Natomas Historical Society
The following oral histories were conducted by the Natomas Historical Society (NHS) from 1996 to 2012. The majority of interviewees came from farming or ranching families who arrived in Natomas in the first half of the 20th century — several are from Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican immigrant families. These interviews focus on what life was like in rural Natomas before the area was developed, including Natomas’ early schools, agriculture and farming practices, social life, flooding, and businesses, and the impact development had on residents’ lives. Several interviews with more recent Natomas residents discuss the area during and after development, the creation of the contemporary schools, and the Virgin Sturgeon marina and restaurant. Most interviews are conducted by NHS president Anne Ofsink, who also transcribed them. NHS donated the interviews to the Center for Sacramento History in 2015.
Aquilar’s family farmed in Natomas. Her interview includes memories of shopping in Natomas, farming, and development of the area.
Barandas’ Portuguese-American family arrived in Natomas in 1927 from Sacramento. His father worked for the Natomas Company, and later the family started farming. In his interview, he talks about Portuguese customs in Natomas, flooding, and what it was like to grow up in Natomas.
Brazil was a member of an early Natomas Portuguese-American farming family that came to the area in 1927. He later worked for local trucking companies, McDonnell-Douglas, the school district, and the parks and recreation department. This interview also includes Brazil’s nephew Frank Arnall and Arnall’s wife Annette.
Burns was a member and past president of the Natomas Unified School District Board of Trustees. In her interview, she visits school sites and discusses the development of each school and the district.
This is a personal history written by Elmer Christophel circa 1970. He writes about working in finance, running an orchard in Natomas, and his brief term in local government. Elmer is the father of Bill Christophel and son of Frank Christophel. There is no known audio version of this history.
Christophel, Elwin F. (Bill)
Christophel served on the Natomas Union School District Board of Education from 1951 to 1981. In his oral history, he talks about growing up in Sacramento and the Natomas area, flood control, transportation, schools, and the school board.
This is a personal history written by Frank Christophel, who was born in Elk Grove in 1868. He writes about life in the Sacramento area, his businesses and work with the government, and mining during the Alaska gold rush. Frank is the grandfather of Bill Christophel and father of Elmer Christophel. The date this history was written is unknown and there is no known audio version.
Costa, Ronald, Sr. and Emily
The Portuguese-American Costa family farmed in Natomas. In their interview, mother and son discuss farming practices, flooding, and changes in Natomas.
Fong’s Chinese-American family farmed in Natomas on Fong Ranch. He discusses how his family came to Natomas, their experience as Chinese immigrants, changes he’s seen in Natomas, and his career as Sacramento County Assessor.
Fong’s Chinese-American family farmed in Natomas on Fong Ranch. In his interview, Fong talks about farming in Natomas during World War II, Chinese Christianity in Natomas, development of his family’s ranch, and changes he’s seen in Natomas.
Fural’s Mexican-American family farmed in Natomas. She talks in her interview about farming and social life in Natomas, and how the area has changed.
Efren Guttierrez was a realtor, broker, and community activist in the Natomas area for nearly 40 years before relocating just outside of Puerto Vallarta in October 2018. He advocated for underprivileged and underrepresented populations, the Chicano movement, a living wage, campaign finance reform, public health, labor, and other issues, and started the Chicano Consortium in 1992.
Haines, Vera Hurt
Haines’ family came to Natomas in 1926, where her father was a farmer and ranch hand. In her interview, she discusses farming, ranching, and going to school in Natomas. An exact transcript of this interview is not available due to a defective audiotape.
Harder, Virginia Bennett
Harder’s family farmed in Natomas starting after 1919. In her interview, she recalls growing up and attending different schools in Natomas, social activities, transportation, and changes to the area.
Harris, Virginia Fitzpatrick
In this interview, Harris discusses life in Natomas during a driving tour of the area, pointing out buildings, homes, and sites of interest. Toward the end of the interview, she and the interviewer pick up Margaret Inderkum Clark, who joins in on the conversation.
Lauppe’s family farmed in Natomas starting in the 1920s. He discusses farming, school life, and the development of roads and electricity in Natomas.
This interview includes Jim Longer, Tim Longer, Amelia Longer, and Jimmy Longer Jr. They discuss their experiences starting their family landscaping supply business in Natomas.
Machado, Frank J.
In this interview, Machado describes farming and farming equipment at the Natomas Historical Society’s annual historic tour, which took place that year on his family’s ranch. Several others join the conversation throughout the interview, including Donalda and Tony Vargas, Mary Euphrasia, Mary and Gene Inderkum, and Dolores Greenslate. The tape ends with a short clip of Sacramento City Councilman Ray Tretheway speaking.
Natomas Charter School: Dr. Ting Sun and Charlie Leo
Sun and Leo taught at Natomas Junior High before co-founding Natomas Charter School. They discuss the development of the charter school in their interview.
Pereira, born in Portugal, came to Natomas with his family as a child, where his dad farmed. In this interview, he discusses his Portuguese culture, farming, growing up in Natomas, politics, and development. His wife Rose also joins the conversation.
Pereira and his Portuguese-American family moved to Natomas in 1941. He talks about farming, school, and social life while growing up in Natomas.
Scott, Jeanette "Jeanie"
Scott came to Natomas in the 1960s. She discusses development and improvements in Natomas.
Sherrill came to Natomas as an adult. In her interview, she remembers development in Natomas, neighbors, and various streets.
Shimada/Azevedo House Tour
Paul Shimada, a Japanese-American from Lodi, came to Natomas to farm after being interned during World War II. He was involved in Natomas schools and Boy Scouts, local and state agricultural organizations, and the State Farm Bureau. In this interview, he gives a tour of his home in Natomas, which once belonged to the Azevedo family.
Virgin Sturgeon: Gennie Johnson Buller
In this interview, Buller, the daughter of Virgin Sturgeon co-founder John “Jack” Johnson, discusses working at the Sturgeon, its history, and its sinkings and fire.
Virgin Sturgeon: Jerry Inman
Inman lived on houseboats at the Virgin Sturgeon Marina. In this interview, he walks through the Natomas Historical Society’s Virgin Sturgeon exhibit and discusses the marina and restaurant.
Virgin Sturgeon: Laurie Patching
Laurie Patching was a co-founder and co-owner of the Virgin Sturgeon restaurant and marina. In her interview, she discusses the creation of the Sturgeon and its many comebacks from fires and sinkings.
Virgin Sturgeon: Debi Randel
Randel lived on the same dock as the Virgin Sturgeon. In this interview, she reminisces about life on the docks and the restaurant’s sinkings and burning.
Virgin Sturgeon: Bob Riggs
Riggs purchased the Virgin Sturgeon restaurant from original co-owner Laurie Patching in 2007. He talks about the Sturgeon’s history in this interview.
Virgin Sturgeon: Bill Son
Bill Son was the harbormaster at the Virgin Sturgeon Marina. In this interview, he talks about running the marina and the history of the Sturgeon.
In this interview, the Willey Family talks about their lives as rice farmers in Natomas. Included in the conversation are siblings Ed Willey, Betty Willey Coker, and Wayne Willey; Ed’s wife Marjorie; and Betty’s husband Bob Coker. In addition to a thorough explanation of rice farming under E. D. Willey & Sons, the family also discusses Natomas and Sacramento social life, schools, and development of the area.