Linoberg, a Man of Good Name
Mountain Home Gifts Journal
Linoberg's Sonora Tombstore
Sonora's main street (circa 1850's) Linoberg's store, first two story brick building, upper right of center)
Early Adobe Building in Sonora Still in Use after 165 Years
The building Mountain Home Gifts occupies today in Sonora, California was first built and owned by a remarkable man named Emanuel Linoberg. The marble capstone at the top of this stone and marble building at the corner of Washington Street and Linoberg Lane has the date 1856 engraved on it.
We don’t know when this current building construction started but it is accepted that it was completed in 1856. This makes our building one of the oldest still standing along Washington Street. The man who built this building was quite an enterprising entrepreneur and his last name Linoberg can still be seen spelled out in iron letters along the top of the stone wall along Linoberg Lane as part of the support structure of that wall.
Emanuel Linoberg is recorded as being one of the first white men to arrive in Sonora. This being sometime in the spring of 1849. Sonora at that time was a collection of rough camps and tents set up by miners from the northern Mexican state of Sonora who came in the summer of 1848.
In 1849 Emanuel was 31. We don’t know if he came to Sonora to search for gold or to set up a business. We do know that by 1851 he is described as a merchant and the owner of a “Tiende Mexicano” at the corner of Washington Street and Linoberg Lane.
This description of his store using the Spanish for Mexican store is interesting. By 1851 Sonora was quite a mixture of Mexican and American gold miners. We don’t know what the construction of this first store was but it is speculated that it was an adobe and wood framed building. His business was described as selling provisions, hardware and clothing to miners.
Little is known of Emanuel’s life before coming to Sonora but he is described as being from Poland in several newspaper articles of the time. On his American naturalization form he is listed as a citizen of Prussia. Once in Sonora, Emanuel apparently sees a great deal of opportunity.
In addition to operating a miner’s supply store it is reported at the time he also owned a mule train freighting operation bringing goods from Stockton to Sonora. In September of 1850, Emanuel registered the very first cattle brand in Tuolumne county.
As an early businessman in Sonora Emanuel is chosen to be on the very first city council. During these early days in Sonora Linoberg is listed as owning the store at Washington and Linoberg but also is the owner of an entertainment hall, a goldmine and a Russian steam bath. His name is recorded as a founding member of the Freemasons Lodge in Sonora.
In December of 1851, Emanuel marries Pauline Meyer in a ceremony in a Jewish synagogue in San Francisco. In the wedding announcement in a San Francisco newspaper Emanuel is described as the head of the Hebrew Congregation in Sonora. Linoberg was part of a noticeable community of Jews in Tuolumne county in the early days of the goldrush.
The store at the corner of Washington and Linoberg likely burned in a citywide fire in the summer of 1852. There is mention that many merchants started to rebuild after that fire and that some merchants were offered a high price just for their property along Washington.
Linoberg’s name is mentioned as one of these merchants, so it seems that his store burned also. We can assume he chose to rebuild and that results in the building we are in today.
Some time either before or after the death of Linoberg the building will became the first location of the Wells Fargo Company in Sonora.
Wells Fargo was formed in 1852 providing banking and stagecoach services to Northern California and to the Mother Lode mining camps.
In 1857 Wells Fargo adds mail service to it’s stagecoach business. As the stagecoach stop in Sonora, the building at 87 S. Washington will be the first sight of Sonora for many travelers from Stockton. A historical plaque was placed on the building in 1941 honoring this role with Wells Fargo Co.
Emanuel and Pauline had two children. Unfortunately, in 1858 this very enterprising early resident of Sonora passed away at the age of 40. One account says he died of a stroke; another account says he died of a heart attack. He is buried in the historic Jewish cemetery here in downtown Sonora behind the County Jail.
On his headstone is the phrase “A man of a good name.” And on the side wall of his store along Linoberg Lane, “A man of a good name,” Linoberg, remains after 170 years.