GEORGE LEGER AND HIS FAMILY,
GEORGE MUTHS, ELIZABETH PFEIFFER,
AND GEORGE AND CHARLES PFEIFFER,
ALL OWNERS OF
MOKELUMNE HILL, CALIFORNIA
FROM 1853 TO 1898
LELAND E. BIBB
Revised January 6, 2013
The purpose of this paper is to identify the owners of the Hotel Leger and their families. As it turns out, during the 45 years covered herein, there was basically one extended family. The various construction episodes of the hotel and the history of the building are left to others.
Based on his age given in his obituary, George William Leger was born about 9 July 1814 in the Electorate of Hesse Cassel, an independent state in the northwesterly part of Germany. He appears to have been a passenger shown on a ship, “Teresa Jane,” which sailed from New York via Nassau, Bahama Islands, to New Orleans, Louisiana, arriving there on 12 January 1848. He is listed as George Leger, age 31, laborer, from New York. With him is Henry Leger, age 27, also a laborer from New York. The Quarterly Abstract of the passenger lists shows that George and Henry Leger were from Germany. Assuming that he is “our” George Leger, being in New Orleans, where the Muths and Clauss families lived at that time, increases the possibility that these families knew each other prior to coming to California.
The beginnings of the Hotel Leger are poorly documented but it was originally called “Hotel de France.” When George Leger arrived in Mokelumne Hill is not exactly known, but his obituary states that it was in 1851. He has not been found in the 1852 California State Census. Leger became the owner of the hotel in May 1853. At the time he was a 38 year old bachelor. On May 26, 1856 in Mokelumne Hill, he married Miss Louisa Wilkin, who was 21 years old and also a native of Prussia. Since they married in Mokelumne Hill and Louisa was noted as a resident of the town, it is then unlikely that George Leger returned to Prussia and brought this young woman all the way to California and then married her, as someone has suggested. Although both are natives of Prussia it is not known when they had come to California. We also know nothing of the family of Louisa Wilkin. George Leger became a naturalized citizen on 8 October 1856 in Calaveras County District Court. The San Andreas Independent on 8 October 1859 listed bondsmen for performance bonds of county officials. George Leger made a $2,000 bond for Sheriff R. H. Paul.
What is unexplained at this time is the presence of Rosina Wilkins, age 7, found in the 1852 California State Census living in Calaveras County, probably in Mokelumne Hill (separate communities are not noted). She is shown to be a native of Prussia but there is no other Wilkins shown within 3 pages on each side of her entry. Within the 7 pages examined, there are 308 men and just 7 women,and none of the other 6 is from Prussia. In addition to her presence in 1852 she is in the household of George and Louisa Leger, that is, at the Hotel Leger, in the 1860 US Census and listed as Louisa Wilken, a 15 year old housekeeper born in Prussia. No further information has been found for this girl. It cannot be a coincidence that her name, Rosina, also figures in the Clauss family, nor that Wilkins/Wilken is virtually the same as Wilkin, plus both Louisa Wilkin and Rosina Wilkins/Louisa Wilken are from Prussia. They must be related, but that relationship is not known.
The first child of George and Louisa Leger was Albert Henry Leger, born sometime between November 1856 and February 1857, there is no exact record. However, his age in the censuses of 1860 and 1870, plus his age given at registration as a voter narrow it down to this period. He was followed in short order by a sister, Matilda Rosina Leger in November 1857. She was born about18 months after George and Louisa married – their second child – which suggests that Albert was born in February 1857. As we will see below, George and Rosina (Clauss) Muths lived at the Hotel Leger and the probability that Matilda's middle name comes from Rosina Muths shows how close the two families were at this early date. The Leger family is shown in the 1860 US Census, along with 4 employees of the hotel and George and Rosina Muths (shown as “Mutz”). The two families were to become even closer in the following years.
