Bygone Days in Early Northern California
Growing Up in Ol’ Berryessa

James Noble Hatch, edited Neal A. Roberts

This enjoyable, evocative memoir of the early ranching days in and around California’s Solano and Napa counties paints vivid images of its times and places. James Noble Hatch recounts his childhood in the early days in and around Vacaville, California. Hatch, born 1868 near St. Helena, California, lived on farms near Napa and in the Berryessa Valley before his family settled near Vacaville.

Jim movingly describes late nineteenth-century rural life, from attending local schoolhouses to plowing fields, planting fruit trees, going on a cattle round-up, and hunting in the nearby hills. His colorful descriptions, poetry, and timeless bits of wisdom help bring the story to life. Jim traces the circumstances and decisions that would result in his later success in engineering, from his humble, challenging beginnings working on the family farm to his hard-won battle with his father to attend university. Along the way, Jim brushes shoulders with several locals now notable in the history of Vacaville and its surroundings.

The author’s family has treasured the manuscript of this book for over a century. Publishing it has been a labor of love. Great effort has been made to preserve the author’s original wording, capturing his unique writing style, along with its historical influences. Extensive annotations have been supplied by the editor to explain various terms and provide historical context.

A must read for California historians and residents curious about the history of this corner of the Golden State


“I admire the devotion and skill that have gone into this evocative slice of the past. The editing, selection of images, and design are all first rate, the book a pleasure to read.”
—Malcolm Margolin, publisher, Heyday Books

280 pages, 6" x 9.25", full-color cover, 20 color photographs, 37 black & white photographs, 10 maps, 14 other illustrations––mostly color, timeline, bibliography, index, 2014. Published by St. Helena Press. ISBN 978-0-939431-42-7. trade paper

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