Joaquin Carrillo died in 1911 following an illness, which was undoubtedly worsened by his death and burial twelve years earlier.

The Carrillos, as every Santa Rosa school kid knows, settled here in 1838 and the head of the family, widow María Ignacia de Carrillo, applied to the Mexican government for a land grant covering most of modern-day Santa Rosa. A few years later her eldest son, Joaquin, obtained a grant on an even larger tract of land between Santa Rosa and Forestville (roughly). Between the two of them, mother and son owned the equivalent of about 34 square miles. Doña María died before California statehood and her property was split amongst many of her other children; Joaquin kept his land holdings intact and when the Americans recognized the legitimacy of his Mexican land grant he was the owner of 13,316 acres of prime Sonoma County real estate.

His obituary in the 1911 Press Democrat was brief, noting his family and Vallejo in-laws “together owned a good part of Sonoma county in the later days of Mexican dominion,” but didn’t specifically mention the land grant at all or that he operated a hotel in Sebastopol. At age 19 he married in 1849 and moved to Sonoma County, living in Santa Rosa since then according to the PD. The Republican – which came out in the late afternoon – shamelessly plagiarized most of its obit from their morning rival, mainly adding just a paragraph about the land grant.

The first clue that both obituaries had serious errors was that this man was a little too young. Several county histories already published by that time had detailed the Mexican land grant was awarded to him in 1844, which was when he would have been fourteen, by the newspaper’s “19 in 1849” chronology, and that would have happened five years before he supposedly even arrived in Sonoma county, according to the obits. An editor (both editors) should have noticed the dates didn’t jibe – it was almost as if they had mixed up details about entirely different people.

In fact, they had scrambled together the life stories of two men who were close to the same age, lived most of their lives only a dozen miles apart, had nearly identical names and were both married to women called Martha. (You cannot imagine some of the eye-crossing mistakes found in amateur genealogies trying to construct Carrillo family trees from that period.)

Untangled details of both Joaquins follow but in summary, there was the son of Doña María, who was the land grant guy and Sebastopol hotelier: Joaquin Victor Carrillo y Lopez III (1820-1899). For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him “Sebastopol Joaquin.” The man who had just died was Jose Joaquin Victor Carrillo y Montano (1829-1911) who married a daughter of Doña María. Here we’ll refer to him as “Santa Rosa Joaquin.”

To be fair, it must be noted that someone at the Press Democrat did understand they were writing the obituary for Santa Rosa Joaquin; their version correctly noted that Julio Carrillo – the youngest son of Doña María and a colorful local character who had died a quarter of a century earlier –  was the deceased man’s brother-in-law. Still, the PD confused everything else by devoting much of its obit to an appreciation of the “Carrillo family” (without being clear that meant his wife’s family) and their role in local pre-statehood history (which all happened before this fellow came here).

But as muddled as the PD version was, the Santa Rosa Republican obituary was worse, with its paragraph about his having the land grant – and a few days later, the paper dug the hole deeper with an anecdotal story that was clearly about Sebastopol Joaquin.

Clearly, no one from either paper had bothered to contact members of the family, even though by 1911 the Carrillo clan had grown to a remarkable size – nine of Sebastopol Joaquin’s 17 children (!) were still alive at the time as were five of Santa Rosa Joaquin’s ten, not to mention all the grandchildren and cousins and spouses of everybody.

What to make of this? It speaks to the diminished prestige of the Carrillo name by that time, perhaps. The 1905 obituary for his wife (who was the last living member of the founding family) was also brief and padded with historic generalities; like the garbled 1911 obits, it was pretty much the boilerplate “old pioneer” death write-up. The papers didn’t want to waste too much space because readers probably wouldn’t remember that old-timer and besides, there probably wasn’t much of a story to tell, anyway. In the case of Sebastopol Joaquin, however, the latter certainly was not true; some details of his unhappy life were never reported in any newspapers.

“Sebastopol Joaquin” Carrillo and “Santa Rosa Joaquin” Carrillo, dates unknown

“Sebastopol Joaquin,” who called himself Joaquin Carrillo, came to Northern California with his mother and siblings when he was 16, sometime in the year 1837. Five years earlier an older sister married a rising star in the Mexican military named Mariano Vallejo, who was now Comandante General of the “Free State of Alta California” as well as having the enormous 66,000-acre land grant of Rancho Petaluma. Doña María and her nine unmarried children lived with them in Sonoma for about a year. During that time a smallpox epidemic swept through the Indian communities of the North Bay, decimating the population. (General Vallejo chose to vaccinate only fellow Mexicans and a few members of the friendly Suisun tribe.) When the Carrillo family embarked to build their own adobe in what would be Santa Rosa, they settled in the center of Bitakomtara Pomo homeland, newly laid waste by the disease.

Sebastopol Joaquin requested his own land grant in 1843. The Mexican governor wouldn’t approve it because surveying hadn’t been done by the adjacent ranchos but he applied again a few months later and this time his petition was promptly granted. That was very unusual; approval usually took up to a decade and his neighbor’s land hadn’t surveyed itself in the meantime. It was further expected that a claimant had already made improvements on the property – but he had not yet built a home there or planted a single crop. Likely his claim was pushed through by his brother-in-law, General Vallejo, for strategic reasons; tensions were high just then because John Sutter, who had purchased Fort Ross from the Russians, was blustering about raising a private army and taking over the northern part of Alta California. The road from the coast was mostly the same as Bodega Highway today and went directly through this land, making it imperative that it be in friendly hands. (The government was so worried about Sutter’s threats that 300 soldiers were sent up from Mexico but according to a biography of Sutter, about half of them were convicts who looted and pillaged ranchos as they marched up the coast.)

There’s not as much written about Sebastopol Joaquin as his famous mother and infamous brothers, Julio and José Ramón; there’s a chapter about him in a handwritten Carrillo family history1 and he’s always discussed regarding his Rancho Llano de Santa Rosa land grant. Unfortunately, most of this information is unsourced and usually incorrect. It’s often claimed he took up arms during the 1846 Mexican-American War (that was his brother, Ramón), fought the Bear Flaggers at the “Battle” of Olómpali (no chance) and was held prisoner by the Americans (it was brother Julio). It’s often said he was once the “mayor” of Sonoma (not really) and sometimes that he divorced his first wife (nope). Almost never mentioned is the single most noteworthy event in his life – that his son tried to kill him.

Skipping ahead a couple of years to 1846, Sebastopol Joaquin is now 25 and building a small adobe at the crossroads of what would become downtown Sebastopol. Like his mother, the spot he picks is right next to a Pomo village, where a few years before ten to twenty people were dying every day from smallpox. (Nothing can be found about his relationship with either Indian or Chinese people, the latter having a large community in the town from the 1880s onwards.) Unlike the rest of his family who seemed mainly interested in livestock, he appears inclined to farming, and is mentioned in county histories growing hundreds of acres of corn, barley and wheat.

At the start of that year he was also appointed second jueces de paz for the town of Sonoma, which meant he was secundo alcalde. In 19th century Mexico and Alta California, this was something like, “assistant general civil servant.” The only specific account I can find in the Bancroft histories of California of someone functioning as 2º alcalde is a guy supervising roadwork.

