The announcement that Rocklin, not Roseville, had been selected as the division point for the Central Pacific Railroad in Placer County was met with mixed reactions. Some, like Daniel Van Treese, packed up and moved to Rocklin. Sales of choice building lots for investment purposes declined somewhat, which led O. D. Lambard to dispose of the unsold portions of his town to G. T. M. Davis in 1871.Others, however, were more optimistic. While conceding that Roseville was not going to become the important railroad center that everyone had expected, they remained convinced the steady agricultural development that showed no signs of waning would ensure Roseville’s future as a trading center for area farmers and ranchers.
As a result, between 1870 and 1879, Roseville experienced the “slow but sure” development which characterized many California towns in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Gradually a town of substance and stability would emerge. New construction already underway and reported in the Placer Herald of Jan. 1, 1870 included a new hotel being erected by Daniel S. Neff, who had formerly operated the 17 Mile House.
One of the more prominent buildings erected during this period was J.D. Pratt’s store and hall opposite Neff’s hotel. Pratt, a dedicated member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), played an integral part in obtaining a local chapter in Roseville. Formal application for a charter was filed on May 16, 1872 and approved on June 26, 1872. The organizational meeting of Roseville Lodge No. 203, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, convened in the hall above Pratt’s store and Pratt himself was elected as the organization’s first secretary.
Other businesses established in 1870 included Captain Brown’s dry goods store (part of which was to be used as a millinery shop by his daughter), R.J. Fletcher’s livery stable and Thomas A. Berry’s Saloon.
Berry accompanied his parents to Roseville in 1863 where his father was reported to have been the town’s first justice of the peace. After marrying, Berry opened Roseville’s first barber shop (1875); a one-story structure on Atlantic Street. He later opened and operated “The Corner Saloon” near his barber shop. Berry tore down his original saloon in October 1881 and built a fine billiard hall and saloon on its site, which he operated until his death on Oct. 28, 1892.
The year 1870 also saw the completion of a little-heralded building by W.J. Branstetter which played an important role in the subsequent history of Roseville. Branstetter moved to Roseville after failing in the gold mines like many others before him. On land acquired adjacent to the railroad, he erected the Golden Eagle Saloon and Lodging House on the site of Van Treese’s original hotel building on Atlantic Street. He later built a two-story building at the corner of Pacific and Washington Streets in 1873 with the bottom floor serving as a general merchandising business while the upper floor served as the town’s social center under the name of “Branstetter’s Hall”. The Golden Eagle Saloon and the Lodging House later passed into the hands of William Scott so Branstetter could focus on his Pacific Street business. Along with Thomas and Pratt, Branstetter acted as buyer and shipper for neighboring ranchers, extended credit, lent money at reasonable interest rates when times were bad, and performed many services usually associated with banking institutions. Branstetter also operated a lumber and brick business adjacent to his hall as well as operating a 160-acre farm. Branstetter left Roseville in 1893 for Dunsmuir in Northern California, which was suffering the same railroad growing pains similar to what Roseville experienced earlier. Slowly, he disposed his Roseville interests and spent the remaining years of his life in Dunsmuir until his death in 1925. Today, the only remainder of this pioneer merchant and businessman is a small street, Branstetter Street, between Dry Creek and Atlantic Street.
A new ticket and baggage office was established at the railroad station in 1874, replacing Cyrus Taylor’s original building. This edifice was built by John Louis Bulens, a native of Belgium, and a resident of Roseville since the mid-1860s. The story of how this depot came into being bears retelling. The fledgling Central Pacific Railroad was hard on funds to build the depot, yet freight passenger traffic was essential to the success of the railroad. Somehow new and improved depots had to be built. It was at this point that the Central Pacific came up with a unique solution. To anyone who would undertake construction of a depot building, permission would be granted to the builder to operate a business establishment on the premise. Bulens stepped up and created a design requiring little funds; thus, he was granted the right to operate a restaurant and saloon in part of the building. The “Junction Saloon” served as a social meeting spot for many of the young men of Roseville. Bulens took a partner in running the saloon, Henry Barrett, after his wife died. When Bulens died, Barrett took over the saloon and continued to operate it until 1907 when the old building was replaced with a new one. Barrett took part of the saloon building and moved it to Atlantic Street and reopened it under the name “Old Depot Saloon” Current day Bulen Street is named after this pioneer resident.
Completion of the new depot did much to lessen the contempt some railroad employees had for Roseville or “Roseville Junction,” as they still called it. Brakemen, in particular, were not overly impressed with the small community and its small depot; in fact, they would enter “JUNK shun” in their train log books and would emphasize “JUNK” when calling out “Junction” upon arrival at the depot. The new depot did much to resolve this problem, along with explicit orders from San Francisco to cease this practice.
Depot of 1874
By 1875, it was generally recognized that Roseville was destined to become one of the most important towns in Placer County. The buildings at that time were still principally made of wood but it was believed that as the town grew older more substantial edifices of stone and brick would take their place. Principal businesses in 1875 included: W.J. Branstetter, who besides operating a saloon and lodging house also dealt in lumber, sash, etc.; F. Horn, a stone and tinware store; D.S. Neff, proprietor of the Roseville Hotel; J.D. Pratt, dealer in general merchandise as well as being the local postmaster; Thomas & Son, general merchandise; J.R. Watson & Co., saloon and depot eating house; and Woodruff’s shoe shop. Roseville continued to grow and develop throughout the remaining years of the decade. During the winter of 1877-1878, another new manufactory was established.
