Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:
“A tempest in a teapot, and a toy teapot at that."


The Los Angeles Herald reported that among the businesses of Johannesburg were The Val Verde hotel and Phillips’ restaurant which are commodious buildings, also the Miners’ home.


The Miner’s Home mentioned above is assumed to have been a hotel of sorts.  It’s existance was confirmed in the October 31, 1897 Los Angeles Herald.

H. W. Squires — Hotel Johannesburg

A description of the Hotel was provided in the October 31, 1897 Los Angeles Herald as follows “The Hotel Johannesburg cost, including the furniture $11,000. The furniture and appointments cost fully $4000. It is a substantially built structure, 60×100 feet, two stories in height and is surrounded on two sides by a wide veranda and porch. It has thirty-six large rooms, including an office 24×24, a commodious ladles parlor with elegant piano, a bar and billiard room, an elegant dining room that will seat 100 persons. The furniture throughout the blulding is first- class and the appointments up to date in every respect, including electric bells in every room. In the kitchen, presided over by an accomplished “chef,” is a French range that cost $100. All the room walls are nicely decorated and there is an air of comfort pervading the whole building that makes the guests feel at home. Water is piped into the hotel and ample protection is afforded in case of fire by fire hydrants and extinguishers. A large “Hosier” safe gives ample security to valuables. H. W. Squires is the proprietor and Mrs Squires, formerly of the Windsor hotel, Redlands, and an experienced hotel keeper, is the manager.” A birthday party for one of  the local residents was reported by the Los Angeles Herald as being held at the hotel in their October 18, 1897 edition “A birthday party was given a few evenings ago in Hotel Johannesburg in honor of the birthday of George Curtis. The parlors were handsomely decorated with flowers sent from Los Angeles and San Francisco, a poem composed by one of the ladies present was read, and several appropriate presents were made. The crowning event of the evening was a huge birthday cake surrounded by thirty candles.”

The Johannesburg Hotel. Finest Hotel in The Rand Mining District -- RDM

Without a doubt the finest hotel in the Rand Mining District, the Hotel Johannesburg, which was one of the first building built in Johannesburg, it was built by the developers of the town at a cost of $6.000. Management was taken over by H. W. Squires soon after its completion.  As shown on the receipt pictured the hotel was equipped with electric call bells and all modern conveniences.  The rate was $2.50 a day which equates to about $250.00 a day at current gold values.

Mr. Squires and his wife were involved in an incident that, unfortunately, was only too common at the time.  This incident involved the use of Japanese help in the hotel.    Unfortunate as the incident was, it became even more so by being blown out of proportion by one of the Bakersfield newspapers, and was brought to the attention of the Governor of California. As the other Bakersfield paper, the Daily Californian, said it became ” A tempest in a teapot, and a toy teapot at that.”  This all came about because Mrs. Squires had applied to an employment agency in Los Angeles for Chinese or Japanese help and two Japanese people were sent out to Johannesburg by the agency to work for her.

When the Japanese were spotted on the stage in Randsburg and it was found out that they were to be employed things started stirring and as reported in a San Francisco newspaper:  “May 31, 1897:  “RANDSBURG, Cal. May 30. — The unwritten law of the Rand is that no Chinese are wanted. Several attempts have been made to bring them out, but the people showed that they would not tolerate the coolies’. Two Japanese passed through on this afternoon’s stage, and are booked for a leading hotel in an .adjoining camp. There are mutterings among the miners and the Japanese may be escorted out of the county by vigilantes.” –San Francisco Call

