This house was commissioned by John Zalud and his wife Mary Jane, both of whom were born in Bohemia (in present day Czech Republic). After marrying in Chicago, they moved to Tulare and opened a restaurant and bar, catering to the local railroad workers. After the railroad relocated, they moved their family to Porterville, opening a saloon, and a rumored
"The Zalud House is one of few houses of that era that has not undergone any remodeling and one of few museums in the nation that is furnished entirely with the original owners' possessions." Aside from the amazing architecture, what draws many visitors to this museum is the tragedies suffered by this family, which seem to know no ends. One daughter died of tuberculosis and the son died after a tragic horse-riding accident. Those types of deaths, although heartbreaking, were not that uncommon during that time. However, what happened to Zalud's daughter, Anna, and son-in-law, William Brooks, captured headlines in 1917.
Brooks was employed by the National Cash Register Company and traveled with his new associate and his wife, the Howes, to St. Louis, Australia and New Zealand. His wife, Anna Zalud, stayed behind in Porterville while her husband was on business. Though accounts vary, Julia Howe heard that Brooks was bragging publicly upon his return that they had had an affair while on the trip, damaging her social standing and creating a scandal in her house. "Her beauty and grace obtained entry for her into the most exclusive homes in the east bay district of Oakland." Brooks apparently ruined all of that by tarnishing her reputation.
While her husband was on business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she traveled to Porterville, found Brooks drinking with friends in the lobby of the Pioneer Hotel, shot him four times in the chest, sat down, ordered a drink, and waited for the police.
I just want to know what drink she ordered, which we can assume was free of charge and delivered with trembling hands.
Her only public comment after killing Brooks; "A good job done."