California Genealogy and History Archives
Napa County History
A Memorial and
Biographical History of Northern California
Chicago, Lewis Publ. Co., 1891
Napa was the name of a tribe of Indians that occupied the valley. They were brave and greatly harassed the frontier posts. They were very numerous up to 1838, when they were mostly carried off by the small-pox. Those who occupied the Napa Valley were called Diggers. Their food consisted of wild roots, among which was the soap-root. They often dug small animals out of their holes and frequently they ate earth-worms. Grasshoppers made a favorite dish. They made a kind of bread from the crushed kernel of the buckeye. It has been said that they gathered a species of fat worms to use as shortening for their bread. Their food was of the lowest grade, as well as all their habits of life.
Of homes or buildings they had no knowledge. They constructed, in the rainy season, a sort of hut from the branches of trees. In the summer they encamped along the streams. They were of small stature, but possessed great strength. For a great portion of the year they wore no clothing, and in winter were only half clad in skins of wild animals.
When George C. Yount, the first white settler of Napa Valley, arrived in 1831, he estimated there were 3,000 to 5,000 of these Indians in this valley. At that time there were six tribes, speaking different dialects and often at war with each other, and dwelt about as follows: the Mayacomos tribe near the Calistoga hot springs; the Callajomans on the Bale rancho, near St. Helena; the Kymus tribe dwelt on the Yount grant; the Napa tribe occupied the lands between Napa River and the creek near Napa City; the Ulcus occupied the east side of Napa River near Napa City; while the Soscol tribe occupied the Soscol grant. Of all these Indians there are scarcely any in the valley at the present time. Formerly quarrels were frequent with the settlers, who claimed to have had cattle stolen, and the Indians was sure on general principles to receive severe punishment. At one time a party of settlers having met with such losses surrounded several hundred of these Indians on the Bale ranch near Oakville, who were unarmed and in the "sweat-house;" and the whole number were slaughtered as they passed out, man by man, killing nearly the entire tribe. In 1850 a party from Sonoma County killed eleven innocent Indians, young and old, as they came out of the "sweat-house." These murderers were never brought to a trial although some efforts were made in that direction.
The idea of a future state was universal with them, and a vague notion of rewards and punishments seemed to pervade their "untutored minds." Certain rocks and mountains were regarded as sacred, as also was considered the grizzly bear; and nothing would induce them to eat its flesh. Their cure-all was the "sweat-bath," which was constructed in the shape of an inverted bowl, about forty feet in diameter at the bottom and built of strong poles and branches of trees covered with earth, with a small hole at the bottom permitting one at a time to crawl inside. When a dance was to occur a large fire was kindled inside and the openings closed. Around this fire the naked Indians would dance for hours, jumping and screaming, with the perspiration streaming from every pore. After working themselves up to the highest pitch of excitement and exercise, they suddenly rushed out and plunged into the cold waters of a neighboring stream, and then crawl out and lay on the banks exhausted. This sweat-house was also used as a council room, and in it the bodies of the dead were sometimes buried, amid the howlings of the survivors.
EARLY VISITORS AND SETTLERS.
After his visit to Mount St. Helena, Rotscheff sent cattle and sheep from Ross and established what has since been known as the Matintosk rancho, but was called by the Russians Muny.
In 1776 a fort was erected by the Spanish Governor, Felipe de Neve, a short distance northwest of Napa, on an elevated plateau. The walls were of adobe, and three feet thick. The upper portion of the valley was unoccupied except by the natives. In 1847 there were only a few adobe buildings. Horseback riding was the universal mode of traveling, and when a horse became tired he was turned loose and a fresh one lassoed out of the nearest herd.
Padre Jose Altimira and Don Francisco Castro went in June and July, 1823, with an armed escort under Ensign José Sanchez, to select a proper site for a new mission. Altimira went on with his survey to Hüichica (since then the property of Winter & Borel), and on the fifth day after exploring the Napa Valley,—"like to Sonoma in every respect,"—the party climbed the ridge of Suysunes, recently the property of Cayetano Juarez, where the State Insane Asylum stands, and there "found stone of excellent quality and so abundant that of it a new Rome might be built."
In 1831 Guy F. Fling, a young man, piloted George C. Yount to Napa County. He died in Napa in 1872. Mr. Yount, after he reached the valley, followed his occupation of hunting and trapping all kinds of game, which included the gigantic elk. In 1836 he built the first log house ever erected in California by an American, on his Taymus. It was eighteen feet square below, and the second story was twenty-two feet square, with port-holes through which be often defended himself from the savages. He is also said to have erected the first flour and saw mill in California. The first permanent settlers after Mr. Yount were Salvador M. Vallejo, C. Juarez and José Higuera, each of whom obtained grants of land near Napa City. In 1839 Dr. E. T. Bale, an Englishman, obtained and settled upon the grant called Carne Humana, north of Yount's grant. Colonel Clyman, a Virginian, settled in this county in 1846; E. Barnett was a resident here with Mr. Yount in 1840–'43; William Pope came in 1841; in 1843 William Baldridge settled in Napa Valley and built the grist-mill in Chiles Valley; William Fowler, with his sons Henry and William, and William Hargrave and Harrison Pierce, came in 1843; John S. Stark, sheriff in 1856, came in 1846; and many others came prior to the discovery of gold.
