To date, most of our blogs that feature an early Petaluman have been personalities well known by Petalumans of today, as well as the past. One name, however, that most Petalumans of today may not know is a former editor of the Argus, teacher, lawyer, farmer, and historian – Samuel Cassiday. Information about his past was discovered in the history files of the Historical Museum & Library.
The lead sentence states that, “Petaluma owes a debt to Argus Editor Sam Cassiday that has never been paid. Only his gravestone in Cypress Hill Cemetery commemorates his name. The forgetful city long ago should have done the right thing by at least naming a street in his honor.” His collection of newspaper files dating back to 1855 is one of the most complete and “priceless” collections in the West. They may be found in the public library. He also authored a book about Sonoma County history, “An Illustrated History of Sonoma County, 1889.” An article in his file stated that, “he received the bitterest blow when the Chicago publisher of his history failed to credit him as author.”
Cassiday was born near Reedsburgh, Wayne County, Ohio in 1830, and spent most of his boyhood near the Sac and Fox Indian hunting grounds of the Iowa Territory. Over time, he worked on a farm nine months out of the year and also learned the printers trade, as well as serving as an assistant teacher in a private academy. Cassiday came overland in 1850 to Sacramento and got involved with various mining operations in Nevada and Yuba counties. He moved to Sonoma County in 1854 and farmed until 1860. He spent a brief period of time publishing the Petaluma Republican before becoming one of the owners and editors of the Argus in 1861. After he sold the Argus in 1869, he moved to Monterey County where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. Later, when offered a United State consulship, he declined. This article closes with, “A few men gave to their community more than they received in return. Petaluma could change the name of Main Street to Cassiday Avenue and still not come out even.”
Cassiday married Cynthia Francis Denman in 1864 and they had five children. His funeral was held April 6, 1904 with E.S. Lippitt, H.L. Weston, G.W. Lamoreaux, C. Temple, C. Poehlmann and Charles Dillion serving as pallbearers.