Jones Mill at Brice Station

Editor’s note: I’m  excerpting parts of Mary Matzek’s article in the Calaveras Enterprise in 1986. She tells the history of Brice Station and Durant Brice. The story is humorous and interesting, but I’m only going to tell the part that involves the lumber mill that was located there. I also am not going to tell what I know about my father going up to Brice’s for beverages during prohibition.

In 1939, Fred and Laurene Jones built a tavern at Brice Station a few miles above Murphys. The Jones bought the property from Brice, who interestingly enough had bought it from the Manuels, owners of the Manuel Mill.

Fred was from Franks, Missouri in the Ozarks and his dream was to own a tavern like the one in the Ozarks called Stoney Dell. The tavern at Brice Station was the fulfillment of that dream. He had purchased and operated a number of bars, one in Stockton, and one in Tuolumne City, but these didn’t match his dream.

The P.G.&E. was developing hydroelectric facilities in the area, and there were rumors of a large lumber mill coming into the Arnold area (Blagen Mill) so the prospects were good for having a lot of thirsty patrons. The tavern became a hang-out for the lumbermen and also the miners from the Sheep Ranch Mine in Sheep Ranch that operated until the outvreak of WWII. The loggers and the miners fought so much that Fred partitioned the bar into two sections, one for miners and the other for lumbermen.

Fred started a lumber mill in back of the tavern and because there was such a demand for lumber for shipping, the mill did well from the start. The government was taking all the lumber from the big mills and farmers in the valley started getting their lumber from Fred. He bought some property from Rosettis in Wallace and set up a yard there for his milled lumber. Then in 1941, the tavern burnt down and Fred who had found the tavern a lot of work to run, decided that he would not rebuild, but just operate the mill instead.

A lot of the old lumbermen, mostly gone now,  remembered Brice Station well, but it is doubtful that it is because of the lumber mill that was once there.

Editor’s note: As I wrote this in October, 2010, George Jones, the son of Laurene and Fred Jones had just died at the age of 88. His only sibling , a sister had died some time before him. He had become a good friend of one of our directors and was a fan of our museum.


  1. Jason Jones Says: November 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I just happened to come across this article and wanted to let you know that I am the grandson of George Jones. My father, Ross Jones, and his sister Christine Silva are also deceased. My cousins, Erin Davenport and Ryan Silva, and I are the only grandchildren. We will be making a visit to your museum, to see the artifacts you have on display concerning the family tavern and mill. We have pictures of the mill and tavern, but are curious what you may have that we have not seen. Please feel free to contact us, if you would like.

    Jason Jones and Family

  2. So interesting to run across this article. I have Durant Brice in my family tree. He comes from a long line of amazing Brices I am researching Durant’s childhood and would love to find out more on his life in California.
    Ann Keller Sizemore

    • Hi Ann, I live at Brice Station, 4 miles above Murphys CA. My grandfather bought our property in 1943, from Durant Brice, and gave Brice a life time estate on the property. I have a copy of a local newspaper clipping from 1955, which details the Murphys Homecoming with Brice the oldest man at age 89, and tells of him reciting Casey at the Bat. I was born in 1953 and don’t remember him as a child, so he must have died around 1956? My husband and I own Brice Station Winery, and would appreciate sharing information with you. Is this the same Durant Brice? Sincerely,

      Dolores Quyle Mast

  3. Good Morning Delores
    Thank you so much for your response – how exciting! I’ve been away from my genealogy for a while working on other projects. However, I would love to see anything that is related to Durant Brice. Yes – I think he is the one and only Durant Brice. His father was my GG Grandfather. He was a brother to my G Grandmother whom I know very little about. The family seemed to have separated when Durant and May were young – around 14 years old, after their mother died. Its amazing to find pieces of this puzzle. You may contact me directly at
    Would love to travel to that area and would definitely enjoy a wine tasting!

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