Tuesday, April 05, 2005


(last updated March 24, 2005)
Copyright by John M. Olney, February 12, 2005. All rights reserved.

Part 2 -- 2nd Krug Ranch Owner
James Kennedy Moffitt (Duration: 1892-1943)
(Now owned and operated by the Peter Mondavi Family)

Source (s): (1) History of Napa Co. California, 1881, Slocum, Bowen & Co. Publishers; (2) Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891; (3) History of Napa County, Wallace, W. E., 1901, Enquirer Print; (4) Wine Country - A history of Napa Valley - The early years: 1838-1920, Heintz, Wm., 1990, Capra Pres; (5) Old Napa Valley - The History to 1900, Lin Weber, 1995, Wine Ventures Publishing; (6) Harvests of Joy, Robert Mondavi, 1998, Harcourt Brace: (7) American Vintage - The Rise of American Wine, Paul Lukacs, 2000, Houghton Mifflin Co.; (8) website: oldandsold.com; (9) website: Charleskrug.com

Charles Krug was in serious financial trouble in the mid-1880s and declared insolvent in the early 1890s, which led to the subsequent sale of the property. The deeds of this man are well documented and you might wonder why he was allowed to fail or why the winegrowing community didn’t come to his financial rescue? Well, it actually did. The list of his creditors included not only lending institutions but also most of the individual directors of the Bank of St. Helena who personally loaned him money. He had apparently used up every resource available to him but to no avail. The buyer of the insolvent Krug ranch as stipulated by Old and Sold Auctioneer web site literature was,“ his close friend and admirer, James K. Moffitt, who used the residence and gardens as a country home. The vineyards and winery were leased until Prohibition forced them into a dormant period.”

In the “Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California," The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891, it is said “He died in 1892, leaving only two daughters to carry on. They continued, with the help from a cousin, until Prohibition when the winery closed. It remained in the hands of a caretaker-owner until Cesare Mondavi bought the property in 1943." However, William F. Heintz, in his book “Wine Country - A History of Napa Valley” listed five siblings: “… Charles Jr., died in infancy, At Krug’s funeral daughters Linda, Anita and Lolita were present and a son Karl Krug (possibly with a middle name of Charles for he afterward went by that name).” My research to date has yet to reveal which two siblings were involved in the continued operations of the winegrowing operations. However the cousin that is mentioned was Bismark Bruck.

The uncle of the Krug children was Louis Bruck who died in 1881. Bruck was the second person for which Krug had made wine before starting his own winery, at which Louis later became Forman. Bruck married the other daughter - Isadora - of Dr. Edward Turner Bale and his wife, Maria Guadalupe Soberanes (Niece of General Vallejo). Of the children they produced, a son named Bismark Bruck eventually took over the position as Forman of the Krug ranch following in his father’s footsteps.

Who was this cousin, Bismark Bruck? His political career included being a three-time State Assemblyman, a member, and once Chairman, of the Napa Board of Supervisors, and member of the Board of Trustees (now called council persons) for St. Helena. Besides being manager of the Krug Winery, he owned his own grape juice company established in 1909. But he was more than just what these obituary-type summary comments describe. Bismark was instrumental in moving growers to graft foreign premium varietals on to Phylloxera-resistant American varietal rootstocks. He replanted the vines on the former Krug vineyards - renamed the Moffitt vineyards - and he sold bench grafts in the hundreds of thousands in the early 1900s.

His political abilities became important as the social experiment called “Prohibition” approached. The 14-year period when the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution was enforced does not do justice to the actual strength of the movement. Long before January 18, 1920, when alcoholic beverages were banned, many communities - indeed whole states - had already adopted ordinances, which outlawed the consumption of alcohol. Maine went dry in 1851. Other states that was dry before the implementation of the 18th Amendment included Kansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee. All of these states went dry between 1880 and 1909. The long arm of the temperance movement reached Napa in 1901. The spirit of Carrie Nation, member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), who had just destroyed a saloon, inspired a similar act in Napa. Lin Weber, in her book, "Old Napa Valley - The History to 1900," reports that Carrie Nation’s act seemed to have encouraged a Dr. C. H. Farman of Napa to do a similar act in a downtown Napa saloon a few months later.

Bruck was one of the initial members of the Napa County Viticultural Protective Association formed around 1914. This organization was designed primarily to fight the “Drys” who were attempting to move California towards Prohibition as soon as possible and well before the 18th Amendment was to take force. There was also a California Grape Protective Association (CGPA) of which Bruck was a member. These were most difficult times for the alcoholic beverage makers whether it is distilled liquor, beer or wine. Hard booze was the primary culprit of the Drys, but beer and wine were being included in the temperance movement to stop all consumption of alcohol. It is here that the wine industry probably made their most critical error, which hurt all of the industry. In attempt to keep their own form of beverage available in the market place, the wine and beer producers began disassociating themselves from the distilled spirits producers. This pitted the alcohol beverage makers against each other thereby assisting the efforts of the “drys” to ban all alcoholic beverages.

