HENRY H. MEYER
Henry H. Meyer, who is today the oldest businessman in Downieville, in point of the number of years in continuous active service, is the owner of a prosperous and substantial insurance agency and is also recognized as one of the community’s best citizens in the truest sense of the term. He was born in Downieville on the 26th of March, 1865, and is a son of Henry Herman and Matilda (Vollmer) Meyer. The father, who was a native of Holland, came to Downieville in the early ‘50s and engaged in gold mining to the time of his death, which occurred at the age of forty-seven years. The mother was a native of Switzerland and died when thirty-seven years old.
Henry H. Meyer is the fifth in order of birth in a family of nine children. Because of the early deaths of his parents, he and his brothers and sisters had to shift themselves, he being but eleven years old when his father died. He did not attend the public schools after the age of twelve years and then began working at various jobs, such as he could find. After he had attained his majority he pursued a commercial course of six months in a business college in Sacramento. He then undertook independent business operations on a small scale, buying and retailing milk, selling ice cream and handling fruit on commission. In 1888, when twenty-three years old, he bought from William Byington the meat market in Downieville, which looked like a risky investment, for he had everything to learn in relation to that business, including the buying of livestock, the killing and dressing, refrigeration, cutting and retailing. He also had strong competition, but by persistent and intelligent effort he made a distinctive success of this enterprise, which he conducted for thirty-seven years, selling the market in 1925. He then bought the insurance business formerly owned by E. S. Case, former treasurer of Sierra County, who died on November 18, 1926. Under Case’s will Mr. Meyer was nominated as executor and he settled up the affairs of the estate, which were in bad shape. He took over the insurance agency after Mr. Case’s death. Success has attended his insurance business, as it did his meat business, for he has given wise direction to all of his activities, and represents some of the oldest and strongest companies in the country. Mr. Meyer is the owner of the Oxford gold mine and the May Day and Udine mine in the Gold Lake country, and is also a stockholder in the Crocker National Bank of San Francisco.
On November 4, 1888, in Downieville, Mr. Meyer was united in marriage to Miss Sophia Hanson, who was born in Denmark and is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Hanson, the former a timber contractor. Mrs. Meyer passed away several years ago, leaving two children, Raymond H. and Zella. Raymond H., who is a farmer at Greenville, in the Indian Valley, married Miss Ella Gott and they have two children, Sophie Charlotte and Ella Ray. Zella Meyer, who became the wife of M. P. Fischer, proprietor of the stage line between Downieville and Nevada City, died on April 1, 1926, leaving a daughter, Dorothy Sophie.
In his political alignment Mr. Meyer is a Republican and has taken an active interest in local public affairs, having served for eight years as supervisor from the third supervisorial district. He is a member of Mountain Shade Lodge, No. 18, F. & A. M., of which he is a past master; Sierra Chapter, No. 21, R. A. M., of which he is a past high priest; Downieville Parlor, N. S. G. W.; Downieville Lodge, I. O. O. F., of which he is a past noble grand, and Blue Range Encampment, No. 8, P. M., of which he is a past chief patriarch. He has always evinced a keen interest in the welfare and improvement of Downieville and Sierra County, is a man of pleasing address and strong personality, and no resident of this community has enjoyed to a greater degree than he the public confidence and good-will.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 348-349. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.