As was so common at the time the people of the camp were upset, and demanded that they leave camp. The same newspaper  reported the following day: “ June 01, 1897: “THE BAND IGNORED Desert Miners Defied by a Johannesburg Woman .WILL NOT DISCHARGE JAPANESE .Mrs. Squires’ Bold Reply to a Committee of Border Citizens .EMPLOYS COOLIES AS COOKS IN HER HOTEL .Residents of the Camps Will To Night Decide on a Decisive Plan of Action RANDSBUKG. Cal., May 31. — Trouble is brewing on the Rand. The unwritten law of the desert mines has been defied and set aside, and the rough men of the border propose to enforce it in the summary manner that resides there. courts and lawyers have not yet gained a foot hold. In the early history of mining on the desert, long before Randsburg was thought of, it was decided that no Chinese were wanted. Goler was the principal camp, both for placer and quartz mining. One of the rules agreed on there was that any Chinaman who dared visit the camp would be given twenty minutes in which to retrace his steps, or made to pay for every minute thereafter spent in Goler. Every endeavor has been made by leading Chinese at Mojave to get a foothold for their countrymen in Randsburg. Money has been offered for positions, business men have been guaranteed fancy rentals for buildings, and on one occasion a well-known Celestial arrived here on the stage and proceeded to make himself popular by treating everybody. He visited the several resorts and showed himself to be a good fellow. When the stage was ready to leave on the following morning he had not yet retired to sleep, and was treating the early risers to cocktails. When the stage started the Chinaman was invited to get aboard, never to return, and he obeyed the invitation.

Yesterday, as announced in the dispatches, two Japanese passed through Randsburg on their way to Johannesburg to take positions as cooks in the Johannesburg Hotel. At once angry tautening’s were heard in the camp. Couriers were dispatched to Johannesburg to learn if the residents of that camp sanctioned the infringement on the rights of white laborers. The reply came back that the investigation there was as intense as at Randsburg, and a joint meeting of the citizens of the two camps was called by means of the following notice posted in the two camps: Notice is hereby given to all miners, mine-owners and all persons interested in the welfare of the camp of Randsburg  and  Johannesburg to meet at the Hollenbeck restaurant in Randsburg this (Monday) evening, May 31, at 8 o’clock, to review and look after the protection of the white labor of aforesaid camps.

By order of the committee.

The meeting was an animated one. Speeches were made by leading miners and mine owners, and it was declared to be the sense of the gathering that the Japanese must be made to go, and that without the slightest delay. A committee of five was appointed to wait upon Mrs. Squires of the Johannesburg and notify her of the action of the joint mass meeting.

That this notice failed of the desired result is why there are going to be lively times in Johannesburg soon. Late tonight the following telegram was received by The Call representative, indicating that Mrs. Squires is determined to oppose the will of the border men:

JOHANNESBURG, Cal., May 21.— Request will not be complied with. Trouble certain. “When the committee called on Mrs. Squires, the matter was discussed in a peaceable and businesslike manner. Chairman Finch explained the situation and requested her to dismiss her unwelcome help. She asked for reasonable time in which to replace the Japanese, or at least that the committee should replace them. She said the employment office at Los Angeles declared it was impossible to get whites to come to the desert at this time of year. She did not discharge her white labor; they quit, and she had been trying for two weeks to get white labor, but could not. This was the unsatisfactory reply which the Randsburg members of the committee brought back late to-night. Had the offender been a man instead of a woman there would have been no farther mincing of words; the employer of Japanese would have been summarily dealt with, and the coolies would have been in luck if they escaped with unpunctured cuticle. But here was one of the gentler sex to deal with, and the chivalry of the border men asserted itself. It was decided that before decisive action was taken another mass-meeting of Randsburg and Johannesburg citizens be called, and notices were scattered about in places where they will catch the eye of the populace early in the morning. The conference will 4e held in the Hollenbeck restaurant to-morrow night, and whatever action is decided upon will be taken before the sun rises Wednesday morning. While to-night’s meeting was in progress the two Japanese were locked in the kitchen of the Johannesburg Hotel, and the white employees of the hostelry stood guard to defend them in case the miners decided to eject them by force.”

On the 2nd of June the Call reported that:  “TWO DAYS’ GRACE FOR MRS. SQUIRES– Rand Miners Partially Capitulate to the Land lady. She Need Not Discharge Her Japanese Cooks Right Away–.Given Forty-Eight Hours in Which to Obey the Will of the Border Men–.RANDSBUKG. Cal., June I. For the first time the citizens’ committees of Randsburg and Johannesburg have had to “pull in their horns,” and bow to the will of a violator of the unwritten law of the Rand. That the offender is a woman is responsible for this capitulation, for nowhere can be found more true gallantry, sincere though it be rough and uncouth, than on the border. Mrs. Squire, who was ordered by the joint, committee from the two camps to discharge two Japanese cooks in her employ at Hotel Johannesburg, braved the wrath of the border men by refusing to obey. Had a man or number of men been guilty of such defiance his or their punishment would have been swift and vigorous. But a woman! That was different, and the committee, as announced in these dispatches last night, decided to call a second mass-meeting of the entire population of the two camps before taking decisive action. This meeting was held to-night in the Hollenbeck restaurant. Instead of authorizing a speedy descent upon the hotel of the offending employer of Japanese it was mild in its deliberations. The conclusion arrived at was that it would be politic to grant forty-eight hours’ grace to Mrs. Squires. If she remains obdurate at the end of .that period — well, possibly there will be another ‘mass-meeting. Tonight’s meeting was well attended.

