|Santa Rosa's history is rich in culture and many different groups have called the area their home. Pomo, Miwok, and Wappo Indians originally populated the area followed by the Spanish in the early 1800's. The first deeded land was held as the Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa and was given to Senora Maria Ignacia Lopez de Carrillo by Spanish authorities.|
According to popular legend, this area was named Santa Rosa by Father Juan Amorosa. After baptizing a young Native American woman in a stream, he followed the usual custom of naming rivers and creeks for saints. Because the baptism took place on the day of the Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima, Santa Rosa was the name given to the stream (and later to the whole valley) as well as to the young woman who was baptized.
|Senora Maria Ignacia Lopez de Carillo was the mother-in-law of General Vallejo, commander of the Mexican forces north of the Presidio of San Francisco. In 1837 the Senora built an adobe structure at the junction of ancient Native American trading routes near present-day Farmer's Lane and Highway 12. The ruins still stand today adjacent to St. Eugene's Church.|
The discovery of gold and California's statehood gradually produced more traffic along the roads past Santa Rosa. Some who came for gold, realized that farming in the rich Santa Rosa valley would bring more wealth than digging for gold and an agricultural community soon flourished.
In the early 1850's other travelers came to Santa Rosa to establish commercial ventures. Three enterprising business men, Berthold "Barney" Hoen, Feodor Gustav Hahman and William Hartman rented the Carrillo Adobe and opened Hoen & Co. Hoen and his partners soon purchased another tract of land a mile downstream which had originally belonged to Julio Carrillo, son of the Senora. This land was next to a tract still in Julio's ownership. Convincing Julio to join their partnership, they plotted out a town and called it Santa Rosa offering all the lots for $25 a piece.
Barney Hoen, sensing the political and economic currents, started a campaign in 1854 to bring the county seat to Santa Rosa. He promised that he and others would donate land for the Courthouse and he and Julio Carrillo offered to donate land for a town square. Their promise worked and county residents voted to transfer the county seat from Sonoma to Santa Rosa. Once the vote was in, a mule team was dispatched to physically remove the County archives, and the deed was done.
In 1867 the town of just a few hundred residents was granted incorporation by the County Board of Supervisors. The State of California affirmed the incorporation in 1868, and that is considered the year of Santa Rosa's official birth. The coming of the first railroad in 1870 assured the little town's success, and the next seven years saw the population increase tenfold.
| Santa Rosa has been the site of several "utopian" experiments, some with religious foundations. One of these was the Fountain Grove community established just north of Santa Rosa in 1885.|
Thomas Lake Harris established the community with an initial purchase of 400 acres of rolling foothills just above the Santa Rosa plain. He built a three-story, Victorian mansion surrounded by lavish gardens which he called "The Commandery". He continually added to the community's holdings, eventually expanding Fountain Grove to over 1,500 acres.
Harris published a steady stream of booklets extolling his philosopical mix of socialism and mysticism which he distributed in both the U.S. and Europe. Eventually he was joined at Fountain Grove by people attracted to his teachings and writings. Members of the "Brotherhood of New Life" turned over their wordly possessions to the community and worked in the vineyards and winery which Harris established with the help of Dr. John Hyde. The winery was enormously successful eventually shipping 200,000 gallons of wine annually throughout the world.
Harris might have stayed at Fountain Grove for the rest of his life had he not been accused of adulterous behavior by a reporter writing in the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite the support of the local people and press Harris eventually left Fountain Grove and returned to a home he maintained in upstate New York. He turned the property over to his adopted son, Kanaye Nagasawa.
Nagasawa and Harris' followers ran the winery very successfully for many years and built the now prominent "round barn" which has been preserved as a historical landmark. Nagasawa and Luther Burbank were well acquainted and during this period Santa Rosa was graced by Burbank's horticulture on the south and Nagasawa's viticulture on the north. In 1934 Nagasawa died and the property was sold.
| Luther Burbank was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, on March 7, 1849. In California, his birthday is celebrated as Arbor Day and trees are planted in his memory. The famed horticulturist made his home in Santa Rosa for more than 50 years and it was here that he conducted plant-breeding experiments that brought him world renown.|
One of Burbank's goals was to manipulate the characteristics of plants and thereby increase the world's food supply. Burbank developed an improved spineless cactus which could provide forage for livestock in desert regions. During his career, Burbank introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants -- including over 200 varieties of fruits, many vegetables, nuts and grains, and hundreds of ornamental flowers.
