Complete Ranch History Pre-1939

The Hendry Vineyard Lands


Land Use Before Partition

Before the coming of the Europeans, the Wappo Indians occupied what is today the Napa Valley.  They were a hunter/gatherer people and were part of the acorn culture.  In addition to the fish, water fowl, roots and acorns of the Napa Valley, the Wappo controlled the obsidian mines near Mt. St. Helena.  This gave them a great trading advantage among the Indians of the central and coastal valleys.  The Spanish and later the Mexicans grazed thousands of cattle and horses on the lush grass lands of the valley.


The First Occupation

In the early 19th century, the Napa Valley was part of the lands of Mission Sonoma and supported many thousand head of mission livestock.  Private ownership of land came only after the secularization of the Sonoma Mission in 1835. 

The first permanent settler in the Napa Valley, other than the American Indians, was George C. Yount.  Yount was granted two square leagues (approximately 8,000 acres) of land in 1836 by the Mexican governor, Nicolas Gutierrez.  This grant was known as Rancho Caymus.  Shortly thereafter, Nicholas Higuera received a grant at the southern end of the valley.  This second grant, Entre Napa, included the land that is today the Carneros district.  At the same time, Antonio Ortega, the administrator for the Sonoma mission was granted permission to use the land between the Yount and Higura grants for the grazing of mission stock.

Rancho de Napa


On December 21, 1838, the Mexican Governor of California, Juan Bautista Alvarado, granted Don Salvador Vallejo four square leagues (17,754 acres) of land.  The northern boundary of Rancho de Napa was the George C. Yount's Rancho Caymus and the southern boundary Higuera's Rancho Entre Napa.  The rancho was bounded on the east by the Napa River and on the west by the crest of the low mountains that separate the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  In the south eastern corner of this rancho on the banks of the Napa River was a small Mexican Village called Salvador's town. 

Before the Americans took possession of California, the wealth of the missions and later of private land owners was reckoned in terms of horses and cattle, not land or cash.  Literally millions of cattle roamed California's valleys supporting a very lucrative trade in hides and tallow.  When Mexico lost possession of California, the new government needed cash.  To supply this cash, taxes on land were imposed.  The holders of large tracts of land found it necessary to subdivide their holding and sell smaller parcels for cash in order to pay these new taxes.  Like the other holders of large land grants, Salvador Vallejo was forced to subdivide and sell parts of Rancho de Napa.


Sylvester and Ann Mount


The first pieces of Rancho de Napa that were to become part of the Hendry Ranch were two fifty acre parcels, one on each side of what was then known as Little Napa Creek.  Today this creek is known as Redwood Creek and flows through the Hendry lands from north to south.  Sylvester T. Mount paid $250 in lawful money of the United States to Salvador Vallejo and his wife Maria Carrillo for each of the two 50 acre tracts.  The first sale was recorded as taking place on April 15, 1851.  This was for 50 acres lying directly west of Little Napa Creek.  This wooded, mountainous piece of land can be seen looking west across the creek from the front doors of the Hendry Winery.  Blocks 1 and 2 of the Hendry vineyards and the Hendry barn are located on this parcel.  The sale of the second parcel, fifty acres east of the creek, was recorded as July 20, 1851.  Today, this parcel is where the Hendry house and winery and vineyard blocks 3-7 and 10 are situated.

Sylvester Mount (Hilton Sylvester Mount) was a carpenter.  It is possible that the virgin stands of redwood were what attracted the Mounts to this particular piece of the Vallejo lands.  Today, the redwood tree stumps left from early logging can still be seen on the parcel west of the creek.  Mount held the land for ten years.


Dwight and Mary Jane Crandall


The deed transferring ownership of Mount's 100 acres to Dwight Crandall bears the date July 30, 1861.  Crandall paid Mount $3,100 for the two fifty acre parcels.  It is not clear what Crandall did with the land or intended to do with the land.  Of six parties who have owned the two 50 acre parcels, Crandall's tenure of four years was the shortest.  He sold the land on July 15, 1865.  On July 30, 1865, homeward bound by sea for Portland, he was a passenger on the ship Brother Jonathan when she went down off Crescent City, CA.  His body was not found.  The probate documents for his estate indicate he was a crockery merchant with ties in Portland and The Dalles.

When Dwight Crandall advertised the 100 acres for sale on September 12 1863, he stated that there were 8000 "Los Angeles and foreign grape vines" on the property "of which 3000 were bearing."


John A. and Mary Lockwood


On July 13, 1865, Dwight Crandall and his wife Mary sold the two fifty acre parcels to Mary Lockwood.  The selling price was $2750.  

Mary Lockwood's husband, Dr. John A. Lockwood, was probably the first land holder of this tract to plant extensive vineyards.  Although the California missions had always grown grapes for making wine, serious attention to commercial viticulture and the introduction of European varieties, other than "Mission Grapes", did not begin until the 1850s and early 1860s.  In March of 1873, the Napa County Register reported that in Lockwood's vineyard there were 50,000 vines only one third of which are Mission and all bearing.  He has a cellar of the capacity of 15,000 gallons, and has on hand 10,000 gallons of the vintage of 1871.  This property consists of 100 acres, and is located on both sides of Little Napa Creek.   

Dr. John A. Lockwood was a founding member and officer of the Grape Growers Association of Napa, Sonoma, Solano counties which was organized in the early 1870s to represent the interests of grape growers.


John and Genevieve Buhman


On the ninth day of April, 1873, John A. Lockwood and his wife Mary Lockwood sold the two fifty acre parcels to John Jacob Buhman.  John Buhman paid the Lockwoods ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the property.  John Buhman came to Napa from San Francisco where he had operated a dairy.  The Buhman family held title to the land for sixty-six years and engaged in dairying, fruit farming and general farming.  On February 1, 1879, John Buhman added forty-one acres to the original 100.  This parcel adjoined the eastern property line.  These 41 acres were purchased from Frederick August Roeder and are the location of Hendry vineyard blocks 8 and 9.  In 1881, there were 90 acres in vineyard.

A photograph of the 140 + acre Buhman property taken in 1888 shows no sign of the extensive vineyards reported in March 1873 and in 1881.  Just why the Buhmans removed the vineyards is not known.  Perhaps the removal was a result of the spread of phylloxera, the deadly vine root disease that devastated many California vineyards in the late 19th century.  The Buhmans were maintaining less than six acres of vines when the when the property was sold in August of 1939.


George Whiting Hendry and Margaret Munn Hendry


The 140 acres owned by the Buhmans on Redwood Road was sold as part of the settlement of the estate of Edward Buhman, youngest son of John and Genevieve Buhman.  In 1939, six Buhman descendants each held an undivided one-sixth interest in the land.  The Court authorized sale was advertised July 18, 1939.  Bids were considered on August 3, 1939.  The bid of George W. Hendry and Margaret Munn Hendry of $11,000 was the "highest and best sum bid."  The sale was confirmed by the Superior Court of Napa County on August 14, 1939 and the title recorded August 30, 1939.


This summary history of the original Hendry vineyard lands was compiled in the spring and summer of 2005.  Sources: Napa County Recorder's office and the newspaper files held by the Napa County Public Library. -- Mike Hendry 

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