MERCHANTS

Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:

Charles A. Koehn– Koehn’s Store

In January of 1896 the Bakersfield Daily Californian, reported the following:

“There have been about 150 locations made in the district, and at a meeting to elect a recorder, there were thirty five miners present.  The district is called the Rand District.  There are five wooden buildings including stables, corral, saloon and about thirty tents.  Water is hauled by Harley Swartout at $2 per barrel and provisions are supplied from the store of the indefatigable desert merchant and hotel proprietor of Kane Springs, Charles Koehn.”

This, the first store in town, was most likely conducted from a tent.  Later Mr. Koehn built a substantial wood building. In the Rand Mine account ledger on page 3 (page 1& 2 are missing) a listing is found for July 27,1896 showing a payment to C. A. Koehn for $2.40.  In December of 1896 Harmon Prosser is listed as the successor to Mr. Koehn.   In July of 1897 however, the Register of Licenses for Kern County, showed that Mr. Koehn was still selling liquor in Randsburg as well as Cow Wells (Garlock).

One of the interesting stories about Charley involved mining Charlie had many mining interest both in gold and other minerals such as salt and gypsite.  Charley had an early interest in the Windy Mine, had the claim on the salt beds at Saltdale which he sold to the Diamond Salt Co.  Had the early claims on the gypsite mined at Koehn (Kane) dry lake and a mine in the Stringer District called the Winnie that he had purchased from the original discoverer, Ed Hammond.  Charley leased this mine out to an old prospector by the name of Witte.  Witte sunk the shaft down twelve feet and took out six sacks or ore that would net him about $800.  Witte than proceeded to Kramer, and exhibited the ore, telling a story that he had found a new strike, but only giving a general hint as to its location.  Some railroad men advanced him some money for development work.  Needing a wagon and horses, Witte proceeded to Bakersfield to purchase them.

While in Bakersfield, Witte took to celebrating a bit too much and ended dying with his boots on as a result of a gunshot wound received during a drunken quarrel.  Thus having died with the secret of his “new discovery” another lost mine legend began.

The men in Randsburg got the story of this lost mine from the boys in Kramer, via the fellows in Mojave.  Somewhere along the line they forgot to mention the name of the miner.  Charley having heard this story twice scoured the country looking for the lost mine.  The name of the old miner finally reached the ears of Pat Bryne at the Mountain View Saloon.  Now Pat knew that Witte had taken some ore out of the Winnie, but had not known that he was the prospector that had died in Bakersfield.  When talking with Charley about the story they finally put two and two together and found out Charley had been spending money looking for a mine that he already owned, and in fact was already played out.      1

Samuel James Montgomery — Pioneer Liquor and Gents Furnishings Store

Born in Portadown, CountyArmahg, Ireland on the 15th of August 1854, where he was educated until age sixteen at which time he made his way to New York City where he remained for the next seventeen years.  During his time in New York City he engaged in the grocery and tea business.  Omaha Nebraska was his next stop where he spent the next nine years from 1887 to 1896 in the commission business.

One of the earliest of merchants in the Rand district, Samuel opened his store in April of 1896.  His first business was most likely in a tent as it was reported that he was building a new store in September of the same year.  It was reported to have frontage on three of the major streets in town, which would place it on the corner of Rand St., Butte Ave. and Staley Ave. (Randsburg -Redrock Road).

In addition to his business Samuel had an interest in mining. In partnership with E. B. Maginnis they had a claim called the Wedge on which they hid a ledge that milled $47 per ton, which at the $18 an ounce that gold was bringing in those days amounted to a little over two and a half ounces a ton.

In January of 1898 the big fire wiped out Sam.  He rebuilt and was issued a liquor license in May of that year.  He sold out now long after this and went to mining as a full time occupation.

In the election just prior to his death in May of 1914 he ran for County Supervisor and lost by the narrowest of margins in a three-way race.

Mr. Montgomery came to an untimely ending in May of 1914 when he fell down the shaft of his claim the Paymaster, which was located a mile west of town.  His wife and two sons, who were living in Los Angeles at the time, survived him.  Mrs. Montgomery had previously served as Postmistress of Randsburg having been appointed by President Taft.

August 29, 1897: “Jim Montgomery has sold his interest in his Randsburg store to his brother Sam and will devote his time to looking after his extensive mining interests in this district.” – The Herald

Kuffel & Wilson — W. C. Wilson & Co. –Wilson, Mullen & Bracewell

Clyde and Adam Kuffel were mining in Goler when the strike was made in Randsburg.  William C. Wilson had been doing business in Mojave for twelve years prior to the discovery of gold in Randsburg.  It is not definitely clear which one of the Kuffels was involved in this store.  It was the Father Adam P. Kuffel who was listed as merchant in the 1896 and 1898 Great Register of Voters. However, in the journal ledger for Rand Mining Co. in July through December of 1896, there are listings for payment to Wilson & Kuffel, W. C. Wilson and D. C. Kuffel & Co.  The Kuffel and Wilson Store was being built in May of 1896 and was up and running by June of that year.  The first official post office was located in a corner of the store, which was presided over by Mr. Moores.  This store is thought to have been located in “Pioneer Town” up closer to the mine. The store was later relocated down to the present day location of Randsburg and was lost in the January 1898 fire.  The Los Angeles Herald reported on January 31 that:W. C. Wilson & Co. have let the contract for the removal of their store building and goods from their Garlock store to Randsburg.” Mr. Wilson realized the need for communication and built the first telephone line into Randsburg.

How long Mr. Kuffel remained associated with the firm is not definitely known. However, by July of 1898 according to a letterhead in the collection of the author, it appears the firm’s name had been changed to Wilson, Mullen & Bracewell.

