“Two Tokens: A Journey Into Shasta County History”
C. H. Sunde, Psy.D.
I have always had an interest in history, and been interested in collecting coins. I’m fascinated with the idea of being able to hold a piece of history in your hand, something that has been around for hundreds or even thousands of years and passed through the hands of innumerable people. I remember spending many of my grade school afternoons hanging out at Chuck’s Coins in the Downtown Mall in the late 1970s and early 1980s and summers out panning for gold and searching for lost treasures around French Gulch and Tower House. But of course with high school came new interests to spend my money and time on...cars and girls.
I was away from coin collecting for a number of years, but I came back to it after returning to Redding from college and the military. It was sometime in 1997 that I found myself perusing the antique shops north of Redding. At this time I was primarily collecting the ancient coins of Greece and Rome, but I was always looking for items of more recent interest. In Ralph Hollibaugh’s shop I ran across two trade tokens: one read "GOLDEN EAGLE CIGAR STORE, REDDING" and the one next to it simply read "J. W. POTTS, REDDING, CAL." with no other indication as to where it came from. The reverse side of each indicated that they were good for five cents in trade. I had never been interested in tokens, having always collected "real" coins, but I hesitated. The cigar store token caught my interest, as it was from Redding, appeared somewhat old, and I was a cigar smoker. I decided to purchase the cigar store token alone, but then I hesitated again, and decided to purchase the other token as well. While it didn’t state what business it was from, it was also from Redding and obviously older in design and wear.
This impulse paid off, as the two tokens were from the same establishment, and paid passage for a one-way trip into Shasta County history, leading me eventually to becoming a member of the Board of Directors for the Shasta Historical Society and a member of the editorial committee for the Covered Wagon for several years, and to the resurrection of the Grindstone Club.
The Journey Begins
The first step in my journey was to begin researching the Golden Eagle Cigar Store, but my work schedule would prevent me from paying my first visit to the Shasta Historical Society until well into the year 2000. Luckily, the Redding Book Store carried most years of the Covered Wagon. I eventually found an article by Judge Albert F. Ross outlining the history of the cigar store and the Grindstone Club. To my satisfaction I discovered that J. W. Potts was one of the original owners of what was to become the Golden Eagle Cigar Store. Other sources included my grandfather-in-law, Harold Leroy Hart, who was a bell-hop in the Golden Eagle Hotel in the 1930s , Dudley Thompson of Thompson Brother’s Clothing, and Judge Richard B. Eaton.
Among the first residents of Redding was a Mr. Barney Conroy, who built the Redding Hotel (aka the Reading Hotel, and first known as Conroy Hotel), which was located at the present site of the Amtrak Train Depot. The hotel included a bar, a large fireproof wine cellar, and was also the location of the stage office that provided daily stage service to “all points in Trinity, Siskiyou, Modoc, and Shasta” counties. In 1888 Conroy and L. S. Barnes built a very fine hotel on the southeast corner of the Yuba and California Street intersection, the Golden Eagle Hotel.
John W. Potts and the Redding Cigar Factory
John W. Potts and a man named Eberle started the Redding Cigar Factory in the then-new Golden Eagle building in 1888, consisting of a cigar store facing Yuba Street, and a room behind the store where cigars were rolled. Sometime between December of 1889 and April of 1893, Eberle sold out to Potts. According to the 1894 Great Register, John W. Potts was then age 33, had been born in England, lived in South Redding, stood 5’ 8" with light skin, gray eyes, and light hair. He had registered in Redding on September 16, 1892, and had become a naturalized citizen in Allegheny County, PA, in September of 1880. During an economic depression that hit Redding in 1893, the hotel closed down and Potts was given free rent to sleep in the building to protect the insurance. He was the only occupant for a year, and he remembered one day that year when his cigar store receipts were exactly 80¢
East of the Golden Eagle Hotel were the Hoff building and the McCormick-Saeltzer Company store, both built about the same time as the hotel. Many of the earlier members of the Grindstone Club were county officials, as after the removal of the county seat from Shasta, the Hoff Building was used as the Shasta County Court House in 1889 and 1890 until the new courthouse on the hill was finished. The proximity of this "court house" brought customers to the cigar store and members to the Grindstone Club. It was later written by Judge Albert F. Ross that "practically every business and professional man, and holder of every public office, newspaper man, mining man, banker or just plain retired person spent some time in the back room of the Golden Eagle Cigar Store." There were men famous in the early day history of Shasta County who were active members and disputants, and I have included a list at the end of this article of all members identified in the research. Potts himself was the "patron saint" of the Grindstone Club, and did not enter into the windy discussions that often came up, but was known as a good listener. Years later the club was wrongly believed to have taken its name from one of the brands of cigars made by Potts, the Grindstone Club (it was thought this was the name of a club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from which city Potts had originally come). We will return to this issue at the end of the article.
