Like many others, early Czech California pioneers went West in search of gold and opportunities. During the mid-1800’s California was a land still steeped in romantic reminders of the first Spanish population and the prospect of sudden wealth. A life of adventure beckoned there, at least from an American point of view. What adventures would await brave travelers looking up the tallest spruce-clad Sierras, and splashing into the crude gold-mining camps, losing themselves in a landscape still undisturbed by human work. Today we’re going to meet some of these first Czech pioneers to California. A few of the families which began there are still on their land, and running their family businesses today. This is an excellent chapter from a book by my friend Miloslav Rechcígl, Jr. I have added some notes, the images and links throughout. I hope you enjoy it!
The State of California is in the Pacific Ocean, bounded by Oregon on the north, Nevada and Arizona on the east and the Mexican State of Baja California Norte on the south. It is the third largest State of the Union, after Alaska and Texas. The earliest inhabitants of California were Indians, who, unlike other North American Indians, had not a centralized governmental structure.
The region received scant attention from Europeans for more than three centuries after its first sighting in 1542 by the Spanish navigator Juan Cabrillo. The Francisco friar Jubnipero Sera established the first mission at San Diego in 1769 and twenty more missions in subsequent years, which drew a large Indian population and were centers for farming and ranching. When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, the missions’ populations were parceled out to political favorites by the Mexican government in the 1833-1840 period.
The first organized group of settlers arrived in 1841. In the same year American settlers in Sonoma seized control and proclaimed an independent California Republic. The US flag was at Monterey during the same year and following the end of the Mexican War in1848, the territory was added to the United States. The discovery of gold in 1848 caused immediate extensive population growth and in 1850 California became the 31st State.
According to the Czech-American historian J. Habenicht, the first Czechs came to California in 1849 but he did not mention any names. As this chapter indicates, he was off the mark by, at least, 100 years.
The Jesuit Missionaries – It is likely that Bohemian Jesuit missionaries entered the territory of California, while pursuing their missionary activities in Baja California in the 1700s. In fact, there is evidence that Wenceslaus Linck (1736-1799) from Jachymov, Bohemia actually visited California. He was the last of the outstanding Jesuit missionary-explorers in Baja California. He entered the Jesuit order at age 18 and studied in Brno and Prague. In New Spain, he continued his studies in Mexico City and Puebla between 1756 and 1761. In 1762 he was sent to Baja California, initially to Santa Gertrudis, at that time the northernmost Jesuit establishment. After preparing under Santa Gertrudis’ missionary Georg Retz, Linck moved north in the same year to found San Francisco de Borja Adac among the northern Cochimí. In addition to administering the mission at San Borja, over the next five years, he undertook a series of exploratory expeditions to scout future mission sites. His travels included journeys to the peninsula’s west coast to the Isle Angel de la Guardia and to the north in ambitious but failed attempt to reach the lower Colorado River and settle once and for all the geographical question of whether Baja California was an island. Although he did not reach the destination, he is known to have proceeded as far as the region of San Bonaventura, located in Ventura, California.
When the Jesuits were expelled from Baja California in 1768, Linck returned to Bohemia, where he was still living in 1790. Linck’s geographical and ethnographic contributions have been preserved in a series of letters and reports, as well as accounts by his contemporaries, and his key role in the exploration of the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula has been recognized.
There was another Bohemian Jesuit who apparently visited California, namely Father Juan Xavier Bischoff (1710-1786) from Kladsko, Bohemia who worked for a while at Santiago Mission and Nuestra Senora de Loreto (Baja California). He was also known to work in the Perusima Concepcion Mission, located in the present La Perusima Mission State Historic Park, Lampoc, CA.
Bischoff entered the Society of Jesus in 1727, and came to work in Baja California in 1746. His exit papers from Spain described him as being of “small stature, fair skinned, blond, blue eyed, thin beard.” At San Luis Mission he built a house and church out of adobe and remained there until 1750, after which he went on to serve in other Baja California missions. Baegert tells us that Bischoff was still converting Indians in 1748. Bischoff was also known to train the Indians in choral singing, like Padre Pedro Nascimben, who once averted the punishment of his Indians by having them greet the Padre visitador with beautiful singing, and so it is possible that his little church in San Luis rang with litanies.
Thaddeus Haenke – It has now been established that a prominent Bohemian botanist and physician Thaddeus Haenke (1761-1817) of Chribska, Bohemia, in 1791, collected specimens of the California redwood while traveling with a Spanish expedition led by Italian Alesandro Malaspina, based on research of the California botanist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Willis L. Jepson. As the result of his visit to Alhambra in Granada in southern Spain, he discovered that “in the garden of the Generalife above that monumental vestige of Moorish Occupation stood a single magnificent tree which called attention.” Upon his inspection of samples from the tree Jepson had identified it as “the pride of California forestry, the Sequoia sempervirens,” usually called the Coast Redwood.
There was no doubt about identification, “for there in its glory was a mature tree which he knew well.” But how had it gotten there? Because of its rough description of 125 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter it was clearly over a century old in 1926. But how had this misplaced giant arrived in Andalusia? When writing concerning its provenance, Jepson credited Haenke, stating that “the Redwood was first collected near Monterey by Thaddeus Haenke of the Malaspina Expedition in 1791, who may be said to be its botanical discoverer.”  Later, while at Kew in London, Jepson actually found a record that Haenke had indeed collected the redwood while in California. The California redwood also caught non-scientific attention in a practical document compiled by Haenke in which he described what he called the Red Cypress [Sequoia sempervirens] in his Report of lumber produced in Monterey and useful for ship building and for houses.
The first immigrants from the Czech Lands who settled in California were Bohemian Jews. Most of them seemed to know each other, since there were a number of intermarriages among them.
Alfred Auerbach (1856-d.), born in Bohemia, learned the fringe-making trade. In 1876 he moved to San Francisco, where he was employed until 1883, when he established himself in the fringing business under the firm name of Pacific Fringe Co.
Elias Block – The first known record of the arrival of Bohemian Jews in California may have been that of Elias Monroe Block (1823-1895) from Bohemia who came to San Francisco in 1849, after first immigrating to Pike Co., MO in 1836.
Abram Block – In 1855, Abram Block (1830-1906) from Švihov, Bohemia arrived in San Francisco and settled in Nevada City, after his initial stay in St. Louis, MO, where he immigrated in 1845. Abram Block pursued his education in the private school at Švihov, continuing his studies until he reached the age of fourteen years. In the spring of 1845 he came to the US, and then went to Missouri where his half brother resided. There he continued his education as a public-school student for a brief period. Later he entered upon his business career as a clerk in a dry-goods and groceries establishment in St. Louis, Missouri, and continued in that trade until 1852 when he came to California. Mr. Block came by way of New Orleans and the isthmus route. He too sought a fortune in the gold fields, but after spending a short time in the mines he left the search of the precious metal to others and engaged in dealing in general miners’ supplies in Nevada City. In 1855 he removed to San Francisco, although he still maintained his business in Nevada for a time. Mr. Block’s sales of fruit were extensive and he annually sent to the city markets of the west and of the east many boxes of pears and plums, his products were considered among the best in the state. His orchard comprised one hundred and eighty-seven acres and he had eighty acres in the homestead place, while adjoining property is controlled by him in his fruit-raising industry. Block Street in San Francisco takes its namesake after him.