Between 1840 and 1845 a considerable number of emigrant wagons arrived across the Sierra, bringing American families, and sometimes families of other nationalities, most of whom settled here. The Russians for more than thirty years remained in quiet possession of Ross and Bodega, under the rule of Koskoff, Klebinkoff, Kostromitinkoff and Rotscheff. The latter Governor advanced with a party of Russians to Mount Mayacamas, on the summit of which he fixed a brass plate bearing an inscription in his own language. He named the mountain St. Helena, for his wife, the Princess de Gagarin. The beauty of this lady excited so ardent a passion in the breast of Prince Solano, chief of all the Indians about Sonoma, that he formed a plan to capture by force or stratagem the object of his love; and he might very likely have succeeded had not M. G. Vallejo heard of his intention in time to prevent its execution.
George C. Yount, a native of North Carolina, came to California in 1831, as a trapper in the Wolfskill party, from New Mexico. For several years he hunted otter, chiefly on San Francisco Bay and its tributaries, and at intervals made shingles. In 1835 he was baptized at San Rafael as Jorge Concepcion, and worked for Vallejo at Sonoma. In 1836 he obtained a grant of the Caymus ranch in Napa Valley, where he built a cabin or block-house, and for years was the only representative of the "Americans" in the valley. He still spent much of his time in hunting, and had many experiences with the Indians, being very successful in keeping them under control. In 1843 he was grantee of the La Jota ranch, an extension of Caymus, where he soon built a saw-mill, having also a flour-mill on his place; and the same year he was joined by two daughters who came overland with Chiles. In several of the old trapper's experiences, as related by him and embellished by others, a trace of faith in dreams and omens is shown; but the old story that a dream led him to organize the first relief expedition for the Donner party is unfounded. In later years the old pioneer found the squatters and land lawyers more formidable foes than had been the Indians and grizzlies of earlier times; but he saved a portion of his land, and died at his Napa home—called Yountville in his honor—in 1865, at the age of seventy-one years.
Joseph B. Chiles, born in Kentucky in 1810, came first to California with the Bartleson party in 1841, obtained from Vallejo the promise of a mill-site, and the next year returned East for the mill; in 1843 he came back with the party that bears his name, being obliged to leave his mill on the way. In 1844 he was grantee of Catacula rancho in Napa Valley. He went East again in 1847, probably as guide and hunter in Stockton's party. In 1848 he made his third overland trip to California, at the head of a party, including his own family of a son and three daughters. For his second wife he married M. G. Garnett in 1853, and has since then resided in Napa and Lake counties, an exemplary citizen.
Edward Turner Bale, an English surgeon, landed at Monterey in 1837, and practiced medicine there for five or six years; in 1840–'3 he was surgeon of the California forces by General Vallejo's appointment: was a man of good education, but always more or less in trouble on account of his debts and quarrels. In 1840 he opened a liquor shop in a room hired of Larkin for a drug store, and was arrested in the resulting complications with the authorities. In 1841 he obtained a grant of the Carne Humana rancho in Napa Valley, where he went in 1843. In 1844, having been whipped by Salvador Vallejo, he attempted to shoot the latter, was put in jail and narrowly saved his life. The rumored intention of the Kelseys and other foreigners to rescue the doctor caused much excitement. In 1846 he built a saw-mill, and in 1847–'48 did a large business in lumber, the increased value of his land making him a rich man. He died in 1849 or 1850, leaving a widow, two sons and four daughters.
Harrison M. Pieras settled in Napa probably about 1843, coming in a whaling vessel from Oregon the preceding year; in 1845–'48 he was in the employ of Dr. Bale; in 1848 he built the first structure at Napa City, used as a saloon, and this building was still standing in 1881. Pieras died in 1870.
William Hargrave, an immigrant from Oregon in the Kelsey party in 1844, settled in Napa as a hunter. He was prominent in the Bear revolt, and later served in the south as a Lieutenant in the California Battalion. A few years ago he was still living in Napa.
