside the city limits at the extension of West Third street, proved the man for the occasion. Here is Mr. Williamson’s graphic description of the task he performed.

“It was Supervisor Smith, who was by the way, a brother of William R. Smith (the latter the well known pioneer blacksmith of Santa Rosa), who importuned me to steal with the archives from Sonoma into Santa Rosa. He arranged with me to drive from Santa Rosa to Sonoma the day before the Supervisors were to pass the resolutions declaring Santa Rosa the new county seat and ordering the removal of the documents to the new seat of administration. I was to keep out of sight as much as possible until after this preliminary work had been accomplished.

“‘Jim Williamson,’ Smith said, ‘you are the only man to do this job, and do it right. When you get near the old town get around back somehow so as not to excite the suspicion of people, camp with your team somewhere for the night, and tomorrow about the time when we are in session you come up to the hall in town and be on hand where I can get a glimpse of you without delay after the act is done.’ (meaning the order for the removal of the archives). ‘When you see me give a nod in your direction, get your wagon and drive up to the door of the court house as fast as you know how.’

“Well, I hitched up the mules to the wagon and drove from Santa Rosa to Sonoma, carefully avoiding going into the town and keeping out of sight as much as possible. That night I and the mules camped in the bed of a little creek where no one could see us, a little outside of the town limits of Sonoma. It was a pretty long night. I took a coffee pot along and made some coffee. Morning came and I fed the mules and myself. I did not go up town for some time as the Board meeting was not called until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Finally I strolled up town after I knew that the Supervisors had been in meeting for sometime, and entered the court house. There were quite a number of people around, and, seeing me there, some of them suspected that I had come on business of some sort. Supervisor Smith and one or two other members of the Board and County Clerk Menefee knew why I was on hand. I had been waiting some little time, always keeping in sight, when suddenly I looked up and saw Smith rise, and, I got the nod that I had been expecting.

“I hurried as fast as could to the camp and in a jiffy had the mules hitched to the wagon and in less than fifteen minutes I drove up to the door of the court house. The Supervisors and clerk helped to load the archives into the wagon and in less time than it takes to te11 it County Clerk Menefee was on the wagon seat beside me and we were whirling over the dry and dusty ground with the documents on tha way to Santa Rosa.”

“Menefee and I knew that we might be overtaken on the way and an effort made to force ua to give up the archives. We had planned as to what we would do in case anyone interfered. There were no roads in those days like we have today. I remember very well that Menefee had a wooden leg, and it was too long to rest in the bottom of the wagon, so he let it hang over the dash board. The wooden leg served as a goad to the mules, for when the wagon wheels struck a chuck hole and there would be a jolt, first one and then the other mule would receive a prod from the tip on the end of his wooden leg.

“Those mules made a record-breaking trip for those days from Sonoma to Santa Rosa, and luck was with us. No one interfered. Soon the old adobe in Santa Rosa hove in sight and it was not long before we pulled up in front of Julio Carrillo’s house, where it had been previously arranged the archives should be stored until Barney Hoen, Hartman and Hahman had built a court house. We had barely got out of the wagon outside Carrillo’s house, which then stood on the site of the feed mill built later by Mr. Cnopius on Second street, and which now forms the rear of two houses on Second and B streets, when we heard the thud of a horse’s hoofs in the distance. As the sound came nearer and nearer, we saw that the rider was Israel Brockman, the sheriff. His horse was panting furiously, and was covered with foam. We saluted the sheriff and inquired what was the occasion of his apparently fast ride from Sonoma to Santa Rosa. He replied. ‘I just thought that 1 would get over here quick and find an office so as to avoid the rush.’ If he had, as we believed, injunction papers to restrain the removal of the archives, he did not attempt to serve them. We carried the books into Carrillo’s house, and’ —well, that is how I brought the records from the old county seat to the new.”

