Sunday, March 27, 2011


So being that I was challenged with the Gunzendorfer line, that was my first stop.  And always will be my first stop because, well, there just aren't that many of them.  Whenever I'm trying something out and want to do a quick search, I always type in Gunzendorfer.  And if the results are in English, they're one of two tribes.

My Gunzendorfer line comes from my paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine.  Loraine was the daughter of Abraham and his wife, Bertha Schwartz.  Abe was the third of four sons of Ferdinand Gunzendorfer and Fannie Goldstein and they were a prominent family in California, primarily San Francisco and Monterey.

Loraine was quite a character and as a child I remember she was always nagging for us to do one thing or another.  As kids we spent quite a bit of time with her and Grandpa Sig, most memorably at their house in Fresno.  It was a huge house with many nooks and crannies and we loved exploring the little room off the garage with Sig.

Back to the rest of the clan.  Ferdinand came to California sometime between 1852 and 1854 from Adelsdorf, Bavaria, Germany and married a cute little Polish girl, Fannie, in 1863.  Ferdinand was a successful business owner in Monterey and owned/operated The White House, a mercantile on Alvarado Street.  With the exception of the oldest boy, Gustave, who became a lawyer, the boys (Adolph, Abe, and Jacob) followed in the family business.

What's interesting is that while searching the Gunzendorfers I found Adolph in New York.  After much research, I discovered this must be a different Adolph Gunzendorfer.  Was it really possible that there could be two Adolph Gunzendorfers born in Germany in the 1866-1867 time frame?  I've since connected with the great granddaughter of the New York Adolph Gunzendorfer and in my heart, I know we're related.  My gut tells me the New York Adolph's father, Bernhard, was the brother of my Ferdinand.  Could it be that they both came to the United States separately and both named their sons Adolph?  Maybe their father was named Adolph?  That little project is on hold for now but one day, I'll solve that mystery.

Abraham Gunzendorfer
Now on to my great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer.  Abe was a native of Monterey, California and lived most of his life there.  Upon his father's death in 1907, Abe took over the White House department store until his retirement in 1941.  He was one of California's earliest amateur photographers and during a visit by President Benjamin Harrison, Abe took his photograph and later received a personal note of thanks (boy, would I love to get my hands on that document).  In 1891, Abe organized the first hook and ladder company in Monterey and was later made a lifetime member of that city's fire department.

Abe and Bertha were married September 9, 1894 and their two children (Mildred Loraine and Wilton) joined the family before the end of the century.   They raised the children in Monterey and lived for many years on Pacific Street.  When he wasn't busy running the business, he spent time collecting early-day newspapers and interesting old coins. 

His many friends were deeply shocked when they learned of his death on May 4, 1944.  His health had been poor for several years and he had been mostly confined to his home but he continued with his keen interest in local and world affairs.  He is interred at Hills of Eternity in Colma, California  Abe's Memorial

Next up - Ferdinand Gunzendorfer


  1. I have two German brothers--Frank and Frederick.

    Each had a son named Frank.
    Each had a son named Frederick.
    Each had a son named Arthur.
    Each had a daughter named Viola.

    There probably would have been more...but Frederick ran out of kids before Frank did.

    Germans in this era drew from a pretty small pool of names. Another thing to watch out for: some of them used the same name more than once until they got a kid who actually survived. That original Frank had a son named Johann Francis Hermann Scheiber. He died at age four. They named the very next kid Johann Francis Hermann Scheiber. This was not uncommon then (at least among Germans).

  2. Yeah, I've found the same name for kids a couple of times. They must have struggled to find a name they liked and then when the kid died, they just used it again. Kind of like we've done with a few pets we've had over the years :-)

  3. This is so cool! I'm amazed at how much you've learned about your family.