In November 1860 Louisa Leger gave birth to her third child, a girl named Louisa Eugenie Leger. Although the exact day of the birth of Louisa Eugenie, in the 1900 US Census she listed her birth as being in November 1860 [In another location in the 1900 census she lists her birth as being in November 1868 – see below]. It is probable that there were complications during this birth since her mother, Louisa Leger, died on 25 November 1860 at the age of 27. The three years since the birth of Matilda suggests that there could have been other children born in between who died in infancy, but none has been noted. An obituary for Louisa Leger has not yet been found, but there is a comment found in the Stockton Daily Independent on 4 December 1860 that suggests that she was more than an ordinary housewife:
SINGULAR PROCESSION – At Mokelumne Hill on the occasion of the funeral of Mrs Leger, a
lady of singular excellence, 100 ladies walked in couples to her grave.
It appears that Rosina Muths, who was childless, became the de facto mother of the three Leger children. This in part explains why the Muths lived in or near to Hotel Leger during the next twenty years.
George Muths had an interest in the Hotel Leger, also known as Hotel de Europa, in Mokelumne Hill, from 1880 to 1897. However, he lived in Mokelumne Hill for many years before that, at least since 1857. The exact birth date of George Muths has not been determined, but he appears to have been born in 1824, based on agreement of 5 out of 6 places where his age is listed. However, cemetery records in Mokelumne Hill list his birth in 1826. Muths was a native of Alsace, which was a part of France until 1871 and Germany after that. Records show him as a native of either France or Germany, depending on the year of the records. He came to the United States without other family members so nothing more is known of his family. He departed Le Havre, France, on ship “Taglione” and arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana on 24 October 1846, age 22, occupation was farmer. In the 1850 US Census he is in New Orleans, age 26, and occupation is shoemaker. He is married to 17 year old Rosa, usually called Rosina [Clauss] who was born about 8 August 1833. Also found in the 1850 Census in New Orleans is the Clauss family, consisting of Rosina's father Jacob, age 57, a shoemaker, her mother Rosine, age 57, and a younger sister, Elizabeth, age 14. It is probable that George and Rosina Muths traveled to California with the Clauss family. Another two Clauss sisters, Catherine and Madelaine, were already married. Madelaine, married Louis Borni in New Orleans and lived there until at least 1880. She and Elizabeth will be discussed below, since they also have some connection to Hotel Leger.
The year that George and Rosina Muths relocated to California is not known, but on 25 May 1855 George was naturalized in San Francisco County Court. That would place their arrival in Mokelumne Hill between that date and November 1857 when Matilda Rosina Leger was born. Unless, of course, the Muths already knew Louisa (Wilkin) or George Leger before they moved to Mokelumne Hill. The Muths had no children. As George Muths is later to be the owner of the Hotel Leger it is interesting to note that he lived at the hotel for most of his years in the town. The 1860 US Census shows that George and Rosina Mutz [Muths] were residents of the Hotel Leger. He was a shoemaker, and both of them are listed as 36 year old [she was actually 26 years old] natives of France. In the census the Leger family is followed by the barkeeper, housekeeper, cook, and servant, with the Muths next. George Muths was a voter of California in 1866, being 42 years of age, a native of France, and a shoemaker. The following year he is found in the 1867 Pacific Coast Directory, listed as a maker of boots and shoes on Main Street in Mokelumne Hill.
The 1870 US Census shows George and Rosina Muths living at the Hotel de Europa, more commonly known as Hotel Leger. The residents of the hotel are George Leger and his 3 children, two cooks, the hotel clerk, George Muths, 46, a boot maker from France, and his wife, Rosina, age 36, a boarder from France. There are only 2 other boarders. George Muths' real property is valued at $200 and his personal property at $400. The 1870 US Census includes a Schedule of Industry in which George Muths is listed as a bootmaker with capital of $500 and $700 paid in wages. His “value of materials” is listed at $515 and total value of $1500. This was a person who did not appear to be doing well financially.