Harry Block – In 1866, Harry Block (1849- ) from Bohemia came to California. In the 1870s, he ran a jewelry store in Virginia City, Nevada, where his son Roy was born. After opening a jewelry store in San Francisco, Harry formed the H. & L. Block Co. with his younger brother Leopold. The company manufactured gloves.
Henry Block Family – The founder of the family was Harry Block (1849-1922) from Bohemia who immigrated to America in 1866 as a 17-year old. In the 1870s, he ran a jewelry store in Virginia City, Nevada, where his son Roy was born. After opening a jewelry store in San Francisco, Harry formed the H. & L. Block Co. with his younger brother, Leopold. The company manufactured gloves.
In 1905, Roy Block (1879-1955) who was barely 21 years old, came to Oakland and entered into partnership with August Manasse, forming Manasse-Block Tanning Company. Block became the secretary of the new firm, while his partner became the firm’s president. Roy had no tanning background, but he knew something about leather, trade which he learned from his father. Before entering the tanning business in 1900, he worked for his father as a glove drummer (traveling salesman).
The company left Oakland, because the railroad was constructed through its site at East 12th Street and 19th Avenue. They constructed their first new building in 1905 (1311 Third Street). The second building went up as Manasse-Block was joined by H. & L. Block’s Pacific Glove Works, which had lost its San Francisco facilities in the earthquake and fire. That catastrophe fresh in the principals’ minds, precautions were taken.
At different times in 1917 and 1918, the company shipped leather to Houston, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Denver, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Portland, OR. “The white tanned leather put out by this company enjoys the distinction of being in a class by itself,” touted one of the notices. Around 1914, Roy Block took over as president, and Manasse became a hide buyer.
James Block – In 1875, James N. Block (1839-1932), a native of Pike Co., MO, of Bohemian ancestry, was married at Santa Clara to Emma Ann Mendenhall. Their four children were born in San Francisco, which would suggest that the family moved there.
Charles Fletcher – In 1851, Charles Fletcher (1829-d.) from Bohemia was a merchant in San Diego, CA. He was a retail butcher. He was a merchant from Bohemia, only 22 years old in 1851. Jacob Marks, who lived at the same boarding house as he did, was 13 years older and from Poland. They observed Yom Kippur at Lewis Franklin’s house in 1851 and were business partners in a general store. But the partnership broke up.
Fletcher was elected to the already bankrupt San Diego Common Council in January 1852, thus being the first Jew to be elected to the forerunner body to today’s City Council, but it was a short-lived victory. That same month the State Legislature, cognizant of San Diego’s disastrous financial situation, revoked the City of San Diego’s charter, and created a 3-member board of trustees to restore fiscal order to the city.
With the fiscal situation in such a mess, Fletcher decided to dissolve his partnership with Marks and to remove to the West Coast. And, no, he wasn’t related to the Fletcher family that later made it big in land development and in savings and loans. Nor for that matter was Rose related to the people of Rose Toyota.
Fischel – In 1878, Simon Fischel (1846-1907) from Bohemia moved to Berkeley, CA, after immigrating to New York in 1865.He arrived in New York as a teenager.
For over a decade he worked as a butcher, acquiring c US citizenship in 1872. In 1870 he married Rosa Bauml (1844-1909), with whom he had two sons and two daughters, while living in New York. In the 1880 US Census, the Fischel household included not only Simon, Rosa, and their four elder children, aged 2 to 8, but Rosa’s younger brother, Jacob Bauml, and E.C. Twicker, both butchers. That year, the Fischels resided in the Antisell Block, an unprepossessing commercial building on the southwest corner of the same intersection.
The Fischels didn’t stay long in the Antisell Block and in 1880 the family had removed to their new house on University Avenue, near Shattuck Street.
He and his brother-in-law also got into real estate business. In 1888, Fischel and Bauml made a notable contribution to the downtown cityscape when they built the Fischel Block on the northwest corner of Shattuck and University.
It was by far the most elegant building on the intersection, adorned with bay windows along the second floor, showy corbels under the eaves, a decorative metal railing along the roofline, and an impressive corner turret crowned by a witch’s cap.
Initially called the Fischel Hotel, the establishment would become known as the California Hotel by 1891.
Friesleben – In 1854, Daniel N. Friesleben (1832-1897), a native of Mariánské Lázně, Bohemia, landed in San Francisco, with just ten dollars in his pocket. He was brought up on a farm in New York State. When he was old enough to learn a trade, he was apprenticed to a cigar maker and after serving his time in New York, he moved westward to California. After a variety of odd jobs, in 1857, he came to Oroville, and was soon engaged in the mercantile business. In 1864, he was one of a joint stock company to build the Union Hotel; and three years later he bought out all the stock and became the proprietor. His first purchase of real estate was the building later occupied by N. Goldstein; the third purchase was the St. Nicholas Hotel.
He was also one of the Oroville Water Company’s stockholders and vice-president of the Rideout-Smith National Bank. He became very active in the Oroville citrus fairs, and in arranging for the large and beautiful displays made there, he personally designed the early ones. Being confident that the climate and soil were favorable for citrus fruits, he was one of the original members of the Oroville Citrus Association, which planted the first forty-acre commercial orange orchard in Northern California. At the mouth of the Honcut he owned one of the finest ranches in the county, and therefore had a personal knowledge of ranching and ranch products. The Friesleben Ranch comprised about eighteen hundred acres of land, some of the most fertile in the state, which is devoted to farming and cattle-raising, for which it is particularly adapted, lying at the junction of the Feather River and Honcut Creek. Friesleben was twice married. By his first wife he had three children, and by his second wife, a son. 
Jacob Furth – In 1858, Jacob Furth (1840-1914) from Švihov, Bohemia immigrated to San Francisco at the age of sixteen.
He obtained clerkship in a clothing store in Nevada City, CA and then established his own general mercantile store in Calusa, CA. In 1882, he and his family moved to Seattle, WA.
(Kytka adds – Later he moved to Seattle. “He played a key role in consolidating Seattle’s electric power and public transportation infrastructure, and was a member of Ohaveth Sholum Congregation, Seattle’s first synagogue. Bill Speidel called him “the city’s leading citizen for thirty years,” adding that Furth “may even have been the most important citizen Seattle ever had.” Read more here.)
Louis Gans – In 1862, Louis Gans (1840-1904) from Bohemia resided in California. When 17 years of age he immigrated to New York, with his brother Joseph. From New York he went south, where he remained until 1862. He returned to New York in that year and in company with his brother started for California by way of Panama. From California the two went to Portland and from there to Boise City and eventually he settled in Helena, Montana.
