WILLIAM ALBERT SCHROEDER
William A. Schroeder, who is one of the oldest citizens of Loyalton, is also widely known as one of the ablest and most efficient supervisors in this section of the state, a fact that has been emphasized in his repeated elections to that office over a period of a quarter of a century. He was born at Hawkinsville, about three miles from Yreka, California, on the 19th of May, 1859, and is one of twelve children of John and Ann (Katon) Schroeder. Of this large family, six are now still living. John Schroeder was born in Plymouth County, Indiana, and when a young man joined a large train of Argonauts, who crossed the plains for the gold fields of California. Only fifty of the eighty who started reached their destination. Mr. Schroeder was married in Siskiyou County, this state, and there engaged in truck gardening, his produce being carried by ten to fifteen pack mules to the homes and the mining camps of that section of the state. The great flood of 1861-62 washed away practically half his land, devastating his garden and so discouraging him that he started out with his wife and three children for a new location. After settling them near what is now Loyalton, he started to explore new gold fields and went as far as the Black Hills of Dakota. He was gone an entire year. When he settled up his affairs in Siskiyou County he had sixty thousand dollars, but on his return to California he had but nine thousand dollars left. He then took up a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres, on which he built a house. At first this was known as the Freeman place, but later, after Mr. Schroeder had made improvements and the official survey had definitely established his boundaries and title, it became known as the Schroeder ranch. This tract lies one and a half miles west of Loyalton, on the Sierraville Road. The mother died in her fortieth year, when her son William A. was nineteen years of age. The father, who never remarried, died when almost ninety-three years old. Of his is twelve children, three were born in Siskiyou County and nine in Sierra County. William A. Schroeder attended the public schools at Loyalton and was reared on his father’s farm in this county. Virginia City was then booming and the farmers cut hay, mostly bunch grass in the Sierra valley and hauled it to Virginia City, where they sold it for one hundred and fifty dollars a ton. When a youth of fourteen years, Mr. Schroeder drove six horses hauling hay to that city. His next occupation was that of stage driver on the passenger stage from Reno, Nevada, to Summit, Plumas County. His recollection goes back to the time when there was no town where now stands Loyalton. Dr. Doon, then known as the “Sage Brush Doctor,” lived here and built a hotel. He was anxious to have a post office established, but before a commission could be issued to him as postmaster it was necessary that the place should have a house. The Civil War was then in progress and the feeling regarding slavery and secession ran high. Many places in California were strongholds of secession, but the Union sentiment in this locality was strong enough to give the Union ticket the majority of votes, Lincoln receiving a substantial majority. Because of this fact the place was given the name of Loyalton. Mr. Schroeder did considerable carpenter work in those days, becoming a proficient builder, and erected a number of residences and barns, also doing most of the carpenter work on his own commodious residence at Loyalton, which stands in evidence of his careful workmanship.
In 1906 Mr. Schroeder, who has always been a staunch Democrat in politics, was elected supervisor of Sierra County, which is strongly Republican. He served his term of four years and was then prevailed upon to become a candidate for the office of sheriff on the Democratic ticket, but was defeated in the fall election. In the meantime Sierra County was redistricted to its supervisorial districts and the primary system of nomination was adopted. He became the candidate for supervisor from the fourth district and was duly elected. He was reelected in 1916, 1920, 1924 and 1928, and can undoubtedly hold the office as long as he so desires, for his recent elections have been without opposition, so eminently satisfactory has been his service in office. He is well acquainted with the needs of this community and has stood consistently for every good thing for Loyalton, the Sierra valley and Sierra County. As supervisor he is de facto highway superintendent of his district. He has very practical ideas in regard to the building and maintenance of roads, and is not afraid of work, personally mounting the road grading machine and managing the blade. When he first became supervisor many of the roads in this district were mere trails, but through his judicious efforts and persistence they have been brought to a creditable condition, considering the money available for road purposes. Mr. Schroeder is also a member of the city council of Loyalton, a position which he has held with credit for several terms. In that loyal capacity he is in charge of the roads and streets of the city of Loyalton and is maintaining them at a high standard. He has served one term as chairman of the board of supervisors and is one of the veteran supervisors of the state of California. He is a member of the Supervisors’ Association of California, which comprises its membership many of the leading citizens of their respective communities.
In 1886, at Sierraville, California, Mr. Schroeder was united in marriage to Miss Annie W. Keyes, who was born in Nevada City, this state, but was living in Sierra County at the time of her marriage. She was a daughter of David and Elizabeth (Gardner) Keyes, who were married in Massachusetts before coming west. David Keyes built and operated a small sawmill a little way above Downieville and furnished much of the lumber which entered into the building of the courthouse at Downieville as well as into the commodious home which he built for his own family. To Mr. and Mrs. Schroeder were born four children, namely: Kate, the wife of R. W. Thorne, of Minden, Nevada, foreman of a retail lumber yard; Edith, who is the wife of Charles Schleef, manager for Swains Lumber Company at Oroville, and has two children, Annie Marie, who graduated from the University of California in 1930, and Allen, who is a freshman in the University of California; Leone K., who is a graduate of the University of California and is a teacher and inspector in the high school at Oakland, where she lives; and Albert, who died at the age of fourteen years. Mrs. Schroeder died in 1899, at which time their eldest daughter was a student in high school in San Francisco, but she returned home at once and became the head of the household, though but fourteen years old at the time. The children were all brought up in the home by Mr. Schroeder, who has never remarried, and now that they are all gone and have homes of their own, he is alone in the house. During the years of his residence here he has proven a good citizen in the highest sense of the term, has stood for the things which make for the good of society and the material advancement of the town, and his sterling character and fine personal traits have gained for him a warm place in the hearts of the people among whom he has lived for so many years.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 102-106. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.