mis à jour / updated :
presentation compiled with Dennis Eisenbeis
old page (beginning October 1998)
The history of a pioneer.
Charles Eisenbeis was born 10 July, 1832, in Spiesen-Elversberg, (in Neunkirchen, Saarland, Germany situated approx. 4 km southwest of Neunkirchen, and 15 km northeast of Saarbrücken). His parents operated a mill called Spiesermühle, (clic over drawing on right). His grandfather, Johann Christian EISENBEIS, was a victim of the French Revolution. A part of the family died of an epidemic of French troops of Napoleon, returning from the retreat from Russia. His father, Valentin (Johann Georg Valentin EISENBEIS), comes from the mill of his parents at Wellesweiler. Having lost his wife one year after his marriage Valentin lives with Catherine Krohn and from this connection born three illegitimate children, Henrietta, Frederick and Charles. Relatives marry. The couple will have again six children including Ludwig and Sophie. In the Eisenbeis family, two members have already emigrated the United States, one in 1821 with six children, the other in 1822 with two children. At the age of 24, Charles and his older brother of two years, Frederick, bent on adventure decide to head for America. The trip will be long: join Nancy where the train Strasbourg-Paris recently put in service will take them to Paris, then Paris-Le Havre where it is necessary to distrust thieves that target particularly foreigners who have money, because they have to pay the crossing and the food.In 1856 he disembarks to Rochester, New York. His older brother, Frederick, is always with him. From his family, Charles had learned the trade of baker, and he rapidly prospered in this trade while in Rochester. During the height of the Gold Rush, Charles, decides to head west. Despite the apprehension of the trip, and the fact that he is prone to seasickness, he decides to travel to the west coast by the sea. The daughter of Frederick, Miss Lena, declares just before her death that Charles traveled to San Francisco by sailing around Cape Horn. The intended destination of the trip is Steilacoom, today a very small city close to Tacoma to the south west of Seattle. Steilacoom is to the bottom of the estuary Puget Sound, very steep estuary. The trip is undertaken on a slow and small sailboat, the Big Cyprus. In February 1858, approaching the Puget Sound, a tempest rages and during six days it is impossible to approach the coast. The seventh day the wind falls, but then heavy fog settled in. The captain lands instead at Port Townsend , small port to the entry of Puget Sound. Charles Prosch, a passenger, describes this trip. On the top deck he notices a man, Charles Eisenbeis, who is clearly sick, who asks to the captain how much time will be necessary to arrive at Steilacoom. The captain, stoic, replies: " I don't know but the trip has never lasted more three weeks, I think perhaps two weeks". Charles exclaims with a pronounced accent: "Oh mein Gott! I goes overpoard! ". Thus Charles interrupts his trip and disembarks to Port Townsend.
1) Henri Eisenbeis "third part of an article wrote September 19, 1996 to be publishing in the"Saarheimat" a magazine of Neunkirchen area, ancestor's region of Charles Eisenbeis"
2) Topolnicki, Denise M. "Living Like a Robber Baron", Money Magazine, vacations section, pp 100-101 March 1985.
3) Unnamed source, "Port Townsend: Years That Are Gone".
4) Personal letter from Ray and Tiny (Eisenbeis?), "Profile or Charles Eisenbeis Sr." (but this makes a reference to the "'Port Townsend Leader', date unknown" as it's source of information.
5) Unnamed source, "Charles Eisenbeis House, -1892"
6) Unnamed source, "Assuming Metropolitan Airs"
7) Camfield, Tom "Port Townsend's History", http://www.olympus.net/placesOfInterest/portTownsend/history.html
8) Camfield, Tom "Monumental Excess In 'The Good Old Days'", http://www.olympus.net/placesOfInterest/portTownsend/hotel.html
9) Manresa Castle, http://www.olympus.net/biz/manresa/
10) Marriage listings for 1875, "San Francisco Call" Newpaper
11)Hines, Rev. H.K. "An Illustrated History of the State of Washington", D.D. Chicago: The Lewis Publinshing Company(pp 533-34)
12) The deliberation (E-27) of the Town council of Port Townsend,10 March 1902 about the dead of Charles
13) Hermanson, James, Lead Contributing Writer on news paper "The Port Townsend Jefferson County LEADER", the article "EISENBEIS WAS BUSIEST OF THE BIG FIVE" February 24 1993
14) Port Townsend Call, newspaper, October 4,1887 article "Satisfaction guaranteed in the BREWERY of Charles Eisenbeis !!!"
15) Prosch, Charles, "Reminiscences of Washington Territory", Seattle 1904 pp 7,8&9 The image of the Hotel Eisenbeis said the drawing came "From Port Townsend Illustrated"
Ever-popular ghosts that have been dreamed up are headed by the so-called ghost of Manresa Castle, the former family home built by Charles Eisenbeis, who had a hand in everything from the local brewery to the Port Townsend Southern Railroad--and also built the Mt. Baker Block. The home and its later add-on was long occupied by Jesuit priests during my own younger years. There was no mention of a ghost (other than the Holy Ghost) on local lips until the premises became a commercial establishment, a restaurant and hotel.