– Press Democrat, September 21 1904

COUNTY SEAT OF SONOMA. — From the Bulletin we learn that in the late contest for county seat in Sonoma county, Santa Rosa proved to be the successful candidate. The Bulletin “takes on” as follows:

That’s “a gone (or going] case” from Sonoma. The up-country people battled furiously against us, and have come out victorious. What majority the new seat got we are not aware, but whatever it is, why, “it is as it is, and can’t be any “tis’er,” which incontrovertible truth consoles us, at least. By the way, the people of Santa Rosa, after being satisfied” of their success, fired one hundred guns in honor of the event — that is, an anvil supplied the place of cannon, which was “let off” one hundred times. Great country this, fenced in or not.

– Sacramento Daily Union, September 20 1854

 

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A SHORT TIME AGO I RECOLLECT WELL

Writing history’s easy if you do the homework and know the facts; what’s hard is getting across the flavor of the time. Even a town like Santa Rosa is a pretty alien place when you reach back to its earliest days, 160+ years ago, because glimpses of what it was like rarely appeared in the local newspapers – why would subscribers want to read about what they saw every day?

While researching the next item to appear, I stumbled across a little poem in a Civil War-era Santa Rosa paper which was supposedly written in 1856. As poetry it’s sheer doggerel (as the editor admits) but it’s not without its charms.

The poet looks back at the old days – meaning a couple of years prior – when Santa Rosa was little more than a saloon, a store, and Julio Carrillo’s corral. Now there were three or four stores, a stable, a hotel, flour mill and a church. Why, there was even a building with two stories! This had “made Santa Rosa a —— of a place,” but it’s left to Gentle Reader to decide whether the author’s missing word was meant to salute or spit upon the changes wrought by progress.

The poem might have been written later or earlier than 1856, although it really doesn’t matter. The last line is a pitch to elect “Dr. Johnson and me,” which is probably a reference to J. Neely Johnson (elected governor in 1855) as no one named Johnson was running for a Sonoma county office in that time period.

(ABOVE: Advertisement from the 1857 Sonoma County Journal)

 

LOCAL VERSES. – The following doggerel was picked up in the streets of Santa Rosa in 1856. The author of the lines is not known, but suspicion rests upon one “Horace,’ of the olden time:

Not far from the ford at the forks of the creek,
between where Jack Stiles and Peters made brick,
Where Colgan kept bar in a temperance Hall,
Where the small-pox pitched into J. W. Ball—-
Stands a neat little town that was located near
The house of a Spaniard, named Julio Carrillo.

Two years ago you could see nothing more
Where that little town stands, than a tavern and store,
Where they retailed their whiskey at two bits a pull,
And when low, with creek water they kept their casks full;
Where they marked up their goods, and complained of the times,
When they’d get the last red of their customer’s dimes.

But a short time ago, I recollect well,
There were big droves of cattle in Julio’s corral,
And near where that barber has stuck up his pole
Once a horse bucked me head over heels in a hole;
I disliked that arrangement, and whom would it please?
I asked, as I sat with my hands on my knees.

Those times, we wouid work all the week, hauling rails,
And Sundays, were as proud as a dog with 2 tails!
We’d get up our ponies and get a gal each
To ride with to meeting, to hear Riley preach;
Then we’d hump ourselves home and get us some grub,
Then each pop a dirty shirt into a tub;
We’d give it a twist, a squeeze, and a rinse,
Then hang it out doors to dry on the fence;
The dog would soon carry it under the floor,
And we’d sit down and cuss, for we had but one more.

But 2 or 3 years have wrought a great change,
Have swept off the cattle, have fenced up the range,
Built a house for the archives brought over the hills,
And Cameron’s, the Scotchman’s and Leffingwell’s mills;

Made men out of monkeys, and princes of goats,
Old cows of young heifers and bacon of shoats;
Have spread Spanish needles all over the ground,
And brought down potatoes to 2 cents a pound;
Put the deuce in the ladies and mud in the lanes,
And married maids to unfortunate swains;
Drawn the first wrinkle on many a face,
And made Santa Rosa a —— of a place.

