Sunday, August 31, 2014

It starts with a photo…..

For anyone who has researched their family, is an amateur or professional genealogist, or anyone with just a basic curiosity of where they came from, often times it starts with a photo.  You know what I mean – you see a photo, figure out who it is, start to research him/her, and 743 hours later, you’ve accumulated more information than you ever dreamed would be out there.  And all the while you know you should be cleaning the toilet, finishing the laundry, or doing something other than sitting in front of your computer looking for things.  But you just can’t stop.

And that’s where I’ve been for the last 24 hours.  My brain is spinning with what if’s, if only I knew, and more questions than I had when I awoke yesterday morning.

The culprit.

Adolph Gunzendorfer 1905 Postcard

Adolph Gunzendorfer 1905

Now I’ve seen several personalized post cards in my grandmother’s collection so can only assume this is another one.  I know that Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Gunzendorfer were my great grandparents and they did, in fact, live in Monterey, California in 1905 after spending about 8 years in San Francisco.  I also know that Abe’s brother was Adolph, also known as A.G., and that he was in Los Angeles between about 1901 and 1907.  So it would make sense that he would write a card to his brother, sister-in-law, and their two children, one of whom was my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer.

What I can’t be sure of is if the man looking silly on the card was, indeed, Adolph Gunzendorfer.  I have only run across one other photo of Adolph when he posed for a family photo in about 1896.

Gunzendorfer Family
Back row – Abraham, Gustave, Minnie Dauterman ?, Adolph ?, Jacob?
Center row – Bertha Schwartz (holding Loraine), Ferdinand, Fannie Goldstein, Inez Steinberger (holding Mervyn)
Front row – Irene Gunzendorfer

I’ve made some assumptions on this photo but I’m about 99% sure I’m accurate.  I’m positive that is Abraham on the left, nearly certain next is Gustave, assume it is Gustave’s wife Minnie standing next to him, and then I know the next two are either Adolph and Jacob…..or Jacob and Adolph.  But since Adolph wasn’t married at the time and Jacob was, I can assume the woman sitting in front of whom I think is Jacob is his wife, Inez, holding their young son, Mervyn.  And I know that is Bertha on the left (I’d know her ANYWHERE) holding my grandmother, Ferdinand and Fannie in the center, and then little Irene in the front.  And since my grandmother was born in January, 1896 and Mervyn was born just 3 months later, I can be certain this photo was taken some time in 1896.  And then came the goofy photo from Adolph above which makes me really think Adolph is second from the right in the family photo.

So then what?  Let’s see what I know about Adolph.

He was born in February, 1866 in California.  I don’t know the exact date or city but hope to be able to figure that out.  I have found a marriage record from 23 Mar 1887 showing his marriage to Emma Schoen in Monterey.  I have found NO other reference to Emma so I hope to be able to figure out what happened to her – did she die, did they divorce, or what?  From 1888 to 1896, I know Adolph was in Monterey working in the family business, The White House.  And that’s where things started to get a little more interesting.

By 1901 Adolph was a “manager” in Los Angeles.  And by 1904, the city directory shows that he is a Manager in billiards.  Huh?  Each year thereafter his occupation remains unchanged and finally he is linked to the Casino Billiard Parlor at 344 S. Spring in Los Angeles.  And during that time he decided to send a goofy post card to his brother back home in Monterey.

It must have taken some time to get the Casino Billiard Parlor up and running as the Grand Opening was held on 15 Dec 1903.

Casino Billard Parlor Opens Today Los Angeles Herald, Vol XXXI, No. 76, 15 Dec 1903
Los Angeles Herald
Volume XXXI, Number 76
15 Dec 1903

There were lots of other ‘amusements’ in Los Angeles at that time but I can imagine this grand opening was quite an attraction.

In 1904, Adolph was a “backer” in a group of well known gold mines In Kern County operated by E.W. Doss.  $10,000 was a lot of money in 1904!  (Los Angeles Herald, Volume XXXII, Number 56, 26 Nov 1904)

But by 1908 things didn’t seem to be going so well for the parlor.

Casino Billiard Parlor Los Angeles Herald Vol 35 Number 24, 2 Jul 1908
Los Angeles Herald
Volume XXXV, Number 274
City Hall Notes
2 Jul 1908

Now that’s interesting.  And even more interesting that by 1910 Adolph was back in San Francisco with his wife, Charlotte White.  What happened in Los Angeles to cause him to come back to the northern part of the state?  I know that from 1910 until the end of his life in 1932, Adolph was a fixture in San Francisco where it looked like he worked in an international specialty company. 

A few other interesting tidbits about Adolph will show up soon – stay tuned for more of the story!


  1. Adolph missed his calling as a calligrapher. He could fetch a good price addressing wedding invitations today.

    1. Oh Wendy, you always make me laugh. My husband commented about the handwriting, as well. I think beautiful handwriting is definitely a lost art.

  2. Debi, isn't if funny how a photo can send you in so many different research directions?

    1. Not just different directions but hours and hours (and more hours) of time. And we love every minute of it!