William Fowler, a native of New York, emigrated from Illinois to Oregon in 1843, and the next year, with two or more sons, in the Kelsey party, to this State, bringing with him a letter of recommendation as a, good Catholic and carpenter; worked for a time at Sonoma; spent some time in Pope Valley; was at New Helvetia in 1847; and finally, with his son Henry, bought a farm of Dr: Bale near Calistoga, where at the age of seventy-two he married a second wife, and died in 1865, at the age of eighty-six years. His son, also named William, came in the same party from Oregon, and worked as a carpenter at Sonoma, New Helvetia and San Rafael. In Oregon he had married Rebecca Kelsey, who left him on his arrival in California. Application was made to Larkin for a divorce, and despite :his lack of authority to grant it she was married by Sutter to another man. This, the junior Fowler, was probably killed in 1846, in the Bear-Flag rebellion.
William E. Elliott, a native of North Carolina, came overland from Missouri in 1845, with the Grigsby and Ide party, with his wife, Elizabeth, whom he had married in 1821, and seven children. Was summoned before Castro as the representative of the immigration; became a famous hunter, and on one of his early expeditions is credited with having discovered the geysers. He built a cabin on Mark West Creek; worked for Smith at Bodega, but left his family in Napa Valley. He joined the "Bear" in 1846, and Mrs. Elliott is said to have furnished cloth and needles for the famous flag. The old hunter raised grain and cattle in Napa and Sonoma; kept a hotel in 1849, and in 1854 moved to a farm in Lake County, near Upper Lake, where he died in 1876, at the age of seventy-eight.
THE MEXICAN LAND GRANTS
that were made within the present limits of Napa County were the following: Humana Carne, 17,962 acres, patented to the heirs of Edward A. Bale in 1879; Catacula, 8,546 acres, to J. B. Chiles in 1865; Caymus, 11,887 acres, to George C. Yount in 1863; Chimiles, 17,762 acres, to Gordon and Coombs in 1860; Entre Napa, 400 acres, to P. D. Baily, 81 acres to N. Coombs in 1866, 2,051 acres to J. Green in 1881; 877 acres to M. F. de Niguara in 1879, 403 acres to Ralph L. Kilburn, 40 acres to Joseph Mount and others, 1,104 acres to Mount & Cotrell, 70 acres to John Patchett, 307 acres to J. P. Thompson, 62 acres to J. P. Walker, 335 acres to Edward Wilson, 360 acres to Charles E. Hart, and 2,558 acres to Julius Martin; Le Jota, 4,454 acres to George C. Yount in 1857; Locoallomi, 8,873 cares to the heirs of .Julian Pope in 1862; Napa, in parts to S. Vallejo, Lyman Bartlett, A. L. Boggs, L. W. Boggs, J. E. Brown, L. D. Brown, Nathan Coombs, G. M. Cornwall, A. Farley, O. H. Frank, J. M. Harbin, Hart & McGarry, Johnson Horrell, H. Ingraham, William Keely, Eben Knight, H. G. Langley, John Love, B. McCoombs, Hannah McCoombs, J. R. McCoombs, Ann McDonald and others, James McNeil, W. H. Osborne, A. A. Ritchie, J. K. Rose, J. P. Thompson, John Truebody and Ogden & Wise; Tulucay, 8,865 acres to C. Juarez in 1861; Yajome, 6,652 acres to Salvador Vallejo in 1864. In Napa and Sonoma counties: Huichia, 18,704 acres to J. E. Leese in 1859; Mallacomes, 17,742 acres to J. S. Berreyesa in 1873.
At the time of the conquest Napa County formed part of the northern military department, under the Mexican Government, of which the headquarters were at Sonoma. It was organized and its boundaries fixed by the Legislature April 25, 1851. The boundaries were afterward changed, April 4, 1855. A considerable portion of its area was afterward cut off and became a portion of Lake County. At the 1872 session of the Legislature a further change was made, altering its northern line and giving a portion of Lake County to Napa.
The first deed on record at the court-house was dated April 3, 1850, from Nicolas Higuera to John C. Brown, and acknowledged before H. M. Kendig, recorder. Some records are in the Spanish language. The second is dated February 15, 1850, from Nathan Coombs and Isabella, his wife, to Joseph Brackett and J. W. Brackett "of Napa Valley, District of Sonoma, in the northern department of California," and acknowledged before R. L. Kilburn, alcalde.
The present court-house plaza was occupied by Lawley & Lefferts, as a lumberyard, in 1855. It was originally a low field, but after the building was constructed, in 1857, the grounds were graded and filled and shrubbery planted, the cost being defrayed partly by the supervisors and partly by citizens. The original fence around the ground was built in 1857. The plaza is now a very faithful tract, worthy of the reputation of the Golden State. The corner-stone of the present court-house was laid in 1856, and, as originally built, the upper story was largely used as a jail; but it was afterward rebuilt and a new jail erected in the rear.
Napa County has had three court-houses: the first, 20x30 feet, two stories high and without plastering, was located on the northwest corner of Coombs and Second streets. Persons sentenced for long terms were confined in the adobe jail at Sonoma, while petty offenders were placed in the upper rooms of this courthouse. This building was burned August 25, 1875. It served for a court-house from 1850 to 1856, when the second building was erected, at a cost of $19,990; but afterward improvements were made to the extent of $11,000 from time to time, and required frequent repairs, so that in course of time it cost the county over $50,000. The present court-house, a modern structure, was built in 1878–'79, the contract price being $50,990.
