Porterville at a Glimpse ~ 1910-1919
A Decade of Change
The city of Porterville was simply swelling with prosperity and growth in the 1910’s. It was a time of transformation, not only for our country, but for our blossoming city. Porterville had an unofficial population of 3,500 residents, a public library, a park, three grammar schools, a high school, and churches of different denominations, banks, a sewer system, and actual pavement being laid in the streets. Porterville was making headway. Of course, some progress is always thought to be an impulsive fashion, like the infatuation with automobiles. That idea might explain the late existing partnership of Parsons and Wade in 1910 pictured above - a Harness and Buggy store on Main Street.
Porterville was emerging into a positively proper city around our very eyes! Southern Pacific Railroad had recently laid tracks straight to our pretty little hillside city, in order to be able to transport some of our rare minerals and fruits to other, less fortunate souls. It’s not as if we didn’t have plenty to go around. Fact of the matter is, Porterville’s surrounding hills were rich with magnesia, a rare mineral used mostly for the lining of furnaces and making paper. Until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, most of the magnesia being used by the United States was being imported from Austria and Greece. Enough small deposits of magnesia were found in Porterville, Pennsylvania, Canada, and Washington to satisfy the country’s thirst, thank goodness. The very next year after Southern Pacific Railroad moved this way, Northeastern Railroad made their claim, too, in 1911.
Of course, 1911 had its share of tragedy as well. Mr. John Lamkin was murdered in his own shop, Lamkin Graham Co., by one of his very own customers. The day following the tragedy, a group of understandably angered Porterville citizens gathered on Main Street, in front of Lamkin Graham Co. to express their concern and condolences (left). Constable Edward B. Isham apprehended the outlaw and the justice received by the killer was life in prison.
In 1913 Porterville was the proud home of a new, Spanish style train station (left), the Southern Pacific Depot, which currently serves as the Porterville Historical Museum.
The Arlington Hotel was purchased by a man by the name of Mr. Fred Akerman and renamed The Porterville Hotel and remodeled in 1914. Mr. Akerman had the windows enlarged and the front of the hotel resurfaced. A.R. Moore had an opera theater and photography studio on Main Street during this time that was destroyed by a fire on July 4, 1914. Ten days following the fire, Mr. Moore’s apprentice, E.M. Hammond, opened his first portrait studio on Main Street. Two years later, in 1916, Mr. Moore and the Howell brothers constructed the Monache Theater on Main Street.
With all of the construction and improvements to the city of Porterville, we were in need of a properly paved Highway. The initial construction of Highway 65 occurred from 1917-1919.
The last part of 1917 was an unfortunate time for the Zalud family. During this time Annie Zalud was married to William Hubert Brooks, a real “go-getter” with the National Cash Register Co. Although their marriage appeared a contented one, they were often separated by business affairs. Eventually, it is said that Brooks tried, unsuccessfully, to have an affair with an associate’s wife, Julia Howe. The rejection angered Brooks so that he reportedly spread rumors about the woman being a “real hot lover” and to avoid her or she’d “get you into trouble”. Brooks apparently caused so much trouble for Mrs. Howe that she had a nervous break down and planned on killing herself. In November of 1917 Julia Howe rented a hotel room at the Pioneer Hotel, paid all of her bills, and bought a gun at Porterville Hardware. As she stepped into the Pioneer Hotel, ready to head to her room and use her new purchase, she saw William Brooks sitting in the lobby. Mrs. Howe then emptied the gun into William Brooks, and waited for the Constable to arrive. After a scandalous trial, Julia Howe was fount not guilty, and was set free.
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