In 1872 when the lots of the townsite were deeded to their occupants by the county judge, George Muths was the recipient of two lots. In explanation, the town, like most Mother Lode towns, had developed without benefit of survey of the government lands. All improvements were on federal land and the owners were, in effect, squatters. Over time the boundaries of lots were created by the residents, either determined by the walls of their buildings or the fences and walls that they had erected around their lots. In order to bring stability to the communities that were created in this way, a federal law and later a California law were enacted which provided for a county judge to have the townsite surveyed, ownerships and lots determined, their legal descriptions written, a map drawn, and deeds prepared. When the judge actually recorded the deeds, the owners, who had been mere squatters on federal land, became the legal owners of their lots. Since at this time many of the Mother Lode communities were in decline, there were some parcels without owners. In some cases it appears that residents claimed abandoned lots at that time and became their owners. In the case of George Muths, he received two lots: Lot 1 of Block 11, which is across Lafayette Street from the hotel on the corner of Main, and Lot 7 of Block 12, which is on the northeast corner of Church Street and China Gulch. Both lots are shown on the Townsite Map as “improved,” which usually signified that there was a building on the property. George Muths had his boot making shop in the building on the corner of Main and Lafayette. However, it still appears that the Muths lived at Hotel Leger. On 9 August 1869 Charles Grundy had sold Lot 1 Block 11 to George Muths (recorded in Book R, page 514 of Deeds). It was described as a lot and house. Thereafter, until at least 1890, the property belonged to George Muths.
George Leger, owner of Hotel Leger, died on 13 March 1879 after an illness of two days. [The family lived in the basement apartment under the saloon that included a sitting and sleeping room]. His wife, Louisa, had died in 1860. They were both buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Mokelumne Hill. His death was a shock to the whole community. His death was “An irreparable loss and the community joins in universal lamentations.” Leger had been a leader of the community and his hotel was the center of social life. His obituary notes that he was “an engineer of the Fire Department and member of Eagle Hook and Ladder Co., and French Benevolent Society.” “Popular with all, chief of fire department, 28 years a steadfast promoter of the town...” (Calaveras Chronicle, 15 March 1879 [2:3]). His funeral was “largest ever known in county, Calaveras and Amador counties represented by prominent citizens, all county officials attended.” “Flags in town flown at half mast” (Calaveras Chronicle, 22 March 1879 [3:1]).
In George Leger's will he named 3 administrators: George Muths, Rosina Muths, and Charles V. Gottschalk, who was superior court judge for Calaveras County. George Leger's three children were his primary heirs. What became of them after this? What has been gleaned of their lives follows.
The oldest child, Albert Henry Leger, was born between November 1856 and February 1857 in Mokelumne Hill. He attended Santa Clara College in the 1868 and 1869 school years. He is listed in special classes in instrumental music (brass instrument), piano, and under languages, German, in which he was ranked as “premium ex oequo,” showing that he had learned German from his father. Perhaps he had grown up in an environment where many of the hotel employees and the Muths all were speaking German.
In the 1870 Census Albert Leger is back at the Hotel Leger with his family. He was a student (music?) in San Francisco in the 1873 City Directory. Then in 1877 he had returned to Mokelumne Hill and in his voter's registration is shown as a hotel keeper. The 1880 US Census as transcribed by ancestry.com fails to locate Albert. This is the year after his father's death and the administration of George Leger's will. But on 29 September 1882 he registered as a voter in San Francisco, age 27, a musician. Then in 1885 he is in Fresno, California, age 29, as a musician. The next year, without any information as to the circumstances, Albert H. Leger died in Fresno on 21 April 1886. He is buried beside his parents in Mokelumne Hill.
