The height of its third story seems equal to the other. Skyward soars that ungainly brick beauty, the Oddfellows' building, in downtown Jackson. lt has seen (would that building could see and tell!) wel1 over a century's events.
Look at the building. Midway at the top, on a plain ne amid the brick, one sees "IOOF, 1855," and the lodges's interlocking links. At street level is a plaque attached to the brick front. lt reads:
"Wells, Fargo and Co. Express and Banking Office Erected 1855. Dedicated to the Pioneers of California by the Kit Carson Mounted Men of Jackson, Amador County, June 18, 1949. An estimated $100,000,000 in gold was handled by this office. Plaque provided by Wells Fargo Bank and Union Trust Co., Francisco. Established 1852."
And there, do we not, have two indications that this Oddfellows'-Wells, Fargo and express building was constructed in 1855? No question about the date. But at about the building?
Was it a Wells, Fargo express building first and then Oddfellows? Or, in 1855, when built by Wells, Fargo, it rented to the Oddfellows? Or, built by Wells, Fargo and bought by Oddfellows, or exactly what? History and tradition seem silent.
Let Logan quote one authoritative source, the automobile club of southern California's "Guide to the Mother Lode Country," and hope we clarify the concusion:
"Also of interest in Old Town (jackson): The Wells argo Building, a two-story brick building with a balcony, constructed in 1855... .I00F Building, the tallest Three-story building in the U.S., dating from 1859...." Is it clearer now? It is the same building, isn't it? Or,
perhaps more exactly, the Odd fellows' building makes part of the Wells, Fargo building? And one was built 1855 and the other in 1859?
Logan cites the guidebook constructively. You and he can't expect its authors to research every historical point, site or building in the whole mother lode. They rely on what local historians say it is.
Having relied upon local facts, we're back to square one. What is your interpretation? Though questioning much, however; Logan will not quibble about this "tallest three-story building" claim.
Who knows? How would one verify or disprove it? There are other ascertainable facts which should be looked at.
The writer avers that he did not set out to "debunk" everything' in considering this subject. What he learned bout this building was a by-product of research into the 1862 fire. In trying to determine which few buildings survived that conflagration, Logan discovered the addition about this building is wrong.
It goes without saying that there is no express or implied intention to criticize those who established and promulgated, by plaque or other means, the erroneous history. There are "far too few workers in this particular vineyard to criticize those who care, try and do.
lt is not the first plaque to be wrong, nor the last.
Remember our credo: "it's not who is right that matters; it is getting it right that counts." Regarding the two buildings, forthcoming columns will show that:
1. Neither building was built in 1855, 1859 or anytime in the 1850s;
2. Wells, Fargo and company express did not build the building at any time.
3. Extensive research has not produced one fact which indicates Wells, Fargo was ever located at that site during those years.
Information, photographs courtesy of the Amador County Archives, The Historical Marker Database, The Chronicling America Database, and Larry Cenotto, Amador County's Historian