History Timeline  


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       Healdsburg History Timeline                  © 2003 ourHealdsburg.com

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Decade Index

Healdsburg History Links

 Chronology sources
 The California Trail

The "El Camino Real"

  (a work in progress, June, 2003)

    click to enlarge images


  Pomo villages in Healdsburg area from prehistory to late 1800s
1579   Sir Francis Drake sailed on the ‘Golden Hind” following the coast south from what is now Oregon ‘42 latitude. He landed somewhere in California on June 17th. There has been speculation for over 400 years about the exact location of Drake's landing site. The principal candidates include Bodega Bay, Drake's Bay, Bolinas Bay. He names the coast ‘New Abion” and lays English claim to west coast of America.
1602   Sebastian Vizcaino-Aguilar explores the west coast as far north as Cape Mendocino. He names the Rio de Sebastian (now called the Russian River).

California was believed to be an island long after "discovery". Father Kino walked there from the "mainland" in 1698 disproving the concept. In spite of this, only after Father Consag sailed completely around the Gulf of California in 1747, did King Ferdinand of Spain issued a Royal decree stating "California is not an Island!"   Map (detail) by P. Mortier, Amsterdam 1693. -- private collection.


Gaspar de Portola Expedition for Spain encounters natives living in San Francisco Bay area. First sighting of San Francisco Bay by Europeans.



The Spanish build twenty-one missions, two pueblos, and four presidios, from Mission San Diego to Mission Sonoma, all established along what was called El Camino Real "The King's Highway". (8)


1775   American Revolution begins. Ensign Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuarra entered and named Bodega Bay and Tomales Bay.
1776   Spanish begin building Mission San Francisco de Assisi (Mission Dolores)
1776-1777   Spanish soldiers build the Presidio in San Francisco
1788   United States adopts the Constitution

Fort Ross settlement established for the Russian-American Company by Ivan A. Kuskov  He sets up port facilities in Bodega Bay and begins to establish camp in Russian Gulch area. Explores the Russian River, which he called the Slavianka River.(1) (2)

June 19: U.S. President Madison declares war or Great Britain. War of 1812.

1814   August 24: British burn Washington. Sept. 13-14: Siege of Fort McHenry (Battle of Baltimore) - "Star Spangled Banner" is inspired by British mortars and rockets. December 24: Treaty of Ghent signed to end war.
1822   California becomes Mexican territory at the end of their War of Independence.
1823   Franciscan mission San Francisco Solano established at what will become the town of Sonoma.
1821-1846   Mexico rules over California with a series of 12 governors. The governors reduced the Spanish missions to mere parishes and granted the acres owned by the priests to Mexican nobles. Between 1822 and 1846, more than 800 California land grants were made to individuals by the Mexican government. In what would become Sonoma County, 26 land grants were issued, the largest was General Vallejo's 66,600 acre Petaluma rancho. (3)
1833   Garrison established at former Mission San Francisco Solano by 25 year old General Mariano Vallejo. 
1834   Mexican government seizes all Mission lands         
1835   Sonoma Pueblo built
1836   - Construction of General Vallejo’s massive Petaluma adobe began in April.
    - Russian E. L. Chernykh establishes Rancho near the Russian River downstream from Healdsburg in the area now called Freestone and Graton.
1838   Severe earthquake occurs along the San Andreas fault

- Cyrus Alexander arrives in what we now call Alexander Valley  (4)

- Boston: Richard Henry Dana publishes Two Years Before the Mast

- The first covered wagon train arrives in California

1841   - Chernykh in a report to the Russian Imperial Society for Rural Economy, writes: "Local grapes make good wine, but in small quantities and does not keep well." (1)

- The Russians sell Fort Ross to John Sutter in December. Russian scientist Voznesensky and Agronomist Chernyk climb Mt. ST. Helena on their way to Fort Sutter to negotiate the sale. (2)

Fort Ross - Watercolor by Il'ia Voznesenky, 1841 

1841-1844   Mexico grants 48,800 acres, including the Healdsburg area, to Henry Delano Fitch. Named Rancho Sotoyome
1842   England: Darwin composes abstract of theory of evolution

- German Pina takes possession of "four square leagues of land", a Mexican Land Grant. Named Rancho Tzabaco, it occupied most of what we now call Dry Creek Valley (4)

- John Fremont establishes California Trail branch from the Oregon Trail (7)

- London: Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol

1845   July 4. Concord, Mass.: Henry David Thoreau moves into Walden Pond home

- General Vallejo's Petaluma Adobe near completion

- Jan. 13. Texas: U.S. begins war with Mexico

- June 19 Hoboken, N.J.: first official baseball game


- Cyrus Alexander establishes ranch from a share of Rancho Sotoyome

- July 24. Utah: Mormons found Salt Lake City

- U.S. captures Mexico City


- Sutter discovers gold in California

- California is ceded to the United States by Mexico in Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

- Stephen Foster writes song, "Oh, Susanna!"

