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

Emanuel Lauer

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, Lauer moved to Alturas in Modoc County, California, 310 miles north of Sacramento.

There, he established the first general merchandise store in the area, which he called E. Lauer & Sons.

He sold farm equipment, among other items.

Lauer also operated the Bank of Modoc County in the back of the store, and later 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, and M.J.B. Coffee (Brandenstein).

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

Auturas Trading Co. This may 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, he 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 were no Jewish organizations in Altrus.

For the High Holy Days, the family read a prayerbook together in their home.



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



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.


  • Norton B. Stern, “The Lauer Family of Modoc County,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Emanuel Lauer: 1831-1909 of Alturas, Modoc County,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.

Samantha Silver is curator of this Emanuel Lauer exhibit.


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.