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Howard Hot Springs' History: Part 3

Monday, 14 February 2011 13:46
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Part 3: 1896-1906

In 1896 Mrs. R.J. (Lizzie) Beeby purchased Howard Springs from Charles Scott, taking on the role of official Putah postmaster.  Three photographs illustrating an advertising brochure show the resort then including an L-shaped lodge (lacking the east wing) and two-story annex, with landscaped springs, small wood-framed bathhouses, and a boardwalk to keep clients above the marshy area near the springs.  Already the resort could boast of a “telephone on the premises.”  But in two years Mrs. Beeby was filing to protect Howard Springs from her creditors, and after 1898 a gap in the property ownership appears in county records.  By then Sunset Magazine recognized Howard Springs as one of Lake County’s “summer resorts,” along with Harbin, Anderson, Adams, Hoberg’s, Astorg, Glenbrook, Bonanza, Seigler, Bartlett, Carlsbad, and Highland Springs, all but Bartlett reached by stage from Calistoga with an overnight stop either at Calistoga or Napa.  In 1900 R.F. Dockery, owner of nearby Bonanza Springs, was appointed postmaster at Howard Springs, but he declined the position.  After a run of nine years (1892-1900) the official U.S. Putah Post Office at Howard Springs was closed, although the resort continued to cancel mail under the name “Howard Springs” until at least 1904, with official service from Lower Lake.

In the twentieth century Howard Springs was owned primarily by only four parties, the first of which was the Laymance family.  M.J. Laymance & Company was a successful Oakland real estate firm owned by Millard J. and John Walter Laymance, responsible among other things for subdividing 120 acres into lots for the town of Windsor in Sonoma County in the late 1880s.  Millard J. Laymance came to California in about 1875 from Georgia, making money first in vineyards in Sonoma County, then raising cattle in Nevada and investing in gold and copper mines, returning to California to raise wheat in the San Joaquin County, and finally turning to real estate.  In keeping with other San Francisco and Seattle businessmen, he got financially involved in the 1897 Klondike gold strike in the Yukon Territory.  For over 40 years local business directories beginning with Bishop’s Oakland Directory of 1881-82 to Polk-Husted Directory Company’s Oakland City Directory of 1921 list M.J. Laymance as a real estate dealer, first as a salesman with E.D. Block & Company, with brother Walter at Pearson & Laymance in 1883-1884, together as M.J. Laymance & Company beginning in 1887, and thereafter with other family members (William J. Laymance, Edward E. Laymance, Ernest E. Laymance, and Edgar E. Laymance) through a succession of real estate, mining, and investment companies.  Census data researched by Paul Peterson leads him to conclude that Millard J., J. Walter, William J. and Ernest E. were all brothers, and that Edgar E. was married to Minnie W. Laymance.  When J. Walter Laymance campaigned for the office of Alameda County Recorder, in 1890, The Morning Times in praising his talents said “he is, emphatically, ‘one of the boys’.”

After a gap in the ownership records, during which Lizzie Beeby lost possession of Howard Springs, Minnie W. and Edgar E. Laymance on October 29, 1907, recorded the sale of Howard Springs to the Howard Springs Company.  J.W. Laymance, E.E. Laymance (nonspecific as to which E.E.), and J.J. Scrivner had filed the articles of incorporation for Howard Springs Company on August 17, 1907.  Already they were advertising the resort, and they may have had possession and operated the resort in earlier years; J.W. Laymance and two other San Francisco/Oakland businessmen had created the “Seigler Mining Company” on March 29 of 1906.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 10:10

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