At the tail end of the 19th century Sonoma County was alive with change.

Railroads linked the far edges of the county bringing people and supplies from Cloverdale to Petaluma and beyond.

In the northern reaches of the county hops were big business, while in the south a campaign to promote Petaluma as the “Egg Basket of the World” was gaining steam.

America was engaged in one of the shortest wars in its history. From April to August of 1898, the Spanish-American War was waged in retribution for the internal explosion of the USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana Harbor. The war led to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence and resulted in temporary American control of Cuba, as well as indefinite colonial control of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Sonoma County’s Companies C and E were sent, and remarkably for mothers countywide, all of the men returned.

Pomo baskets were gaining national attention. By the 1890, the collecting fad was elevated to a frenzy. Smithsonian curator Otis Mason noted the obsession “almost amounts to a disease,” with nary a high-end residence without native baskets and curios around every corner. The Smithsonian itself acquired the 373-basket collection of noted Mendocino County ethnologist Dr. John Hudson and his wife, artist Grace Carpenter Hudson, in 1898.

Want to see more of what life was like in Sonoma County in 1898? Click through our gallery of county life 120 years ago.


Want to see more of what life was like in Sonoma County in 1898? Click through our gallery of county life 120 years ago.