Glazier Brothers – In 1852, two brothers, Simon W. Glazier (1830-1906) and Isaac (?-1906) came to California, having immigrated to America in 1849. In 1873, the San Diego city directory listed them among the more important mining, money and stock brokers,  with offices at 426 Montgomery Street. In 1910 Joseph L. King wrote in his History of the San Francisco Stock Exchange that Isaac and Simon Glazier were partners in “the leading firm” who “had an immense business with many of San Francisco’s wealthiest men on their ledger.” 
The few important facts, which are available, are that Simon William Glazier, born in Bohemia, came to the United States in 1849 and arrived in California in 1852. Isaac and Simon settled in Marysville, established a mercantile business and sold large quantities of tobacco products to the mining communities of the Mother Lode. In 1862 the Glazier brothers moved to San Francisco. They formed a partnership with William Seligsberg, the firm being named Glazier and Seligsberg. On December 24, 1874, Isaac bought Seligsberg’s seat on The San Francisco Stock Exchange Board and the firm’s name was changed to I. Glazier and Company, with its office located at 426 Montgomery Street. Simon retired in 1881 and moved to New York City. He died on August 30, 1906, and is interred in Salem Field Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Isaac Glazier resigned from the Exchange Board in July, 1903, and joined his brother in New York. He died on June 6, 1906, and is buried in Frankfort (Main), Germany. 
In 1868, Isaac and Simon Glazier were responsible for bringing their niece, Katy Barth, to San Francisco. Philip and later Jacob Barth were sent funds to join their relatives. Philip Barth was born in 1852 in Louchon, Bohemia. Young Barth received his training from his uncles, the Glazier brothers. After the collapse of the Comstock mining boom, around 1877, the Glaziers believed New York offered greater opportunities for stock brokers. They turned their San Francisco business over to Philip Barth who became one of the first new members of the Stock and Bond Exchange on January 17, 1883. He was the first to pay $500.00 for a seat. Philip established his office at 440 California Street and with the passing of time he became a prominent stock broker. He passed away on November 25, 1897. Jacob continued the business under the name J. Barth and Company and became an exchange member in October 1896. Both brothers were bachelors. Their business success can be attributed to unquestioned honesty in their dealings with clients. Jacob Barth’s death occurred on March 3, 1913.
Adolphus Hollub – In mid 1840s, Adolphus Hollub (1820-1890), a Jewish immigrant from Holice, Bohemia moved to California from Wisconsin, where he became an American citizen. Before the end of 1850 Hollub was a resident of San Francisco, but he was a partner of Joseph Isaacs in a dry goods and clothing store in Shasta, California. In 1883, Hullub and Isaacs built one of the first brick stores in Shasta, a two-story structure. He did the buying for the Shasta store from San Francisco, and sold the farm produce and gold dust taken in trade by the store.
In the late 1850s and early 1860s, Adolphus Hollub was involved in a fur importing business with S. Konalsky and S. Silverstone. The furs were from the Amur River region of Eastern Siberia. In 1865, he and Simon Seelig entered the oil and lamp business. In 1878, Hollub entered the insurance business, and also became an appraiser of property. Adolphus Hollub married Susannah Mays, a daughter of the Isaac Mays of Philadelphia, with whom he had eleven children.
In 1861 and 1862 Adolphus Hollub was the Public Administrator for the City and County of San Francisco. Adolphus Hollub was heavily involved in California’s Masonry and, in 1852, was elected Senior Grand Warden of California Masonry, one of the highest offices. Soon after Adolphus Hollub arrived in San Francisco he joined Congregation Emanu-El and in the fall of 1867 he was elected president. He served for five years. During his administration the wearing of the tallith by Rabbi and Cantor was abolished. 
Klauber Family – In September 1849, Abraham Klauber (1831-1911) from Zdaslav, Bohemia, left his homeland to make his fortune in the New World. From the coast of Germany he took a ship to New Orleans, and then a steamboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where he worked for ‘board and blankets’ at $4.00 a month, for the Levis, a family with whom he would later become close friends.
After a short time Klauber moved on to Ottawa, Illinois, where he worked for Francis Mandelbaum, the son of his employer in the old country. The two became business partners.
On arriving in San Francisco in July 1852, Abraham traveled up river to Sacramento where he and his partner Francis Mandlebaum started a small clothing and general store. Abraham was witness to the great fire and flood of Sacramento on November 2, 1852. After rebuilding their store, Abraham moved to Volcano, California, setting up a branch store called ‘The Sacramento Store, Abraham Klauber & Co.’
(Kytka’s note: Although small, Volcano is a town of many “Firsts” for California history including one of the longest running General Stores in continuous use. Read here to learn more.)
Their Sacramento store did very well, and soon outlets were opened in other sites in California and Nevada. The operation in Genoa, Nevada supplied all the goods needed by that community. Sold to Fred and Jacob Furth in 1867, the Genoa store was to play an important role in the history of Nevada. Klauber divided his time between each of the stores, running supplies across the mountains in his wagon.
After he got married and had three children, Abraham began to question the value of life in the mountains. The economic boom of the gold rush had begun to sour, and he decided to look elsewhere for a home. San Diego was the answer. But it was not ‘Old Town’ in which he was interested; it was the area called ‘New Town’ that caught his eye. Klauber found a partner in Samuel Steiner, also a Bohemian native, whom he probably met while purchasing supplies for his northern California and Nevada operations, which were all eventually liquidated. They pooled their assets and divided up the tasks of running the business. Steiner was to act as buyer of supplies in San Francisco, the sole source of supply for the West, and Klauber was to manage the store in San Diego.
Their general merchandise enterprise opened in the autumn of 1869, in a one story-and-a-half frame structure that used only a twenty-five by sixty foot piece of the original property. The upper floor of the building was used partly for living space for one of the clerks, as it was the custom in those days to have someone sleep in the store to protect the merchandise. There were fireplaces on both floors, and water was brought from the Tasker well on Second Street near B. It was sold and delivered by the bucket, and was used for drinking purposes as well as in the store. An awning made of wood, supported by wooden posts from the sidewalk was erected on the east side of the building, and a boardwalk was laid down on the north and east sides, where the main road passed by the store.
(Kytka’s note: Read more here.)
Abraham Klauber died in 1911 and was succeeded as president of the company by his son, Melville. In addition to Melville and Edgar, a third son, Hugo, was engaged for many years in the business in San Diego. When Melville Klauber died in 1932, he was succeeded by Hugo as president of the firm. With Hugo’s passing in 1935, Allan S. Klauber became president of Klauber Wangenheim Co.