That was also the year of the Bear Flag Revolt, when General Vallejo was famously arrested by the Americanos and held prisoner at Sutter’s Fort, which was the home of his nemesis from just a few years earlier. After some debate, the Bears decided to also lock up Sonoma’s primo alcalde José Barryessa. Seeing his boss arrested, Joaquin ran away.

And apparently that was the end of his involvement with the Mexican-American War.

He married Maria Guadalupe Caseres in 1849 just as Gold Rush Americans were starting to flood the Bay Area. He was still farming but began identifying himself as a hotel keeper in the 1860 census, also the year when the first mention can be found in local papers about his Analy Hotel, which was described as if it were already a well-established concern.2

Over two decades the Carrillos had ten children (11, according to some genealogists who say their first born was a daughter who died in childhood). These were prosperous years; according to items in local newspapers they owned two Sebastopol hotels (the Analy and the Pioneer), a saloon and a boarding house.3 The census reports between 1850-1870 show a net worth between $26-60 thousand, which would be the equivalent of $100-150 million today, adjusted for inflation. Even as he kept selling off chunks of his land, Sebastopol Joaquin remained one of the wealthiest men in the North Bay.

Then in 1865, his wife Guadalupe sued for divorce, asking the court to put their holdings into receivership until such time as she would be awarded a “suitable portion of his property.”4

Her complaint was that her husband was a “habitual drunkard and almost constantly intoxicated,” not to mention a man of “lewd, vulgar and indecent conduct” who should not be allowed to have custody or any control over their children’s lives. Sebastopol Joaquin “has for several years been and still is squandering and wasting his property,” she told the court. He was a man of “extreme cruelty” who had been “violently beating and kicking” her and threatening to kill her with a knife. She described specifically an incident a few months earlier, when he climbed through her bedroom window at night, pulled her from bed by her hair, and dragged her out in the middle of the street as she screamed for help from the neighbors.

Divorce was unusual at that time in America but not unheard of, particularly in California which had a divorce for every 355 marriages, close to double the national rate in 1870 (the first year statistics were collected). Divorce proceedings were rarely covered as news, however – a surprising glimpse of Victorian prudery in an era when the most gruesome details of suicides were described in loving detail. The silence of the newspapers was particularly unfortunate in the case of Carrillo vs. Carrillo because we don’t know exactly what happened, except the case was dismissed.

And unless a scholar or Carrillo family member hand copied the original judgement, we’ll never know the outcome: All of these hand-written documents were microfilmed decades ago and the originals destroyed. Some of the pages from Guadalupe’s divorce case and her probate are clearly written and easily read on the film but about forty percent of all these pages are completely illegible. Presumably written in faded ink on yellowed paper, the negative images on film are black with scattered dark gray strokes – the technician photographing these documents didn’t know (or care) the results would be unreadable. Of the six page court decision, the only words that can be made out are “State of California” which must have been written in a bolder hand or with better ink. Thank our previous generation of penny-wise county administrators for throwing away our collective history to save the astronomical costs of setting aside a few shelves of storage space somewhere. End of rant.

Sans the court judgement, we still can be certain the case was dismissed, however, because that is the notation in the civil case index. Perhaps they reconciled; two more children were born after the divorce suit was filed. It does appear he gave her the financial security she wanted from the suit; after she died her estate was appraised at over $48,000 and it all was property from his original land grant. The family history says the 1,200 acres Joaquin had retained was appraised at $46,000, although no source for that number was given.5

Guadalupe’s death on May 15, 1874 apparently opened family scabs. One of the first documents filed with the probate court was his challenge to her last will and testament, where she had left most of the estate to her children. Joaquin’s affidavit claimed it was not actually her will; that it was signed without witnesses; that at the time of the signing she was not in her right mind; that it was not really her signature and anyway, she signed it under duress after getting bad advice.6 (Talk about a scattershot assault!) His challenge to the will was apparently denied – see above, re: illegible microfilm – but the probate churned on for a year and a half. And, by the way, the probate documents confirmed there never was a divorce: He was always described as her husband.

Not long after the first anniversary of her death, Sebastopol Joaquin remarried. His bride was Martha “Mary” Caffera-Springer; her father was an Italian ship’s captain who went to sea with his wife one day and neither returned. She was raised by James and Mary Springer, farmers in Bodega who had no children of their own. At the time of their marriage Joaquin was 54; she was 19.

Her age meant she was four years younger than his oldest living son, Henry (Enrique, actually) who was also administrator for his mother’s estate. Henry was also guardian of his younger siblings, per Guadalupe’s request – she still considered Joaquin an unfit parent.

(RIGHT: Analy Hotel at its most well-known location at the SE corner of Main street and Bodega Avenue, c. 1890. By this time Carrillo was living in Santa Rosa and had sold the hotel to John Loser. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library)

About six weeks after the wedding, Henry tried to kill his father. “The cause of the shooting was a long standing family quarrel,” the Petaluma Argus dryly reported in a small item on July 30, 1875. Henry was arrested and held on $2,000 bail. Nothing more ever appeared about the incident; possible reasons for Henry’s anger at his Poppa might include (and probably isn’t limited to) his remarriage to such a young woman, his insulting challenge to Guadalupe’s will or his old habit of drunkenly beating Henry’s Momma without mercy.

Aside from his gunshot wound, Sebastopol Joaquin had little complaint about the outcome; Guadalupe generously left him a third of her property. A month after the shooting he petitioned the court for immediate possession. It would be understandable for him to want a quick end to any dealings with trigger-happy Henry the estate administrator, but it might be because he badly needed the money. He probably wasn’t actually poor but clearly his fortune was severely diminished. In the same edition of the Argus that mentioned his shooting there was a list of everyone in Analy Township who had been assessed at $10,000 or more; of the 27 names listed, Guadalupe’s estate ranked #5 but Joaquin wasn’t there at all.

In the next few years there were dwindling mentions in the papers of Sebastopol Joaquin or his hotel or saloon, and in the 1880 census he again called himself a farmer. Eight years later he was no longer living in Sebastopol, but at the modest house in Santa Rosa at 421 First st. (between A and B streets). It was not a nice part of town, just down from the smelly coal gas plant.

When he died on July 15, 1899 the Press Democrat gave him a nice but brief obituary (transcribed below). Hopefully he treated his second wife better than Guadalupe; she gave birth to seven children, all but two living to adulthood. He is buried in Petaluma’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

“Santa Rosa Joaquin” formally called himself Jose Joaquin Victor Carrillo. He was born 1829 in Cabo San Lucas and his father was the brother of Joaquin Carrillo II (husband to Doña María and father of Sebastopol Joaquin). His wife was Maria Marta ‘Martha’ Juana Carrillo y Lopez (1826-1905), a younger sister of Sebastopol Joaquin. Thus besides having the surname Carrillo by birth, he was a first cousin to both Sebastopol Joaquin and his own wife. They married in 1855 and he had no involvement with building the Carrillo Adobe or the Mexican-American War or had any Mexican land grant. He might never have even met his infamous namesake cousin.