The Assemblymen from Napa County have been: T. H. Anderson, 1857–'58; John M. Coghlan, 1865–'66; F. L. Coombs, 1887; Nathan Coombs, 1855, 1860; George N. Cornwall, 1854, 1875–'76; J. C. Crigler, 1867–'70; W. B. H. Dodson, 1863–'64; Edward Evey, 1862; R. C. Haile, 1856, 1869–'70, 1877–'78; Chancellor Hartson, 1863, 1880–'81; F. C. Johnston, 1883; William Matthews, 1859; J. M. Mayfield, 1877–'78; Edward McGarry, 1853; J. McKamy, 1853; H. A. Pellet, 1885; John B. Scott, 1861; John S. Stark, 1852; W. W. Stillwagon, 1871–'72; S. K. Welch, 1873'74, 1877–'78.
Napa County consists mainly of two large valleys. The Napa Valley extends the entire length of the county, and throughout its length is a railroad. The Berryessa Valley is on the east side of the county. The main dividing ranges consist of mountains 500 to 2,500 feet high. The mountain range which bounds Napa on the east contains several peaks of considerable elevation, the highest being Mount St. Helena, supposed to be an extinct volcano, 4,343 feet high. The summit is accessible even by vehicle. The Mayacamus Ridge farms the western line of the county and is one of the most beautiful in the State. It was included in the ranch of 35,000 acres granted to José de Jesus Berryessa and Sisto Berryessa in 1843, by Manuel Micheltorena, Governor of the Californias.
The main valley is about thirty-five miles long, about five miles wide at the southern end and tapering to a sharp point at the north. Its river gives name to the county. It is tortuous, especially in the southern portion, where it passes through a large tract of level tule land. It runs generally close to the foothills on the east side of the valley.
There are no heavily timbered tracts in the county; in the western part there were some redwoods of considerable size. On Howell Mountain were mountain sugar-pines six feet in diameter. Away from the water courses is a great deal of oak of different kinds, but it is all brittle and almost worthless. About the geysers and across the northern part of the county is found the California nutmeg. This is a beautiful tree, with a fruit resembling the nutmeg of commerce.
Napa has some of the most valuable building stone in California, a light volcanic rock found in the mountains east of Napa Valley. This material was largely used in constructing the asylum. It is light yellow in color, coarse and soft in texture, but hardens by protracted exposure.
While Napa is distinguished as a fruit, grain and vine-growing county, it possesses also a variety of mineral products, of which gold, silver, mercury, iron, petroleum, chromium and manganese are the principal; but about the only mining is of cinnabar. Deposits of this quicksilver ore occur in the northern part of the county, where several companies are engaged in this branch of mining. The first discovery of this mineral was made in September, 1861, by John Newman; and the first miners of this metal were James Hamilton, at the Phoenix mines, and George N. Cornwell, R. G. Montgomery and George E. Goodman, at the Redington or Knoxville mines, in Pope Valley, and Knox & Osborne afterward at the same mine.
Chrome is mined in Capelle Valley. Indications of coal have more than once caused considerable expenditure, but no returns. The manganese exists near St. Helena.
Mining has at various times occupied a good deal of attention in Napa County. At present gold and silver are being successfully extracted at the Palisade mine above Calistoga, and a force of men is now opening up the old Silverado mine on the eastern side of Mount St. Helena, which gave large returns in silver in the sixties, the ore-chute being then considered worked out.
It has been said of Napa County that, proportionately to size, it is the wealthiest county in California. Certain it is that it leads all other counties in its production of wine and wine grapes, and during the continuance of high prices for wines, a vast deal of money flowed into the county, of which a goodly part was laid out in extending the vineyards and in making other improvements. As a result, the whole valley, and especially the upper end where the process of subdivision has been most rapid, has an old and settled look most pleasing to the eye. When to this is added the unusual and picturesque beauty of the valley, it is no wonder that Napa County has called forth the most glowing eulogiums and has been called the "most lovely, the most fertile and the most favored land of the West." A feature that appeals to most is the fact that the county is entirely out of debt, saving only railroad and court-house bonds to the amount of $175,000, funded at six per cent and falling in within the next fifteen years.
