122 Years of the Kings of Kings Mountain

Written by Ken Fisher
Originally published in the ECHO 2/1989

In February 1989 I wrote about the King family, but since then I’ve learned much more. They arrived in 1868 from Indiana. Frank King was a wildly overweight German and his wife Honora (pronounced “On-aray”) was likewise squat and square. She had a sad and homely look, accented by her eyes which were not shaped similarly and her eyebrows-the left one sat noticeably higher than the right one.

They squatted on border land straddling the large tracts of John L. Greer and Borden & Hatch. Here they built their popular hotel that came to be known as “The Kings Mountain Brow House”–from which the Mountain got its name. “Brow” came from the area being known as the Mountain’s “brow” (as in eyebrow). Before the Kings’ hotel, the Mountain was known as “Mountain Brow,” or “Summit Springs,” or “The Summit.” In 1888 the Greers surveyed their huge parcel, found the Kings on it and sued. But by then the Kings had 20 years on it and as is true in law today, the Kings were able to claim “right by adverse possession”, the term which led to the phrase “possession is 9/10 of the law” (you must possess it openly for five years first). The judge gave them 30 acres. This was before Skyline existed and the 30 acres was a solid block including the large meadow northeast of today’s junction of Kings Mountain Road and Skyline all the way up past Skyline and a bit over the Mountain’s saddle down to the West. When Skyline was built in 1924 it cut the property into 10 and 20 acre pieces. Driving along Skyline today you will see “sold” signs along the 20 acre eastern piece. Only now is it leaving King family ownership.

This year I got a great many pictures of the Mountain Brow House from two separate sources, including King descendant, Betty Tor. Interestingly the picture of this building previously published in a number of books, and in fact by me in the Echo, had the negative reversed and was backwards. It had the fence in front running downhill to the right. It actually ran downhill to the left. The building itself sat, facing southwest at the Northwest junction of today’s KingsMountain Road, Tunitas Creek Road and skyline Boulevard. It was nestled against the hill, about as far back off the road as you can get to the North. This shot looks due north. It was a hotel, bar, barbershop and restaurant until about 1898 when Frank King died. Frank ran the bar and barbershop and was arrested and convicted numerous times for selling liquor without a license, but was never actually sentenced.

After Frank died it was merely their home. Of the Kings six children, four lived to adulthood. A three year old son, Henry Bismarck King died in 1873. A daughter, Elizabeth H. King, seated to the viewer’s left in this group shot died in her teens. Frank D. King became an attorney and moved to Reno. I’ve found no further record of him. Josephine King married and became a school teacher. I’ve found no record of her nor of children. Walter S. “Doc” King, born in 1876, was married but had no children. He died in Redwood City in February, 1950 and worked first for the S.H. Frank Tanning Co. in Redwood City. Then from 1902 until about 1923 he lived again on the Mountain at the family home and worked for Gray-Thorning Lumber. From then on he was a gardener at Sequoia High School. In this picture Frank is shown, flanked by his two sons and Honora with her daughters. The others are husbands, boy friends, cousins–I don’t really know. But these are the Kings.

Of particular interest is Mary A. “Dolly” King. Seated in the family portrait between her mother and youngest sister, Dolly married Floyd Granger who became County assessor. They adopted a son, Floyd D. Granger, who became a long-time Redwood City mayor and city councilman. Then Dolly had a natural son, Frank D. “King” Granger who was a longtime fixture in Redwood City. When Honora King died in 1925 she left her land to her four kids, who in turn each left their quarter share to King Granger. Josephine died in 1926, Dolly in 1933, Frank D. in 1947 and finally Doc King in 1950. In 1935 the old hotel building was demolished for its wood. Sometime between 1935 and 1941 they sold the West 10 acres to Lou Boggio who built the Kings Mountain Inn there, which soon became “Brock’s” which I mentioned last month. “Doc” and King Granger dropped in at Brock’s often until they died. When King Granger died in 1962 he left the 20 acre eastern piece to his wife, Olive, who died two years ago and left it to her niece, Betty Tor of Reno, who just sold it. Interestingly, the two daughters of King Granger’s adopted brother, Floyd D. Granger are both still living, but sadly have no knowledge of who their grandparents or great-grandparents were. They were the Kings–of Kings Mountain.