1881 ad, SF Examiner

The Lusk Cannery (J. Lusk Canning Company) was a fruit and vegetable canning business started by Josiah Lusk in 1868. It was on Claremont Avenue, near where the DMV and former Safeway currently stand. It was the first cannery to ship canned fruits or vegetables to the East coast and to Europe. At one time it was said to be the world's largest cannery. 1,4

It started as a way for Lusk to preserve his own fruit crops for sale. It grew into a large business, providing a significant number of jobs, although many of them were seasonal. In 1879, there was a strike against falling wages; the article notes the cannery employed "60 white women and children and 300 Chinamen." 7 An 1881 article notes that the farms it used employed "upwards of 800 men and boys" and had 600 acres under cultivation. 9

1868 ad, SF Chronicle

The officers in 1885 were A.C. Henry, president; Thomas Prather, secretary; and W. Locke, superintendent. 6

Anti-Chinese sentiments were strong in the 1880s. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882, and groups around the country actively promoted anti-Chinese actions. In 1886, the "State Executive Committee of the California Anti-Chinese Non-Partisan Association" wrote to the J. Lusk Canning Company to request a meeting to discuss methods of getting rid of their Chinese workers and from the canning business in general. The representatives of the company (T.D. Carneal; W.H.H. Graves; W.H. Mantz; W.H. Wright) said they agreed in theory, but in practice they couldn't get rid of their Chinese workers:

"Our company during the fruit season employ about 500 Chinamen, and during the balance of the year—say, seven months—we employ regularly about forty Chinamen. We are willing to send all these away, providing we can get other help. However, there are a dozen Chinamen who have been with us about 10 years, and whom we cannot replace all at once from the fact there are no whites here who could do the work." 10

In 1886, the company became insolvent. It is noticed as J. Lusk & Son, being Josiah Lusk and Albert M. Lusk (born c.1863). 3 The assets were purchased by a syndicate and sold off piecemeal. The labels and trademarks were purchased by A. Lusk of San Francisco. 5 [ Albert Lusk, born c.1830; unknown if that was his brother or other relative, or not related. ]

A. Lusk & Co. San Francisco - 1894 2

J. Lusk & Son also ran a tree nursery, with an office at 45th and Telegraph. 8

1885 ad 8

Links and References

  1. East Bay Once Had a Cannery Row of Its Own SFGate May 26, 2000
  2. TM-IA-2430-Spec-001.jpg California State Archives
  3. Insolvent Notice Oakland Tribune May 21, 1886
  4. The Great Cannery Oakland Tribune June 11, 1891
  5. The Lusk Cannery Oakland Tribune June 14, 1888
  6. Fruit Manufacture Oakland Tribune April 30, 1885
  7. Indignant Temescalians Oakland Tribune September 13, 1879
  8. nursery ad Oakland Tribune June 27, 1885
  9. J. Lusk Canning Company Oakland Tribune June 25, 1881
  10. Anti-Chinese San Francisco Examiner March 31, 1886