June 13, 1898: “Last Saturday evening J. W. McCloud of Wilson’s store and Alex S. Montgomery had an altercation regarding a bill said to be due the store by the latter party. Later in the evening as McCloud was passing along the street Montgomery struck him on the head several time with a heavy nickel watch and then proceeded to batter him with a stone. Passersby came to Mr. McCloud’s assistance and Montgomery’s arrest followed. He was given a Jury trial Wednesday, which resulted in a sentence of ninety days or $90. He chose the former, and was taken to Bakersfield Friday. Mr. Montgomery worked for the Yellow Aster Company, and a few weeks after this company made the rule that dismissal would follow a complaint against an employee that did not settle his bills. ” –The Herald

Mr. Wilson remained in business in Randsburg until the fire in June of 1903.  He later became County Auditor and it was reported that in August of 1906 that he was not going to run for reelection and intended to remove to San Francisco at the end of his term.

Baker & Ballard

W. C. Baker and W. B. Ballard of Bakersfield conducted business as peddlers.  In July of 1896 they had made three trips to Randsburg and were preparing for their fourth.  They reported to the newspaper that they were not hunting ore while in Randsburg, as they preferred their gold already coined.  4

Tolfree & Heineman’s

It was reported in the Mojave News section of the Bakersfield Daily Californian in July of 1896 that “The new stock of merchandise and hardware of Tolfree & Heineman’s store has arrived.:  They are going to do business in Randsburg.”

Thomas McCarthy — McCarthy’s Book Store

Thomas Mc'Carthy Was One of The Leading Citizen's of Randsburg. Collection of the Rand Desert Museum

Thomas McCarthy came to Randsburg in September of 1896.  He ran a Bookstore and Newsstand.  He also carried magazines, tobacco, candy, and all stationary supplies.   This was either a more lucrative business than it would seem or Mr. McCarthy must have had some independent wealth, as his family was a large one.  The photograph shown on the left is thought to have been taken shortly after his arrival in Randsburg as the child sitting in Thomas’s lab was born in May of 1895.  At the time the photo was taken there was in addition to his wife Olivia Belle, five children, Teresa, Sarah, Marie, Leo, and Tom.  Two more children are known to have been born after the McCarthy’s moved to Randsburg.  A baby boy, who is presumed to have died at birth, by the name of Charlie, was born and died in 1897 and is buried in the Johannesburg Cemetery.  A daughter Clare was born in 1899.

While there is no specific mention of his losses in the 1898 fires it is safe to assume that at least one if not both of the fires caused him losses.  In 1903 he was again wiped out by fire but rebuilt and even added on to his store. In 1904 Thomas McCarthy made an unsuccessful bid for the position of County Supervisor

For the first four years that he was in town Mr. McCarthy resisted the siren call of gold, but like most men the lure of easy riches was eventually too much and he went out to prospect. This led to his involvement in mining and as such he was caught up in the Tonopah, Nevada excitement and became the President of the United Randopah Mining and Milling Company.  This company had claims in Tonapah and their home office in Randsburg.

It is not known when the strike was made or for sure who made the strike that would put Mr. McCarthy on easy street, but a strike was made.  The strike however was not gold.  It was tungsten. In January of 1906 Mr. McCarthy and his partners, Taylor and Ray, having secured options on all the claims in the immediate vicinity of the Papoose Claim, as required by the parties who wanted to buy his claim, sold out to some San Francisco interests.  It is not known what Thomas’s share of the selling price of $114,000 (equivalent to approximately $2,280,000 of today’s money) but it was enough that he decided to buy a farm in Ukiah, Ca.  and enjoy the rural life.   So the man who had been in business the longest of all merchants in 1906 sold out to Daniel Gunderson.

The rural life however did not agree with Thomas and he became ill and dispirited and returned for a visit to Randsburg to see if he could regain his health.  His recovery was so rapid that he decided to sell out in Ukiah and return to Randsburg. He returned in 1907 and went back into the Tungsten mining business and was reported to have made another good strike in October of 1907.    It is not known how long he stayed in Randsburg, but it is understood that he eventually moved to the La Mesa Ca. where in November of 1912 he owned and operated the La Mesa Mercantile Co.   Mrs. McCarthy passed on in San Diego in May of 1912.

C. E. Darrow

Mr. Darrow of Los Angeles was reported to be opening a branch of his general store on a mineral claim in Randsburg in November of 1896.  He and a friend by the name of A. J. Mooney reportedly rode their bicycles from Los Angeles to Randsburg in 31 hours.

Ed Hammond — Hammond Prosser and Company

Hammond Prosser and Company also known as Hammond & Co. was in the general mercantile business in Randsburg prior to December of 1896. They had bought out Charlie Koehn. The building was destroyed in the January 1920, fire that destroyed the business district of Randsburg.  The Los Angeles Herald newspaper reported that:

“The burnt district is being rapidly rebuilt, and soon there will be but few traces of the recent fire.  Hammond & Co. had lumber on the ground within a few hours after the fire, but was compelled to wait tor the ground to cool before beginning the erection of their building. They are now doing business in the new store, although it is not finished.”

After being burnt out for the second time in May of 1898 they had lumber on the ground within sixteen hours to rebuild.  The fireproof cellar of their building was reported to be full of undamaged goods. Mr. Hammond was one of the original trustees for the Rand School District.

June 13, 1898: “Hammond & Co. have turned their business over to their creditors. They have several thousand dollars in accounts upon their books, but have been unable to make collections. ” –The Herald

April 19, 1916: “Thos. D. Hammond, an arrival last month from Randsburg. Cal., was in the city yesterday from his camp, in Hassayampa district, after supplies and equipment, to start active development on a claim which he originally located 14 years ago. He mentions his property as giving good pan returns in free gold, from a black diorite dyke that has been opened to a depth of ten feet. He will install a whim and later a gasoline arrastra.” — Weekly Journal-Miner. (Prescott, Ariz.)

Nev. Wolfskill

Mr. Wolfskill was listed in the 12 December 1896 issue of the Randsburg Miner as a dealer in groceries and hardware.

Milton A. Lee — Lee’s Shoe Store

The advertising done by the merchants of Randsburg to lure additional people and business to their town succeeded with Milton Lee.  He was in business in San Francisco when he read of the increasing population of Randsburg and moved his business there in December of 1896.  The Fire of May 1898 wiped him out but he rebuilt and was still in business in 1899.  He had interests in several mining claims and was a silent partner in the saloon that stood next door to his shoe store.

