Welcome to the Nicasio Historical Society Web Page

Click here to read the full Nicasio Historical Society Summer 2017 Update 


  The Nicasio Historical Society Museum     on the Nicasio Town Square   Museum hours:  Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 - 3:00 pm or by appointment.   Contact Elaine at eddoss@mac.com or Martha at 415 662-2307.    Stop by and share in the history of a unique town.

The Nicasio Historical Society Museum on the Nicasio Town Square Museum hours:  Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 - 3:00 pm or by appointment. Contact Elaine at eddoss@mac.com or Martha at 415 662-2307.  Stop by and share in the history of a unique town.

Current Exhibit

St. Mary's Church, 150 Years

In Historical Photographs and Documents

Celebrating her Sesquicentennial

through May 30, 2018

                                                                                                                             Communion Group outside st. Mary's in its early days   

                                                                                                                            Communion Group outside st. Mary's in its early days   

Upcoming Exhibit

Nicasio Children Through the Years Photo Exhibit

June through August 2018

                                                                                                                                                       Nicasio School Group, 1887

                                                                                                                                                      Nicasio School Group, 1887

125 years of photographs from unknown to Art Rogers, 1887 - 2012

including selected authentic Nicasio School Realia

Upcoming Event

Nicasio Historical Society Art Show 2018

                                                                                                            Farley Bsrn, Oil on Canvas by Laura Culver

                                                                                                          Farley Bsrn, Oil on Canvas by Laura Culver

Glimpse of West Marin

Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

September 28, 29, & 30, 2018

Druids' Hall, Nicasio

Twenty-five established Marin artists are participating in the Nicasio Historical Society Art Show, 2018. These painters, photographers and sculptor will produce close to 300 works of art depicting West Marin from Muir Beach to Dillon Beach, including Nicasio. 

This fine art exhibition and sale, a benefit for the Nicasio Historical Society, will open on Friday September 28 with a festive evening including local wines and cheeses and more. The art show continues on Saturday and Sunday September 29 and 30, 2018.

Don't miss this event; it promises to be a feast for the eyes. 

Recent Past Event

Recollections 5

                                            Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department

                                          Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department

A conversation between Historian Dewey Livingston and Tom Forster, former Skywalker Ranch Manager and Fire Chief, about the history of Bull Tail Ranch (now Skywalker Ranch) and Big Rock and Grady Ranches was held on Friday March 16, 2018 at 7pm in the Nicasio School MPR.

Past Event

Glimpse of Nicasio, secret places, quiet lands

Fine Art Exhibition and Sale


October 13, 14, & 15, 2017

Druids' Hall, Nicasio

Twenty-three established Marin artists were granted access to private Nicasio parcels with unique vistas to produce paintings and photographs for Glimpse of Nicasio, secret places, private landsThis fine art exhibition and sale, a benefit for the Nicasio Historical Society, opened with a festive evening on Friday October 13, 2017. The art show continued on Saturday and Sunday October 14 and 15, 2017.

The art show was well attended and is our most successful fundraiser to date!


The Nicasio Historical Society welcomes anyone who has an interest in Marin history. Your membership helps support our efforts to preserve, share and celebrate Nicasio's history with our members. Your membership includes two issues annually of the Nicasio Historical Newsletter, which features articles and photographs about Nicasio past and present updates regarding our Society's progress, advance of upcoming events and interesting and informative interview transcripts. 

If you share our interest in the history of Nicasio, please become a member of the Nicasio Historical Society.


Complete the Membership Application Form, make you check payable to NHS and send both to

Nicasio Historical Society          •          P O Box 111          •          Nicasio, CA 94946  


Follow us on Facebook, click here
Interactive satelLite photo of the Nicasio valley, click here
Drone video of Nicasio, click here

About NHS in Words & Images                                                                                    

Due to the persistent urging of centenarian Boyd Stewart, a small group of Nicasio residents, convened by Joe McNeil, founded the Nicasio Historical Society in July of 2003. We are a non-profit, public benefit California Corporation that already has significant archives consisting of photographs, documents and written and recorded material relating to life in Nicasio during the past century and a half. Our entire Board of Directors is a dedicated group of unpaid volunteers who are devoted to pursuing our Mission: Researching, documenting, preserving, sharing, and celebrating the rich history of the Nicasio Valley.