Most of we know about he and his wife comes from an article that may (or may not) have appeared in a 1900 San Francisco newspaper Sunday feature.7 Regrettably, almost every historical fact found there is dead wrong, but the author apparently did interview Marta and hopefully there’s better accuracy where events of her life were discussed. The piece does have a slightly different Carrillo origin story that’s worth mentioning.

The story usually goes that Doña María brought her large family to Sonoma County at the encouragement of her son-in-law, General Vallejo. In this version, the death of her soldier husband in 1836 left the family nearly destitute. A priest told her about the “…beautiful and fertile country, far to the north, where a home might be built and land in any quantity obtained for the taking.” The article claimed the priest “urged the widow of his friend to go to this country west and north of the Sonoma Mission, picturing its beauties, its adaptability to cultivation, the docility of the natives, who, he said, could be employed at farming and herding.” The priest was named “Father Ventura” in the article but details match Fr. Buenaventura Fortuni, who headed the Sonoma mission from 1826-1833 and certainly knew this area. After 1835 he was at Mission San Luis Rey which was not far from San Diego where the Carrillos lived, so a discussion of this nature certainly could have happened.

A newsworthy bit in the article revealed Marta inherited 1,600 acres “lying between Santa Rosa Creek and Matanzas Creek” where she apparently built a home. “One day Dona Marta was served with a notice of ejectment,” the article continued, and “when she protested she was shown what purported to be a deed to the property, signed by herself,” even though she was illiterate and “could not even scribble her own name.” Salvador Vallejo, the husband of one of her sisters and the younger brother of General Vallejo, supposedly had faked her signature to sell the land. Even though it meant the theft of her birthright, “she would not bring disgrace on the family by making complaint.”

(RIGHT: “Santa Rosa” Joaquin Carrillo and family, date unknown. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library)

The article accurately stated she married her cousin, Santa Rosa Joaquin, in 1855. “Their early married life was one of many hardships and privations until the husband by hard work had accumulated a little fortune of three or four thousand dollars.” With that nest egg they bought an acre of land and built a house at 1049 Fourth street, halfway between Brookwood and College avenues extending back to Allison Way. (That address is now an office building in the hideous “streamline moderne” architectural style better suited to Los Angeles.)

It is unclear how Santa Rosa Joaquin supported his family of ten children. In the 1860 census he called himself a vaquero, so perhaps he was a cattleman; after that he told the census-takers he was a farmer. Theirs was a modest life.

The only detail found about them was an anecdote from around the turn of the century, when children and grandchildren would visit their home on Sundays and holidays. Santa Rosa Joaquin had a parrot with had a vocabulary comprised entirely of Spanish cuss words. Joaquin and Marta were reportedly always terrified the kids, who only spoke English, would repeat what they heard the parrot squawk.

Marta died in 1905 after a marriage of over fifty years. True to form, the Press Democrat obituary confused her family with the Sebastopol Carrillos and stated, “Many years ago the deceased and her husband were very wealthy and owned large tracts of land in this county.” Santa Rosa Joaquin died in 1911, of course, and together they are buried in the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

And now the Believe-it-or-not epilogue: If having two Joaquin Carrilos in the immediate family wasn’t confusing enough…there might have been a third.

The most notorious figure in early California statehood was Joaquin Murrieta, the leader of a Mexican bandit gang that terrorized 49ers and settlers in the early 1850s. He was later portrayed in dime novels as a heroic Robin Hood-like character avenging injustices on behalf of oppressed Mexicans, but he was a real person who robbed and killed and scared the Americans half to death. In 1853 the governor authorized a company of California State Rangers to capture or kill the “party or gang of robbers commanded by the five Joaquins.” It was called the “Five Joaquins Gang” because the leaders were supposed to be all named Joaquin: Joaquin Murrieta, Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Ocomorenia, Joaquin Valenzuela – and Joaquin Carrillo. (There was also a really vicious guy named Manuel, but “the Five Joaquins Plus Manuel” sounds more like a circus acrobat act than a paramilitary organization of fearsome outlaws.) A few months later the Rangers had a shootout with a group of Mexicans in the Central Valley and claimed they had killed Murrieta, sawing off the guy’s head as proof to claim the reward money.

Chances are nil that the Joaquin Carrillo who belonged to the Murrieta gang was either Santa Rosa Joaquin or Sebastopol Joaquin (or for that matter, the Joaquin Carrillo who was a Southern California District judge in the same era). But at least one researcher has claimed it possibly might be another of Doña María’s children: Sebastopol Joaquin’s younger brother, José Ramón. Historian Brian McGinty wrote about this in an often-cited journal article on the Carrillo family:8

Most frequently he was referred to as “Ramón,” following the not infrequent practice among Spanish-Californians of dropping the first given name. At other times he was confusedly called “Joaquin,” the proper name of his brother. Because of José Ramón’s constant activity during the years from 1846 to 1864, during which time he was often referred to as “Joaquin Carrillo” or “Carillo,” it seems possible that he was partially responsible for the composite legend of Joaquin Murrieta.

It’s not so impossible that José Ramón might have been involved with Murrieta. He was cut from a different cloth than the other Carrillo men; he was an adventurer and soldier who fought bears armed with a knife, using his horse’s soft leather saddle bags as his only shield. He commanded Mexican troops in several important battles in the 1846 Mexican-American War including the Battle of San Pascual, the bloodiest conflict ever to take place in California. After the war that journal article mentions there were stories of him being a highwayman at the same time as Murrieta and rumors of buried treasure near his ranch in Cucamonga.

But using his brother’s name as an alias (possibly while engaged in criminal activity, no less) seems unbelievable – although that article does acknowledge José Ramón’s grandson assisted with the research, so perhaps there might be something to it. Had he died in Santa Rosa and the local reporters gotten whiff that he was AKA Joaquin Carrillo, however, you can be sure his obituary would have been a glorious swirl of confusion.


1Alma MacDaniel Carrillo and Eleanor Carrillo de Haney: History and Memories – The Carrillo Family in Sonoma County. Undated handwritten manuscript, 94 pp.

2John Cummings: Early Sebastopol Part 2. 2005, North Bay Regional Collection, Sonoma State University Library

3These all might be differing descriptions of the same hotel. Cummings (ibid.) suspects the Pioneer might have been a relaunch of the Analy c. 1869, as the two hotel names never appear simultaneously in period newspapers. The earliest Sanborn fire map (1891) showing the Analy Hotel indicates it had a saloon, and any hotel easily could be called a boarding house.

4Guadalupe Carrillo, Plaintiff, vs. Joaquin Carrillo, Defendant: July 22, 1865, District case number 493

5op. cit. MacDaniel Carrillo and Carrillo de Haney, pg. 36

6Probate for estate of Guadalupe Carrillo: Reel 19 #688

7“‘Sonoma Valley Before the Gringoes Came,’ written for the Sunday Bulletin, March 11, 1900”: undated and anonymous, 7 typewritten pp. Gaye LeBaron Collection, Sonoma State University Library

8Brian McGinty: “The Carrillos of San Diego: A Historic Spanish Family of California,” The Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, March 1957


Joaquin Carrillo, one of the first white residents of what is now Santa Rosa, passed away at his home, 1039 Fourth street, at 1:30 this morning. He had resided at that place for the past 26 years and in Santa Rosa since 1849.