The Bartosh and Piftschek Families
The Morning Searchlight, July 19, 1900:
John Potts has added a second cigar-maker, B. F. Parsons by name, to his force at the cigar factory. George Nuss is still employed as are also the two boys.
One of the "two boys" referred to by this article was thirteen-year-old John James Bartosh. It is possible that the other boy was Johns brother George Raymond Bartosh as he did work in the shop in later years, however in 1900 he would only have been ten or eleven years old. It was announced in the same paper on the previous day that the mother of John and George, Mrs. Mary Bartosh, had married Charles Piftschek at the home of the groom on July 17, 1900, with Judge Herzinger officiating:
"The ceremony was witnessed by only a few intimate acquaintances. Mr. and Mrs. Piftschek will spend their honeymoon at the Piftschek farm in Happy Valley. The new-made pair have the best wishes of their friends in their new relation."
It is apparent that the boys parents had divorced some time earlier, as their father Frank Bartosh’s obituary does not surface until 25 years after their mothers remarriage:
The Searchlight, October 30, 1925:
FATHER OF SIX DIES IN KENNETT
FRANK BARTOSH, RETIRED, WAS NATIVE OF AUSTRIA AND AGED 72 YEARS
(Special to The Searchlight)
Kennett, October 29--Frank Bartosh, retired, died at home here at 1 o’clock this afternoon. He had been in failing health for weeks. The decedent, a native of Austria, was aged 72 years. During the boom days of Keswick, Bartosh had a lodging house in that town (token below). When Keswick went down he came to Kennett and engaged in the same business. His house burned down five years ago, and since that time Bartosh had lived retired. The decedent leaves these sons and daughters: John J. Bartosh and George R. Bartosh, Redding; Frank A. Bartosh and Joseph P. Bartosh, Sacramento; Mrs. Fred Pritchard and Miss Mary Bartosh, San Francisco...
Charles Piftschek was born in Bohemia, a part of Austria, in 1857. He came to this country in 1883, landing in New York with 10 cents in his pockets but with a thorough knowledge of the tailoring trade he had acquired while in the Austrian army. He drifted westward, arriving in Redding with only 50 cents in his pocket, but eventually opened a shop, which grew into a well-established business that he kept up for forty years or more until his health declined.
Charles Piftschek was married twice. By his first wife he had two children, who were soon left motherless. Later, a fire consumed the home in the absence of his housekeeper, and both children were burned to death. The loss of his two children was a lasting sorrow in the heart of the father, but he always kept their two little graves in the Redding Cemetery green.
Redding Independent, August 15, 1891:
Death by Fire
On Saturday afternoon last, about a quarter to 6 o'clock, two innocent little children--a girl and boy, aged respectively about 4 and 3 years -- met a horrible death from a coal oil explosion. Charles Piftschek, a merchant tailor of this city was at his place of business and his sister, who keeps house for him and who had charge of his two motherless children (Frida and Albert), was sick in bed at the time. It is presumed that the little girl attempted to make a fire in the stove setting on the back porch, and that, in pouring coaloil into the stove from a half gallon can, an explosion took place, scattering the burning oil not only over her clothing, but also over the little boy who stood by, no doubt watching the proceedings. The screams of the little ones brought Miss Piftschek from the house, and also attracted several of the neighbors, who rushed in and attempted to save the children, but before they could be materially helped they were burned in a fearful manner. Miss Piftschek, who picked up the little boy in her arms, had her hands burned quite seriously. The neighbors quickly removed their clothing, and Drs. Miller and Rohm were soon on hand, but it was quite impossible to save their lives, the little girl dying soon after and the boy lingering until about 8 o'clock.
The double funeral took place on Sunday afternoon. Charley Piftschek is thus bereft of family, the mother having died about two years ago. He was a good father to his motherless babes, and their sudden and shocking death is a blow which will take years of time's healing to efface.
