Have you ever wondered ....

Q: How Petaluma got started in the first place?

​Petaluma started to emerge as a frontier village in 1852 as the result of the discovery of gold in 1848 and the need for food by the 49ers whom, in their quests for fame and fortune, flocked to San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada.

Q: Who realized the Petaluma Creek (as it was called then) could be utilized for transport of goods and people?

Capt. Thomas Baylis had already started a boat service on the creek with his partner David Flogdell. "Tom and Dave" also built the Pioneer Hotel at the foot of English Street (now Western Avenue) in 1852.

Q: What role did Petaluma's first newspaper editor play in the effort to incorporate Petaluma in 1858?

The Daily Alta, California, April 16, 1855, published a letter from a "Traveler" that described Petaluma as "a pretty little town with neat country gardens that seem to invite the visitor to pass a few days or weeks ruralizing among the cottages and a refined society." Four months later, Petaluma’s first newspaper, the Petaluma Journal and Sonoma County Advertiser, the forerunner of today’s Argus-Courier, commenced publication as a weekly on August 18, 1855. Its teen-age editor, Thomas L. Thompson, lobbied the town citizenry to incorporate. His efforts failed to persuade the populace to adopt a city charter because they could govern themselves, without assuming heavy expenses, by remaining a "good old fashion village corporation."

By 1858, it became apparent to all that the Town of Petaluma needed to be incorporated as a city in order to meet the need for better schools and roads, as well as law and order. On April 28, 1858, the California Legislature passed such a bill. Petaluma’s population was rapidly approaching 1,500 people. Over a three month period in 1858, it was reported that 187,000 pounds of butter, 186.000 pounds of cheese, and 21,000 dozen eggs were shipped down Petaluma Creek to San Francisco. An 1859 newspaper article described Petaluma as "A freshly painted New England town with five churches, six hotels, two flour mills, two foundries, one tannery, and paved streets. Over the succeeding years, many more people arrived in Petaluma and helped the City grow and prosper, geographically, financially and socially. 

This web site features the stories of a few of its prominent citizens, as told by present day residents who have taken on the personas of these Petalumans from Yesteryear.​

PETALUMANS OF YESTERYEAR