Mr. Carrillo was born in the town of Pabosa Lucas, Lower California, 81 years ago, but moved to Santa Diego when a child. He lived in San Diego until 19 years of age, when he married and removed to Sonoma county settling on the present site of Santa Rosa.

The Carrillo family were pioneers in San Diego under the old Spanish rule. Joaquin was a brother-in-law of Gen. Vallejo, one of the principal characters of California’s early history. Both the Carrillo and Vallejo families were prominently connected with the affairs here in the time of the American pioneers, and in the time before the Americans came.

Both families were numerous and wealthy, and the two together owned a good part of Sonoma county in the later days of Mexican dominion. Julio Carrillo, brother-in-law of the man who died this morning, passed away in this city several years ago, and was likewise early identified with the town and county.

Mr. Carrillo had been feeble for several years, but had not been confined to his bed until about three months ago.

He is survived by five sons and three daughters. Albert Carrillo of Eureka, John Carrillo of Guaymas, Mexico, Eli and Andrew Carrillo of Santa Rosa; Abe Carrillo of San Francisco; Mrs. Phantry of San Francisco; Mrs. Olarlo of Guaymas, Mexico and Mrs. John Welty of San Francisco.

Preparations for the burial will be delayed until response is had from John Carrillo, in Guaymas, who has been asked by telegraph whether he can come to attend his father’s funeral.

– Press Democrat, April 1, 1911

Joaquin Carrillo, one of Santa Rosa’s first white residents, passed away on Saturday morning at 1:30 o’clock at the age of 81 years. Deceased was at one time the owner, under Spanish grant of Llano de Santa Rosa, the 13,336.55 acre grant stretching from a little west of this city to Sebastopol and south to the Cotati Rancho. Three square leagues in Santa Rosa and Analy township is called for in the grant, which was confirmed to Joaquin Carrillo by the District Court of March 24, 1856.

Mr. Carrillo was born at Cabo San Lucas, Lower Calif., but with his parents and their large family of children, moved to San Diego when but a small child. His parents were pioneers of San Diego. At the age of 19 Joaquin Carrillo came to Sonoma county with his bride and settled on the present site of Santa Rosa. He had been a resident of Santa Rosa since 1849 and had lived in his home at 1039 Fourth street for the past 26 years.

Joaquin Carrillo was a brother-in-law of General Vallejo and between the families of Vallejo and Carrillo nearly the whole of Sonoma county was owned. It was from this pioneer that much of what is known of the earlier history of this county was secured and chronicled.

Mr. Carrillo had been confined to his bed for the past three months, but for several years before that had been in feeble health. Arrangements for the funeral will be made when word is received from John Carrillo, a son residing at Guaymas who has been asked by wire if he can be present at the funeral.

Mr. Carrillo is survived by five sons and three daughters. Albert Carrillo of Eureka, John Carrillo of Guaymas, Mexico, Eli and Andrew Carrillo of Santa Rosa; A. Carrillo of San Francisco; Mrs. S. M. Shantry of San Francisco; Mrs. Olague of Guaymas, Mexico and Mrs. John Welty of Santa Rosa.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 1, 1911
Mrs. Tyler Recalls Happenings of Early Days

Mrs. Flora E. Tyler of this city recalls some interesting events in the life of Joaquin Carrillo, the pioneer of this county, who passed away on Saturday morning.

Mrs. Tyler was then a girl and made her home in Sebastopol, and attended the school there with a number of his relatives.

At the time of the civil war Mr. Carrillo owned the hotel at Sebastopol, and there a fair and banquet was held for the benefit of the wounded soldiers. People for miles around came on horseback to attend the festivities and a gala times was enjoyed. Not long age [sic], when the old building was torn down, a paper bearing the date of 1864 was found, and it gave an account of the fair.

Mr. Carrillo owned considerable land, and it took in what is now Sebastopol, and reached nearly to Santa Rosa. The road leading from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol was lined with Castilian roses, planted there by Carrillo and when passing the young people would stop and gather bunches of them. They were a bright pink and very fragrant. They are seldom seen now.

Another interesting event related by Mrs. Tyler was the lassoing of a grizzly bear by Mr. Carrillo while returning from his honeymoon. As he neared the bridge at the laguna a big grizzly bear crossed his path and he started to lasso it. The bear was more than he bargained for, and had it not been for the aid of a man who was with him, he might have been killed. In those days all traveling was done on horseback and his bride rode beside him on her fine pony.

Mr. Carrillo and his bride first lived at Sebastopol and later moved to Santa Rosa.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 4, 1911
Joaquin Carrillo’s Eventful Life Is Ended
Was the Oldest Surviving Pioneer of Sonoma County and Was Well Known

A black knot of crape on the door of a humble little cottage on First street Saturday caused many people to stop and reflect over a life, which at one time in the early history of Sonoma county had a wide influence. The life called to mind was that of Joaquin Carrillo which had ended after a year and a half of incapacity through suffering. This morning at Petaluma from St. Vincent’s church his funeral will take place at ten o’clock, the cortege leaving the residence on First street about seven o’clock.

The last years of the old pioneer’s life were spent unostentatiously. His days were passed very quietly. He was about ninety years of age when the last summons came and his eyes were closed in death. He came to Sonoma county in 1838 and laid claim to being the oldest pioneer of Sonoma. After his arrival here he settled near Sebastopol where it is estimated he owned at one time many thousands of acres of land. His brother was Julio Carrillo, who also owned a great portion of the county.

The deceased was a native of California. He was known all over this section. He leaves six grown children, Andrew J., Lee A., Joseph, Jennie and Mary Carrillo, and also a number of other relatives. Mrs. General Vallejo is a sister of the deceased. By many a hearthstone in Sonoma county the old man’s stories of early days were heard with eagerness and a reverence was felt for that white crowned head over which the clouds and sunshine of more than three score years and ten had passed. The funeral today will doubtless be largely attended by many of the deceased old-time acquaintances.

Among the children by the deceased’s first wife are Mrs. Millie Miller of San Francisco, Lupe Carrillo of Oakland, Mrs. Lulu McCord of Hanford, Mrs. Kate Alpine of Duncans, Mrs. Agnes Perry of Occidental, Raymond Carrillo of Ferndale. His second wife survives his and also their five children first named.

– Press Democrat, July 19, 1899

Joaquin Carrillo, the oldest pioneer of Sonoma county, is dead. After a year and a half of constant suffering he passed peacefully away last Saturday at his home on First street, Santa Rosa.

