Petaluma and Sebastopol
The rolling hills around Sebastopol and Petaluma proved to be fertile farmlands for Japanese immigrants beginning in the 1880s. Although a handful of Nikkei owned commercial businesses, most worked the land. Some owned apple orchards or apple dehydrating plants; others grew grapes, berries and hops or raised the chickens on which the area prided itself. Over 750 people of Japanese ancestry resided in Sonoma County at the start of WWII, primarily in and around Sebastopol and Petaluma.
We were fortunate to have assistance with our survey from Katherine Petrin, of the San Francisco firm Architectural Resources Group. Local Nisei served as knowledgeable and generous guides. The Sugiyama siblings and Alyce Yamasaki Sugiyama drove us around while sharing youthful memories of growing apples, raising chickens and community life.
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