The legitimate political movement towards making Napa “dry” started just as early as it did anywhere else on the continent. In the book, “History of Napa Co. California,” 1881, Slocum, Bowen & Co. Publishers reported that “At the general election in 1855, the question of the prohibition of liquor was submitted to the people, and the result in Napa County was; Prohibition --yes 198; Prohibition --no 205.” Napa County winegrowing industry got its second major scare in the election year of 1908. Heintz, in his book, “Wine Country - A History of Napa Valley “ cited that in north St. Helena, the Lodi precinct (area north of St. Helena) voted to go “dry.” Fortunately, this was a minority view as other precincts voted for “wet” status. However, in the 1912 election voting, the ever increasing popularity of the Dry movement could be seen as having grown significantly - about 40% of the county was willingly to see the wine industry terminated by Prohibition!

But, the Viticultural Protective Associations came too late to have the necessary impact to counter the dry’s movement. In 1917, in response to the national plan for the ongoing events of World War I, all production of alcohol from grain products had been outlawed because grains were needed for the war efforts. The law also disallowed importation of whiskey. However, Brandy could still be produced but the President of the United States was given the authority to halt production of alcohol for wine and beer products if he felt it necessary. As a consequence of these federal actions, California passed a law in the same year requiring all counties to reduce the numbers of saloons that could exist in each community. In her book mentioned previously, Lin Weber indicated that for Napa County this meant a reduction from 23 to only 12 saloons countywide. The law required that the lucky 12 saloons raise money to compensate those saloons that would have to close. The majority of the 12 surviving saloons were located in the town of Napa.

Just before the 18th Amendment went into effect, Bismark Bruck introduced legislation before the California Assembly that would cause a review of the winegrowing industry to determine the economic impact of Prohibition on that industry. This was done in hopes that all would receive some sort of compensation for the anticipated losses in business and their investments do date. But his efforts would fail to be carried. Meanwhile at Krug winery, Bruck was attempting to find a way to produce a nonalcoholic wine that would taste like wine. The experiments failed to produce favorable results and all but for a handful of wineries in the Northern California area, were shut down by the “Feds.”

Bismark Bruck was very active in the organization, the Native Sons Parlors of California. While he presided over it he spearheaded the restoration of the old Bale Gristmill, built in 1846, which was officially dedicated in 1925 as California historical site # 359. The mill and adjacent land had been deeded to the Native Sons of the Golden West by Mrs. William Whittingham Lyman (wife of the builder of what today is known as El Molino winery). The Federal listing was added in 1972 (Building #72000240). It is fortunate that Bismark was able to complete this effort, as the year 1926 was when he expired.

* * *

While Bruck was busy doing Napan business, the landlord of the Krug ranch property was very busy doing his Bay Area thing. James Kennedy Moffitt (JKM) was descendant from a wealthy San Franciscan family. He was born in 1865 to James Moffitt and Delia Kennedy. The senior James was a printer who became a member of Blake, Moffitt & Towne: a prominent San Franciscan firm. What really stimulated my interest to find out more about Moffitt was the wording in the quote from the Old and Sold Auctioneer web site literature that Moffitt was Krug’s ...close friend and admirer…” Add to this statement that which is made in the Peter Mondavi web site literature: "At Charles Krug's funeral in 1892, hundreds of mourners listened to Frederick Beringer deliver the eulogy in German. James Moffitt, a business associate of Charles Krug's and a San Francisco banker, took possession of the winery. Remarkably, Moffitt held onto the property through Prohibition, and began looking for a winemaking family to carry on in the spirit of Charles Krug. He found that pioneering spirit in Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, to whom he sold the winery in 1943 for $75,000.“

Robert Mondavi, in his autobiography, “Harvests of Joy,“ discusses the meeting at which he and his father, Cesare, meet with Moffitt, in San Francisco, at his office at the Crocker First National Bank back in 1943. Robert reports how he marveled at his father’s ability to negotiate. He recalled how the two older gentlemen discussed family businesses and the pleasure derived from having children to take over. Robert also recalled that Moffitt indicated that he really wanted to hold on to the Krug Ranch property but that none of his children nor their husbands desired to carry on the winegrowing business, thus he was a reluctant seller. Robert goes on to indicate that while his dad and Moffitt continued their discussions, Moffitt received a call from another interested buyer to whom Moffitt indicated that he had just sold the property to Cesare and his boys.

JFM, born in 1865, was about 21 years of age when he graduated from college in 1886. Krug was born in 1825 so he was about 61, or 40 years older than JFM when the later graduated from college. These age differences alone bring into question just how close these two men could have been. Add to this the fact that Krug died just six years after JKM graduated from college. Based on my research results to date, I suspect that the actual Moffitt that was close to Krug was not James Kennedy but rather his father, James. Since Krug was a reporter/editor for the first German newspaper on the west coast, I’m currently guessing that it was the paper business they brought Krug and the senior Moffitt together. My continuing research should confirm which gentleman was the one claimed to be a “business associate“ and “close friend and admirer” of Charles Krug.