In 1838 deceased came to Sonoma county and settled near Sebastopol. Here he resided for many years and at one time conducted a hotel on the corner of Bodega and Petaluma avenues. Many years ago he owned thousands of acres of land in this section, but, like many other pioneers, he dispensed hospitality with such a free and generous hand that he died in poverty. Many a man who to-day enjoys wealth and plenty can look back to the time when he was started out on the road to prosperity by Joaquin Carrillo…

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 19, 1899

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For a flagpole to merit its own postcard, it had better be a darn special flagpole. And the old pole at the Sonoma plaza – which in 1846 first flew the Bear Flag of the California Republic, then a few months later, the first U.S. flag over the new state – was such an important historical artifact that there were (at least) two postcards of it, one without even any kind of flag waving from the top. For more than sixty years after statehood, every Admission Day (September 9 – mark your calendar!) brought out a grizzled veteran of the Bear Flag Revolt to solemnly raise the stars and stripes once again up that venerated old stick.

Yes sir, the Bear Flag flagpole was really something special – until it fell over and everyone discovered it wasn’t the fabled relic after all.

(RIGHT: 1907 postcard. Image courtesy Sonoma County Library)

The winds that blasted through the Sonoma Valley in the spring of 1910 caused enormous destruction, blowing down barns and tearing off roofs. But most lamented by the Press Democrat was the lost flagpole: “One feature of the damage done that is most regretted perhaps is the demolition of the old flag pole upon which the Bear Flag was raised, familiarly known as the ‘Bear Flag Pole’ so interesting to visitors.” Then a few days later, a letter from William Boggs arrived on the desk of PD editor Finley.

William M. Boggs was one of the most memorable “pioneers” in Sonoma County, and not only because he seemed to know everyone significant in early California; Boggs also liked to write, particularly about historical errors. We met him earlier when he wrote to the Press Democrat and corrected mistaken ideas about the Petaluma Adobe. Now he was clearing up facts about the flagpole – and because he was William Boggs, it was natural that he was also a participant in the story.

The flagpole that fell down, Boggs wrote, was a replacement made by the Americans. The real “Bear Flag Pole” was smaller and stood about fifty feet away from the current location. Nor did anyone regard it as important at the time; “It was finally taken down and cast aside and some boys cut it up for fire wood,” Boggs wrote.

Boggs stated the new pole was erected by George Stoneman, then a lieutenant, while Sonoma was still being used as a U.S. Army presidio. (Stoneman was posted to Sonoma 1849‑1851.) It was near Boggs’ house where Stoneman’s men dressed a redwood log to become the new flagpole, but that’s not why Boggs remembered it so well.

It seems that one day while the log was still lying on blocks he went for a buggy ride with a lady. While they were returning to the plaza, he heard pounding hoofbeats; the soldiers who had been drilling outside of town had decided to race back to their barracks, and in the lead was Major General Philip Kearney holding the bridle reins in his iron hook, his left arm having been amputated during the War with Mexico. “His horse leaped a wide mud-hole in the middle of the street and passed me at a break-neck speed,” Boggs wrote. The mule pulling his buggy panicked and Boggs lost control. It ran into the plaza with Boggs and his lady friend bouncing along behind. The mule headed for the log and jumped over it.

The leap was a high one, carrying the buggy over the top of the big log, the step of the buggy plowing through the bark. The sudden shock broke the top off of the buggy and the lady went over the back of the seat into the top of the buggy.

No one was hurt (surprisingly enough) and Boggs concluded, “…and that is why I remember the flag staff.” Well, I should say so.

Boggs was a soldier during the Mexican-American War, so he wasn’t around during the Bear Flag Revolt. But a participant in the uprising shared Boggs’ interest in historical accuracy, and wrote the Press Democrat to clarify another disputed point: When was the Bear Flag actually raised?

It’s well established that the key event was when the Bear Flaggers took prisoners of General Mariano Vallejo and other Mexican officers in Sonoma, and that indisputably happened June 14, 1846. But was the “California Republic” actually flying by the end of that day? Writing in his 1886 History of California series, Hubert Howe Bancroft thought it doubtful:

The balance of testimony is therefore in a sense in favor of the 14th; but the evidence is very slight indeed; and it must be regarded as doubtful whether the insurgents had time on that Sunday afternoon to devise, manufacture, and hoist their new banner; especially if, as some say, the halyards were broken, so that the flag-staff in the plaza had to be lowered and raised again.

The Americans were really, really interested in what was taking place over in Sonoma and the commander of the sloop of war “Portsmouth,” anchored in Sausalito, sent a small party of soldiers to find out what was going on. The report written June 17 had the first mention of the flag: “The insurgent party has hoisted a flag with a white field, with a border or stripe of red on its lower part, and having a star and bear upon it.” So we know the flag went up sometime between June 14-17.

(RIGHT: 1910 postcard. Image courtesy Sonoma County Library)

Bear Flagger Henry Beeson, however, wrote the PD to state the flag was indeed raised the first day. (His letter, transcribed below, only also appeared in a small regional magazine and may be of interest to genealogists and local historians.) Beeson died in 1914, making him the last survivor of the Bear Flag Party. He made his final public appearance in 1908, raising a facsimile of the Bear Flag from the facsimile flag pole, and yes, there was a postcard of the occasion.

The flagpole bonafides and flag-raising date are not the only bits of misinformation about the Bear Flag Revolt. Aside from the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake, I have not explored another story where every book, article, and web page seems to have so many mistakes. (An accurate, but basic history of the Bear Flag Revolt can be found at the web site.) For example, the artist who painted the original flag, William L. Todd, is always mentioned as being a relative to Mary Todd (Mrs. Abraham) Lincoln, but he’s identified  as a nephew in some places and others as a cousin (he was a first cousin and her same age). In the semi-official “Story of the Bear Flag” written in 1911 when it was designated as the official state flag, our own hometown historian Tom Gregory went further and claimed Mr. Todd’s middle name was “Lincoln,” which would have shown his parents to be prescient – the future president was only nine years old when little William L. was born.

Gregory’s entire account is enjoyable reading as long as you keep in mind that it is roughly equal parts well-known fact and humorous bullshit. While it’s true later commentators said that Todd’s original flag included a poor silhouette painting of a Grizzly Bear that more resembled a Brown Bear or a pig, Tom Gregory took that many steps further and made up comic dialog he placed during the event: “…the curious town-people who looked, laughed and said it was ‘el porcino’ and an English sailor present voiced in his natal vernacular that idea when he said that it was ‘nothing so like a bloomin’ red ‘og.'”

Boggs also wrote in his letter to the Press Democrat that the original pole additionally served as a “whipping post for those who committed petty offenses,” and thank the lord Tom Gregory didn’t know about that detail; the mind reels to think of the lurid embellishments he could have added to the story.


Sonoma, May 16–A wind storm, more terrific than has ever been known in the history of this place, swept over the Sonoma Valley from seven o’clock Sunday night until noon today when it subsided, leaving in its path a big amount of damage.

Bear Flag Pole Demolished

One feature of the damage done that is most regretted perhaps is the demolition of the old flag pole upon which the Bear Flag was raised, familiarly known as the “Bear Flag Pole” so interesting to visitors.


– Press Democrat, May 17, 1910

Memorable Race In the Old Town of Sonoma

Editor Press Democrat–Will you please do me the favor by correcting a historical error that the press and even the citizens of the historic old town of Sonoma are making in perpetuating the old “Bear Flag Pole” on which the original Bear Flag was hoisted.

