For a walk through Napa's history, there's no better place to visit than Tulocay Cemetery, an open-air museum of the county's past.
Tulocay was founded as the community's burial ground in 1859, just 12 years after Nathan Coombs laid out a grid for the first streets, launching Napa as a pioneer riverfront town.
A century and a half later, Tulocay is still there, a leafy resting spot for tens of thousands of people, including Coombs.
Here are buried the bankers, merchants and developers whose names still adorn downtown buildings, landmark houses and street signs. Here are also the graves of many unsung residents, whose legacy is the message on their tombstones.
Much of Napa's early history is gone from today's landscape. But stroll the rolling lawn at Tulocay and watch the past come alive.
Nancy Brennan, Tulocay's historian, has put together three walking tours that allow visitors to make their way to monuments and mausoleums with a story to tell.
For a copy, visit
-- Kevin Courtney, Napa City Editor
Tulocay Cemetery: Mary Ellen Pleasant, 1814-1904
One of the more remarkable people buried at Tulocay is Mary Ellen Pleasant, who earned the title "Mother of Civil Rights in California." She was born a slave and was involved in the Underground Railroad in her early adulthood. She came to Gold Rush-era San Francisco in 1852 and ran boarding houses and laundries. She twice sued the S.F. street car company for the right of blacks to ride on public transportation.
When she died in poverty, her friend, Olive Sherwood, arranged to have her buried in the Sherwood/Higbie plot at Tulocay. In 1965, a group now called the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society put a new marker on Pleasant's grave. The sculptor, R. Alan Williams, said the metal work depicts "a forceful stand, holding a body of purpose."
Tulocay Cemetery: John Patchett, 1797-1876
John Patchett may have been the first commercial winemaker in the Napa Valley. A native of England, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1817. After coming west in 1850, he made some money in the goldfields, then bought land in Napa and planted grapes. In 1858, a young Prussian immigrant, Charles Krug, made wine for him using a cider press to extract the juice. The specific location of his winery in central Napa is lost to history. Patchett did not produce any wine after 1865.
Tulocay Cemetery: Lt. John Tuthill, 1834-1868
Tuthill's marker, adorned with the words "Here sleeps the brave 1868," is dedicated to a Union army officer who served "during the Rebellion in the Ram-fleet on the Mississippi River." The Ram fleet consisted of heavily armed steamboats that were used to ram Confederate ships in an attempt to keep the Mississippi clear for shipping. When he developed tuberculosis after the war, Tuthill came to California seeking a healthier climate. The marker was placed by his sister Ellen.
Tulocay Cemetery: Sloopers marker, 2004
This carved stone commemorates the first group of Norwegian immigrants who came to the U.S. in 1825 aboard the sloop Restauration, considered the Norwegian Mayflower. Jacob and Serena Anderson are buried here. In 2004, a descendant had this sculpture, carved of Norwegian stone, erected in their honor because they were the "Sloopers" who came furthest west.
Tulocay Cemetery: Lilburn Boggs, 1796-1860
Lilburn Boggs, who was governor of Missouri from 1836 to 1840, came by wagon train to California in 1846. He served as alcalde of Sonoma and was a delegate to the California state constitutional convention in 1850. His second wife, Panthea, was the granddaughter of Daniel Boone.
Tulocay Cemetery: Andrew Sampson, 1830-1886
A native of Sweden, Andrew Sampson owned a line of tow boats and operated a schooner which ran between San Francisco and Napa at a time when the river was an essential artery of transportation. His home is still standing at 1157 Division St.
Tulocay Cemetery: James Clyman, 1792-1881
James Clyman was born in Virginia and became a "mountain man" and scout during the early wave of settlers going west. It is said that the doomed Donner Party ignored his advice for the best trail to the coast. Clyman lived to old age in the family home that still stands on Redwood Road.
Tulocay Cemetery, James B. Newman, 1851-1929
James B. Newman was a stonemason and is responsible for much of the stone construction in the cemetery as well as the Napa Valley. He and Herbert Wing had a business at the current location of Napa Marble and Granite Works at the juncture of Silverado Trail, Coombsville Road and East Avenue.