And as I suggested in my most-recent blog, if the Eisenbeis family deserves a ghost, it should be Charles Eisenbeis Jr. wandering the premises of the present Undercity Café. Charles Jr. committed suicide in the basement of the Mt. Baker Block on Sept. 29, 1897, but to the best of my knowledge, his ghost has never become an object of speculation--probably only because relative newcomers and most everyone else know nothing about his life. The following is the edited part of the story I copied years ago from the Oct. 30, 1897, issue of The Morning Leader:
"Cold and still in death, a bullet wound behind his right ear, his right hand tightly touching a revolver, the body of Charles Eisenbeis Jr. was found at 9 o'clock last night, stretched out on the ground in the basement of the Mount Baker block . . . All day yesterday there was a quiet search being made by his friends for young Eisenbeis, for he had disappeared from the grocery store in which he has for several years past been a partner with his father . . . the two Eisenbeis blocks were searched throughout, every room being examined . . .
"Sheriff Hamilton and Henry Bayley discovered the body . . . the single bullet from the thirty-eight caliber revolver had done its work . . . The young man had carefully placed his hat on a block of wood, sat down alongside the block, placed the pistol behind his right ear and fell over dead as the bullet tore through his brain.
"Despondency is given as the cause of the rash act, by those who knew Charles Eisenbeis best. Judge J. A. Kuhn was not surprised to hear of the suicide, and had told the young man's father earlier in the evening that his son would be found dead before morning. Deceased was a member of the city council at the time of his death . . . He leaves a wife and a four year old daughter . . . he carried several thousand dollars in life insurance."
Some years earlier, in 1886, Charles Eisenbeis Jr. had been among advertisers in the Port Townsend Call, as a partner with Herbert L. Burkett in a firm listing "general merchandise, gents' furnishings, shipping and commission agents . . ." I seem to recall having read about the role of an overbearing father in his despondency. I imagine the general recession of 1893 that was a heavy blow to the entire community--especially his father, some of whose many enterprises eventually wound up in bankruptcy--also was a factor.
The other suicide of a prominent early citizen I mentioned in my last blog (and that apparently never has been reported anywhere since 1886 other than in my own book of history) was that of David Charles Henry Rothschild. He came to Port Townsend in 1858 and was engaged first in general merchandising, later in the shipping and commission business. He built the Rothschild family home that now is a Washington State park, in 1868.
I found the Rothschild suicide in an 1886 file of Port Townsend Call that is in my personal possession. The May 1 issue of that year reported: "Last Monday, the dead body of Mr. D. C. H. Rothschild, the prominent shipping merchant of this city, was found lying on the beach south of town, a few hundred yards below the Cliff House saloon. The body was first discovered by two Portuguese laborers on their way to the brickyard. They reported seeing a man on the beach, to Mr. Dickinson of the yard, who immediately started out to investigate the matter. His discovery was at once reported to city marshal Finn. A great commotion was at once created among the citizens. Coroner Wyckoff took charge of the corpse and it was removed to the Court House, where a jury was summoned and an inquest held. The jury found that deceased came to his death by a pistol shot wound inflicted by his own hand, while in a state of temporary insanity. The body was found face downward on the beach, an American Bulldog revolver underneath. The pistol had been placed against the right temple and the bullet passing through the brain came out on the left side an inch higher and passed through the hat. Death was instantaneous as no traces of suffering appeared on the features . . ."
Today's writing style would condense much of this story into something like "death was determined to have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound." No ghost has been reported in the historic Rothschild home, undoubtedly partially due to the fact that historians passed over the family suicide.
An editorial in the same issue of the paper noted that the deceased "had been in ill health for months, being subject to fits of nervous depression and despondency. The family and intimate friends have kept strict vigil over him for some time past and while his death proved a great shock to all, it was not wholly unexpected to many." The courthouse mentioned above was at that time still in the building now occupied by the Leader newspaper. The Cliff House and brickyard mentioned also are described in my 2000 book of local history.
BETTER KNOWN IN LOCAL HISTORY, involving more mystery and consequently more worthy of a ghost, is another early businessman Israel Katz. On January 14, 1917, he left his home at Blaine and Tyler Sts.--without his watch, spectacles or coat--in the late afternoon or early evening and was never again seen. If anyone deserves his own ghost, it should be he--and I believe I've heard that speculated on occasion. However, an aunt and uncle of mine lived in the same house for quite a few years and encountered nothing supernatural. Israel may well have been another suicide, perhaps joining in the waters or Port Townsend Bay a brother Solomon who drowned in 1888 while boarding a ship near Point Hudson. Solomon was one of the founding partners of the waterfront business of Waterman & Katz, of which Israel was sole owner at the time of his disappearance.
Details on the Eisenbeises, the Rothschilds and Israel Katz--along with other suicides, murders and untimely deaths--will be found in my volumes of Port Townsend history, published in 2000 and 2002, and still readily available.
I myself will be eligible for ghosthood not too many years in the future, but I'm going with "do no resuscitate."
