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Sonoma County, California

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  • Anthony Charles Medin (1919 - 2003)
  • John Ulvila (1877 - 1965)
    Lapua syntyneet 1877-1884 (MKO25-32) 03.1877 ; SSHY / Viitattu 22.12.2023 Lapua rippikirja 1889-1898 (MKO221-232_III) Sivu 1413 Alanurmo 14 Ulvila, (Tal, Tal Rintamäki, Tal Ojala) ; SSHY / Viitattu 22...
  • Edith Marie Ulvila (1881 - 1955)
    (Huom, syntymäsukunimi väärin yllä olevassa sivussa) Syntymäsukunimi Mäki tai Mäkinen? "United States Census, 1910", , FamilySearch ( : Thu Oct 05 21:45:30 UTC 2023), Entry for John Ulvila and Adelh...
  • John B. Binkley (1905 - 1996)
    John Binkley , Census • United States 1950 Census John Binkley's Spouses and Children Elizabeth Binkley Wife F 42 years Connecticut Judy Binkley Daughter F 4 years California "United States 1...
  • Elizabeth Wurts Binkley (1907 - 1995)

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Sonoma County, California.

Official Website


The Pomo, Coast Miwok and Wappo peoples were the earliest human settlers of Sonoma County, between 8000 and 5000 BC, effectively living within the natural carrying capacity of the land. Archaeological evidence of these First people includes a number of occurrences of rock carvings, especially in southern Sonoma County; these carvings often take the form of pecked curvilinear nucleated design.

Spaniards, Russians, and other Europeans claimed and settled in the county from the late 16th to mid-19th century, seeking timber, fur, and farmland. The Russians were the first newcomers to establish a permanent foothold in Sonoma County, with the Russian-American Company establishing Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast in 1812. This settlement and its outlying Russian settlements came to include a population of several hundred Russian and Aleut settlers and a stockaded fort with artillery. However, the Russians abandoned it in 1841 and sold the fort to John Sutter, settler and Mexican land grantee of Sacramento.

The Mission San Francisco Solano, founded in 1823 as the last and northernmost of 21 California missions, is in the present City of Sonoma, at the northern end of El Camino Real. El Presidio de Sonoma, or Sonoma Barracks (part of Spain's Fourth Military District), was established in 1836 by Comandante General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. His duties included keeping an eye on the Russian traders at Fort Ross, secularizing the Mission, maintaining cooperation with the Native Americans of the entire region, and doling out the lands for large estates and ranches. The City of Sonoma was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846.

Sonoma was one of the original counties when California became a state in 1850, with its county seat originally the town (now city) of Sonoma. However, by the early 1850s, Sonoma had declined in importance in both commerce and population, its county buildings were crumbling, and it was relatively remote. As a result, elements in the newer, rapidly growing towns of Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Healdsburg began vying to move the county seat to their towns. The dispute ultimately was between the bigger, richer commercial town of Petaluma and the more centrally located, growing agricultural center of Santa Rosa. The fate was decided following an election for the state legislature in which James Bennett of Santa Rosa defeated Joseph Hooker of Sonoma and introduced a bill that resulted in Santa Rosa being confirmed as county seat in 1854. Allegedly, several Santa Rosans, not caring to wait, decided to take action and, one night, rode down the Sonoma Valley to Sonoma, took the county seals and records, and brought them to Santa Rosa. .

Early post-1847 settlement and development focused primarily on the city of Sonoma, then the region's sole town and a common transit and resting point in overland travel between the region and Sacramento and the gold fields to the east. However, after 1850, a settlement that soon became the city of Petaluma began to grow naturally near the farthest navigable point inland up the Petaluma River. Originally a hunting camp used to obtain game to sell in other markets, by 1854 Petaluma had grown into a bustling center of trade, taking advantage of its position on the river near a region of highly productive agricultural land that was being settled. Soon, other inland towns, notably Santa Rosa and Healdsburg began to develop similarly due to their locations along riparian areas in prime agricultural flatland. However, their development initially lagged behind Petaluma which, until the arrival of railroads in the 1860s, remained the primary commercial, transit, and break-of-bulk point for people and goods in the region. After the arrival of the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad in 1870, Santa Rosa began to boom, soon equaling and then surpassing Petaluma as the region's population and commercial center. The railroad bypassed Petaluma for southern connections to ferries of San Francisco Bay.

Six nations have claimed Sonoma County from 1542 to the present:

  • Spanish Empire, 1542, by sea, voyage of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo as far as the Russian River. Later validated by voyage of Sebastián Vizcaíno, 1602.
  • Kingdom of England, June 1579, voyage of the Golden Hind under Captain Francis Drake at Bodega Bay (exact location disputed).
  • Spanish Empire, October 1775, the Sonora at Bodega Bay, under Lt. Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, until 1821, when Mexico gained independence from Spain.
  • Russian Empire, by Russian-American Company expedition led by Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov, the founder of Fort Ross and, from 1812 to 1821, its colonial administrator. Note: There is an overlap of rule with the Mexican Empire (next item), until the Russians sold Fort Ross in 1841 to John Sutter, before leaving the area in 1842.
  • First Mexican Empire, August 1821, under Emperor Agustin Iturbide (October 1822, probable time new flag raised in California), until 1823.
  • Mexican Republic, 1823 until June 1846.
  • California Republic, June 14, 1846 until July 9, 1846.
  • United States of America, July 9, 1846 to present.

Sonoma County was severely shaken by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The displacements along the fault averaged 15 feet.

In October 2017, the county was greatly affected by the Tubbs Fire and the Nuns Fire. In late October and early November 2019, the Kincade Fire burned 77,758 acres, almost all in Sonoma County. In August and September 2020, the Walbridge Fire burned 55,209 acres in the western part of the county; then in September–October the Glass fire affected the city of Santa Rosa and ultimately destroying 1,000+ buildings The county also had a wildfire in the 1870s that is compared to the Hanley fire and Tubbs fire because they burned in the same path.


According to the book California Place Names, "The name of the Indian tribe is mentioned in baptismal records of 1815 as Chucuines o Sonomas, by Chamisso in 1816 as Sonomi, and repeatedly in Mission records of the following years."

According to the Coast Miwok and the Pomo tribes that lived in the region, Sonoma translates as "valley of the moon" or "many moons". Their legends detail this as a land where the moon nestled, hence the names Sonoma Valley and the "Valley of the Moon."[18] This translation was first recorded in an 1850 report by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo to the California Legislature. Jack London popularized it in his 1913 novel The Valley of the Moon.

In the native languages there is also a constantly recurring ending tso-noma, from tso, the earth; and noma, village; hence tsonoma, "earth village." Other sources say Sonoma comes from the Patwin tribes west of the Sacramento River, and their Wintu word for "nose". Per California Place Names, "the name is doubtless derived from a Patwin word for 'nose', which Padre Arroyo (Vocabularies, p. 22) gives as sonom (Suisun)." Spaniards may have found an Indian chief with a prominent protuberance and applied the nickname of Chief Nose to the village and the territory. The name may have applied originally to a nose-shaped geographic feature.

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