Title: Spreckels Sugar Company Collection
Collection number: MS 282
Spreckels Sugar Company
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Spreckels Sugar Company Collection, MS 282, Holt-Atherton
Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
The Spreckels Sugar Company was founded by capitalist, Claus Spreckels (1828-1908).
Initially a San Francisco grocer, he became involved in California sugar production as
early as 1863 and was one of the founders of the California sugar beet industry.
Spreckels established his first sugar company, Western Beet Sugar, at Watsonville (1888).
By that date Spreckels had also gained control over much of the cane sugar industry in
Hawaii. He was active in the California transportation and power industries, as well.
Claus Spreckels had four sons: John D., Adolph, Claus A. & Rudolph. The father and the
two older brothers generally feuded with the two younger sons over control of the family
businesses. Although Claus founded the Spreckels Sugar Company and built its first
factory at Salinas (1898), Adolph Spreckels (1857-1924) guided the affairs of the
Spreckels Sugar Company during most of the early years represented by this collection. He
built Factory #2 at Manteca (1917). In 1907 Adolph Spreckels married Alma de Bretteville,
whose nephew, Charles, subsequently became President of Spreckels Sugar. DeBretteville
erected Factory #3 at Woodland in Yolo County (1936). After the family sold their company
(1963) to the American Refining Company, the new entity became AMSTAR and Spreckels Sugar
became a division of AMSTAR, but, ultimately the Spreckels Sugar Division managers
arranged to buy out their division, thus resurrecting the Spreckels Sugar Company (1987).
Imperial Holly Sugar purchased Spreckels Sugar in 1995.
The California sugar beet industry has always been susceptible to natural and economic
woes. Droughts caused declines in beet production and an increase in insect pests during
the early 1920s that led to an eight year shutdown at Factory #2 (Manteca). Droughts were
again a factor in declining profits throughout much of the 1980s and early 1990s. Factory
#1 (Salinas) and Factory #5 (Chandler, Arizona) shut down (1981) as soft drink
manufacturers switched from more expensive beet sugar to high fructose corn syrup.
Factory #2 (Manteca) adjusted to market changes by producing greater quantities of powder
sugar, but encroaching urbanization and the extended drought eventually forced this
factory, too, to close its doors (1995).
The Spreckels Sugar Company Collection contains papers and photographs relating to
Spreckels' three northern California factories (see above) and its cane sugar mill at
Pampanga, Del Carmen, Philippine Islands. Factory #2 (Manteca) is the main focus of the
California portion of the collection, in part, because these materials were amassed by
factory historian, Michael H. Marleau. Mr. Marleau gave this collection to Holt Atherton
Special Collections in 1997.