Sonoma County Timeline


Pomo, Wappo, Miwok tribes settle in villages

Approx. 1000 - Approx. 1540

Over thousands of years, Pomo, Wappo, Miwok tribes settle in villages in a land of abundance; Pomos known for basket-weaving skills.

Pomo occupy Kal_ near Healdsburg Plaza

Approx. 1000 - Approx. 1540

California Natives of Pomo-speaking groups occupy Kal_ near the Healdsburg Plaza at the confluence of the Russian River (Ashokawna) and Dry Creek (Mihilakawna), and many outlying villages along both waterways.

Bartolome Ferrelo assumes command after Juan Rodriguez de Cabrillo


Bartolome Ferrelo assumes command of two-ship Portuguese expedition after the death of Juan Rodriguez de Cabrillo, sails north near Cape Mendocino, then follows California coast south to Navidad, Mexico.

Sir Francis Drake stops at present-day Marin


English seadog Sir Francis Drake makes five-week stop at Drake's Bay in present-day Marin County in vessel Golden Hind.

Philippines, Spaniard Francisco Gali sights land in Cape Mendocino


On a return trip from the Philippines, Spaniard Francisco Gali sights land in the vicinity of Cape Mendocino while searching Pacific coastline for a port.

San Augustin surveys the Pacific coast


Returning from the Philippines, Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, commanding the galleon San Augustin, surveys the Pacific coast, spotting land north of Cape Mendocino and a large bay, present-day Drake’s Bay, farther south.

Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno surveys the Pacific coast, spotting land north of Cape Mendocino and Drakes Bay


Returning from the Philippines, Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, commanding the galleon San Augustin, surveys the Pacific coast, spotting land north of Cape Mendocino and a large bay, present-day Drake's Bay, farthersouth.

Sebastian Viscaino explores Pacific coast, passes Drake's Bay and spots Cape Mendocino.


Sebastian Viscaino explores Pacific coast with four ships and, in spite of sickness and storms, passes Drake's Bay and spots Cape Mendocino.

Ensign Juan Perez sails past the Sonoma Coast on way to Monterey


Ensign Juan Perez sails past the Sonoma Coast in August on way to Monterey to seek medical help for his scurvy-stricken crew.

Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra discovers Bodega Bay


Spaniard Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra discovers Bodega Bay and harbor.

George Vancouver surveys Bodega Bay


Englishman George Vancouver surveys Bodega Bay.

Russian ship Kadiak sails into Bodega Bay looking for trading base; sets up colony at Ft. Ross

Approx. 1808 - Approx. 1812

1808-1812 - Russian ship Kadiak, commanded by Ivan Kuskoff, sails into Bodega Bay looking for a trading base; sets up colony at Ft. Ross on Sonoma coast in 1812, hoping to prosper with sea otter trade. Chapel at Fort Ross is first church in county.

Mexican mission, San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, established in Sonoma.


Mexican mission, San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, established in Sonoma.

Santa Rosa begins processing utility bills on computerized punch-card system.


Santa Rosa begins processing utility bills on computerized punch-card system. It outsources the work to Sonoma County, which loses an entire month of its utility bills.



Towns & Cities

Cotati named by Miwok

Approx. 1000 - Approx. 1540

Coast Miwok Indians, the Kota'ti, provide name for Cotati.

Santa Rosa is apparently named following baptisms on the feast day of St. Rose de Lima

Approx. 1824

Santa Rosa is apparently named following baptisms on the feast day of St. Rose de Lima. Earlier theory told of priest who baptized kidnapped young girl in 1829.

Land Grant: Llano de Santa Rosa


Llano de Santa Rosa 3 13,316 Joaquin Carrillo 03/1844

Land Grant: German


01 German 5 17,580 Ernesto Rufus 06/1846

Notable People

Maria Carrillo

January 31, 1793 - February 28, 1849

Maria Ygnacia Lopez de Carrillo (January 31, 1793, San Diego, New Spain – February 28, 1849, Sonoma, California) was the original grantee of Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa, the land on which Santa Rosa, California would later be founded. She was also the mother of the woman after whom Benicia, California was named and the grandmother of Romualdo Pacheco, the 12th governor of California.

Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

July 4, 1807 - January 18, 1890

a Californio military commander, politician, and rancher. He was born a subject of Spain, performed his military duties as an officer of the Republic of Mexico, and shaped the transition of Alta California from a province of Mexico to the U. S. state of California. He served in the first session of the California State Senate. The city of Vallejo, California is named for him, and the nearby city of Benicia is named for his wife (née Francisca Benicia Carrillo).

Thomas Lake Harris

1823 - 1906

Thomas Lake Harris (1823 – 1906) was an Anglo-American preacher, spiritualistic prophet, poet, and vintner. Harris is best remembered as the leader of a series of communal religious experiments, culminating with a group called the Brotherhood of the New Life in Santa Rosa, California.

Luther Burbank

March 7, 1849 - April 11, 1926

Luther Burbank (March 7, 1849 – April 11, 1926)[1] was an American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. He developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career. Burbank's varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables. He developed a spineless cactus (useful for cattle-feed) and the plumcot.

