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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Peter Matzen

Not the least noticeable among the farms of Sonoma county is the Adobe Knoll Ranch upon which Peter Matzen is engaged in the breeding of Belgian and English shire horses, a business which he has successfully prosecuted during the entire period of his residence in the region. Throughout the county and even in localities beyond the limits of the county his name is known by reason of his identification with the raising of pure-bred animals. No better judge of horses than he can be found in the locality. At a glance he decides as to the value of an animal. A very brief inspection enables him to ascertain all the good points and to determine in what respect, if any, the animal errs from the ideal standard of perfection. His judgment concerning horses is regarded as final by people cognizant of his ability.

Descended from a long line of German ancestry, Peter Matzen was born in Fohr, Schleswig, Germany, in 1858, and received a thorough education in the excellent schools of his native country. His father, Martin P. Matzen, was a farmer, and as a boy he too learned all the details of farming, but a special liking for horses became apparent and he determined to give this subject particular study and attention. This occupied his time until he came to the United States, when, during October, 1887, he landed at San Francisco. From there he went to Haywards, Alameda county, and immediately took up ranch pursuits. After a residence of seven years on the Meeks ranch, in 1894, he came to Sonoma county and settled near Stony Point. There he engaged in farming, and two years later began breeding horses, and from that beginning he has worked his way up to the prominence which is his today.

In 1900 Mr. Matzen located on the Bliss ranch, and as the old Adobe house is still standing and now owned and kept up by the Native Sons, he gave his place the name of the Adobe Knoll Ranch. Here he enlarged his breeding stables and has now the largest stables of full-blooded and graded Belgians and English shire horses in the county. He leases five hundred and thirty-five acres of the Bliss ranch for farming and stock, besides which he owns fifty-one acres one and a half miles north of Petaluma, well improved with buildings and other appurtenances necessary to the poultry business, to which the latter property is devoted. Here he has a large flock of white leghorns.

The marriage of Mr. Matzen was solemnized in 1880 and united him with Miss Theresa Duer, who was born in Fohr, Germany, in 1854, and died in October, 1881. One son, Martin, was born of this marriage; he married Miss Sallie Hendrickson and has two children. Politically Mr. Matzen has been independent, voting for the man rather than the party and always supporting those whom he considers best calculated to represent the people. To some extent he has made a specialty of dairying and on his ranch he now has ten head of blooded Jersey cows. An enormous flock of chickens, aggregating a total of about eight thousand, brings in an annual income of gratifying proportions, while the ranch receipts are further increased by the sagacious supervision of the stock. The Berkshire hogs are of the finest strain of full-bloods and the output of port is large. There are also forty-five head of horses on the ranch and being these are twenty-five head of blooded mares of the very best types. Being an expert judge of horse-flesh, Mr. Matzen has kept only the best and has built p a drove unsurpassed in color and individuality. At the head of the herd is an imp9rted registered Belgian stallion, Pastule No. 21042, which for the past four seasons has been kept on the ranch, a service fee of $20 being charged. In securing this splendid animal the owner obtained the best breeding possible in the foreign breeding districts and a draft type rep4resenting the best blood-lines. Quality and style are unsurpassed, and the animal has become deservedly popular owing to the possession of these attributes, as well as such other points as are demanded of our finest importations. He also owns the full-blooded English sire horse Edoak, a dark brown animal which has all the fine marks of breeding that are required in a horse.

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