Don Cayetano Juarez and Marie Juarez markers at Tulocay Cemetery.
Tulocay Cemetery: Juarez grave sites
Don Cayetano Juarez, 1809-1883, and his wife Maria Higuera Juarez, 1815-1890, are buried with matching markers in this plot. In 1841, during California's Mexican era, Don Cayetano received an 8,865-acre Tulocay Rancho along the east side of the Napa River from General Mariano Vallejo. In 1858, he sold 49 acres for $5 so that Tulocay Cemetery could be created. His home, the Old Adobe, is still standing at the juncture of Silverado Trail and Soscol Avenue.
Tulocay Cemetery: Salvador Vallejo, 1813-1876
Salvador Vallejo was the brother of General Mariano Vallejo who was commander of Northern California during the Mexican Era (1821-1846). Salvador was the head of the militia based in Sonoma. He received two land grants in the Napa Valley and had three homes here. Along with his brother and two others, he was captured by members of the Bear Flag Rebellion in Sonoma in June, 1846, and spent two months in prison at Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. Troubled by battle wounds, he lived the last days of his life at Lachryma Montis, Mariano Vallejo's home in Sonoma. His name and that of his wife, Maria Luz, are carved on the west side of the monument.
Tulocay Cemetery: Mausoleums of Napa's founding families
Tulocay is dotted with impressive stone mausoleums, many with stained glass windows, erected by Napa's pioneer families, including Migliavacca, Goodman and Duffy. This mausoleum was built by early banker and philanthropist George E. Goodman who donated the land and the funds to build the stone Goodman Library structure on First Street. The Goodman Library, which is undergoing seismic repairs, is the home of the Napa County Historical Society.
Tulocay Cemetery: Capt. John Greenwood, 1830-1912
Capt. John Greenwood was a sea captain who had a ranch and home on what is now the site of The Doctors Company at the juncture of Highway 29/12 near the airport. In 1891, he and his wife were attacked there by robbers and his wife, Lucina, was killed. Later, Billy Rowe was convicted of her murder and hanged in Courthouse Square. This is believed to be the last public hanging in California. The Greenwood home was later moved to the west side of Highway 29, where it graces an industrial park.
Tulocay Cemetery: Harry Ayres, 1879-1905
Harry Ayres was a lineman for the Vallejo, Benicia and Napa Valley Electric Railroad, which opened in 1905. The railroad stimulated housing development on the west side of town because of the new easy commute to Vallejo. After Ayres was electrocuted while making repairs to the line, this monument was erected by his fellow workmen.
Tulocay Cemetery: Nathan Coombs, 1826-1877
Nathan Coombs founded the city of Napa in 1847. He created a map for the first streets along the Napa River in what is now downtown. He had bought land from Salvador Vallejo and received land from another settler for doing carpentry work. He was the first of four generations of his family to serve in the Legislature. His mausoleum was noted for its beauty when it was built. The statue that soars over it all, called Resurrection, was imported from Italy at a cost of $1,000.
Tulocay Cemetery: Herbert W. Wing, 1851-1928
Herbert Wing was a stonemason known for his beautiful work, including cemetery vaults constructed from stone from the Wing Quarry on Monticello Road. The Wing marker, in the shape of a large vase, is made of red granite.
Tulocay Cemetery: Brown mausoleum, 1885
The metal door of the Brown mausoleum has what is believed to be a bullet hole from the 1948 "Shootout at the Cemetery. One of two characters wanted by police escaped and led officer on a chase while commandeering cars from passersby. He drove into the cemetery but escaped on foot while under fire.
Tulocay Cemetery: Luther Turton, 1862-1925
This is the grave of Luther Turton, Napa's most prolific early architect who designed such diverse structures as the Goodman Library on First Street, the Winship building at First and Main, the Semorile building adjacent to Winship, and the Noyes Mansion at First and Jefferson streets. His own home, built in 1915 in the Prairie Style, is at 1767 Laurel St. across from Fuller Park.