Charles F. Lancaster and F. L. Smith — Lancaster & Co.

According to Geo. W. McPherson, in his History of Randsburg, Mr. Lancaster and Mr. Smith established a general merchandise store in Randsburg in December of 1896.  In 1899 Mr. Lancaster served on the Citizens Committee.  C. G. Illingworth bought out Mr. Smith in January of 1898.  It is presumed the store set at the location that C. G. Illingworth did business for 18 years which is the bank building on the Northwest corner of Butte Ave. and Jewell St.

October 21, 1899: “LANCASTER & CO’S new building is fast approaching completion and they expect to occupy it by the first of December.  It is 25 x 60, built of stone, with a fine cellar under the back end and  when completed will be absolutely fire-proof.” –Randsburg Miner

Fred O. Gorman –

Fred O. Gorman, a native of Australia, is shown in 1896 Great Register of Voters as a merchant of Randsburg.  In the 1900 Census he listed his occupation as a hay and grain Dealer.  He is not found in the records after 1900.

Jacoby’s

All that is known about Jocoby”s is that in the 1897 July 4th celebration in Randsburg, according to the Los Angeles Times, as reported in Marcia Wynn Rittenhouse’s book Desert Bonanza, the first prize in the 100 yard free for all race was a hat from “Jacoby’s”.

E. K. Wolf

The Bakersfield Daily Californian reported in September of 1897 that they had learned via the Visalia Times that E. K. Wolf of Los Angeles was building a substantial building in Randsburg and will soon open a furnishing’s store.

M. S. Lane — Crystal Ice Co.

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble shows that Mr. Lane, who was managing the Crystal Ice Co. in 1897, was one of the merchants who were promoting Randsburg in the Los Angeles and San Francisco papers.

F. W. Rundel –

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble shows that F. W. Rundel, a harness maker, was one of the merchants who in 1897 was promoting Randsburg in the Los Angeles and San Francisco papers.

Walter B. Broadwell — The Big Stone Store

Broadwell's Big Stone Store Was Located on Butte Ave. To the Left of The WhiteHouse Saloon. It later was Asher's Store and then became the Rand Mercantile. It also housed the Newspaper Office for the Rand District News and a Theatre in the 1940's and 1950's.

Broadwell & Co. which had previously been in business in Lancaster and Garlock Ca. came to Randsburg in October of 1897.  Mr. Broadwell purchased a lot next to Col. Hafford’s saloon and constructed a 20×40 foot building.  It is believed that their original store was wiped out in the January 1898 fire.  They then erected a large stone building that although not completed, was occupied, when it was again burnt out in the May 1898 fire.

June 13, 1898:  “Mr. Broadwell is rebuilding the store formally occupied by Anderson & Broadwell.” –The Herald

Later, when it was rebuilt, iron doors and shutters were placed on the building and it was considered fire proof.  This building and business are thought to be the ones acquired by C. A. Asher when he came to Randsburg sometime in early 1900.

David T. Jones –

Broadwell's Store Was Rebuilt After the May 1898 Fire and He Continued in Business Until Bought Out By C. Asher.

In October of 1897 Mr. Jones opened a dry goods store in Randsburg.  His building was wiped out in the great fire of May 1898, but he saved most of his stock by placing it in a fireproof cellar.  After the fire he immediately built a new adobe building which according Geo. McPherson in his History of Randsburg, was the first adobe built in town.  Based on the photo in Mr. McPherson’s history it is believed that this building is still standing and until recently had served as Randsburg’s Post Office for the past 60 years.  Approximately 5 feet were added on to the front of this building after the 1903 fire.  This five feet brought the building in line with others on Butte Ave.   Mr. Jones was in business in 1899 but is not found listed after that. In April of 1900 it was reported that Dr. Nichols was occupying the building formerly used by Mr. Jones as a dry goods store.

B. M. (W.) Birdsall

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble shows that B. M. Birdsall, a dealer in general merchandise, was one of the merchants who in 1897 was promoting Randsburg in the Los Angeles and San Francisco papers. The 1898 business directory lists Mr. Birdsall’s initials as B. W.   19

Norton O’Bear

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble shows that Norton O’ Bear, a grocer, was one of the merchants who in 1897 was promoting Randsburg in the Los Angeles and San Francisco papers. He was also listed in the business directory for 1898. 20

Mrs. A. Terrasse –

The Kern County Board of Supervisors issued Mrs. A. Terrasse a trader’s license, in March 1897, to do business in Randsburg.  The records do not indicate what she was trading.

St. Elmo Cigar Store

A photograph in the collection of the Kern County Museum shows the St. Elmo Cigar Store as being located between the Nugget Saloon and Koehn’s Store on Rand St.  However in the below photo the St. Elmo Cigar Store is located on the opposite side of the street from the Nugget Saloon.  The author believes that this photo was taken between the January 1898 and the May 1898 fires.

Anderson — Anderson’s General Merchandise

In a photograph believed to have been taken before the January 1898 fire Anderson’s General Merchandise is shown between the Mansion House and the Club Saloon. In the November 22, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Herald it was reported that “A. Anderson, proprietor of the new general merchandise store. Randsburg has, in conjunction with Broadwell & Co. Garlock, eighty tons of freight now in transit from Mojave. 

Vinton L. Mitchell

This letter head in the collection of the Rand Desert  Museum shows that Vinton Mitchell who had been in business in Randsburg as a Wholesale Produce and Commission house had given up his business in Randsburg by March of 1898, probably due to being burnt out in January 1898 fire.

Morgan & Rogers — Randsburg Fuel & Oil Co.

Frank Morgan came to Randsburg in the early part of 1897 and realized that there was a need for an oil distribution business.  He opened a store to specialize in that product in partnership with a man by the name of Rogers.  He brought the oil in to town in large tanks and provided custom made cans to his customers for their oil.  The oil was delivered from a large wagon with a tank on it.  He also ran a passenger and baggage wagon between Randsburg and the train station in Johannesburg.

