Timeline of Napa County History

2000 B.C. - 1823 The Wappo Indians were the sole inhabitants of the Napa Valley.
1823 DON FRANCIS CASTRO and Father JOSE ALTIMURA, under an armed escort led by JOSE SANCHEZ, the first Europeans to explore the Napa Valley.
182? Sometime during this decade, GUY FLING became the first American to explore the Napa Valley.
1829 KIT CARSON entered the Napa Valley while on a hunting trip.
1831 GUY FLING led Napa County's first settler, GEORGE C. YOUNT into the Napa Valley.
  • The first treaty between the natives and the Mexicans was negotiated.
  • GEORGE C. YOUNT awarded the first land grant in the Napa Valley, Rancho Caymus.
  • YOUNT built the area's first permanent dwelling, a wooden blockhouse.
1837 DR. EDWIN TURNER BALE arrived in California from England.
1838 A smallpox epidemic raged through Napa County killing hundreds of the Wappo Indians.
1840 CAYETANO JUAREZ built two adobes on his Rancho Tulucay and moved his family from Sonoma to Napa Valley.
1841 DR. EDWIN TURNER BALE became a citizen of Mexico and was granted Rancho Carne Humana, which comprised the land between present-day Rutherford and Calistoga.
  • COLONEL JOSEPH B. CHILES, who guided one of the earliest immigrant trains to California, was granted Rancho Catacula in the Napa Valley.
  • The first landing of a ship in what would become Napa City occurred. The ship was called the Sacramento.
  • The Bale Grist Mill was completed.
  • COLONEL JAMES CLYMAN, mountain man, arrived in the Napa Valley with his wife, HANNAH and the REASON P. TUCKER family. When DONNER refused to listen to CLYMAN about the danger of following the planned shortcut, CLYMAN and TUCKER came by the longer established trail.
  • REASON P. TUCKER led one of the relief parties when the DONNER Party became trapped in a Sierra snowfall. Other Napa settlers aided in rescuing the survivors.
  • EZEKIAL MERRITT left JOHN C. FREMONT'S camp in Sacramento. bound for Sonoma, to revolt against Mexican rule. In Napa he was joined by JOHN GRIGSBY, WILLIAM HARGRAVE, DAVID HUDSON, HARRISON PIERCE, ELIAS BARNETT, NATHAN COOMBS and BENJAMIN AND SAMUEL KELSEY. Two days later, NANCY KELSEY (the first white woman to enter California over the Sierras) traveled to Sonoma on horseback with her small infants, following her husband, BENJAMIN.
  • The Bear Flag Rebellion took place in Sonoma and the Bear Flag party was formed. The California Republic, with the "Bear Flag" as it's symbol, came to an end in less than sixty days, when California became a territory of the United States.
  • The Town of Napa was founded by NATHAN COOMBS. The townsite was surveyed by JAMES M. HUDSPETH. At the time there were only the two adobe homes of CAYETANO JUAREZ and NICHOLAS HIGUERA in the area.
  • Napa's first structure, a saloon, was built by HARRISON PIERCE. a former miller at Bales Mill.
  • The first general store was built in Napa township by JOSEPH P. THOMPSON, followed closely by a second general store built by GEN. MARIANO VALLEJO and his son-in-law, JOHN FRISBIE.
  • JAMES MARSHALL discovered gold at SUTTERS Mill in Sacramento. Napa City was deserted as residents flocked to the mines. Most of the valley farmers stayed on their land.
  • Napa County was formed as one of California's original counties.
  • DOCTOR EDWARD TURNER BALE died on 9 October.
  • The first school (the second private school in California) was opened in the Napa Valley near Bale's Mill. The teacher was the widowed and orphaned SARAH GRAVES FOSDICK, a survivor of the DONNER Party. She had been brought to Napa Valley by her rescuer, REASON P. TUCKER.
  • The Dolphin was the first steamship to navigate the Napa River.
  • The first election in Napa County was held.
    The officers of the new government were:
    • Judge, JOHN E. STARK
    • Surveyor, J. E. BROWN
    • Sheriff, N. McKIMMEY
    • Treasurer, RALPH KILBURN
1852 JACOB SCHRAM bought hillside property just south of Calistoga and planted Napa County's first hill side vineyard.

He hired Chinese workers to plant and cultivate the vines under the supervision of his wife, ANNA, while he continued his trade as a barber in Calistoga and White Sulphur Springs.
1853-1865 A drought struck the Napa Valley.
  • The Napa Register began publication.
  • The newly elected board of supervisors held their first meeting in the town of Napa on 6 December. They were:
  • The townships of Napa, Yount and Hot Springs were created.
  • The community of St. Helena was established.
  • Napa Valley's first church building was erected on property owned by FLORENTINE KELLOGG. It was Methodist in denomination and was called The White Church after ASA WHITE, a friend of KELLOGG'S and the man who delivered the first sermon.
1856 The Napa County Reporter opened its doors as the county's first newspaper.

