J.W. Minges was a prominent business man and property owner of the Boyes Hot Springs community from 1905 through 1927.
According to the 1920 census, John W. Minges was born in Arkansas in 1845, although his obituary says New Orleans. He came to California with his family by ox team in that year, over the southern route, to Los Angeles. They later moved to Merced, then Stockton, where he lived for many years and operated the San Joaquin Hotel.
In 1905 he moved to Boyes Hot Springs. There he invested in real estate and built many cottages for the summer trade. His cottages were equipped with “all the modern improvement, including electric lights, water, and sleeping porches,” according to a brochure.
His original restaurant (“meals at all hours”) was located at the corner of Central Avenue and the “Santa Rosa-Sonoma Road,” where the old fire station (Voltaire Electric) now stands.
In 1922 Minges, as president of the Boyes Springs New Improvement Club, presided over a gala Mayday carnival, which featured a parade, athletics, an airplane exhibition, and a carnival ball.
Most of his property burned in the great fire of 1923, but he started to rebuild immediately. “Boyes will rise from the ashes again,” he said in the Index Tribune. “Fire cannot rob us of our mineral springs, our climate and the whole-souled people who abide here. No siree!”
He was such a booster of Boyes Springs that he was often called its “mayor” in the Index Tribune.
Minges died in 1931 in Oakland.
This “auto court” at the corner of Highlands and Vallejo could have been built by Minges after the 1923 fire. Almost certainly it is not a fire survivor. The present-day Vallejo Ave. enters the Highway right at the site of the Arch (see map).
Photos from author’s collection. Map courtesy Phil Danskin. Index Tribune courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society