We’ve some of the fastest get-ups of the age,
There’s Doc. Boyce’s mare and Chil. Richardson’s stage;
Fast horses, fast youths, with their Jacks, Kings and Queens,
And gaIs who are mas before reaching their teens.

You know Charley Smith (the first of the name)
Who built the log house for the set-em-up game,
Though somewhat religious he couldn’t forbear
To furnish a chance for a strike and a spare;
At daylight, at midnight, at sunset, at noon,
You could hear the pins fall at this bowling saloon,
While their incessant lumbering endangered the quiet
Of a most worthy citizen—Thomas H. Pyatt.

There’s Jim Williamson’s stable, Eureka Hotel,
The house kept by Mat and old Kitty Purcell,
The 2 story hall for the Mason and Son,
Know Nothing, Odd Fellow, and Thousand and One.

Your taverns, your dead falls, your 3 or 4 stores,
And then there are those fruit stands, Billy Gray’s and Mam More’s,
Will make you a city with council and seal
If you’ll put Dr. Johnson and me at the wheel.

– Sonoma Democrat, January 30 1864

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santarosatownship1866

CITY OF ROSES AND SQUATTERS

It was a momentous day: On February 24, 1854, the state legislature was gathered in Benicia to vote on moving the state capitol to Sacramento. Three assemblyman stood and proposed to choose their own county seat instead – one wanted Marysville, another Stockton. James Bennett suggested Santa Rosa before the Yolo legislator rose and asked: “What county is Santa Rosa in?”

Oh, snap!

See, Santa Rosa wasn’t the Sonoma county seat at the time. In fact, Santa Rosa didn’t really exist. It had only two houses and five little businesses, including a tavern. Yet despite its drawback of being almost non-existent, Bennett and other men were about to make it the centerpiece of the county.

When Santa Rosa was celebrating the Centennial Fourth of July in 1876, an article about Santa Rosa’s founding appeared in the local Sonoma Democrat newspaper. It was unsigned but was clearly written by someone who was here during 1851-1854, which were the years being described. It’s a key reference; traces of it pop up in every regional history. But aside from a Gaye LeBaron column published four decades ago, the bulk of the piece hasn’t appeared anywhere over the last 140 years. It can be found transcribed below.

(RIGHT: Detail from 1866 Map Of Sonoma County)

That article covered the birth of Santa Rosa, death of Franklin (a village near the Carrillo adobe) and the campaign to capture the county seat. It was surprisingly slim on the particulars of those notable events. Instead, the value of this piece lies in its first-hand descriptions – such as Squire Coulter rolling his building from Franklin to Santa Rosa on wheels. Other buildings, including the Baptist church, likewise rolled away from Franklin over the following months, in what must have been a very odd and very slow procession. The author also described the Carrillo homestead as the main commercial center north of the town of Sonoma, a “lively spot” where “almost every day pack trains and wagons from the Russian river and the neighboring country surrounded the old adobe.”

Mostly the item described who was there and what they did. Personally, I’m not much interested in who was the first blacksmith in Santa Rosa and where his shop stood, but details of that sort can give genealogists a case of the vapors. For more information on the people mentioned there – including correct/alternate spelling of some names – refer to pages 20-22 of “Santa Rosa: A Nineteenth Century Town” by LeBaron et. al.

Left unanswered in the article about the early 1850s – and not discussed in any local history that chronicles those years – was a key question: Why did Santa Rosa come to exist?