The second child of George and Louisa Leger was Matilda Rosina Leger, born in November 1857 in Mokelumne Hill. On 1 January 1880 she married Doctor William Todd, who was born in England in 1838 and was naturalized in Chicago, Illinois on 1 May 1860. The “Directory of Deceased Physicians” states that he was a graduate of Rush Medical College, Chicago, in 1870. He registered as a voter in Amador County just to the north of Mokelumne Hill, on 30 April 1879. In the 1880 US Census, on June 8, William and Mrs. M. A. Todd are living in Eureka, Nevada, a mining boom town. After 20 years of silence the couple next appear in Deadwood, South Dakota. Childless, their household includes 2 Chinese men listed as janitors. The birth of William Todd is shown in March 1838 and Matilda in November 1857. The “Directory of Deceased Physicians” states that he was licensed in Iowa in 1886, in North Dakota in 1886, and in Colorado in 1900. In the 1910 US Census they were living at 1213 Main Street, Seattle, Washington. William is still shown to be a physician and his year of immigration is shown as 1858. They remain in Seattle, appearing in the Seattle City Directories from 1912 through 1916 at various locations, implying that they were renters. In the 1920 US Census, taken on 13 January, William is no longer listed as a physician, now his immigration year is shown as 1853. He was 82 (but shown as 89) and Matilda is 62. A few months late, on 24 April 1920 William R. Todd died. Matilda Todd appears in the 1930 US Census as a lodger in a private home and is a widow. She died in Washington (county not noted) on 21 June 1937 at age 79. The record states that her father was George W. Leger.
The birth of the third child of George and Louisa Leger, Louisa Eugenie Leger, appears to be the cause of the death of her mother. Louisa Eugenie was born in November 1860, just days before the death of her mother on 25 November 1860. Like her siblings, she was raised by Rosina Muths. Following the death of her father, George Leger, on 13 March 1879, she was left an 18 year old orphan and remained at the Hotel Leger with George and Rosina Muths. Following administration of the will of George Leger her siblings sold their interests in the hotel to her. The 1880 US Census erroneously lists Louisa as 17 when she was actually 19. On 15 July 1880 Louisa sold a one-half interest in the hotel to George and Rosina Muths. Louisa sold the other half interest of the hotel to George Muths in 1881.
On 3 February 1881, in Jackson, 8 miles to the north of Mokelumne Hill, Louisa married David Bartlett Edwards, shown in the 1880 US Census as 22 years old (actually 25 years old), and a native of Maine. The marriage record lists him as the driver of the Ione stage. He is also found in the 1880 US Census in Mokelumne Hill as Barton Edwards, a boarder at Hotel Leger and a stage driver. He registered as a voter on 1 September 1882 in Ione, Amador County, CA. Washington state had a census in 1885 and Louisa is shown as a housewife and David B. Edwards a hotel keeper in Whatcom County, north of Seattle. On 7 August 1890 David B. Edwards, age 35 and a native of Maine, registered as a voter in Plymouth, Amador County, CA, with occupation shown as clerk. Now this creates a question whether there were two men with the same name, birthplace and birth year or whether there were moves that are unknown. The 1900 US Census shows David B. Edwards, secretary of a land company, living in Fairhaven, Whatcom County, WA, divorced and a boarder in a hotel. His number of years married was 19. David died on 27 July 1914 in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington.