The Woodruff Shoe Repair Shop
Shortly thereafter, all building activity was temporarily brought to a halt by one of the severest storms in the town’s history. The rain was described as “falling in torrents,” and the wind as being “little less than a hurricane.” Tom McBride’s hay barn, near present day Antelope, was blown down. A house belonging to Robert Jones was carried off its foundation. The new harrow factory did not escape the storm and sustained massive damage.
The rains, which continued through spring, however proved to have extremely beneficial qualities for farmers of the region. Alexander Bell McRae, farming two miles east of town, reported obtaining a yield of 30 bushels of barley and 25 bushels of wheat to the acre, while Mr. Decay reported yields of 20 bushels of wheat to the acre. Under such favorable conditions, Roseville experienced an unprecedented building boom throughout the spring and summer of 1878.
During the month of April, 1878, Thomas & Son erected and put into operation a wagon, carriage and paint shop below their store on Atlantic Street. Earlier, Pratt had announced that he intended to build a “brick store” due to booming business. Four years later, construction began on Roseville’s first three-story brick building and it was completed in late 1878. Completion of this historic structure marked the transition of the town from a small freight shipping station to the beginnings of a town of substance, a fact which did not go unnoticed in area newspapers. Auburn’s Placer Herald noted that completion of the edifice “shows a disposition on the part of those erecting it to stay and build a town,” while the Sacramento Union reflected that “our neighboring town of Roseville is branching out into the substantial in the matter of building – changing from wood to brick in their construction.” A unique arrangement was made between Pratt and the I.O.O.F. regarding the building – Pratt would build and maintain the lower floor as a warehouse while the I.O.O.F. would retain the upper floors as a lodge hall. The dedication of the Odd Fellow’s Hall, as it came to be called, took place on January 16, 1879. The multi-story brick building was the first commercial brick structure in Roseville’s short history. Pratt would eventually sell out to William Sawtelle and P.V. Siggins in 1890. The I.O.O.F. met continuously in this hall on Pacific Street until 1942 when it purchased the Women’s Improvement Club house on Main Street. Since that time, the old hall has been closed and is no longer in use.
April of 1878 also saw an announcement that W.J. Branstetter had recently constructed a building intended to be used as a dry goods store. Mark Neher came to occupy the Branstetter building where he operated a saloon. Later (1899), a Mrs. Caraven opened a bakery there as did June Sawtelle, who subsequently acquired the property. From this time on, the edifice was generally referred to as the “Bakery Building.” Mrs. Sawtelle sold out to George Simi in October 1907 who continued the bakery business until Aug. 24, 1911 when a destructive fire wiped out most of the business establishments on Pacific Street.
J.B.R. Davis bought Daniel S. Neff’s original Roseville Hotel in 1878, reportedly for “two mules and a wagon”. The old structure was torn down and work commenced on a new two-story building near the Oregon track with the lower part of the new structure to be used as a saloon. The building was completed in August 1878 and opened for business under its former title – Roseville Hotel.
Several other frame buildings were erected during the summer of 1878, but by the end of the year, brick had begun to replace frame construction. W.J. Branstetter reported burning over 400,000 bricks in his kilns during a twelve month period. Pratt & Dyer reported that by September of 1879, they had burned 500,000 bricks which afforded employment to between eight and ten laborers. Dudley operated still yet another kiln on Dry Creek. Building activity continued at an accelerated rate with no end in sight.
School house of 1872
The rapidly growing community soon found that its little one-room school house, of which it had once been so proud, could no longer adequately meet the educational needs of the fast growing district. A new $2,000 brick building was subsequently built in 1879 to replace the original frame structure built in 1872. S.J. Pullens moved into the new brick building where he taught the upper grades.
Roseville’s lone physician was Dr. Taylor, the uncle of W.A. Thomas’ wife who persuaded him to move to Roseville and became the town’s first official practicing physician. After his death, it would be years before another physician replaced him. Only one serious shortcoming was noted; at this time, a pressing need for a flour mill. Although producing large amounts of wheat, over one half of the town’s flour supply had to be teamed in from Sacramento.
Population kept pace with the increased building activity. Between January 1877 and January 1878, the population of Roseville had increased by 50. By 1880, the total number of people living in and around Roseville reached approximately 258. Many new homes were erected during the decade, including those of such prominent citizens as Charles Keehner, A.D. Neher, A.B. McRae and William McIntosh.
The old McIntosh home was erected in 1876 by Dan McBride. McIntosh came to Roseville with McRae in 1876, where McIntosh engaged in farming until his death in 1896. He married Alice Entwistle and in 1880, they purchased the family home at 205 Washington Street. Mrs. Hazel McIntosh Kuhlman, daughter of William McIntosh, recalls that when she was a small girl, a barn occupied part of the lot, along with the inevitable back yard pump, which until the establishment of a municipal water system in 1909, supplied the family with its water. This pioneer residence was believed to have been one of the oldest residences in Roseville. Its site is now occupied by a convenience market.
As the decade rapidly drew to an end, Roseville was described as a “quiet, pleasant, unassuming little place,” and while making “no glamorous pretensions to greatness,” it was generally conceded that it had a promising future.