Emanuel Lauer, the First Merchant in Alturas, Modoc County, Californis in the Northern Gold Country

Emanuel Lauer, the First Merchant in Alturas

Values Codes: I-E-L


Emanuel Lauer was born in 1831, in Bavaria, Germany.


Along the way . . .

In 1848, Emanuel Lauer came to the United States.

In 1854, he traveled, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, to San Francisco, California.

He mined in Siskiyou County and opened a store for miners there.


Altrus, Modoc County

In 1872, Emanuel Lauer moved to Alturas in Modoc County, California, 310 miles north of Sacramento

There he founded the first general merchandise store in the area and called it E. Lauer & Sons.

Among other items, he sold farm equipment.


Emanuel Lauer operated the Bank of Modoc County in the back of the store.

Later, he added a furniture department.


Most of the merchandise for his store came from Jewish distributors and manufacturers from San Francisco, such as: Susman and Wormser (S&W), Levi Strauss, M.J.B. Coffee (Brandenstein), etc.

Auturas Trading Co. This might be the original Lauer store, based on the dates on the building.

Auturas Trading Co. This might be the original Lauer store, based on the dates on the building.

Lauer also owned ranches on which he grew grains, such as wheat and alfalfa.

In 1879, Lauer built a flour mill, where he ground his own wheat and sold it as “Lauer’s Best Flour.”



Emanuel Lauer served as President of the Alturas Town Board.



There was no Jewish organization in Altrus.

Son, Raymond, remembers that on the High Holy Days they had a prayerbook which was read to the entire family.



Emanuel Lauer was a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows.



Emanuel Lauer married Fannie F. Kuhn (1842-1917).

They had seven children: Isaac (b.1861), Sarah (1861-1941), Benjamin (1863-1960), Max, Arthur, Julius (1867-1947) and Rose.

In 1890’s, Emanuel’s sons all joined the family business.


Emanuel Lauer died in 1909 in San Francisco, California.


More information can be found in the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Stern, Norton B. The Lauer Family of Modoc County: Report of an Interview with Mr. Raymond Lauer, 1970 8th Avenue, Sacramento, California, April 6, 1969. Western States Jewish History. v.41, no.4 (Spring 2009): pp.713-715.
  • Stern, Norton B.  Emanuel Lauer: 1831-1909 of Alturas, Modoc County, Material Gathered at the California States Library, Sacramento, California, July 21, 1968.  Western States Jewish History. v.41, no.4 (Spring 2009): pp. 711-712.


Samantha Silver is the Curator for this Emanuel Lauer Exhibit.

Any pictures of Emanuel Lauer, his family or store would be appreciated.


Jews in the Jews

   About This Time

Fire at Moore’s Flat — 1869

The thriving little mining camp at Moore’s Flat was, this week, totally destroyed by fire. Among others, the Hebrew merchants suffered materially.

Mr. Abraham Wiser, an old resident of that town, lost all he possessed, as his stock is a total loss. Mr. H. Schoenberg was also unable to save anything. His loss amounts to four or five thousand dollars.

Mr. M. M. Kyser’s loss is $1,200. Mr. Philip Abraham is the heaviest loser, his stock amounting to nearly $15,000. The goods of Mr. Altenberg was most damaged.

We understand that the town will be rebuilt.


—The Hebrew Observer, San Francisco, August 6, 1869, WSJH Vol. 19, #1. Moore’s Flat was in Nevada County, California.