Napa County





FETTERMAN W. CONN, M. D., has been a resident of the Pacific coast since 1862, living twenty years of that time in Nevada, and since 1883 in California.  He was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, and was brought up in Zanesville, where his father practiced medicine for forty-five years.  He received a primary education in the public schools, and was trained by his father, with the view to the medical profession, until the age of eighteen, when he left home for California by the Panama route.  After some time in this State, the excitement attending the opening of the Comstock Mine carried him to Nevada, where he engaged as a miner in the Savage Mine.  At this time the mine had only been sunk to a depth of fifty feet, and they were working the black sulphurets, worth in gold and silver from $3,000 to $7,000 per ton.  After about two years here he went to Austin, Nevada, prospecting and working in the mines at that place.  Feeling the need of a settled purpose and direction in life he returned to Virginia City and entered upon the study of medicine with Dr. Green of that place for one year, when he was enabled, with the aid of his previous experience in his father’s office, to perform all office surgery and minor operations.  He continued his studies in the office of a brother of a major general of the Confederate army, who was killed in Missouri during the last year of the war.  This gentleman had been a surgeon in the British army in India for twenty-five years, having had a long and varied experience in most surgical operations.  He remained in that office for about one year, acquiring a vast experience in surgery, so many men being injured in the mines in 1868.  He finished his studies with Dr. McMeans, of White Pine, Eastern Nevada, who had long practiced medicine in Santa Rosa, California, and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where, after a three year’s course, he graduated and received his diploma, in 1872.  Returning to the Pacific slope, he commenced the practice of his previous acquaintance and experience, coupled with a remarkable successful surgical case that occurred soon after, brought him a large and lucrative practice, which continued and increased during the fourteen years of his residence there. He then removed to Los Angeles, in this State, for one year, and afterward to Napa where he has practiced for the last five years.  His parents were Dr. William P. and Eliza (Wein) Conn, who were among the early settlers of Ohio.  They are now residents of Napa, his father at the age of eighty-six years, and his mother at the age of eighty-four, being still in the enjoyment of active and robust health.  His brother, Dr. Frank M. Conn, has been a practicing physician in Virginia City for many years.  The subject of this sketch is a member of the Napa County Medical Association, and of the Masonic order, Yount Lodge, No. 12, of Napa.  An enthusiastic devotee of his profession, he loves it for what it is able to do for the good of suffering humanity.  To this profession he has devoted his life, and to this wonderful singleness of purpose his great success in it is due.


Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Transcribed by:  Wendy Sandino





It is with peculiar pleasure that we here place on record a notice of the important work that is being done for Napa Valley and the wine interest, not alone of this section but of the State at large, by the experienced and indefatigable labors of Mr. V. Courtois.  During the eight years that he has been a resident of this valley, he has accomplished a great deal, winning the confidence of grape-growers and winemakers alike by his knowledge and enthusiastic attention to the business.  Mr. Courtois is a native of Cette, France, on the shores of the Mediterranean, one of the centers of the wine industry of France.  His father has an extensive wine-house in that city, having trade covering the whole of Europe, and the family has been connected with the wine business for several generations.  It will thus be seen that Mr. Courtois comes of an experienced family, and should know what he is doing.  After an experience covering many years in France, and afterward at Naples, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain, Mr. Courtois determined eight years ago to come to this State, to examine into the possibilities for wine and brandy making, and with a possible view of going into business here.  His investigation was sufficiently favorable to induce him to locate permanently in Napa Valley, where he has for the past four years carried on an extensive and rapidly increasing business,—that, too, against the most vigorous opposition of those who were satisfied with the slow-going and old-fashioned ways of doing business, and did not care to see the energetic and enthusiastic Frenchman come in with his new ideas and improved methods.  He has steadily enlarged his business, however, and to-day occupies a commanding position in the wine business of the Napa Valley, having many cellars rented, where he makes wine on contract, and acting also as broker and commission merchant in the purchase and sale of wines.  His trade covers all the United States, Central and Southern America, etc., but is chiefly confined to San Francisco, finding it more profitable to concentrate his attention to one market.  Mr. Courtois is very energetic in forwarding any course that will be general benefit to this section, sparing neither time nor money to further the best interests, and making many improvements.  The question of killing the phylloxera, which is such a pest in California, has occupied his attention deeply, and this summer he proposes to visit France to examine the new means adopted there, with the intention if possible of introducing it here, making at the same time an exhaustive report to the department at Washington.  It is his intention to make a study in London, Paris, Bordeaux and the other centers of the qualities and styles of wines that are called for in those markets, with a view of profiting by it afterward here.  He is a broad-minded and public-spirited man in his efforts, aiming as much to benefit the wine interests of the State at large as himself personally.  He will also go to Cognac in order to interest capital there to undertake the manufacture of real cognacs here, for which this section is eminently well fitted.

