Then & Now

It's been nearly two months since my last post. Believe me it hasn't been for lack of subjects. I probably have an idea a day for a blog post. Time of course is an issue. I'm challenged in that I find so many things that interest me. Working here at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library means I'm constantly coming across photos that literally call out to me begging for further research and sharing. As many of you know I'm not one to just look at an image. I have to investigate it for all the stories it may be able to tell. That investigation often leads to "field visits."

I had an appointment at 9 AM on B Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets in Petaluma which ended at 10 AM. Not having to be at work in Santa Rosa until 12 PM meant I had time to check out a couple of buildings on Kentucky Street that I'd been thinking would be good candidates for a then and now feature.

The results of this mornings sleuthing and an hour worth of research, writing and formatting (believe it or not!) are below. Of course I'd love to share the history of each building – things that can be learned here at the Library, but thought I ought to just get this published and hopefully peak your interest to not only visit the Library, but to take a walk. Be sure to view the rear of 147 Kentucky Street from Telephone Alley.

 

 

Then

137 Kentucky Street, Petaluma – 1914. SCL Photo No. 35200.

Posted in Architecture, Historic Buildings, Petaluma, Photos | 4 Comments

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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