Rebecca Yerger is a local historian and historic preservation consultant. Her Napa Valley Register column, Memory Lane, offers an insight into Napa Valley's past through lesser known historical account and recollections. Memory lane runs every Sunday.

In mid-autumn 1929, the Napa Daily Register published some articles for the season as well as details about the nation’s recent financial disaster and resulting woes. The topics ranged from Halloween fun and hi-jinx, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day observances as well as the effects of the st…

The “Celluloid Cellar” of Napa Valley is filled with a rare, diverse and prized collection of its portfolio of starring cinematic roles. Since the 1940s, Napa Valley has been sought out by the entertainment industry to be the location for dozens of movies.

Stealing a page in local historical records are the infamous Napa County bandits, robbers and desperadoes. The most noted are the cunning thieves such as Buck English. However, even the bumbling bandits have bungled their way into Napa County history books. Johnny Wooden was one of those ill…

Bismarck Bruck was a descendant of prominent pioneer Napa Valley families—Bale and Vallejo. His family tree also included, by marriage, Charles Krug. Bruck, however, made a difference in his own right in the fields of viticulture, politics and civic improvements.

Most of the communities within Napa County were intentionally planned by their respective visionaries. The motivations of these individuals varied from financial gain to philanthropic homesteading. In 1855, Englishman Henry Still’s generosity initiated the establishment of the community now …

Napa State Hospital opened its doors in 1875. From that date forward, the institution was a frequent local newspaper topic. During the early 1900s, the Napa Daily Journal printed Napa State Hospital news regarding staffing issues, legal difficulties for both the doctors and staff, potential …

The contemporary perspective regarding life in Napa County and its communities of yesteryear is that of gentility and peacefulness. However, some Napa Weekly Journal articles dating from the early 1900s prove otherwise.

This Saturday, July 20, marks the 50th anniversary of humanity’s first lunar landing and walk. That U.S. Apollo 11 mission took three American astronauts — Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. and Michael Collins — more than 200,000 miles from home to fulfill that endeavor. As these thre…

The early-July 1919 Napa Daily Register editions carried numerous small but noteworthy announcements. Although each of these items were short, they provide important details about former Napa Valley residents and their lives.

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Hospitality has always been a thriving business in Napa County. Providing respectable accommodations for visiting family members, friends and travelers was a priority for Napans. In response to this need, a number of reputable hostelries were established throughout the county, including the …

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Given the title of “Napa County’s High Sheriff” by friends and colleagues, John Claussen was at the helm of that local law enforcement department for five consecutive terms. Wearing the Napa County Sheriff badge from Jan. 1947—Dec. 1966, Claussen held one of the longest tenures of that office.

Over the past several years, or so, downtown Napa has changed considerably, especially Main and First streets. About a century earlier between 1900 and 1908, the same could be said regarding Napa’s central business district. During that first decade of the 20th century, vast improvements had…

By week’s end, many Napa County residents will travel on the local roadways to reach their Memorial Day get-away or activities. These roadways and the general topic of transportation were frequent subjects of 1950s Napa Register newspaper articles. The focus of those numerous articles varied…

The activities and actions of the local municipal governments and their agencies offered ample stories for the 1950s editions of the Napa Register. These stories ranged in topic from new facilities, operations and ordinances to would-be scandals and even live entertainment.

The literary sons and daughters of Napa County are as diverse as the subject matter of their works. Some of these authors were born here while others adopted Napa County as their temporary or permanent home. Regardless of their residency status, these individuals have enriched the local cult…

Napa County residents have always had an affinity for outdoor activities and especially the sporting lifestyle. Locals from Napa’s past were both avid sports spectators and participants. A collection of Napa Register articles printed in the 1950s substantiate this point. Those reports also r…

A former and long-time Calistoga resident, Ira Clayton Adams, recorded the history of his adopted hometown with both his camera and pen. These images and recollections were eventually compiled into the book, “Memoirs & Anecdotes of Early Days in Calistoga.” Its various topics included th…

Within the pages of early 1900s Napa newspapers were some brief yet interesting stories about the human experience. Ranging in subject matter, from criminal to comical, these historical accounts provide glimpses into the life and times of long ago Napans as well as others.

