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Sonoma County Gazette
A pictorial history of Petaluma: “On a River Winding Home”
A pictorial history of Petaluma: “On a River Winding Home” by John Sheehy of Penngrove and photographer Scott Hess of Petaluma.

"On a River Winding Home" 
Stories and Visions
of the Petaluma Watershed

Mar 29, 2019
by Lyndi Brown


Polenta & Stew Dinner – April 13

“I got the recipe from an old Italian guy years ago,” said Rolland MellorRoland Mellor and his talented volunteers will cook a special 

dinner of polenta and stew, with green salad, French bread and dessert.  The menu is what old time famers ate, long before our fancy farm-to-table cuisine was invented!

“I got the recipe from an old Italian guy years ago,” said Rolland Mellor. “One time, I served up 228 plates of it, and people have been begging me for more.”

The dinner is sponsored by Penngrove Social Firemen at Penngrove Community Clubhouse, 385 Woodward Avenue. Proceeds benefit Penngrove Park and Clubhouse improvements. 

Cocktails begin at 5:30 pm, with dinner at 7:00 pm. 

Tickets are presale only (not at the door): $20 or children 12 and under $10.  Call for tickets:  Kim Hanson, Javamore Café at  707 794-1516 or Julie Hanson 707 546-6362.   See more at

Rancher Lee Brians 

Rancher Lee Brians remembers when steam trains with 90 or 100 freight cars came through Penngrove.Who’s the tall guy with the cowboy hat? You’ve seen him at the post office, coffee shop or at Penngrove Social Firemen events.  It’s 5th generation Penngroovian Lee Brians. His great- great-grandfather Jos (John) Barnes settled here from the British Isles in the 1850s. In the late 1870s-90s natural stone on the ranch was cut for paving stones and curbs. The 320-acre ranch has been home to poultry, dairy, and Lee now has Angus beef and dry land farming of oats and silage.  

“I heard a lot of languages growing up here,” said Lee. “There were people from many heritages:  Japanese, Portuguese, German, British Isles, Italian and Jewish settlers from different European countries. Penngrove is a real melting pot.”

One of Lee’s three sisters is Ellen Fisher. She wrote a history of Penngrove as her college project. It’s still in print and available at JavAmore Café.

Lee remembers when steam trains with 90 or 100 freight cars came through. Feed and grain were going north, and lumber was going south. The steam era switched to diesel “and now we’ve got SMART”.

Lee rode his bike to Penngrove Elementary School. He took a school bus to Petaluma for junior high and high school. He went to Fresno State to study agriculture, graduating in 1966. He was one of the first Air Force reserve called to active duty “Lyndon Johnson called up 15,282 plus me. I milked in the morning and reported in the afternoon,” said Lee.  

Lee was a volunteer fireman for fifty years and remembers the sound of the fire siren calling volunteers to Penngrove Fire Station. He is a member of Penngrove Social Firemen, where he pitches in on cooking the deep pit BBQ for the July 4th Celebrations. 

Now you know the tall cowboy in town: Lee Brians. Say hello.

Good Eggs

Photographer Scott Hess of Petaluma with historian and author John Sheehy of Penngrove andCongratulations to this year’s Good Eggs:  historian and author John Sheehy of Penngrove and photographer Scott Hess of Petaluma. The “double yolks” were selected for the honor after publishing their book, a pictorial history of Petaluma: “On a River Winding Home; Stories and Visions of the Petaluma Watershed”. Their stories unite the community’s sense of itself, especially when Petaluma is going through the sort of rapid changes in development and demographics we have been witnessing.

Coffee & Cars

Every 3rd Saturday, hosted by  Penngrove Market from 9:00 am to Noon. Grab some java and enjoy the sights.


The Penngrove Historical Society will unearth the capsule in 2068.Time capsule burial took place February 15th at the Penngrove Market entry patio. Imagine the fun our descendants will have in 2068 when they unearth the capsule, thanks to Penngrove Historical Society.




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