Ignatz Kohner – In 1897, Ignatz Kohner (1871-1958), son of Adolph and Mary (née Epstein) Kohner, from Bohemia arrived in California. When 21 years of age he landed in New York and then for six years he stayed in Plainfield, NJ, clerking in a dry goods store. In 1897 he went to Santa Clara CA and entered the employ of A. Block, a SC grower and packer. In 1902 he visited Bohemia. He was naturalized in NJ. In 1906 he married Miss Olga Kohner, a lady with the same last name, but no relation to him, who was born also in Bohemia. She was the daughter of Phillip and Theresa (Herman) Kohner. Her father was a capitalist, connected with the Bourse in Vienna. Her uncle was Abraham Block, a Santa Clara pioneer, a grower and packer, and she also had a sister, Mrs. Max Kohner In April, 1906 she came to Santa Clara and met Ignatz. They married and had two children: Herbert Walker and Helen Doris. 
Moritz Kohner – In 1851, Moritz Kohner (bf 1835-1900), a native of Holice, Bohemia as a teenager, was lured by the tales of the gold rush in America and he travelled all the way to California to dig for gold, He did not find any riches in California and went back home a year later. In 1874 Moritz founded the original company that was eventually to become Kohner Bros. Inc. in America many years later.
(Kytka’s Note: You can read more here, here, and here.)
Bernhard Lažanský – (1839-1928), b. Kolinec u Klatov, Bohemia, attended university in Bohemia, while studying medicine. In 1856 he came to San Francisco via Isthmus. He moved around various places, including Auburn; Coloma, Eldorado Co.; Greenwood Valley, Eldorado Co. In the latter town he conducted a general merchandise business and later became also interested in mining projects. In 1861 he went to Boonville, ID, where he conducted a brewery. Later however he returned to his business in Greenwood Valley. He then spent a few years in San Francisco, where he was engaged in the crockery business and remained there for 20 years. In 1865 he was married to Amelia Cohen of NYC, with whom he had 8 children, all born in California.
Levi Family – In 1863, Simon Levi (1850-1918), a native of Dlouhý Újezd, Bohemia, and his wife Anna, both from Bohemia, reached San Francisco and then resided in Auburn in Placid C. In 1873, he came to San Diego area. He worked first for Louis Wolf in Temecula.
Eventually he joined his uncle, Samuel Steiner, and Abraham Klauber, as a partner in Steiner, Klauber & Co., a grocery and general merchandising enterprise. In 1884, Samuel Steiner resigned and Levi became Klauber’s partner, the firm becoming Klauber & Levi, Klauber being Abraham’s son Melville. In 1986 Simon Levi resigned to form his own company, the Simon Levi & Co., dealing primarily with a large wholesale grocery, handling many items of supply and food, including liquor. In the 1880s he was president of Chamber of Commerce and the Building & Loan Association.
He also served nine years as a City Councilman.  (Kytka’s note: Read more about Simon Levi – Five Generations and Counting here.)
Adolph Levi (1858-1943), a native of Dlouhý Újezd, Bohemia, at age eighteen, joined his older brothers Simon, Nathan and Isaac in San Diego, California. After a year at Steiner, Klauber & Co., Adolph Levi set out on his own and eventually settled in Julian City where his brother Isaac Levi owned a store. He bought a grocery business, then expanded to sawmill and livery stable. With partner Joseph Marks, Adolph Levi owned Oak Grove Ranch, fourteen miles north of Warner Hot Springs. In Julian, they built the brick building that would eventually become the Julian Drug Store. When he married and started a family, they moved to San Diego (1877) where Adolph Levi went into the hack and livery stable business. He had several hack companies and stables around San Diego such as the Diamond Livery Stable, the Pacific Coast Hack and Transfer Line and Levi’s Hack and Transfer Co. He was also involved in real estate; he owned land from the ocean to Lakeside. Adolph Levi travelled back to his birthplace in Europe to attend his sister’s wedding, where he met Eleanora Schwartz. The two were married and returned to Julian, California. Eleanora and Adolph had a son, Edgar and a daughter, Selma. Later, Adolph and his son Edgar owned Adolph Levi & Son Livestock and had ranches and dairy farms all over San Diego County.
Adolph Levi was deeply involved with the Jewish community. He, along with his brother Simon and Samuel Fox, were instrumental in selecting the site and completing the building of the first Temple Beth Israel at 2nd and Beech Streets in 1889. Adolph Levi and Samuel Fox selected the second building site at 3rd and Laurel in 1926.Adolph Levi was the fourth president of Congregation Beth Israel from 1912-1926 after his brother Simon.
The Levy Family – Solomon Levy (1839-), was born near Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Bohemia, as the third of eight children. As a young man, he learned the tanner and currier’s trade. He came to America in 1854. On his arrival in the city of New York he learned the jeweler’s trade, and later embarked in merchandising, for a time. In the fall of 1856 he came to California, landing in San Francisco from the steamer Golden Age. Near the close of the same year he located in Napa City, and was there nearly a year when he returned to San Francisco and engaged in the fruit trade for some three years, then in expressing until 1864, when he finally established himself in the commission business.
Solomon Levy was the senior member of the firm of S. Levy & Co., general commission merchants and dealers in poultry, eggs, fruit, potatoes, butter, hides, California and Oregon produce of all kinds, located on 218 and 220 Washington Street, San Francisco. This house was established in 1864, and is one of the representative commission firms of the coast doing a large and profitable business in the northwest, besides having an extensive local trade.
In 1861 he married Ester Robeck in San Francisco. They had five children living, and had lost a daughter and a son. Socially Solomon Levy was connected with several secret societies and benevolent associations.
Solomon Lorie – Prior to 1876, Solomon Lorie (1840-1911), of Bohemia, must have lived in California, since his son Alfred W. was born there that year. He was married to Carrie May of Brooklyn, NY and by occupation he was a merchant. They did not stay there long because in couple of years their second child May was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Solomon Lorie was buried in Alameda, CA.
Francis Mandelbaum – Francis Mandelbaum (1821-d.), from Bohemia, initially had a store in Ottawa, IL, in which he employed Abraham Klauber. The two became business partners, and in January of 1852 they went to New York, where they met the family of Simon and Katie Epstein, who were also from Bohemia, and fell in love with their two daughters. Francis married Louisa in April of the same year, and took her to California. Abraham courted Theresa, and married her nine years later. The bonds of marriage tied the brothers-in-law together as well; Francis and Abraham were joined in their business enterprises by Henry Epstein.
Francis Mandelbaum established a retail clothing business in Sacramento, CA to serve the miners in the foothills of the Sierras. He got together with his old partner Abraham Klauber , when the latter came to Sacramento, and in 1853, they decided to open a general merchandise store in Volcano, CA, fifty miles east of Sacramento. It was called ‘The Sacramento Store, A. Klauber & Co.,’ and it delivered goods to any mining camp in the area at no additional charge. He also partnered with Klauber in a ranch near Minden, Nevada
Meyer Family – Around 1850, Daniel Meyer (1824-1911), from Bavaria, of Bohemian ancestry settled in San Francisco, after immigrating to New York in 1842. Once in San Francisco, Daniel and brother, Jonas, engaged in the tobacco business. In 1857 the banking firm of Daniel Meyer was established which grew to be known as one of the strongest private banking institutions in the country. His partners included his brothers Jonas, Moritz and Mathias.
