Local History and Genealogy Notes

Historic Petaluma Hansen House To Be Rehabiliated

An item in the Petaluma Argus Courier public notice section caught my eye the other day. Mixed in with all the notice of trustee’s sales in the sports section I saw a notice of public hearing for a project that involves the historic Hansen House at 718 North McDowell Boulevard – a property that I’ve been closely associated with since 1997 when I worked for the City of Petaluma and was asked to provide an historic evaluation of the residence when there was a plan to demolish the house and build a medical office building. Several projects have come and gone since then and the house was damaged by a fire in December of 2003, five months after Petaluma’s Historic and Cultural Preservation Committee declared the Hansen House to be historically significant. This photo and article appeared in the Press Democrat on June 4, 2004.Jeff Kan Lee's photo020

The current proposal, according to the public notice, calls for having the Hansen House officially designated as a landmark and rehabilitated by developer Hugh Futrell. Mr. Futrell proposes to build 34 two-story residential units, including 8 detached single family homes and 26 duets (duplexes). The Planning Commission will review all of this Tuesday, May 28th at 7 PM. First part of Janet's story018

For more information and/or to provide comments, contact Heather Hines, Planning Manager at (707) 778-4316 or send an email hhines@ci.petaluma.ca.us

second part of Janet's story019

The notice states that the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration was released for a 20 day public review from May 9th thru May 28th and that the document is available at the Community Development Department at 11 English Street and on the City’s web site http://cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/planning.html

McKinley School Has a Birthday

In this week's Petaluma Argus Courier there was a story about McKinley Elementary School celebrating it's 100th birthday in style. I read with interest all the great things that are taking place under the leadership of Principal Matthew Harris. It wasn't until a few days later that something occured to me - where did the 100 years come from?


There have been three McKinley Schools. First there was a one room school house which was replaced by a larger building designed by Brainerd Jones (the blueprints are on file at the Sonoma County Archives which is managed by Tony Hoskins of the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library) and constructed by Frederick Cullen in 1911according to Thomas Gregory's History of Sonoma County.


Both of these buildings were located on East Washington and Vallejo Streets - where Whole Foods is today. The second school was demolished in November of 1955. Construction of the current McKinley Elementary School on Ellis Street began in April of 1949. The architect was Robert Stanton of San Francisco and the builders were our very own Midstate Construction who are presently working across the street from the McKinley Elementary School on the East Washington Place Shopping Center.


Whatever starting year you choose, none add up to 100 years. I bet several of McKinley students - past and present have figured this out, but heck acknowledging the educational accomplishments of today is what's really important here. Check it out for yourself by attending the celebration at the school on May 9th. For more information, please call Matthew Harris at (707) 778-4750.


Using DNA to Solve Your Genealogical Mysteries

Path of mtDNA and Y-DNA

When I was a budding genealogist decades ago, my grandfather Hoskins drew a chart for me showing our male line descent from his great grandfather, William Hoskins (1796-1870), Kentucky-born pioneer settler in Bureau County, Illinois. From that point until four years ago, I steadily researched this family, found William’s ancestors back to the English immigrant, Thomas Hodginson/Hoskinson (1680-after 1743), traced many lines from Thomas’s seven sons, and even established a point of origin and ancestry into the Tudor period for this family in Preston, Lancashire, England.

My genealogical confidence in this line was shattered four years ago when I decided to “go scientific” and have my Y-DNA tested. Having received my results at the 67 marker level, I asked Hugh Hoskins - a man who had contacted me years before to trace his line - if he had had his Y-DNA tested and identified. He had. Since he and I were “on paper” (documented) 5th cousins, three times removed., we should have matched. We didn’t! About a week later, Hugh contacted me to let me know that a certain Ron Hoskins had matched him. Ron was “on paper” closer related to me than to Hugh. So, I knew the genealogical problem was not Hugh’s, but mine.

A bit alarmed, I contacted my 1st cousin Andy Hoskins. He tested, weeks passed and (happily) he and I were an exact match through all 67 markers: meaning our male ascent was assured as far as our mutual grandfather. But, “Cousins” Hugh’s and Ron’s not matching Andy and me had to be pursued. The problem was clearly Andy’s and mine – but how far back was the “problem”?

Interested in learning what unfolded next, and the surprising twists and turns this DNA-genealogical odyssey has taken?  If so, come hear my presentation in the daylong seminar - Using DNA to Solve Your Genealogical Mysteries - sponsored by the California Genealogical Society, Nile Hall, Preservation Park, 668 Thirteenth Street, Oakland, CA 94612 on April 27, 2013,  9:00AM-3:30PM. (Pre-registration required. events@californiaancestors.org. 510-663-1358 )

National Library Week April 14 - 20, 2013

Today we received an email from the Healdsburg branch librarian, Bo Simons, who has a neighbor that is involved in rehabilitating the old Cloverdale Library and is interested in finding interior views of the building which was built in 1921. Perfect topic given that this is National Library Week!


So far no luck, but hoping that perhaps by posting this blog someone will come forward with photos, blue prints or building specifications (doesn't hurt to be optimistic).

