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Breen Brothers do business in Del Norte County

By Adam Madison

Triplicate staff writer

William, Joseph and John Breen Jr. arrived with their parents, John and Margaret Lacy, in Crescent City in 1881. Later, John Breen Sr. purchased the 640-acre Glendale Dairy, on Smith River.

The Breens were able to purchase the dairy because of the success of John Sr.'s cooperage business in San Francisco.

The Breen brothers came here together, but had different interests.

John Jr, "Jack" as he came to be known, and William helped their father with the dairy.

Joseph had no desire to be in the dairy business and became a mill-worker. He worked for Wenger Mill and then for Hobbs Pomeroy and Co.

Eventually he opened his own hardware store on H Street.

Joseph's desire not to milk cows paid off, his hardware store was very successful.

William was responsible for making all of the butter produced at the dairy. San Franciscan's prized his butter, which was also sold locally.

John Jr. was a "Jack" of-all-trades, working at the dairy, the mills and the cooperage business his father started locally. The cooperage supplied most of the barrels and kegs used in Del Norte County.

The interests of the Brothers Breen came together when they acquired a stage-coach contract to Grants Pass, Ore.

Jack became the driver for the horse-drawn mail stage-coach.

Four years later Jack became the guide for a survey party that was in charge of surveying the Gasquet toll road. The party determined the actual mileage for the road.

Jack was required to serve a year in the Army in order to accept the assignment.

Joseph, close to his roots as a San Franciscan, sold his hardware store and the stagecoach business to Jack and William, in order to help rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

After helping with the rebuild he moved with his family up to Fruitville and went into real-estate.

Jack and William started a partnership, purchasing the Frantz Livery Stables in 1908. The new business became Crescent City Livery and Feed.

The stage business had flourished and was also moved to the stables. The stage-route grew to include Requa and Brookings.

The brother's stage line was the first in Del Norte to switch from horses to automobiles when roads improved and cars were made available.

The stable was in front of what was called the "K Street Slough," a catch-basin for run-off water, that the previous owners tried to make a pond out of.

Oddly enough, the Frantz's attempt at beautification became one of Del Norte Counties first cases of blight.

It ended up becoming a dump for many residents, overgrown with weeds and rimmed with

cattails.

William and Jack may have been some of the first comedians in Del Norte also, the brothers set a table in the middle of the lake with figures of Asian and European visitors sitting in knee-deep water.

The town elders weren't amused however and ordered that the slough be filled in.

William was appointed as Del Norte County Tax collector in 1909.

Jack became sheriff in 1919 and held the position for 16 years.

Jacks adventures as the sheriff earned him a place in Del Norte History. From thwarting moon-shiners, to finding bank-robbers in underground hideouts, Jack lived a lawman's dream.

He was also involved in the development of Boy Scout Troop 10 in 1922.

Reach Adam Madison at

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