The old item from the paper explained how the story ends: There was a vote over the county seat in Sept. 1854 and Santa Rosa won over Sonoma, 716-563. Historians credit the victory to the blowout Fourth of July party thrown by Julio Carrillo and the other Santa Rosa promoters, which “invited to the feast the rich and poor, the lame, the halt and the blind – in fact everybody who had, or who could influence or control, a vote,” according to historian Robert Thompson. An estimated 500 showed up to eat barbecue and dance until dawn, apparently going away with full bellies and warm feelings about the potential of Santa Rosa as the new county seat, in spite of the town only having added two houses over the previous year, bringing the grand total up to four. (One of those new houses was the Masonic Lodge, built at great expense because they shipped in East Coast pine, as no one was yet sure if redwood would be good for construction.)

But events leading up to the vote are sketchy. That’s not particularly surprising; much of California history between 1850-1855 is full of gaps. Even in Sonoma county it’s hard to peg down what was happening year to year. There’s no doubt, however, that nearly everyone, Californio or American, rich or poor, was fretful over keeping their property. Should you build a cabin and plant crops if you could be kicked out before the harvest? Would the ranch supporting your family be taken away by the government, or taken over by squatters?

Once California became a state, no one – no one – was happy with the situation over Spanish/Mexican land grants. In theory, anyone who had land under Mexico simply had to provide documentation to claim ownership under statehood. In practice, the system set up by the U.S. to settle ownership issues was the worst possible, leading some properties to remain in limbo for over twenty years.

The Yulupa rancho east of Cotati was a good example; although Jasper O’Farrell had surveyed the surrounding ranchos, Yulupa specifically had no survey of its own, so the government rejected the claim in 1854. Appealed to federal District Court, the claim was approved in 1857. Two years later it was rejected again, this time by the U.S. Supreme Court. Not until 1865 was that large chunk of central Sonoma county (about 25 square miles) legally available for ownership. Squatters, of course, had been living and farming on that land for years.

The legions of settlers pouring into California expected to find the same encouraging homesteading policies followed elsewhere in the rest of the West – that anyone who could throw together a shack on public land could declare it as their own, paying the government little or nothing. But because the grants covered nearly all of Sonoma county, there was no public land. “The whole County is claimed. There is not a foot of ground that will do to cultivate but what is claimed,” complained a new arrival in 1853 to his family in Kentucky. “…We cannot tell anything how they will go.”1

Some settlers leased acreage or had other arrangements with the grant holders, but others squatted without permission. Twice confrontations with armed bands of squatters nearly came to shooting wars – near Healdsburg where a deputy sheriff was killed, and near Bodega where the rancho owner recruited a gang of toughs from San Francisco in an attempt to drive them off.

The state legislature fielded various proposals to mollify settlers, such as considering giving then 160 or 320 acres of public land somewhere else in the state or requiring grant holders to pay evicted squatters for what they had “cultivated or improved,” the value to be set by a jury specifically composed of other settlers. Meanwhile, the Mexican grantholders – usually land-rich but cash-poor – were being bled dry by legal fees defending their claim. To raise funds they usually sold off parts of the rancho to settlers or speculators, even though those sales would be invalid if the courts didn’t eventually validate the Mexican grant. Did I mention no one was happy with the situation?

“Settler’s rights” became a political rallying cry all over the state, and nowhere louder than Sonoma county. Before the state election of 1853, there was a settler’s convention here independent of the Democratic or Whig parties and they nominated for the Assembly one James N. Bennett, a recently-arrived squatter living near or just outside rancho Yulupa (named for him is Bennett Valley and Bennett Peak). Bennett won the election by just 13 ballots amid charges there were “importation of voters.”2

Bennett was a single-term assemblyman. Besides asking the legislature to move the state capitol to Santa Rosa in 1854, his only legacy was passage the following month of “An Act to locate the county seat of Sonoma anew.” According to the Sonoma newspaper, the proposal came as a surprise to the town:


The first intimation we had of the people’s desire to move the county seat from Sonoma to Santa Rosa was through the legislative proceedings of March 28, which inform us that a bill had been introduced and passed for that purpose. From what source did our representatives derive the information that a change was demanded by our people? In the name of a large body of their constituents we protest against the measure as premature, unauthorized and impolitic. The county cannot even repair the miserable building, and the only one it possesses; how then can it bear the expense of erecting new ones?

