Great Value for Sonoma Landlords
The area around what is now the City of Sonoma, California was not empty when the first Europeans arrived. It is near the northeast corner of the territory claimed by the Coast Miwok, with Southern Pomo to the northwest, Wappo to the northeast, Suisunes and Patwin peoples to the east.
Mission San Francisco Solano was the predecessor of the Pueblo of Sonoma. The Mission, established in 1823 by Father José Altimira of the Franciscan Order was the 21st, last and northernmost mission built in Alta California. It was the only mission built in Alta California after Mexico gained independence from the Spanish Empire. In 1833 the Mexican Congress decided to close all of the missions in Alta California. The Spanish missionaries were to be replaced by parish priests. The commander of the Company of the National Presidio at San Francisco (Compania de Presidio Nacional de San Francisco), Lieutenant Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was appointed administrator (comisionado) to oversee the closing of Mission San Francisco Solano. Governor José Figueroa's naming of Lieutenant Vallejo as the administrator to secularize the Mission was part of a larger plan.
Governor Figueroa had received instructions from the National Government to establish a strong presence in the region north of the San Francisco Bay to protect the area from encroachments of foreigners. An immediate concern was the further eastward movement of the Russian America Company from their settlements at Fort Ross and Bodega Bay on the California coast.
Figueroa's next step in implementing his instructions was to name Lieutenant Vallejo as Military Commander of the Northern Frontier, and to order the soldiers, arms and materiel at the Presidio of San Francisco moved to the site of the recently secularized Mission San Francisco Solano. The Sonoma Barracks were built to house the soldiers. Until the building was habitable, the troops were housed in the buildings of the old Mission. In 1834, George C. Yount, the first Euro-American permanent settler in the Napa Valley, was employed as a carpenter by General Vallejo.
The Governor granted Lieutenant Vallejo the initial lands (approximately 44,000 acres (178 km2)) of Rancho Petaluma immediately west of Sonoma. Vallejo was also named Director of Colonization which meant that he could initiate land grants for other colonists (subject to the approval of the governor) and the diputación (Alta California's legislature).