The flag staff with a cross tree that has stood at the northeast corner of the plaza in Sonoma, and reported as recently blown down, is not the original Bear Flag pole or Mexican Flag staff on which the Bear Flag party hoisted the original Bear Flag. The staff alluded to as having fallen down was built and erected by Lieutenant Stoneman, afterwards General Stoneman, and later Governor of California, was made from a large tree, and hauled from the redwoods in the Sonoma mountains. It was set up near the northeast corner of the plaza of Sonoma town and a moss tree, like a ship’s mast, spliced to it to lengthen it out. The original tree before it was dressed off was mounted on blocks and being from two to three feet in diameter, with the bark on, was near my residence while being prepared by Lieutenant Stoneman’s men, and when finished was raised and set in the ground about fifty feet from where the old Mexican pole or flag staff that the Bear Flag party utilized to hoist the Bear Flag. The latter described pole or original Mexican flag staff stood immediately in front of the quarters or barracks just the width of the street in front of the main entrance to the barracks, whereas the Stoneman flag staff was set up about fifty feet east or nearer the corner of the plaza. The old Bear Flag pole was made of a single small tree and only about from six to eight inches in diameter. It stood in its place for a number of years, and was used by the authorities of the town as a whipping post for those who committed petty offenses. It was finally taken down and cast aside and some boys cut it up for fire wood.

I have a good reason to remember the flag staff erected by Lieutenant Stoneman. While it was mounted on blocks or pins of small pieces of wood prior to being dressed off, and during the headquarters of the army at Sonoma, when Colonel Joe Hooker, Stoneman and many other officers of the regular army were stationed there, Major-General Phil Kearney was there as a guest of the staff of General Persiper Smith. He was better known as “One Armed” Phil Kearney, one of the bravest and best officers in the United States army. A daring and reckless rider, he lost his arm in charging at the gates of the City of Mexico. He wore an iron hook by which he held the reins of his steed. He had taken a company of Dragoons out west of town while at Sonoma, to put them through some cavalry drills, and after the exercise proposed to race back to the barracks. It happened that I was out in that direction with a lady in a single buggy, with a top, driving a fine, large American mule, and as I was returning toward the plaza I heard the rattle of the soldiers in their race back to the barracks, with General Kearney far in the lead. He passed me on his fiery black horse with his iron-hook arm holding the bridle reins and his saber in the other hand. His horse leaped a wide mud-hole in the middle of the street and passed me at a break-neck speed. My mule took fright at the approach of the company and the rattle of the sabers and ran into the plaza, and up the street in front of the barracks, where all the men left in the barracks had turned out to see the race between General Kearney and his men. They scared my mule, already frightened, so that I could not hold it and it left the street and leaped over this large tree that was mounted on blocks, two or three feet off the ground. The leap was a high one, carrying the buggy over the top of the big log, the step of the buggy plowing through the bark. The sudden shock broke the top off of the buggy and the lady went over the back of the seat into the top of the buggy. I ran the mule up against the adobe building nearest to me. The lady escaped unhurt and no damage was done to the buggy, except the bending of the iron step which caught in the bark of the undressed flag staff. The mule’s leap over the top of the log must have been about five feet. And that is why I remember the flag staff that has stood so many years at the northeast corner of the Sonoma plaza, and erroneously called the “Old Bear Flag Pole.”

My wife saw some boys cut up the original Bear Flag pole that had been taken down and thrown on the ground near where it had stood.

I resided in Sonoma about seventeen years, from 1846, and am quite familiar with the early settlement and occupation by our people of that historic old town, and I am sorry to see so many mistakes made in our press about the early events of our Golden State.

Yours truly,
Napa, May 21, 1910.

– Press Democrat, May 21, 1910

Henry Beeson, an aged survivor of the famous “Bear Flag Party” at Sonoma, has written a short, but intensely interesting sketch of the events of that occasion with a few details of the incidents leading up to the “raising” for the Cloverdale Reveille which is well worth preserving. Mr. Beeson says:

“I wish to correct some erroneous impressions that have been made by some journals and other publications regarding the raising of the “Bear Flag” in old Sonoma, on June 14th, 1846, the month and day being anniversary of the adoption of the American flag by the Continental Congress in 1777. Standard historians have not agreed as to the exact date of that occurrence, one placing it as June 12, and another June 15, but I can clearly recollect the day as being Sunday, June 14. The publications referred to were of the last celebration of Admission Day, September 9, at Santa Rosa. It had been long and universally known that I happened to be one of that once famous party of thirty three who raised the “Bear Flag” and I am now the sole survivor.

“The latter incident was omitted in the celebration proceeding of those publications referred to. We selected Ezekial Merritt, one of the oldest of the party as our captain, and our acquaintance with each other, one and all, became lasting. I have attended many celebrations of Admission Day in Sonoma and several of them in company with two of my life-long friends, the late Ben Duell and Harvey Porterfield, then survivors of the flag-raising, but now long since dead. The last I attended was in 1908. when I raised  the facsimile of the flag we first flung to the breeze on June 14, 1846, the original having been destroyed by the earthquake and fire of San Francisco in 1906. I have preserved as a valued souvenir, a likeness of the last three survivors of the party, together with a list of names of entire thirty-three.

“Another esteemed and old time friend, Jas. McChristian, was one of Fremont’s famous battalion that entered the town of Sonoma next day to that of raising the flag. Mr. McChristian and I had been in close touch with each other during a trip of six months, having in 1845 crossed the plains together in the train of about 100 wagons from Indian Nation to what is now Sacramento, when it fell to my lot to drive an ox team all the way, about 3000 miles, and to travel most of that distance afoot.

“Next year to the close of the Mexican war in 1848 our family circle, consisting of the Anderson and Beeson families, emigrated to Lake county, where we remained until a threatened uprising of the local Indians there, and the death of Andy Kelsey at their hands when we took our hurried departure and journey by slow stages via Cloverdale, until we reached the site of Boonville, in good old Anderson Valley on May 3, 1852. I am now of the age of 82, making my house with my daughter, Mrs. H. Newton Ornbaun of Ornbaun Valley, Anderson township, Mendocino county, surrounded by loving children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. My mother Mrs. Walter Anderson, who was the first white person who died in Anderson Valley from natural causes.”

– Press Democrat, November 4, 1911

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Pity the Petaluma Adobe, the Rodney Dangerfield of local state parks; it don’t get no respect. It was on the short list of parks slated to be closed in 2012 but even after a reprieve when the state discovered a hidden pile of cash intended for park operations, it’s not clear whether it will remain open past June of 2014. Through its authentically boring displays, countless urban schoolchildren have learned all that they never needed to know about 1840s cattle farming and the life and times of General Mariano Vallejo, a man known for speeches so stultifyingly dull that he inspired the creation of the Squeedunks.

(RIGHT: The Petaluma Adobe, which was “falling into decay” when it was purchased in 1910 by Native Sons of the Golden West. This 1934 postcard created for its centennial shows the building in markedly better condition than seen in turn-of-the-century photographs)

To make matters worse, the venerable place is being slowly  pecked to death by birds because the state stripped off the adobe plaster in the 1950s. Kids, there’s your homework assignment: Describe what happens to a fragile historic property when decades pass without significant preservation efforts. Now let’s get back on the schoolbus to visit Santa Rosa and the slightly later Carrillo Adobe, which has no preservation plan whatsoever and which the homeless are tearing apart for firewood.