The report of the joint committees appointed to notify the management of the Hotel Johannesburg to discharge its Japanese employees was accepted. The committee explained the situation fully and suggested that the landlady, “Mrs. Squires, be given a little time to engage other help. Several speeches were made, all of which were in favor of extending the period of grace. Then another committee of three was appointed to wait upon Mrs. Squires and request her to heed the voice of the people and let the Japanese go at once. A small crowd accompanied the committee to Johannesburg. It was midnight before the interview between the miners and Mrs. Squires was ended. She was not satisfied that owing to the scarcity of cooks and waiters, she would be allowed to retain the Japanese for forty-eight hours, but it was impressed upon her that the limit would apt be extended and the Japanese must go. Perhaps the landlady will obey the injunction and perhaps she will not. She has not yet advertised for white cooks.

The following letter sent to Alvin Fay the Kern County District Attorney by Claude Bohannon the Constable of the township, best explains the incident:


June 28, 1897

“Alvin Fay, Dear Sir. — Yours of the 28th instant at hand and contents noted, in reply will say — That Mrs. Squires of Johnnesburg (sic) applied to an employment agency in Los Angeles for Chinese or Japanese help and two Japanese were sent to her place.  They were the first coolies ever in the district and naturally the whole population were indignant.  Mrs. Squires knowing that it was the edict of the people generally that there should be no Japs or Chinese allowed in the camp.  A mass meeting was called and the subject was discussed, a committee was appointed to await on the lady and request the dismissal of the Japs.  The lady paid the fare of the Japs from Los Angeles and agreed to let them go if she were reimbursed.  Consequently a subscription was taken up and the Japs fare was paid back to Los Angeles and everything went off placably (sic).  I suppose she has reported the matter to the Governor as I don’t think the Japs objected to leaving.  No violence or threats were used as I was on hand to see that everything was all right.  Please call Governor Budd’s attention to the fact that it was through Estee’s being a Chinese lover that he (Budd) now holds the position of Governor.

Yours Very Truly

Claude Bohannon, Constable

This letter did not however bring an end to the hullabaloo as was reported in a Los Angeles newspaper ” July 09, 1897: “JAPANESE LABOR NOT AT ALL WELCOME–The miners Are More Determined Than Ever to Exclude Mongolians From the Camp JOHANESBURG, July 6—Sheriff Bogart of Kern county was in Randsburg and Johannesburg last week under instructions from Governor Budd, investigating the so-called expulsion of Japanese from this camp a few weeks ago. It is presumed that upon the receipt of his report by the governor the latter will conclude that the affair is of such small purport, and will so inform the Washington authorities, that an end will be reached in this insignificant episode. But this has done one thing, and that is to emphasize the miners determination to prevent the encroachment of the “little brown man” and the “heathen Chinee” on Rand soil. The rule to exclude China men and Japs from the Rand district was adopted at one of the first miners’ meetings held, at which time it was determined to make it strictly a white man’s camp, with, of course, the exception, of the negro, and in but one instance has that been violated, and in deference to the wish of the miners and prospectors, who have made it possible for the followers of other pursuits to come here, live and prosper, it is to be hoped that no one in the future will have the temerity to supplant white labor with that of Asiatic. Many from he-revisited Los Angeles this week in order to “see Bryan.”  They are now returning full of admiration and respect for the “Giant of the Platte.” Bryan’s friends are many in this camp, and if a presidential election was held tomorrow and he were the candidate he would receive ten votes to his opponent’s one, no matter who the latter might be.”  The Herald

November 23, 1897: “A ball was given at Hotel Johannesburg last Saturday evening, to celebrate the near approach of the railroad. Another will be given when the line is
completed. ” – San Francisco Call

