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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Giovanni Guglielmetti

The life which this narrative depicts began in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland, in February, 1838, and came to a close on his ranch near Petaluma January 12, 1909. Between these dates was enacted a life of useful and successful achievements, and in his death the community in which he made his home for so many years mourned the loss of one of her most stalwart citizens. The earlier part of his life was passed in his native country, during which time he profited by the educational advantages which the time and place offered. When a youth of sixteen he went to Australia, attracted by the gold mines. He followed mining for ten years and then engaged in the dairy business for five years, when he returned to his old home in Ticino, Switzerland. In Australia he had conversed with parties who had been in California, who told of the great possibilities here, and he determined to visit this country and so his stay in Switzerland soon terminated.

The year 1869 was memorable to Mr. Guglielmetti as marketing his advent in the United States, the vessel on which he made the voyage casting anchor in New York harbor. From there he came across the continent to San Francisco, and thence came direct to Marin county, subsequently coming to Sonoma county and becoming the owner of the vast acreage known as the I. R. Jewell ranch. This comprises seventeen hundred acres of as fertile land as can be found in Sonoma or Marin counties (the ranch lying in both counties), and here during the remainder of his life he demonstrated his thorough understanding of the various branches of agriculture, being an expert dairyman and orchardist, as well as vineyardist and wine manufacturer. All of the various industries which he inaugurated are being continued by his sons, who have inherited his love of agricultural pursuits and are emulating his worthy example. The dairy, which is known as the pioneer dairy, consists of two hundred cows and is one of the largest in this section of country. There are four different places on the ranch which are improved with buildings, and each is used for dairy, vineyard and orchard purposes. The winery which is maintained in connection with the vineyard has a capacity of twenty thousand gallons of wine per year, a branch which is well known and finds a ready sale in the markets of the state. An apple orchard of fifteen acres is also a source of income of no inconsiderable size. The most recent industry inaugurated upon the ranch is the raising of chickens, eight thousand being a average brood, besides which five hundred turkeys of the Bronze breed are being raised for market.

Mr. Guglielmetti was united in marriage with Miss Domenica Dolcini, who like himself was a native of Switzerland, born in the canton of Ticino in 1841. Seven children, five sons and two daughters, were born of their marriage, as follows: Alfred J., Henry L., Leonard S., Robert P., Julia M., Anita I. and William J. All were born in Sonoma county and all are proud of their right to be called native sons and daughters. Henry L. fitted himself for the practice of law, first taking a course in Santa Clara College and later a course in Hastings Law College, and has received the diploma which will admit him to practice. With this exception the sons are united with their efforts in the maintenance of the homestead ranch, worthily carrying forward the plan of work laid out by their worthy father. In his political affiliations Mr. Guglielmetti was a Republican, but was never an aspirant for position of any kind. He died as he had lived, in the faith of the Catholic religion, and it is in this faith also that his wife and children find consolation. Although passed from scenes of earth Mr. Guglielmetti is remembered affectionately by those who were permitted to know him, and it is but a just tribute to his memory to say that he was one of the most substantial upbuilders, of agricultural conditions that Sonoma county has ever known.

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