A bit of history on the Cloverdale Library. According Images of America: Cloverdale by Joan Wagele, Marge Gray, and the Cloverdale Historical Society, and other sources, Cloverdale's first library was actually started around 1894 in the Library Hall at 231 North West Street. The Cloverdale Free Library was built in 1921 by the Women's Improvement Club on land donated by Ida (Hoadley) Humbert. In 1966 the Cloverdale Lbrary merged with the County Library and in 1979 the current Cloverdale Public Library located at 401 North Cloverdale Boulevard, opened in Feburary of 1979 at which time the "old" library became home to a wholesale lumber business.

If you or someone you know has information that you think might aid in the rehabilitation of this piece of history, please let me know by providing comments below.

Fate of Petaluma Landmark Barns in Jeopardy

The Scott Ranch

Following the death of Arnold Scott, a lifelong Petaluman, in 1999 what remained of his family’s 134-acre ranch on D Street went to his alma mater, the University of the Pacific, where he received a degree in sociology in 1939. The ranch is located on the corner of D Street and Windsor Drive. Several of the original outbuildings are still present, including a prominent, 2.5 story red barn.

Mr. Scott’s intention in donating the property was that it be sold and the proceeds used to fund a scholarship. Scott had received a football scholarship to UOP and was forever grateful for having had the opportunity to attend college. He believed others should share in his good fortune. This was not his first act of generosity. Arnold Scott provided sports scholarships in the names of his parents to Petaluma and Casa Grande high schools and contributed financially to the all-weather track at Petaluma High.

Although Mr. Scott never married or had children of his own, he was a surrogate father to many local youth who he took on regular fishing and hunting trips – sometimes on the ranch itself which was purchased by Arnold’s father, Niels Christian Scott, in 1915.

Historic Background

In addition to the Scott family, the property is also associated with Wiese and Petersen families.

Carl Johannes Wiese, a German immigrant, received a patent to what was then a 160-acre parcel in 1868 and shortly thereafter established one of the first dairy ranches to supply milk to the local retail trade.

From probate proceedings included in an abstract of title held by the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library, I learned that when Carl Wiese died in 1876 his 160-acre ranch, appraised at $4,800, as well as 20 cows and two horses went to his wife, Catherine. In 1893 she deeded the property to her daughter, Mary Petersen. Mary had married Julius Petersen on October 17, 1880 at the ranch. They raised their four children, Hulda, Bertha, Arthur and Rudolph, on the ranch. Bertha married Magnus Vonsen, a prominent Petaluma feed merchant.

In addition to operating the ranch, Julius Petersen was a painter, credited with painting some of the first incubators manufactured by Lyman Byce. His specialty however was carriages. Early on he had a shop at the corner of Keller and Washington Streets and later moved to the corner of Howard Street and Western Avenue. He likely used one of the larger barns on his ranch as a workshop.

By 1910 the Petersens had built a house at 407 C Street and were living there. In 1915 they sold all but 26 acres of their ranch to Niels C. Scott, a Danish immigrant.

Scott settled in California around 1900 and established a ranch in the Sonoma Mountains. After his daughter Carmen was born, he and his wife Amalia decided to move closer to town.

At the time Scott purchased the ranch, a reporter for the Petaluma Argus stated it was “one of the most important farm land deals made” and that the farm is a splendid one and is a quarter of a mile outside the city limits and only 15 minutes walk from the post office.”

According to another newspaper articles dated March 2, 1915, N.C. Scott awarded a contract to H.P. Vogensen for the “remodeling of practically every building and the reconstruction of every fence on his splendid farm on D Street extension.” The article continues by stating that “the improvements will cost much money, but when they are completed he will have a show place and one of the finest and most attractive farm homes in this vicinity.”

The old Wiese home would later be replaced by a one-story, stucco, Craftsman bungalow. This bungalow was destroyed by fire around 1967, but several of the outbuildings remain, serving as prominent landmarks to the passersby and artists alike.

When Niels Scott died in 1941 the Petaluma Argus stated that the Scott Ranch was one of the “model places in the county.”

Current Situation

The Scott Ranch was purchased by Davidon Homes of Walnut Creek in 2004 for $7.8 million (Press Democrat, October 17, 2006, pg. B1). Today, just as they did in 2006, Davidon proposes to build 93 homes on the 58 acre ranch that is situated next to Helen Putnam Regional Park.

The Scott Ranch is called out in the City of Petaluma’s 2025 General Plan which was adopted in 2008. Policy 2-P-68 states specifically that the red barns are to be preserved in place.

The barns are a tangible link to the region’s agricultural heritage that few Petaluma properties convey. Their physical location and setting provide a gentle transition from rural to urban that cannot be replicated.

The draft environmental impact report has been prepared. The draft EIR covers many issues including the red barns. Davidon Homes proposes demolition of the structures as one option, relocating as another.

The draft environmental impact report will be reviewed by the City Council on April 15, 2013. For more information go the City’s web site:  http://cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/davidon.html as well as that of Petalumans for Responsible Planning, a group of concerned citizens working to find an alternative to the Davidon proposal. Their web site is http://www.petrp.org/