- Europe: Marx and Engels publish Communist Manifesto


- The California Gold Rush, Roderick Matheson seeks his fortune.

- Captain Fitch dies

- May 14. Concord, Mass.: Thoreau publishes "On Civil Disobedience"


- Sept. 9. California admitted as 31st state

- Levi Strauss & Co. founded in San Francisco

- The Heald brothers move to Russian River area and help William March build a flour and lumber mill at the Upper Falls of Mill Creek.

1851   Harmon Heald builds a small squatter's cabin at the side of a dirt road, now known as the 300 block of Healdsburg Avenue

- Matheson is Comptroller of the City of San Francisco.

- June 5. U.S.: Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin

- Healdsburg population: a few squatter families and about 100 native Americans

1853   Stephen Foster writes song "My Old Kentucky Home"
1855   Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass

- Matheson and his family move to Healdsburg.

- Harmon Heald, squatter, purchases 100 acres west of current downtown Healdsburg. In July and December Heald buys 65 acres from his brothers-in-law, (originally purchased from widow Josefa Fitch's land auctions earlier in the year) (4)


- Heald recorded the Town Plat map on March 5, 1857.

- Slavery protected by U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision

- Alexander Skaggs illegally settles in the western end of what is now known as Dry Creek Valley

- Healdsburg population 300


- Harmon Heald dies in December

- First transatlantic cable laid



Pony Express begins, St. Louis to California



- Feb. 9..Richmond: Confederate States of America formed.

- April 12..Charleston, S.C.: Civil War begins.

- July 21, 1861. Matheson leads the 1st California Regiment at the First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia

- Healdsburg population over 500



- Jan. 1..U.S.: Emancipation Proclamation takes effect

- Nov. 19..Gettysburg, Pa.: Lincoln addresses commemoration



- April 9....Appomattox, Va.: Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

- England: Lewis Carroll publishes Alice in Wonderland



Louisa May Alcott publishes Little Women



Paris: Jules Verne publishes Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea



- Opening day of the new San Francisco and North Pacific Railway in Healdsburg. (5)

- Healdsburg population 1,750




- Mark Twain publishes Tom Sawyer

- Mar. 10.. Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrates telephone

- June 25...Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand)


Healdsburg  1876        --image from Library of Congress,  Drawn by E. S. Glover, published in 1876 by Jordan Bros. San Francisco.

1877   Black Bart held up a stage 2 1/2 miles south of Fort Ross on Meyers Grade Road.
1879   Electric light bulb perfected by Edison
1880   Petaluma Adobe falls into disrepair
1882   Healdsburg College founded by Seventh-Day Adventists

- Healdsburg had seven churches, one bank, and two newspapers

- N.Y.: George Eastman invents first transparent photographic film

- Healdsburg population 2,500


Mark Twain publishes Huckleberry Finn


New Healdsburg City Hall opened. SF & NPR renamed Northwestern Pacific Railroad at turn of century. (5)


Life and adventures of Col. L. A. Norton published. Norton played a key role in the Healdsburg Squatter's Wars of the 1850's.


April 18. San Francisco earthquake. Collapse of the three story Odd Fellow's Hall (currently the Brant Building at Matheson and Healdsburg Ave.) and the two story Gobbi building at 310 Center St. in Healdsburg


- World War I begins. NWP completes rail line through Eel River Canyon with service to Eureka.

- Healdsburg population 3,500.


Healdsburg "rated as the fifth in California in per capita wealth" (5)


United States passes the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition)


NWP opens new Railroad Station in Healdsburg. Gas-electric passenger rail car service from Healdsburg to Sausalito established


Stock market crash. Four passenger trains per day on NWP Railroad.


Prohibition ended. Hops industry destroyed, Wine industry severely damaged, many Healdsburg area wineries close (6)


- Japan bombs Pearl Harbor; America declares war.

- Healdsburg population 4,000


WW II - An estimated 700 people from Healdsburg saw military service during WW II


Korean War begins


The last regularly scheduled passenger train stopped at Healdsburg station (5)


November, Highway 101 Healdsburg Freeway bypass dedicated


- Urban Growth Boundary established for Healdsburg (4)

- Healdsburg population 10,000


- Healdsburg population 11,000

- Growth Management Ordinance enacted regulating number of new houses per year


- Healdsburg population 11,500

           Healdsburg History Links                                                


Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society

Sonoma County Historical Society

The California State Park Service - Fort Ross State Historic Park

Present Day Fort Ross  (360 degree Panorama)

The California State Military Museum

  webmaster: tomjoad@ourHealdsburg.com

© 2003 ourHealdsburg.com™. All rights reserved.