            Mr. Courtois is introducing on this coast the celebrated Malligand, Michel, Pere & Fils ainé ebullioscope, the most successful instrument devised for testing wines.  He has the sole agency.


Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Transcribed by:  Wendy Sandino





In no part of Napa Valley visited by the writer was so much of general and historic interest found attaching as to the Lyman place, which lies advantageously a few miles north of St. Helena.  It is the site of the old homestead of Dr. Bale, whose memory as one of the earliest pioneers is indelibly attached to the valley, and the picturesque old mill standing in ruins beside the creek, is one of the noteworthy and suggestive objects to be found.  A part of the house, too, which is a rambling but comfortable place, well-fitted and furnished, is about forty years old, and worthy of a place in history.  A walk about the vicinity was found of great interest, showing the great picturesqueness and natural beauty of the spot.  Lyman Creek comes tumbling down from the mountains at the rear, furnishing an inexhaustible supply of water for every purpose, and being dammed at a suitable point to form a fish pond and reservoir for general purposes.  It is the water power afforded by this mountain stream that caused the erection of the old mill, with its gigantic and most picturesque overshot water-wheel.  This great wheel has been long disused, however, and is now overgrown with ivy, a little turbine out of sight below the building doing all the work with little noise or fuss.  This establishment was long carried on as a flouring-mill, both before the purchase of the place in May, 1871, by Mr. Lyman’s father, and since then by him, part of the time in partnership with Mr. Joseph Mecklenburg, an account of whose life will be found elsewhere.

            The estate is a magnificent one of 800 acres, extending from the summit of the hills enclosing the valley on the west to the banks of the Napa River on the east, comprising all varieties of soil and exposure, from the rich black alluvium of the river bottom to the gravelly hillsides.  There is a fine vineyard of 100 acres, most of it of the choice varieties, and planted on the hillsides, thus assuring quality of the product.  Mr. Lyman has a concrete cellar not far from the house, and in it wines that will compare favorably with the best made in the State.  The house is situated just on the edge of a splendid grove of forest trees, the grounds and surroundings being very attractive.  An adjoining portion of this beautiful site has been lately purchased, and is now being improved by a son of J. B. Haggin, who is erecting a summer residence.  To appreciate the beauties of this spot a visit must be paid to it, to see the flowers, shrubs and semi-tropical trees and growths, and the visitor will come away with the liveliest recollections both of the attractiveness of the place and of the kindness and courtesy of its owner.

            William Whittingham Lyman is the son of the Right Rev. Theodore Benedict Lyman, D. D., LL. D., of the Episcopal Church, now bishop of North Carolina.  He was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, July 28, 1850.  He resided at his birthplace until 1860, when he, with his parents, went to Europe, and remained there ten years.  During this time he was educated at the School of Mines, at Freiberg, Saxony, and at the University of Berlin.  In December, 1870, he returned to America, and in 1871 came to California, purchasing his present beautiful place, where he has since carried on wine-making, general farming, milling etc., as well as many outside matters.  Mr. Lyman is the Secretary of the Napa Valley Wine Company, one of the most extensive companies engaged in the wine business in the State.  This company was founded in 1883, and each year has seen an increase in its business.  They have cellars in Yountville, Napa City and San Francisco, the principal as well as the head office being located in the latter city.

            Mr. Lyman is a member in high standing of the I. O. O. F., being a Past Grand of the lodge in St. Helena, of which lodge he is chairman of the board of trustees.  He was a chief actor in the erection of the fine I. O. O. F. Hall in St. Helena, which was erected at a cost of $22,000.  Mr. Lyman is also a Past Grand Patriarch and Past Grand Representative of the order in the State.  He is a Past High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons, and a charter member of St. Helena Chapter, R. A. M., No. 63, also a member of the Turn-Verein in St. Helena.  It was partly owing to him also that the handsome little stone Episcopal Church in St. Helena was erected.  He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the State militia, and was a member of Governor Bartlett’s staff and an Aid-de-camp.  The orange trees set out by him in 1878 were among the first planted in the valley.  They are fine large trees now.  Mr. Lyman has also paid attention to the matter of blooded stock.  His stallion, Prince Bismarck, of Black Hawk, Morgan strain, is known widely for his excellent qualities.

            Mr. Lyman is a Democrat and takes an interest in matters political, his views being broad and general, rather than local.  He was married in Sacramento, in1880, to Mrs. Sarah A. Nowland.  They have two sons: Theodore Benedict, Jr., named after the bishop, his grandfather, and William Whittingham, Jr., named after his father.


Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Transcribed by:  Wendy Sandino