What follows is a timeline of notable events in the history of Sonoma Valley, where available, a link is offered to a page with more information.


Early European Exploration

<dl> <dt> 1542</dt><dd>

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo enters the bay of San Diego then sails north to the Russian River laying claim by the Spanish Empire.

</dd> <dt> June 1579</dt><dd>

Captain Francis Drake voyages into Bodega Bay, Tomales Bay, Drakes Bay or Bolinas Bay (exact location disputed) on the Golden Hind.

</dd> <dt> 1602</dt><dd>

Spanish Empire validates claim to California and maps area during the sea voyage of the San Agustín under Sebastián Vizcaíno.

</dd> </dl>

Spanish era (1697 – 1821)

<dl> <dt> October 1775</dt><dd>

Lt. Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra sails the Sonora into Bodega Bay for the Spanish Empire.

</dd> <dt> 1808-1811</dt><dd>

Ivan Kuskov lands in Bodega Bay (Port Rumiantsev), builds structures and hunts in the region.

</dd> <dt> March 15, 1812</dt><dd>

Ivan Kuskov with 25 Russians and 80 Native Alaskans arrives at Port Rumiantsev and proceeds north to establish Fort Ross.

</dd> <dt> 1817</dt><dd>

First treaty conducted with native peoples in California is established when Captain Leonty Gagemeister, Chief Administrator of Fort Ross conducts treaty with local tribal chiefs for possession of property near the fort.

</dd> <dt> 1821</dt><dd>

New Spain gains independence from the Spanish Empire.

</dd> </dl>

Mexican era (1821 – 1846)

<dl> <dt> June 1823</dt><dd>

Fr. José Altimira establishes the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> April 4, 1824</dt><dd>

The new church, on the site of the present mission church, is dedicated.

</dd> <dt> 1830</dt><dd>

Governor of Mexico takes titles of missions from Catholic Church.

</dd> <dt> 1833</dt><dd>

Second Lieutenant Mariano Vallejo is sent from the presidio at San Francisco by Governor José Figueroa to oversee the secularization of the Mission.

</dd> <dt> June 24, 1835</dt><dd>

Mariano Vallejo, Commander of the Frontera del Norte, is instructed by Governor José Figueroa to establish a presidio and pueblo around a plaza in Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> July 1837</dt><dd>

Mariano Vallejo brings Sonoma troops to Monterey to subdue opposition to the rule of his nephew, Juan Alvarado, as Governor. He returns to Sonoma with the first and only printing press in California.

</dd> <dt> 1838</dt><dd>

A catastrophic smallpox epidemic kills over 50,000 Indians and many Californios in northern California. Vallejo responds by printing the first medical book in California, a reprint of a 16th century Spanish compendium which was almost 300 years out of date at the time of publication.

</dd> <dt> 1841</dt><dd>

Russians sell Fort Ross to John Sutter and subsequently leave the area by 1842.

</dd> <dt> 1844</dt><dd>

Mexican Commandante Don Vallejo releases most of his soldiers from service.

</dd> <dt> 1844-1845</dt><dd>

Charles Wilkes publishes Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition documenting his five-year (1838-1842) expedition which included several pages on Zonoma.

</dd> <dt> September 1845</dt><dd>

John Grigsby and William B. Ide arrive in California with the Grigsby-Ide Wagon Train.

</dd> <dt> December 1845</dt><dd>

Lansford W. Hastings and Robert B. Semple arrive in Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> April 1846</dt><dd>

Mexican Subprefect Francisco Guerrero issues an order at Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) forbidding the sale of land to any unnaturalized foreigners.

</dd> <dt> April 17, 1846</dt><dd>

Future Bear Flag members William L. Todd and Robert B. Semple hint at coming events in letters sent to Illinois.

</dd> <dt> June 1846</dt><dd>

Captain John C. Fremont arrives in the Sacramento Valley with an expedition that includes Kit Carson and Delaware Indian guides.

</dd> </dl>

Bear Flag Republic (1846)

<dl> <dt> June 14, 1846</dt><dd>

At dawn, thirty-three men from the Napa and Sacramento Valleys attack and capture the undefended arsenal of Sonoma. Mariano Vallejo, his brother Salvador Vallejo and residents Victor Prudon and Jacob Leese are arrested and eventually held at Sutter's Fort.