The first edition was printed on 4 July by ALEXANDER J. COX, editor and proprietor.
  • A silver rush occurred in Napa County and the mining era began.
  • The first Catholic Church erected in Napa Valley, St John the Baptist, was dedicated by ARCHBISHOP ALLEMANY on 6 November.
  • CHARLES KRUG produced 1,200 gallons of wine in the Napa Valley using a small cider press.
  • A telegraph line between Vallejo and Napa is laid.
  • The first bank was established by J. H. GOODMAN.
  • The Methodist Episcopal Church built at 2nd and Randolph on land donated by NATHAN COOMBS.
  • SAM BRANNAN purchased land in the upper Napa Valley; the purchase included the land on which Calistoga would be developed.
  • Tulocay Cemetery was established on 48 4/5 acres given by DON CAYETANO JUAREZ.
  • CHARLES KRUG married DR. BALE'S daughter, CAROLINE. KRUG planted grapes on land just north of St. Helena, on land which had been CAROLINE'S dowry.
  • The Napa Collegiate Institute opened, the forerunner of the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
  • Cinnabar, mercury ore, was discovered in the Mayacamus range northwest of Calistoga, by J. CYRUS and A. J. BAILEY.
  • The Phoenix Mining Company was organized to extract mercury from cinnabar.
  • A severe winter hit the Napa Valley exterminating most of the area's cattle herds.
  • The Napa Valley Railroad began operation.

    The track ran from Vallejo to Calistoga, making stops at Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, Bello, St. Helena, Barro, Bale and Walnut Grove.

    When the passengers debarked at the end of the line, Mount St. Helena rose majestically before them.
  • Napa County became one of California's leading quicksilver (mercury) producers.
1865 GEORGE YOUNT, Napa County's first anglo settler, died at his home at Caymus Ranch on 5 Oct.
1866 JOHN LAWLEY begin his toll road from Calistoga over Mount St. Helena to Lake County.
  • The telegraph line to Napa was extended from Napa to Calistoga.
  • The Napa City Gas Light Company was incorporated to provide lighting on the streets of Napa; Napa became the tenth city in California to be lit by gas.
1869 F. A. SAWYER established Sawyer Tanning Company as a wool pullery. A year later his father, B. F. SAWYER left Newport, New Hampshire, came west and went into business with his son.
1870 The first library in Napa was opened by the Napa Library Association. It held 1000 volumes.
1872 The Town of Napa was incorporated.
1873 The Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized in Napa.
  • The Town of Napa was reincorporated as the City of Napa.
  • The First Presbyterian Church was erected on land donated by NATHAN COOMBS.
  • The St. Helena Star was founded.
  • EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE, the "Father of the Motion Picture", was tried in the City of Napa for the murder of his wife's lover. He was acquitted.
1875 The St. Helena Viticultural Club organized with CHARLES KRUG as its first president.
1876 The Napa State Asylum for the Insane received its first patients.
  • The Calistogan was founded.
  • JACOB and FREDERICK BERINGER established the Beringer Bros. Winery.
1878 The St. Helena Sanitarium was founded by W. A. PRATT, a member of the Seventh Day Adventist faith. Natural healing was stressed.
1879 The Bale Grist Mill ground grain with it's thirty-six-foot waterwheel for the last time.
1880 At 9:20 AM on 23 May, ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON and FANNIE VANDERGIFF OSBOURNE boarded the Napa Valley Railroad day coach in Vallejo and began the forty-two mile journey to Calistoga.

