The History of Howard Springs [the land now known as Avalon Springs]
by Charles M. Mobley
Part Two: 1875-1892
An 1875 map filed in support of a proposed county road from Middletown to Lower Lake via Big Canyon shows only two buildings at “Howard’s Springs.” While commercial development of Lake County’s natural springs proceeded vigorously in the early 1870s, with Victorian spas built around Bartlett Springs, Harbin Springs, Adam Springs, Seigler Springs, and others, Howard Springs was not among them. Nonetheless, James W. Howard was advertising the springs by early 1876. One year later, in the county newspaper of April 21, 1877, he described the resort with a “new hotel, newly furnished throughout.” Howard’s spring was initially a place for people to camp, but his modest lodge, cabins, and bathing pools in 1877 still had 100 visitors when visited on horseback by “Scio” and described in The Lake Democrat.
The April 21, 1877 advertisement in The Lake Democrat boasted that the new hotel would be kept open summer and winter, “the water proving equally efficacious the year round.” But in early 1878, after operating two full years, James W. Howard sold the resort to August Heisch. August Heisch identified himself as 56 years old in 1878, a mechanic from Germany, when he registered to vote in Lake County. After the sale was recorded, Heisch went on to file a homestead claim on Howard Springs in 1879, and a patent claim in 1881. By August of 1882 he was dead, without a will. Mentioned in court documents disposing of his estate was property accompanying “Heisch’s Springs” including a hotel, barn, cabins, stage coach and two horses, one set of harness, “bar room furniture,” “bed room furniture,” “kitchen furniture,” and a piano, ultimately valued at $4,000. Named as next-of-kin were his widow Carolina (sometimes Caroline) Heisch, aged 61; presumably a daughter of age 30 named Carolina (last name indistinct) Evers of Sacramento, and a daughter aged 16 named Louisa Heisch.
An 1884-1885 business directory published by Granger’s Business Association identifies Mrs. Caroline Heisch as the “proprietress” of Howard Springs, with Miss L. Heisch as the waitress. Their mail was delivered to Glenbrook, an early stage stop and resort near what became Hoberg’s Resort on Cobb Mountain. A stage coach brought clients from Woodland (north of Sacramento) to Lower Lake, where they were met by the Howard Springs stage on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or they were collected at Glenbrook on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, enabling persons leaving San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, or Woodland in the morning to arrive at the Springs the same evening. The facilities included a hotel, 12 cabins, “six tub baths, and one plunge.” That was enough infrastructure for Howard Springs to boast of accommodations for more than 80 people. Guests could stay and eat in the lodge for ten or twelve dollars per week, rent a cabin and cook for themselves for three dollars per week, or camp. Individuals arriving on their own horse or wagon were offered a stable and pasture for a small fee. The resort was open “most of the year.” Still, in 1882 editor R.W. Crump of The Lake County Bee didn’t identify Howard Springs as yet comparable with other resorts, stating that “Bartlett’s, Highlands, Harbin’s, Pearson’s, Seigler, and Anderson’s are best known abroad; but there are a dozen more whose waters are very fine, and that will become famous.”
Mrs. Heisch advertised again in Granger’s subsequent 1886-1887 directory. But after five years of running Howard Springs by herself, Caroline Heisch signed court documents in October of 1887 yielding her role as executrix of August Heisch’s estate, and sold the property to Philip and Margaretha Sieben. Philip Sieben (also spelled Phillip and Philipp) was a fellow German immigrant, listing himself as a 47-year old hotel keeper when he registered to vote in Lake County on September 4, 1887. His wife Margaretha died March 22, 1888. Philip Sieben advertised the resort eloquently in such outlets as an 1888 book promoting Lake County. The San Francisco Blue Book of 1888-89 (pp. 234) identified Sieben as the proprietor and George Eff as the lessee. But Sieben held the property for only four years, selling it to Charles Louis Adolph Scott on April 30, 1891.
Charles L.A. Scott was the third German immigrant in a row to acquire Howard Springs, listing himself as a 52-year old hotel keeper from Putah when he registered to vote in Lake County on September 30, 1892. Howard Springs had just become home to the official Putah Post Office, in 1892, with Scott as postmaster. Anderson reported that “the resort is growing every year.” The presence of a U.S. post office likely increased the local prominence of Howard Springs, and the thermal waters were included in an 1894 mineralogical analysis of the region’s springs published in the Twelfth Report of the California State Mineralogist.
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