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Plumas County







            One of Portola’s most highly esteemed residents is Mrs. Elizabeth Laffranchini, who was for many years engaged with her husband, the late, Aquilino P. Laffranchini, in the hotel business in Beckwith, but has for the past six years resided in Portola, retired from active pursuits.  Mrs. Laffranchini is a native of California, born at Forest City, Sierra County, and is a daughter of Owen and Margaret (Sullen) McElroy, the former of whom was born in Ireland and the latter in Iowa.  Her parents were married at Forest City, California in 1862, and both are deceased.  The mother passed away in February, 1881, at the age of forty-seven years, and was survived many years by her husband, who died in San Francisco on March 31, 1906, at the age of sixty-eight years.  He was a well educated man, was fairly successful in his material affairs and was highly respected.  To Mr. and Mrs. McElroy were born seven children, as follows:  (1) Mary became the wife of Willis Freeman, now of Portola, California, and her death occurred on November 28, 1928.  She left three children, namely:  Fred James, who is a civil engineer at Portola, is the father of a son, Owen, now twelve years of age, and is at home with his father; Jean, who is the wife of Curry Jamison, a contractor and builder at Reno, Nevada, and who is the mother of three children, Mary, Virginia and Richard; and Don E., a sheep and wool buyer of Sacramento, who married Miss Armilla McNeil, of Woodland, and resides in Sacramento.  (2) Charles McElroy, who died on June 21, 1912, at the age of forty-six years, was a prosperous cattleman at Sattley, California.  He married Miss Lida Church, of Sattley, and left four children, namely:  Clarence Albert, superintendent of the Clover Valley Lumber Company; Vesta, who is the wife of Grover Mitchell, a fruit buyer of Sacramento; Fern, who is the wife of Dave Roy, a contractor of Sacramento, and has a son, Clarence; and George Owen, an employee of the Clover Valley Lumber Company.  (3) Elizabeth is Mrs. Laffranchini, of this review.  (4) Margaret, who passed away in San Francisco on February 14, 1928, was the wife of Murry Rhodes and died without issue.  (5) Catherine, who died in Honolulu on February 10, 1912, was the wife of a Mr. Booles, who now lives in Reno, Nevada.  (6) Ellen is the wife of George H. Carson, of Los Angeles, who is related to the old Spanish Dominguez family of that city and is very wealthy.  (7) John O., who died on May 27, 1916, graduated from Santa Clara College and practiced law in San Francisco.  He was married, but left no children.  A half sister of Mrs. Laffranchini, Aileen, is the wife of Clinton Taaffe, a traveling salesman, of San Francisco.

            On February 5, 1898, Elizabeth McElroy became the wife of Aquilino Pietro Laffranchini, who was well known in eastern Plumas County, especially in the vicinity of Beckwith, where he was a leading businessman for twenty-seven years prior to his death, which occurred in a hospital at Delleker, Plumas County, on September 15, 1925, at the age of sixty-eight years.  He was born at Bellinzona, Switzerland, on the 4th of July, 1857.  He came to the Sierra Valley, in Sierra County, California in 1879, and worked on various dairy farms of that locality for several years.  Later, in partnership with his cousin, Charlie Laffranchini, now of Hayfork, Trinity County, California, he rented the old John L. Crow dairy farm, in Clover Valley.  They operated on a large scale, milking some one hundred and twenty cows, and carried the business on successfully for several years.  A. P. Laffranchini then sold his interest in the business to his cousin and went to Honey Lake Valley, where he bought a big dairy farm.  After running that place for three years, he sold it and went to Beckwith, Plumas County, where, in partnership with Fred Marra, he bought the old Beckwith hotel and livery barn.  They conducted these successfully and Mr. Laffranchini soon purchased the interest of his partner, he and his wife then becoming the sole owners of the hotel and barn.  Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini worked very hard to make a success of the hostelry.  In 1898, soon after they bought the place, the hotel and livery attached were destroyed by fire.  The fire started in the depot of the narrow gauge railroad, spread to a building in which powder was stored and the explosion which ensued completely destroyed both hotel and livery barn.  Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini had not yet fully paid for the property, but they at once rebuilt, and conducted the place so successfully that they had it entirely paid for within three years.  In 1923 they sold out and retired.

            Aquilino P. Laffranchini was the youngest of three brothers, the others being Jule and Antone.  Jule, who remained in Europe, became a locomotive engineer, running trains through the St. Gotthard tunnel.  He grew to be quite an old man and when about to celebrate his golden wedding anniversary on a day in October, 1925; he sent invitations to his brothers in California.  Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini were making preparations to depart for Europe when Mr. Laffranchini became ill and died.  The home folks back in Switzerland were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini when they received instead a cablegram from California announcing the death of their brother on September 15, 1925.  The second brother, Antone Laffranchini, married and settled down in the Sierra Valley, where he became a prosperous dairy farmer.  He is deceased and two of his sons are carrying on the dairy business in the Sierra Valley.

            Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini became the parents of a daughter, Ruth, the wife of Carroll E. Pierce, of Oakland, California, who is a locomotive engineer on the Western Pacific Railroad.  They have one son, Robert A., a bright and likable boy of four years.  Mr. and Mrs. Laffranchini’s residence at Beckwith was destroyed by fire on September 2, 1925, and they then chose Portola for their future home, but the death of the husband and father occurred within two weeks.

            Mrs. Laffranchini is a most excellent woman, possessing sound business judgment and good executive ability.  Soon after coming to Portola she built a residence here, but later sold it and built another home, in which she now lives, in North Portola.  She has also built a second residence, which she rents.  She has made judicious investments in stocks and bonds and is a stockholder in the Sierra Valley Bank at Loyalton, Sierra County.  She contributes generously to the support of the Community Church (Methodist Episcopal) at Portola, although both she and her husband were reared in the Roman Catholic faith.  She is broad-minded and public-spirited and supports every measure which has for its object the betterment of the community in which she resides.  She is a member of Pioneer Parlor, No. 219, N. D. G. W., at Quincy, California, and is also a member of Beckwith Chapter, No. 201, O. E. S., at Beckwith, of which she is a past matron.  Her daughter, Ruth, is also a member of the Eastern Star and is a past worthy matron.  Mrs. Laffranchini and her daughter have traveled a great deal, having made a number of trips to the east, as well as to Central America, Panama and Havana.  Her home is equipped with all modern conveniences and she is very comfortably situated.  She has a host of warm and devoted friends throughout the community and is numbered among its best citizens in the finest sense of the term.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 330-332. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.



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