January 30, 1900: “H. A. Kearns, Joseph Ibert et al. of Randsburg have deeded to F. A. Morgan of Los Angeles the Standard quartz mining claim for $1,000. The Standard crosses Butte Avenue, our main business street, and is covered with residences and business houses, including the Miner office. Only assessment work has ever been done on the claim, and it is said a patent will soon be applied for. Randsburg is governed in all real estate matters by an elected citizens’ committee, who prevent all jumping of town lots and make possessory title good. No court is appealed to in any dispute, and the title is considered by all as any improvements on a lot holds title to nonresidents, whose interests are protected by the committee, which is composed of business men only.” — Los Angeles Herald

An article in the 19 September 1907 Randsburg Miner stated that he had returned to Randsburg for a visit from Los Angeles where he conducted a hotel business.  According to the article this was the first time he had been in town since 1903.  It is thought however that he probably was there on a visit, as he was not shown in the 1900 census or the Great Register of Voters after 1898.  This building still exists.  It is the last building on the right hand side of the east end of Butte Ave.

Ord & Smith — Hardware, Stoves, Paint & Oils

A firm by the name of Ord & Smith was located at 400 Butte Avenue according to the December 12, 1896 edition of the Randsburg Miner.  They were dealers in hardware, tin ware, paints, oils and glass.  In 1898 the firm is listed in the business directory under the name of E. G. Ord only.

Ernest Ord’s store was located on a street “Paved with gold” or so stated the Bakersfield Daily Californian in an article published in the October 15, 1897 edition.  It seems the while workmen were digging the holes to place telephone poles for Mr. Wilson’s phone company they struck a ledge of very rich ore just below Ord’s hardware store.  Some miners who were working close by happened to sample the rock that was being thrown out of the hole and found it to be very rich.  They immediately put a monument for their new claim.

Mr. Ord was burnt out in the May 1898 fire but remained in business past that time as is shown on the above receipt dated 19 July 1898.  26

T. R. Hooper — Hooper’s Merchandise Store

Not much is known about Mr. Hooper other than he was burnt out in the 19 January 1898 fire.  It is doubtful he was able to recover from this tragedy. A memo, in the collection of the author, written by the Merchant’s National Bank of Los Angeles to the Randsburg Bank on the day of the fire illustrates Mr. Hooper’s financial condition. The memo stated that their client Mr. Cummings wished the Bank of Randsburg to pursue collection of a long overdue note owed him by T. R. Hooper.

W. R. Baker

Listed in the 1898 business directory as being in the provision business in Randsburg.

F. Hinke’s Secondhand Store –

Roberta Starry in her book Gold Gamble states that one of the businesses burnt in the May 1898 fire was Hike’s Secondhand Store.  This is thought to be a typo on the part of Roberta or the source from which she obtained this information.  What is more likely is that the name is Hinke as reported in the 1898-business directory.

L. A. Mclean — Secondhand Store

Just like the Randsburg of today secondhand stores were not a scarcity in 1898, although the stores today would certainly like to have the merchandise being sold by L. A. Mclean.

T. Wiesendanger

Dealing in new and secondhand furniture in 1898 Mr. Wiesendanger made his try at mining the miners pockets in Randsburg.

J. M. Yochem

Yet another dealer in secondhand goods according to the 1898 business directory.

W. H. Russell

A mining camp just like an army runs on its belly and W. H. Russell was there to provide the needed provisions for the Randsburg miners and others in 1898.

Ed Hammond — Hammond’s Grocery\

Although Mr. Hammond is not listed in the Register of Voter until 1898 it appears on the basis of entries in the Rand Mine Co. ledger that he was in business as early as November of 1896. Another victim of the January 1898 fire Mr. Hammond was the first to rebuild.  Later in April of 1898 he was noted to have a man working of a small stringer of gold that was located on Butte Ave. while the water main was being put in.  Mr. Hammond is not found in the 1900 census and is presumed to have left town for greener pastures.

P. T. Mizony

Fruits and cigars were the specialties of this gentleman who was listed in the 1898 business directory for Randsburg.

Illingworth & Glennie –

The 1898 business directory which it is assumed was compiled in 1897 list Illingworth & Glennie as being in the hay and grain business in Randsburg.

Carlos Grant Illingworth — Illingworth & Lancaster — Illingworth & Larrick — Illingworth & Green — Illingworth & Dunnell — Miner’s Supply Store

According to Wallace Morgan in his 1914 History of Kern County

“Mr. Illingworth childhood was passed in various places, he having been born in Mt. Carroll, Carroll County, Ill., April 30, 1878, and from there brought by his parents when he was aged five years to Wichita, Kan.  Here he was sent to school for a short time, in 1887 moving with his parents to California and settling at Pomona, where they stayed but a short time.  In the same year they moved to Upland, San Bernardino County, and Mr. Illingworth went to work for himself.  Buying a team he started into the contracting business for grading and leveling land, remaining in this vicinity until 1896, when he came to Randsburg to contract with the Yellow Aster Mine Company to haul ore for them.”

Mr. Illingworth bought out F. L. Smith of the Lancaster & Co. Store in January of 1898.  It is stated that when he started the inventory was worth a thousand dollars.  He and Mr. Lancaster ran the store well into 1899 however by 1900 Mr. Lancaster is no longer listed in any of the records. In the 1902 business directory the firm is listed under the name of Illingworth & Larrick.  In 1903 Grant took on a partner by the name of Harry Green.

This is about the time Mr. Illingworth’s first wife, Agnes, quit showing up in the records.  It is now known whether they were divorced or she passed on.  In April of 1904 it was reported that he had sold his interest in the business to J. W. Green and moved to Upland, Ca.  where his father lived.  However by June of the same year he was back in town with a new wife.  An old fashioned Charivari was held, with reportedly badly outs of tune instruments.  Although they had been married for several weeks their friends in Randsburg did not want them to think that the marriage had gone unnoticed.