Jonas Meyer (1827-1882), coming to the US, spent a year in Baltimore, before joining his brother, Daniel, in San Francisco.
The genealogical history of the Meyer family extends back to about 1740, when those of the name lived in Bohemia. Two decades later, in 1760, the family moved to Furth, Bavaria, Germany, where Jonas and Daniel were born.
Salz Family – In 1853, there is a record of the arrival of Jacob Salz (1832-1909) from Plzeň, Bohemia who immigrated to America before he was old enough for military service. He moved to Centerville, CA, where he opened a general merchandise store in 1853. In 1866, he was joined by his nephew Sigmund Salz (1951-), also from Plzeň, who later became a merchant in Centerville.
Jacob is listed as owner of a general merchandise store in 1867. In 1874, he formed the partnership with Herman Kullman with their joint involvement in a tannery in Stockton. In 1881, Kullman, Salz and Company acquired the Benecia Tannery and in 1896, the firm incorporated with headquarters in San Francisco. Jacob was listed as the last charter member of Mission Peak Lodge when he died in 1909.
With the death of Jacob Salz in 1900, his son, Ansley Kullman Salz became involved in the tannery business and continued his association until the firm was liquidated in 1928 and the Benecia Tannery shut down. The San Lorenzo Tannery in Santa Cruz had continued its operation, however, despite persistent rumors that it was about to close. In 1920, a shortage of hides and other factors prompted the facility to curtail production and lay off a number of workers. By 1924, the plant was in full operation again and producing sole and harness leather.
The company was dissolved in 1929, and the San Lorenzo Tannery closed in April of that year. Ansley Kullman Salz, however, was persuaded to invest his own funds into continuing the enterprise and on October 1, 1929, A. K. Salz and Company was incorporated. On October 3, the local newspaper reported that the facility would reopen, under the name of Santa Cruz Tannery, employing at least twenty-five men. By March of 1930, the company announced that it was able to market everything it could produce. During the 1930s the leather was used in horse tack, saddles and dog harnesses, as well as case leather for luggage.
During World War II, leather was used for a variety of purposes for the war effort including fan belts for Army tank engines and as pads for the recoil mechanism of big guns. Salz produced mechanical seal leather, during the war, using chrome on the leather after it was vegetable tanned to give the leather higher resistance to hot temperatures around bearings. Following World War II, Salz developed smooth leather, unlike the grained leathers available during the war that was glazed by hand. At the time, there was enormous pent up demand in the country for a range of products that were either rationed or simply unavailable. The scarcity of tan bark and the pressures of competition caused the tannery to change its method from vegetable tanning to the use of chrome as the principal tanning agent.
Leopold Steiner Family – Leopold Steiner, from Bohemia, came to US in 1850 by way of New York City and the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco. Going immediately to mining regions, he was for sometime engaged in mercantile business at Rattlesnake Bar. From there he went to Placer County and located in the town of Auburn, where he soon became influential in business affairs, running the hotel, known as the American House. He was also engaged in the manufacture of flour, and establishing a general mercantile business. Removing from Auburn to San Francisco, he became the pioneer seller of water for domestic purposes, buying a wagon and establishing a route, a venture that proved lucrative, and was the forerunner of the city’s system of water works. He subsequently engaged in transfer business, being a pioneer in that line also, and built an extensive and profitable industry that grew with the city. Selling out his interest as transfer agent in 1900, he had then retired.
(Kytka’s note: Above is Steiner Street which is named after Leopold Steiner. The published obituary of L. Steiner, who died in November 1911, states that this street was named for him and his two brothers, Leopold and Samuel, and that he delivered water from house to house in the early days. Later the city directory also gives Leopold’s occupation as waterman. No doubt there was a friendship between the Steiners and Charles Gough, who was delivering milk in the pioneer period. When the Steiners became active in business affairs, and Gough was on the 1855 committee that laid out the streets of the Western Addition, he probably remembered his friend who had delivered the water. It’s probably the most photographed street in San Francisco.)
Sig Steiner (1865-1945), a native of Auburn, CA, was son of Leopold Steiner of Bohemia. The family later moved from Auburn to San Francisco, where Sigmund attended public school. Still a teenager, Sig Steiner came to San Diego where he clerked for his uncle, Samuel Steiner, for five years in his store, Steiner & Klauber. Learning quickly, Sig left and opened his own business in Escondido with his new partner, P.A. Graham in 1886, the year that the new town’s site was laid out by the new Escondido land & Town Company. A second store was opened in Bernardo, a few miles south of Escondido. The Graham & Steiner firm was a general merchandise business, the supplier of all needs for rural living in these small towns north of San Diego. Graham & Steiner prospered for many years. The Graham & Steiner store added a much-needed auditorium for use by Escondido residents, when they built a new, two story brick building.
(Kytka’s Note: Following are two original photographs of Escondido general store, Graham & Steiner. One is an exterior view of the front of the store with people and horse-drawn carriage, while the other is an interior view of the store with five men inside. Verso of mount of the exterior view with imprint of Coronado photographer Herbert A. Hale, who was active in 1889-90 according to Mautz, Biographies of Western Photographers. Source.)
Sig Steiner also helped organize the First National Bank in 1905. He was a City Trustee, and served as Mayor of Escondido for twelve years, 1894 to 1906. He also was known as father of Grape Day, a grand festival, which rivaled Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses. The Grape Day Festival began in 1908, celebrating the burning of irrigation bonds, and was named for the grapes that were a major part of the area’s agriculture. 
Samuel Steiner – Before or in 1869, Samuel Steiner from Bohemia must have lived in San Diego, California, since in that year he formed a partnership there with Abraham Klauber. They pooled their assets and divided up the tasks of running the business. Steiner was to act as buyer of supplies in San Francisco, the sole source of supply for the West, and Klauber was to manage the store in San Diego. Their general merchandise enterprise opened in the autumn of 1869, in a one story-and-a-half frame structure that used only a twenty-five by sixty foot piece of the original property.
The location was remarkably strategic, as all supplies from Los Angeles or San Diego bound for Arizona had to pass directly in front of the store.12 The wagon road ran from the north county down to Old Town, then in a general way paralleling the shores of San Diego Bay, through New Town south to Tijuana. It came back into the county further east, and continued across the desert into Arizona. The road was the lifeline of the company, as it was for other San Diego stores.
Steiner and Klauber used a horse-drawn wagon to deliver goods to the people of San Diego, and they had other customers as well. Miners from the hills around Julian traded their gold dust for boots, canteens, blasting powder and plug tobacco. Chinese fishermen came to the store with sealskins and fish to exchange for China gin, rice, oil, rope and oarlocks for their junk. Originally a retail store, within two years both wholesale and retail departments were established. Bills were to be paid in “US Gold Coin” and interest was charged at the rate of two per cent on accounts due over thirty days.