Where was Louisa Edwards in 1900? Oddly, she is listed in Seattle in two households. First, on 5 June 1900 L. E. Edwards, female, is a roomer in the household of George W. Boyd, a druggist. She is shown as a dressmaker, born in California in November 1860 and childless. Her father was a native of France and her mother of Germany. The second household is that of George E. Wilson (born June 1865 in Michigan), a carpenter, and Euginie (sic) Wilson, his wife, born in November 1868 in California, with her father and mother born in France. They are noted as being married for one year. Louisa was actually almost 5 years older than George and appears to have shaved some years off of her age in order to be “younger” than her spouse. Their marriage certificate supports the fact that Louisa was still unmarried at the time the census was taken. George Edwin Willson, age 36, of Detroit, Michigan, married Louisa (Leger) Edwards, age 35, on 24 July 1900 in Ballard, Washington, now a northwesterly district of Seattle. George Willson is found in Seattle City Directories for 1903 and 1907. By 1910 the US Census shows George E. and Louise Willson living in Bow, Skagit County, Washington, which is about 70 miles north of Seattle. George was a farmer. Again, in the Seattle City Directories for 1917 and 1918 George Willson is found. These directories do not show a spouse so the couple's marital situation is not known. However, Louisa Eugenie (Leger) (Edwards) Willson died of influenza on 28 December 1918 in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington. Her age was listed as 53, showing that she maintained her fictitious birth year after her marriage to George Willson; she was actually 58 years old. Information on the certificate of death shows her to be a widow and housewife, and burial was in Seattle. She had probably told the informant that she was widowed rather than say that she was either divorced or separated. In the 1920 US Census we find George Wilson (sic), age 60, widower, living in a lodging house in Seattle. He was also one of 17 lodgers in the same place in 1930, and died in Seattle on 13 June 1945, age 84.
It is noteworthy that all three of these children left Mokelumne Hill as soon as they could after their father died – and they perhaps never returned to even visit. They must have been close to Rosina Muths but not to her husband, George. It appears that all three of the children of George and Louisa Leger died childless and this family line died out.
Meanwhile, to return to Mokelumne Hill, in the 1880 US Census we find that 19 year old Louisa Eugenie Leger was shown to be the hotel keeper. Next in the census at the hotel were George and Rosina Muths, both listed as boarders. By this time they were Louisa's virtual parents and were helping her with the hotel. George is now shown to be 50 years old and Rosina as 40 years old (it should say he is 56 and she is 47 years old to be consistent with other records). Both listed as born in Alsace, Germany. George is still a boot maker and Rosina is housekeeper (that is, for the hotel). Following them are the hotel clerk, waiter, bookkeeper, cook (Chinese), a servant, and 6 boarders (4 are stage drivers, including David Bartlett “Barton” Edwards, and 1 is an express messenger). The census lists 480 persons in “the village of Mokelumne Hill.”
The Schedule of Industry in the 1880 Census lists 2 makers of boots and shoes in Mokelumne Hill: George Muths and Ebenezer Burce. Both list an average day's wages as $3 and the “number of hours in ordinary labor” as ten. Burce's shop was across the street and just north of the hotel and he lived on Marlette Street. The location of Muths' work place was on Lot 1 Block 11, across the street from the Hotel Leger. Muths bought this property from Charles Grundy in 1869. In 1873 and 1874 this property was noted as a shoemaker shop and saloon building.
On 15 July 1880 Louisa Leger sold to George Muths a one-half interest in the Hotel Leger for $3,500 in gold coin, and on 25 July 1881 he bought the other “half” from her for $4,000 in gold coin. This presents a mystery, since a boot maker who earned $3 per day could not possibly have accumulated that much money. George Leger had bequeathed $1000 in gold coin to Rosina. However, a possible explanation might involve the family of Rosina Muths so we now must look into the lives of her sisters, Elizabeth (Clauss) Pfeiffer, Catherine (Clauss) Buffer, and Madelaine (Clauss) Borni. This diversion will eventually bring this story to the next owner of the Hotel Leger, the sister-in-law of George Muths, Elizabeth Pfeiffer of San Francisco. But first, it should be noted that Rosina Muths died on
19 November 1880, soon after the census was taken and the estate of George Leger settled. Her age at death was recorded as 47 years 3 months and 4 days, which places her birth at about 8 August 1833. The Calaveras Chronicle of 27 November 1880 noted her death:
Died, Mrs. Rosini (sic) Muths, in Napa city, Friday Nov. 19, 1880, native of Alsace, wife of George
Muths, aged 47 years, 3 months, and 7 days. Had many friends in this place [Mokelumne Hill] and
vicinity who will be pained to hear of her death. Had been ailing for a long time with heart disease.
