Local History and Genealogy Notes

Unpublished Letters of Ivan Turgenev

Unpublished Letters of Ivan Turgenev and their insight into history, biography, art, and character.

Many years ago a friend of mine inherited some letters written by the great Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883). She translated them and I helped her with historical background and biographical detail. I will be presenting a program on these letters this Friday, February 8, 2013, at 2:00 PM, for the San Francisco Browning Society, at The Sequoias,1400 Geary Blvd., San Francisco.

On Good Writing - Ivan Turgenev’s Unpublished Letters to a young Princess.

When Madame Olga Dmitrievna Nelidow (née Princess Khilkov) died at Paris in 1918 – widow of the Tsar’s Ambassador to France – she left her son Alexander 16 letters written to her half a century earlier by the great Russian novelist, Ivan Turgenev. In these letters Turgenev (a Khilkov family friend) advised young aspiring author Princess Olga Dmitrievna on methods and principles of good writing.

These letters have remained unknown to scholars and unpublished. They are still in family hands.

Excerpts from the letters will be read and discussed, as well as illustrative passages from Turgenev’s works.



Need Help Solving Genealogical Puzzles?

Need Help Solving Genealogical Puzzles? Join us for our monthly Genealogical Workshops

The Sonoma County Genealogical Society has begun conducting regular Genealogical Workshops (intermediate level) preceding each monthly General Meeting (third Saturdays of the month at the Finley Community Center, 2060 W College Ave . Santa Rosa, CA 95401). These meetings are conducted by me, beginning at 12:00 noon (General Meeting begins at 1:00). Each month I choose an article from a major genealogical journal that explores some typical and perplexing genealogical stumbling blocks many of us have encountered in our own research.

This month’s article – to be discussed February 16 – is Thomas W. Jones’s, “The Three Identities of Charles D. McLain of Muskegon Michigan."

Born in 1848-49, arrived in 1871, and divorced in 1879, Ida’s husband [“Charles D. McLain”] should have been found in the thoroughly indexed, every-name 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal censuses. But he was not. Finding him and his origin required comparing his records with those of another woman’s husband and a man with another name.

And you thought your genealogical research bottlenecks were tricky!

For a copy of this article please email me at hoskins@sonoma.lib.ca.us. And, please join us at the Finley Center on February 16!

14 Keller Street - Then and Now

14 Keller Street, Petaluma, CA. Photo taken by Katherine J. Rinehart on February 2, 2013

Mentor Me Petaluma has a new home. They are now located at 14 Keller Street in the Grace Building Annex.

Recently I came across a photo in the Sonoma County Library's collection. The cataloging for the image says 14 Keller Street. Pretty cute little house that obviously occupied the site before the Grace Building Annex.

14 Keller Street, Petaluma, CA circa 1900. SCL Photo No. 13943

I did a little research and found out that the house was rented by Arthur L. Wells in 1910. Others occupying the house were Arthur's wife Marie; their daughter Marie and four boarders: Edward Dole (lawyer), Chester Pressy (electrician), Earl C. Preston (egg candler) and Ronald Bill (egg candler).

Arthur was the manager of the Hill Opera House. Today we know this building as the Phoenix Theatre (subject for another great then and now!).

Petaluma Feed Mill Captures the Eye of Local Artist

On January 17, 2013, Petaluma photographer, Scott Hess, posted a wonderful image of the Hunt & Behrens feed mill located on Lakeville Street on Face Book. Scott explains how the steam is used to soften the corn coming by on a conveyor belt. From there it is flattened into flakes for feed. This mill handles several types of grain including corn, wheat, and barley which are mixed to various specifications.

This is a process that was likely in place in 1921 when Marvin Hunt and Carl N. Behrens first established their mill at the foot of C Street in a warehouse they purchased from Achille Kahn.

Photo courtesy of the Petaluma Museum

By the summer of 1922, the mill not only had the advantage to being situated on the Petaluma River, but with the completion of the P&SR West Petaluma Spur and associated trestle (visible in the picture to the left), they had the advantage of being able to ship by rail and river.