In order to compete with the established businesses in the City, Steiner and Klauber advertised in the local newspapers. Their first ad ran on March 31, 1870, with this catchy slogan: “If you want your Money’s worth of the best goods in town, go to Steiner and Klauber.” Their list of wares was almost endless: groceries, boots and shoes, crockery, dry goods, liquor, clothing, paints and oils, and mining tools of every description. Later ads called “special attention to their stock of new goods, comprising about everything that a first class store can offer.”16 An indication of the variety of goods which the business carried can be found in the cost book pages kept by Sigmund Steiner.
Taubles – In 1892, Amalie Taubles (-1917) from Bohemia was married to Dr. George H. Kahn in San Francisco. She was a daughter of the late Gustave Taubles, one of the early settlers of San Francisco. Her father was a physician.
The Taussig Family – It is known for certain when Louis Taussig (bf.1849-1900), of Bohemia, came to California. It is assumed, however, that he arrived sometime between 1849 and 1856. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 had increased the number of young men heading west. Also the isolation of the West Coast from the rest of the United States, and most every place else prior to the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, created new business opportunities with minimal competition. One of which was the sale of whiskey to the young miners who arrived as a result of the Gold Rush.
Louis Taussig claimed to have started in the wholesale liquor business in 1856 at 723 Sansome Street in San Francisco.
It has been established that he was a silent partner in the firm of Louis Altschul and Company. He took over the company in 1864 when he formed a partnership with David L. Lederer (formerly of the Fletcher and Lederer bakery). This partnership lasted about one year.
He also ran the Congress Hall Saloon at 318 Bush Street in San Francisco for a while in the 1860s. From 1869 to about 1871 Louis Altschul was the majority partner again. In 1866 he was listed as a wholesale liquor dealer. Louis Taussig, like other wholesale liquor merchants, sold whiskey in quantities of not less than five gallons. He was also subject to any special taxes in the places where he conducted business.
In 1873 he had formed a partnership with Adolph Fried and Adolph Eisenbach. From 1874 until Prohibition the Louis Taussig Co. was one of the largest wholesale liquor merchants on the West Coast. Somewhere between the mid 1870s and 1900, Louis Taussig & Co. opened distributing outlets in New York City and in Cincinnati.
By 1877, his brother Gabriel Taussig was working for the company. He would eventually become the president. Gabriel’s son Rudolph J. Taussig began working for the company as a traveling salesman in 1885; and in 1888 Edward and Hugo Taussig began working for the company, as well.
Louis Taussig then became also involved in real estate working out of the 26 & 28 Main Street store. In the early 1890s John J. Carroll became a partner. Louis Taussig died about 1900. The family would continue until Prohibition forced them to close.
Rudolph Julius Taussig (1861-1922), a native of New York, was the son of Gabriel and Clara (Fried) Taussig. By inherited nationality he was a Czech, and he married on February 22, 1891, a Swiss, Miss Emma M. Henicke, whose death in November, 1904, brought him pain and shock from which he never fully recovered.
Two sons were the fruit of the marriage, one Lawrence R., a promising physician of San Francisco; the second, Eric D., a business man in San Francisco, bearing a fine record of service abroad in the War. Rudolph Taussig had been trained in the public schools of New York, and had attended the College of the City of New York, where, if he had continued the course of study, he would have graduated with the class of 1878. In 1876, he removed to San Francisco, where he was associated with Louis Taussig & Co., wholesale liquor firm, founded by his father and uncle and from that time onward, as long as health and strength permitted, he became more and more intimately identified with the affairs of the city.
In 1902 he was elected President of the Mechanics’ Institute and as such became ex-officio a Regent of the University of California, holding the position, except for two brief intervals, until his death in 1922, i.e., for twenty years. Later he accepted the presidency of the Board of Trustees of the California School of Mechanic Arts (Lick School). He was also president of the Pacific Coast Historical Assn. and treasurer of the California Academy of Sciences.
Adolph Weil – In 1852, Adolph Weil (1822-1893), a native of Bohemia moved to California. After three years he returned to Milwaukee, WI, where he previously lived since 1848, after originally immigrating to New York in 1846.
Other Early Pioneers
Frank A. Baumgartner – (1854-d.), b. Bohemia, came to America with his parents, settling in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, where his parents were engaged in farming. In 1872, Frank left his home, and after having learned the brewing business in Almapee, WI, he went to Chicago, where he was foreman in Scipps Brewery. In 1883, he came to California, taking the position of foreman in the Fredericksburg Brewery Co. at San Jose, where he was put in charge of the manufacturing department. In 1877 he married Mary Wacek, a native of Bohemia, with whom he had 3 children. 
Dietrich – In 1863, Louisa Dietrich of Bohemia must have lived in San Francisco since in that year she married Charles Wilke there. Six children were born to them. For thirty-two years of his active career Charles Wilke was identified with the jewelry business in Sacramento. He was also a good musician.
Hugo Anton Fisher – (1854-1916), born in Kladno, Bohemia, was the son and grandson of artists. He continued the family line by having two artist sons of his own, Hugo Melville Fisher and Harrison Fisher. He studied with his father and with Anton Mauve. He exhibited at the Paris Salon and at Salons in Dresden and London. He moved to New York in 1874 at the age of 20, establishing a studio and gained a national reputation as one of the Hudson River School artists. At age 32, he moved to Alameda, California. He kept his studio in San Francisco, commuting back and forth to his Alameda home by ferry, usually using his commute time to sketch the marshes and pastures as they floated by. He kept a studio in Honolulu for a short time while enjoying an extended visit to his son, cartoonist and artist Hugo Melville Fisher in 1896, who was working for a Honolulu paper, The Time. Like many artists thriving in San Francisco in 1906, Hugo Anton Fisher lost a large portion of his work due to the earthquake. Not only did he lose studio work, but many of the paintings he had sold and which were hanging throughout the City.
Joseph Francl – Toward the end of 1854, Joseph Francl (1824-1875), a musician from Svojšice, Bohemia, travelled on horse to CA in search of gold, all the way from Wisconsin, where he originally settled. 
Stephen Holubar – In1856. Stephen Holubar (1837-1901) from Bohemia must have lived in Los Angeles, CA because the following year his first child, also named Stephen, was born there. The family remained in California at least until the 1870s. Of these, at least Stephen Holubar, Jr. moved then to Montana.
Constantin Holubar Family – By 1886, Constantin Josef Holubar (1853-d.), of Bohemia, must have resided in California, because that year he married Margaret Allen there. They had 5 children, the first being Allen Holubar.
Allen Holubar (1888-1923), a native of San Francisco, CA, son of Constantin, chose an acting career, despite the parental pressure to become a machinist. He was a prominent dramatic actor, known widely across the US between 1908-1912. From a stage actor he then became a screen actor.
After starring in several landmark films, he began directing and was one of Carl Laemmle’s first directors at Universal Pictures. Later, after having differences with Laemmle, he founded his own production company, Allen Holubar Pictures, in 1917.
