Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ferdinand Gunzendorfer

Ferdinand Gunzendorfer

Ferdinand was the first of my Gunzendorfers to be born outside of the United States.  He was born in Adelsdorf, Bavaria, Germany on August 1, 1838 and emigrated to the United States in 1849 (could that be right - he came here at age 11?).  He was unknown and without much money and struggled for two years in the Eastern part of the country.  When he learned of the discovery of gold in California, he headed west in early 1851 (again, only 13?) via Panama.  After arriving in San Francisco, he headed to Monterey and entered into business for himself.  Beginning in 1884, the firm was known as F. Gunzendorfer & Son and was well known throughout Monterey county.  To the locals he was known as "Don Francisco"!

Ferdinand took Fannie Goldstein as his wife in 1863 and they raised four sons, Gustave (a prosecuting attorney in San Francisco), Adolph, Abraham and Jacob.  He had such confidence in the stability and future of Monterey that he invested largely in local realty.  In the 1890's he erected a business block on Alvarado Street and the building was an architectural wonder, spacious in size and incorporating modern improvements and conveniences for a dry-goods and clothing store.

Ferdinand was an accomplished musician and was regarded as an expert.  In the early days he was the director of a band in Monterey.  While Ferdinand excelled at the clarinet, his sons also mastered instruments with Gustave a fine pianist, Adolph a violinist, Jacob on the piccolo, and Abe following in his father's footsteps on the clarinet.  Ferdinand was also fluent in several languages.

He was one of Monterey's most energetic citizens and was a member of the Board of Trade (note - need to find out about this organization) as a director and was active in helping to increase the progress of the city.  He also devoted himself to fraternal societies and for more than 25 years was a member of the Masonic Lodge and A.O.U.W. (Ancient Order of United Workers). 

Ferdinand was known as the "father of the Merchants Association" and had been the president since its organization.  He was elected to that position five times, all without opposition.  He was always interested in anything that stood for the advancement of Monterey.

In 1907, Jacob and his family came from San Francisco for a visit with his parents.  They enjoyed a nice meal and conversation and before retiring at around midnight, Ferdinand went into the back yard.  After some time he returned and told his family he'd fallen down due to a fainting spell.  When he started to undress before going to bed, he fell to the floor.  His family did what they could to provide aid, summoned a doctor but before the doctor arrived, Ferdinand was gone.

Ferdinand died on October 20, 1907 at the age of 69.  His remains were taken to Hills of Eternity in Colma for burial.  Ferdinand's Memorial  

Next up - The White House


  1. He certainly could have come at 11, but I would imagine he came with relatives (or family friends or something). Have you found a ship's passenger list for him? There are records available for that period (my German lines came in 1847 and 1854, and I've found both of their passenger records).

  2. I agree with Kerry. Also, I wonder if you have heard of GeneaBloggers? It is a great group to join, all people who have genealogy blogs. Thomas keeps everything in order and he started the group. Check it out, you may enjoy reading what others are writing from the same areas as you! I also wanted to thank you for the comment on my blog! I am still working towards that goal!