The Petaluma Adobe is what it is, and that’s a glimpse at the agricultural side of California’s Mexican past. Nothing of note happened on the property; General Vallejo himself was only there occasionally, and when he sold it to a farmer in 1857, even that ho-hum link to history ended. Come about a half century later, the section of the property with the old Adobe – “gradually falling into decay,” as a 1910 Press Democrat editorial noted – was bought by the Petaluma branch of the Native Sons of the Golden West, a fraternal lodge open only to men born in California. For them, something very important had happened there indeed: The birth of the first American in the state.

According to the account that appeared in their lodge magazine, The Grizzly Bear,” in November of 1846, General Vallejo came upon a family of settlers camped by a creek during a rainstorm. Vallejo discovered the leader of the troupe was ex-governor of Missouri Lilburn Boggs and insisted they be his guests at the Adobe:

The next morning Governor Boggs’ family were all moved over to the large adobe building on his Petaluma rancho, which was well stocked with horses, cattle and sheep. “Make yourself perfectly at home here,” said General Vallejo, “kill all you want for beef and mutton, and ride all the horses you wish, and if there is anything more you need just let me know and you shall have it.” Just the, or soon after, a wail and a cry from Mrs. William Boggs and general distress of the female portion of the family. A child had been born and apparently dying, if not already dead.

 As quick as a flash, General Vallejo drew his knife, jumped into the corral, and killing a young ram, stripped off its hide while still warm and wrapped that baby boy, who was apparently dead, up in it. Asking the parents if they had any objections to the child being baptized, they said, “No!” “What name will you give him?” he inquired. “Give him your name, General,” they replied, and so that baby boy was baptized by the General and named Guadalupe Vallejo Boggs, when all declared he was dead.

 However, there was a spark of life remaining in him, and he revived, and the child had a second and miraculous birth from the spirit of God.

It’s a ripping good yarn that was reprinted in newspapers over the years, including the paper in the town where Guadalupe Vallejo Boggs raised his family. Unfortunately, none of the dying-baby-ram-skinning part is true. In a 1910 letter to the Press Democrat, G. V. Boggs’ father rambles a bit about the Adobe and mentions that Vallejo showed up a week or two after the baby was born and asked that the child be named after himself. (Baby Boggs got off lucky; Vallejo stuck one of his own kids with the monicker “Napoleon Primo.”)

The claim that the baby was the first American born in California is also silly, considering California was then still part of Mexico and the Mexican-American War wasn’t quite over. It is more truthful to say that this was probably the last child of American immigrants born in Alta California, but that doesn’t have quite the ring.

But the Boggs’ didn’t need to photoshop their image to make themselves appear more interesting; theirs is a family whose trails criss-cross American history so often it is nearly unbelievable.

Patriarch Lilburn Boggs was governor of Missouri during the 1838 Mormon War, where confrontations between non-Mormon settlers and the growing population of Joseph Smith’s followers led both sides to violence and vigilante terrorism. Boggs ended the conflict by declaring “Mormons must be treated as enemies” and ordering the estimated 10,000 Mormons in the state to abandon their property and get out, a directive so extreme that it outraged even Mormon opponents. Nearly four years later, an assassin came close to killing Boggs by shooting him the head while he was reading a newspaper at home. It was widely assumed that the gunman was the notorious Porter Rockwell, a personal friend of Joseph Smith who was called “the Destroying Angel of Mormondom,” but he was acquitted at trial. Years later, son William wrote the family believed Joseph Smith had a death warrant out for him.

(RIGHT: Lilburn Boggs)

Completely recovered from his gunshot wounds, Lilburn and his family joined a wagon train headed west. Lilburn soon was recognized as the leader and the group became known as “Boggs Company.” As they reached the Continental Divide there was disagreement on how to proceed; Boggs’ faction continued following the well-marked Oregon Trail, but some of the others opted to try another route said to be shorter; that faction called themselves the Donner Party.

The Boggs clan settled in Sonoma and Napa Counties and Lilburn, who hoped to spend his senior years quietly as a merchant (and presumably under the Mormon’s revenge radar), became involved with politics in the post-Bear Flag Revolt period when California was not yet a state. He was named Alcalde for all of Northern California, which made him the only recognized legal authority for the vast territory above San Francisco Bay. A story circulated years later that he broke the news about the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, but that’s not true. (Many other examples of misinformation about the Boggs’ family abound and continue today; a well-reviewed academic book published in 2011, for example, claims it was Lilburn who directed his grandson to be named after Vallejo in order to forge a strategic alliance and it was Vallejo – despite his shaky legal status after Mexico lost the war – who arranged to have his buddy appointed to the powerful position of Alcalde. Say what?)

Lilburn’s children became notable figures in their own right. His son, Thomas, spent part of his childhood with his uncle, Albert Boone (did I mention Lilburn’s wife was Daniel Boone’s granddaughter?) who was an Indian trader on the Missouri River. Tom Boggs learned several Indian languages and struck out on his own at age 16, where he worked in the Southwest for the Bent brothers, who were also his uncles. Tom and his wife formed an extended family with Mr. and Mrs. Kit Carson and when the famous frontiersman died, the Boggs’ raised Carson’s five orphaned children. His is another adventure story but it has little to do with Sonoma County; you can read a detailed (if flawed) biography here.

William Boggs was also a kid when he joined older brother Tom and uncles in running their trading post on the Santa Fe trail, then returning to Missouri to marry and join his family in the famous wagon train. It was William, whose son was born at the Adobe, who apparently had the family’s closest association with Vallejo (although the old general appeared in Judge Lilburn’s court both as the accused and aggrieved). William was primarily a capitalist who made a good living buying and selling land. To promote local agriculture he and others incorporated a nursery to propagate and sell plant and seed, with Vallejo as VP and wine-making pioneer Agoston Haraszthy as President and nursery supervisor. William was also a neighbor of Haraszthy, and together they platted the vineyards for his Buena Vista winery.

But what makes William interesting is that he was also the author of letters and essays that are – or should be – priceless to historians who study that era. His short biography of his father reveals the family thought Joseph Smith personally ordered the attempted murder. He wrote a 1907 reminisce of life at the Petaluma Adobe that is often quoted as an important primary source, as well as the letter to the Press Democrat about the birth of his son transcribed below. (He may have been an important writer, but apparently his penmanship left much to be desired; in the PD item the name of the General’s brother, Salvador, is misspelled as “Salvachons,” apparently because the typesetter couldn’t read the old man’s bad handwriting.)

