Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jacob Gunzendorfer - Inventor

Jacob Gunzendorfer
Jacob W. Gunzendorfer
c. 1896

Jacob Gunzendorfer was the youngest of the four Gunzendorfer brothers (Gustave, Adolph, Abraham, Jacob) and my great grand uncle.

Jacob was born 5 Sep 1871 in California, probably in Gilroy.  In 1880 the family was living on Fifth Street in Gilroy – I’ve run across some old photos of houses and one day I hope to learn that one of them might be this house.  In the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, Jacob was in Monterey working in the family business, The White House. 

Sometime around 1893, Jacob was married to Edith Inez Steinberger, three children joined them – Irene in 1894, Mervyn in 1896, and Helen in 1902 – and by 1896 they were living in San Francisco at 1630 Sutter.  They moved around in San Francisco a bit, from Sutter Street to 1636 Buchanan, 107 Lyon and 821 Ashbury all while Jacob was building his business, The Typewritorium.  And finally sometime between 1906 (earthquake!) and 1908 they moved to their much more permanent home at 3367 Washington Street which is in the current Presidio Heights district of San Francisco.  I know that the home was built in 1902 so it either survived the earthquake or was rebuilt before Jacob and his family moved in.  Jacob and Inez remained in that home for many years and were living there at the time of the 1940 census, and maybe longer. 

I wrote about Jacob, son Mervyn, and brother Adolph’s participation in The Submarine exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915 here.  What fun it must have been for my grandmother to see the exhibit and know that her family had a hand in it.  But I wonder if she knew that Jacob actually had a patent (No. 1,037,474) for an Amusement Apparatus which was patented 3 Sep 1912? 

Patent 1037474 Page 1
Patent 1037474 Page 2
Patent 1037474 Page 3
Patent 1037474 Page 4
Patent 1037474 Page 5
Patent 1037474 Page 6

There’s a lot of words on those pages and most of it doesn’t mean much to me but it is interesting – look at that photo of the submarine!  In a nutshell the “invention relates to an aquatic amusement device and particularly pertains to a passenger carrying structure which is adapted to be submerged and propelled through a body of water in simulation of a submarine boat.”  Cool!

I need to continue researching the house on Washington Street and The Typewritorium – so far I’ve found some current records on the house and while I know it has been renovated more than once, the photos are beautiful.  Would the current owners consider me a stalker if I contacted them?

Inez (more on her in a later post) left Jacob a widower in 1957 and Mervyn passed away just two years later.  By 1960, Jacob was living at 170 Vasquez Avenue, which was right around the corner from daughter Helen, when he passed away on August 5, 1960 at Mt. Zion Hospital.

Jacob Gunzendorfer SF Examiner 7 Aug 1960 Sec III Page 12
San Francisco Examiner
August 7, 1960
Section III, Page 12

Jacob is entombed at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Jacob Gunzendorfer Grave


  1. Oh, Debi, how fun that you found the patent -- and with illustrations and details, no less. I wonder if (and hope that) postcards or photographs will surface one of these days.

  2. LOVE the patent images! How neat!

    I'm enjoying your blog & nominated you for the "One Lovely Blog" Award!

  3. Handsome man! I hope you tell us more about the Typewritorium. I'm curious what that even means.

  4. Interesting blogspot. My curiosity was piqued by a post further down from August concerning Sig Levy. I've been a lifelong friend of one of the grandsons of Herb Levy Sr, one of Sig's brothers. I'll have to look for more posts about the Levys.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Is your friend one of Barbara's sons?

    2. Ha ha, no, but I suspected it was Bob you've made contact with. The grandsons of Herb Sr that I l know of are Barbara's sons Herbert Boro (Herb), Robert Boro (Bob) and Herb Jr's sons Martin Levy (Marty) and Herbert Levy III (Bert). My dad was a business friend of Herb Jr, and my parents socialized with the Levys. I've been friends with Marty Levy since about 1961.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Just to add...the last time I saw Herb and Fran Levy was in 2006 at my dad's wake. They've since passed on. I'm sure you never met them (I'm well aware of the rift in the family) but Fran Levy was one of the most loving, caring persons I've ever met. I'm proud to have known her.

    5. Fran was also related to us as her grandfather, Max Wilzinski, was the brother of the Levy's grandmother, Fredericka Wilzinski Benas. Bob shared similar sentiments about Fran - I wish I'd known her.