This receipt for a day and three quarters stay at the Johannesburg Hotel was for $3.50. Gold at that time was about $20.00 an ounce. At today’s price of $1500.00 an ounce this would equate to $262.50. That is some fancy hotel. -- RDM

In February of 1900 the Johannesburg Milling & Water Co. began legal proceedings against Mr. Squires for the restitution of their property.  Evidently Mr. Squires was not keeping his payments current.  They were apparently successful in their suit as they sold the hotel to Mr. Godsmark in September of 1900.  1

Godsmark & Whittemore –

An advertisement in the Randsburg Miner in September 1900 shows William W. Godsmark and a man by the name of Whittemore as being the proprietors of the Johannesburg Hotel.  William Godsmark was a prosperous grocery and creamery businessman from Battle Creek Michigan.  He purchased the hotel from the Johannesburg Milling & Water Co.  for a recorded sum of ten dollars, however the Randsburg Miner reported that reliable sources had told them the purchase price was actually $3,000.

Mr. Godsmark and his brother Albert led a group of investors that purchased the Ratcliff mine called the Never Give Up.  The mine, which is located in the Panamint Mountains outside of Ballarat, was purchased for a price of $30,000. This mine was held as a closed corporation known as the Ratcliff Consolidated Gold Mines. Local mining interests is evidenced by a letterhead in the collection of the Kern County Museum which shows that William Godsmark was involved with a company called The Croesus Mining Company, which had it’s mine, mill and office in Johannesburg.

Miller Brothers

William Sherman and William Kepler Miller are shown as hotel keepers in the 1900 Census and the Great Register of Voters.  A liquor license was issued to W. S. Miller in May of 1899 for Johannesburg.  3

Ernst & Dickinsons — Johannesburg Hotel

William F. Ernst left the Adobe Hotel in Randsburg and bought the Johannesburg Hotel.  It is not clear what extent the partnership with Sam Dickinson carried over to this business from the Adobe Hotel, however it is known that the liquor licenses for the period 1902 to 1904 were in the name of both Ernst and Dickinson.  Whether Dickinson had any actual interest in the hotel or was just partner in the bar is not known.  In February of 1905 Ernst traded the hotel for a ranch near Anaheim to Mr. Cheesebrough. No mention was made of Dickinson having any interest in the hotel at the time of this trade.  4

Oscar E. Cheesebrough — Johannesburg Hotel

Oscar E. Cheesebrough acquired the hotel in February of 1905.  Shortly after his arrival in Johannesburg he became interested in mining and entered into partnership with John Witmore in the lease of the Magpie Mine.  This partnership was dissolved in June of 1905 in a cloud of gun smoke that resulted in Oscar being charged with assaulting John Witmore with a deadly weapon with intent to commit murder.  These charges were however later dropped.

It seems that the partners were not getting along so they decided to break up the partnership p.  They divided the tools that were on the surface in the blacksmith shop and Witmore was using foul and abusive language while this was accomplished.  He would not let Cheesebrough touch the tools and proceeded to throw Cheesebrough’s tools out of the shop including an anvil.  He then told Oscar that the rest of his tools were down in the shaft, so Oscar went down after them.  A few minutes later John also went down into the shaft.  A short while later a shot was heard by one Oscar’s friends whom was on the surface.  Another friend looked down the shaft and saw Witmore climbing up the ladder with a gun in his hand.

Witmore claims to have gone down into the mine with peaceful intentions and when he reached a point that he was even with the drift that Oscar was in he was shot in the arm.  He claimed that he did not have his gun upholstered when the shooting occurred, but drew it later as he was climbing out of the mine.   Oscar’s story as he told it to the judge was a bit different.  He stated that he heard Witmore say he would “Kill the ___ __ _ _____” as he reached the drift in which Cheesebrough was gathering tools.  As John turned, presumably from the ladder, Oscar claims he had a gun in his hand and waiting for nothing more Oscar shot him in the arm from a distance of six to eight feet.  The Judge decided that since it was one man’s word against another and that the shooting occurred in a mine with not other eyewitnesses that it would be fruitless to take it to the Superior Court and he dismissed the charges.