As an up-and-coming producer, he was famous for being the first to coordinate a movie shoot (‘Hurricane’s Gal,’1922)) using radio. In the words of a local paper, “Mr. Holubar has successfully performed the unprecedented task of using the wireless waves to direct the movements of an airship, a destroyer and a schooner, maneuvering all of these within his camera’s range as he supervised these activities from a hydroplane far above.” He died of postoperative complications from gallstone surgery at the height of his career in 1923.
Korbel Family – Francis Korbel (1830-1920), from Bechyně, Bohemia, after the unsuccessful Revolution of 1848, in which he took part, fled Bohemia for New York, where he began learning the art of cigar making. After a few years in New York, Francis became captivated by the bold and booming city of San Francisco, so he moved in 1860 to the City and opened a storefront repairing cigar boxes. He could not afford to set up production to make new boxes, so he sent for his brothers Joseph, a metallurgist, and Anton, a forger. By 1862, F. Korbel & Bros. was so successful that the brothers began to import exotic veneers from around the world, shipping via their schooner, The Bohemia.
They built a successful manufacturing business producing materials for the building industry in San Francisco. After initial obstacles, their lumber business in northern California boomed, and the Korbels invested in a number of projects, including a sawmill and property near the town of Guerneville in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. In the early 1870s, Francis purchased the property in partnership with a fellow entrepreneur, and brought another brother, Václav, from Bohemia to run the business.
Once the lumber boom slowed, the brothers researched other uses for their ranch. The land was good for agriculture, including dairy, prunes, and olive trees, and was similar in nature to the Champagne region in France. In short, perfect for wine growing and making.
In addition to growing prunes, beets, wheat, corn, alfalfa, and operating a commercial dairy, the Korbel brothers planted their first vineyards and began experimenting with different grape varieties, including Pinot Noir, an unusual variety for California, but the principal grape of the Champagne region of France.
They began as provider of grapes for winemakers in the region, but soon the market was saturated with growers and so, always resourceful, the Korbels began production of their own champagne.
(Kytka’s note: Notice the double-tailed Czech lion in their logo.)
The Korbel winery continued to grow throughout the 1880s. It was during this time that the Korbels sent for winemaker Frank Hašek in Prague to come to the United States to be their champagne master. Employing the time-honored French method of producing champagne, méthode champenoise, the Korbels quietly, but aggressively, experimented with cuvées. By the mid-1890s, the Korbels shipped their first champagnes, and by the turn of the century Korbel was an internationally known, award-winning label.
Prohibition in the 1920s forced the permanent closing of many wineries across the country. The era tested the family’s ingenuity, but the Korbel winery survived by depending on the brothers’ other business ventures and accumulated resources. Sadly, Francis, Joseph and Anton all passed away before Repeal in 1933, and none of them lived to see champagne production resume at the winery. They died not knowing their champagne creation had become an enduring legacy.
Fortunately, a second generation of Korbels successfully carried on the family’s commitment and produced méthode champenoise champagnes from the late 1930s to 1954. By the 1950s, the large winery building constructed from the Korbel brothers’ own hand-made bricks nearly 70 years earlier had been expanded, and more vineyards had been planted. The home place that had once been the center of the family’s life was still standing – a quiet reminder of the early days of ranch life at Korbel. 
Kroupa – In 1874, Bohuslav Kroupa (1838-1912), a noted Czech illustrator, from Prague, travelled through California where he painted a number of pictures. His California subjects include the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley, Calaveras Grove, a Chinese joss house, opium den, and Seal Rocks in San Francisco.
Melzer -In 1868, Louis Melzer (1846-1922) from Bohemia, decided to come to California, starting from New York, where he immigrated in 1865. He reached San Francisco and from there continued the journey to Los Angeles. While in San Francisco, he secured a position at El Monte, 12 miles from Los Angeles. He entered into a partnership with Joseph Michaclistihke, who later became one of the leading importers in San Francisco. They prospered greatly in their business. However Michaclistihke grew dissatisfied with life and business in a small place and disposing of his interest to his young partner, he returned to San Francisco.
Melzer continued to conduct the business alone until 1882, when he also sold and came to Los Angeles. He then formed partnership with Mr. Kramer and engaged in the insurance business and a year later purchased an interest in a book and stationary store, owned by P. Lazarus & Co. In 1885, he sold his insurance business and continued in the book and stationary business. Later the firm moved to Los Angeles Street.
In 1902, Melzer sold his interests and retired from active business life. Subsequently he got interested in the real estate business. 
(Kytka’s note: In 1883 he purchased a corner at Figueroa and Ninth streets, including three lots with one hundred and sixty-five foot frontage on Ninth street. He erected three houses on the property, in one of which he lived for some time. Later, when the business section had encroached and driven out the residences, he erected a brick building with six stores on the ground floor. Another important transaction in which Mr. Melzer was interested was the purchase, together with his associates, of a corner at Sixth and Flower streets. Other transactions of equally great importance have taken place. Today, there are high rises on the properties he owned.)
Clarence J. Novotny – Clarence J. Novotny (1881-1970.), a native of Yankton, SD, of Bohemian parents, a lawyer by profession, visited San Diego in 1908 for the first time, when his parents retired there. He eventually also moved there and, by 1912, he was admitted to the San Diego Bar. He was a graduate of Yankton College and held Bachelor of Law degree from Columbia University. He practiced first in New York City and later at Yankton. He became a lawyer in San Diego and president a general consul of the Prudential Bond & Mortgage company of San Diego which company had aided greatly in the development of the City by financing homes to newcomers and a local attorney for the Pacific State Fire Insurance Co. He served as member of the Council and was defeated for the Mayor although by only a narrow margin. 
Ignatz Ohman – In 1862, Ignatz Ohman (1824-1911), of Bohemia, at the age of 38 years, and his wife Mary (née Higel), also from Bohemia, left their native country and arrived in Humboldt Bay on February 12, 1862 having made the journey to this port on the schooner ‘Oreoius.’ For two years after his arrival in Humboldt County, Ohman was employed with J. C. Smith as a coppersmith but later he entered into business for himself, his sons later assisted him in the building of a large business in the plumbing and hardware line. The Ohmans had 10 children.
Edward Pique – In 1852, Edward Pique (1825-fl. 1892), born in Prague, Bohemia, came to California after he immigrated to New York in 1848. He was one of the oldest professional musicians on the coast. He had a successful career in Europe before immigrating to America in 1848. He taught guitar in Philadelphia, where he also developed a business relationship with C.F. Martin. He and his wife, an English-born dancer, moved to California in 1852, where Pique resumed his teaching career in California and became a frequent performer in San Francisco and Sacramento concerts. Pique also was a composer and arranger for the guitar. Pique had been engaged in teaching for over forty years, and was one of the oldest teachers on the coast. When Mr. Pique first came to San Francisco he sang in the opera, also in many of the churches and in concerts, and was always ready to contribute his efforts and voice in behalf of worthy charities. He has done much in composition, and received the prize composition at the second annual prize competition of Fairbanks & Cole, of Boston. 
