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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Victor Durand

In this part of California where the grape is grown in such profusion it is possible to travel many miles and see little besides the purple hue of this luscious fruit. To a Frenchman this is a comforting sight, reminding him of his homeland and attracting him to the locality as a consequence. Among the many who are engaged in vineyardists in Sonoma county is Victor Durand, who no doubt was attracted to this locality on account of its resemblance in climate as well as the possibility which it offered for the application of knowledge and experience gained in his own land.

Born in Honfleur, France, December 24, 1835, Victor Durand was reared under native skies until he was a lad of seventeen years, under the guidance of parents who passed their entire lives in that country. By way of Cape Horn the young immigrant made his way to the United States, working his way as a cabin boy on a vessel that took one hundred and thirty-eight days to make the voyage from Havre, France, to San Francisco. At best, the problem that confronts the immigrant when he finds himself a stranger in a strange land is none too pleasant, but when to this is added lack of funds, the problem takes on a serious aspect. Mr. Durand's assets consisted of little besides the common-school education received in his native land and a determination to make his native ability count in his favor in his new surroundings. Gardening was familiar work to him, and he sought and obtained employment of this character in San Francisco. The means thus earned defrayed the expenses of his immediate needs, and as soon as he became of age he passed an examination as master mariner and thereafter for fourteen years commanded coast and river boats. From the metropolis he finally came to Sonoma county in 1870, and from the first he was enamored of the locality and determined to make it his permanent home. He homesteaded one hundred and twenty acres in Salt Point township, this county, which he improved and cultivated for twenty-nine years, when he traded the property for the ranch on which he now lives, in Piner district and known as the Dr. Williams ranch. This is not far from Fulton, on Rural Route No. 2. Here he has fifty acres of as fine land as can be found in Sonoma county, of which about forty-five acres are in grapes and the remainder in small fruits. In connection with his vineyard Mr. Durand has a winery, the proceeds from which in 1909 amounted to thirty thousand gallons of wine. Judging from present indications the output for the present year will run much higher than this record.

In 1869 Mr. Durand was married to Miss Hannah O'Rourke, a native of Ireland, who at her death, January 13, 1908, left besides her husband three children to mourn her loss. They are, Mary A., George Victor and Katherine J., all natives of California. Politically Mr. Durand is a Democrat. While office-holding has had no attractions for him, his willingness to do his part as a good citizen was the means of his accepting the office of road overseer in Salt Point township, and office which he held for fourteen years. Personally he is a genial, companionable man, who has many friends and acquaintances in and around Fulton, and one whose life has been such as to win for him the confidence of all.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011