an old Glen Ellen bridge the present Glen Ellen bridge The Glen Ellen Historical Society: Bridging the Past & the Future

Upcoming Events

The Jim Berkland Story

2pm - 4pm Saturday, January 16th
Mayflower Hall in the Glen Ellen Community Church
5311 O’Donnell Lane, Glen Ellen
Admission is free, but donations are welcome!

We are presenting a special program featuring local luminary Jim Berkland. Jim is of course famous for accurate earthquake forecasts that have shaken conventional wisdom, ever since he predicted the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

However, Jim is known locally for far more than his skill in seismic prognostication. He has been an active member of the community for decades, and is an observant naturalist who knows every square inch of the Valley of the Moon like the back of his hand. Raconteur and sage, he generously shares his poetry along with his extensive scientific knowledge with anyone who asks.

Poster:   The Jim Berkland Story
Watch for DVD to be released soon here



Past Events

Our Great Fires & the History of Our Great Fire Department

This very timely talk given about the great fires that burned in the Valley of the Moon over the past century took place recently at the Glen Ellen Fire Department, just as one of the most devastating wildfires of all was breaking out nearby.

You could hear urgent reports from the fireline over the squawkbox in the background while retired Chief Peter Van Fleet, sitting in for Chief Matt Atkinson, told the story of how our fire department evolved over the past century, from the early volunteer bucket brigades to the highly trained professionals that protect us today.

We heard stories about the warriors and rescuers of the community that have rushed to manage and minimize the damage— despite the danger— for which they deserve to be known as the muscle and heart of the community. A long look was taken at how our community itself was shaped by people that still come together to fight the fires— and tend to the accidents and other medical emergencies— that threaten us.

Poster:   Our Great Fires...
DVD available here

SDC: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

A special program, "SDC: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow", presented the story that began in 1892 with the establishment of an institution then known as the California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble Minded Children. It is now known as the Sonoma Developmental Center— by far the greatest employer in Glen Ellen. In addition to its history we discussed SDC's future, remembering its legacy to help guide its inevitable development.

Speakers included: Susan Gorin (First District Supervisor of Sonoma County), Kathleen Miller (president of the Parent Hospital Association at SDC), John McCaull (attorney and Land Acquisition Project Manager for Sonoma Land Trust), Charles Mukulik (anthropologist and president of GEHS), Arthur Dawson (ecological historian), and Jim Shere (executive director of GEHS).

Poster:   SDC: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

The Wildflowers of Glen Ellen

Famous in her day for precise illustrations of local wildflowers, Edith Bruning’s paintings appeared in the finest galleries of San Francisco during the first decades of the 20th Century, and were on prominent display at the 1939 World’s Fair at Treasure Island. A retrospective show of her life and her work was presented by family members on October 18th, 2014.

Poster:   The Wildflowers of Glen Ellen

Not Losing the Real Glen Ellen

Charles Mikulik, a member of our board, presented his research as a graduate student in the Cultural Resource Management Program at Sonoma State University. Charles spoke about the development of the Glen Ellen Cultural Heritage District by the Permit and Resource Management Department of Sonoma County. This important presentation helped us to understand what goes into deciding who we've been and who we will become.

Poster:   Not losing the Real Glen Ellen

Those Were the Daze, My Friend
from Londonside Lodge to the Rustic Inn

We recently went back a half century to recapture the stories and sounds of the turnaround time of the Sixties and Seventies. It was the adolescence of our country, an insubordinate time when authority was questioned and entrenched attitudes were confronted. We heard the music of that era once again, and stories of the Valley of the Moon told by the pioneering hipsters who were there.

Western Swing Hall of Famer Tommy Thomsen moderates a boisterous crowd, including Judy Williams, Timothy Dixon, Steve Kahn, Hugh Shacklett, “Diamond” Jim Corbett, Michael “Beargrease” Hansen, Steve Barbose, Jeff Falconer, Nina Gerber, David Aguilar, Misty Browning, and many others in a rambling and far-ranging conversation— followed by live music from those who were there and were able to return.

Poster:   Those Were the Daze, My Friend
Double DVD set available here

June 15th, 2013: "Making Wine in the Valley of the Moon"

Four men who helped establish our region as the quintessential wine country tell how it happened. Speakers included Val (Vallejo) Haraszthy, Michael Topolos, George Mac Leod, and Squire (Ronald McD) Fridell.