That “miserable building” was the county courthouse, and had earlier been condemned by a grand jury, which called it “an old dilapidated adobe of small dimensions, in part roofless and unfit for a cattle shed.” They say it had cost $9,000, of which $3,000 had been paid and $6,000 was still claimed. The town paper – unaware that a plot was afoot to move the county seat – commented at the time, “the old court-house is about being deserted, and high time it should be, unless our worthy officers of the law would run the risk of being crushed beneath a mass of mud and shingles, for we really believe it will cave in the next heavy rain.”

Clearly some measures had to be taken by the county to provide a useable courthouse, but a seat of government usually doesn’t pack up whenever a building needs repairs. Not only did Bennett’s “Act to locate the county seat of Sonoma anew” propose exactly that, but its language was crafted to specifically fit Santa Rosa: “…said location shall be as near the geographical centre of the valley portion, or agricultural portion of said county, as practicable.”

But the county residents, I believe, saw it as something more than just voting on moving the courthouse to Santa Rosa – and the tipoff is that part of the Act regarding the importance of the new seat being at the center of the county’s agricultural region. There is clearly no need for the county seat to be in the middle of the farmland, but in 1854 Sonoma county, that meant being at the center of local squatter activity, and the horseback ride to the courthouse in Sonoma took at least two hours, each way. It was, essentially, declaring the county to be welcoming to squatters while being also a gesture of defiance against both state and nation for their failure to “solve” the land grant problems to the settler’s liking.

That is, I’ll grant, just my reading of events. We don’t know the content of speeches made at the Fourth of July BBQ, which probably declared what Bennett and others were really after. But “up-county” (as the Sonoma paper called areas north of them) certainly had more small farmers likely to be very upset about the indecisive, snail-paced processing of the grant claims. Aside from a couple of tiny districts, Sonoma and Petaluma were the only places that voted against the move.

And moving the county seat was only the first of Sonoma county’s many contrarian positions in that era. In the 1855 elections there was a local “settler’s ticket” where every single candidate won. The county remained out of step with the rest of the state a few years later as the Civil War began, being the only county in California that never voted for Lincoln. And in the center of it all was Santa Rosa, a town created from nothing.

Which brings us back to that big question: Why did Santa Rosa come to exist? Towns usually evolved organically around something like a trading post, a riverport, a stagecoach or railroad stop. Maybe there was an adjacent swift-moving waterway to power a mill or factory; maybe there was a mine which employs lots of miners. The only apparent advantage of Santa Rosa’s location was that it was at a crossroads, although to date that had not provided enough incentive for anyone to build a house or store there. Ignored in every published history, however, was the significance of this: The town was pressed tightly against the side of a very old Pomo village.

Kabetciuwa was a large and significant community, extending the equivalent of two blocks along the bank of Santa Rosa Creek from modern-day Santa Rosa Ave. to E street. (There was also another village about a mile west called Hukabetawi, around the location of Olive Park.) Whether any Pomo families still lived at Kabetciuwa in 1853 is unknown; about fifteen years prior smallpox epidemics decimated the population, and from later accounts we know many survivors regrouped near Sebastopol and Dry Creek.

Perhaps Santa Rosa was at that particular spot in order to exploit those Indians who remained as laborers; certainly over their centuries of living there the Pomo would have developed the best possible ways to access the confluence of Matanzas Creek and Santa Rosa Creek, which would be an advantage to residents of the new town. Today, sadly, Kabetciuwa has been completely obliterated by Santa Rosa’s city hall complex and the federal building. Our squatter forefathers would be so proud of how the city they created just took a place over without so much as a look back.