It appears that the danger of coal oil was common in those days, as the same day similar tragic accident occurred just a few miles away:
Shasta Courier, August 15, 1891:
Maggie Collic (or Collot), aged 15 years and 9 months, the daughter of Richard Collic living at Stump Ranch, about two miles from Shasta, met with a sad and fatal accident last Saturday. It seems the girl had been directed to make a fire before supper by her mother, she had often cautioned her against using coal oil, and as she was pouring oil in the stove, it became ignited and exploded, enveloping her in flames and setting fire to the house. Her father, who stood near, tore the dress off the unfortunate girl, but she was too badly burned to survive the injuries, having inhaled the flames, and died Sunday at 5 p.m., twenty four hours after.
In the course of a few years Charles Piftschek was married to Mrs. Mary F. Bartosh. He was a father in all but name to her son, George R. Bartosh, who worked in the shop with him for many years. The 1920 Census lists George as stepson and living with Charles and Mary, working in the tailor shop, with Charles as proprietor.
Piftschek closed his shop in the Paragon block in California Street on May 1, of 1927, several months before being forced by failing health to give up work. For over a year he was bedridden and almost helpless, requiring the constant care of his wife and his faithful stepson George, until his death on June 8, 1928. He was known as a hard worker and an honest, big-hearted man.
Mary Piftschek died on August 24, 1955:
Mary Piftschek, Pioneer, Dies
Mrs. Mary Piftschek, 98, a resident of Shasta County for the last 68 years, died yesterday afternoon in a Redding hospital, following a long illness. She was born Aug. 2, 1857, in what is now Czechoslovakia, but was then part of Austria. She came to Wisconsin at an early age, and lived in San Francisco before moving to Shasta County. She leaves four sons, John J. and George R. Bartosh, both of Redding, Frank A. Bartosh of Cisco Grove and Joseph P. Bartosh of Sacramento...
John W. Potts always did a good business, and it was when business was at its best tide that his health began to fail, and he was advised to seek a change of climate. John Bartosh had learned the trade of cigar making from Potts, who gave "Johnny" the first chance to buy the business.
An article from Brevities section of the Searchlight dated Wednesday, July 3, 1907, announced the departure of Potts from Redding:
John W. Potts is a free man. That does not imply that he has been liberated from jail, but it means that he is free from the cigar business that he conducted so long in the Golden Eagle block. John Bartosh succeeded Mr. Potts as proprietor Monday Morning. Mr. Potts departed in the evening for San Francisco, where he will remain for a month and then go to Oregon to visit a brother who lives at Salem. He said he would give Redding the go-by when he went from San Francisco to Salem. He is off for a good time and is going to have it.
Potts ultimately made a new home for himself in Los Angeles. The April 21, 1930 edition of the Courier Free Press announced his death thus:
JOHN W. POTTS PASSES ON IN LOS ANGELES
Owned Golden Eagle Cigar Store When Grindstone Club Was Great Organization
Word has been received in Redding that John W. Potts, for years a resident of Redding, passed on in Los Angeles a week ago Saturday and was buried there on the following Tuesday. He was aged 71 and leaves the widow, Mrs. Clara Potts...In the very early days Potts acquired a piece of property in Fall River Mills. He held on to it for years, always saying that some day he would make a fortune out of it, meaning the day when Fall River Falls power would be utilized. But after being in Los Angeles a few years, Potts became a little financially embarrassed and he sold his Fall River holdings at a sacrifice. He did not know that he was selling to an agent of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company and that if he had only held on he might have got ten times the sum that was paid to him for his land and riparian rights.
The Golden Eagle Cigar Store
Bartosh had been an enterprising young man from the start, once recounting a business career that started when he was 13 years old and found that a farmer he knew was having difficulty selling his peaches and apricots. Young Johnny persuaded the farmer to let him take the fruit on consignment, and he built up a profitable summer business selling it to passengers on the Overland Limited when the train stopped in Redding. After that he opened a concession to sell candy at a theater, and then went on to work in the cigar store he later purchased.
The Golden Eagle Cigar Store made and marketed the Grindstone Club cigar as well as several other brands, and the local cigars were sold to merchants throughout the county for resale. The store also carried the following cigars: Robert Mantell, General Arthur, Owls, Renown, and Fontella. The "ready-made" cigarettes were Vanity Fair, Dukes Cameo, Virginia Brice and Pets. Most persons rolled their own in those earlier days, using Bull Durham or Dukes Mixture tobacco. Bartosh once said that a man who bought the ready-made cigarettes was considered "of ill repute".
