Frank Bekeartís Gunsmith Shop
Frank Bekeartís Gunsmith Shop is one of the oldest buildings in town. Jules Francois Bekeart
arrived in Coloma in 1849 and mined his first gold near the mill at the edge of the river.
Bekeart had brought with him two hundred Paterson Colt revolvers and a like number of Allen
Pepperbox revolvers and within a few days he rented a small log-house for his gunshop. Business
was good, with the days receipts often totaling over $100 a day in gold dust. The rare, slow days
would find Bekeart down at the river with his shovel and pan, working alongside the miners.
Bekeart returned East in 1851 to marry Mary Craddock on August 21, then returned to the
goldfields until 1853, when he went back to New York for his wife and father, all three returning
to Coloma the following year. Bekeart purchased the property on which his brick building stands
in 1855 from J. N. and Alma Sanford. At that time, the lot contained only a wooden structure
which was occupied by Chinese miners. Bekeart had the brick building built in front of that
structure, and from there he ran his gunsmith shop, where an excellent selection of ďGuns,
Pistols, Powder Flasks, Shot Belts and Pouches, Game Bags, Bowie Knives, and Pocket Cutlery,Ē
were always available. Bekeartís four children, Frank, Charles, Fanny, and Philip, were all born
in Coloma, a pistol shot away from the old mill. Bekeart sold the property in April of 1868 to
Oliver Merrill, a Coloma banker. He had already opened a gunshop in Placerville, but chose San
Francisco as his permanent residence and place of business, moving there in 1865. He remained in
business until 1890, when his youngest son, Philip, bought the business and then sold it the
following day to force his father into retirement.