1 James Jewell Letters 1853, cited in “Oliver Beaulieu and the town of Franklin” by Kim Diehl, 1999, pg. 6
2 “Fighting Joe” Hooker, California Historical Society Quarterly v. 16, 1937, p. 307

 

Santa Rosa as shown on A.B. Bowers wallmap of 1866

 

SANTA ROSA–CONDENSED SKETCH OF ITS EARLY HISTORY

In 1851 there were but three houses in the vicinity of Santa Rosa and none upon the present site of the town. The old Carrillo house on Santa Rosa creek, distant about a mile, was built in 1838 or 1839. Then came another adobe house on the Hanneth place which still stands, and then the Boileau House now owned and occupied by Dr. Simms, formerly the property of John Lucas. This house was build in the summer of 1851.

In January 1852, A. Meacham, now of Mark West, was keeping store at the old adobe, on the Carrillo place, now owned by F. H. Hahman. Hoen, Hahman and Hartman succeeded to the business of Meacham. For the next year the old adobe was a lively spot and these pioneer merchants drove a brisk trade. There was no other store north of Sonoma, and almost every day pack trains and wagons from the Russian river and the neighboring country surrounded the old adobe.

In the summer of 1853, the question of the removal of the county seat from the town of Sonoma to a more central locality was agitated. A town was laid off at what was then the junction of the Bodega, Russian river and Sonoma roads, just where the cemetery lane unites with the Sonoma road, near the eastern boundary of the city. Dr. J. F. Boyce and S. G. Clark built and opened a store there. Soon after, J. W. Ball built a tavern and a small store. H. Beaver opened a blacksmith shop, C. C. Morehouse, a wagon shop, W. B. Birch, a saddle-tree factory.

In September, 1853, S. T. Coulter and W. H. McClure bought out the business of Boyce and Clark. The same year the Baptist church was built, free for all denominations. Thus early was liberality in religious matters established on the borders of Santa Rosa, and happily it continues down to this day. The only two dwellings were owned by S. T. Coulter and H. Beaver.

Franklin town had now touched the high tide of its prosperity, and was destined to fall before a more promising rival which, up to this time had cut no figure in the possibilities of the future.

In 1852, John Bailiff built on the bank of Santa Rosa creek, for Julio Carrillo, the house now owned and occupied by James P. Clark. Soon after, Achilles Richardson built a store and residence between the Carrillo house and the creek near where the iron bridge now is. This house was afterwards burned. Mrs. Valley built a dwelling house on the corner of second and D streets. The old Masonic Hall, was built in the fall of 1853. E. P. Colgan who had been at the old adobe keeping a public house, moved to Santa Rosa, and rented the lower part of the Masonic Hall, and commenced building a house on the opposite side of the street which was the first hotel and was known as the Santa Rosa House. Ball moved down from Franklin and built a blacksmith on Second street now used as a barn next to the lot of John Richards, and soon after built a dwelling on the south side of Second street, just east of Main or C street. Hahman, Harman and Hoen, in the spring of 1854 built a store on the corner of C and Second street and moved to Santa Rosa in July of that year. The building now occupied by Moxon’s variety store.

Hahman and Hartman bought of A. Meacham, 80 acres of land the west line of which ran through the plaza, paying therefor $20 an acre. They in conjunction with Julio Carrillo, laid off the town and donated the plaza to the County of Sonoma. The town limits embraced the space including between First and Fifth streets from south to north, and between A and E streets from west to east, the survey [illegible microfilm line] A man named Miller started a store in the building now occupied as the Eureka barber shop on the south east corner of second and C streets. It was managed by W. B. Atterbury.

In the fall of 1853, the election for members of the Legislature hinged on the removal of the county seat from Sonoma to Santa Rosa. Col. now General Jo Hooker, was a candidate, and opposed removal; James N. Bennett favored removal; at the election a tie vote was cast. Another election was ordered and Hooker was beaten by a few votes. Bennett introduced and caused to be passed, a bill authorizing the people to vote on the question of a removal of the county seat at the general election in the fall of 1854.