Was recently taken to relatives in Napa City [that would be her sister, Catherine Buffer] in hopes
that she might recover. Buried in San Francisco, attended by many friends who were formerly of
this place [Rosina's other sister, Elizabeth, was a resident of San Francisco].
Madelaine Clauss was born about 1825 in Alsace, France. She came with her parents and sisters (no brothers have been identified) to the United States, arriving at New Orleans perhaps in 1846. Her marriage to Louis Borni, in New Orleans was probably in 1847. Their two sons were, Louis, born on 28 July 1848 and died on 12 June 1849, and Auguste, born on 17 May 1850. Madelaine's husband Louis was a wood turner, that is, a lathe operator. He is listed in New Orleans city directories from 1861 through 1879. The 1850 US Census lists Louis, Madelaine, and Auguste – as Gus – age 1/12 year. The 1870 US Census lists the same three but shows “Gustave” as 11 rather than 21 years old. The 1880 US Census shows Madelaine Borni, a 55 year old widow, in the household of her sister, Elizabeth (Clauss) Pfeiffer, in San Francisco. No further record of Auguste/Gus has been found.
Another sister, Catherine (Clauss) Buffer, was born about 1828 in Alsace, France. She has not been located in the 1850 US Census anywhere in the United States, perhaps due to being in transit or to a transcription error in ancestry.com. According to the 1860 US Census she lived in Napa, California, with her husband, John Buffer, born about 1820 in Germany, and three children: Henry, age 11 and born in Indiana [actually, in Louisiana], John, age 3 and born in California, and Rosana [Rosina], age 1, born in California. The Sacramento Bee of 20 May 1859 noted the birth of a “dau” by the name of Buffer who appears to be Rosina (in the 1900 US Census her birth is shown as May 1859). The 1860 US Census also shows that John Buffer was a blacksmith and had real estate valued at $2,500 and personal property valued at $1,800. But of most importance to this family, under the remarks column he is shown as “insane.” In 1870 the census shows Catherine, 42 years old, in Napa with her three children, H[enry] C. Horstmeyer, John A. Buffer, and Rosina L. Buffer, also Catherine's father, Jacob Clauss, age 76.
In 1880 Catherine Buffer is a 52 year old widow in the household of her sister, Elizabeth Pfeiffer, in San Francisco. However, at the same time she is also listed as living in Napa, California with her two children, John A. Buffer, age 22, and Rosa L. Buffer, age 21. Recall that Rosina Muths was listed in the 1880 US Census as living in the Hotel Leger. But here again, she is also listed in the household of Elizabeth Pfeiffer. Reconciling these conflicting appearances may be explained by the fact that the census was taken in San Francisco on 4 June, at Napa on 7 June, and Mokelumne Hill on 15 June. It is possible that the sisters had been all together in San Francisco and then Catherine and Rosina returned to their homes where they were counted a second time. It's also possible that the two were not at their homes but their family members listed them there even though they were away visiting Elizabeth. The fact that Catherine's older son, Henry C. Horstmeyer, was born in April 1849 in Louisiana suggests that she had been married in New Orleans but the husband has not been identified. We don't know if he died or there was a divorce. Catherine Buffer died on 19 September 1892 and is buried at Tucolay Cemetery in Napa, California.