James Kennedy Moffitt was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley Campus, with a degree in Education (B.S. 1886), which was followed by the bestowment of a LL.D. (hon.) in 1941. Moffitt was an adventurer as evidenced by his association with the Sierra Club founded by John Muir, its first President in 1892. In the company of James S. Hutchinson and Robert D. Pike, on July 24, 1903, James ascended Mount Sill (14,100 approx.) and the next day he ascended North Palisade (14,254) with Joseph N. Le Conte (the second president of the Sierra Club) and James S. Hutchinson. These are the first recorded successful conquests of these Sierra Nevada Peaks.

Continuing in his father’s footsteps, JKM was an active officer and director in the paper-manufacturing firm of Blake, Moffitt & Towne. He was in the lucrative water business during the growth of the peninsula. The Bear Gulch Water Company was incorporated in 1889. This company grew and ended up providing water to the communities of Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, portions of Redwood City, and Woodside, all located on the peninsula in the San Mateo area. In 1903 the University of California purchased 80 percent of the stock of this company and by 1919, purchased the remaining shares. During a number of years while associated to the water company now owned by the University, Moffitt was a member of the U.C. Board of Regents. His first service included the period from 1924 to 1940. In 1934, JKM became President of the Bear Gulch Water Company. In June 15, 1936, the California Water Service Company acquired the properties of the Bear Gulch Water Company from the University. Moffitt then served on the Board of Regents again during the period 1941 to 1948. He served as Chairman of that Board during the period 1942-1948.

Moffitt’s involvement in the water rights on the peninsula parallel those of another man who operated a water company on the Peninsula and who also played a significant role in Napa Valley winegrowing. You may recall this man from Part One of my Krug series -- William Bowers Bourn, II (of Bourn & Wise winery-now the Culinary Institute of America). In 1908 Bourn held the majority interest in the Spring Valley Water Company controlling dams, reservoirs and pipeline systems distributed among five Bay Area counties. Bourn’s water company was San Francisco’s water supply for nearly seventy years. To counter Bourn’s hold on water rights, reformers conceived the controversial Hetch Hetchy plan in 1901 to tap the waters of the Sierra and build a publicly owned reservoir in Yosemite National Park. This set up a classical “developer versus environmentalist” battle that featured city officials against environmentalist John Muir and the very wealthy capitalist, William Bourn. The city eventually prevailed which crushed the morale of John Muir and the Sierra Club membership. Throughout all of this battling, JKM must have had had to contend with water rights backlash for the Bear Gulch Water Company.

JKM sat on the board of the Schmidt Lithograph Company that opened offices all along the West Coast including their headquarters at Second and Bryant Streets in San Francisco. Lithograph printing grew as a commercial art form when growers began creating multi-colored labeling on their wooden crates. The building’s clock tower was a landmark keeping commuters over the years informed of just how late or early they were for work. Sadly the old clock is no longer in existence.
Pacific Improvement Co was another corporate directorship for Moffitt. This company was the developer of the plush Pacific Grove area of Monterey, California.

Performing on the Board of Regents of the University of California had addition business advantages to its board members. In 1904, the University Land and Improvement Company included among its owners, Moffitt along with Jane K. Sather, and Phoebe Apperson Hearst and other prominent figures of the community. This body was the original developer of The Cloyne Court Hotel, which later became a residency hall.

Moffitt was instrumental in the formation of the Bancroft Library of the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley. The university bought The Bancroft Library (named for Hubert Howe Bancroft) in the fall of 1905. Besides the initial donations to purchase the collection, a number of leading Bay Area citizens pledged to make annual donations to support the operational costs of the library. Besides Moffitt, donors included William B. Bourn (Bourne & Wise winery-now the Culinary Institute of America), William H. Crocker and Phoebe Hearst. Later, Moffitt’s own highly valuable personal library would be donated to the University and established with his name to honor the donation and years of service to the University.

His brother was Dr. Herbert C. Moffitt for whom an entire hospital wing is named at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). {Incidentally, in 1989, I spent almost two months in the cardiac intensive care unit and ward at Moffitt-UCSF Hospital recovering from heart failure and had no idea that I would eventually be finding out so much about the Moffitt’s and their connection to Napa Valley.}

Moffitt was a member of all the prestigious clubs in San Francisco including the Pacific Club and Bohemian Club. James K. Moffitt died in 1955 leaving quite a legacy.
See Part 3 - The Stralla Era at Krug Ranch - To be released in draft form shortly



Anonymous ANDREW MOFFITT said...



8:18 PM  
Anonymous Katherine Moffitt said...

This was very informing and interesting to read. Herbert Charles Moffitt is my late grandfather. I didn't know that Moffitts had such a legacy and that my grandfather had a brother who was so involved with the community. It's also very nice to know that he left behind such a legacy.

5:33 PM  

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