Burbank's most successful strains and varieties include the Shasta daisy, the fire poppy (note possible confusion with the California wildflower, Papaver californicum, which is also called a fire poppy), the "July Elberta" peach, the "Santa Rosa" plum, the "Flaming Gold" nectarine, the "Wickson" plum (named after agronomist Edward J. Wickson), the freestone peach, and the white blackberry. A natural genetic variant of the Burbank potato with russet-colored skin later became known as the Russet Burbank potato. This large, brown-skinned, white-fleshed potato has become the world's predominant potato in food processing. The Russet Burbank potato was in fact invented to help with the devastating situation in Ireland during the Irish Potato famine. This particular potato variety was created by Burbank to help ‘revive the country’s leading crop’ as it is blight-resistant. The blight is a disease that spread and destroyed potatoes all across Europe but caused extreme chaos in Ireland due to the high dependency on potatoes as a crop by the Irish.[2]

Kanaye Nagasawa

1852 - 1935

Nagasawa Kanaye (née Isonaga Hirosuke; 1852-1935) was a prominent California winemaker, the first Japanese national to live permanently in the United States, a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun,[1] and a disciple of Thomas Lake Harris, the self-proclaimed "Father and Pivot and Primate and King of the Brotherhood of the New Life." Nagasawa followed Harris from New York out to Santa Rosa, California where he eventually took over Harris' Fountain Grove estate, producing wines that earned him international renowned. Nagasawa died in 1934, but the round barn he constructed at Fountain Grove is still a landmark in Sonoma County.[2]

Grace Hudson

1865 - 1937

Grace Carpenter Hudson was born in 1865 to well-educated pioneer parents in Potter Valley, California. Growing up in rural Mendocino County, Grace Carpenter Hudson discovered an interest in the Pomo Native Americans and showed early talent for drawings related to the tribe. In the early 1880s, her artistic ability was further developed by professional training at the San Francisco School of Design, where she excelled in portraiture.

In 1890, she married John Hudson, a physician for the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad, which had its terminus in her town. Her 1891 portrait of a sleeping Pomo baby, entitled "National Thorn," was the first in her series of numbered oil paintings that grew to over 680 works by the time of her death in 1937. In her lifetime, Hudson achieved a national reputation as a painter of Native Americans. Today her work enjoys renewed interest and recognition for its fine and sympathetic portrayals of native peoples.

Luda Fulkerson Barham

1872 - July 9, 1947

Luda Fulkerson Barham was the first woman attorney in Sonoma County. Barham was born in 1872 in Santa Rosa, California, and began teaching in Sonoma County public schools in her late teens and early twenties. She moved on to study law and at age 23, Barham was likely one of the youngest women to be admitted to the practice of law. She became an attorney at a time before women had most common rights, including the right to vote.

In 1895, Luda and her husband were admitted to the California bar and sworn in before the U.S. Supreme Court. They began practicing law together out of an office in downtown Santa Rosa, California.

Luda Barham, one of Santa Rosa’s widely known and most respected pioneering woman, died on July 9, 1947 at 75 years old. The July 11, 1947 edition of The Press Democrat credited Luda as being “a brilliant woman, and a student of national and world affairs.”


Robert Ripley

February 22, 1890 - May 27, 1949

LeRoy Robert Ripley (February 22, 1890 – May 27, 1949),[1] better know by the name Robert Ripley, was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur, and amateur anthropologist, who is known for creating the Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd facts from around the world.

Subjects covered in Ripley's cartoons and text ranged from sports feats to little known facts about unusual and exotic sites; but what ensured the concept's popularity may have been that Ripley also included items submitted by readers, who supplied photographs of a wide variety of small town American trivia, ranging from unusually shaped vegetables to oddly marked domestic animals, all documented by photographs and then depicted by Ripley's drawings.

Charles Schulz

November 26, 1922 - February 12, 2000

Charles Monroe Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000),[2] nicknamed Sparky, was an American cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Peanuts (which featured the characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown, among others). He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, cited as a major influence by many later cartoonists. Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson wrote in 2007: "Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip, so even now it's hard to see it with fresh eyes. The clean, minimalist drawings, the sarcastic humor, the unflinching emotional honesty, the inner thoughts of a household pet, the serious treatment of children, the wild fantasies, the merchandising on an enormous scale—in countless ways, Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.

Bill Kortum

1927 - 2014

A veterinarian who helped lead the seminal battle to protect public access to the California coast and spent most of his life fighting to rein in sprawl and preserve open space in his native Sonoma County.

John LeBaron

Oct. 22, 1928 - Feb 19, 2014

LeBaron was born to a prominent and deeply rooted family in the ranch town of Valley Ford on Oct. 22, 1928, and he grew up there. Fresh out of SRJC in 1948, he took a job at The Press Democrat.

"He was working as a switchboard operator when I first came there," recalled Art Volkerts, the newspaper's former longtime editor-in-chief. "Shortly, they discovered he was pretty good with a camera."

LeBaron was promoted to photographer and before long, said Volkerts, was the newspaper's ace. He became photo chief and over the course of 20 years earned numerous professional awards, many for photos featuring Sonoma County landscapes, characters and nature.

Levi Leipheimer

October 24, 1973 - Approx. Present

Levi Leipheimer (born October 24, 1973) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. He was twice US national champion, winning the time trial title in 1999 and the road race in 2007, and is an Olympic medalist. Leipheimer was born and raised in Butte, Montana and resides in Santa Rosa, California with his Canadian wife Odessa Gunn. He is the patron of the widely-attended King Ridge GranFondo, a mass participation ride in Sonoma County.



Approx. 1850


Approx. 1860


Approx. 1870


Approx. 1880










Approx. 1930

Sonoma County population 62,000



















Hit a half million in county polulation


Mexico gains independence from Spain.


Mexico gains independence from Spain.