1003-1009 Water Street
West Half: Grocery and Provisions
1889: Two brick stories were added to the building. Schroder & Whiteway architects,
McFee carpenter work.
1903: New Eisenbeis Hotel with Mrs. Maynard leasing the hotel.
West Half: Grocery store becomes restaurant.
East Half: H.A. Wright leased storefront that was previously the Mint Saloon.
1907: Rose Theater in one of the storefronts.
1911: Movie picture house (not the Rose).
1913: Unused theater converted into a “modern” storefront.
1916: Olympic Hardware.
1937: Remodeling for the Olympic Hardware Store to expand and add furniture to their
line of goods.
1942: Fire destroys much of the (now) Delmonico Hotel and apartments upstairs.
1956: Major “facelift” to building demolished the old bay windows.
1977: Paula and Albert Amel purchased the building and business.
2003: Albert Amel died and the family sold the property.
2007: New owners began major renovations to restore the bay windows and three store
fronts as well as add a mezzanine and condominiums on the upper floors.
Eisenbeis Stone Block
702 Water Street
Old Address 220 Water Street
O.T. Block 42 Lot: 1
Built 1884 by Charles Eisenbeis
1882: Cellar for the building was dug.
1884: Building still under construction as of July.
1884: By October Louis Wolff’s saloon occupied the building.
1911: Last of several saloons at this location closed.
1920: George Miskin’s Second Hand Store.
1970: Plumbing Store.
1982: Puget Sound Power and Light Company.
1984: Earthenworks Gallery
Eisenbeis Cracker Factory
830 Water Street, behind 825 Washington Street
Behind 234 Taylor Street, Building at rear on its own lot (Originally 316 ½ Water Street in 1911) Block 41, Lot 8 (S 52’5)
Date of Construction: 1888 Architect/Builder: Unknown
Charles Eisenbeis, the first Mayor of Port Townsend was born in Prussia and trained as a baker. In his early days in Port Townsend he worked with both E. S. Fowler and J.F. Bloomberg in their bakeries before establishing himself as owner in his own business. He later worked with S. Stork in the bakery referred to as Eisenbeis and Stork. The bakery specialized in ship’s bread, biscuits and hardtack for ocean -going vessels.
The building known as the Cracker Factory was built behind the Eisenbeis Block and is hidden in the interior of the block, the only access is from an alley off of Washington Street.
1888: The 1888 Sanborn map shows the building but notes that the building was not yet finished. The building is significant as an example of a utilitarian commercial building from the town’s boom period of the late 1880s to early 1890s.
The building has been variously identified with addresses associated with Water, Taylor and Washington Streets, each time as behind a primary building fronting on one of these streets.
Historically, its association was to the Eisenbeis Block at 830 Water Street, but it is now on its own parcel. For most of its history, the building served as storage for the furniture and hardware store in the Eisenbeis Block
Eisenbeis Wood Building
(Common Names: U.S. Customs House, Lighthouse Café)
955 Water Street Old Address: 339 - 341 Water Street
O.T. Block 9, Lots 7 & 8 Date of construction: 1878 Builder: Charles Eisenbeis By the last half of 1878 Charles Eisenbeis had completed the two story wood structure. December 1878: The U.S. Customs House was moved to this location, their previous site being advertised for rent.
1885: With the Customs House still at this location, the east side of the building was leased to Noland and Zen, a dry goods store.
1885: The upstairs portion of the building was being used as a boarding house.
1890: The Commercial Hotel replaced the U.S. Customs House and boarding house accommodations. The Axtell Saloon was operating on Water Street frontage as well.
1907: John Mehling moved his tailor shop to the building and also sold tobacco. A restaurant was being operated in the east half of the building.
1912: Peter Erickson was operating a shoe and harness repair shop next to Mehlings Tailor Shop.
1915: Mehlings had been replaced by a restaurant.
1930s: The Coffee Cup Café was operating at this location.
1940s: The building housed the Italian Café and Hampden Brown’s Electric Shop.
1968: The Lighthouse Café has been operating at this location since 1968.
Legends about Manresa Castle include two ghosts who have taken up residence. One is that of a priest who hung himself in the left tower after committing a cardinal sin and then making his peace with God. The second is the ghost of a young woman who leaped to her death from a third storey window after her lover failed to meet her. While odd things have occurred, such as doors opening or closing, or lights turning on and off, the stories of these two ghosts are false, made up to amuse tourists by a bartender who once worked at the castle.
Restoration of the Eisenbeis Castle
The owners of the hotel have returned it to its former Victorian glory, the final renovations being completed in March 2005. The 43 bathrooms that exist today owe their thanks to the making of the movie, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The crews’ contracts specified that each person would have a room with its own bathroom, and when they ran out of rooms at other hotels, the studio cut a deal with Manresa Castle and arranged for them to be builtParamount Pictures begins filming An Officer and a Gentleman in Port Townsend in April 1981 source
An Officer and a Gentleman: a young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator, with the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriend.
stories from the Pacific Northwest, Margaret
From Spiesermühle to Port Townsend, Washington
Port Townsend: Vault stone falls, unviels mystery... internet archive
a Grave Charles EISENBEIS