       Boyd   Stewart   in   1997   and   the   early   1920s                                                          Joe   McNeil   in   the   early   1940s   and   2005


Our initial endeavor was assembling information for a book on the history of the Nicasio Valley, which was Boyd Stewart’s ultimate dream. Local historian Dewey Livingston, who helped guide our efforts both regarding this five-year book project as well as our nascent historical society, continues to guide us as NHS director. He initially trained a core group of our members in interviewing and official records researching techniques. Thanks to the efforts of all involved and to the generosity of our members, Nicasio: The Historic Valley at the Center of Marin, written by Dewey Livingston, was published in 2008 and is available for all to read and enjoy. 

Our next grand endeavor was the compilation (another five-year project) and publication in 2012 of a photo history book by Elaine Doss, entitled Nicasio Children Through the Years, which coincided with our Grand Sesquicentennial Celebration (150th anniversary) of both Nicasio Township and Nicasio School District on May 12, 2012. The event activities included a parade (with the Wells Fargo stage coach and four-horse team, vintage farm equipment, horse-drawn conveyances, vintage automobiles and many Nicasio residents and schoolchildren in vintage attire), tours of town square buildings, early California music and dances, snack food and soft drinks, a display of art depicting Nicasio, a model of the town square in 1900 and dramatic presentations of notable pioneers of Nicasio in St. Mary’s Church by students of Nicasio School.

In addition, Elaine Doss and Dewey Livingston have conducted live interviews in a series called Recollections before audiences of 50 – 75 Society members and guests. Joe McNeil spearheaded a series of Ranch Tours, which began at the historic Nicasio Gallagher Ranch in 2004 and which continue into the present. A dramatic and well-attended event was the Historic Town Square Buildings Tour, conceived by Joe McNeil and held in August 2005, October 2006 and May 2012. During this event, Society directors and volunteers dressed in period costumes and conducted tours in and around the buildings that historically graced our town square. The NHS booklet entitled Around the Square, a self-guided tour written by Joe McNeil and edited by Elaine Doss and Dewey Livingston, was published for these events.

Our best-attended event to date was the Grand Opening of the NHS Museum in October 2014, during which guests enjoyed a new museum exhibit on Nicasio’s Coast Miwok village, an illustrated talk by Betty Goerke entitled The Symbolism and Significance of Native Art in Nicasio, an illustrated talk by Dewey Livingston on Nicasio’s early settlers, a display of art depicting Nicasio, a model of the town square in 1900, carriage rides, refreshments including local wine and cheese tasting, Miwok games, live music and more. Many of our past events have had attendance of between 50 and 75 people, the Grand Sesquicentennial Celebration attendance in 2012 was 100-150 people, while the Museum Grand Opening attendance numbered between 150 and 200. As an organization, we have become more apt at promoting our events and planning attractive and engaging activities.

As a historical society we actively seek to contact people who share our interest in Nicasio’s history in order to expand our archives and knowledge. We have scanned historical photos and documents in Nicasio old timers’ homes during interviews, those sent to us by members, and have held events to which people brought their photos and documents for scanning. We use our collection to create displays in our new museum on the town square, in the Nicasio School Library and for events held in Druids’ Hall and elsewhere.  If you have photos or documents you would be willing to briefly share with us, please contact Elaine Doss at eddoss@mac.com or ur mailing address, PO Box 111, Nicasio, CA 94946.

Nicasio Historical Society Board of Director

President                         Elaine  Doss

Vice President               Jan McNeil

Secretary                         Siu-Mei Wong          

Treasurer                         Marcy Shone                    

Membership Chair       Martha McNeil

Historian                           Dewey Livingston

Technical Director       Loren Carpenter    

Sergeant-at-Arms        Stan Loar

Directors-At-Large:  Rachel Carpenter, Diana Dougherty, Kathy Drady, Grace Farley, Sue Loar, Mary Jo Maendle, Amy Morse, Rocky Shone, Arden Wood, Thomas Wood

Historical Photographs

Coming soon


New NHS Tote



To purchase our new NHS tote, please send a check payable to:

NHS          P O Box 111          Nicasio, CA 94946   

Don't forget to include your name and mailing address along with whether you prefer a tote with a zipper closure or without and quantities of each.  Totes will be shipped first class mail.  Price includes sales tax, shipping and handling.

Book Store

To purchase a book, please send a check payable to:

NHS          P O Box 111          Nicasio, CA 94946   

Don't forget to include your name and mailing address along with the titles and quantities of each book.  Books will be shipped first class mail.  Prices include sales tax, shipping and handling.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

NICASIO: The Historic Valley at the Center of Marin

by Dewey Livingston


NICASIO: The Historic Valley at the Center of Marin tells the story of Nicasio from its Californio days when local Miwok owned it by land grant, through the pioneer settlers who engaged in beef raising, timber cutting and dairying, and onto the post-dam era with the advent of high tech industry and a new demographic. Nicasio’s rich, complex and surprising history comes to life through informative text, entertaining anecdotes, historic newspaper clippings, elders’ recollections and scores of vintage photos.