Although listed in the 1905 Suits-Schuman Business Directory for 1905 as the firm of Illingworth & Green, in August of 1904 C. G. Illingworth again became the sole proprietor of the store and Mr. and Mrs. Green left for Colton, Ca.  with plans to go on to Goldfield, Nev.  The business continued to grow and in 1907 an addition was built on the store.  The Miner’s Supply Store that was originally built in 1896 is still standing.  It is on the Northwest corner of Butte Ave. and Jewell Street and is locally as the bank building.  Actually the part of the building that was built in 1896 is the second store front in from Jewell St. It is 24 feet wide.  The first store front in from Jewell is the 18-foot section that was added in 1907.  The rest of the building was added in the early 1920’s.

C. G. Illingworth was successful businessman but unfortunately was not so in his married life.  He was divorced from his second wife, Maude, in 1909; at about the time he acquired a partner by the name of Carl L. Dunnell.  At This time besides the store in Randsburg they had opened a store in Atolia. He was however shown as being married to Maude in 1912, it is assumed that the divorce did not take.

Grant did not limit his efforts to the mercantile business.  He invested more than $10,000 dollars in developing the Santa Ana mine in the Stringer District.  His friends all thought him crazy but he struck picture rock gold and in September of 1912 the mine was paying him $300 a day net profit over production costs.  In 1913 he incorporated the G. B. Mining & Reduction Company of which he is president and majority shareholder. In 1915 he was involved with the Phoenix mine in Johannesburg.

In August of 1912 Fred Young, the son of Austin Young who had been a postmaster in Randsburg prior to moving to Skidoo to run the Skidoo Mercantile had purchased a Metz car.  On the 25th of 1912 August Fred and Grant left Randsburg and motored to Los Angeles, arriving there that evening.  The next day the drove to Oceanside and met with Geo. Grover the founder of the Randsburg Miner.  From there they journeyed to Coronado and La Mesa where they met with Thomas McCarthy who was one of the original businessmen in Randsburg.  Mr. Illingworth must have enjoyed this trip as he soon purchased his own automobile, and hired a chauffeur. His automobile was an Elmore, which he purchased in 1912.  The Elmore automobile was equipped with a four cylinder, two cycles, valve less motor, the only automobile equipped with this type of engine at that time.    He rented this vehicle out as a sideline.  He also had a blacksmith shop that he leased to Livinggood & Noble in 1914.        The automobile was a great addition to the Illingworth & Dunnell business, however in December of 1914 it resulted in Mr. Illingworth being mixed up in a bit of trouble.  As reported in the Randsburg Miner there was a bit of a mix-up at Searles (Trona), and Grant was held at gunpoint and taken prisoner.  The paper stated:

A recurrence of the trouble which occurred last year at the big borax deposits ofSearles Lake began on Christmas day between the representatives of a company from the east and the American Trona Company. What the merits of either company to possession of the property The Miner no knowledge.  The items set below are what has occurred in the interest of some of the Randsburg business men.  Messrs. Rasor and Boley, the engineers of the eastern people ordered a large supply of groceries from Illingworth (sic) and Dunnell to be sent out to their camp.  These were to be sent out in Illingworth’s (sic) auto.  Despite the rumors that the auto would not be all (owed) to reach its destination it was sent out in charge of a driver.  On arrival at a point where the road bisects the deposits it was stopped by a party of men presumably belonging to the Trona Company and impounded, the machine being fastened with chains to prevent its removal.  The driver walked to the town and phoned to Mr. Illingworth (sic), who immediately went to Judge Maginnis and swore out an arrest.  “Tex” Lovett and a deputy drove over to the scene of the action and, as they neared, a man was seen taking the chains from Illingworth’s machine.  Constable Lovett read the warrant and arrested Leo Leon, a deputy sheriff, Andrew Dunne, a boss in the employ of the Trona Company and Charles Bates, claiming to be a detective from Los Angeles, and brought them to Randsburg.  From the latter three revolvers, a blackjack, and a pair of handcuffs were taken.

On Friday Mr. Illingworth undertook to drive his auto to the lake to fulfill his contract of the delivery of the goods.  In crossing the deposits the auto got stuck, and just got free when they were met by five armed men, one of whom shouted “hands up.”  Mr. Illingworth (sic) and his party called their bluff and refused to do so, and after some parley were allowed to proceed.  Before going far they were met by a larger armed party, who forced them to leave their auto and drove them towards the Trona Camp at the point of guns.  Mr. Illingworth’s (sic) party were met by a Mr. Wilkinson, who treated them to a dose of English off-hand style and refused their request for a drink of water, although he knew they had been for hours on the dusty desert.

Wilkinson then ordered Mr. Illingworth (sic) and his party to set off on foot home to Randsburg, a hike of 43 miles across the desert, which by this time was pitch dark, and also would not give them a canteen.  The Trona gunmen headed them off the deposits and along two miles of the county road, keeping Illingworth (sic), Rasor and Boley covered by their guns, which in itself it (sic) an offense against the state.  The party got to Randsburg on an auto truck.”

The following Tuesday Sheriff John C. Ralphs and Deputy District Attorney Hodge of San Bernardino were sent out to Trona to put an end to the “Wars” and to arrest the instigators of the holdup and detention of Mr. Illingworth and his party.  It is interesting to note that this was not the last war over the claims in Trona and in November of 1917 according to the Inyo Independent one of the warring parties had the infamous Wyatt Earp in their employ at Trona.

In 1914 Illingworth & Dunnell added the stone addition to the store, which is on the end of the building next to Jewell St. This addition held a vault.  They also installed the first automatic gas station (gas pump?) in 1914.  The vault contained safety deposit boxes, which were rented out at the rate of 50¢ a month.  In 1915 they added to their line of businesses the Ford Agency for Randsburg.  The inventory value of the store and its four warehouses in 1912 was in the neighborhood of $100,000.