(RIGHT: Detail of photo showing William Boggs and General Vallejo c. 1885 at the Hotel del Monte in Monterey. Vallejo is extending a Mexican flag on a floral exhibit commemorating the soldiers who fought in the Mexican-American War. Photograph courtesy UC Berkeley/Bancroft Library; click here for complete image)

And that’s just the well-known stuff. William also authored a book-length essay about his time with brother Thomas and their “life among the Indians,” with an edited and abridged version appearing in the March, 1930 issue of The Colorado Magazine. Thanks to Google Books, I stumbled across a letter by William  that states Vallejo betrayed Mexico and covertly aided the U.S. at a crucial juncture on the eve of the Mexican-American War. If true, this rewrites Vallejo’s biography and history of the war. And finally, thanks to Bancroft, we know William wrote often for the Napa Register around 1872 concerning the war and the Bear Flag Revolt, suggesting there is likely still more to be found. Undoubtedly William M. Boggs deserves some serious attention from scholars. Any PhD candidates out there looking for a dissertation topic?

If you still don’t have your fill of the remarkable Boggs family there’s grandson Francis, who was born in Santa Rosa and became a pioneer of another sort. He was a theatrical actor who became interested in directing some of those new motion pictures, directing about 200 shorts between 1907 and 1911. He directed L. Frank Baum’s “Fairylogue and Radio-Plays,” a pastiche made from several stories from the Oz books performed in a two-hour stage production that mixed live action with color film and slides. But Francis’ most notable contribution to the history of movies was his opening in 1909 the first production studio in Los Angeles over the objections of his boss in Chicago. Within two years almost all of the big East Coast studios moved to LA as well. If not for Francis Boggs, there may not have been a Hollywood.

 Reminiscense of the Late General Vallejo

 From W. M. Boggs, one of the earliest pioneers of California and Sonoma county, the Press Democrat has received a letter of particular historical interest at this time. It refers to the “Old Adobe” near Petaluma, which was built by General Vallejo as a summer home for himself and his family, on his big Petaluma Rancho. Mention was made a few days ago of an offer by its present owner, to present the old building to the City of Petaluma. No man is better qualified to speak of the old historic building than Mr. Boggs, as he lived in it in the early part of 1846. Mr. Boggs’ communication is as follows:

 222 Seminary street, Napa City, Jan. 18, 1910. Editor Press Democrat–Dear Sir:

 In looking over the columns of the Examiner today I noticed an item headed “Old Fort Given to City,” presumably to the City of Petaluma by J. A. Bliss of Washington, D. C., nephew of W. D. Bliss, formerly of Petaluma, a gentleman whom I remember well in the early history of Petaluma City.

 I wish to correct a historical error in calling the old adobe building erected by General Vallejo on his original Petaluma grant. “An Old Fort.” I am somewhat familiar with the history of that structure since early on 1846. My father’s family and myself and wife were kindly tendered the use of the building by General Vallejo on our first arrival in Sonoma. It was the first shelter we obtained and it was then not completed. The carpenters were yet at work on the interior. The late Henry Fowler of Napa and his aged father, William Fowler Sr., were the men or carpenters employed to do the finishing work in the building which was a large square building with a court on the inside (the usual Mexican or Spanish style.) The wide verandas above were some twelve feet in width. The walls on the south and east side were not completed, but were covered with tule to protect them from the rain. The front of the main building had wide verandas, and round to the northwest corner of the building. The building was constructed by General Vallejo for his family residence on his Petaluma Rancho, and had been occupied by them before the General tendered it to our family to winter in. The lower rooms were used for storing grain, hides and other ranch products. Some of General Vallejo’s family furniture and other household effects were still in the rooms above, where they were kept for use in the summer when the General and his family came from his town residence to spend the summer months.

 On our arrival in the night at the ranch, General Vallejo had gone ahead of our worn-out teams. He had his Indian servants prepare supper for our families. The tables were spread with linen table cloths, sperm candles were in the chandeliers, and we had a regular Spanish-cooked repast prepared by his old family Indian cook. The General withen on the table, helping all the large family. After supper was served he handed my wife a large bunch of keys to the various rooms, and assigned one large well finished room to myself and wife, in which our eldest son was born on the 4th day of January, 1847. This was a month or two after our arrival. With a few volunteers I had crossed the Bay to enlist in the war with Mexico. While I was away the General came over from his residence in Sonoma to visit my father and family, and he found another young American emigrant only a week or two old, who had not yet been named. He expressed a desire to see the new arrival and on being shown the youngster, he enquired his name. My mother told him he was not named yet and requested him to name him. He replied, if you give me permission to name him, I will name him for myself–Guadalupe Vallejo Boggs. Everyone consented with pleasure. That young man is now in his 63rd year and lives in Oregon and claims to be the first white boy born under the American flag in California. One or two female children were born in Sutter’s Fort probably before or about the same time of year. Mr. Fowler Sr., made a fine redwood cradle for Mrs. Boggs which was a very nice finished piece of carpenter work. The madame expressed her fears as to its durability, the work was so finely executed. The old gentleman said it would last to rock all the children she would have, and it was kept in the family until the baby it was made for grew up and had children of his own and they were also rocked in it.

 Now, Mr. Editor, I did not intend to bore you or wish to occupy valuable space in your worthy journal, although I claim to be the first man to sign the petition to start the Sonoma Democrata when the blank was presented to me by my old friend, Thomas Thompson. My object was to correct the error that the Petaluma house was an old fort. It is so called on their pictorial post cards, and the press also speaks of it as the “Old Fort.”

 General Vallejo never build but one fort north of the Bay, and that was the barracks in old Sonoma, where the “Bear Flag” was hoisted, commonly called the Quartel, and the General told me that he worked on that with his own hands.

 By publishing this you will correct an error that has been published time after time. Sutter’s Fort and Fort Ross (built by Russians) and the Barracks in the northeast corner of old Sonoma plaza, were the only forts built by the Mexican authorities, except the old Presidio, at San Francisco, and the old barracks at Monterey. Don Salvachons’ [sic] now large adobe on the west side of Sonoma Plaza has been called an old fort also, that building was not finished until after we came to Sonoma, and Don Salvachons, the brother of the General built it after we moved to Sonoma from the Petaluma Ranch. A frame addition was added to it on the north side or end facing the street that leads out toward Santa Rosa, and a hotel was made of it and kept by the late Hon. George Pearce and Isaac Randolph, his partner. This building has also been designated as an old fort by ye modern historians. Americans did the carpenter work on both of these buildings after we took the country from Mexico.

  – Press Democrat, January 21, 1910


 Although not as well known as some others, one of Sonoma county’s most interesting landmarks is the huge adobe ranch house near Petaluma, erected by the late General Vallejo during the days of Mexico’s supremacy–“before the Gringos came.” This property, together with five acres of land, is to be presented to the city of Petaluma under an agreement whereby the municipality binds itself to care for and preserve the same. Many historic recollections are clustered about the old structure, which for several years has been gradually falling into decay, and it is gratifying to learn that the building is to be preserved as its importance so well warrants. With the expenditure of a little money, the proper amount of taste, and some energy, the old adobe could be made a great show place, serving as still another attraction for tourists and again emphasizing the fact that Sonoma county is one of the most historic portions of the state. Petaluma owes it to the county to do this now that the property is about to come into her possession, and can doubtless be depended upon to discharge her obligation fully and well.

 – Press Democrat editorial, January 20, 1910

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