The date at which the prosperity of the county begins is the advent of the railroad, in January, 1865. The first movement made for the building of the Napa Valley Railroad, was made in in January, 1864, when subscription books to start in the enterprise were opened at the bank and store of A. Y. Easterby & Co. March 26, of that year, Hon. Chancellor Hartson introduced a bill before the Legislature providing for the issuing of county bonds to the amount of $225,000 to aid the project. It was provided that bonds should be issued at the rate of $10,000 per mile for the first five miles constructed and $5,000 for the remaining thirty-five miles on to Calistoga. This proposition was submitted to a vote of the people, who answered with 486 yeas to 168 nays. Soon afterward the company was organized with C. Hartson as President, Samuel Brannan, Treasurer, A. A. Cohen, Secretary, and A. Y. Easterby as Vice-President. By the following January the road was completed, as to grading and track laying, from Soscol to Napa City, by Patterson & Gray, for the sum of $32,000. A small engine and two cars were placed on duty. Subsequently, further measures were taken with some opposition until 1868, when the road was completed to Calistoga, its present terminus.
This work, which has been of the greatest ultimate benefit to the valley, was characterized at the time as a gigantic "steal," engineered by that prince of scheme and adventure, the famous Sam Brannan. This line, which the county paid for but does not own, is now a portion of the Southern Pacific system, and is conducted generally in the interests of the valley. In 1888 a company was organized to build a road from Napa City to Lake County, via Conn Cañon and Pope Valley, and thence to Humboldt County. Considerable grading was done in parts of the county, when the grade and right of way was sold to the Southern Pacific. Since then all work has stopped, and it is doubtful if it will ever be resumed.
Until the advent of the railroad as stated, Napa County had been almost entirely devoted to grain and stock-raising, with dairying as the leading industry of the lower tide lands of the southern part of the county. Since then grape-growing and wine-making has become the chief industry, with fruit-growing and the like, a promising record. From Napa City to Calistoga there is a constant succession of vineyards and wine-cellars, showing plainly the great importance of the industry to the county. From Yountville, nine miles above Napa City to a point about midway between St. Helena and Calistoga, the whole country is given over to the vineyards, St. Helena being the center of production. The many massive stone wine cellars, many of them architecturally very fine, is a great surprise to the stranger.
In other places will be found descriptions of some of the leading cellars, so that we need not enter into detail here. The success of the industry is due, however, to such men as C. Krug, J. C. Weinberger (now deceased), H. A. Pellet, Dr. Crane, H. W. Crabb, J. Schram and others, pioneers in wine-making, who have expended time and money in experimenting and attaining good results, and later to such as W. W. Lyman (the Napa Wine Company), the Berniger Bros., W. B. Brown, C. Lemme (now deceased), and his son R. W. Lemme, the Edgehill Wine Company, C. P. Adamson, Captain Niebaum, Ewer & Atkinson, J. A. Brun & Co., Carpy & Co., and many others, who with those first mentioned are carrying to the highest perfection the processes of wine manufacture. Noteworthy in this connection, is the fact that experienced wine men are gradually drawing out of the valley bottom lands and are seeking the products of the hillside and mountain vineyards. While the yield of grapes from these is less, the quality is vastly superior. It is from these mountain vineyards that the choicer brands of wines have come which have made Napa County famous the world over, and enabled her to sell her wines even in the markets of Germany and France.
The raising of fine-blooded horses, trotters, etc., is also becoming a feature of Napa County. There are already the beginning of several valuable studs. The organization of the Napa Agricultural Society has been a moving cause in this. It had its beginning in a small way as far back as 1854. It is now merged in the Napa and Solano Agricultural Association, which holds fairs alternately at Napa and Vallejo, at both of which places it has grounds and courses. The race-course at Napa is said to be one of the best in the country, and is noted for the fast time made on it.
Napa, formerly styled Napa City, is the county town and leading city of Napa County, a place of great prosperity and extensive trade, and a favorite residence for retired wealth.
The original town plat of Napa City was planted in beans in 1847, which was the first evidence of civilization in that locality. There was then not a house in the county except a few adobes, occupied by Mexicans and a few hardy American pioneers. The first mention of the place in a newspaper was a statement in 1848 that the ship Amalek Adhel had passed up the Napa river and found plenty of water to a certain point, and that beyond that was the embarcadero de Napa. Early in May, 1848, the first building was erected, which formed the nucleus around which the present city has grown. It was one and half stories high, 18 x 24 feet in size, and was built by Harrison Pierce for a saloon. This building was still standing a very few years ago.
The town site was surveyed and laid out by of the late Hon. Nathan Coombs in the spring 1848, the limits including only the land lying between Brown street and the river, and extending 600 yards from Napa street to the steamboat landing. During that year John Trubody mowed almost the entire plat, which was covered with a rank growth of wild oats, and sold the hay to the Government. The gold discovery temporarily checked settlement here; but after the first reverberation improvements began and were continued until a beautiful city was the result.
A mile and a half southeast of the city is the
STATE ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE.
