Daily Life in Pinole


Christopher Ellerhorst, sometimes called Charles, was born in Germany in 1839 and came to Pinole in 1859. He and His wife Christine owned and farmed the only land in Hercules that did not belong to the powder company. He built his home in the Spanish style; curved arches with vines shaded the front verandah and entrance. Inside, leather was used to cover some of the walls. The home was a busy place with the four Ellerhorst daughters and one son. The farm is next to San Pablo Avenue, adjacent to the Santa Fe Railroad station. It is still a working farm, though much smaller in scale. Two of the daughters were educated to become teachers. Frances Ellerhorst, the eldest daughter, became the principal of the 395 student Pinole-Hercules Elementary School, which was noted for its high academic standards. She ruled the school with an iron fist and a kind heart. The teachers cared about each child and demanded the students learn their lessons. If they misbehaved, they were punished. There were a few that objected to the discipline and fought back. They didn't win. Then, as now, teaching the children of many languages was a problem. As the Chinese left the plant, Portuguese came and ultimately made up 50% of the plant's entire labor force.

The Hercules Village and Pinole existed as one community, sharing shops, restaurants and saloons. The Clubhouse, which provided the company employees with light meals, wines and beer, operated on a limited schedule. When payday came, the bachelors headed for one of Pinole's 14 saloons. They purchased their necessities at A.B. Greenfield’s Bazaar in Pinole.

October 7, 1910 the Pinole Hotel was totally destroyed by fire. A few days later, on October 15, sixteen families were left homeless in Rodeo when a lamp overturned in a barn while a woman was milking a cow. Lack of water hindered the firefighters.