By Katherine Hon
As discussed in earlier PastMatters columns, approximately 340 street names in San Diego were changed by two ordinances adopted in 1899 and 1900. The ordinances eliminated duplication and achieved some continuity where street names changed from tract to tract.
Three historic tracts mapped during the 1870s extend from present-day Alabama to Boundary streets between University Avenue and Upas Street. These are Pauly’s Addition formed by Aaron Pauly, Park Villas formed by Joseph Nash, and West End formed by William Jefferson Gatewood.
Most of the north-south streets in this area were renamed for states in 1899 to achieve continuity with the historic tract of University Heights to the north. Pauly’s Addition lies between present-day Alabama and Arizona streets. In this tract, the original street names of Briant, Landes, Skinner, Pauly and Choate became Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona streets, respectively. The original names represented pioneers of 1870s San Diego. (Original north-south Landes Street should not be confused with present-day east-west Landis Street, which was named for a different person.)
Tract founder Aaron Pauly (1812-1890) was born in Ohio, established his own family in Illinois and came to Coloma, California, as the gold rush began. He traveled across the plains in an oxen-pulled wagon in 1849 and sent for his family in 1852. He was a miner, rancher, hotel-keeper and merchant around Sacramento for 20 years and then moved his family to New Town San Diego in 1869. He set up a successful general store with his sons Fred and Charles at the foot of Fifth Street. The store became an important supply and assay center for Julian gold miners.
Aaron Pauly was the first president of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce from 1870 to 1871 and the County tax collector from 1875 to 1884. He was president of the company that built the San Diego-Fort Yuma wagon road between California and Arizona. The San Diego Union’s December 12, 1890 issue called Aaron Pauly “one of the old merchants of San Diego, and for many years one of the most prominent and public spirited citizens” in his obituary. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Most of the other original north-south street names in Pauly’s tract reflected his fellow investors. According to the City of San Diego Lot Book for 1873, Pauly owned 30 acres of the 80-acre tract. D.W. Briant owned five acres, David Landes owned 20 acres, Lewis Skinner owned 10 acres, and Morgan L. Skinner owned 15 acres.
David Ward Briant (1821-1889) was born in Ohio and became a merchant. By 1857, he had come to California. He was a successful farmer in Calaveras County, where he was appointed a U.S. Postmaster for Double Springs, a gold rush town southeast of Sacramento.
About 10 years later, Briant had become a leading citizen of San Diego. The San Diego Union’s October 13, 1869 issue noted he was “putting up a residence” between Eighth and Ninth streets in New Town. His feed store at the corner of Ninth and I streets was advertised in the 1874 San Diego City Directory. He was on the City Board of Trustees through much of the 1870s and served on the County Board of Supervisors during the 1880s, retiring as president in January 1889.
The San Diego Union’s October 1, 1889 issue announced Briant’s death under the caption, “The Reaper Calls for One of San Diego’s Oldest and Best Citizens.” In the San Diego Union’s October 10, 1889 issue, the Society of Pioneers of San Diego issued a “Resolution of Respect” that noted in Briant’s death “this society has lost a most respected member and the community an excellent citizen and a man worthy in every respect.” He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.
David Shirk Landes (1809-1874) was born in Pennsylvania. He married his first wife, Margaret Morrow, in 1841, and they lived in Missouri until about 1854. The 1850 federal census for St. Louis, Missouri, listed him as a farmer with his wife, a daughter and two sons. By 1854, the couple and their three children had moved to Sacramento, where two more sons were born. During the Civil War, Landes fought in the Union Army with the 14th Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry, 159th Volunteers, where he was promoted to Corporal. At war’s end, Landes returned to northern California. He was listed in the 1867 Pacific Coast Directory as a “Retail Dealer” specializing in “hardware, furniture and paper hangings” in Moores Flat, a gold rush town northeast of Sacramento.
Landes had arrived in San Diego by April 1870 and was listed as a “Merchant” in the 1871 Great Register for San Diego County. However, it appears he was separated from his family. In the 1870 federal census, Margaret was listed as living with their sons Franklin, Henry and George in Sacramento and married to John H. Wolfe, a farmer.
In addition to buying 20 acres in Pauly’s Addition, Landes purchased lots in other areas, including Horton’s Addition and National City. He died on December 6, 1874. The Daily Union’s December 8, 1874 issue noted he was “an old and very highly respected citizen of San Diego.” He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Lewis Newton Skinner (1847-1926) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was a furniture dealer for most of his adult life. He wintered in San Diego starting in 1880 and moved to the city permanently in 1888. The 1893 San Diego City Directory listed his business as “Skinner & Long (L.N. Skinner, E.E. Long) new and second hand goods, 721 Sixth.” The 1900 federal census listed Lewis Skinner at 2306 C Street with his wife Ellagene, son Eugene and daughter Sarah. In 1926, the family moved the L.N. Skinner furniture store from 640 Sixth Avenue to 1255 University Avenue in Hillcrest. Lewis Skinner died on September 9, 1926. His obituary called him a San Diego pioneer. He is interred at Cypress View Mausoleum.
After Lewis’ death, Ellagene and Eugene continued to operate the furniture store. In 1933, Eugene moved the store to 2525 University Avenue in North Park, where he operated it for decades — just two blocks from the street that once had his family name.
Morgan Lewis Skinner (1821-1881) was Lewis Skinner’s father. Morgan was born in New York and lived in Milwaukee most of his life. He was a school teacher in 1850 and an insurance agent during the 1860s before becoming a merchant by 1871. He never lived in San Diego, but he wrote a letter to the editor of the San Diego Union in 1877, noting he had been reading the paper for seven years and hoped to move permanently to San Diego in the future.
Why Lewis and Morgan invested in Pauly’s Addition when they were living in Milwaukee may be explained by the fact that Henry Chapman Skinner (1805-1877) — Morgan’s eldest brother — had been living in San Diego since 1868. Henry Skinner served several years as Justice of the Peace. He owned multiple properties in San Diego and apparently convinced his brother and nephew that the new town was a good investment.
The next PastMatters column will examine original street names from Arizona Street to Pershing Avenue.
— Katherine Hon is the secretary of the North Park Historical Society. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-294-8990.