This post focuses on the City of Sonoma and provides an historical timeline of the City’s development, from 1812 up through 2012! The City of Sonoma was named the number one wine destination in the Nation and our goal at Happy Travelers Tours is to make it the Nation’s number one destination for cannabis as well.

And we’re off to a great start! Sonoma County is buzzing with Cannabis businesses, production facilities and tourism and you’ve found your way to the Sonoma Valley’s original Cannabis Tour: Happy Travelers Tours.

Now, let’s get on with the history!

Early 1800’s

1812 The Russian presence expanded in Sonoma County with a settlement which would later become Fort Ross. The settlement was established for the harvest of otter pelts, to grow food and harvest timber.

1822 Mexico receives it’s independence from Spain and Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo becomes personal secretary to Alta California Governor Arguello at the age of 15.

1824 Father Jose Altimira dedicates Mission San Francisco Solano whose purpose was to convert the natives to Christianity and provide a deterrent to Russian expansion in California.

1834 Mexican Congress pass the law secularizing the Missions. This law required all church property be inventoried and divided among the neophytes, who were now new Christian converts.

1835 Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo is sent to Sonoma and becomes the Military Commandant and Director of Colonization for the Northern Frontier. He receives a Petaluma land grant of 66,000 acres.

1835 The Sonoma Plaza covers eight acres and was laid out as a Parade ground. Vallejo is ordered by Governor Figueroa to be the administrator for the secularization of the Mission in Sonoma.

1836 Mexican garrison troops arrive in Sonoma to protect Alta California from the French, British, Russians and Americans, all of who had interests in acquiring California.

1836 Lieutenant Vallejo, at the age of 29, is named the Colonel of the Calvary, Commandant General and Military Governor of all Mexican forces in the newly declared Mexican State of Alta California. This was a civilian title, not military title, however, this is the origin of the title “General” Vallejo. The Barracks are built in Sonoma to house General Vallejo’s Mexican Troops.

1837 General Vallejo builds his first home in Sonoma, Casa Grande, near the current site of the Barracks.

1844 General Vallejo dismisses his troops in Sonoma. The Mexican government had quit paying the troops and as a result the General paid them out of his own pocket for several months before dismissing them.

1846 In May, the United States declares war on Mexico. The Bear Flag revolt takes place in Sonoma on June 14th and the California Bear Flag is first flown in Sonoma becoming the official California State falg in 1911. A new country is formed: the California Republic. General Vallejo is arrested and taken to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento and then release in August. William Ide is elect the first leader of the California Republic.

1846 General Vallejo sends aid to rescue the Donner Party survivors. Eliza and George, children in the Donner Party, came to live in Sonoma with Christian and Marie Bruner.

1848 The war with Mexico ends. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed.

1848 General Vallejo is a delegate to the California Constitution Convention whose purpose was to establish the State Constitution. Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill on January 24th.

Mid 1800’s

1850 California becomes the 31st state in the Union, General Vallejo is elected to the State Senate and Sonoma is incorporated as a City on April 4, 1850.

1851 General Vallejo builds his second home in Sonoma, Lachryma Montis (Tear of the Mountain). The beautiful Gothic-style American-Victorian house began as a prefabricated wooden structure manufactured in the northeast and shipped around the Horn.

1852 General Vallejo is mayor of Sonoma for the first two terms post-incorporation. The Sonoma Bulletin becomes the first newspaper to publish north of San Francisco.

1853 General Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker (the nickname came after a journalist’s clerical error in reporting from the Battle of Williamsburg) resigns his commission to farm in Sonoma.

1854 The county seat in Sonoma is transferred to Santa Rosa; the vote is very close. In the early morning hours, a group of Santa Rosan’s slip into the Sonoma Courthouse and take the records to Santa Rosa in a wagon pulled by mules.

1856 Count Agoston Harasthzy arrives to inspect the Mission’s vineyards.

1857 Count Harathzy purchases land for a vineyard. He produces a new varietal wine, Zinfandel. He calls his vineyard Buena Vista and he later becomes known as the “Father of California Viticulture”.

1858 Sonoma Cumberland College is found and located in the El Dorado Hotel. The college is later moved to Broadway and becomes the first Sonoma High School.

1870 General Vallejo forms the Water company.

1879 Sonoma Valley Railroad Company extends its line into Sonoma.

1888 Sonoma Volunteer Fire Company is established.

1890 General Vallejo dies at age 82 at Lachrymal Montis, the Vallejo Home. He is buried in Sonoma’s Mountain Cemetery and his wife dies a year later; she is buried next to him.

1898 Sonoma Electric Light Company is formed and brings the first electric lights to Sonoma.

Turn of the 20th

1904 Jack London moves to Sonoma with his wife Charmian.

1906 The Sonoma Mission is damaged in the San Francisco Earthquake but no casualties are reports.

1908 Sonoma City Hall is completed and dedicated. All four sides are identical so the Plaza Merchants have the same view.

1911 The Bear Flag is adopted by the California State Legislature as the office state flag of California.

1913 The Sonoma Public Library is built with funding from the Andrew Carnegie library grants program. A total of 2,507 Carnegie Libraries were built between 1868 and 1916.

1914 The Monument honoring the Bear Flag Revolt is dedicated in the Sonoma Plaza. The plaque contains the name of Paul Revere’s grandson, Navy Lieutenant Joseph Warren Revere.

1920 Prohibition takes affect, outlawing the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States. Sebastiani Winery is able to continue producing during this period by making sacramental and medicinal wine.

1923 Sonoma Valley High School opens at it’s current location on Broadway.

1930 The Sonoma Chamber of Commerce is formed.

1933 The State of California buys the Vallejo home Lachryma Montis from Luisa Emperan, the last living child of General Vallejo. California also becomes the 16th state to ratify the repeal of Prohibition.

1941 Sea Wolf cast comes to Sonoma for the premier of the movie at the Sebastinani Theatre. The cast includes Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield and Ronald Reagan.

1943 Luisa Emperan dies at age 87. She was the 15th of 16 children (and the living child) of General Vallejo.

Mid-20th Century

1950 General Hap Arnold, one of only nine people to achieve the rank of five star general in the U.S. Military, dies on his ranch in Sonoma.

1956 Charles Williams open his first store on Broadway, one block from the Sonoma Plaza. In 1958 Williams relocates his store to San Francisco. In 1972 William-Sonoma, Inc. is formed.

1959 Jack London State Park is created.

1961 Sonoma Plaza is declared a National Historic Landmark.

1968 Sears Point International Raceway holds its’ first racing event. It’s currently called Sonoma Raceway.

2009 Sonoma Valley is designated the first Cittaslow in the USA

2011 The National Trust for Historic Preservation names the City of Sonoma one of 2011’s America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

2012 Trip Advisor names Sonoma the Number One Wine Destination in the United States.

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