For some unknown reason, this morning’s twilight moment (3:30 a.m.) focused upon what community topics, themes, or activities to blog about on the revival of “Our River Town” over the coming weeks. Once, again, my thoughts centered on the fact that Petaluma’s history is a “treasure chest” of information that contains many “golden nuggets” of value to its citizens. How best to use this blog site to share those precious historic moments, as well as current stories, is the challenge I am struggling with today.

Adair Heig, in her book, “History of Petaluma – A California River Town,” published in 1982 states that, “the first human inhabitant of this valley probably arrived 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, little is known about them except they were hunters and gatherers. Through hundreds of generations they lived in harmony with nature that their culture left almost no trace on the surface of the land.”

Most citizens of today know that an Indian tribe (the Petalumas) lived in the area and that it was during the 1770s that European explorers traveled up Petaluma Creek seeking a pathway to Bodega Bay. Adair’s first chapter, “Land of the Petalumas” is worth reading for additional information and historic details about the Mexican period (1822-1846) and the arrival of Mariano Vallejo and the building of the Petaluma Adobe in 1834. Over time, American immigrants arrived and gradually acquired land grants and claims, built ranches and raised cattle. Fast forward to the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848 because this event eventually brought many more Americans to California hoping to become rich.

Over time, things did not pan out for these gold seekers, and many returned home or relocated to settlements that had been created in other parts of California, such as Sonoma County. Among these early settlers were Tom Lockwood, Capt. Thomas Baylis, David Flogdell, George Williams, Isaac Wickersham, and William Zartman. By 1855, the town of Petaluma had a trading post, boat service, four hotels, two churches, twenty stores, many houses, warehouses, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, and a post office.

A newspaper, the Petaluma Journal and Sonoma County Adviser, was started on August 18, 1855. On August 12, 1858, with a population close to 1,500, the California legislature passed a bill that created Petaluma as an incorporated town. These early Petalumans and their community accomplishments are what I refer to as Petaluma’s “Golden Nuggets” and hope o collect in Our River Town’s “Treasure Chest.” Some of these stories have already been posted on this blog site under headings such as “Lest We Forget” and “Petaluma History.” Stay tuned.

Significant Historic Dates

1833, October – Mariano Vallejo assembled ten Mexican families and established a
colony on the lands of the Petalumas.
1834 – The Petaluma Adobe was built
1847 – John F.A. Heyerman built a log cabin where McNear Park is today
1848, January 24 – Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill
1851, January – Capt. Thomas Baylis and David Flogwwell start boat service on
Petaluma Creek
1851, August – James Singley helped lay out the first plat of Petaluma
1852, January 3 – Tom Lockwood and James Singley survey 40 acres of Petaluma
1853, September – Petaluma has about fifty homes
1855, August 18 – Petaluma’s first newspaper published
1858 – An act to incorporate Petaluma as a town passed by the state legislature
1859 – Petaluma is the largest and wealthiest town in Sonoma County