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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William S. Lambert

The old-settled communities of the eastern and central states are largely populated by their native sons, but in the newer regions along the Pacific coast it is not a matter of everyday occurrence to find a farm cultivated by one who has spent his entire life thereon. Such, however, is found to be the case in the history of William S. Lambert, a well-known and prosperous rancher of Sonoma county and the present occupant of the homestead where he was born on the 10th of October, 1860. It has been his privilege to witness the transformation of the country from a wilderness bearing few indications of settlement to a cultivated region with every mark of prosperity and progress. In this slowly-wrought change he has been a factor, and as he looks back upon the past fifty years with its improvements and evolutionary growth he may well exclaim “All of which I saw and part of which I was,” yet his part has been that of a progressive man, a capable rancher and a patriotic citizen, for he has avoided the notoriety of public leadership and the prominence associated with office-holding.

Early in the colonization of the new world the Lambert family became established in Virginia, and from the Old Dominion came Charles Lee Lambert to California in 1851, crossing the plains with an ox-team. Just before setting out on the long journey he was united in marriage with Margaret Lakey, a native of Indiana, and with his bride he arrived safely in Sonoma county, where he settled five miles from Healdsburg. Here he settled on land which he supposed belonged to the government, and acting on that belief he developed the claim, only to find later that it was owned by a private party. It then became necessary for him to buy the tract of two hundred and ten and one-half acres, and in doing so he paid $12.50 for the bottom land and $2 per acres for this hill land. After having spent thirty-five years on the same place he passed away July 26, 1886; his wife had died in February, 1869. Their family comprised four sons and four daughters and one of the daughters, Jane, was the first white child born on Dry creek; she became the wife of John Lavell and died November 3, 1900, in the locality familiar to her earliest memories.

People familiar only with conditions as they now exist in Sonoma county cannot realize the environment in which William S. Lambert passed his early years, still less the situation of affairs during the first years of his father’s residence here. Healdsburg had not yet sprung into existence. Villages were few, ranches isolated, schools widely scattered and facilities for marketing produce the most limited. Perhaps in no way did his father experience greater trouble than in his relations with the Spanish and Indians. The latter were untiring in their depredations, and he was constantly on his guard for possible dangers. On one occasion he assisted in hanging an Indian who had murdered a white man. Other exciting experiences gave color to his early residence in the country, and the memory of some of these incidents lingers in the mind of the son, who at that time was a mere child, but whose quick powers of observation and keen faculties enabled him to understand much that was going on around him, presumably only appreciated by older eyes and more mature minds. In 1888 he married Miss Ellen Kirby, a native of Illinois. Their only son, Ira, born January 5, 1889, completed a grammar-school education and a course in the business college at Santa Rosa.

In former years Mr. Lambert maintained active relations with the Foresters and the Native Sons of the Golden West. In politics he votes with the Democratic party, and give his influence to the aid of its principles. The only office he has consented to hold is that of school trustee. It is his preference to keep aloof from offices and public positions and to devote his attention unreservedly to private affairs, concentrating his attention upon his tract of thirty and one-fourth acres on Dry creek. There is a fine orchard on the farm, also a vineyard producing in grapes a value of between $800 and $900 per year, and bearing only the choicest varieties. Fruit is the main industry of the owner, and as a grower he is resourceful and skilled. The stock raised on the land is solely for his own use, and is therefore quite limited in quantity, but f the best quality obtainable. Perhaps no place in the region has been cultivated with greater profit in proportion to its size, and this gratifying condition is due to the owner’s industrious application and sagacious management.

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