Olive Through the Ages

Olive residents: Louis Schorn, an entrepreneur in Olive

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Louis Schorn was one of Olive's entrepreneurial residents who arrived in the community during its bustling, boomtown years of the 1880s. He was affiliated with two of its prominent establishments of the time: Olive Milling Company and Olive Heights Hotel. Schorn remained an active figure in Orange County until the mid-1890s, working for the Anaheim Union Water Company and then serving on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

My thanks go to Chris Jepsen at the Orange County Archives for providing the photo of Louis Schorn from the Archives' collection, and to Joel at Anaheim Cemetery for going out of his way to help me locate the Schorn family plot.

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Louis Schorn, circa 1870s  
Louis Schorn circa 1870s  
   
Olive Hotel circa 1888  
Olive Heights Hotel circa 1888  
   
Olive mill circa 1910  
Olive Milling Co. circa 1910  
   
Schorn home in 2014  
Louis Schorn's home in 2014  
   
Olive trees planted after 1892  
Olive trees Louis Schorn planted after 1892  
   
Schorn family plot in Anaheim Cemetery  
Schorn family burial plot in Anaheim Cemetery  
   
Louis Schorn's marker  
Louis Schorn's marker  
   

Louis Schorn was born to Louis Schorn and Cordelia Gunsenheimer in Obermerzpach Unterfranken, Bavaria, Germany on March 1, 1839. He emigrated to the United States of America in 1856 and worked as a dry goods clerk in Alabama, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1860. A year later, at the beginning of the American Civil War, Louis returned to Germany to visit his parents and remained overseas for the next three years.

A year before the Civil War came to an end, Louis returned to the U.S.A. and from 1864 to 1867 was employed as a clerk in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He then worked for a year in Kansas before moving to Fort Worth, Texas where he co-owned and operated Novelty Flouring Mills and a grocery business over the course of the next 14 years.

On June 26, 1880 Louis married Minna ("Minnie") H.L. Stely, the 19-year-old daughter of U.S. Hotel's recently widowed proprietress. Sadly, their first born child Louis Schorn, Jr. did not live past infancy.

In 1882, the Schorns moved to west Anaheim, California with Minna's younger sister Emma and mother Rosina Stely. Here the couple's daughter Rosa Louise was born to them in March. Late in September that year, Louis purchased 40 acres of property in Anaheim with orchards, vineyards, and a single-story home. By the next month, he purchased more than 100 additional acres, and settled his family there for a few years. In the ensuing years, he would devote much time to the cultivation of fruits and vines, and manufacturing wines and brandies.

Louis began investing in the Olive Milling Co. in 1883. The flour mill was operated by Thomas Dillin and two of his sons, the eldest (Curtis) who married Minna's sister. At that time, Louis still owned more than 1000 acres of land in El Paso, Texas. While visiting El Paso to sell his property, daughter Minnie Louise was born to the couple in January 1884.

In March 1885, Minna died after giving birth to their fourth child Emma Minnie (Emma Louise) who died a month later in April. Both were laid to rest in Anaheim Cemetery. Louis, now with two young daughters to raise—Rosa now three and Minnie at 14 months—would never remarry.

Despite his personal losses, Louis' enterprising, persevering, and industrious spirit never deserted him. In 1887, he and co-founders Thomas Dillin, C. Culvert, and Washington Martin organized the Olive Milling, Land & Improvement Company, and established the Olive Heights tract. Schorn built the Olive Heights Hotel at Orange Avenue and Hope Street (present day Lincoln Avenue) to house the workers of the flour mill. In 1888 he purchased some lots in the tract and built a Victorian home at the corner of Bixby and Ocean View. Following the death of Thomas Dillin in September 1889, Louis became president of the Olive Milling Co. The mill burned down later that same month, but was rebuilt the following year and re-opened in April at the corner of Hope and Ocean View.

Louis served as president of the Anaheim Union Water Company in 1890, and then on the Orange County Board of Supervisors from February 9, 1891 to January 1, 1895. A 1900 census showed Louis Schorn residing in "Orange Township, Orange, Calif.," widowed with two children: Rosa Schorn and Minnie Schorn.

In 1906, Louis sold his stake in the Olive Milling Co. and subsequently moved out of state. He was listed in the 1910 Beatty, Nevada census as a 71-year-old, widowed resident with a 24-year-old unmarried daughter, Minnie Schorn. A 1920 census listed Louis as an 80-year-old home gardener living in Pasadena, Los Angeles with 35-year-old daughter Minnie Perrelet, a post office clerk.

Louis Schorn died of old age and pneumonia in Alhambra, California on April 12, 1922, at the age of 83. He was buried in Anaheim Cemetery on April 14 beside his beloved wife Minna.

- Daralee, September 24, 2009

Sources: Wayne Dell Gibson, The Olive Mill: Orange County's Pioneer Industry. Santa Ana, CA: Orange County Historical Society, 1975; ProQuest database of historical Los Angeles Times articles dated 1882; Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, FindAGrave.com, Genealogy.com, RootsWeb.com; Anaheim Cemetery entries by Ann Nepsa and Melanie Goss,
November 11, 2002, http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/ca/orange/ anaheim-notes.html, http://files.usgwarchives.net/ca/orange/cemeteries/anaheim.txt; Google Books: History of Orange County, California With Biographical Sketches, Samuel Armor, 1921, Orange County, CA; Orange County Biographies: An Illustrated History of Southern California, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1890, transcribed by Kathy Sedler, http://www.calarchives4u.com/biographies/orange/oran-scho.htm; The Southwestern Reporter, West Publishing Company, 1912; Tarrant County TXGenWeb 1878-79 City Directory, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txtarran/citydirectory/1878-79-cd-5.htm and 1878-79-cd-6.htm.

 

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