Biography of Frank A. Weck
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





FRANK ALBERT WECK was born in Milan, Italy, on the 5th day of September, 1843, the son of Carl Weck, who died soon afterward, when Carl, the youngest child, was one year old. His mother with her four children moved to Switzerland, and four years later emigrated to America, locating first in Galena, Ill., and later in Iowa. There the son commenced the study of pharmacy and the drug business in general, a line in the pursuit of which he won for himself considerable credit and wealth. By the Panama route he came to California in 1858, landing at San Francisco, and from that city went at once to Uniontown (now Arcata) making the trip on the bark Quada Bell with Captain Ross, where he completed his studies as a druggist in a drug store, then owned by Dr. F. Damour. About four years later he took a position as manager of a drug store in Eureka owned by James M. Cox, but known as the James Davis drug store, which he later purchased in partnership with James M. Short. The business prospered and eventually he bought out his partner's interest, but still later he sold an interest to S. A. Vance. This partnership proved entirely satisfactory, but on account of Mr. Vance's ill health, and wanting to take charge of his father's office, Mr. Weck purchased the Vance interest in the business and continued to conduct it alone until he sold out to his son in law, C. R. Fitzell, who had been in his employ for a number of years.

Mr. Weck was for many years so closely associated with the life and development of Humboldt county that its history would be in no wise complete without a record of the part he played here in an early day. It is also a fact of which the county is justly proud that Mr. Weck has never lost his affection for the locality that was first his home when he came a stranger to the coast, and where he still has a host of warm friends and admirers, men who remember him for his business ability and for his political sagacity in the days when he was helping to shape the destinies not alone of his home city but had his hand on the helm in affairs of the state as well.

In addition to his continuous interest in the drug business up to this time, Mr. Weck possessed other interests of a widely varying nature, each and all of which he conducted with a skill and ability far beyond the average. As was but natural with one whose faith in the future of Humboldt county, and of Eureka in particular, has been a constant flame illumining all his thought and conduct, Mr. Weck invested in real estate, doing this with such wisdom and foresight that his holdings have constantly increased in value. He erected the Weck block on F and Third streets, Eureka, and still retains title to this property. Weck's addition to the city of Eureka of one hundred and ten acres was also owned by him, this property having been purchased when it was a wilderness of brush and trees, and later cleared, developed, platted, improved and sold off in town lots. Another of his ventures was the purchase of a three acre tract on E and Clark streets, which he likewise subdivided and sold in lots.

Yet another unique occupation of this interesting man was the gathering of medicinal plants and herbs, from which various medicines are compounded. These he cured and sold to the several local markets, and for a considerable time exported many to foreign markets. As a phase of this work which is of especial interest may be mentioned the fact that he had a complete collection of these native herbs mounted and framed, and presented a set of forty of these to the College of Pharmacy, University of California, and at the same time delivered lectures covering his work and discoveries along this line to the student body of the college.

His long residence in Eureka and San Francisco has given Mr. Weck a wide range of acquaintances, among whom are many celebrities, past and present. Of these, one for whom Mr. Weck probably holds dearest memories is Frank Bret Carte, with whom he was on terms of closest intimacy. While Harte was employed on The Northern Californian, the pioneer newspaper of the Bay region, Mr. Weck did relief work for him on urgent occasions. Their work threw them much together, while a multitude of common interests and tastes cemented the friendship.

Political activity has ever contained a keen fascination for Mr. Wecks, both by reason of civic pride and patriotism, because he highly appreciates his duties as a citizen, and because his splendid mind delights in the "game" and its playing. He has been prominent in the affairs of his party for many years, and at one time was often spoken of as a candidate for various county and city offices. He was chairman of the Republican county central committee of Humboldt county when Garfield was nominated for president, and also president of the local Republican club at Eureka at the same time. He served several terms as city treasurer of Eureka and as deputy county treasurer, always with the greatest satisfaction to his constituency and to the people in general. He was also a member of the first city council, and it was during his term that Eureka became a city.

During his residence in Eureka Mr. Wecks became very intimately identified with the fraternal life of the city and county, and this association has not been broken, although for more than thirty years he has been almost continuously a resident of San Francisco. He is a frequent visitor in Eureka, where he still retains valuable real estate interests, and in this way has been able to keep alive his active membership in the several organizations with which he is connected. He was instrumental in getting the first Rebekah Lodge, I. O. O. F., organized under state charter (Centennial Rebekah Lodge No. 100). He holds membership in Fortuna Lodge No. 221, I. O. O. F., which he joined over forty years ago; also Mt. Zion Encampment No. 27, I. O. O. F., and is a charter member of Lincoln Lodge No. 34, K. of P. In the Grand Encampment of Odd Fellows he holds the position of grand trustee, to which he has been elected annually for thirty years and is also a past president of the Veteran Odd Fellows Association of California. He is also a prominent member of the Elks, being identified with the Berkeley lodge. Another link which binds him to Eureka with ties of lasting strength is his membership in the Pioneer Association of Eureka, and his keen interest in the affairs of the organization. He is also the secretary of the Humboldt County Association of San Francisco.

While he was yet a resident of Eureka Mr. Wecks was married to Miss Laura M. Keleher, who came to Humboldt county in 1857 and taught for a number of years in the public schools, first at 13ydesville and later at Ferndale and Eureka. Mrs. Wreck, who is a woman of culture and ability, is the mother of four children, three daughters and a son; of these the eldest, Mrs. C. R. Fitzell, now resides in Eureka; Mrs. Lincoln Fitzell is a resident of Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras county, Cal.; the son, Charles A. Weck, a graduate of the University of California, is superintendent of a large mining proposition at Mason, Nev.; the youngest daughter, Mrs. H. L. Pales, makes her home in Montana.

In San Francisco, where Mr. Weck has made his home for so many years, he is quite as well and favorably known as he is in Humboldt county, and in political and fraternal circles throughout the entire Bay district he is popular as well as a prominent factor. His activities have been wide, and his wonderful mind has grasped at a thousand opportunities, where a less resourceful man would have seen nothing. He is broad minded, progressive and capable, and is in every respect the type of man of which any state or municipality may well feel proud to claim as her own.

On taking up his residence in San Francisco Mr. Weck formed a copartnership with Mr. C. C. Blakeslee, and under the firm title of Blakeslee & Weck established a manufacturing pharmacy and wholesale drug business. Their goods found a ready market over the entire Pacific slope. Some five years later Mr. Wreck was compelled to take control and assume all the responsibility on account of Mr. Blakeslee's ill health and retirement. The business was thus continued in connection with the collecting and marketing of the medicinal plants of the Pacific coast, for which a demand had been created in the eastern and foreign markets.

In 1891 the F. A. Weck Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000, Mr. Weck becoming president of the corporation. This venture was not a success and after three years the company disincorporated, leaving Mr. Weck to assume the responsibilities. However, the business was continued by Mr. Weck until April, 1906, when the earthquake and fire destroyed and consumed the entire plant, including all books and papers, thus making the loss very heavy, for he was unable to collect on outstanding accounts. Nevertheless all obligations were promptly paid in full and no one was injured by Mr. Weck's misfortune.

On September 5, 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Weck celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage, this day also being the seventy third anniversary of Mr. Weck's birth. The occasion was one long to be remembered by the guests, including relatives and friends to the number of three hundred.

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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