Central California Canneries

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Main Location

San Francisco


Hotchkiss' Glass Jar[1], Hesperidies[2]

Russian River Packing Co., Miller and Hotchkiss

California Packing Corporation.

Central California Canneries was a northern California canner. The company started off with a single cannery in Sebastopol, but expanded to become "the second largest, and quite likely the best run, canning company in California"[3] By 1907, the company had seven plants in Sacramento, Visalia, Emeryville, San Lorenzo, Yuba City, and the Moorlands. William J. Hotchkiss was the president of the company.

The company was first founded in 1890 as the Russian River Packing Company in Healdsburg. Initially, the company was owned by J.R. Miller. To add capital, William J. Hotchkiss bought a half interest in the company. The company expanded to a plant in Sebastopol a few years later, operating as "Miller and Hotchkiss. The company bought additional canneries in subsequent years. The Central California Canneries incorporation happened in 1901. By 1902, the president was W. J. Hotchkiss, and Robert M. Barthold was the accountant; however, even before 1901, Hotchkiss had been leaving management to Miller and Barthold. Robert Barthold eventually became president and chairman of the board of the California Packing Corporation[4].

Central California Canneries is unrelated to California Cooperative Canneries, an Armour-supported canner started in 1918, or to the California Canneries business run by Isodor Jacob.

1906 was a bad year for the company; their San Francisco plant (probably 800 Minnesota) burned the day before the Great Earthquake and Fire[5], losing 20,000 cases of canned fruit[6]. The San Francisco plant was at Bay and Mason in North Beach[7]:

"April 17, 1906: Three-alarm fire destroyed the Central California Canneries at Bay and Mason sts. The fire was discovered at 11 p.m., and caused $50,000 damage. The warehouse was in the block bounded by Bay, Northpoint, Mason and Powell sts. Last fire engines left the scene shortly before 5 a.m."

A new plant being considered in Yuba City burned down[8]. Oakland city directories for 1907 appear to show the company's headquarters being chased to Broadway in Oakland.

Central California Canneries was merged into California Packing Corporation in 1916.

When J. K. Armsby lost agency for the California Fruit Canners Association, they began representing Central California Canneries; in order not to lose a good market, they began buying up stock in the canner. Central noticed and cut off the takeover, but stayed on good terms with Armsby through the California Packing Corporation buyout. One corporate history suggests that the Central California Canneries attempted buyout was J.K. Armsby's inspiration for a large, combined canner, wholesaler, and sales force[9].

1911: canning asparagus.

Central California Canneries shows up in a long-running lawsuit against the Dunkley Company for copying one of his peach skin removers. Dunkley claimed that multiple canneries were infringing on his skinning machines; the defendants argued that he'd only provided inconsequential extensions on existing patents.

Central California Canneries in Sacramento

In 1913, the manager of the Sacramento cannery was Louis H. Stewart. Stewart had gotten his start in the fruit industry in Healdsburg, and had worked in T.S. Merchant, then Miller and Hotchkiss's canneries (both in Healdsburg). He'd then run Walden & Company's Geyserville cannery until 1901[10].

Central California Canneries in San Jose

Central California Canneries' plant in San Jose was at 7th and Jackson Street; the long-time superintendent was Bert H. Barthold. The company was merged into Del Monte in 1916; the San Jose site became Del Monte's Plant #4 and #34, and reserved for vinegar and pickles.

Central California Canneries in Healdsburg

An 1898 article describes the Healdsburg cannery as next to the depot of the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway, with a 110x120 foot main building and two 72x120 foot warehouses. The cannery employed 500 to 600 people during the season. The Sebastopol cannery was a similar size. The Healdsburg cannery processed Bartlett pears, Muhr and Crawford peaches, plums, cherries, and nectarine. Healdsburg canned 40,000 cases of fruit during 1897[11]

Hotchkiss and Miller also ran the Star Dried Fruit Company in Healdsburg.


Location Plant # Years Address Details
Emeryville 1902, 1907 Foot of Park Ave.[12]
Healdsburg Adeline Way and Railroad Ave., south of railroad tracks 1890's As Russian River Packing Company[13].
Moorlands 1907 Perhaps Woodland?
Oakland 1906 1014 Broadway From 1906 directory -headquarters moved because of fire?
Sacramento 1907, 1910, 1916 Front Street between P and Q Sacramento City Directory, as quoted in history of St. Francis Parish. Became Del Monte Plant #12? Manager Louis H. Stewart[14]
San Francisco 1901 123 California 1901 directory (as Central California Canneries)
San Francisco 1906 Bay and Mason St Plant burned April 17,1906[15][16]
San Francisco 1908 633 Howard 1908 directory
San Francisco 1911-? 1 Drumm 1911, 1922 directory
San Jose 1907-1916 Jackson and 7th Streets Del Monte Plant #4.
Sebastopol #3[17]
Visalia ("Tulare") 1907, 1913[18] Manager was Vernon Campbell in 1913[19].
Yuba City 1907 Bought after 1906 - potential plant burned[20]


Sebastopol branch of the Central California Canneries, circa 1900s. Western Sonoma County Historical Society Collection.


  1. Annual Report from the Commissioner of Patents 1912, p. 1156
  2. Label in Oakland Museum collection: H85.33.11
  3. William Braznell, California's Finest: The History of the Del Monte Corporation and the Del Monte Brand, 1982, Del Monte
  4. James M. Hotchkiss Jr., A Pair of Kings and A Joker Published by James M. Hotchkiss, Jr., 2008. Hotchkiss family history. The company history comes from a separate history written by Barthold.
  5. June 9, 1906 Pacific Rural Press
  6. Hubert Russell, The San Francisco Horror. Chapter III: Third Day Adds to Horror
  7. San Francisco Museum, Earthquake and Fire timeline.
  8. June 9, 1906 Pacific Rural Press
  9. fundinguniverse.com: Del Monte Foods company history
  10. Louis H. Stewart: History of Sacramento County, California. Historic Record Co., Los Angeles , 1913.
  11. James M. Hotchkiss Jr., A Pair of Kings and A Joker Published by James M. Hotchkiss, Jr., 2008. Hotchkiss family history. The company history comes from a separate history written by Barthold.
  12. Help Wanted, Wednesday, August 13, 1902 Oakland Tribune. "Women and Girls wanted to work on fruit at Central California Canneries at Emeryville. Steady work and highest wage paid. Car fare paid to and from cannery. Apply at the canneries foot of Park ave Emeryville Central California Canneries F B Wetherbte Manager."
  13. In City of Healdsburg- Mill District Project. Sanborn map shows location, text documents different canneries in Healdsburg.
  14. Biographies of Sacramento County: Louis H. Stewart
  15. June 9, 1906 Pacific Rural Press
  16. San Francisco Museum, Earthquake and Fire timeline.
  17. Sebastopol branch of the Central California Canneries, circa 1900s. Western Sonoma County Historical Society Collection.
  18. History of Tulare.
  19. Canning Notes: July 26, 1913 California Fruit News. Vernon Campbell quoted.
  20. June 9, 1906 Pacific Rural Press