John Bartosh was a member of the Redding Lodge of Elks for over fifty years, and a member of the volunteer fire department for many years. He was connected with Liberty Number Two Hose Company, whose duty in case of fire was to get the hose cart from the Masonic Temple and to commandeer a horse and wagon from the street to pull it to the fire. Sometimes the men would have to pull the cart a block or two by hand before they found a delivery wagon to hitch to. He stated that the "fire had burned the house down before we got there some times."
John played in the town band for years, which gave Sunday concerts in the summertime from the second story porch in front of the Golden Eagle Hotel, and played at ball games, dances, and on other occasions. Bartosh was also known as a good tennis player, and a member of the Redding Tennis Club that built and operated several courts on the railroad reservation just west of the location of the present passenger depot.
John purchased the distribution agency for the San Francisco and Sacramento papers from Reuben Hoyle (who owned his own cigar shop in the Lorenz Hotel, in the current location of Mike’s Barbershop on Yuba) about 1910. Bartosh had to borrow from the bank to do this, and said that it took him 20 years to pay off the note.
The Grindstone Club continued for several years under its new "Patron Saint".
Courier Free Press, Sunday, January 3, 1915:
JAMES N. LOGAN IS ELECTED PRESIDENT
GRINDSTONE CLUB FEASTED BY ITS PATRON SAINT, JOHN J. BARTOSH
The Grindstone club, a social organization that has met for years in the rear room of John J. Bartosh’s cigar store, held its annual meeting Friday evening and elected officers for the ensuing year. After the election, John J. Bartosh, patron saint of the Grindstone club, invited all the members to a turkey feast in the restaurant across the way.
James N. Logan was elected president to succeed F. X. LaBonte, who has moved to Decoto. Resolutions complimentary to the retiring president were adopted unanimously and they will be forwarded to him with a box of fine cigars...
Courier Free Press, Monday, January 3, 1916:
GRINDSTONE CLUB HAS BIG FEED
41 REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS ATTEND ANNUAL BANQUET NEW YEARS EVE
Forty-one representative citizens of Redding, gathered from all walks of life, enjoyed the banquet of the Grindstone club held New Years Eve at Klukkert’s coffee parlor. Peter Hoff, who was the big chief of the "eats" committee, made a name for himself by setting out a fine turkey spread. Dorn Isaacs and Albert Roberts contributed largely to the success of the affair.
The committee in charge of the affair dug down in the history of every banqueter and the speeches kept the diners in an uproar throughout the evening.
The Searchlight, Wednesday, January 3, 1917:
GRINDSTONE CLUB RE-ELECTS LOGAN
"BOYS DONE THEIR WORK FINE" AT ANNUAL GATHERING OF SECRET ORGANIZATION
The annual high jinks and election of officers of the Grindstone club were held in the rear room of the Golden Eagle cigar store New Years night. J. N. Logan was re-elected president for the succeeding term, an honor out of the ordinary. Samuel Breslauer was re-elected treasurer. He reported 30 cents on hand, and he said he felt like it...
As customary the solemn rites of this highly fraternal organization were carried off with impressive dignity and decorum. The high ideals and purposes of the club are held inviolate by the members throughout the year. None but those who are duly qualified and elected may gain knowledge of even the first degree of the sacred precepts that guide the steps of the faithful Grindstoner... Refreshments substantial and liquid, were served throughout the evening. Order was maintained at all stages by President Logan with a mallet that was nearly a sledgehammer, the same being effective when brought down resoundingly on the bean of a disturber...
The Searchlight, Thursday January 3, 1918:
GRINDSTONE CLUB HAS BIG WATER BUST
HONORABLE J. N. LOGAN RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE GREAT ORGANIZATION
The Grindstone club, a historical organization of Redding that has flocked around Bartosh’s cigar store for years, held its annual busta-fest New Years night behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Only those who could give the countersign were admitted to the hallowed precincts next to the alley.
James N. Logan, president, was in the chair, and he had behind him to enforce order a maul that would to good service for a railsplitter and a monstrous club as big as his jaw bone.
The evening was given over to the hilarity to having two 16 gallon kegs of water with a kick in it on tap and 250 sandwiches to feast on.
Lambs orchestra led by James Isaacs on the bass drum furnished the music. C. C. Keen was toastmaster. Luke McDonald spoke feelingly on the subject of "Who Wouldn’t Be a Boy Again?" and referred pathetically to the time in 1850 when he and other kids played poker on stumps in the old town of Shasta. Sam Breslauer performed a tonsorial feat by clipping the hair of a long haired shepherd from Red Bluff. Sam got only half through the job when he threw up his hands and quit. There were many other stunts...