To expand on the family of Catherine (Clauss) Buffer, the lives of her three children will be followed. First, Henry Calvin Horstmeyer, born in April 1849, lived in Napa, Napa County, California, from at least 1860 until his death on 29 June 1924. He owned a grocery store. Henry married Emeline Robinson and they had two daughters, Lulu C. and Rose, who have not been traced. But starting in the 1900 US Census, Henry's half-sister, Rose F. Buffer [Rosina L. Buffer], age 41 and single, lived with him and his family. She remains there in the 1920 US Census, age 60 and single, with occupation listed as “assistant in religious work.” In 1930 she is living alone, age 70 and single, with occupation “saleswoman – roots and herbs.” She died in Napa on 2 May 1935 at age 75. The third child of Catherine (Clauss) Buffer was John Alfred Buffer, who was born about 1858. He appears to have remained unmarried, although in the 1910 US Census he stated that he had been married for ten years, but is alone living in a lodging house. In the 1880 US Census he was living in Napa, California in his mother's household and working as a clerk. By 1888 his voter registration showed that he was living in San Francisco, and he remained there until his death on 27 December 1924 at 68 years of age.
Now, since Elizabeth (Clauss) Pfeiffer was the successor to George Muths in ownership of Hotel Leger her story will be given. She was born in 1837 in Alsace, France and came to the United States with her parents, being found in the 1850 US Census living in New Orleans. She married John Pfeiffer, born about 1814 in Germany and a shoemaker, probably in New Orleans, since George Muths learned that trade there. The 1860 US Census lists this family in San Francisco, California, where their children were all born. Rosina, the oldest, being born in1856 and the second, George, was born in 1858. To confound the story, Rosina Muths, age 26, is in this household even though she was also listed as being in Mokelumne Hill with her husband, George. Also in the Pfeiffer household was the father of Rosina and Elizabeth, Jacob Clauss, age 65.
We can picture John Pfeiffer, middle aged shoemaker, struggling to support and raise a family in expensive San Francisco. But when we come to the 1870 US Census we find that 56 year old John Pfeiffer has real estate of the value of $30,000, certainly a fortune at that time. Elizabeth is now 35 years old and has six children, all born in California, and no doubt in San Francisco. Next we see that the 1880 US Census shows Elizabeth, a 43 year old widow, living at 1519 Post Street in San Francisco with her eight children, the youngest age 5. As a widow and inheritor of her husband's fortune she could very easily afford to entertain her 3 sisters that summer. Of the eight children of John and Elizabeth Pfeiffer only Charles has been traced.
Since the 1880 US Census was taken at the Pfeiffer home on June 4 it may provide a clue as to where George Muths, a bootmaker, came to have $3,500 in gold coin just a month later on 15 July 1880 to buy a one-half interest in the Hotel Leger. It is possible that Elizabeth loaned him the money plus the additional $4,000 in gold coin on 25 July 1881. Much research remains to be done on the years that George Muths owned the hotel. Between the decline of the town and the expenses toward upkeep of the hotel it is doubtful that Muths was showing a profit during this period. There is also the fact that George Muths mortgaged “many properties” to John McLean in 1885 for $5,000. Again in 1890 there is another mortgage to John McLean, this one also for $5,000. John McLean's place in Mokelumne Hill and his part in the ownership of Hotel Leger will be covered below.
It's doubtful that George Muths was ever able to repay the loan to Elizabeth (assuming that such a loan was made). So on 25 January 1896 Muths deeded a one-half interest in the Hotel Leger to two of Elizabeth's sons, George and Charles, the latter already a resident of Mokelumne Hill. Almost two years later, on 23 December 1897, George Muths deeded the second half of the interest in the hotel to Elizabeth Pfeiffer. And on the same date George and Charles Pfeiffer deeded their half interest in the hotel to their mother, Elizabeth Pfeiffer. Then to clear up the ownership, on that same date Elizabeth deeded the entire hotel to her son, George. Scrutiny of the deeds may provide information on exactly what transpired. However, evidence of the financial failure of the hotel was not far in coming, since the next year, in April 1898, the bankrupt George Pfeiffer sold the hotel to John McLean. Perhaps this was a way to let George “take the fall” for the Pfeiffer family's failing hotel, especially if he had no or few assets.
George Muths, at the age of 75, died in Mokelumne Hill in 1899 and is buried in the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) section of the Mokelumne Hill Protestant cemetery. There is no marker on his grave.
