The Russian River Historical Society, founded in 1983, is a nonprofit group of dedicated citizens, many with roots in the county, that collects, preserves and disseminates oral and visual histories of the Russian River. They include biographies, anecdotes and fascinating bits of information about people who have lived here, worked here or are otherwise connected to the river.
The historical society offers workshops and hosts gatherings, such as tours of the old Pioneer Cemetery, and currently has a rotating exhibit of historical photos on display at the newly renovated Guerneville Bank building.
It’s through the tireless research of John Schubert, author and former Superior Court bailiff; Jane Barry; and Valerie Munthe, as well as other members, that the historical society accumulated an archive of hundreds of historic photos, currently being digitized and categorized by towns and notable events. They are posted as thumbnails in photo albums on the group’s website for all to view.
Digital scans may be ordered if desired at russianriverhistory.org.
The photos come from a wide variety of sources and many are from private collections.
Without the Russian River Historical Society, many people would never know there are more 20 Civil War veterans interred at the historic cemetery, as well as a plot reserved by Albert Bierce for his brother Ambrose Bierce, a 19th century journalist and author who disappeared in Mexico. Relatives of the ill-fated Donner Party also reside there.
Cemetery tours and clean-up days, luncheons, parades, civic events, dedications, memorials and education are all activities the historical society is involved in. Schubert, author of three books about river history, has driven his Korean War Jeep in Guerneville parades while wearing his old Marine uniform.
How to help
Petaluma's Chris and Nina Gruener are planning a stage show to benefit Jazzlin Mejia, paralyzed in 2013 when a drunken driver crashed into the car in which she and her father were riding. Anyone interested in helping with the benefit can contact them at email@example.com or visit jazzlinmejia.com