On the Fourth of July, 1854, the people gathered to Santa Rosa from all parts of the county to a grand barbacue [sic] which was held on the ground now owned and occupied by H. T. Hewitt. A Guerny, a Baptist preacher, was the orator of the day. John Robinson, Sylvester Ballou and Joe Neville also spoke on the occasion. Four or five hundred persons were present and the exercises closed with a grand ball at the new store. It was claimed by the people of Sonoma that the Santa Rosans made good use of the time and expenditures incurred, in electioneering for the removal of the county seat.

Be that as it may they won the fight, and in the fall of 1854 the county offices with the archives were transfered to the new capital. The first court convened in Julio Carrillo’s house. Soon after, a temporary court-house was built where Ringo’s grocery store now stands, on Fourth street, opposite the north-east corner of the plaza.

After the election Franklin town was removed to Santa Rosa. S. T. Coulter hauled his building here on wheels, set it down where the Santa Rosa Savings bank stands, purchasing there 80 feet front for the sum of one dollar front foot–$80 for two lots. The Baptist church came soon after and was re-located on Third street, near D. A few years ago it was turned broadside to the street and converted into two tennement [sic] houses.

Henry Beaver was the first blacksmith in Santa Rosa. His shop was near the bridge were Bill Smith’s shop now stands, on the east side of C street. Beaver purchased two acres of land and built a residence on the place now owned by Capt. J. M. Williams, on Mendocino street, opposite the Episcopal church. Julio Carrillo started the first livery stable. The Eureka Hotel was built on the site of the Kessing Hotel by J. M. Case and W. R. O. Howell. Obe Ripito and Jim Wilson built a livery stable where the Grand Hotel now stands, on the south-east corner of Third and C streets.

John Ingram built the first brick house in Santa Rosa. It was one story, situated on Exchange street, adjoining the DEMOCRAT office, and is now owned by Gus Kohle. The next brick built is owned and occupied by the pioneer mercantile firm of Wise & Goldfish.

There are but few now in the city who lived here when the county seat was removed. Among those we can recall are Julio Carrillo, Joe Richerson, Ike Rippeto, S. T. Coulter, F. G. Hahman, Dr. J. F. Boyce and W. B. Atterbury. Dr. Boyce was the first physician in Santa Rosa, and Judge J. Temple and the late Col. William Ross were the first attorneys.

The first public school was kept by W. M. Williamson, now a resident of the Navagator Islands, [sic – now known as Samoan Islands] and a former subject of Ex King Steinberger of Samoa. The first bridge over Santa Rosa creek was built by Charles White. The first church built in the town was the Christian Church, which stood on the corner of B and Fourth streets where the Occidental Hotel now stands.

F. H. Hahman was the first Postmaster. One of the first children born here now living, was C. A. Coulter, on the 12th of December 1854.

Want of space prevents our going more into detail or further along in the history of Santa Rosa. From 1856 to 1870 the town grew slowly. At the national census in the last named year it was credited with but 900 inhabitants. In 1872 the railroad was completed from tide water to Santa Rosa, and since that time the town has increased from a population of one thousand, to nearly five thousand.

Two flourishing colleges have been founded. The city limits embrace an area of one and a half miles square. There are more than 1,000 houses and there is a rapid growth in material prosperity as well as in population. The future we will not predict. We are thankful that our lot is cast in a land so fair, a climate so salubrious, a soil so fruitful that it laughs with plenty if “tickled with a hoe.”

A zealous priest, Father Amoroso, gave the stream and valley the name of Santa Rosa–in honor of Santa Rosa de Lima. The 26th day of August is her festival, and it must have been on that day that the good father discovered and baptized the stream.

[…Two paragraphs on Santa Rosa de Lima…]

– Sonoma Democrat, July 8, 1876

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