MULLER, William

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MULLER, William (Wilhelm) Adolph August (1865-1936), shipbuilder, was born on August 19, 1865 in Niedersachsen, Germany. He immigrated to America in 1886, and in 1891 in Benton, Oregon, he married married Elsie Adelle Royal (1871-1959). They had three daughters and two sons:

  • Sarah Margarethe (1893-1983)
  • Agnes Kathleen (1895-1983)
  • Augusta Elsie (1899-1975)
  • Henry (1901-1975)
  • William Royal Muller (1903-1970)[SS#564-16-8759]

In 1901 Muller bought the large Colonial Revival house originally built for the mayor of San Pedro, Edward James Mahar, at 129 Front Street in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Pedro. When Front Street was widened, the house was moved to 575 W. 19th Street. In 1963, the Muller family donated the house to the San Pedro Historical Society who moved it once again, in 1986, to its current location on a knoll at the south end of Beacon Street where it meets Crescent Avenue, overlooking San Pedro Harbor and Cabrillo Way Marina. It now operates as a museum open on Sundays.

The Muller House was named Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument No. 253 in 1982 by the Los Angeles Conservancy. William Mueller died in Long Beach on March 3, 1936 and is buried in Roosevelt Cemetery.

Muller built the first Vaquero for Vail & Vickers of Santa Rosa Island. He also has the distinction of having built every boat for the Wrigley Company in the 1920s and 1930s, including:



In the News~

February 16, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Another vessel has been added to the fleet of the Banning Company… ‘I christen thee Cabrillo.’ With these words little Margaretha Muller, aged 11, the flaxen-haired, smiling daughter of William Muller, the shipbuilder, broke a bottle of California vintage upon the prow of the new Banning steamer, dedicating her to mother ocean, and slowly and gracefully the new boat started down the ways at 8:30 o’clock this morning, amid the screeching of sirens and the plaudits of the crowd… The Cabrillo, in all her appointments, is a beautiful vessel. She was designed and built by William Muller, a resident of this city, who is considered one of the best shipbuilders on the coast. He has been in the employ of the Banning Company for six years… In addition to the vessel launched today, there has been built at the Banning shipyards the Warrior, Hermosa and Cricket for the company; the steamer Eureka built for the North Pacific Steamship Company, now in the passenger service between San Francisco and Eureka, and two smaller vessel, the Santa Rosa Island and Torqua. All these boats were designed and built under the supervision of William Muller…”


July 3, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “With many pennants floating in the breeze, the flag of General Phineas Banning at her masthead, the Cabrillo, the finest and fastest steamer of the Banning Fleet, steamed proudly up the inner harbor at 10 o’clock this morning, while half the town cheered her arrival and all the other craft in the harbor gave her noisy welcome… The Cabrillo left San Francisco yesterday morning at 5 o’clock, under the command of Captain George A. Harvey, and made the run to this port in twenty-seven hours, an exceptionally fast run, being over sixteen knots an our. Her builder, Captain William Muller, says she is the fastest craft of her class in the West, barring none, and he is much elated over the showing made by the Cabrillo on her first trip…”


February 8, 1905 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. William Muller, the builder of the steamers Cabrillo, Hermosa No. 2, and the Warrior, is here, and will superintend the new building which will replace the old one occupied by Ben Rosin, opposite the post office.”


August 3, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “William Muller, superintendent of the ship building yard for the Wilmington Transportation Company, has laid the keel during the past week for a new gasoline boat to be used in the cross-channel service…”


June 15, 1921 [LAT]: “The Santa Catalina Island Company will launch a new vessel on Saturday for service between points on the island. This ship, spokesmen for Mr. Wrigley say, will fly the American flag. She is named the Betty O, and will be launched at 6 P.M. at Wilmington. The Betty O is a sixty-five-foot boat, equipped with latest type engines and having a capacity of 200 passengers. She is to be used in handling the excursion business out of Avalon to points around the island, particularly the trip to the isthmus, which is run daily during the summer months. Miss Augusta Muller, daughter of the shipbuilder, is to christen her.”


March 12, 1936 [TI/Avalon]: “The Los Angeles Times reports the death of William Muller, pioneer San Pedro Bay shipbuilder, who passed away at the Seaside Hospital in Long Beach, after a short illness. He was 70 years of age. Muller was a resident of the harbor area for nearly a half-century. He designed and built many of the wooden cargo and passenger steamers and yachts still in service along the Pacific Coast. Among these were the steamers Hermosa and Cabrillo, together with several of the glass-bottomed boats, for the Banning Company. He was also an authority on old-time stage coaches and as a hobby built replicas of many of the famous coaches of Southwest pioneer days. He leaves his window, Mrs. Elsie Muller, living at the family home, 575 West Ninth Street, San Pedro, three daughters and two sons. Masonic funeral services were held at 1:30 P.M. Monday at the Goodrich-Halvorson chapel, San Pedro. Burial was in Roosevelt Cemetery.”