Biography of Robert W. Skinner
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





ROBERT WILSON SKINNER. - The president of the Skinner-Duprey Drug Company at the corner of Third and F streets, Eureka, has been identified with Humboldt county from his earliest memories, for although a native of Iowa, born July 26, 1862, he was brought to the west during the following year by his parents, John W. and Mary Jane (Nixon) Skinner. At the time of settling in this county white residents were yet few and Indians still formed the larger part of the population, endangering the farms and even the lives of the white men by their hostile depredations. Twice during the early childhood of Robert Skinner he strayed from home and was lost in the woods, causing consternation in the hearts of parents and friends, who realized the grave danger of his falling into the hands of the savages and rejoiced greatly when he was found safe and unharmed. As a boy he was familiar with the country around Fortuna and Arcata and received a fair education in their schools. When the time came for the choice of an occupation he decided to become a druggist. In preparation for such work he matriculated in the California College of Pharmacy, a branch of the University of California, and there continued his studies until the completion of his regular course. Upon receiving the degree of Ph. G., he returned to Humboldt county and became identified with the pioneer drug business at Eureka, where he now conducts both retail and wholesale establishments and in addition owns a retail store in Arcata. With his wife, who was in maidenhood Mabel Scott, and son, Robert Edwin Skinner, he has a comfortable home in Eureka and enjoys the esteem of the best people of the community. Fraternally he is connected with the Elks.

The history of the Skinner-Duprey Drug Company dates back, under another title, to the early '60s, when William McKay opened a drug store in the old Hotel Vance in the heart of the business section of that period. Under his wise oversight the business became profitable and prominent, and the store was considered a model of its kind. Upon the death of Mr. McKay in 1883, his former manager, R. W. Powell, purchased the business and continued in the same location. In the year 1883 Robert Wilson Skinner, then a recent graduate of the California College of Pharmacy, purchased one half interest in the business. Shortly afterward the store was removed to the corner of Fourth and E streets and later a branch was opened at Arcata, where an excellent trade has been developed. For some years the business was conducted under the title of the R. W. Skinner Company, but with the admission of Mr. Duprey as a partner in 1903 the name was changed to the Skinner-Duprey Drug Company. At the same time, the business having expanded rapidly, a new store was started at Fortuna, which was sold to R. H. Bowman in 1908. In 1903 a wholesale drug business was started and a supply of stock is now carried that does credit to a larger city.

The decision of the partners to furnish the smaller stores of the county with their stocks marked a great advance in their trade. In a short time practically all of the drug stores in this and in Del Norte counties were purchasing from the Skinner-Duprey Drug Company their lines of specialties, patent medicines, toilet articles, household supplies, novelties, perfumes, soaps, cameras, camera supplies and drugs. In addition the manufacture of a headache powder has met with such success that it is now handled by some of the largest wholesale houses on the coast. It has been the aim of the partners to give to the purchaser the highest quality obtainable for the price quoted. They maintain pride in the fact that practically everything for which there is the smallest demand can be obtained from their stock. Considering the vast number of preparations now on the market together with the new preparations being introduced every day, and taking into account the fact that they have in stock everything from the cheapest package of toothpicks to the most expensive perfumes and imported drugs, the value of the stock may be appreciated with readiness. It is in fact the largest establishment of the kind between San Francisco and Portland. The size of the business and the long experience of the proprietors place the firm at the forefront of similar institutions along the coast. Robert W. Skinner, the president of the company, to whose thorough knowledge of pharmacy and keen business intelligence much of the success of the store is due, is a genuine "booster" for Eureka and always lends his support to movements for the local upbuilding. That Humboldt county will have a prosperous future is his firm belief. Whatever of civic development Eureka may have and whatever of progress the county may register in future years, not a little credit for such advancement may be given to this forceful business man and loyal citizen.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


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