</dd> <dt> June 1846</dt><dd>

Twenty-four members of the Bear Flaggers who remain in Sonoma elect William B. Ide as commander. Jose Berryessa, the former alcalde of Sonoma is reappointed to this position. A few weeks later John H. Nash is elected alcalde, the first elected official in California.

</dd> <dt> June 25, 1846</dt><dd>

John C. Fremont moves his expedition party to Sonoma and effectively takes command of the Bear Party.

</dd> <dt> July 5, 1846</dt><dd>

John C. Fremont assembles Bear Flaggers, now numbering about 200, and declares his intent to wage war on Mexican army commander, José Castro. The California Battalion is formed "to gain independence for California" with Fremont as commander. John Grigsby is appointed commander of Company B which stays in Sonoma. William B. Ide joins as a foot soldier.

</dd> <dt> July 6, 1846</dt><dd>

Three of the four companies – A, C and D – of the California Battalion leave Sonoma to wage war against Mexican General José Castro.

</dd> <dt> July 9, 1846</dt><dd>

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Joseph W. Revere, (a grandson of Paul Revere) under orders of Commodore John Drake Sloat via Captain John Berrien Montgomery appeared on the plaza, lowered the Bear Flag and raised the American ensign.

</dd> </dl>

United States Military Occupation (1846 – 1850)

<dl> <dt> August 4, 1846</dt><dd>

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Joseph W. Revere enlists the 52 men of John Grigsby's company into the United States Army of Occupation.

</dd> <dt> August 6, 1846</dt><dd>

Mariano Vallejo returns to Sonoma on parole from Sutter's Fort.

</dd> <dt> August 9, 1846</dt><dd>

537 Mormons volunteer to serve as soldiers in the conquest of California. Mormon church petitions President Polk not to appoint Boggs governor.

</dd> <dt> August 12, 1846</dt><dd>

News of the United States declaration of war with Mexico arrives in Sonoma with the arrival of the U.S. warship Warren in Monterey.

</dd> <dt> mid-September 1846</dt><dd>

Navy Lieutenant John S. Misroon appeared in Sonoma and issued Navy handguns to the Indians employed by Mariano Vallejo.

</dd> <dt> Fall 1846</dt><dd>

Navy Lieutenants Joseph W. Revere and John S. Misroon, Navy Purser James H. Watmough and Consul Larkin begin "to look to Vallejo for land grants."

</dd> <dt> October 1846</dt><dd>

The first of the overland immigrants start arriving in Sonoma having been directed there by Lansford W. Hastings and James M. Hudspeth who stationed themselves on the Oregon Trail at Fort Bridger (in what is now Wyoming) in July to bring emigrants as expeditiously as possible into Mexican California.

</dd> <dt> 1846</dt><dd>

Lilburn W. Boggs, former governor of Missouri and someone who had ordered the forcible eviction of Mormons from his state, arrives in Sonoma, via the original 1845 wagon trail. Boggs has aspirations of being appointed governor of the new territory.

</dd> <dt> October 5, 1847</dt><dd>

U.S. Navy issues press release stating "General" Mariano Vallejo marched in a parade at Yerba Buena in honor of Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Until this point, Vallejo's actual grade had been colonel.

</dd> <dt> Late October 1846</dt><dd>

John Grigsby and Company B of the California Battalion leave Sonoma answer John C. Fremont's call to join him in southern California.

</dd> <dt> November 1846</dt><dd>

Mariano Vallejo provides refuge for Lilburn W. Boggs at his Petaluma ranch house.

</dd> <dt> January 4, 1847</dt><dd>

Guadalupe Vallejo Boggs is born to Lilburn W. Boggs and ....

</dd> <dt> April 1847</dt><dd>

General Stephen W. Kearny discharges the members of the California Battalion at San Gabriel Mission. Company C of Jonathan D. Stevenson's Seventh Regiment of New York Volunteers, under Captain John E. Brackett, is assigned to occupy Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> Summer 1847</dt><dd>

Georgia Donner and Eliza Donner, rescued from the ill-fated the Donner Party by Hiram Miller and W. H. Eddy earlier in March, arrive in Sonoma with their Swiss-German guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Brunner. The first regular (weekly) mail line in California brings mail from San Francisco to Sacramento with a stop in Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> July 1847</dt><dd>

Army Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman and Navy Lt. Louis McLane arrest at gunpoint the elected alcalde John H. Nash so that General Stephen Kearny’s appointee, Lilburn W. Boggs, can take over this position.

