THE FRENCH SECTOR
(Pechaud property, Brunet Lot, Solaris Lot, Archive Building-Sector Office)
© Floyd DP Øydegaard
Pechaud's French Store
1859 - Pechaud Brothers (#83) Building. Started in 1851. It was announced in a local newspaper on May 30,
1861, that the Pechaud Brothers, owners of the
"French Store, on Jackson Street, " would begin selling
off their extensive stock on Saturday, June 1. (G & B Eastman 1958)
Brothers Jean Pechaud and François Pechaud ran a grocery store and provision store, which they built with fireproof cellar following the fire of 1854. Known as the French Store, this would be the longest running French owned business in Columbia...(Confused with Brunet store - Then Came The French)
NOTE: There is a slight chance that the actual store was between #24 and #25.
1852 - Pechaud's first appear on the property tax rolls. (Barbara Eastman,)
1852 - Pechaud's owned one lot with improvements, located west of Samuel Dealy's and Jacob Smith's Meat Market, between Main and Broadway streets. "While my brother worked at the forge, I found work some days driving a wagon and others mining. Actually I was working like a dog and had nothing to show for it. When, seeing that all my efforts were gaining very lIttle, I abandoned the mines and my teams and in partnership with my brother, we became merchants. My brother had become quite skilled as a blacksmith and had a ready-made clientele among the miners. As for me, I could sell all kinds of merchandise.
"Our house was soon well stocked. Customers began flocking from everywhere because I maintained honest prices and sold as low as possible. The success of the Pechauds attracted more than customers."
1854 April - their store was burgled and about $700 in gold dust and coin was stolen. The thieves were apprehended at Captain Raspail's boardinghouse on the corner of Broadway and State streets. $648 of the Pechauds' money was recovered. Unable to post bail in the amount of $4,000, the two men, Day and Brown, were transferred to the county jail in Sonora. (Columbia Gazette, April 22, 1854. p. 2 C. 1.)
1854 July 10 - "Soon we were reaping great profits and already contemplating our return to France, when one night, one terrible night, in the month of June (sic)1854 all that we had was lost. A fire erupted, and in the space of a few hours, the town, which was built of wood was just a pile of ashes."
(Actually the fire is said to have broken out the morning of July 10, 1854. Somehow, the Columbia Gazette came out the next day with an edition detailing the damage.)
"Feeling only rage, my brother and I went back to work to recover from the disaster and repair our fortune. Having learned a lesson, we dug a deep cellar, and over this cellar we raised a new building, made entirely of brick, with iron doors, window frames and shutters. Not a single stick of wood was used in its construction.
Our little town was quickly rebuilt even more beautiful and secure than before. In a short time we recouped our losses and were convinced that from then on we would be safe from any future conflagratIon.."
1857 August 25th - "A new fire erupted in a Chinese dwelling opposite our own. The fire started on the north side of Jackson Street." The Pechauds lived on the south side, approximately where the State Park office is now located (before 2010). "We only had time to seal all our doors, windows and shutters and to abandon our dwelling to the grace of God."
1857 August - "Like the time before, the whole town was leveled. Not a single building appeared to be left standing." (According to Herbert O. Lang's History of Tuolumne County, only the northern portion of the town burned. The Pechauds are not listed among those who suffered losses, however, those enduring minor losses were not noted.) "When we made our way back to our store, we found it standing in the midst of rubble and ashes. It had not burned, but because of the intense heat, the doors and shutters had buckled. Air currents had found their way inside and the fire was smouldering in the darkened interior."
"Immediately we began to seal all the gaps at the risk of our very lives because our cellar contained several hundred kilos of blasting powder. Needless to say, we were quite anxious about it! Fortunately, we managed to douse the flames.
"When we were finally able to enter our building, we found the entire structure charred, but the basement was intact. Our losses were serious but less than if we had not taken precautions. Almost immediately we were able to conduct business again. Never did we earn more than in that one year of great misfortune! As our store was the only one left standing in the northern section of the town, people came from all over, even from great distances, to view it.
"In addition to our regular business, we added that of buying gold dust which brought us great profit. Moreover, our money, when placed with one of the most solid and honest banking houses in San Francisco, namely that of Hentsch, a branch of the famous Hentsch Banking House of Paris, earned us high interest rates." (In the 1867 San Francisco Directory, Hentsch and Berton, Bankers, were listed on the southwest corner of Clay and Leidesdorff streets.)
1860 Monday, November 3 - (Jean Pechaud neglects to mention that his and his brother's increased business continued to attract some unsavory types. On the evening of this day, according to a local newspaper, a daring attempt was made to break into the store. The thieves cut out some bricks near the hinges of the iron doors located on the back side of the building but were scared away when they heard a noise. They returned later, however, and attempted to break out the heavy iron bars fastened over a window leading into the basement. Fortunately, these proved to be too secure - Columbia Times, November 8, 1860. p. 2 C. 3.).
"Finally fortune was smiling upon us. We scarcely managed to keep up with our sales, in spite of having hired ten clerks. With our comfort assured, and also in constant fear of further misfortunes, we decided to liquidate our business. We had left France many long years before and were overcome with a nostalgic desire to go home."
1861 May 30 - It was announced in a local newspaper that the Pechaud Brothers, owners of the "French Store, on Jackson Street," would begin selling off their extensive stock on Saturday, June 1. The brothers had earlier given a power of attorney to Amable Gen, the local French Consul, to recover all monies owed to them. (Deeds, Vol. 10, pp. 469-70. Tuolumne County Records) The property on the southwest corner of Main and Jackson streets was acquired by Louis Brunet, also a Frenchman, and Elie Hilaire Rinquet, a French Canadian.
1861 August 29 - Deeds, Vol. 10, pp. 443-44. Tuolumne County Records. For the story of Louis Brunet, see Chispa, Vol. 28, No.4, pp. 968-972.
1861 September - the local newspaper announced that the Pechauds, who had "for nearly ten years been among the foremost merchants of this place ... had sold their establishment and were returning to 'sunny France,' " the land of their birth. (Columbia Times, September 26, 1861. p. 2 C. 6.)
An advertisement in a different column advised all who owed them money to settle with Amable Gen, Esquire, who could be found at the store of Louis Brunet and Company, successors of the Pechaud Brothers. This advertisement ran for another month.
© Floyd DP Øydegaard
Sector Office Building - 2018.
Jackson Street, east of Main Street, south.
Originally described as two framed houses and lots; this is on the east part of the Magendie lot.
1880 Frame 2-story residence built by Louis Brunet
The Solaris had a house on this lot, don’t know when it was built, do know that it burned in the 1920 fire.
Solaris Building - 1920.
© Columbia State Historic Park.
Unknown Building - 1929.
Some kind of false front (See far right of image) was made after fire. Not sure if it was usable.
Touch this image and see what it looked like in 1940.
1960 Present building replica of the Brunet structure, built for the park office.
1990 Records, photos and archives moved into the building as it became the archives office.
2002 Records, photos and archives moved to the remodeled firehouse office building behind Main Street firehouse as it became the archives office.
2019 March 1st - Park staff move to different locations in park. A change of leadership and (?) who knows what.
© Floyd D.P. Řydegaard - 2018.
The back of the Sector Office
This page is created for the benefit of the public by
Floyd D. P. Øydegaard
fdpoyde3 (at) Yahoo (dot) com
A WORK IN PROGRESS,
created for the visitors to the Columbia State Historic park.
© Columbia State Historic Park & Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.