Introduction (excerpted from the above book):
Of all Marin towns, one could say that Nicasio has changed the least. For sure, the chang
es are less visible, and its preservation is a miracle that can’t be taken for granted. For many, Nicasio is a place to happily pass through on the way to or from the coastal areas of Point Reyes and Tomales Bay; “happily” because it is always beautiful, in any weather, and it hasn’t been transformed into the congested suburbia found only five miles east. It gives travelers an
extended ride through nice scenery at a genteel pace.

But there is much more to Nicasio than its scenery and quaintness: there are people living in those houses; men and women working in the barns; families worshiping at the church on Sunday. There is a history that is rich, complex and surprising, from Native Americans to dairy farmers to the highest of high tech. Its preservation was no accident: almost a quarter of the valley was drowned by a reservoir and plans surfaced for intensive development fed by a freeway. It took action by locals, concerned county residents and the board of supervisors to create a plan that would keep the hills and valley free from the irrevocable suburban intrusions that changed so many similar valleys in the San Francisco Bay Area. This book celebrates the past of this unique little corner of America, in hopes of preserving not only its history, but also its sense of community. It is intended first for Nicasio residents past, present and future, as a means recall good times and old friends or to further appreciate their fine home. For those unfortunate not to live in Nicasio, we hope to enlight-en and entertain them with the multi-faceted and interesting history of this place they pass through, whether often or rarely. This book is the work of many people, who love Nicasio to the extent they wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.

Nicasio Children Through the Years, 125 years of photographs from Unknown to Art Rogers 

by Elaine Doss


Nicasio Children Through the Years is a photo history of Nicasio's children from 1887 to 2012. This is what Nicasio resident Dave Goelz had to say about our book: 

Your book is fantastic! ... so many perfect design choices. Using a period photo in delicious fifties color on the cover is an irresistible enticement to open the book. Putting the title in the ID frame in the original picture is inspired. Once inside, the use of black and white all through the book is another brilliant choice, as it compresses time and puts all students on an equal footing. We really see that we're part of the history rather than just reading about it.
The essence of the school is conveyed in a lively fashion by simply using short quotes in large italic type which perfectly compliments the black and white photos. There's no chance anyone will see this as dry. The combination of the two is visually arresting and keeps the reader turning pages. 
The photographs themselves are powerful, as we trace our senior citizens on the early part of their journey. Seeing Wil Lafranchi and others as a school children dramatizes the whoosh of life through this focal point of our town.
Our whole family finds the book fascinating. Amy pored over it, and Ben sat down and read it for an hour. I've read it for two long sessions so far, and I plan to keep it out on the coffee table for visitors to enjoy.

Around the Square, A Walking Tour of Historic Nicasio Town Square

by Joe McNeil

Edited and with additional text by Elaine Doss and Dewey Livingston


Around the Square is an illustrated self-guided tour of 14 historic buildings, many of which are still standing around our town square and along the roadway heading north to Nicasio School. It explains the history of each building, whether home, school, ranch house or business, including many colorful and surprising anecdotes.


NICASIO, 1847 - 1887


Nicasio, 1847 - 1887 contains selections pertinent to the history of Nicasio from two historic publications, The History of Marin County California, Illustrated, 1880 by J. P. Munro-Fraser and The Marin County Journal, Illustrated Edition, October 1887. Read what historians and journalists had to say about Nicasio back in the day.




NICASIO, Images of America, California

by Anne Papina

Currently out-of-stock


Anne Papina, whose family dates back to 1905 in Nicasio, tells its story. Her grandparents managed the Nicasio Hotel, bought a house on the square to which they added a bar calling it the Nicasio Exchange, started a trucking business, bought the General Store business in 1927 and ran it along with the Post Office, telephone switchboard and later a restaurant and bar until 1951. Using her family's photo collection and collective memories in addition to outside sources, Anne tells the rich and colorful story of our town.


Nicasio Historical Society
P.O. Box 111, Nicasio, CA 94946

All Nicasio Historical Society research, materials & photos may be used only with written permission.  
All rights reserved.

Send any email inquiries to elaine Doss at eddoss@mac.com