Monday, April 21, 2014

Pacific Brewery

Photo:  Courtesy of Siskiyou County Historical Society

From the Pacific Brewery to Klander’s
By Claudia East

 Today locals (and in-the-know out of town folks) will visit Klander’s Deli at 211 South Oregon Street to enjoy a great lunch!  Upon arrival folks will know by simply looking at the building that this property is loaded with history for the city of Yreka.  Some information about this location and former businesses that have served the community is lacking, but we do know some very interesting facts.

            In 1854-55 a local brewery was established on this site, this would have been just 3 or 4 years after gold was discovered on the Yreka Flats.  The original owner is not well documented, but it is believed that a G. Gamble was the founder of this brewery.  The building was built of brick as far back as one can tell.  There is also the name of John Miller as an owner prior to 1865 located in title records at the Siskiyou County Courthouse, but additional information about him is currently unknown.  On June 22, 1864, however, it is noted in the Yreka Journal that Charles Iunker bought out the Pacific Brewery from his former partner John Hessenauer.  At the time Iunker owned the Yreka Brewery and the Siskiyou Brewery and these were both consolidated into the established Pacific Brewery.  This information is also noted in the History of Siskiyou County, California by Harry L. Wells published in 1881. 

            Charles Iunker was a long term and successful businessman in Yreka’s history.  He not only owned the various breweries, but also was the proprietor of the Bella Union Saloon located on the south side of Miner Street in a location today known as 325 West Miner Street. [Originally this was a one-story building during the Bella Union days.]   It was natural for him to be involved as a brew master as he came from Bavaria, Germany and while there he was schooled as an artisan in the brewing and distilling trade.  He arrived in Yreka in 1855 and opened his first brewery, in 1858 he purchased the Bella Union property, and in 1861 he built a two story brick residence on Center Street that still stands today.  It was reported in 1881 that about 300 barrels of beer were annually made in Yreka at his brewery.

            The exact year the brewery next changed ownership is unknown, but sometime between 1897 and 1901 Joseph Steinacher is listed as the proprietor of the Pacific Brewery. Viewing the 1908 Sanborn map one can see that as well as operating a brewery Steinacher also had a saloon in operation at this location and the building was equipped with electric lights.  It operated under Steinacher until January 17, 1920 when prohibition began. What transpired during the next seven years is unclear at this time, but by 1927 research shows us that the building was being used as a meat packing and distributing plant.  The next void in the history continues until about 1945 or so when Theodore and Marjorie Klander operate the Siskiyou County Distributing Company at this address.  For many years Marjorie and her son, Robert Klander, operated the business.  It is interesting to view old photos of the building, and although some of the basic parts of the current building may be original it is not known when the building was altered or rebuilt but it is roughly estimated to have undergone major reconstruction or a rebuild between 1930 and 1945 to the configuration we are familiar with today.

  It has been noted by long time residents in Yreka that while the Klander’s operated the Siskiyou Distributing Company they gave returning veterans from World War II free lodging in the apartments upstairs as a thank you for their service.  In 2002 the current owners, William and Ondia Durovchic, purchased the building and continued with the Deli that is so well loved today.  One tidbit of information that is particularly enticing to this author is that in the far corner of the building deep in the basement is an opening that once led to one of the underground mine tunnels once so prevalent in Yreka [It has been closed off and filled and the tunnel is no longer accessible].  
Copyright:  Claudia East

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lotta Crabtree

Lotta Crabtree
By Claudia East

            Around 1950, along Miner Street in Yreka, a sign was placed approximately near the curb where one today finds the plaque dedicating our National Historic District. The sign partially read:  “Arcade Billiard Saloon, here in the fifties Lotta Crabtree sang for the miners…”  the sign disappeared sometime more than 20 years ago but is fondly remembered by many Yreka residents.
During the early Gold Rush in California there was a talented and beautiful little girl with curly red hair that used to sing, dance, and play the banjo for the miners. The miners would cheerfully throw gold at her feet!  Lotta traveled with her mother to various mining areas throughout California and Nevada to entertain.  She became the equivalent of today’s “rock star” at an early age, and by 20 years old she was touring the nation with her own theatrical company.

            During the 1870s and 1880s she was the highest paid actress in America earning sums of up to $5,000 per week.  Her mother managed her affairs and invested Lotta’s earnings in real estate, race horses and bonds.  She also used some of the earnings to support local charities and build fountains.  The most famous of these fountains, “Lotta’s Fountain” still stands at the intersection of Kearny and Market Streets in San Francisco.  The fountain was an important meeting place following the 1906 earthquake for folks to find family and friends who survived the ordeal.  In fact, today, the fountain is the site of meetings on April 18 of each year that mark the anniversary of the earthquake.

           In 1945, local historian Bernice Meamber met and carefully noted a conversation she had with Charles Herzog, a long time Yrekan, about Lotta Crabtree and her time in Yreka.  It has been speculated through various accounts that Lotta arrived in Yreka sometime between 1853 and 1857, so she would have been between six and ten years old at the time.  The length of her stay here has also been disputed from three months to three years, but no matter how long she was here, she won the hearts and gold from the miners. 

            In the conversation with Charles Herzog he recalled to Bernice Meamber that it was in November of 1854 that Lotta and her mother came to Yreka.  When they arrived they were “destitute” and they stayed with his family.  Lotta sang and danced at the W. S. R. Taylor Saloon [aka Arcade Billiard Saloon] and entertained the miners.  He recounted that one night at Taylor’s Saloon she took in $10,000 in gold dust alone!   When all of this happened Charles Herzog was just a mere toddler, being born in Yreka in 1856.  However, Charles goes on to verify his story by recounting a chance meeting with Lotta years later in 1876.  Charles had just finished driving a band of cattle to San Francisco and was actually at Lotta’s Fountain getting a drink of water when a woman stopped and spoke to him.  In the conversation she asked him where he was from, and when he mentioned Yreka, the conversation blossomed from there.  She told him she remembered when she stayed with his family and that she used to carry him around as a little one.  She recounted the night she took in $10,000 and that when she left Yreka she gave her piano to the Catholic Church (when it was still up on the hill by the cemetery).

            Lotta reigned as a top earning star in America for 25 years and traveled the entire nation.  At the age of 43 she retired following a fall; she “went out on top”.  She lived until 1924, at age 76 and after her retirement did not perform much according to research except for a special event, her last performance, during the 1915 Panama Exposition in San Francisco during “Lotta Crabtree Day”.  Lotta felt her wealth had come from the people and thought it should be returned to them.  After her death in her estate was valued at about Four Million dollars in a charitable trust, and it was left to funds for hospitals, education, needy actors, homeless animals, and spreading cheer at Christmas.  The largest sums went to disabled veterans of World War I, and to ex-convicts in starting life anew after release from prison.  These funds are still in operation. 
Copyright:  Claudia East, 2013