JOHN A. SCHILL
John A. Schill, one of the four partners in the Portola Mercantile Company, is widely known as a man of energy, ability and integrity, who has risen steadily through the force of his own work and worth. The establishment in which he is interested is the largest general store in this section of California, carrying a complete line of dry goods, groceries, clothing, beds and bedding, leather goods, stoves, rugs, linoleum, smoked meats, cement and other building material, windows and doors, flour and feed, buying flour, potatoes, bacon and plasterboard in car-load lots. The Portola Mercantile Company is a partnership, composed of four prominent citizens of this place; John A. Schill, Felix Reynolds, Joseph C. Janes and John Reynolds. They have two delivery trucks and employ from six to eight men.
John A. Schill was born at Hollister, San Benito County, California, August 31, 1887, a son of Anton and Josephine (Walkenheim) Schill. The father was born in Germany and died when his son was but four years old. The mother was born in Buffalo, New York, and came to San Benito County as a young girl, her marriage occurring there. She is now Mrs. Riihle, of Hollister, this state, and is seventy-three years of age. John A. Schill has two sisters living, Mrs. John Liskey, of Merrill, Oregon, and Mrs. Willard Best, of Hollister, California. Two sisters and a half-sister died during the influenza epidemic of 1918 and a brother Oliver R., was drowned March 29, 1928, while fishing below Carmel-by-the-Sea. He left one child, Jean. John A. Schill was reared and educated at Hollister and when seventeen years old began to learn the butchering trade. When eighteen years old he went to San Jose, where he followed his trade for two and a half years, after which he was at Gilroy for one year. In 1910 he located in Beckwith, where he worked for the McKissick Land and Stock Company, of which J. L. Humphrey was the head. After serving there one year the company sent him to Portola. While in that employ he froze the fingers on his right hand, which incapacitated him for the meat market business. In 1917 he paid one hundred and twenty dollars for a half interest in a pool hall at Portola, known as the “Belle Isle,” his partner being B. Yandall, a railroad conductor. The business grew and prospered. Mr. Yandall sold his interest to Felix Reynolds, who for several years was connected with pool and billiard parlors in Portola and Susanville. Mr. Schill sold his interest to Mr. Reynolds, and also sold his Susanville business, “The Stag Smoker,” in April, 1921. He then opened the pool and billiard hall in Portola which is now known as “Jack’s Place,” and in February, 1922, he took in J. C. Janes for an equal partner. In the meantime Felix Reynolds had taken in his brother, John Reynolds, as a partner in the “Belle Isle,” and in the following fall arrangements were made to consolidate the two places, running both during the summers and closing the “Belle Isle” during the winter months. In November, 1923, the company took over a stock of clothing in Portola, and to this was soon added groceries. As this business grew other lines were added, until today theirs is the largest general merchandise establishment in northeastern California. The pool and billiard business was sold to Harry Jones and his present partners came into the mercantile business March 1, 1930. They are all giving their personal attention to the business, which is enjoying a substantial and healthy growth.
On August 26, 1916, at Portola, Mr. Schill was united in marriage to Mrs. Howard Colter, nee Fay Halsey, who was born at Coffeyville, Kansas. To them was born a son, Jack Halsey, who died at the age of five years and ten months. Mr. Schill owns a comfortable and attractive home, which he built in Portola. He and his partners are large property holders in this place, the four owning some thirty-five houses. Mr. Schill is a Republican in his political views. He is essentially a self-made man and deserves much credit for what he has accomplished. Genial and companionable, he has a wide acquaintance and is held in high regard by all who know him.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.