Happy Thanksgiving – Max Poehlmann

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I thought something on Max Poehlmann, who not only hatched chickens, but also turkeys at his Petaluma Boulevard North facility, was in order.

Max W. Poehlmann was born on June 16, 1890, in San Francisco. His parents were Frank and Bertha Poehlmann. When he was 10, Max moved to Petaluma where his father established the Poehlmann Tannery on Wilson near Jefferson Street.

The family lived at 744 B Street and as a teen, Max was employed at his father's tannery, but by the time he registered for the draft in 1917 he was residing in Seward, Alaska working as a fisherman.

According to Ernest Finley’s History of Sonoma County, Max also did a bit of mining and prospecting as well as railroad work while in Alaska.

When Max returned to Petaluma after serving in France during World War I, he joined his parents in their newly established hatchery business at 620 Main Street (now 620 Petaluma Boulevard North).

In 1921 Max married Nell Jones, a native of Texas. A year later his father passed away leaving the hatchery to be run by Max and his mother. The business prospered and in 1927 the Poehlmanns hired Oscar Johnson, a local contractor, to build a new hatchery.

By 1937, the hatchery had a capacity for 250,000 eggs at one time and was producing up to one million chicks per year. This same year, Max and his partners: brother-in-law, Nathan C. Thompson, and William H. Warner, a poultry specialist associated with Utah State agricultural college, purchased the Yolupa Ranch located on Carriger Road in El Verano where they raised broad-breasted turkeys.

Poehlmann was apparently successful enough in the turkey hatching industry to be hailed as a pioneer by Petaluma Argus Courier in their 1941 85th Anniversary Edition.

In 1948 the El Verano ranch consisted of 650 acres dotted with dozens of 20×20-foot pens, each housing 400 baby turkeys, and heated by 20 Jamesway butane gas brooders.

In addition to the El Verano ranch and the Petaluma hatchery, Poehlmann Hatchery, Inc. (incorporation occurred in 1953) had a plant in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Several sources state that the Poehlmann Hatchery closed in 1970 when Max Poehlmann retired. Not clear is whether this included the El Verano ranch and the Salt Lake City plant as well or if those two properties ceased operation prior to 1970.

I may just have to drop Keith Poehlmann, surviving son of Max and Nell, a note. According to a directory, Keith was vice president of Poehlmann Hatchery in 1965 and by performing a simple Google search it appears that he currently lives in the City of Napa.

Sources:

Biddle, George, ed. Western Poultry History. First Edition. Privately printed: Pacific Egg & Poultry Association, 1989.

Finley, Ernest Latimer. History of Sonoma County. Santa Rosa: Press Democrat, 1937.

Lowry, Thea, ed. Petaluma Poultry Pioneers Recall the Heyday of Chicken Ranching. Ross: Manifold Press, 1993.

Lowry, Thea. Empty Shells: The Story of Petaluma, America’s Chicken City. Novato: Manifold Press, 2000.

Petaluma Argus Courier. May 5, 1980, page 3A – “Max Poehlmann, Early Name in Poultry, Dies.”

Petaluma Argus Courier. May 9, 1941, Section B, page 5 – “Poehlmann Pioneered Turkey Hatching Here.”

Petaluma Argus Courier. February 17, 1939, page 8 – “Mrs. Bertha Poehlmann, Loved Petaluma Pioneer, Called to Rest Following Illness.”

Petaluma Daily Courier. June 23, 1927, page 4 – “Mechanic Dies as Trusses in New Building Collapse.”

Polk, R. L. and Company. Petaluma Directory. Montgomery Park: R. L. Polk & Co., 1965.

Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties Telephone Directory. 1955

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Photos | Leave a comment

A Visit to Cypress Hill Memorial Park on Veterans Day 2013

Last Monday I walked to Cypress Hill Memorial Park for no particular reason other than it is a great destination walk and only about a mile and a half from my house.

I enjoy checking out the different styles of tombstones and reading the inscriptions. One of these days I’d like to organize a tour that highlights not only the history of the cemetery and those buried there, but the architecture and symbolism of the grave markers themselves. The Sonoma County Library has a great book on the subject called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written by Douglas Keister that I’d reference.

This tour might include the grave of Albert Frederick Adams which caught my eye on Monday, perhaps because it was Veterans Day.

At first glance one might think that since the year of death on this headstone is 1924 that that is when the stone was made. Not true.

Jess E. Dabner of the American Legion, Post 28, applied to the War Department for the headstone on January 24, 1939. It was shipped to the cemetery on March 16, 1939.

Born on February 16, 1896, Albert was a Petaluma native. His parents were Robert S. and Amelia Adams. Robert Adams was Petaluma’s fire chief at the time of his son’s death. Albert and his brother, Robert, Jr. grew up in the family home at 2 Keller Street, which was located where a portion of the A Street parking lot is today.

Prior to enlisting in the United States Navy, in July of 1917, Albert worked for Jack Morris on Western Avenue as a shoe maker.

Albert was discharged from the Navy on October 2, 1919, having served as a Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class.

Despite his medical training, Albert continued in the shoe business when he returned to Petaluma. According to the Census, he worked as a salesman at a shoe store in 1920.

The California Death Index states that Albert died in San Francisco where he may have been living. San Francisco city directories do list an Albert Adams, shoemaker, residing at 3551 24th Street in 1921 and 1923.

On July 17, 1924, the Petaluma Argus reported that “all of the city offices of this city will close at noon tomorrow as a token of respect to Fire Chief Robert S. Adams so long and so prominently connected with city affairs and the flag at city hall will fly at half mast out of respect to Albert Adams. The young man’s father has been for many years the efficient chief of the fire department and the dead youth was born and reared within the shadow of the city hall.”

The funeral took place at the John C. Mount parlors under the auspices of the Odd Fellows.

No cause of death is specified in any of Albert’s obituaries. A death certificate would provide that information and because Albert died in San Francisco, that is where I’d need to go.

For $16, and a visit to the San Francisco County Clerk, I could discover what took the life of this young World War I veteran. In the meantime, I’m happy to have learned a bit more about those who occupy Petaluma’s past.

Research for this article provided by Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library volunteer, Barbara McFarland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cemeteries, People, Petaluma, Photos | Leave a comment