YUBA COUNTY Nuggets
submitted by Craig Hahn
This article is reprinted from an article that appeared in the May 11, 1961 edition of the Independent-Herald newspaper Yuba City, California
VISITING WITH THE OLDTIMERS
Shine of Gold Inspired Jeweler To Settle Here
The steady march of Marysville business down D Street with the passing years has been observed by Frank Mooney, whose jewelry business was one of the participants in Marysville’s growth.
When Mooney came here from Iowa in 1912, the best location for a jewelry store was held by Peter Engle, whose store was between Third and Fourth Streets. Mooney worked for another jeweler, Frank Poole, on his arrival here, before going into business for himself.
His decision to go into business in Marysville was made one day when he was enjoying the big sandwich and glass of beer offered by the Ward and Frye Saloon for only 10 cents. While he was eating his lunch, he saw a number of miners and other citizens come in and pay for their food and drinks with large gold pieces.
“I DECIDED that Marysville must be a profitable place for a jeweler to work, with that much gold being passed around,” he recalls. “I have never regretted that decision.”
When Mooney arrived in this area, the Harter Packing Company was just getting started, and gave promise of becoming one of the big businesses of Sutter County. The Saunders Ranch at Tudor was a mule ranch, rather than a fruit ranch. Ed Strain out in District 10 had a large grain ranch, and the Onstotts had an elaborate experimental prune dryer.
MOONEY ALSO recalls W. T. “Bill” Ellis in those days urging Marysville residents to keep their levees in good shape, in his fight to keep Marysville dry. He never stopped that fight until his dying days, not many years ago.
The old D Street bridge was built shortly after Mooney arrived here, and was considered a very fine bridge. Either a long time has passed since then or engineering standards have changed,” he says, “since the bridge has been replaced.”
Biggest pest of the ranchers during this time, before irrigation began to be extensive, was morning glory. After they began irrigating, most of the morning glory disappeared.
The roads weren’t paved then, and people from Oroville and Hammonton had a difficult time getting into Marysville to shop during the Christmas holidays because of the mud. One vivid memory of that time is of the iron wheels of the freight wagons pounding on the cobblestone streets as they were drawn to and from the Garrett warehouse by the six and eight horse teams.
W. H. CARLIN was the most prominent attorney in Marysville when Mooney first arrived, and the Decker-Jewett bank was the big financial house. G. Billy Hall, the father of Mick Hall, was a prominent businessman.
Mooney began his own jewelry business in 1915 in a window of Rubel’s Drug Store, and moved north on D Street with the trend of the times. Willard Will accepted partnership with him after graduation from horological (clockmaking) school in Peoria, Ill. He and Mooney remained partners until Mooney’s retirement in 1948.
One period Mooney recalls vividly is the time of the depression, when he and other jewelers used to buy gold from “snipers,” The money they received from the gold was usually the only money these men had to live on. Sometime they would bring in 10 cents worth, and sometime from $200-$300, if they were lucky and found a good strike. They looked like tramps, and between 30 and 40 of them a week would gather in front of Mooney’s store to sell their gold. Mooney in turn would sell it to the U. S. Mint.
AS AN EXAMPLE of how hard these miners had to work to keep alive during this period, their biggest expense was for picks, which usually lasted only 2-3 weeks.
“Marysville presents a definite picture of progress from the quiet town of 1912, with its dusty streets, wood awnings, clacking iron wheels, and plenty of room to park the autos we didn’t have,” says Mooney. “Surely within sight of the Buttes the promise of greener pastures is being fulfilled.”
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