GEORGE C. COMSTOCK
The commercial enterprise of which Mr. Comstock is the sole proprietor ranks among the most important in Colusa county. The establishment of a department store in Williams proved a fortunate undertaking, and he now carries the largest stock within the county, having a full line of general merchandise, hardware and agricultural implements, and utilizing a building ninety feet wide and one hundred feet deep, with a basement, and in the rear two warehouses. Here may be found everything needed in a home or on a farm. Harvesters, cultivator and other implements of the most popular types are carried in stock, while in vehicles the Studebaker Manufacturing Company is represented.
It is interesting to note that this successful merchant is a native-born son of California and a descendant of Quaker progenitors originally of English stock. His father, Lucian Bonaparte Comstock, and grandfather, were pioneers of the Pacific coast, the former crossing the plains with ox-teams in 1849, while the latter crossed in 1853 and died in Sacramento. Though a native of Rochester, N. Y., L. B. Comstock grew to manhood in Galena, Ill., and for a time worked in a tannery where Ulysses S. Grant was also employed, the two working together as boys. Later he learned the trade of wagon manufacturer. After a year of adventures in the mines of California he returned via Panama to Illinois and bought a herd of mules, which in 1851 he drove across the plains, disposing of the entire herd after his arrival in California. With the profits of the trip he again traveled eastward by way of Panama, and 1853, in Galena, married Virginia Shears, a native of that city. Soon after his marriage he removed permanently to the west, driving a herd of mules across the plains and disposing of them as before. In Sacramento he opened a wagon shop and remained a few years, but in 1858 removed to Nicolaus, Sutter county, where he followed his trade during the remainder of his life. In politics he voted with the Republican party, while in religion he inclined toward the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and fraternally he held membership with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His wife died in 1876, and his death occurred October 14, 1891. They were the parents of four children, namely: Ada, wife of P. A. Anderson, of Nicolaus; Frank G., a painter in Colusa county; George C., of Williams; and Eugene, who is chief clerk in the United States engineer’s office at Portland, Ore.
In Nicolaus, Sutter county, where he was born February 15, 1867, George C. Comstock passed the years of boyhood and took the studies of the grammar school. In 1884 he joined his uncle, J. J. Comstock, at Eugene, Ore., but the death of the uncle one month later caused him to remove to Portland and there, through an acquaintance formed with Professor Armstrong, he was induced to work his way through Armstrong’s Business College. By taking the studies of the night and day school he was enabled to complete the regular course in three months, graduating in 1885. Afterward for a short time he was engaged as mail weigher on the west side and then worked for Lowell & Dresser as bookkeeper for several months, later keeping up their books by night work, while during the day he was engaged as car accountant for the Oregon & California Railroad Company. On the absorption of this line by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company the offices were removed to San Francisco and he was offered a position there, but preferred to remain in Portland, where he was employed as bookkeeper with L. S. Mayers.
The ill health of his father in 1891 induced Mr. Comstock to return to California and in the fall of that year he became bookkeeper for Rummelsburg & Levy, of Williams, Colusa county, continuing later with D. Levy. On account of a reduction in salaries he and a friend, J. Loeb, resigned their positions with Mr. Levy, June 1, 1895, and July 5, same year, they opened a store with a stock valued at $5,500. In starting the business Mr. Comstock put in all his savings, $600, and Mr. Loeb contributed $1,200, in addition to which they borrowed $2,000. At first the place of business was in a store under the Williams hotel, but in 1900 they moved to the present quarters with an enlarged stock. April 1, 1903, Mr. Loeb’s interest was purchased Elbert Brim and about the same time they purchased the hardware stock owned by the Grover estate. April 1, 1904, Mr. Comstock purchased Mr. Brim’s interest, thus becoming the sole proprietor. From the first the business has prospered. In 1900 each of the partners received $5,000 in dividends and Mr. Comstock then erected the commodious residence he now occupies.
To a man of versatile ability, such as Mr. Comstock possesses, the management of even an extensive business does not represent the limit of his activities. In 1903 Mr. Comstock organized the Allen Springs Mineral Water Company, of which he now acts as president and which engages in bottling the water at the springs in Lake county. In addition he owns one-fourth interest in the Williams and Sulphur creek telephone line and is secretary of the Williams Oil Company, which is engaged in drilling for oil in Colusa county. Movements for the development of his town and county received his warm co-operation and support. Active as a Republican, he has served as a member of the county central committee and in other ways promoted the local welfare of the party. Though not identified with any denomination, he is in sympathy with whatever tends to promote the welfare of the human race, and has been a regular contributor to the Congregational Church, of which his wife is a member. After coming to Williams he was made a Mason in Tuscan Lodge No. 261, in which he is a past master; and his Masonic connections extend to Colusa Chapter No. 60, R. A. M., Colusa Commandery No. 24, K. T., and Islam Temple, N. M. S. Another organization, the Independent Order of Foresters, has had the benefit of his membership and official leadership, he having been the incumbent of the office of ranger. In Colusa county, November 12, 1895, he married Miss Jennie Brim, daughter of J. W. Brim, a pioneer of this county, where she was born and reared. In addition to the advantages offered by local schools she was a student in Snell Seminary at Oakland, and continued there until her graduation. The three children of Mr. and Mrs. Comstock are named Virginia, Janette, and Elizabeth.
Source: "History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, Cal.," J. M. Guinn, Pages 400-401. The Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1906.
© 2017 Joyce Rugeroni.