Both men recognized the need for better feeding rations and improved feeding programs and dedicated their operation to two primary goals: customer service and efficiency in production to keep costs low. By keeping to these goals, Hunt & Behrens kept pace with the innovative changes that occurred during the ‘20s and ‘30s and it wasn’t long before they saw the need to expand their operation.

Hunt and Behrens employees. Photo taken 1923. Image donated to the Library by Mildred Baptista Eaton in 1990. Her father, Tony Baptista, is standing at the far left behind a hand cart with a cap on. Not sure why sack of grain has the Golden Eagle name on it. Mr. Baptista worked for Hunt & Behrens from 1921 to 1962

Construction of a new plant on Bridge Street (now Lakeville Street) began in 1940 but because of World War II the completion was delayed until 1947. Due to wartime shortage of available steel the new mill was built using wooden beams and today it is the only one of its kind in California.

It was at the Bridge Street plant that the first bulk delivery of mixed feeds was initiated. During the 1950s, both the storage and milling facilities were doubled in size. By the 1970s, a second mill was constructed. The purpose of the second mill was to allow Hunt & Behrens to conduct all its operations under one roof while maintaining the flexibility of operating the poultry feed division separately from the dairy feed division.

The location on Bridge Street afforded the same transportation advantages as the C Street site, but now instead of the river the company depends on trucks and trains to haul their feeds to customers.

After a 10 year hiatus, the NWP resumed freight rail service in July 2011 and as of December 2011 rail delivery was saving Hunt & Behrens $15-$17 a ton over trucking. To read more about the relationship between agriculture and rail see Cooperative Extension of Marin County's blog posted by director David Lewis at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Grown_in_Marin/Grown_In_Marin_News/GIM_News_Fall_2012/Agriculture_rides_the_rails_again/

Today Hunt & Behrens is not only the oldest, continuously operating feed mill in Sonoma County, but for the past 10 years has been a major supplier of organic feed. Hunt & Behrens contributes greatly to the region's economic well being and is a visual landmark.

Brainerd Jones Designed For The Living As Well As For The Departed

Kerrison Vault at the Cypress Hill Memorial Park, Petaluma, CA. Photo taken January 10, 2013 by Katherine J. Rinehart


Petaluma architect Brainerd Jones’s career spanned over 40 years from the time he opened his office on Main Street in what was then called the Tann Building, until his death in 1945. Like his contemporaries, Jones was adept at many different designs and prepared plans for a variety of building types ranging from libraries, schools, banks, churches, fraternal halls, commercial structures, fire stations, post offices, residences and more. Examples of Jones’s work can be found throughout Petaluma, as well as in other parts of Sonoma and Marin Counties, but many may not be familiar with his work at Cypress Hill Memorial Park where the Kerrison family vault is located. Alfred Kerrison (1868-1917), a Penngrove pioneer, specified in his will that his executor was to erect a re-enforced concrete vault, walls of suitable thickness and strength that were to be lined with tiling or marble, and to contain receptacles for at least seven caskets. According to a Petaluma Argusnewspaper article, Brainerd Jones was hired to design the tomb in 1918. The Egyptian style was likely chosen by Kerrison prior to his passing.

E.W.M. Evans standing outside his shop located on the grounds of the Cypress Hill Cemetery circa 1928. Photo courtesy of Alyne Evans Anderson.


E.W. M. Evans was the contractor and stone mason, while Robert Schlunegger did the concrete work. Construction of the tomb required hundreds of pounds of steel were to reinforce the structure so that it would be earthquake proof. The building was to be finished in a rich cream tint, but after being fully “occupied” the whole structure was to be veneered with granite and every opening sealed. The interior of the tomb is described as being finished in heavy panels of rich Alaskan marble while the floor was tile. A stained glass window was installed on the west side of the tomb as was a bronze door which was removed many years ago by descendants of the Kerrison family. Concrete now seals the tomb and it does not appear as if a granite veneer was ever applied. The last person to be entombed in the vault was Alfred Kerrison's sister-in-law, Sarah Risk Kerrison (1867-1951). To learn more about the Kerrison Family please see The Kerrison Family of Vallejo Township by Moria Gardner available at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library. The Kerrison tomb is not the only Brainerd Jones design to be found at Cypress Hill. Stay tuned for more on this subject!