Oscar is known to have still been in business in Johannesburg in July of 1909 when a liquor license was issued to him.  It is presumed that he ran the Johannesburg Hotel until it burnt in 1910.  After the hotel burnt he left for Los Angeles where he ran the Argonuat Hotel.  5

Charley Halford — Cosey Hotel

In October of 1905 Charley took over the Cosey Hotel.  Little is known about this hotel which was owned by Jack Harrison, and leased out to various people.  Charley ran the hotel only two months and by 14 December of the same year Jack was again advertising the Cosey Hotel as being for rent.  On a Sunday morning in April of 1906 the Cosey Hotel caught fire from a gasoline cook stove.  A passerby who rushed to the building to warn the occupants discovered the fire.  There was only one person in the building at the time.  Fred Ball a miner had recently come in from working a double shift at a mine.  Being completely exhausted he immediately fell asleep.   When finally awakened he found himself surrounded by smoke and flames.  His room was on the second floor of the Hotel and he had to jump from the window to make good his escape.  Some people below caught him.  Fred suffered severe burns on his arms, throat and face.  One eye was badly injured.  In addition to his injuries he lost forty dollars and a can full of nickels.  The hotel was a total loss, but a bucket brigade saved adjacent property and kept the fire from wiping out the whole town.  6

Charles J. and E. E. Teagle — St. Charles Hotel

The St. Charles Hotel, Built in 1912 -- KCM

From the time the Johannesburg Hotel burnt down in 1910 until 1913 Johannesburg was without a decent hotel.  To remedy this situation C. J. and E. E. Teagle successful merchants of Johannesburg decided to go into the hotel business.

St. Charles Hotel under construction in 1912. Hotel is the second building up on the right of the photo. Collection of Deric English

The original plans called for a one-story hotel, 80 x 100 feet, built Spanish style around an open court.  It was supposed to be a fireproof structure built of reinforced concrete.  There were plans for 30 Guestrooms, office, and sample rooms.  The plans however were changed and the main hotel is 50 x 80 feet with a 60 x 26-foot addition, which was the kitchen and dining room.  The structure is frame and stucco and when built the hotel was equipped with bathrooms and electric lights.  This when the finest homes still had outhouses and kerosene lamps in use.

The hotel was described at its opening by the Randsburg Miner as follows:  “The hotel is Spanish in style, built around an open court.  An arrangement admirably adapted to the desert climate.  The building is ornate in appearance, finished in plaster and painted in pleasant colors.  In front a porte-cochere gives entrance to a lounging porch furnished with easy chairs and ornamented with potted palms.  The office is spacious with exits into the court upon which all the bedrooms open.

Beyond the large parlor and writing room a wing contains the dining room, kitchen, and pantry.  The finishing is in excellent taste the rooms being tinted in soft shades with all the furniture of fine brass and oak.  Every apartment in the house is an outside room.

The dining room, located in the wing on the north side of the house is large, well ventilated and equipped with electric fans.  The finish of this room is artistic with a dark wainscoting, harmoniously tinted walls and ceiling, plate racks, sideboard, pictures and cafe furniture.  The open court has been planted to blue grass and climbing vines, which in time will produce a real oasis of the desert.

The electric fixtures throughout are of fine design and add greatly to the ornamentation as well as convenience of the house.  A hotel of such complete appointments is a notable addition to the desert and supplies a lack greatly felt a Johannesburg since the destruction of the hotel two years ago.  The enterprise of the Teagle Bros., proprietors, is to be highly commended as it will be a great advantage to this community. “

When the hotel first opened, on June 3rd, 1913, it was under the general management of Charles Teagle with the office and housekeeping being done under the supervision of Mrs. Helen Kearns.  In October of 1913 Mrs. W. Wynn took over from Mrs. Kearns.

August 18, 1931: “With the successful operation of this mill (Gold Coin), the Operator and the King Solomon mills, the Rand district mill city, Johannesburg, is making a flourishing showing, so much so that a deal for the St. George Hotel property has been made to Nels  Hoff of Randsburg.

Hoff in the early days of the Rand was a hard rock miner, later taking and interest in a Los Angeles hostelry.  Some 10 years ago he acquired a rundown hotel that was gradually built up to a first class stopping place, at which stage it went up in flames in the Randsburg fire of last June.