The session of the club broke up at 1 o’clock in the morning, practically all of the members being able to walk home unassisted.
Demise of the Grindstone Club
Bartosh continued the cigar-making business as well as the retail sales until 1918, when he left Redding to serve our country as a private with Company E of the 76th Army Infantry at the tail end of World War I. The cigar store passed through the hands of two other owners between 1918 and 1919, before returning to Bartosh.
The Searchlight, March 19, 1918:
JOHN J. BARTOSH YEAR OLDER THAN HE FIGURED UPON SCORNS TO CLAIM DRAFT EXEMPTION, THOUGH HE HIMSELF MADE THE MISTAKE
John J. Bartosh, newsdealer and tobacconist and one of the most popular young business men in Redding, finds at this late day that he is not subject to the draft, though he is already in class 1 and is subject to call very soon. And don't forget that Bartosh is ready to go. He is no slacker. "I am ready any time my country wants me," says Bartosh, "and I will not hang back a minute, even if I do have to sacrifice my business that I have been a lifetime building up."
Bartosh has always believed that he was born on December 18, 1885. That would have made him over thirty-one years of age in June last, when the draft law went into effect. But as he was born so near 1886, he gave the year of his birth as 1886 and registered for the draft, his age being at least 31.
His father, who has lived in Kenett for several years, seldom comes to Redding, but he was down here last week to attend a funeral. Having seen his son's name in the list of class 1 men, he remonstrated, saying to his son: "You were born on December 18, 1884. I looked at the date in the old prayer book the other day. I wrote the date there the day you were born. You had no occasion to register for the draft.
John J. Bartosh is exempt, so far as age is concerned, both by his own reckoning and still more by the records of his father. The official records of his birth in the church in San Francisco where he was baptized were destroyed in the big fire.
But all this makes no difference to John J. Bartosh. "Why should I claim exemption?" he asks, "I have no dependents. I will not stay here and let my young friends and neighbors go off to the war. I am ready to serve my country. I have passed the physical examination and will answer the call."
The Searchlight, July 14, 1918:
CIGAR STORE FOR SALE
I must sell my cigar store and news agency on account of going to war.
JOHN J. BARTOSH
The Searchlight, August 7, 1918:
John J. Bartosh Sells Cigar Store
GOING WITH THE DEAL IS THE CHARTER OF THE FAMOUS GRINDSTONE CLUB
John J. Bartosh, proprietor of the Golden Eagle Cigar store, one of the landmarks of Redding, has sold his business to E. A. Aedes, a recent arrival here from Modoc county.
Bartosh was forced to sell, as he is due to leave for the war with a Shasta county draft contingent on August 15. While the sale is really made it cannot be legally consumed until August 13, the expiration day of the usual legal notice of intention of sale.
Bartosh has proved himself to be one of the very best young business men in Redding. He has attended to business since his career began in Armory hall years ago, when as a tot in knickerbockers he sold "peanuts, chwing [sic] gum, chocolates and popcorn." John Bartosh has been popular and successful, because he has worked, because he has been polite, because he has been square. It is a considerabl [sic] sacrifice for him to part with the business whose foundation he laid so well, but he does not hesitate for one moment to do so. Bartosh wants to do his duty as a citizen and he answers his country's call without a moments hesitation.
For years and years the Golden Eagle Cigar store has been the meeting place of the Grindstone club, a local organization that has handled all the problems of government--national and world wide--and handled them well, too. One of the most important assets transferred by Bartosh to the new proprietor, E. A. Eades, is the charter of the Grindstone club.
The Searchlight, August 16, 1918:
JOHN J. BARTOSH, HERBERT G. MOODY GUESTS OF HONOR AT DINNER PARTY GIVEN BY GOLDEN EAGLE ON EVE OF LEAVING FOR WAR
John J. Bartosh and Herbert G. Moody were the guests of honor at a dinner party given last evening in the Golden Eagle hotel private dining room by the proprietors, George H. Gronwoldt and August H. Gronwoldt. The function was given on the eve of the departure of the honor guests for Camp Lewis. George Michaud and F. C. Scrivner of Redding and Roy Duggins of Cottonwood, who are to leave on the same train for Camp Lewis, were invited also.
The table was decorated artistically in flowers and the American colors. The dinner was elaborate and was served in course. Following the repast dancing was in order, and it was kept up till well after midnight.
While all were at the table a valuable wrist watch was presented to John J. Bartosh by the Redding shamber [sic] of commerce of which he has been the efficient secretary-treasurer for several months.
