As It Was: Franklin King Runs Amazing Pioneer Store in Yreka
In 1946, while cleaning out an old building to house the Yreka office of the California Highway Department, an employee found a battered old account book. It contained the records for the pioneer store of F.J. King from the years 1868 to 1871. The account book is preserved at the Siskiyou County Historical museum, offering a fascinating glimpse into pioneer life.
Franklin King’s records show that he sold just about everything at his store on Fourth and Miner Streets in Yreka, from necklaces and hair curlers to mining supplies, liquor and tobacco. King even ordered materials for making caskets.
The railroad had not yet reached Yreka, so many goods were shipped via steamer from San Francisco and pack animals. While gold was a major currency, so were animal furs, beads and shells. The store appears to have attracted miners, trappers and Native Americans as well as settlers.
One receipt for traps, shoes and soup bears the name “Captain Jack,” maybe of the famous Modoc chief. It’s known that he visited Yreka frequently before the Modoc War.
King’s store was located across from the Franco-American Hotel, which still operates in Yreka today.
Sources: Howe, Carroll B. Frontier Stories of the Klamath Country. Carroll B. Howe, 1989, pp. 64-70.