</dd> <dt> Fall 1847</dt><dd>

Nicholas Carriger arrives in Sonoma with his brothers, Solomon Carriger and Caleb Carriger.

</dd> <dt> January 24, 1848</dt><dd>

James W. Marshall discovers gold in the raceway at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California.

</dd> <dt> August 25, 1848</dt><dd>

The New York Volunteers are moved from Sonoma to San Francisco after many desert.

</dd> <dt> February 5, 1849</dt><dd>

Lilburn W. Boggs, Mariano Vallejo, and Robert B. Semple establish a legislature in Sonoma to bring civil law to this district.

</dd> <dt> May 3, 1849</dt><dd>

The Pacific Division of the United States Army with jurisdiction over the entire Oregon and California regions establish their headquarters in Sonoma. Brigadier Persifor Smith is in command with Lt. Col. Joseph Hooker as his adjutant.

</dd> <dt> September, 1849</dt><dd>

Sonoma sends General Mariano Vallejo and Robert B. Semple as their elected delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Monterey to write the document which will allow statehood for California. Semple is the President of this convention.

</dd> <dt> November, 1849</dt><dd>

Mariano Vallejo is elected state senator while John E. Brackett and John S. Bradford are elected state assemblymen for the district of Sonoma in the first state legislature to be held in San Jose.

</dd> <dt> November 8, 1849</dt><dd>

Lilburn W. Boggs becomes Sonoma's first postmaster.

</dd> <dt> April 4, 1850</dt><dd>

Sonoma is incorporated as a 20 square mile city and the county seat of the new County of Sonoma. The county courthouse is a two story adobe on the SE corner of Napa St. and Broadway recently completed by Henry Green.

</dd> </dl>

Early Statehood (1850 – 1900)

<dl> <dt> September 9, 1850</dt><dd>

California was given official statehood by Congress on as part of the Compromise of 1850.

</dd> <dt> October 29, 1850</dt><dd>

Sonoma celebrates California's admission into the Union.

</dd> <dt> October, 1851</dt><dd>

General Persifor Smith moves the Pacific Division Army Headquarters from Sonoma to Benicia, and all soldiers leave by the end of the year.

</dd> <dt> June 12, 1852</dt><dd>

First edition of the Sonoma Bulletin, Sonoma’s first newspaper by Alexander J. Cox is published. The paper is located opposite the SE corner of the plaza.

</dd> <dt> 1857</dt><dd>

Count Agoston Haraszthy buys land east of Sonoma and begins the Buena Vista Winery.

</dd> <dt> September 1854</dt><dd>

After a county-wide vote, the county seat is moved form Sonoma to Santa Rosa.

</dd> <dt> April 26, 1862</dt><dd>

General Vallejo has the charter of the City of Sonoma repealed to protect the land titles of those who bought land from him.

</dd> <dt> April 13, 1867</dt><dd>

The Casa Grande is destroyed by fire.

</dd> <dt> 1869</dt><dd>

Charles V. Stuart builds his home, Glen Ellen, for which a village is soon named.

</dd> <dt> 1880</dt><dd>

The first telephone system is established throughout much of (City of?) Sonoma.

</dd> <dt> September 3, 1883</dt><dd>

Sonoma is reincorporated as a city again, now only one square mile.

</dd> <dt> 1895</dt><dd>

The Boyes Hot Springs Bathhouse is established.

</dd> <dt> 1898</dt><dd>

The first electric lights are installed in Sonoma by the Sonoma Electric Light Company.

</dd> </dl>

20th Century (1901 – 2000)

<dl> <dt> 1905</dt><dd>

Jack London purchases the 260-acre Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen.

</dd> <dt> June 14, 1914</dt><dd>

Sonoma erects Bear Flag monument on northeast corner of town square.

</dd> <dt> June 1929</dt><dd>

Opening of the first annual Sonoma Rodeo on the Millerick Ranch in Schellville. It becomes the largest rodeo in the Bay Area for the next 20 years.

</dd> <dt> April 10, 1930</dt><dd>

The Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce is founded.

</dd> </dl>

21st Century (2001 – Present)