Those attending, in addition to the five guests already mentioned, were: Mr. and Mrs. Albert Ludwig, Miss Sally Hall, Mrs. C. C. Keen, Mrs. Freda Livermore, Miss Olive Forrester, Miss Kathryn Hall, Miss Mildred Evans, Mrs. Hazel Anderson, August H. Gronwoldt, Marion A. Nordyke, Peter Hoff, George W. Hartz and George W. Harrison.
During Bartosh’s absence James E. Isaacs, Jr., employee of the store and Grindstone member (and son of the only identified member of both the Grindstone Board in Shasta and the Grindstone Club in Redding) died, apparently due in part to his loyalty to the store:
The Searchlight, November 6, 1918:
JAMES E. ISAACS IS CALLED BEYOND
ACTIVE YOUNG MAN OF 26 YEARS LOSES IN BATTLE AGAINST PNEUMONIA
James E. Isaacs, one of the best known young men in Redding, died in the home of his mother, Mrs. Mary E. Isaacs, in Market street, at 1 o'clock Tuesday morning. Pneumonia was the cause. Never in rugged health, he was really ill for several weeks, but his loyalty to his employer in the Golden Eagle cigar store kept him at work after he really should have been at home and in bed. The dread disease had a hold on him before he finally gave up and took to bed.
"Jimmie" Isaacs, as everybody called him, was born in Redding on September 25, 1892, making his age a little better than 26 years. He was a son of the late James E. Isaacs Sr., for whom he was named. "Jimmie" attended the public schools of Redding, entering high school at the age of 13. After attending high school for two years, he quit to undergo a serious operation for a throat trouble. Recovering, he entered the employ of John Potts in the Golden Eagle Cigar store, and remained there ever since under two different proprietors. He was a good clerk and was as honest a boy as ever stepped behind a counter. Jimmie Isaacs was faithful to his employer and attentive to business.
The Searchlight, November 21, 1918:
JOHN J. BARTOSH TO BE HERE BY DEC. 1
John J. Bartosh wired from Camp Lewis Wednesday to Dorn Isaacs in this city that he would be back in Redding on or about December 1 to stay.
Nobody will receive a heartier welcome coming home than will be extended to "John." Member of the Grindstone club will take a holiday.
When Bartosh left for the war he sold out his newsstand and cigar store in the Golden Eagle block. It is understood that he is negotiating to buy them back.
The Searchlight, December 24, 1918:
JOHN J. BARTOSH IS FREE FRUM [sic] THE ARMY
John J. Bartosh arrived home last evening and was showered with kisses at the depot, and the kisses were from the fairer sex.
John J. Bartosh wired his brother yesterday that he would be home from Camp Lewis Monday or Tuesday night. Bartosh has not been discharged but is anxious to go back in business at the old stand, the Golden Eagle Cigar store. Bartosh was at Camp Lewis ever since he joined the ranks. He expects to be discharged very soon.
The Searchlight, June 3, 1919:
SOLD CIGAR STORE
Edward A. Eades has sold his cigar store the Golden Eagle block to Paul D. Henderson, a teacher of Red Bluff. The sale was really agreed on two months ago. Henderson will take possession on June 15, or as soon as school is out.
Courier-Free Press, August 11, 1919:
JOHN BARTOSH BACK IN BUSINESS HERE
John J. Bartosh, who owned the Golden Eagle cigar store before he entered the army last year, has purchased the business for himself again. The deal has been pending for several weeks and all that remains to be done is to sign the papers that have been drawn up with Paul Henderson, the present owner. The latter will go back to teaching in Tehama county.
The Searchlight, August 15, 1919:
NOTICE OF SALE
Paul D. Henderson has filed for record the usual notice of intention that he will sell the Golden Eagle cigar store in Redding to John J. Bartosh. The sale will be made on August 23.
The last recorded official meeting of the old Grindstone Club that I have been able to find was in 1920, and the daily informal meetings appear to have stopped around this time as well:
The Searchlight, Jan. 1, 1920:
J. N. Logan president of the Grindstone club was up from San Francisco Wednesday planning to attend the annual meeting.
The research resulted in several possible explanations for the end of the Grindstone, and they probably all played their part. The president of the Grindstone from 1915 through 1919, James Logan, had moved to San Francisco sometime in 1919. A hypothesis put forth by Judge Ross was that it was a result of the older members passing on as a new generation who met less formally "flocked around the new proprietor." Judge Richard B. Eaton, in a private conversation, emphasized the impact of the increasing number of cars on Redding’s unpaved streets during the late 1910s. As the Grindstone held its informal meetings outside on Yuba after the store closed each day, about 6:00 p.m., increased traffic would have resulted in severe dust in the dry season. Yet Yuba Street was paved in 1919, so perhaps it was simply the increase in numbers and speed of the traffic on a paved road that made these meetings unsafe.