In May of 1916 the largest known robbery in Randsburg took place.  The vault of the Illingworth & Dunnell store was broken into.  A loss of between $10,000 and $20,000 was reported.  Half of this money belonged to the residents of the area who had rented safe deposit boxes and the rest to the firm of Illingworth & Dunnell.  The door of the vault was at first reported to have been left open but later reports say that the door to the vault was locked at the time of the robbery.  Smashing of the combination opened this door.  The door to the safe inside however was open due to a defective combination lock, however the door to the strong box inside was locked.  The strong box lock was opened either through a knowledge of the combination or by and expert burglar.  A strange point of the burglary was that if the thief could unlock the combination lock of the strong box by listening to the tumblers why did he have to smash the lock on the vault door with a single jack and chisel.  The locks on the safety deposit boxed were also broke off with the aid of a single jack and chisel.  If this robbery was ever solved is unknown.  The firm was however sued by some of the depositor in July of 1916, claiming careless and lax methods in caring for the money.  Among those suing were John Ganta, $3,500; Frank Feelmuth, $730; Owen Clark, $530; Cal Williams, $800; J. M. Hepp and D. A. Dent, $600; H. W. Smith, $275; and John W. Luter, $697.67.   C. G.Illingworth and his family left Randsburg in 1918 and moved to Santa Ana.

October 6, 1918:  “$6000 DAMAGE SUIT IS STARTED HERE – Suing for $6000 damages, the case of John Venta against A. Illingworth was started in Department 3 of the Superior Court this morning.  It was expected that the case would submitted late this afternoon.

Jenta alleges in the complaint that he had several hundred dollars in the safe deposit box at the Illingsworth store at Randsburg in 1915, and that the safe was robbed of its contents, causing him to lose his entire savings.” – Bakersfield Californian.

December 17, 1918:  “FAVORS DEFENDENTS IN THE $4500 SUIT – Ruling in favor of the defendant, judgment was today handed down by Judge Peairs in the suit brought by John Jents against A. Illingworth ET. Al. for damages amounting to approximately $4500.  The case was heard in September.

The suit was brought because of the loss of several thousand dollars in a robbery at Randsburg several months ago.” – Bakersfield Californian

September 4, 1920:  “Randsburg Safe Robber Case Is Finally Decided. – In the case of John Gents against Illingworth & Dunnell, Randsburg storekeepers, has been decdided in favor of the merchants by the state supreme court to which the case was appealed.

Gents, the assignee of depositors in the safe of the store company, sued to recover $6383.  This amount was alleged to have been deposited by plaintiff’s assignors during the tungsten boom of 1918, when the town of Randsburg was crowded, and many prospectors used the store safe to guard their valuables.”  — Bakersfield Californian

John Purcell — Randsburg Oil & Fuel Co.

Receipt From Randsburg Signed by J. W. Purcell Who It Is Assumed Was the Successor to Frank Morgan. Collection of the Rand Desert Museum

John Purcell apparently bought out Frank Morgan in 1898 but had to give the business up as Frank is again listed as the owner in 1899.

William M. Roworth

The Great Register of Voters for 1898 listed William Roworth as a merchant residing in Randsburg.

Edward James –

Mr. James, a native of England, who became a naturalized citizen in Tulare County, was in business in Randsburg in 1898.  He was burnt out in the January 1898 fire and relocated to Butte Ave. where he was most likely again burnt out in the May 1898 fire.  He persisted in his newspaper and stationary store however and was still listed as being in business in the 1900 when he running a laundry in addition to his store.  It is believed that Ed James may have been one of the trustees of the school as it was reported in May of 1900 that he had taken the census of the school and reported that there were 167 children under the age of 17 living in the district and 45 of them were under the age of 5 years.

W. E. Wear

The Register of Licenses for Kern County shows that a trader’s license was issued to W. Wear to do business in Randsburg in 1898.  41

Stella Hayton

The Register of Licenses for Kern County shows that a trader’s license was issued to Miss Stella Hayton to do business in Randsburg in 1898.

Beran & McGilva

September 30, 1899: “HENRY McGILVRE will sell you lump coal at $14 a ton.  Also carry a full line of gasoline, coal oil, and all kinds of oil.  Runs buss and baggage wagon to and from all trains.” –Randsburg Miner

A letterhead in the collection of the Kern County Museum shows that Beran & McGilva were in the Gas and Oil business in Randsburg in 1898.  In the 1900 Census John Henry McGilva is listed as a teamster.

Thomas Kennedy — Up To Date Store

Thomas Kennedy who had been in business in Garlock prior to coming to Randsburg opened the Up To Date Store in 1900, in the building formerly occupied by W. C. Wilson fronting on Rand St. and Butte Ave. According to the 1902 business directory he was in the general supply business.

Theodore L. Seebold — Home Supply Company

Theodore Seebold, a native of Montana, came to Randsburg sometime prior to 1898. He was in business with T. A. Lloyd.  In December of 1900 he moved to Fullerton Ca. to manage a new store for the firm of Lloyd & Seebold.  He returned to Randsburg and was later listed in business in 1902 as Seebold & Co. Groceries.  Mrs. Purington found a brass cash register nameplate for Lloyd & Seebold in the ruins of the rock building on Butte Ave., just East of Shepard’s Antiques.

T. A. Lloyd — Home Supply Company

Mr. Lloyd, a native of Illinois, came to Randsburg amongst the earliest of the Pioneers as a miner. He is listed in the 1896 Great Register of voters as being a resident of the Red Rock precinct. In 1900 he was known to be in business with Theodore Seebold in the Home Supply Company

This business dissolved sometime prior to 1902. In July of 1900 he had entered into another partnership with Lewis Heydlouff and bought out George Mck Bevan’s bottling and soda works, along with a feed yard.  Sometime between 1902 and 1904 Mr. Lloyd left Randsburg and moved to West Virginia. It appears that he sold the Home Supply Co. and the Brewery/bottling works to Otto Rinaldi sometime after the 1903 fire.   He briefly returned in January of 1904 and ran the Adobe restaurant, next to The Adobe Saloon. In September of that year he again left and moved to Los Angeles to join his wife.  From Los Angeles he journeyed to Tonopah Nevada, where he opened “The Superior” a restaurant and bakery.  He returned to Randsburg in 1907 to run the Houser Hotel for the Yellow Aster Mining & Milling Co.

