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.

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…

Although it is only February, the signs of spring’s approaching arrival are beginning to appear, such as the mustard in bloom. Soon locals will be in the garden planting their seedlings generally purchased at the local nurseries. Over a century ago, two enterprises filled the need and desire…

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…

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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…

Some individuals believe the criminal justice system is a confusing and unpredictable roller coaster ride. While most cases are typically routine, two long-ago local cases validate these opinions.

Traditionally June is the month for weddings. In honor of this long-standing custom, this column will feature a collections of marriage related articles. These stories, ranging from the usual to the unexpected, were pulled from the local newspaper pages of the 1800s and 1900s.

For 36 years, 1903-1939, the Vallejo, Benicia and Napa Valley Railroad Company, AKA the Napa Valley Interurban, provided an affordable, reliable and convenient transit system for regional communities. While many of its days were routine, the Interurban was plagued by frequent problems, espec…

The local newspapers of yesteryear filled countless column inches with the details of the harsher side of Napa Valley life. This point is substantiated by the following excerpts gleaned from circa 1890—1916 Napa newspapers.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018, and thank you to all of our educators! This year, like all the years before it, the calendar overflows with school related activities. The school year ending in June 1890 was no exception to this tradition. However, it featured a special end-of-the-year …

During America’s involvement in World War I about 100 years ago, the Napa Valley newspapers were filled with accounts of the wartime activities of area residents. For example, both the Napa Daily Journal and Napa Register informed their readers of fund-raising for a local military unit, a fe…

The biographies published in the 1881 “History of Napa and Lake Counties, California” by Lyman L. Palmer featured about a dozen local physicians. While their individual paths to their mutual profession and journeys to Napa County varied widely, more than half of these doctors highlighted in …

The local history books of the late-1800s and early-1900s, including the 1881 “History of Napa & Lake Counties, California” by Lyman L. Palmer, featured biographies of local residents. While many of their respective stories are typical for their time, some of the biographies hold insight…

For 160 years St. John the Baptist Catholic Church has served as a religious center for many generations of Napans. Since the 1850s, it has been tended to by numerous resident priests. The first of these, Father Peter Deyaert, was highly regarded, if not cherished by all Napa County resident…

Many of the stories of Napa County’s pioneer women settlers or early residents were but a mere footnote to their husbands’ or sons’ biographies in history books. Even these brief notations, as well as the rare personal biography of a woman, provide insights into the hardships endured and ove…

Over the past several weeks, two local history books have been the primary sources of information for the Memory Lane columns. One of these is the 1901 “History of Napa County” by Tillie Kanaga and W. F. Wallace. The second reference book is the 1926 “History of Solano County and Napa County…

Today is the 209th birthday of this country’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. His life story is fairly well known, especially his assassination on April 14, 1865. In contrast, however, most present-day locals are generally unaware of the strong reaction and emotional response of mid-1800s N…

Although Napa County residents were thousands of miles from the battlefields of the Civil War, they deeply cared about those involved in and the course of the conflict. Locals also eagerly demonstrated their allegiance and patriotism by participating in Napa County military companies, relief…

At one time, livestock was an essential part of local life and Napa County’s agriculture based economy. In fact, during the mid-1800s livestock was more numerous than the people living in Napa County and its communities.

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