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Sonoma County Historical Society



The price for the day of walking and history includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tee Shirt AND ONE YEAR’S MEMBERSHIP to the Sonoma County Historical Society. $75 ADULTS, $10 UNDER 18 INFORMATION AND ENROLLMENT FORM: SONOMACOUNTYHISTORY.ORG/Historywalk INFORMATION: RAY JOHNSON 707-535-6476
Sean Bressie | Sonoma County Historical Society

2018 SCHS Annual Banquet - March 11th

It’s getting closer to deadline time for the Sonoma County Historical Society’s annual banquet at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa Sunday, Mar. 11.
Coordinator Sharie Sbrazza says you can still sign up for the even online until Thursday, Mar. 8.


Author and columnist Gaye LeBaron will be the featured speaker.
Marking the City of Santa Rosa’s sesquicentennial (150th year), LeBaron will discuss: Santa Rosa Then and Now, the Pluckiest City in California—the “Before and After” of Natural Disasters. In addition to writing more than 8,000 entertaining columns for The Press Democrat over the years, she has also pioneered a number of major books on Sonoma County. Early on, she wrote the foreword for the pioneering work Wild Oats in Eden: Sonoma County in the 19th century. The collaborating group in the 1960s included Harvey Hansen, Jeanne Thurlow Miller, and photographers Ansel Adams, John LeBaron and Beth Winter. In 1985, LeBaron, Hansen, Dee Blackman and Joann Mitchell collaborated on Santa Rosa: a Nineteenth Century Town. In 1993, LeBaron joined with with Joann Mitchell on Santa Rosa: A Twentieth Century Town. After 42 fruitful years, she went into semi-retirement in 2001. She still writes at least twice a month in The Press Democrat and has been busy working on fire stories since the tragic events of October, 2017. LeBaron attended Sonoma Valley High School and then moved on to Santa Rosa Junior College, before earning a B.A. in English and History at UC, Berkeley. She interned three summers at the Press Democrat and took a full-time job in 1957.

She has done numerous interviews of local historians and has taught classes at Santa Rosa Jr. College and at the Lifelong Learning Center at Sonoma State University.

In 2001, LeBaron made gifts of her interview notes and research material to the Sonoma State University Library special collections department. The material later was added to the school’s online catalog and is available on a website for use by students, researchers and community organizations. She has been honored as grand marshal of the Luther Burbank Rose Parade and Festival (1984) and Sonoma County woman of the year in 2015 by Congressman Mike Thompson. She also received the California Community College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. Gaye and photographer/instructor John LeBaron were married in l958 and they had two children. He died in 2014.

The Banquet

Three items are on the Mar. 11 menu, Roasted Chicken Breast, Pacific Salmon and Pad Thai Noodles Vegetarian dish. Cost is $50 for members and $60 for non-members. Checks should be sent no later than Mar. 1 to Sharie Sbrazza at P.O. Box 406, Santa Rosa, 95402. Phone 707-546-6764 or email The Flamingo is located at 4th St. and Farmers Lane in Santa Rosa. Doors open at 11 a.m. and lunch starts at noon. There will be a presentation of history awards, part of our annual tradition, a report to members and board election and presentations by History Day students. There will also be a raffle.

For those desiring, board president Jeremy Nichols said the SCHS could use help in funding lunches for History Day Students as well as donations to help victims of the fire in October


Signup Flyer
Sean Bressie | Sonoma County Historical Society

2017 Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon


Sunday, March 19th, 2017
A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead
and Susana Millman
Alive with the Dead: A Fly on the Wall with a Camera
Sean Bressie | Sonoma County Historical Society

2017 Banquet Flier


2017 walk update #2

Attention Walkers of Jeff Tobes Memorial 20 mile History Walk

Date – April 1st, 2017 Start location --- Park and Ride at highway 101 and the first Healdsburg exit, south side of town Registration time --- 5:30 am Please go on line to register at You may pay and register on line. Or you may register online and mail in a check We are expecting a good turnout for this year’s April 1st walk in Healdsburg and now you can enroll and pay online if you wish, however you can also pay with a check as well.

The walk route is posted online at The route starts in Healdsburg with breakfast at Big John’s Market; up Chiquita Rd and through the Salvation Army facility at Lytton Springs. Through Geyserville where we have a special lunch spot next to the river. Next, we continue up to Asti where we will have a special tour of the old Italian Swiss Colony tasting room. This is not to be missed. Onward through old Cloverdale for dinner and then a bus ride back to Healdsburg. Some of this walk will be alongside vineyards to avoid the main road if it is not too muddy. There is plenty of pretty countryside to see on this walk and I think it will be one for the history books.

Training for this event is recommended, if you have not begun walking you should be starting to train for the walk; to get in shape. Start with daily 1-3 mile walks with some 5+ walks occasionally, next month boost your daily walks to 3-6 miles with occasional 10+ and do at least a couple of 15+ walks before April 1st. Don’t push it all to the last week, your feet won’t take it. In fact, it would be good to not walk much a couple of days before the walk.

I thank Cecilia for doing much of the legwork for this walk. We still need to arrange for a bus, if anyone has a contact or lead please let me know. Oh, and we still need a tee shirt sponsor, this costs $750 and their logo will be prominently displayed on the back.

