Local History and Genealogy Notes

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/

Petaluma and the WCTU

Have you ever wondered who was responsible for installing the drinking fountain at the corner of Western Avenue and Petaluma Boulevard North?

Well in case you have, it was members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) who hired local stone mason, E.W.M. Evans, to erect the granite fountain in 1891.

In 1879, Petaluma was one of the first communities in California to establish its own chapter of the WCTU, just five years after the national WCTU was founded in Evanston, Illinois. It is no wonder, given that Petaluma had nearly 50 saloons serving a population of 3,000 in 1880.

The Petaluma chapter of the WCTU followed the formation of the Petaluma Temperance Union, which was open to all and founded in 1877. Its initial membership consisted of approximately 300 people.

WCTU members chose abstinence from alcohol and defined temperance as moderation in all things healthful and total abstinence from all things harmful. The objective of the WCTU was to secure legal prohibition.

Not long ago I discovered that the Petaluma Museum has a WCTU minute books that cover the years 1911 to 1920 which they were kind enough to allow the Library to photocopy. The photocopied book has been cataloged and one of our dedicated volunteers, Moria Gardner, is indexing it.

The minute book along with this photo, also found within the Petaluma Museum archives, has much to tell us about Petaluma’s history and role women have played in it.

Thanks to Moria’s indexing, women who may have once been invisible to researchers are becoming visible and the story of our past made more complete.



Real Estate Listing Inspires Further Research

The Boccaleoni house at 415 E. Washington Street in Petaluma is for sale. I included a picture of this house in my book Petaluma: A History in Architecture. The original image is a post card which was loaned to me by Jane Soberanes, who along with her husband Bill lived next door to the Boccaleoni family for years.

Being that the house is on the market I was inspired to do a bit more research on the property. I knew from Sanborn fire insurance maps that the house was built between 1894 and 1906.

Using “A Map Book of the City of Petaluma” by F.G. Harriman, I discovered that the property was owned by Louis Bacigalupi, a railroad conductor in 1907. Mr. Bacigalupi and his wife Katherine and their two daughters, Katherine and Evelyn were living at 415 E. Washington Street in 1910 according to the census for that year. It seems likely that Louis Bacigalupi had the house built.

In 1920 and 1930, the house was rented to Benjamin H. Corippo who was the proprietor of Corippo & Gilardi, a grocery and liquor store. The Corippo family consisted of Benjamin’s wife, Edith Gilardi Corippo and their children: Robert, Edward and Arthur. In 1930 the household also included nephew Richard A. Gilardi.

By 1940, the Rowan family was renting 415 E. Washington Street. Clyde Rowan was an auto mechanic and his wife, Mary was employed in the laundry at the Hotel Petaluma. They had three children: Winifred Vivian, and Cyde, Jr.

According to a city director, Guido and Iris Boccaleoni had moved into 415 E. Washington Street by 1947. Prior to this, the couple had lived at 610 E. Washington with Guido’s parents, Abramo and Mary.

In 1938 Guido established Guido’s Richfield Service at 440 E. Washington Street (now the site of Starbucks). In addition to managing the gas station, Guido was a member of the Petaluma Minstrels as an accordion player and the Sons of Italy. He also taught the accordion.

Guido Boccaleoni died on October 22, 1999, and is survived by his wife Iris, children Guido, Jr., Diane, Bruno, Charles and Karen.

I’m told that Iris remained in the house until just a few years ago. It would be great to talk to her. She witnessed a lot of change during her 70 plus years living in the “old” East Petaluma neighborhood.

Dr. Anabel McGaughey Stuart Memorial Update

In my last post I described how a fountain honoring the memory of Santa Rosa doctor Anabel McGaughey Stuart was installed in a park next to the old Carnegie library following her death in 1914.

I speculated that the park and fountain were both demolished when the new Santa Rosa Central Library was built in the 1960s. I’ve since spoken with former City of Santa Rosa Parks and Recreation Director Bill Montgomery who confirmed my suspicion. Bill's been in the Library quite a bit these days doing research for the next Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Lamplight Tour.

While the park and memorial are gone, the plaque according to Eric Stanley, history curator, is now in the possession of the Sonoma County Museum on Seventh Street along with this photo.

Eric believes that the photo was taken during the dedication of the memorial in 1915 and that the children present are those who were delivered by Dr. McGaughey-Stuart.

Thank you Bill and Eric!