From all accounts, Benjamin Norton Bugbey was the last ‘49er living in Sacramento when he died in 1914. While this bit of trivia about B. N. Bugbey is interesting, it doesn’t compare to the life he led in Sacramento County and his impact on politics and agriculture early in California’s statehood.
I became familiar with B. N. Bugbey while researching a book about the original land owners along the north and south forks of the American River that is now covered by Folsom Lake. Bugbey’s El Dorado County vineyard and homes are noted on a 1866 Government Land Office survey map. The remnants of Bugbey’s second home are still visible from the trail between Mormon Island and Brown’s Ravine. Searching For The Bugbey Houses is blog post I did about the research.
But the more I learned about B. N. Bugbey, the more I realized he should have his own book written about him. Below is a time line of Bugbey’s life – subject to change – as I uncover new information. Also included below are some of the images that I have acquired from my research. Some will make it in the book, most will not. Regardless, they are valuable pieces of information about Bugbey’s life in Sacramento County.
I most recently was able to view B. N. Bugbey’s testimony from the 1881 People v Gold Run Ditch debris trial in Sacramento County. It sheds additional light on his early years in the Folsom area. Thank you to the California State Archives for finding the 9 rolls of microfilm that capture over 10,000 pages of hand written transcripts of attorney and witness statements.
A truly lasting legacy of Bugbey are the two pieces of music he commissioned to promote his sparkling wines or champagne. I was able to get the sheet music for both the Bugbey Champagne Waltz and Bugbey Champagne Galop. Both pieces were composed by a local Sacramento musician Hugo Yanke. I had a pianist perform and record these music from the 1870s. At the bottom of the page are links to the recorded music. Enjoy traveling back in time to what Sacramentans were listening to in 1871.
Benjamin Norton Bugbey, Sacramento’s Champagne King, now available in paperback and Kindle edition. Shipped from Amazon. You can read my blog post about the book here B. N. Bugbey Book.
Podcast of Book Summary
Listen to free chapter audio chapter podcasts
Shipped From Granite Bay, Subject To Inventory
Benjamin Norton (B.N.) Bugbey
1827 Birth: September 3, 1827, Stafford Connecticut
1849 Arrives In California June 11th with James McClatchy
1849 American River Mining
1850 Mercantile Business, American River
1852 Returns from Connecticut with wife Mary Jane Wells
1852 Monte Christo Hotel Manager
1853 Furniture Business, 5th & K, Sacramento
1854 Salisbury Station engaged in farming
1856 Builds First Frame House in Folsom
1856 – 1861 Elected Constable of Folsom
1861 Acquires land along South Fork American River, Salmon Falls Township
1861 – 1863 Sheriff of Sacramento County, Tax Collector
1861 Sheriff Bugbey hangs Louis Kahl for murder
1863 Purchased land from Samuel Hardesty along Brown’s Ravine that would become Natoma Vineyards. Purchase land from McEwen and Buckner new Shingle Springs that would become Duroc Ranch vineyard.