John Bartosh made several changes involving the Golden Eagle after returning from the Army. I suspect that these, as well as the above issues, somehow influenced the demise of the Grindstone Club. It appears that upon his return from the Army, Bartosh resumed retail sales but no longer manufactured his own cigars. Bartosh also took up permanent personal living quarters in the Golden Eagle Hotel itself at this time. He added other services to his store, including the handling of the agency for some auto-stage firms, one operating stages from Sacramento and Chico and one from Redding to Montgomery Creek and Big Bend (these later established their own offices elsewhere in Redding).
Record-Searchlight, January 1, 1959:
Golden Eagle Cigar store closes doors
John J. Bartosh locked the door of his Golden Eagle cigar store last night, hung up a "closed" sign and ended 51 years in business at the same stand. "For three years I haven’t had a day off," Bartosh said today. "When one of my clerks said he was quitting three days ago, I said, Well, I’m quitting, too." In the store he had as customers and friends judges, bank presidents and working men. "They were all my people," he said "I liked them, and I think they liked me. When people come in and say, Hello, Johnny, it thrills you." His old friends will still be greeting Bartosh with the old salutation. He says he plans, for the present at least, to live in the place he has called home since 1919 -- room 358 of the Golden Eagle Hotel.
With persistence in my desire to find someone who had first-hand knowledge of the Bartosh family, and the advantages provided by the Internet, I was able to track down George’s only child, Ray B. Bartosh, who is currently living in Texas. Ray also had participated in what appears to have been something of a Bartosh family tradition, by working for a week in the Golden Eagle Cigar Store when he was 15 years old. Ray Bartosh has been a great help in filling in some of the blanks to this story, and very generous in providing most of the pictures herein.
Judge Albert F. Ross once wrote that "Persons who lived in Redding in the past, when met in other places, usually remember the Bartosh cigar store and its owner, and inquire about them. Those who were here early in the century, and perhaps in the last decade of the last century, often reminisce of the Golden Eagle Cigar Store and of the Grindstone Club which flourished there.”
Socrates and the Resurrection of the Grindstone Club
While researching this history I changed employers in May of 2000, after many years, and was given a going away party by my coworker Bob Esau, which included cigar smoking. We discussed making this a regular tradition, to meet for cigars on Friday afternoons in order to wind-down from a week of work and to discuss matters of interest. By July we were referring to our meetings as "Tradition," and had invited other friends to join us.
One of the topics I was interested in at this time was Western Philosophy, especially that of Socrates and Plato. Studying these concepts led to the thought that the Grindstone Club as an idea can live on in the present. As long as the idea and spirit of the Grindstone Club are alive, who’s to say that it isn’t The Grindstone Club? The people and location may change, but the idea and tradition lives on. So by February 2001 we were referring to our weekly meetings as the Grindstone Club "resurrected." I had collected more of the Golden Eagle Cigar Store tokens over the years, and I began to give one to each new member. Many of our members are not cigar smokers, but all enjoy gathering together at the end of the week to relax and discuss relevant issues of our time (and of all time). We have developed new traditions, including annual trips and history related missions for new members to earn their token. As of November 2008 we have over 60 tokened members, and have had to have new tokens made as it has become very hard to find examples of the originals.
It has been an interesting journey through Shasta County history thus far, and I know there are going to be more interesting roads and trails to travel in the future. I encourage the reader to continue his or her journey as well, and to spark an interest in history in the children in your life, possibly through starting their own collection of tokens from the past.
The Golden Eagle Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1962. Pictured left is a firefighter trying to fight the blaze. Perhaps he was once a Grindstoner, smoking his cigar as a final tribute. John James Bartosh died November 23, 1968 at the age of 81. George R. Bartosh died February 28, 1969 at the age of 79.