The St. George was built for a modern hotel and under the new management of Hoff will be second to none.  The dining room will be under the supervision of Madame’s Lizzie O’Conner and Jean Trueblood.” – Bakersfield Californian

September 1, 1931: “In the mention of the hotel deal made at Johannesburg, the fore part of August, the name St. George was inadvertently made.  It should read St. Charles Hotel, the new owner, has already added to the comforts and looks of the cozy hostelry.” – Bakersfield Californian.

“The New Hotel”

The Building Seen in the Center of The Photo With Three Peaks is "The New Hotel", While It Most Likely Had a Name, No Mention of it Has been found in the Old Newspapers. -- RDM

June 14, 1922: “Hotel Nearly Ready at Johannesburg —-New Town Making Rapid Progress and Much Business is Coming In.”

— The Johannesburg Township Mining Co. headed by Uri B. Curtis, President, R.. D. Emery V. P. and with John H. Rogers Construction Engineer.  Among the many things it is doing at the new town site at Johannesburg is building as fast as men can do so, the most modern and up to date hotel that money can buy. This hotel is planned to meet the conditions of the Mojave Desert, and will have many features never before utilized in a building of this character.To begin with it will be of one story planned on a modern adaptation of the Spanish patio style.  There will be three wings running from the main front part.  Between these wings will be two patios,  Every room will an outside one giving plenty of air, light and sunshine.  The first unit of 40 rooms will be ready the opening July 1st.  There will be a bath room between each two of these first 40 rooms while the remaining 65 rooms will each have a separate bath.

The hotel will be wholly equipped by electricity, containing features that no hotel in the world, as far as can be found out, have ever had.  Electricity will do everything.  It will furnish light, heat the place in winter, turn the fans in summer, heat all water for every purpose, furnish the means of cooking, and form the power for ice making and a cooling system piped through the building.

On the roof a Thermostat solar system is controlled by electricity is such a way that when the solar system fails to keep the water heated to 165 degrees automatic electric heaters are turned on and the water brought to the desired temperature.

The Lobby.  When we mention this in the Rand District, every man, woman and child immediately gets a glitter in their eyes and a snap to their speech.  The lobby of any popular hotel is always an interesting place, but in this instance it means far more, for there is today no real meeting place where you can at some time of day find every body in camp.  The lobby of the new hotel will no doubt be the most popular spet in the whole Rand District.  There we will see everybody, hear everything, and meet those that we are looking for.  Appreciating the necessity and value of such a room, the new hotel company has planned a lobby to meet the situation, running across two thirds of the main building, a room 52 feet long and 26 feet wide.  It will be furnished generously with couches, chairs, writing tables and every other convenience,  all of reed wicker furniture.  The wall decorations will blend accordingly.

Opening from the west end of the lobby a large dinning room 25 feet by 40 feet located on the corner will be able to seat 125 people at a time.

Three private banquet rooms, so arranged that two or all of them can be thrown together to accommodate private dinner parties.  Two large porches completely screened, each 29 feet by 25 feet will be on the front of the hotel and upon these dances will be held when weather permits and when not one end of the lobby will be used.

The patios and grounds of the hotel are to be landscaped and planted with all cactus and flowers and plants that are native of the Mojave Desert.  Tom Wright, the florist of Los Angeles has this work in hand and promises to out do anything he has attempted yet.

Photo of Barbeque at "New" Hotel Dated in correctly as 1921. Photos were often written on many years later and incorrectly dated as memories often fail. Collection of Charles Schultz

The hotel will epen its doors July 1st, and a wonderful program of entertainment is being arranged.  That the public demands such a place is evidenced by the reservations.  The first unit of 40 room will be filled before the doors open and until the next 65 rooms are completed it will not be able to accommodate the guests applying.”  —  Rand District News

Dignitaries at Barbeque Celebrating the Opening Of the New Hotel in Johannesburg. Mrs. Burcham, one of the owners of the Yellow Aster Mine in Randsburg, is #3 in the photo. -- Collection of Charles Schultz

Reverse of Photo Showing Dignitaries at Celebration at "New Hotel" in Johannesbur. Note that the date on this photo has been corrected to 1922.-- Collection of Charles Schultz

This entry was posted in Johannesburg, Johannesburg Merchants. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

Back to top