1863 First table grapes havested at Bugbey’s Natoma Vineyard, Chinese labor is employed
1863 First raisins produced at Natoma Vineyard
1863 Bugbey wins State Fair premiums for wine and grapes
1863 Sheriff Bugbey hangs George Symonds for murder
1863 James McClatchy wins Sheriff nomination over Bugbey
1864 Bugbey’s Duroc Vineyard, Shingle Springs, also producing raisins
1864 Begins selling grape vine cuttings to other growers
1864 Bugbey accused of being disloyal to the Union
1866 State Fair premiums for Natoma Vineyard red and white wines
1867 Appointed U.S. Assessor, but Bugbey nomination quickly withdrawn by President Johnson
1867 One of the judges for a Mechanics’ Institute essay contest
1867 Natoma Vineyard struck by fire, Bugbey offers reward for arrest of arsonist
1867 Bugbey caught up in voter registration fraud scandal
1867 Bugbey exhibits his chapagne in France at Paris Exhibition
1868 Nominated Agricultural Statistical Reporter by U.S. Ag Commission John Bidwell
1868 Officially switches party affiliation to Republican
1868 Wins State Fair premiums for wine, brandy, and raisins
1868 Chief Marshal of Folsom men to elect Ulysses S. Grant President
1869 Winery expansion includes large imported oak barrels and pipes for production
1869 Mary Jane Bugbey, wife of B.N. Bugbey, killed in riding accident, Mormon Island
1869 Elected Vice President of the Fruit Growers Association
1869 Fire consumes Bugbey’s home at the Natoma Vineyard in El Dorado County
1870 Marries Martinette “Nettie” McGlashan.
1870 Bugbey Champagne Waltz and Gallop music published, arranged by Hugo Yanke
1870 Marketing trip to East Coast to promote his wine, brandy, and champagne
1870 Natoma Water & Mining Co. found liable for damages to Natoma Vineyard
1871 New invention Johnston brandy still demonstrated at the Natoma Vineyard
1871 Folsom fire at Smith, Campbell & Jolly basement destroys Bugbey liquor inventory
1871 Bugbey becomes Chairman of the Sacramento County Republican Party
1872 Elected Vice President of new California Vine Grower’s and Wine and Brandy Mfg. Asso.
1872 Receives more State Fair premiums for wine, brandy, and champagne
1873 Bugbey wins first court battle against Natoma Water & Mining Co.
1874 Begins protracted legal fight over debts to Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co.
1875 Forced to sell 10 lots in Folsom to pay creditors
1876 Nettie Bugbey receives her teaching credential, becomes Folsom school house principal
1876 Advertises the sale of thousands of eucalyptus and lime trees
1877 Files for voluntary bankrupty
1877 Bugbey arrested for public drunkeness and attempted murder of a Granite Township Constable
1877 Gospel-Temperence Union meeting in San Francisco, Bugbey pledges sobriety forever
1878 B.N. Bugbey Night Watchman at San Francisco Mint
1878 United States Supreme Court affirms Bugbey’s title to the Natoma Vineyard property
1878 New carriage axel invented by Rev. W.A. Wible and represented by B.N. Bugbey
1879 Nettie Bugbey granted divorce decree from B.N. Bugbey
1879 Appointed Deputy Sheriff by old friend Sheriff M. Drew
1879 State Fair special premium for patent axle for wagons and carriages
1879 Marries Julia Florinda Wible, daughter of Rev. Wible.
1881 Bugbey works almond orchard outside of Folsom
1881 Terra Cotta Butter Cooler exhibited by Bugbey at the State Fair.
1881 Bugbey testifies as an expert witness in Sacramento v Gold Run Ditch Company debris lawsuit
1882 Fire completely destroys Bugbey’s Folsom home prompting him to move to Sacramento
1882 Patching and Darning Tool, Bugbey solicits sales people in local newspapers
1883 Terra Cotta lined Refrigerator rail car patented by Bugbey
1884 Bugbey starts selling real estate, homes, farms, advertising money to loan, and insurance
1885 Bugbey arrested for disturbing the peace, but not for public drunkenness
1886 Appointed United States Commissioner, was he celebrating his appointment?
1886 Bugbey hears the complaints and issues arrest warrants against Nicolaus farmers for driving out Chinese labor
1886 Commissioner Bugbey holds Chinese couple on the complaint of slavery charges
1886 General Carey, defense attorney for Chinese couple, punches Commission Bugbey at court hearing
1886 Commissioner Bugbey assists in sending enslaved Chinese women to San Francisco
1887 Bugbey becomes the Under Sheriff for Sheriff Drew
1887 1,000 acre farm in Kirkville, Sutter County brought into production by Bugbey
1888 Bugbey’s official residence is 2228 N Street Sacramento, California
1888 Bugbey organizes a local Republican Club in his Fourth Ward of the City
1888 The Little Nellie Gold Mine is purchased by Bugbey in Shasta County for $20,000
1888 State Fair overwhelmed with elaborate display of produce from Bugbey’s Kirkville Farm
1891 Becomes the Under Sheriff for Sheriff Stanley
1892 Bugbey declares he is an independent candidate for Sacramento County Sheriff
1893 Appointed Deputy Constable for the City of Sacramento
1894 Bugbey runs as Independent for County Sheriff
1894 Publishes his manifesto calling for radical land reform, woman’s suffrage, nationalizing railroads and telegraph system
1898 Becomes a Silver Republican, attends convention in Los Angeles
1898 Files for county Tax Collector position which is recognized as Sheriff-Tax Collector
1898 Sacramento County claims Bugbey can’t run for just Tax Collector, Bugbey prevails in court
1898 Bugbey elected Tax Collector, must fight Sheriff and Supervisors to perform his duties
1899 Hiram Johnson represents Sheriff and loses to Bugbey’s argument he is legally the Tax Collector
1899 Takes long trip to Alaska with old friend, former Sheriff Moses Drew
1906 Bugbey profiled in local newspaper as last man to wear a shawl in Sacramento during the winter
1906 To care for his ailing wife, Bugbey starts selling his properties
1911 Women win the right to vote in California
1912 Bugbey falls at his home, but recovers
1914 B.N. Bugbey dies on November 19, Sacramento.
Bugbey had arranged to have the remains of his first wife Mary Jane, and upon the death of his third wife Julia, buried next to him in the Historic Sacramento Cemetery.
Bugbey’s Champagne Galop
Bugbey’s Champagne Waltz
1864 Sheriff Bugbey Property Sale to Jane Scroggs
Bugbey’s 1855 farm on the American River in the Rancho de los Americanos land grant.
Most of the Bugbey images are from online newspapers.