Identified Members of the early Grindstone Club
J. E. Barber, John J. Bartosh (Second Patron Saint), Judge Aaron Bell, William Bickford, Frank Bloom, Robert Boyd (Sergeant-at-Arms, 1915), J. W. Brackett, Charles H. Braynard (Club Attorney, 1918), Louis Breslauer, Nathan Breslauer, Samuel Breslauer (Treasurer, 1916, 1917), Carl R. Briggs, Judge Francis Carr, John J. Chambers, John Craddock, James Drynan, M. E. Dittmar, George Endres (Best Vice President, 1915), Allen W. Etter, Judge Jack Garden, Judge Gardner, Carroll Glaszer, John William Hare, Charles M. Head, Judge Charles W. Herzinger (Club Attorney, 1917), Walter Herzinger, Peter Hoff (Recorder, 1917), Dorn Isaacs, James E. Isaacs, Sr., James E. Isaacs, Jr. (Leader of Lambs Orchestra & bass drum, 1918), John R. Jones, C. C. Keen (Toastmaster. 1918), Dr. J. J. Kirwan (Vice-President, 1918), F. X. LaBonte (President, 1914), F. Lack, Jr., James N. Logan (President, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919), Charles Lord (Secretary, 1915), Luke McDonald, Charles McConnell, Francis McNeill, Marion Nordyke (Treasurer, 1915), Joseph Porter, John W. Potts (First Patron Saint), F. P. Primm, D. G. Reid, E. A. Reid, John E. Reynolds, Albert Roberts (Secretary, 1917), Ernest A. Rolison, Albert F. Ross, Sr., Judge Albert Ross, Harry Schraer, T. W. H. Shanahan, F. M. Swasey, Judge Edward Sweeny, Harry E. Thompson, W. D. Tillotson.
Original Grindstone In Old Shasta
The final leg of the research into the Grindstone Club came as a surprise, and illustrates the importance of following up on every detail when doing research. In the winter of 2002, while at the Shasta Historical Society trying to track every lead I had on information about the identified members of the original Grindstone Club (in this instance James Isaacs), I came across a story in the 1959 Covered Wagon entitled "The Grindstone Board" by Charles A. Shurtleff. This caught my eye for obvious reasons. I had not come across it before, as for some reason it was never listed in the Index to the Covered Wagon. James Isaacs (senior) had been an attorney in the old town of Shasta prior to relocating to Redding, like so many did as Shasta faded and Redding became prominent. Isaacs had been a member of what was called the Grindstone Board:
Mr. E. Voluntine, an early day hardware merchant at Shasta, at one time received an exceptionally large shipment of grindstones and stacked them on the sidewalk in front of his store on Main Street where he allowed them to remain for a long time. The surface of the grindstones was large and smooth and the height of the stacks just right for comfortable seats. A number of the leading citizens of Shasta appropriated the grindstones for their own use and they became a center where meetings were held. Weighty matters were discussed and questions decided of great moment to the state and nation. There was no appeal from the decisions. This group became known as the Grindstone Board and functioned for many years. A few of the members were Mr. Peck, Mr. W. S. Wills, Charles Fordham, William A. Scott, the shoemaker, and James E. Isaacs, a lawyer.
The parallel between the Grindstone Board and the Grindstone Club is undeniable, yet nowhere have I been able to find a direct reference or connection between the two. The closest so far is that James Isaacs was a prominent member of both Grindstones, and that the footnote to Shurtleff’s article reads "An Old Cigar Store" by Albert F. Ross, in "The Covered Wagon" of 1959 . As mentioned before, the Ross article hypothesized that the name of the Grindstone Club came from the cigar manufactured by Potts of the same name, and that in turn originated from a club in Potts hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
However, Potts did not change the name of his "Smooth Diamond" cigar to the "Grindstone Club" until 1900 or 1901. By this time Redding was the hub of Northern California, the courthouse had been in town for more than a decade, and most of the leading citizens who had been in Shasta (and possibly members of the Grindstone Board) were now in Redding. While this is circumstantial evidence, I think it is sufficient to suggest that the Grindstone Club is a historic Shasta County tradition going back for well over 100 years.
Weekly Shasta Courier, Saturday, March 15, 1890:
Death of Edwin Voluntine
"It becomes our painful duty to record the death of one of our most respected and prominent citizens. Last Monday Morning at 10 o'clock the sorrowful announcement was made that Edwin Voluntine had breathed his last...It was in 1854 that himself and wife came from Ohio to Horsetown, where, for a time he engaged in the tinware business. From Horsetown he came to Shasta, where for many years he has conducted one of the largest and most complete hardware stores and manufactories in Northern California. He leaves to mourn his loss a devoted wife, a son and daughter, beside other relatives and a host of friends. His age was 65 years..."