An ancient inland sea once covered Sonoma and Napa Counties. Colliding continental plates created the mountains and hills. Bennett Valley is squeezed between three of these mountain peaks: Taylor Mountain, Sonoma Mountain and Bennett Mountain. This ancient sea, along with volcanic ash, has made Bennett Valley lush and fertile. Plentiful food supplies in this area supported many Indians of the Pomo, Wappo and Miwok tribe. However, by 1837 most of these native people had been wiped out by a smallpox epidemic introduced by the Spanish soldiers, who came around 1834 with General Vallejo. The 1849 Gold Rush brought many settlers to this area, including Missourian James N. Bennett, who settled in the vicinity of the high peak called “Yulupa”, on property he later purchased from General Vallejo. In 1853 he was elected to the California State Assembly. Eventually, that same high peak and the entire valley were named “Bennett” after him.
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