They spent their unconventional honeymoon in a rustic, abandoned shack at the defunct Silverado Mine. They made friends with JACOB SCHRAM and ANNA, his wife, visiting them at their secluded vineyard home, tasting all eighteen wines produced by the Schrams.
1881 COLONEL JAMES CLYMAN, age 88, died and was buried in the Tulocay Cemetery in Napa.
  • Silverado Squatters and Treasure Island by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON are published. The road to the SCHRAM's Vineyard is described in the former; Mount St Helena was Treasure Island's Spyglass Hill and JOHN SILVERADO was the inspiration for Long John Silver.
  • The Napa City Water Company was founded by SAMUEL HOLDEN.
  • CAYETANO JUAREZ died and was buried in the Tulocay Cemetery on land he had donated to the City of Napa.
1884 The San Francisco Chapter of the GAR established the Veteran's Home. The facilities consisted of a kitchen, a dining room, living quarters, sick wards, an office and a chapel.
1888 The Palisades Mine began operation.
1891 CHARLES KRUG died.
  • Half of the vineyards in the Napa Valley became infested with the plant louse, phylloxera.
  • NAPA County's first high school opened in the St Helena Presbyterian Church.
1894 The St Helena Library opened.
  • The State of California assumed administration of the California Veteran's Home.
  • Napa High School was constructed.
1901 On May 2, the Goodman Library was opened on property gifted by GEORGE E. GOODMAN. He had been Napa County Treasurer form 1861-1870.
  • The Calistoga Free Public Library opened.
  • The Napa Valley Railroad Company, an electric railroad, was incorporated and provided service from Benecia to Calistoga.
1903 The Napa Glove Factory was organized. It was the largest glove factory west of Chicago.
  • 500,000 fruit and nut trees had been established in the valley by this date.
  • Pacific Union College, formerly established in Healdsburg, was moved to Angwin. The dedication of the grounds of the accredited four year liberal arts institution was held on 29 September.
1910 The Shurtleff Hospital, Napa City's first hospital, opened.
It was named after DR. BENJAMIN SHURTLEFF.
1915 The loudspeaker was invented in Napa by EDWIN PRIDHAM and PETER JENSEN while they were working to improve the telephone receiver.
1916 The County Library System was established to service outlying communities who had no libraries.
  • BRUCE LAND of Napa became the first Napa Countian drafted in World War I.
  • A second hospital, the Francis Hospital, was built in Napa.
  • Prohitition became law. Many Napa Valley wineries went out of business.
  • The Shurtliff and the Francis hospitals were replaced by the Victory Memorial Hospital.
1922 The LAWLEY toll road was purchased by the county. It became State Highway 29.
  • The construction of Millikan Dam was begun.
  • Calistoga High School opened.
  • The Napa State Asylum for the Insane was renamed Napa State Hospital.
  • GIUSEPPE MUSANTE first bottled water. His company would be the forerunner of the Calistoga Mineral Water Company.
  • The steam train made its last run up the Napa Valley.
  • A hospital was built on the grounds of the Veteran's Home.
1932 The Christian Brothers moved their novitate and wine-making operation to the Napa Valley.
1933 Prohibition was repealed.
1939 By this date the Sawyer Tanning Company of Napa was the largest tannery west of the Mississippi.
1942 Basalt Rock Company of Napa launched two U. S. Navy tankers on the Napa River.
1948 Conn Dam was completed.
1950's Controversial plans to flood the Berryessa Valley as part of the Bureau of Recreation State Water Project. Lake Berryessa was to be used as a recreation area.
1953 5,500,000 gallons of wine were produced in the Napa Valley.
1958 Queen of the Valley Hospital replaced Victory Memorial Hospital.
1963 Over 500,000 people visited the Napa Valley's wineries.
  • The Calistoga Soaring Center opened.
  • The County Board of Supervisors created agricultural preserve zoning restrictions.
1974 The Napa Valley Genealogical and Biographical Society was formed. A library was established and quarters were rented to house the collection.
1976-1977 A severe drought struck the Napa Valley; water rationing took place in several of the county's communities.
1981 The Calistoga Mineral Water Company was purchased by the French firm, Perrier.
1983 Over 400,000 people toured the Christian Brothers Greystone Winery.
  • The seventieth anniversary of the invention of the loudspeaker in Napa was celebrated.
  • The Napa Valley Times issued its inaugural edition on July 25.
  • The premiere edition of the Napa Sentinel was published on September 20.
  • The Napa Valley Wine Train began its first run in December.
  • In mid-February continuous rain flooded valley communities and inundated the vineyards, about a decade after the area experienced the severe drought.
  • A temporary shelter was provided for the homeless in the Presbyterian Church gym. The Napa Valley Shelter Project was formed in the fall of the year.
1988 -1991 After an historic fundraising effort the Napa Valley Genealogical and Biographical Society closed escrow on a property located on Menlo Avenue at California in Napa.

Escrow closed on the property on 1 March 1991. A work meeting was held at the new location on 3 March. On 1 April the Napa Valley Genealogical Library was open for researchers.
1993 A Mortgage Burning Celebration took place on 22 May at the Napa Valley Genealogical Library, marking the successful conclusion to a most remarkable fundraising drive.
  • 29% of the funds came from grants or gifts from organizations.
  • 19% came from society fund raisers.
  • 52% came from individual gifts. Most of these were made by society members.
1996 The New Technology High school is opened in Napa with 130 students.

This unique school is established to respond to the challenges to the educational system as the 21st century approaches.
  • Napa City celebrates 150 years of existence.
  • Sawyers of Napa announces that they are quitting business after 128 years in Napa.

The above 'time-line' was taken from the book FROM GOLDEN FIELDS TO PURPLE HARVEST and is used with the permission the Napa Valley Historical Society. Some events and surnames have been added.