I’ve known for months that the Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival was today (9/14/13) and had looked upon the event as opportunity to write something about Petaluma’s beer history. Well things haven’t gone quite as planned, but I still wanted to put something out there so here I present an abbreviated version of what I originally had in mind.
According to J.P. Munro-Fraser’s 1880 History of Sonoma County, the Petaluma Brewery was started in 1855 by Christlich & Erbe, and was the first establishment of its kind in Sonoma County. After some years they were succeeded by Baltz & Schierhold. In 1873, George Roberson, purchased the property and in 1880 he was producing about twelve hundred barrels of beer annually, which was sold throughout Sonoma County and to adjacent counties. The Petaluma Brewery was located on Main Street (where I’m not exactly sure) and according to Munro-Fraser was surrounded by pleasant gardens and shady arbors, making it a pleasant resort for those looking for a refreshing beverage of “jolly Gambrinus.”
Photo courtesy of the Sonoma County Library. Image No. 18244
George Griess was another well known Petaluma brewer. He was born in Alsace, France around 1844 and came to Petaluma in 1870, where he joined Charles Mitchell in operating the Sonoma Brewery which was located on Stanley and Upham Streets. Following a fire at the brewery in 1886, Griess established the United States Brewery at Bodega Avenue and Upham Street which he operated until his death in 1914. The property was later purchased by local contractor, William Sylva who built several homes in this neighborhood, including his own at 115 Bodega Avenue, beginning in the mid 1920s.
Now that my sister has moved into Petaluma's Oakhill Brewster neighborhood I find myself traveling Oak Street quite bit which is where I spotted this sign. I was curious as to its history and with some clues from a friend and a little sleuthing here at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library I was able to uncover its story (or at least one of the stories).
Using city directories, Ancestry.com and back issues of the Petaluma Argus Courier, which we have here on microfilm for 1950 to 2000 (the Petaluma Library has the complete run), I discovered that the sign is hanging on a garage that is associated with a residence at 343 Kentucky Street, the former home of John Axel Lundstrom and his wife Carrie.
Photo of John A. Lundstrom that was part of his U.S. passport application dated June 2, 1923. According to the application, John planned to sail from San Francisco to Sweden aboard the Lima. Purpose of the trip was family business. Source: Ancestry.com
Lundstrom was born in Sweden on July 8, 1882 and immigrated to the United States in 1909 and in 1915 was living at 223 Keller Street, Petaluma. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and by 1929, had married Carrie Colmar and the two were living at 409 C Street, Petaluma.
A 1939 directory has John and Carrie living at 343 Kentucky Street. John's occupation is given as sheet metal worker with a shop at 350 Main Street. According to the census the couple were renting the Kentucky Street house for $30 a month in 1940. They later purchased the home.
John Lundstrom died at 343 Kentucky Street on April 14, 1962. His obituary states that he at one time operated the Petaluma Sheet Metal Works – hence the sign which the current owner of 343 Kentucky Street found in an outbuilding on her property.
Carrie Lundstrom remained on Kentucky Street until shortly before her death in 1986.