Poster:   Making Wine in the Valley of the Moon
DVD available here

March 9th, 2013: "Mapping the Lay of the Land"

Bob Curtis, dean of Sonoma County surveyors, was joined by Arthur Dawson, president of the Glen Ellen Historical Society. They gave a spirited discussion on the original surveyors and early maps of Sonoma Valley.

Poster:   Mapping the Lay of the Land
DVD available here

October 20th, 2012: "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch..."

In collaboration with The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, we presented an informal conversation exploring Jack London’s vision of sustainable farming at his Beauty Ranch in the Valley of the Moon.

Joining us were:
  • Tjiska Van Wyk, executive director, Jack London State Historic Park
  • Susan Nuernberg PhD, Jack London scholar
  • Neil Shepard, resident Beauty Ranch farmer & Jack London’s great-grandnephew
  • Greg Hayes, president, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association
  • Arthur Dawson, historical ecologist of Sonoma Mountain

Poster:   Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
Double DVD set available here

June 30th, 2012: "Our Great Big Picture Show"

Many people came to see and share historic photographs of Old Glen Ellen and to tell stories of interesting events that they remembered from long ago. Two speakers came from out of town.

Loren McClurg drove up from Pasadena to talk to us about his great grandfather, Albert Ebenezer Gaige of the Gauge House in Glen Ellen. He brought photos as well as artifacts such as the constable's badge that his great grandfather wore, and a champagne bottle that had melted in the extreme heat of the San Francisco fire and earthquake.

Cathy Ellis, along with several other family members, arrived from San Francisco to share with us how her great-great grandfather Timothy Sullivan was swept from the Glen Ellen Bridge as it collapsed while he and another resident were placing lanterns to warn others of the raging torrent threatening the bridge.

Poster:   Our Great Big Picture Show
DVD available here

March 25th, 2012: "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch"

GEHS director Jim Shere spoke at the annual luncheon of the Sonoma County Historical Society on his work with the Serres/Roberts Collection. This event was held at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa.

Transcript:   Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

March 3rd, 2012: "When the Trains Ran Through Our Valley"

We held a panel discussion on the arrival of the railroads in the 1880's, and how they shaped the Valley of the Moon. Speakers included Sonoma Valley historian Robert Parmelee and Dr. Charles Siebenthal, president of the NPRR Historial Society.

Poster:   When the Trains Ran Through Our Valley

November 19th, 2011: "A Town Hall Open Mike Show & Tell"

Long time residents of Glen Ellen brought their family photographs and stories to an old fashioned community "show & tell".

Poster:   A Town Hall Open Mike Show & Tell: November 19th

August 20th, 2011: "Who Knows Jack?"

A panel discussion featured Jonah Raskin, author of the Radical Jack London, Clarice Stasz, author of Jack London's Women, and Lou Leal, author of Finding the Real Jack London.

Poster:   Who Knows Jack?
DVD available here

April 30th, 2011: "A Town Hall Open Mike Show & Tell"

Long time residents of Glen Ellen brought their family photographs and stories to an old fashioned community "show & tell".

Poster:   A Town Hall Open Mike Show & Tell: April 30th

January 29th, 2011: "The Bear Flag, The Gold Rush, & Statehood"

A panel discussion featured George McKale, Sonoma City historian, Peter Meyerhof, Sonoma Valley historian, and George Webber, local historian and actor.

Poster:   The Bear Flag, The Gold Rush, & Statehood
DVD available here

October 23rd, 2010: "The Californios of Sonoma Valley"

Speakers included Dan Markwyn, history professor emeritus from Sonoma State University, Juan Pedro Gaffney Rivera, director of Coro Hispaño de San Francisco, and Jim Danaher, manager of the Sonoma State Historic Park.

Poster:   The Californios of Sonoma Valley
DVD available here

June 20th, 2010: "An Afternoon with Greg Sarris"

Representing the Pomo and Miwok people, Greg delivered a passionate and articulate presentation of the world of Native Americans in Sonoma County.

Poster:   An Afternoon with Greg Sarris
DVD available here