Last week the Press Democrat printed two articles dealing with the historic significance of the Beck house located in the Cedar Grove area of Petaluma (a seven acre parcel off Lakeville Street between the railroad tracks and the Petaluma River.)  The purpose of today’sblog is not to enter the debate as to whether or not the house should be demolished, but to highlight the historic significance of this area and one of its earliest European residents, John E. Lockwood.

Cedar Grove is part of an area historically occupied by the Coast Miwok.  John Lockwood came to San Francisco from New York in 1849. He went on a hunting expedition with two friends in 1850, and traveled up Petaluma Creek where they established a hunting camp. Adair Heig wrote in her 1982 book (History of Petaluma – A California River Town), “The rain that winter was almost a continuous downpour. At night the three hunters huddled miserably in a leaky hut which was built in an oak grove on the west bank of the creek just above the present Lakeville Street bridge.” Additional men joined the group and they operated a trading post on a boat in the creek. The boat served as both a floating general store, a trading post, and transported game to San Francisco and returned with supplies for Lockwood’s group.  Later, another early “Petaluman of  Yesteryear” Capt. Thomas Baylis and his partner, David Flogdell, arrived with their schooner and started their own boat service in Petaluma Creek. Eventually the trading post was moved downstream from the original hunting camp. It is believed (speculated) that Lockwood’s camp was on the site of what became Cedar Grove Park.

The recent Press Democrat article by Lori A. Carter reported that Cedar Grove “was host to a private city garden, an amusement park, picnic grounds, bowling alley and the city’s first hotel.” Today, there are several other structures on this property, including the historic Bloom-Tunstall house (1860’s) which is protected by the city’s historic codes and cannot be torn down. As other visitors arrived, the number of settlers increased daily, which resulted in the need to lay out a plan for the town. Tom Lockwood was a member of the Brewster survey team, and he helped carry the survey chain. The 40 acres surveyed extended from the creek, counter-clockwise along Bridge (now Lakeville) Street, over to West Street to Liberty, and then down Liberty Street to A Street and back to Petaluma Creek.

In 1852, the six-month old town celebrated the Fourth of July with a party. Tom Lockwood told reporters in a 1901 interview that the dancing at the party went on for three days without letup. Adair Heig also reported that “Tom Lockwood sent for his wife and opened the town’s first butcher shop on the site of the present U.S. Bakery on Main Street. He also had a corral in back on Kentucky Street into which the Indians who worked for him would drive wild horned cattle for slaughter.” By 1855, Petaluma had grown into a village consisting of four hotels, 20 stores, and two churches.

Lockwood also spent a few years in mine prospecting. He and his wife had ten children, five boys and five girls. “Tom” was an active member of the Fire Department, a devoted Odd Fellow, and never sought or filled a public office. During his time as Petaluma’s first settler, Lockwood lived to see it grow from a wild, uninhabited area to a large and enterprising city. He helped bury the first white man in Petaluma on the Clay hill at the head of Washington Street, later moved to Oak hill. He was here when the first white child was born in Petaluma, and saw the first home built on Kentucky street and later moved to English Street. Lockwood died on December 13, 1904 at the age of 82, and was buried in one of the seven grave sites  in the “Lockwood” family plot.

P.S. – Tom Lockwood wasn’t the only early Petaluman who helped found the town. There were several others and they have been recognized in earlier “Petalumans of Yesteryear” blogs.

Primary source of information: Centennial Edition, Argus-Courier, August 18, 1955.


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