A Virtual Walk Through Jacksonville History

Stop 13: Max and Louisa Muller House


Before we reach our next stop, and while the story of Gustav Karewski (Stop #12) is still fresh in our minds, let’s brush up on a little world history, relevant to many of Jacksonville’s pioneers.

The European Revolutions of 1848, and specifically in many of the German states, granted some degree of Jewish emancipation to the extent that civil rights were not to be conditioned upon religious faith. Unfortunately, not all German states implemented that emancipation, and persecution and harsh treatment of persons of the Jewish faith continued. In an effort to escape this persecution and obtain some semblance of civil rights, many German Jewish citizens emigrated to the United States where they believed they could enjoy freedoms without being penalized for their religious beliefs.

Like Gustav Karewski, Max Muller came to Jacksonville from Germany, married, raised his children and made his life here. His home at 465 East California is our next stop.

Photo credit: Carolyn Embry

Photo credit: SOHS

Mueller Home on right, Beekman House on left. Photo credit: SOHS

This lovely Italianate-style home (or, according to some sources, “High Victorian Italianate”) was built in 1887. It is one of the few surviving homes in the (James) Poole and (Henry) Klippel Addition to Jacksonville, platted in 1868. In 1883, Max Muller bought the lot with an existing small house from Edwin Smith. The family lived in the original structure until their new home was built—literally against the front of the original house. The original residence became the den, dining room, and kitchen of their fine new mansion.

The architect and builder are unknown; David Linn constructed the open staircase in the entrance hall. The home was erected at a cost of about $3,000 and the family moved in in 1888. Only three months later, a fire broke out inside the home but fortunately it was discovered and extinguished before too much damage was done.

A 15-year-old Max Muller came to the United States from Bavaria in 1851. Some sources indicate that he came alone. Max had no trouble finding work, and for four years worked as a merchandise clerk on the east coast. At some point Max followed the lure of gold mining and traveled west by way of Nicaragua. He arrived in Jacksonville in 1855 at the age of nineteen where he clerked for a few years. He moved to Ashland to operate a saloon, but in 1858 returned to Jacksonville and went into the dry goods business for himself.

By March 1860, Muller also owned a saloon in Jacksonville. At one point, charges were brought against him for keeping his saloon open on a Sunday in violation of the Territorial Legislature’s 1854 “blue law,” Act to Prevent Sabbath Breaking. He was found not guilty.

In 1866, Muller interests expanded to mining and he staked out two claims in Jackson County. That same year he went into business with Max Brentano, the first husband of Muller’s future sister-in-law. The Jacksonville firm of Muller and Brentano lasted for years, after which Muller bought out Brentano. He changed the name of the business to the Post Office Store, since Muller was operating his business and the post office on the same premises. When he left office as Postmaster, the store became Max Muller, General Merchandise. Among the goods sold were fine china items made in Austria, depicting scenes of Crater Lake and Jacksonville, and made especially for his store.

Photo credit: SOHS Object B450.4

Bottom of Crater Lake Vessel. SOHS Peter Britt Collection.

On June 11, 1868, Max married Louisa Hesse in the Brentano home. Louisa was also an immigrant from Germany, but she was not Jewish and the marriage was a civil ceremony performed by Justice of the Peace U.S. Hayden.

Photo credit: SOHS

Max Muller. Photo credit: SOHS

Louisa Hesse Muller. Photo credit SOHS 24830.1

Max and Louisa had five children who lived to adulthood. Two children, Adolph and Emma, died in infancy.

Sophie, Amelia, Isaac, William and Barbetta Muller (and a cute dog). Photo credit: SOHS 6208

Like others in the community, Max Muller was generous with his funds even when he himself would not benefit from such generosity. When the community decided to remodel the Methodist church (Stop #4 of this tour), he and the Fisher Brothers contributed the nails to help build a new fence. He helped fund Fourth of July festivities and served on the Invitations Committee for the dedication of the new courthouse. Muller also registered in the County Military Roll of 1864, although he was not called to active duty.

Having come from a Europe which denied to him the right to hold public office or even to vote, Max Mueller ran for and served in many important public offices here in Jacksonville. After serving on the Jacksonville Trustees board in 1863, both as Trustee and as President, Muller was elected City Treasurer in 1864, 1867 and 1868 – the latter being the same year he was elected County Treasurer. Muller was appointed Postmaster of Jacksonville in 1870 and served in that office for the following eighteen years. He was elected County Clerk in 1890 and reelected in 1892 and 1894. He was elected County Treasurer once again in 1900 and again in 1902, three weeks before his death at the age of sixty-six.

Photo credit: SOHS

Muller was equally active in lodge activities. He served as Secretary of Jacksonville’s Warren Lodge No. 10 Free and Accepted Masons for almost thirty-two years. He was also Secretary of Oregon Chapter No. 4, Royal Arch Masons, was a financial backer of Banner Lodge, Ancient Order United Workmen, and Recording Secretary of Jacksonville Stamm No 148, Improved Order of Redmen. At the laying of the cornerstone of the new Courthouse (Stop #1 of this tour), Max deposited lists of the members and officers of the Masons in the cornerstone.

In 1902, Max died at home as a result of a stroke. Louisa inherited the house and sold it in 1908. Louisa passed in 1924, and was buried next to Max in the Jacksonville Cemetery.

Photo credit: Carolyn Embry

Photo credit: Carolyn Embry


Please join us next week when we cross California Street to look at the home, life, and times of Thomas Reames.


References and Sources:

Atwood, Kay. Minorities of Early Jackson County, Oregon. Gandee Printing Center, Inc., 1976.

Evans, Gail E.H. “Max Mueller House.” State of Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties, March 1980.

Levinson, Robert Edward. The Jews of Jacksonville, Oregon. 1962, University of Oregon.

Ross, Marion Dean and Owens, Christopher. MSS for Historic American Buldings Survey, ca. 1975.

“Max Muller…A Citizen Nonpariel.” Table Rock Sentinel, Vol 2, No. 12, December 1982.




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