Biography Profiles a Founding Laguna Family


As part of Heritage Month activities, Linda Jahraus will describe her family’s early 2_laguna home companion New_History_logoinfluence on the town at a 7:30 p.m. Historical Society presentation Tuesday, May 10, in City Hall’s Council Chambers. She has recently published a book on her family history, which spans the downtown lumberyard’s birth in 1914 when its founder, E.E. Jahruas, earned $60 a month, to its 2001 sale for $2 million to Ganahl Lumber.

Part 1

Excerpted from Samuel Armor’s “History of Orange County with Biographical Sketches,” Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1921,  Page 586

Elmer Jahraus

Of French and German descent, E. E. Jahraus of Laguna Beach is the son of Andrew Jahraus, who was one of the leaders in the revolution against German militarism from 1832 to 1846.

The family coat of arms from Germany.
The family coat of arms from Germany.

Andrew Jahraus fled Germany to America in 1847, after a reward had been offered for his capture, dead or alive. Mr. Jahraus located in Hamilton County, Ohio, and there established himself as a decorator and building contractor. His marriage, which occurred there, united him with Miss Christine Gruber, a native of Alsace-Lorraine, who was brought to America by her parents when but a babe. Of a family of five sons and three daughters, E. E. Jahraus, the subject of this sketch, is the youngest son. He was born January 27, 1866, at the family home in Ohio, and when he reached school age he attended the public schools at Urbana and Dayton, Ohio.

Leaving home at the age of 11 to make his own way in the world, Mr. Jahraus found his first employment in a cigar factory at Urbana, Ohio, and also worked for two years in a woolen mill. When he was 14 years old he entered the employ of a broom maker. Leaving Ohio in 1886, Mr. Jahraus went to Au Sable, Michigan on Lake Huron, where he became an expert in the cigar manufacturing business. A brother-in-law of Mr. Jahraus having located in Oregon, he planned to remove to the Northwest, but finally came to Los Angeles instead.

Elmer Jahraus came to Laguna Beach in 1902, first opening a cigar shop on the lower level of the Yoch Hotel downtown.

Coming to Santa Ana in 1900, he remained there for a year and a half, where he was in the employ of Leo Goepper. In 1902 he moved to Laguna Beach and opened a cigar factory and curio shop in the Beach Hotel, shipping souvenir boxes of cigars to all parts of the United States. While in this business he became interested in the future of this beach city, and this interest has grown with the years, so that a large measure of the development work carried on there in late years is due to his enthusiasm and energy.

An early ad placed by E.E. Jahraus.
An early ad placed by E.E. Jahrau, one of the town’s first realtors. 

Starting in a small way in the real estate business as the Laguna Beach Realty Company, Mr. Jahraus is now the largest realtor in that district. At the time of the organization of this company there were only about ten permanent families there, and the tourists were depended upon to make up the life of the town. The only connection with the rest of the state was by stage from El Toro, so that it was practically inaccessible to the average traveler. Under the efficient leadership of Mr. Jahraus, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and the public, the community has begun to show marked improvement, with good schools and good roads, and it is on the coast line of the proposed State Highway. The Sanitary District was also established largely through Mr. Jahraus’ efforts and he is a member of its board.

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