The history will be like last year’s walk with pictures and some speaking. Ray Johnson

2017 Walk is coming April 1st.. No Fooling! - Sign up Now

Walk Update #1
Date – April 1st 2017
Start location --- Park and ride at 101 and Healdsburg Ave.
Registration time --- TBA

Please go on line to register at

You will be able to pay on line or mail in check with application.

For April 1st , 2017, we shall be having the Annual Jeff Tobes Memorial Walk presented by the Sonoma County Historical Society. This year’s walk will be in and around Healdsburg and then north through Lytton Springs, Geyserville, Asti and Cloverdale. The route and stops are in their preliminary stage now and more information will be coming as we pull it together. Just like previous years there will be surprises.

If any of you would like to help, please give me a call. Items that we need help on is: arrange busses, lunch, dinner, contacting sponsors, thank you letters, fruit, ice, snacks, water, and we need a tee shirt sponsor.

If you have any questions, please reply to this eMail or contact me at: or 707-535-6476


Ray Johnson
SCHS History Walk

The 2017 Annual History walk will be in April instead of June

Stay tuned for details on the Jeff Tobes Memorial History walk April 1st, 2017 from Healdsburg to Cloverdale.

SCHS Annual Picnic at Jack London State Historic Park

Save the date, September 18, 2016!

The Sonoma County Historical Society invites all members and their guests to a picnic at Jack London State Historic Park. Date: Sunday, September 18. Time: 11AM to 3 PM. Place: Oak Grove (group) picnic area, Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442. SCHS paid for the picnic area and negotiated free parking!

We will provide soda, water, hot dogs and buns. Please bring a dish to share (based on the first letter of your last name, bring appetizers A-H, salads I-R, desserts S-Z). Beer/wine is permitted (BYOB) so bring your cooler. Bring chairs and, if you have them, portable picnic tables.

Please RSVP online or by calling Joann Mitchell, 707-545-5094 or Marj Torliatt, 707-545-7507. (Reservations are necessary so we know how many hot dogs and buns to buy.)

Jeremy Nichols, President
Sonoma County Historical Society

Sonoma County Historian 2016 #1 in the mail shortly

If you are a member of the Society, you will be receiving your Historian in the next week.

In this issue:
SCHS Banquet, p. 2
Houdini Search, pp. 4-6
Jasper O’Farrell, pp. 7-12
Petaluma Argus, pp. 13-16
Jack London, pp.18-19
Christo at Museum, p. 21
Members, p. 22
Friends Lost, p. 22-23v
Daken’s Screen, p. 23
Book Review, p. 24-5
Upcoming Events, p. 26.
Walk in Sonoma, p. 28

2016 Banquet, March 20th - How We Came to Make Such Fine Wines

Get your Tickets ONLINE
It’s no accident that the Sonoma County Historical Society modestly boasts of what we like to think is our skill at putting together interesting annual banquets. This year is no exception. The big show Sunday, Mar. 20 at the Flamingo Hotel includes a round-table discussion on wine, a fine luncheon, awards, raffles, a look at History Day activities, conversations with old friends, and who knows what else.

The program for this year’s annual luncheon is a panel discussion titled “How We Came to Make Such Fine Wines”. We hope to present a wide-ranging panel discussion, featuring distinctly different voices, to tell the grand and fascinating story of how— throughout our history— Sonoma County wines have become so well known throughout the world.

Five speakers are taking part, according to coordinator Jim Shere: Michael Topolos, who will speak on the history of winemaking in Sonoma County since its beginnings with the mission padres; John Burdick, who will speak about the evolution of the appellations, terroir, varietals, vintages, marketing and presentation of the fine wines of Sonoma County; Frank Pastori, who worked the vineyards and cellars near Geyserville since Prohibition, and will talk about the wines of the North County from a personal perspective; George MacLeod, who will talk about his personal experiences establishing and developing a quality vineyard and winery in Sonoma Valley; and special guest George Webber, impersonating Count Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa, who will act as moderator.
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2015 Picnic at the amazing Castelli Ranch Sept 13th

The Sonoma County Historical Society invites you to come visit the amazing Castelli Collection with us!

Castelli's Ranch

Castelli's Ranch

Steve and Glenda Castelli have been collecting just about everything they ever saw over the past half century, and what they’ve got will take you on a long journey deep into the American past.

What have they got? —classic autos and trucks, old tractors and gas station signs and pumps, games and toys of every description, Lionel Trains and Schwinns and Flexy Racers, kitchen kitsch from the sublime to the outrageous, and much, much more than all that.

Here’s your chance to wander through their private museum during the Sonoma County Historical Society Annual Picnic, from 11 to 2 on Sunday, September 13th. The Castelli Ranch is located at 420 Grapevine Lane in Healdsburg, off Eastside Road, just west of Highway 101. We’ll provide free hot dogs and sausages, as long as you bring a salad or dessert to share. Nonmembers are welcome, so bring your friends— there’s no charge, but reservations are required to make sure there’ll be enough food. Call Joann Mitchell at (707) 545-5094 or Marjorie Torliatt at (707) 545-7507 to tell us you’re coming.