Friday, December 31, 2010


In 2010 we saved our beloved Memorial Bridge for all the generations to come.

I wish you all the best for a peaceful, happy 2011.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

From Cabin to Craftsman - 100 Years of Healdsburg's Architechural Hertiage

For those of you that have not been to the Healdsburg Museum to see the latest exhibit, it will be ending on June 18. It is well worth your effort to go before it closes. It has drawn large crowds and is one the best exhibits we have ever had at the Museum. It is for all ages. It provides us glimpses into local historical architecture leading up to 1910. It also includes pioneer furnishings of the W.W. Ferguson family brought to California with the family in 1849 by covered wagon and objects that the Sarah Hendricks family brought to Healdsburg after the California Gold Rush.

Travel back in time with pictorial displays, vintage carpentry tools, and household objects that demonstrate the architectural styles and characteristics of the era.

A unique feature of this exhibit is the interactive segment, whereby visitors walk through doors (dating from the 1860’s to 1910) into historical portals.

A few of the offerings of this exhibit include handmade quilts and furniture of the time period; an 1853 sampler made by town founder Harmon Heald’s niece; an 1869 stereopticon with 3-D stereoscopic images of 1870s Healdsburg; an 1898 washing machine; and paintings of historical homes and buildings by local artists. A special part of the exhibit focuses on “Then and Now” photographs of local 100 year old buildings, and should not be missed. Special thanks to our generous local sponsor, Dennis O'Neel, for sharing his expertise in enlarging, printing and mounting the photographs of Healdsburg architecture for the exhibit. Holly Hoods is the Curator of this exhibit, and she has done a great job. This is a MUST SEE! Don't miss it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Early History of the Alexander Valley

I summarized this information from a fascinating original manuscript entitled: “Grapes and Wine in California’s Alexander Valley: A History, Including diverse other aspects of the valley’s history dating from 1846” by William F. Heintz, with author’s permission. The information I am focusing on is the family history of Fred and Ruby Wasson, farming pioneers in the Alexander Valley:

Renown wine researcher William F. Heintz tells us that Cyrus Alexander, the valley’s founder, was an “odd combination of trapper, mountaineer and lover of the soil.” Leaving his home in Illinois at the age of 16, Alexander ended up six years later in San Diego where he met Captain Henry Fitch and agreed to oversee the ranch Fitch wanted built on his Sotoyome land grant in northern Sonoma County. The portion of this land that Alexander received for his work came to be called Alexander Valley.

Cyrus Alexander planted the valley’s first grape vines along with fruit tree seeds and sprouts probably obtained from employee Frank Bidwell’s journey to Fort Ross in 1843. By the mid 1860s visitors began coming into the valley to view the enormous geysers, often traveling through the newly formed town of Healdsburg (founded 1857). The Geysers became a much photographed and notable tourist attraction of this time. In the late 1860s the valley was divided into plots for about 20 large landholders and the first commercial enterprise, the Alexander Valley Store, was built in 1869, probably on what is now Highway 128.

By 1873 the valley claimed to have 100,000 grapevines and its inhabitants were beginning to get excited about winemaking. Charles Alexander (Cyrus’ nephew) was particularly prosperous. In 1874 the discovery of mercury (or quicksilver) in the hills put the Pine Flat area of Alexander Valley on the map and the valley prospered further with additional roads and new businesses.

By the mid to late 1870s it had become clear that the valley’s grape production (700 tons per year) merited building local wineries. And it was at this same time that Ruby Osborn Wasson’s parental grandfather, Shadrach L. Osborn, purchased 300 acres of land near Chalk Hill Road where property averaged about $10.35 per acre for undeveloped land. By the early 1880s the local viticulture boom was exploding with a wide range of varietals--mostly Zinfandel, followed by Riesling, Golden Chasselas and Crabb’s Burgundy. Immigrants were now pouring into the area which was continuing to grow in prosperity and population.

Shadrach Osborn, who owned the Soda Rock Ranch, and whose vineyards were contenders for the largest in the valley, began selling his grapes in Calistoga for $20.00 per ton, well over the going price. For a man who had arrived in the United States from England with “only ten cents in his pocket”, Shadrach vied with R.R. Givens for the title of “Squire of Alexander Valley”, and his ranch near the post office and the Soda Rock House (hotel) was at the very center of valley activity. By 1890 Shadrach owned two large farms in the lower end of the valley and was clearly one of the valley’s largest and most influential landowners and promoters. The Healdsburg Enterprise edition of October 24, 1891 read: “Osborn has the finest vineyards in northern Sonoma County.” His farm was Lone Pine Vineyard at Soda Rock and the winery he built was named Lone Pine Cellars.

It is most interesting to note that there seems to be some debate over which of Ruby’s grandfathers was ultimately responsible for the first winery in the valley. The July 31, 1889 Healdsburg Enterprise states that Shadrach was currently building his own large winery, but it appears that the first crush in that cellar did not take place until 1895.

Meanwhile, Horace Chase of Yountville in Napa Valley, sent Broder Frellson (Ruby’s maternal grandfather) in 1892 to supervise the winery that he had just built in the Alexander Valley--Chase’s Winery, also known as Stagg’s Leap Winery or Red Winery “because of the red coat of paint applied to it and all the auxiliary buildings.” Chase was an absentee landlord while Broder was in charge, and the first crush of the Red Winery appears to have been in 1893. So the competition depends on the criteria: who built the first winery structure (Shadrach) or who actually had the first crush (Chase and Broder).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please consider a donation for Haiti

Hi all you caring Healdsburg-ers!

I want to add my voice in asking you to give a gift to a responsible organization that is helping the disaster victims in Haiti. Join me today in helping succor this poor devastated nation. For online gifts you can go to:

Doctors Without Borders

and/or the

American Red Cross International Response Fund

Thank you and blessings.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What does mountaintop mining in West Virginia and Kentucky have to do with Healdsburg?

Last Friday in the Washington Post I read "Scientists say mountaintop mining should be stopped." According to the article, for the first time the scientists studying blasting off mountaintops and burying stream valleys under tons of rubble in order to mine coal are taking a political stand against issuing any new permits.

Most of the mountaintop removal is occurring in the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky, so what does this have to do with Healdsburg?

More than more many people think, including our city government. We pride ourselves on our clean energy source from the Geysers, but if you look at our Power Content Label sent with your city utility bill, you'll see that in the column "Healdsburg's System Average (projected), coal is the source of 14% of our electricity. The surrounding area, served by PG&E, has electricity generated with 2% coal.

When I talk with city council members and electricity department employees, they tell me that we don't know how much of our energy comes from coal because it's part of a "mix" and therefore not quantifiable. How can this be? Doesn't the supplier of the mix to the city know? Isn't there a cost attached to each of the energy resources purchased by the city?

Mountaintop mining is just one of the environmentally damaging aspects of using coal to produce electricity, but the photo above is enough to prompt me to ask these questions of those in charge of where Healdsburg gets its energy.

(Photo from NRDC article about mountaintop mining.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year 2010

Wishing you all a happy, joyous, & prosperous new year in the best place in the world.

Darla Williams Budworth

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My "gift" to Healdsburg - The best news photos of the decade from the Boston Globe

Midst all of the holiday preparations, I hope you'll take a few minutes to look at the 51 best news photos of the decade , gathered by the Boston Globe. This is the decade that's described in the introduction to the photos as "dramatic, often brutal." I confess it was painful to look at many of these photos, but I'm glad I did and hope that if you do, you too will gain something from having done so.

Each photo comes with a written description. The photo above is a prisoner of war comforting his four year old child.