With the view of providing further accommodations for the care of the insane of this State, the Legislature of 1869–'70 authorized the appointment of a commissioner to visit the principal asylums of the United States and Europe for the purpose of obtaining all practicable information. Governor Haight appointed Dr. E. T. Wilkins, who visited 149 asylums. From the numerous plans which he collected, the one for the asylum at Napa was selected, with the aid of Wright & Saunders of San Francisco, architects. In March, 1872, the Legislature authorized the appointment of a commission to select a site and made an appropriation of $237,500 toward the erection of the building. Governor Booth appointed Judge C. H. Swift of Sacramento, Dr. G. A. Shurtleff of Stockton, and Dr. E. T. Wilkins of Marysville, and in August of that year Napa City was selected for the site.
The Legislature of 1873–'74 further appropriated $600,000 for the completion of the asylum, and the next Legislature made a still further appropriation of $494,000. That structure does not accommodate more than 500 patients at any one time. May 31, 1878, there were 501 patients at the asylum, and at the time of the next meeting of the Legislature, 1880, there were 808 patients, rendering further accommodations necessary. Twenty thousand dollars was appropriated for fitting up the attics in the rear of the amusement hall. Since then further improvements have been made. The total cost of the buildings has been $1,300,000. Under its roof are now sheltered over 1,400 inmates, and upon its pay-roll are some 200 employés, including physicians, etc. It bears the reputation of being one of the best conducted institutions of its class in the world.
Further particulars are given in the biographical sketches of Drs. Benjamin Shurtleff and E. T. Wilkins elsewhere in this volume.
The first school-house in Napa County was built by William H. Nash, near Tucker Creek, above St. Helena, in 1849. In it a private school was taught by Mrs. Forbes, whose husband had perished with the Donner party in 1846. Down to 1854 there was not a public school in the county, but there had been two or three private schools. In 1855 a public schoolhouse was erected by subscription in Napa City.
The Napa Collegiate Institute was erected in 1858–'60, and opened in August of the latter year, by the citizens of the vicinity, and afterward it fell into the hands of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It has since been remodeled and enlarged.
The Napa Ladies' Seminary, an efficient school for young ladies, and the Oak Mound School, are also good schools to fit for colleges.
It will thus be seen that Napa has unusual school facilities; and it also has well appointed churches of all the principal denominations.
The county infirmary, near Napa, is a commodious and well arranged structure, erected in 1869, at a cost exceeding $80,000.
In Napa there are two tanneries, one of them the largest wool-pulling and tanning establishment on the Pacific Coast. It has drain-tile and brick-works, a glue factory, a busy fruit-packing establishment and wineries that rank in size and reputation with the best in the State. The Napa woolen-mill has a wide reputation for making fine fabrics. A company has also lately gone largely into the business of grape drying and shipping. It has also a large sash and door factory, etc., etc., has splendid water-works and no debt.
Yountville, the home of the old pioneer, George C. Yount, is a quiet little town supported by wine-making and general farming. Near it is the Veterans' Home, three fine buildings erected at intervals since 1882 by the Veterans' Home Association, now receiving State and Government aid. About $100,000 has so far been expended and about 300 old soldiers receive shelter. Additions to cost $150,000 will shortly be made, which will more than double the capacity—a noble work.
Oakville, the next station going up the valley, is supported wholly by the wine and farm interests. J. A. Brun & Co., and H. W. Crabb are the leading wine men of the place.
Rutherford is a shipping point of some importance. Here are the great cellars of Ewer & Atkinson, Captain Niebaum, C. P. Adamson and others.
The ground on which St. Helena stands was first owned and occupied by Edward Bale, an English doctor, who procured it by grant from the Mexican Government. Messrs. Still & Walters afterward bought from the grant the part now comprising St. Helena. A. Tainter and John Greer bought of the latter parties the ground now southwest of Main street, and other parties bought that portion lying northeast of that line. Still & Walters built the first house in St. Helena, about 1851, being a store building on the site subsequently occupied by G. F. Brown. The original building was burned many years ago. The next settlers were Dr. Stratton, John Kister, Mr. Fulton, A. Tainter, John Greer and others.
St. Helena is now a busy town, second only in population and wealth to Napa. It is the center par excellence of the wine industry of the county, its cellarage capacity being something like 3,000,000 gallons out of a total for the county of about 4,000,000 gallons. It has considerable manufacturing importance, cooperage, foundry, etc., has excellent schools, good churches and many handsome residences, notably those of T. Parrott, Fred. Beringer, Seneca Ewer, Mrs. Pope, Mrs. Fuller, and others. Another noteworthy feature is the extraordinary number of spry, active old men it possesses, seventy, eighty, and in one instance a man over ninety in active business.
Calistoga, at the base of Mt. St. Helena and the third in size in the county, is the staging point for Lake County, the Geysers, etc., and a beautiful and lively little town, having mines, large fruit orchards, especially prunes, and some of the handsomest estates of wealthy men in the county. We may mention the summer homes of A. L. Tubbs, Mr. Dexter, Dr. R, Beverley Cole and others as types. It is a busy shipping point, being at the head of the railway. John York was the first white settler in this locality, erecting a log cabin in the fall of 1845, the first in that part of the county; and he also put in the first crop of wheat.