Chronology Sources:

History Timeline  developed by Richard Janosko


(1) The Pacific Historian Winter Issue 1967 pgs 10-28 "Agriculture of Upper California" E.L. Chernykh in a 1841 report to the Imperial Society for Rural Economy, Moscow.


(2) The California State Park Service - Fort Ross State Historic Park  website: www.mcn.org/1/rrparks/fortross/


(3) Santa Rosa - A Nineteenth Century Town - ©1985  Gaye LeBaron, Dee Blackman, Joann Mitchell, Harvey Hansen, published by Historia, Ltd. Santa Rosa, California


(4) History of Healdsburg - 2003 Hannah Clayborn


(5) Welcome Iron Steed, Healdsburg's Railroad Days ©1998 John van der Zee, published by Healdsburg Arts Council


(6) Healdsburg and Northern Sonoma County, A Pictorial History. © 1996 The Healdsburg Tribune,  --  Limited Edition of 56.



The California Trail and Trails West

(7) The California Trail is one of many trails to the West including: the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Bozeman Trail, the Southern Route (or Applegate Trail), the Free Emigrant Road, the Cherokee Trail, , the Nez Perce Trail and the Pony Express Trail(s).


The California Trail followed the Oregon Trail across the Great Plains and over the Continental Divide, and then cut off from the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall, Idaho to follow two or three major routes to the gold fields. Tens of thousands of prospectors, miners, and carpetbaggers followed the California Trail west after gold was found at Sutter's Mill in 1848.


Actually, the Oregon Trail and the California Trail follow the same route much of the way and were opened at the same time. "A party of about a hundred families was headed for California in 1841, but they split at Fort Hall when half of them decided to settle in Oregon, instead. Before gold was discovered in California, most settlers were Oregon bound, so the entire length of the trail is generally called the Oregon Trail, not just the leg that led to Oregon. On the other hand, the route across the plains, which followed the Platte River for most of its length, was used by thousands of Mormons headed for Utah as well as overlanders headed for Oregon and California, so it's sometimes called "the Great Platte River Road" to avoid any confusion about who was following it." ( Quoted from the endoftheoregontrail.org website.) Also visit the National Park Service California National Historic Trail website.


Trails West, a map.

-- map courtesy of Frederick Smoot





El Camino Real

(8) The California El Camino Real (“The King’s Highway”)
 In 1769 a combination fortress and Franciscan mission was established in San Diego. This was the first of twenty-one religious settlements built by the Spanish missionaries. The settlements were located about a  day’s travel from each other along a trail that became known as El Camino Real.  By 1823, the  El Camino Real connected twenty-one missions, two pueblos, and four presidios from Mission San Diego in the south, to Mission Sonoma in the north. The missions were not build sequentially starting from the south, but expanded from the major seaports of San Diego (1769), Monterey (1770), and San Francisco (1776).  Although Mission Delores in San Francisco was established only seven years after Mission San Diego, it took another 48 years before Mission Sonoma (San Francisco de Solano) was established.

The California Missions:
1769   San Diego de Alcalá - San Diego County.
1770   San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, (Carmel Mission) - Monterey County
1771   San Antonio de Padua - Monterey County.
1771   San Gabriel Archangel - Los Angeles County.
1772   San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - San Luis Obispo County.
1776   San Francisco de Asís, (Mission Delores) - San Francisco Co.
1776   San Juan Capistrano - Orange County.
1777   Santa Clara de Asís - Santa Clara County.

1797   San José -Alameda County.
1798   San Luis Rey de Francia - San Diego County.
1791   Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz County.
1782   San Buenaventura -Ventura County.
1786   Santa Bárbara - Santa Barbara County.
1787   La Purísima Concepción -Santa Barbara County.
1791   Nuestra Señora de la Soledad -Monterey County.
1797   San Juan Bautista -San Benito County.
1797   San Fernando Rey de España - Los Angeles County.
1797   San Miguel Arcangel  -San Luis Obispo County.
1804   Santa Inés -Santa Barbara County.
1817   San Rafael Arcángel -Marin County.
1823   San Francisco de Solano, (Mission Sonoma) -Sonoma County.

Mission San Francisco Solano De Sonoma, First & Spain Sts., Sonoma , CA.,

image from Historic American Buildings Survey -- Library of Congress

Roger Sturtevant, Photographer Feb. 12, 1934

Exterior view of mission before 1835, Painting -- image from De Young Museum, San Francisco, California, Oriana Day, artist, c. 1861-1885

1777   El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe - Santa Clara County.
1781   El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles -Los Angeles County.
1769   El Presidio de San Diego -San Diego County.
1770   El Presidio de Monterey -Monterey County.
1776   El Presidio de San Francisco -San Francisco City and County.
1782   El Presidio de Santa Barbara -Santa Barbara County.