On this day of practical jokes and amusing oneself at the expense of others, a true local historical account gives any would-be jokester, schemer or deceiver cause to pause for some wise reconsideration. This cautionary tale is a story of a karmic twist of fate found in an 1880s Napa Registe…

A local history book, “Wilson’s Inn, Atlas, California—A Napa County Watering Place,” written by local historian Cecelia Elkington Setty, provides accurate insights into the little-known history of the Atlas Peak resort, its owners and mountain-side community.

Napa County’s history holds its share of horrifying acts, including a murder-suicide along Sage Canyon Road on March 16, 1898. On that fateful day, the Julius Bhend violently claimed the young life of Victorina Sasselli, ending her promising future as a gifted writer and musician.

A collage of brief biographical sketches about the lives and times of some local women will kick off Memory Lane’s 2019 Women’s History Month columns. These stories were printed in the Napa newspapers during the first few decades of the 20th century and were warranted due the local young wom…

On Feb. 24, the Academy of Motion Pictures will be presenting its annual Academy Awards, the Oscars. However, long before the first Oscars were awarded in 1928, Napans were entertained by the newest Hollywood releases at various local theaters. Also, Napa County was already a movie star.

With the arrival of February, numerous holidays provide ample opportunities to celebrate, including the Chinese Lunar New Year and St. Valentine’s Day. In honor of these auspicious occasions, historical accounts of the matrimonial sort occurring within the former Napa County Chinese communit…

Rev. Richard Wylie was a Napa Presbyterian Church pastor for more than 50 years, 1866-1923, and a larger than life personality. In addition to spear-heading the construction of the existing local Presbyterian edifice and overcoming great personal challenges, he was an accomplished horticultu…

During the late teens of the 20th century, one national political campaign of particular interest to Napa County residents was the Prohibition movement. In early 1918, a few local newspaper articles foretold of a “drier” future. The January 1919 issues of the Napa Daily Journal and Napa Dail…

The utility services of Napa received their fair share of local media coverage in the 1950s newspapers. Some of these mid-20th century reports detailed positive advancements in the local infrastructure, but other local news accounts detailed sensational stories about near disasters.

Napa County students, their activities and local programs or facilities established for their benefit garnered considerable attention from the Napa Register. The 1950s editions of the local newspaper featured numerous local youth-related stories that were both expected and unexpected in subject.

In a few days, many Napa County dining tables will be burgeoning under the weight of the traditional and not so typical Thanksgiving feast. Accompanying a vast majority of those local holiday meals will be bottles of wine — Napa Valley wines, of course. Those delightful companions to the Tha…

Today marks the 64th annual observance of Veterans Day. In 1954, Veterans Day replaced the World War I-era Armistice Day, a holiday commemorating the signing of the agreement ending WWI. However, both national holidays are a day of remembrance of those who have served this country, especiall…

In May 1885, a 24-year-old Englishman named John Parkinson arrived in Napa County. While here, until January 1889, Parkinson honed his carpentry skills and launched his career in architecture. He would eventually become a leading architect in Los Angeles. Later, he would write his autobiogra…

The 2018 harvest is rooted in a long history of those who were willing to take a chance. Two such viticulture pioneers were George Belden Crane and Henry Alphonse Pellet. In the mid-1800s they helped transform local fields into world-class vineyards by planting European varietals, however th…

Trains played a vital role in the economic development and growth of Napa County communities. An integral part of that transportation system was its depots. However, only a few of the once numerous local train depots and stops still exist. One survivor is the St. Helena Southern Pacific depot.

Wildfires and fires in the city have always been a frightening reality for Napa County residents and all Californians. During these infernos, as private citizens evacuate, emergency response personnel rush in, especially the firefighters. So, in honor of all those individuals who willingly p…

The local agricultural fairs have been a summertime tradition for generations. Over those decades, these events have typically offered similar programs and features including carnivals rides, live entertainment and exhibits. However, in the late 1930s Napa’s agricultural fair also featured o…

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