Calistoga has had a varied history. Sam Brannan, the "great and only," purchased its famous hot sulphur springs in 1859, immediately began to improve the property and to construct a railroad. During its palmy days Calistoga was the favored resort of wealth and fashion and drew great numbers of pleasure-seekers from San Francisco and elsewhere. Brannan probably spent half a million dollars in the effort to make Calistoga what he boasted he would do, the Saratoga of the Pacific Coast. In 1868, however, an altercation with some employés occurred, Brannan receiving pistol wounds in it which were at first thought to be mortal. Family and financial troubles assailed him at about the same time and shortly afterward the hotel was burned, the property passed from his hands and the glory of the place departed. The springs are now the property of the Southern Pacific and are lying idle. Not far from Calistoga is the Petrified Forest, across the line in Sonoma County. Mount St. Helena rears its huge proportions immediately at the head of the valley—a noble scene. Calistoga has good public schools and churches of the leading denominations.
Monticello is a little town in Berryessa Valley, the center of its trade and a point of growing importance. Knoxville is a small village in Pope Valley, grown up from the activity of the quicksilver mines.
About six miles from Napa are the celebrated
NAPA SODA SPRINGS.
These springs, whose waters have been famous for more than thirty years past, are situated on the mountain side of the valley rendered almost classic by the pen of the tourist and the brush of the painter. Forty-five miles north of San Francisco, they stand at the head of a cañon in the mountains which form the eastern boundary of Napa Valley, and six miles from Napa City. From this point the artists Keith and Virgil Williams have so often transferred to canvas the natural beauties of the landscape that their pictures form the most attractive gems in some of our best art collections. The valley for twenty-five miles below, the bay reflecting the white-winged sails of its proportion of the world's commerce, mounts Tamalpais and Diablo, form a panorama of surpassing beauty and impressiveness. Among the attractions of the place we find groves of patriarchal trees,—the live oak, the black oak, festooned with gray Spanish moss or mistletoe, the eucalyptus, the mountain pine, while the Italian cypress adds an exotic charm to the natural scenery. The almond, the olive, and the orange give variety to the view, and testify to the semi-tropical mildness of the climate and the generous fertility of the soil. Numerous living springs of fresh water burst from the mountain side at such an elevation as to send the natural flow over the entire property, and throughout the year this water is as cold as ice. Along one side of the ground a mountain brook gathers the waters of adjacent springs, filling a natural swimming pond cut out of the solid rock, some 50 x 200 feet in size, and from six to nine feet deep, and also an artificial swimming bath, 50x150, which is under cover and heated by steam. On the other boundary a rocky gorge forms the background of a miniature Niagara, with ninety feet of perpendicular fall. Stone quarried on the spot has supplied the material for building; an orchard in full bearing furnishes abundant fruit, and the choice vineyard has received numerous endorsements of the quality of its wine.
But the feature which most distinguishes this favored spot, and makes it especially attractive, is its mineral springs, which are famous for their curative properties, the same elements being held in solution that give to the Carlsbad springs in Bohemia their rank among the first in the world. From more than twenty of these springs is produced the article known as Napa Soda. This water is bottled and sold just as it flows from Nature's laboratory, and its long and continuous use attests its merit. A beautiful pagoda is built over one of the springs, the solid stone pillars and floor forming a most appropriate setting for the natural stone basin whence flow the waters which refresh, purify and regulate the system and restore its strength and energy.
The Bellevue is a conspicuously situated stone house of ten rooms, with turrets, the main feature of which is the columns that grace the entrance, standing upon a broad and open piazza, from which is a perfect view of the entire lower half of Napa Valley, extending to the bay in the distance. These columns are copied from those in the Capitol in Washington, beneath the United States Marshal's office, which were designed by the engineer Latrobe, the favorite architect of President Jefferson. They are what were known in that day as the "corn-cob capitals," and consist of an imitation of corn stalks in the columns, with the maize or ears half exposed in the capital. The adoption of this design by Jefferson was in pursuance of his desire to establish a distinctively American order of architecture. He thought it unworthy of America that she should depend upon foreign nations for her artistic adornments, and sought to introduce this new feature into the ornamentation of the public buildings. His patriotic attempt to revolutionize the artistic taste of the public appears to have been a failure, and the two cases mentioned are, perhaps, the only instances where the idea has been adopted.
One of the most notable buildings is the elegant new Rotunda. Circular in form and seventy-five feet in height, it is surmounted by a glass cupola which reflects for many miles both the rising and setting sun. On the right as one enters the building, is the postoffice with a telephone communication with Napa and thence by telegraph with any part of the world. On the opposite side is a reception room for the convenience of the lady guests. The court in the center is nearly 100 feet in diameter, fitted up as a grand parlor and ball-room, handsomely carpeted and furnished, and lighted by a huge gas chandelier of thirty-two lights. Extending around this entire circle is a wide promenade, outside of which are arranged the rooms for guests; all hard-finished, with gas and water, and with windows looking out upon the landscape.