Burbank was a friend of both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford (pictured here) and both men visited at the Burbank home. It was Burbank's legacy that cast the City of Santa Rosa as the City Designed for Living and inspired the annual Rose Parade which celebrates Burbank's memory and showcases the people and talents of the community.
On Burbank's death in 1926 he was buried near his greenhouse on the grounds of his home. Burbank's home and garden are located in downtown Santa Rosa, and have been certified as Registered National, State, City and Horticultural Historical Landmarks.
For more about Burbank's life or virtual visits to our museum and grounds, visit the links below.
Retrospective by A.J. Stumpf
LBH&G Virtual Tour and Museum
| Kanaye Nagasawa was born to the Samurai class in Japan. He was a very interesting man.. as a matter of fact, his name wasn't really Kanaye Nagasawa, it was Isonaga, Hikosuke Isonaga and he was one of the first eight Japanese in the United States. He arrived in America by the way of England and Scotland where he picked up a Scottish accent, which he kept the rest of his life.|
Nagasawa met Thomas Lake Harris the founder of the Brotherhood of New Life in London in the 1860's and was one of four young Japanese men who followed Harris back to his colony in upstate New York. The four young men had been part of a group of fifteen students who were literally smuggled out of their homes in Satsuma, by the leader of the clan. He had chosen them because they were the brightest students and he wanted them to go to Europe to learn the ways of the western world. This move had been expressly forbidden by the Emperor.
It was 1865 when the young men were smuggled out of the Kagoshima harbor, taken to Hong Kong, had their hair cut, bought western clothes and changed their name. It was then that Hikosuke Isonaga, son of a wealthy Confucian scholar, stone carver and astronomer became for the rest of his life Kanaye Nagasawa.
Those fifteen students did exactly what the head of the Satsuma clan intended. Nagasawa the youngest of the group, was the only one who did not return to Japan after the Meiji restoration, when Japan was ready to take its place in the world. The rest returned and many of them became very important in the government of the emerging nation.
Arinori Mori, who also became a follower of Thomas Lake Harris, was the Japanese Ambassador to Washington and later minister of education for the Japanese cabinet. Others in the group who lived with Harris at his Brocton colony went home and were named ambassadors to Russia and Kanaye Nagasawa, still too young for government service and very much captivated by the “Father Faithful” of the Brotherhood of New Life, elected to stay at Brocton. When Kanaye was eighteen, Thomas Lake Harris made a move. He moved across the continent to Santa Rosa, California to build a new “Home” for his Brotherhood. The site he chose was Fountain Grove, which Harris called “The Eden of the West.” Members of the colony would be selected to live in peace and harmony around the “father,” Nagasawa was one of those chosen to make the initial trip. The land purchased was a 1500 acre estate on the outskirts of Santa Rosa.
Life at Fountaingrove in Harris' time was apparently happy. Harris wrote immense number of tracts and books on his social and religious philosophy. By 1880 more than 60 of his followers were living at Fountaingrove. At this time there were many more still living in Brocton and several hundred more scattered around the United States, Scotland, England and Japan. Scholars have estimated that Harris beleivers numbered about 1,000 at the peak.
All the buildings of Fountaingrove were constructed according to the precepts of the Brotherhood, which was supposed to be taken physically into the “Celestial Sphere” come the millenium. The Manor House, Harris' own home, was the most important. He called it Aestivossa, which means the “high country of divine joy” in a language known only to Harris and members of his “Inner Circle” of which Nagasawa was included.
The “Commandery”, an imposing three story structure of redwood with high beamed ceilings, sat on a ridge overlooking the town. This is where the men of the colony were housed. The “Cottage” was where the women lived. It was a cottage in the Victorian sense of the word, two stories with twin fireplaces surrounded by a high hedge. The commandery burned in the 1880's Aestivossa was torn down in 1969 and the Cottage a year later—to make room for the planned development at Fountaingrove.
The winery is still there, the original building dating to 1892. The original winery was built in 1878, burned in 1892, and was immediately rebuilt. A German would-be cowboy, named Siegfried Bechold, married a widowed owner of Fountaingrove and tore out the grapevines for cattle.