by Marie Bowen, NCHS volunteer
Found in the “In Days Gone by” column of the Napa Register, June 14, 1974, is the following: “25 years ago, the county supervisors approved a change in the name of a road in the Carneros District -from Dutra Road to Milton Road. The change was in honor of Milton Emerick, who was killed in WW2. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Emerick.”
The Napa County Board of Supervisors’ “Book T of Minutes, 1919-1950,” pages 410-411, confirms that on June 14, 1949, the following resolution was approved: “Upon motion of Supervisor N. D. Clark, seconded by Supervisor Charles Tamagni, it was ordered that the name of Dutra Road be changed to Milton Road.” Other supervisors present at that general meeting were Ralph Minahen, Chairman, and Supervisors Albert Lauritsen and Lowell Edington.
Private First Class Milton Revere Emerick was born in California (probably the East Bay area), April 18, 1922, and lived in Napa prior to WWII. He served in the 51st Armed Infantry, 4th Armored Division, and was killed in what became known as the Battle for Rennes, France, August 3, 1944 – just one day before Rennes was liberated by U.S. forces. His remains later were returned from St. James-Avranche, France, to the United States and interred in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California, April 25, 1949.
Milton’s parents, Arthur “Ham” Emerick and Margaret Reynolds Emerick, lived in downtown Napa at the time of their son’s death, but by the early 1950s they were living at 1240 Milton Road, out on Edgerly Island along the Napa River and south of Brazos Bridge. Arthur died September 4, 1954; Margaret died February 11, 1968. Arthur’s obituary and related articles inform us that he had been, for 28 years until his retirement, Superintendent of the Napa County Mosquito Abatement District and also past director of the 25th Agricultural District Fair Board.
As for how “Dutra Road” got its name, I must speculate that it was named for the Dutra family living in the Carneros area in the 1920s and 1930s. One census entry gives their address as “road to the river,” and that is what it was, and is.