The club-house is another building of white stone, in which are the bar and billiard-rooms, bagatelle table, bowling-alley, etc. The new dining-hall is isolated from the remaining buildings, and is flanked by a commodious kitchen and the rooms for the servants. Gas mains are laid throughout the grounds, and the premises are lighted at night. Among the many pleasure resorts of California, and within the reach of the the metropolis of the Pacific coast, none surpasses in beauty and comfort this charming retreat. Its magnificent scenery, fine drives and perfect accommodations render it the most delightful of watering places; the last breath of the sea breeze reaches it, and the pure air and the soothing hush of night always insure sound and refreshing slumbers.
COLONEL J. P. JACKSON,
lawyer, journalist, politician and man of affairs, first saw the light in Cleveland, Ohio, the State which has furnished during the last quarter of a century a large proportion of the men who have been prominent in public life. Here he lived until he was fourteen years of age, when he removed to Cincinnati, where, after the usual course of preparation for professional life, he practiced law for fifteen years. In 1857 he was married to Miss Anna Hooper, a native of the State of Kentucky. They have had nine children, seven sons and two daughters, five of whom were born in Kentucky and four in California. He took an active part in the war of the rebellion, serving in the army of the Cumberland, under Rosecrans and Buell, and from Pittsburg Landing to Corinth on detached service under Grant. Fortunate in his early association with an unusual number of men who have made their mark in life, he had occasion to measure swords with many whose names have been historic in the daily forensic contests of the bar and the platform. Always prominent as a public speaker he easily carried off the honors and success which are peculiarly the rewards of his profession, and has played a leading part in many important enterprises.
In 1867 he went to Europe to negotiate the bonds of the California Pacific Railroad, and his service resulted in his coming to the Coast, where he assisted in building the road and remained its President until it was bought by the Central Pacific Company. After building two other roads, both of which were in like manner sold out to the Central, he retired from the railroad business and turned his attention to other enterprises. Deeply interested in politics, he has stumped the States of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and California as an enthusiastic and successful champion of the Republican cause, but has until now succeeded remarkably in escaping the toils and trials of office-holding as far as he himself is concerned. In 1864 he received the unanimous nomination for the Governorship of Kentucky, and afterward declined a nomination to Congress from the Sixth District of that State, when such nomination was equivalent to an election. He refused an appointment to the commissionership of Internal Revenue under Andrew Johnson, and also the position of First Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Grant. He has hitherto preferred the sterling activities of an extensive business to the dignified retirement of official position.
His first enterprise in journalism was the management of the San Francisco Evening Post, which he twice enlarged, changed it in politics from Democrat to Republican, and made it a recognized power in the journalistic field. He is the proprietor of the celebrated pleasure and health resort known all over the world under the name of the Napa Soda Springs, described in the preceding section, and has made a conspicuous success of the development and management of the large business interests connected with that property. For some years past he has most ably conducted that spicy and satirical journal, The Wasp, of San Francisco. The sting of this lively and ubiquitous insect, though not fatally poisonous, is credited with an effect the reverse of soothing, and that journal is certainly a terror to evil-doers, even if it has no space to waste in the praise of them that do well. It is an open secret that Colonel Jackson's objections to the cares and responsibilities of official life have at last been overcome, and that President Harrison, his early personal friend, has appointed him sub-treasurer at San Francisco. His thorough business training and experience have admirably fitted him for his position of trust, and Uncle Sam's millions will have no more able or faithful custodian than he.
Two and one-half miles south of St. Helena there are nine springs whose waters are sulphuretted, and whose temperature is from 69 degrees to 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit. These springs are used as a resort. In Pope Valley are the Ætna Springs and Walters Springs, both favorite resorts. On the mountain side above St. Helena are the Crystal Springs, or Rural Health Retreat, a deservedly prosperous institution under the auspices of the Adventists.
The first newspaper in the county was the Napa Reporter, the first number of which was issued July 4, 1856, by Alexander J. Cox. Although very small it was in advance of the population, and could scarcely be sustained. The Napa Register was established by Hord & Strong, August 10,1863, and has been regularly issued ever since.
The present newspapers of the county are as follow : In Napa are the Register and Reporter, both daily and weekly, founded both in 1856, both ably conducted papers, the Journal founded in 1884, a weekly, and the Bee, first issued in 1890. In St. Helena are the Star, a weekly, conducted with unusual ability, established in 1874, and the Reflector, a smart daily, lately come into existence. At Calistoga is the Independent Calistogian, a weekly of influence and strength, first issued in 1877.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler.