Local historian Peter Meyerhof will present a lecture on Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker Thursday, March 15, at Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma.

According to press materials for the event, “Joseph Hooker was a man of contradictions, with both great strengths and great weaknesses. His strengths were generally overlooked and his weaknesses were exaggerated into unwarranted urban legends.”

Meyerhof, who lives in and has a general dentistry practice in Sonoma, says he spends much of his spare time researching the early history of the area. Not satisfied with popular history books, he spends hours in archives and research libraries to find primary sources for interesting stories that have not already been reported by others. His Hooker lecture promises to be as entertaining as the legendary general was himself.

“A resident of the Sonoma Valley for several years following the Gold Rush, Hooker gained his greatest fame as a major general in the Civil War,” according to Meyerhof. “But he made friends and enemies in Sonoma that would greatly influence his later career. By looking at his years in this area, we can not only learn about Sonoma in the 1850s, but gain a better understanding of this ambitious man.”

This lecture will begin at 7 p.m. at the Mission San Francisco Solano, 114 E. Spain St. Admission for the general public is $10 at the door; Sonoma Petaluma Parks members pay $5, docents and park staff are free.