Albert Miller Mugler

Mr. Mugler first showed up in the 1898 Great Register of Voters as a miner.  However the author has in his collection a receipt that indicated that he was in the hardware business in March of 1899.

September 30, 1899: “MRS. A. M. MUGLER returned Wednesday evening from several month’s visit to the seashore.” –Randsburg Miner

Charles Asher — C. Asher & Co.

The Asher family has figured prominently in the mercantile business in Kern County.  They had stores in Randsburg, Tehachapi, Mojave and Taft.  Charles Asher opened his store in Randsburg sometime before 1900 and ran it until June of 1905.  It is believed that he purchased the store from Broadwell.  It is apparent from the check pictured below that C. Asher was either acting as the company store or as the bank for the Yellow Aster. He sold out to the Yellow Aster Mining and Milling Co.  Which established their company store, the Rand Mercantile Co., in the building the building, which was made of stone and adobe, was lost in the 1903 fire.  It is believed that this is the second time the building burnt.  The first being in the May 1898 fire when Mr. Broadwell was building it to replace the building he had lost in the January fire.  Before the building burnt to the ground in 1993 there were still ashes in the basement from the 1903 fire.  When Mr. Asher sold the store he had been in ill health and was going to retire to Los Angeles for a rest until he recuperated.  In 1907 Charles and his brother Arthur made a trip to western Prussia to visit their father who was then 87 years old.

Robinson Colliver

Robinson, a 43-year-old native of Ohio, was listed in the 1900 Census as a fruit dealer.

Thomas W. Weeks

While the 1900 census listed Mr. Week’s occupation as a hardware dealer, advertisements in the July 7 and 14 Randsburg Miner show that he was a real estate and mining agent.

Annie L. White

Annie advertised her millinery shop, which was located opposite the Post Office, in the 1900 newspapers.  The Post Office in 1900 was in the old Wells Fargo Building (Rinaldi Store) on corner of Butte and Broadway (Burma Rd.).

Sam DeBow

Sam was a 41-year-old native of France who had become a naturalized citizen by virtue of his father receiving his citizenship.  He was listed as a merchant of Randsburg in the 1900 Great Register of Voters.

Robert Clemens Orr

A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Orr was 31 years old, when he was in business as a Randsburg merchant in 1900.

Ostrum & McGilvra

John Henry McGilvra again entered the business world in Randsburg as a merchant in 1901.  This time according to a letterhead in the collection of the Kern County museum his partner was a person by the name of Ostrum.

Ostrum & Larrick

The partnership of Ostrum & McGilvra seemed to be short lived as another letterhead dated in 1901 in the collection of the Kern County Museum has the name of McGilvra marked out and the name Larrick written in. They were dealers in Oil, Gasoline, Wood, Coal and Lubricating oils.  This partnership was still in effect on the first day of July of 1902.

Miss Vivanta — 2Dhand Goods

Little did Miss Vivanta, who was listed in the 1902 business directory, realize that what she was selling was worth so much more as antiques, if only she had warehoused them for 95 years she would have a large warehouse bill and less profit than what she make selling them as secondhand goods.  That is assuming of course that the secondhand goods that Miss Vivanta was dealing were not of the personal nature   Could this be the same Miss that was dancing at the Orpheum Theatre as Miss Vifanta in 1900.

Green Brothers, Harry & Joseph — Miners Supply Store

In 1903 Harry Green bought into the Grant Illingworth’s store. In April of 1904 Grant sold out his remaining interest to J. W. Green who had been one of the early pioneers of the camp.  The Green Brothers ran the store until August of 1904 when Grant Illingworth resumed ownership.  When they left Randsburg in 1904 they were headed to Tonopah and Goldfield NV. Via Colton Cal.  In 1913 Harry Green and his wife had returned to Randsburg and were running the Rand Lodging (hotel?) House.

Heydlouff & Curry –

The 1905 Suits-Schuman Business Directory for the States of Nevada and California list Heydlouff & Curry as being in the fuel and oil business.  In fact they sold this business to the Houser Bros. in 1904.  Curry at this time also sold his feedlot to the Houser Bros.  It is not known whether Heydlouff was a partner in the feedlot or not.

Miners’ Union Meat Market –

The World Federation of Miners Local No. 44 was running a meat market in Randsburg as early as February of 1904.  By September of that year the Union had abandoned the endeavor. 

Thomson & Norton

Jas. Thomson and L.W. Norton ran a meat and vegetable market from September of 1904 until January of 1905 when Norton sold out to M. H. Adams.  The business was located on Butte Ave. in the building that the Miners Union had used for their market.  Thomson & Norton dealt in fresh and cured meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs and on Thursday evenings they offered fresh fish.  60

Thomson & Adams

Jas Thomson and M. H. Adams ran the meat market from January of 1905 until April of 1905.  When the first tungsten boom hit, they gave up the market and went “spuding”.  Mrs. M. H. Adams died on 2 September of 1915 and was laid to rest in the local cemetery.

Yellow Aster Mining & Milling Co. — Rand Mercantile Co.

On June 1st 1905 C. Asher & Co. sold out to the Yellow Aster Mining and Milling Co.  who opened a company store called the Rand Mercantile. This store furnished supplies to the company, ran credit accounts for the employees and acted as pay agent and local banker for the company. It was the typical company store.    Mr. John S. Winchester was the first manager, coming from Los Angeles, where he had managed Hite’s Grocery Company.  John McLeod was the manager from 1910 to 1920.  Glenn Kinsey managed the store in the twenties before his untimely death.  The Rand Mercantile was still in business into the 1930’s.

James Henry Wilson

Mr. Wilson was a merchant in Randsburg in 1906 according to the Great Register of Voters.

