The following snippets of history were prepared by volunteers at the Western Sonoma County Historical Society. For more information about local history, go to the WSCHS website at wschs.org, or email comments or questions about this History Corner to Mary Dodgion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
100 years ago — August 1920
Sebastopol census increases 200
While Sebastopol and Analy Township have not shown a remarkable growth in the past 10 years, it has been a steady growth according to the 1920 census. In 1910 Sebastopol had a population of 1,233 and the 1920 census rates it at 1,493, a gain of 260 people. Analy Township in 1910 was 5,681 and now has 6,524 a gain of 842 people. Analy Township is the third largest in the county. Santa Rosa Township coming first and Petaluma Township second. The growth has been steady and along with the population the assessed valuation of the district has greatly increased as the young Gravenstein orchards have come into bearing. Truly it is a wonderful country that we live in.
75 years ago — August 1945
Gas rationing ends
“Fill ‘er up!” Sweet words that were so long gone. But now they’re back in our vocabulary. And now we know the war is over. The open road is ours once again. In the past two decades automotive carriers for both passengers and freight have grown amazingly in number until today our cars and trucks run up far more total mileage than any other type of carrier. The automobile is a virtual necessity in covering the “wide open spaces” of California. So, the end of gasoline rationing is more than a passing item — it’s a major event. And it is one of the sweetest fruits of victory.
Sebastopol blood bank terminated
Another proof that the war is really over came this week when Miss Claire Coltrin, chairman of the local blood bank, received notice that the Red Cross Mobile Service Units are being discontinued. Sebastopol’s blood bank started in January 1943 and the local Gallon Club, composed of people who have given at least eight pints of blood, boasts more than 35 members. Donors who contributed 21 times were Ella Levick, Lula Sexton, Juanita Kelly, Elinore Blackshaw, Sylva Douglas, Mrs. G.G. O’Connell, Arden J. Allen, W.W. Hackert, M. Pirinoli, Oscar A. Hallberg and Eric Volkerts. A letter to Miss Coltrin from the San Francisco Blood Donor Service reads in part: “According to our records, 1,611 pints of blood were collected in Sebastopol. How many lives this blood saved we do not know, but if only one man’s life had been saved your efforts put forth should be commended. You are all to be congratulated and should feel that glow of satisfaction that comes with the knowledge of having done a job well.”
50 years ago — August 1970
Rio Nido buildings are torn down
A two-block section of buildings was leveled, leaving only the stately redwood trees. Two buildings were left standing; the Rio Nido Variety Store and the new Rio Nido post office. The buildings, owned by Dollar Savings & Loan Co. of San Francisco, had been required to be brought up to standard codes. Due to the expense involved the now vacant land is to be sold. The buildings formerly housed a grocery store and market, a dress shop, dance hall, shooting gallery, ice cream parlor, skating rink, game room, cocktail lounge and beer parlor, bowling alley, lunch room, the old fire house and the old post office. This business section, with its thriving little shops embraced the main plaza with outdoor seating in a cup like section, formerly listed on old maps as Eagles Next.
The active years of the Rio Nido Resort were from 1927 to 1953 when the property was owned by Harry Harris. Thousands of persons flocked from the Bay Area each summer to enjoy whatever Rio Nido had to offer. Sentimentalists can recall the many fun activities for the entire family and now stand firm in one thought: The huge archway sign which stood for many years at the Rio Nido entrance meant just exactly what it said, “Memories That Linger.”
Happenings at West County Museum:
This is a census year. If you have not filled out your census report I want to encourage every household to do so. There are many benefits for local communities that are received due to the counts on the census records.
For genealogists, local historians and interested family members, census taking is also beneficial. Past census records are a great source of information and can lead us to the discovery of the lives of our ancestors and where we came from. Tracing the paths of our ancestors who are listed will find that each census record will contain different information as each decade asked different questions. Early census takers were only required to count the number of people with very little details. But beginning in 1850 the census takers was to ask the names, ages, birthplace and occupation of every member of the household. Wow, that was 170 years ago.
As you look at those records, we are subject to the interpretation of the spelling of names, so some detective work and assumptions will need to be made. Jump to the 1880 census when you learn the place of birth of each parent, and their occupation. Unfortunately, the Federal 1890 census records housed in the National Archives, were destroyed by fire. If you had family in Sonoma County during that time you can find that the Sonoma County Genealogy Society has recreated the 1890 census, gathering information from other county records. Copies of it can be found at your West County Museum, County Libraries and online. In 1900 the census was even more informative asking the residing street address, the month and year they were born, and the age they were first married and naturalization dates. These are all important questions and answers that will lead researchers to find birth, marriage, immigration and naturalization records. As our nation evolves, the census is just as vital a record today for tracing the ancestors of our future generations. Trust me; they will be interested in knowing all they can about you. So take the time to complete your 2020 Census questioner, if not for the benefits for our local programs of the now but the generation to follow.
Museum volunteers are preparing the next exhibit, “Suffrage Headquarters.” Once completed and until we can open, you will be able to view a virtual tour that will be filmed in August. Watch for news of that on our website, wschs.org, or our Facebook group Western Sonoma County Historical Society.
We also have Suffrage t-shirts available in most sizes. This t-shirt was spearheaded by the League of Women Voters, with support from the West County Museum. We have V-neck and crew neck in all sizes and orders can be made by emailing to email@example.com or calling the Museum. Low contact sales via pre-order and front door pickup by appointment.