My research took me to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley where I found some important letters and images of Bugbey’s Natoma Vineyard in El Dorado County. The letters, from a local Folsom resident, describe how the prevailing opinion of the town was that Bugbey himself had set the 1871 fire that burned several buildings including his wine storehouse. The gossip was that he was in financial troubles and needed the insurance money.
Posts related to Benjamin Norton Bugbey, California pioneer, gold miner, vintner in El Dorado County, lived in Folsom and Sacramento, died in 1914.
Bugbey commissioned Yanke to compose a galop and a waltz. The galop premiered on July 4, 1870. Bugbey was heavily involved in politics and the Republican Party at the time. So his galop was part patriotic pomp and part marketing for his sparkling wines that he was shipping to the East Coast market and Europe. Similar to the Railroad Kings Galop, Bugbey’s Champagne Galop displayed his image on the cover of the sheet music. His portrait is surrounded by grapevines and bordered on one side by an overflowing champagne flute and an exploding cork and champagne bottle on the other side.
The short story of B. N. Bugbey was that he ran a fairly successful vineyard along the South Fork of the American River in El Dorado County. He made wine, brandy, champagne, sold vine cuttings, was the Sheriff of Sacramento County and its tax collector. He also went bankrupt, lost homes and businesses to fire and lost his wife to a freak riding accident, but never seemed to give up on life. Even into his 60s, he was still running for office and active in public life.