Charles Pfeiffer, son of Elizabeth Pfeiffer, had settled in Mokelumne Hill at an early date, being listed among the registered voters of Calaveras County in 1888 as a 26 year old jeweler. The 1896 register of voters shows him at age 34 as “hotel [keeper],” obviously at Hotel Leger. He was married in 1898 to Ida Lockman and they appear in the 1900 US Census in Honolulu, Hawaii! In the confusing notice he and Ida are listed as “colored,” his immigration to Hawaii is shown as in 1880 and Ida as 1899. The latter appears to be more correct. He is shown to be a jeweler. In 1920 they are in Oakland where he worked as a machinist's helper in a gas engine company. But at some date Charles H. Pfeiffer returned to Mokelumne Hill and lived out his life there, dying on 16 August, 1953. George Pfeiffer is an “invisible” person since he cannot be identified in the censuses of 1900 or 1910, nor does he appear in California voter registrations. As for Elizabeth Pfeiffer, before 1900 she had relocated from San Francisco across the bay to Alameda, California, where she is noted in the 1900 US Census as living with two of her daughters, Ida and Rosina. She has not been found after that date and the date of her death is unknown.
As noted above, John McLean had held mortgages against Hotel Leger in the 1880s. In April 1898 the bankrupt George Pfeiffer sold the hotel to John McLean, perhaps to settle McLean's mortgages. John McLean stated in the 1900 US Census that he was born in April 1824 and immigrated to the United States in 1850. He is found as early as the 1860 US Census in Mokelumne Hill. He is shown as a 38 year old baker and native of Scotland. With him is his wife, Rosanna, age 25, a native of Ireland. They had no children. The Calaveras Chronicle notes in both 1859 and 1860 that John McLean was owner of the American Bakery. McLean registered as a voter on 10 October 1866 and stated that he was naturalized in Calaveras County District Court on 7 May 1859. The 1870 US Census shows John McLean as a 46 year old baker and his wife, Rosana, age 36, keeping house. No children are shown. When the lots in the townsite of Mokelumne Hill were legalized in 1872 John McLean received title to Lot 4 of Block 11, which is on the east side of Main Street between Lafayette Street and Church Street and was one narrow lot south of George Muths' lot on the corner of Lafayette. In time he was to acquire other adjacent properties in Block 11. If we are allowed to stereotype a Scotsman, he must have saved much of what he earned and then invested it. With the mortgages to George Muths his investments reached a high point and it was only necessary to wait for Muths to default. On 24 March 1888 John McLean again registered to vote, giving his age as 64 and still a baker. Rosanna, or Rose, McLean died on 14 April 1896, a native of County Monaham, Ireland, and is buried in the Mokelumne Hill Cemetery. As noted above, John McLean acquired Hotel Leger from George Pfeiffer in April 1898 and remained its owner until 1903. He is found in the 1900 US Census listed as John McClain, still a baker, but his location is just before Richard Magee, whose occupation is simply “hotel.” The local newspaper referred to Magee as the hotel's “proprietor.” This shows that McLean was living in the hotel at that time and was 76 years old. He sold the hotel in 1903 and died on 7 July 1905. He is also buried in the Mokelumne Hill Cemetery.
One other person during this period, not an owner, appears in relation to the Hotel Leger, Richard N. Magee. He was born in California in 1879 and is listed in the 1900 US Census with his wife, Cynthia, age 20, in Mokelumne Hill. His occupation is shown as “hotel [keeper?].” John McLean, a saloon keeper, cook and bartender are also shown in the household, that is, living in the hotel. At his tender age Richard Magee was not an owner so it is likely that he was the hotel manager for John McLean. In 1910 Richard and Cynthia Magee were in Mariposa County where he was a gold miner. His World War I Draft Registration in September 1918 shows them living in Copperopolis, Calaveras County, and he had “left eye lost.”
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