Josef Prošek – Dr. Josef Anton Prošek (1846-1919), from Bohemia, a physician practicing in San Francisco, came to visit his friends, the Korbel brothers. He came upon the idea to grow olives near the Humming Bird Saloon, known today as Santa Nella in Pocket Canyon.
“He cleared off about one hundred acres of redwood stumps and place a large wooden water tank on the highest hummock. Prošek and his hired hands worked laboriously installing a steam pump next to Pocket Creek that had a capacity to pump five thousand gallons an hour. They laid approximately eight miles of irrigation pipe throughout the young grove of olive trees. The trees were planted twenty feet apart. The doctor chose the Picolines variety to grow first. In two years, they were six feet high. He used this stock to graft on other varieties. The year 1894 was the first one that trees produced a crop. Prošek grew olives not for eating but for oil they could produce. As a result, he squeezed out seventy-five gallons of oil of his first crop. The following year, Prošek built an olive mill that had the latest developments up to the year of 1895.
The building was 40 by 60 feet and two stories high. The crushers worked on the same principle as a flourmill. Besides the crushes, there were presses, agate ironware tanks, boilers, separators, drawing cans, etc. The power for this was supplied by a two-horsepower engine. The enterprise was known as the Sonoma county Pioneer Olive mill. In the year of 95 produced thirty tons of olives. The olives produced forty gallons of oil pet ton. Production started in mid-December and continued into March, as each variety ripened. And so it went year by year into the 20th century.
It was about 1905, after several lean years, Prošek pulled up his beloved olive grove and, like his friends, planted grapes. The grapes prospered and helped establish the name Santa Nella Winery. Josef Prošek died about 1919 but several buildings across the canyon still stand as mute reminders of a pioneering spirit.” 
Sokol – In 1860, F. J. Sokol (1841-d.), a native of Bohemia, traveled from Iowa to California in search of gold. He went with a party overland to California, traveling with ox-teams, making their westward way over the long, hot stretches of sand and through the mountain passes, and when five months had elapsed they reached the ‘Golden State.’ Mr. Sokol first went to where Lathrop now stands. It was then a ranch and there he remained for four years, working part of the time in the gold fields and the remainder of the time on the farm. In 1865 he returned to Jackson Co., Iowa, where his family originally immigrated.
Jaroslav Vostrovský – In 1876, Jaroslav Vostrovský (1836-1911), from Semily, Bohemia, headed for the Pacific Coast to establish a dry food store. He was trained as a tailor and originally arrived in the US in 1863, settling in Champaign, Illinois.
After a few months he left for St. Louis and in 1864 he moved to West Point, Nebraska, and finally settling in Cedar Rapids, where he established a dry goods store.
He first resided in Livermore, CA, where he stayed for about 3 years. He did some traveling in California, Oregon and Washington Territory, and at the end he chose San Jose as his home, where he permanently settled in 1883.
When he died, he left three adult children, one of whom, Anna, married a lawyer and writer, Tomáš Čapek. 
William Wallach – Around 1868, William Wallach (1837-1918) from Bohemia came to California, having previously lived in Illinois where he resided prior to 1864. He was married to Catherine Gertrude Priller with whom he had two children, both born in California.
Wells – In 1857, or prior to that year, Mary Wells (1831-1900) from Bohemia must have resided in California since she was married that year in Volcano, Amador Co. to Cephas Atkinson Daugherty.
Jan Habenicht in his book published in 1910,  devoted to California only a page, stating that about 300 Czech have settled in California, where they lived in about thirty locations. Most of them presumably lived in San Francisco (150 families), where the first Czechs settled in 1849. As for the specific names, he only mentions three: František Korbel, Josef Prošek and Vostrovský. He missed completely Bohemian Jesuits and Thaddeus Haenke in the 18th century and Bohemian Jews in the 19th century.
Many of these people went to California to search for gold. Although they did not find the real gold, they found gold of different kind –unusually fertile environments for everything they had accomplished in their lifetime, starting practically from nothing. Their life stories could make excellent scenarios for films.
Their accomplishments significantly contributed to what California is today.
- Jan Habenicht, History of Czechs in America. Translated from Czech by Miroslav Koudelka. St. Paul, MN: Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, 1996, p. 376.
- The Silva of California, p. 138.
- Biographical Record of Coast Counties, 1904, p. 1236.
- The Berkeley Daily Planet, May 29, 2008.
- George C. Mansfield, History of Butte County, California. Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1918, p. 515.
- Langley, The San Francisco Directory of 1873, p. 686
- Joseph L. King, History of y the San Francisco Stock and Exchange Board. San Francisco, 1910, pp. 158-159.
- Correspondence with Henry S. Glazier of New York City, regarding his grandfather, Simon, and his great-uncle, Isaac Glazier.
- Jewish, San Francisco Exhibit Hall, San Francisco Jewish Pioneers , March 1, 2013.
- Eugene Taylor Sawyer, History of Santa Cara, California. Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1923, p. 857.
- Clarence Alan McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County. Chicago – New York: The American Historical Society, 1922, Vol. 2, pp. 436-438.
- J. M. Guinn, A History of California and an Extended History of its Southern Coast Counties. Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1907, Vol. 1, pp. 963-964.
- Pen Pictures from the Garden of the World, or Santa Clara, California. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing co., 1888, p. 390.
- Joseph Francl, The Overland Journey of Joseph Francl : the first Bohemian to cross the plains to the California gold fielsd. San Francisco: William P. Wreden, 1968.
- Sherry Monahan, California Vines, Wines and Pioneers. Charleston, SC: American Palate, 2013, pp. 84-87.
- History of California and an Extended History of Los Angeles, op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 195-196.
- Clarence Alan McGrew, City Sand Diego and San Diego County. Chicago – New York: The American Historical Society, 1922, pp. 436-438.
- The Bay of San Francisco. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Cp., 1892, vol. 1, pp. 503-504.
- John C. Schubert, Tales of the Russian River. Charleston-London: The History Press, 2013, pp. 91-83.
- Vermore and started his trade. He did well and acquired some wealth. He then removed to the town of San Jose in Santa Clara Co.
- Jan Habenicht, Dějiny Čechův Amerických. St. Louis: Hlas, 1910.
Tags: Czech Pioneers, Czechs in America, Czech People, Bohemians, American Czechs, Czechs in California, Czech winemakers, Korbel winery, Russian River history, Czechs in Nevada, the gold rush, czechs and the gold rush,
Guest Post Author
Miloslav Rechcígl, Jr. is one of the founders and past Presidents of many years of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), an international professional organization based in Washington, DC.
He is a native of Mladá Boleslav, Czechoslovakia, who has lived in the US since 1950.
Read his entire profile here.
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I enjoyed learning about these fellow Czechs.