Madeline Hall — Ladies & Gents Furnishings

Madeline Hall was the wife of one of the Doctors who came to work for the Yellow Aster Hospital.  To occupy her time she opened a Fancy Goods Store sometime in 1907 or before. She stocked, in addition to Christmas Novelties in season, shawls, slippers, pillow covers, and yarns.  In addition Madeline did knitting and crochet work on order.

Madeline stayed on after Dr. Hall passed on and dealt in Ladies and Gents clothing.  In the 1920’s she occupied the building that had been built for the Burg Saloon.  She married a local miner by the name of Bill Nelson in 1930 and shortly after that her eyesight failed and she retired from active management of the business.  Her sister Birdie M. Wills ran the store for several years. The building was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Purington in the 1940’s.    She was well liked by all and is still fondly remembered by the old timers.

William T. Spurlock –

William is shown as a merchant in the 1908 Great Register of Voters for Kern County.

Levi C. Cook –

According to the 1908 Great Register of Voter for Kern County and the 1910 Census, Levi, a native of Kentucky was a Merchant in the town of Randsburg in 1910. Levi was in his early to mid-seventies at the time.

Daniel and Robert Gunderson — Butte Avenue Book Store

Robert Gunderson, was born near Mandel Norway in 1871, he migrated to the United States in 1886 and found employment in the iron mines of Ironwood Michigan.  A year later found him working in a coal mine in Wisconsin and the year after that he was employed in the smelter at Anaconda, Montana. Before coming to the Mojave Desert to prospect in 1893 he also worked in the mines at Park City Utah, Pioche Nevada, and Vanderbilt California. He came to Randsburg in October of 1896.  He was the discoverer and locator of the Minnesota group of mines located two and one half miles southwest of Randsburg.  His brother Daniel, who had been a schoolteacher in Minnesota however did not show up in Randsburg until 1903 and again took up the profession of teaching. In partnership with his brother he purchased McCarthy’s bookstore. Robert was a miner and except or the years 1910 to 1912 when he is listed as a merchant he stayed with that calling until 1917 when he opened a store in Atolia.  Daniel, however who originally listed his occupation as a schoolteacher in 1906 also entered the business world in that year when he purchased Tom McCarthy’s book store.  Daniel Gunderson remained a merchant until his death sometime in the late teens.  Mr. Gunderson did not altogether give up his calling to the world of education, as he ran the library out of his store and also was a member of the county Board of Education for eight years finally resigning in 1915 due to health problems.

William H. McBride

Listed in the 1912 Great Register of Voters, Mr. McBride was a merchant in Randsburg.

Eugene A. Stockton

Mr. Stockton was a general merchant dealing in, among other things; Men’s Clothing, shoemaking, eyeglasses and when the jeweler Mr. Roschl closed his store Mr. Stockton became his front man.  Eugene started in business in Randsburg in 1910 and in November 1912 married a young lady by the name of Adelaide H. Kollmeyer of Quincy Illinois by way of Los Angeles.  69

John W. McLeod

John came to Randsburg prior to 1910 as the manager of the Rand Mercantile Co.  a position he held through 1920, at which time he was 70 years old.  In 1912 however he listed his occupation as merchant rather than manager.  It is quite possible he tried it on his own for a short period of time but by 1916 he was again listing his occupation as manager.

Thomas C. Colburn — Miners Supply Store

Mr. Colburn first came to Randsburg in 1914 as the manager for C. G. Illingworth’s Miner’s Supply Store. He was listed however as a merchant in the 1918 Great Register of Voters. It is possible that he bought out the Miners Supply Store from Illingworth & Dunnell as neither of these parties are listed in the 1918 Great Register of Voters nor is Clarence Jewell who was the owner of the store in the 20’s.

Edmund E. Niehaus

Mr. Niehaus was listed as being a Randsburg merchant in the 1918 Great Register of Voters.  The February 25, 1919 Atolian News featured an advertisement for E. E. Niehaus “The Randsburg-Atolia Ice Man”

Joseph S. Toby

Listed in the 1918 Great Register of Voters as a merchant in Randsburg.

H. G. Nosser

Mr. Nosser is listed in the 1920 business directory as being the grocery and building supply business.

Wilson H. Jones

Mr. Jones is listed in the 1920 and 1924 Great Register of Voter for Kern County as being a Merchant in Randsburg. (see Gunderson & Jones under Druggists)

Charles Walton

According to the 1920 Great Register of Voters, Charles Walton was a merchant in Randsburg.

Clarence C. Jewell — Jewell Commercial Co. – Miners Supply Store

Sometime in the late teens Clarence Jewell and his wife Lulu appear to have bought out the firm of Illingworth & Dunnell.  They ran the Jewell Commercial Co. through the 50’s.

February 25, 1924: “Randsburg, Feb. 25. – “JEWELL’S ROW” is beginning to take on a look of prosperity.  The front walls of concrete for the store and room and the First National bank were started from the foundation Thursday.

For the inner firewalls, a concrete block made in Lancaster will be used, and red hollow tile will go on the outside walls.  President C. C. Jewell is now in Los Angeles on business pertaining to the finishing touches of the two large rooms.”—Bakersfield Californian

Southerland & Olsen — The Rand

William Sutherland and a man by the name of Olsen were in business as early as 1921.  Mr. Sutherland was still listed as a merchant in the 1924 Great Register of Voters.  The advertisement shown below appeared in the June 7, 1922 issue of the Rand District News.

Morthman E. Gustave –

Morthman, who had previously been in the saloon business in Randsburg, was listed in the 1924 Great register of Voters as a merchant.

Dennis J. Holohan

Mr. Holohan is listed in the 1924 Great Register of Voters as being a Merchant in Randsburg in 1924.

Joseph M. Toby

Joseph was doing business as a merchant in Randsburg in 1924 according to the Great Register of Voters.  

John E. Norton

According to the 1924 Great Register of Voters, John Norton was a merchant in Randsburg.

Roy E. Wood

The 1924 Great Register of Voters shows Mr. Wood as merchant in Randsburg.

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

Comments are closed.

Back to top