Don't Miss the Fall Symposium in Sonoma County!

 The Fall Symposium will include sites that the Conference of California Historical Societies has never visited!  Program highlights include a tour of the Japanese Buddhist Temple to gain a better understanding of the life of Japanese farmers before and after World War II, Western Sonoma County history honoring the Pomo Indians, and our first ever trip to Fort Ross.  While at Fort Ross, we will see the Call House, the Fur Warehouse and the Rotchev house.  There will also be plenty of time to enjoy the Fort and all it has to offer at your leisure.  There is more to see and do than is possible in two days, so plan to come early or stay late! 


Friday, October 24th

The official beginning of the temple is said to have been in the spring of 1928 when a minister from the then Buddhist Mission of North America (the forerunner of the current Buddhist Churches of America) was sent to the Sonoma County Branch of the San Francisco Buddhist Church to begin missionary work.

During World War II, the Enmanji temple was locked up while all of the Japanese Americans in the community were forcibly sent to internment camps. When the war came to an end and news spread that the Japanese families were returning, unidentified individuals protested by vandalizing the temple and attempting to burn it down. An ax scar is still visible on the temple building. When the youth at Community Church of Sebastopol (United Church of Christ) heard about the incident, they organized to guard the temple for three months.


Friday, October 24th

Luther Burbank was an American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science.  He bought a 15-acre farm on Gold Ridge in 1885 in Sebastopol,where he developed over 800 new strains and varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains over his 55-year career. Burbank’s varied creations included many of California's plums and prunes, the ancestor of the Idaho Potato, the Shasta daisy, and novelties such as Plumcots, the Thornless Blackberry, and the Spineless Cactus. 


Friday, October 24th

Western Sonoma County’s first known inhabitants were the native Miwok and Pomo Indians. For many years, the Miwok and Pomo Indians lived peacefully in the coastal mountains and valleys of what we now call Sonoma County. The Native Americans’ lifestyle revolved around the seasons, hunting and gathering from the land, and harvesting the sea and rivers.  The town of Sebastopol was formed in the 1850s with a United States Post Office and as a small trade center for the farmers in the surrounding agricultural region. As California's population swelled after the westward migration and the Gold Rush of the 1850s, more and more settlers drifted into the fertile California valleys north of San Francisco to try their hand at farming.


Saturday, October 25th

Since prehistoric times when the Kashaya Pomo Indians inhabited the grassy marine terrace and surrounding hinterlands of “Fort Ross,” people of many diverse cultural groups have been the caretakers of this remote and beautiful area.  Fort Ross was a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812 to 1841. It was the southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American continent, and was established as an agricultural base to supply Alaska. It was also the site of California's first windmills and shipbuilding, and Russian scientists were among the first to record California’s cultural and natural history. Settlers at Fort Ross included Russians, Native Alaskans and Californians, and Creoles.

For many years following the Russian presence, Fort Ross was preserved and maintained as a single large holding by its successive owners. The site was operated as a rancho through the Sutter and Benitz periods (1841-67), as a logging operation during the Dixon/Fairfax years (1867-73), and as a ranch, port and social center during the century that the Call family lived at the fort (1873-1979).

Fort Ross and its Russian heritage are very important to visitors from Russia, Russian Americans, and members of the Russian Orthodox Church. All have made many contributions as Fort Ross has changed from a ranching community in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the popular state historic park of today.


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Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.