Sunday, September 7, 2014

The rest of the story

The first part of the story of Adolph Gunzendorfer’s (my great grand uncle) life is here

By 1910 Adolph was back in San Francisco and sharing a home at 1627 Sacramento with his wife, Charlotte, her brother, Marshall White, and a lodger, Ralph Knowlton.  And in 1920, he and Charlotte were living at 645 Bush Street as lodgers.  Pages and pages of the census from that enumeration district are filled with lodgers – it could have been apartments or even hotels.

By 1913, Adolph was involved in a very special project – the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.  I wrote about my grandmother’s visit to the Exposition visit here.  What might Adolph have been up to?

Submarines Daily City Journal 24 Feb 1913 Page 5
Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon)
24 Feb 1913, Page 5

Yes, Adolph, his brother, Jacob, and Jacob’s son, Mervyn, were granted the right to produce their original and remarkable concession, “The Submarines” at the 1915 World’s Fair.  And what’s really coincidental is that I wrote about Grandma’s visit to The Submarine here.  How fun that she had so many mementos from the exhibit that her two uncles and cousin had a hand in creating.  My favorite memento was the piece of redwood that kept trying to escape from the scrapbook – was Grandma trying to tell me to keep researching?  Why didn’t she leave me more clues?


On February 10, 1922, Charlotte passed away and Adolph was alone.  I remember reading about her being ill in the letters my grandmother wrote to my grandfather in 1918 so, perhaps, it was a lengthy illness that led to her death. 

Charlotte White Gunzendorfer Obit SF Chronicle 13 Feb 1922
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, February 13, 1922

Sometime about 1926, Adolph moved to the Hotel Maryland at 490 Geary Street, which is now the Warwick Regis Hotel.  I’ve discovered several of my ancestors living in San Francisco hotels – maybe it was common to live in a hotel back then.

The Warwick Regis Hotel today:

Warwick Hotel 490 Geary Street 490 Geary Street

But Adolph not only lived in the hotel, he died in the hotel in 1932.  I can just imagine poor Adolph all alone in that hotel room as he, hopefully, passed peacefully in his sleep.

Coroners Report page 1
San Francisco County Records (1824-1997)
Coroner’s Register, March 1932
Image 52 of 398, page 423

March 1, 1932 at 11:32 a.m. 

This date at about 11 a.m. the deceased was found dead undressed under the bed covers in his room at 490 Geary by the manager Thos. D. White.  Supposed natural cause.  He was last seen alive this am about 4:15 o’clock before he retired.  He had been complaining of pain in his right arm.  Been dead several hours.

Coroners Register Mar 1932 Image 53 of 398
San Francisco County Records (1824-1997)
Coroner’s Register, March 1932
Image 53 of 398, page 423

Interesting facts on this page:

Apparent cause of death:  acute dilatation of heart, cardiac hypertrophy, chronic cystitis, chronic prostatitis.

The authorities took no clothes from the hotel and he had $105.00 at the time of his death (about $1200 today).

The ring was taken off his finger.

A check dated March 14, 1932 for $10.00 for miscellaneous cards was cashed.

Look at that – there was an inquest on March 8, 1932 and the jury verdict was that the death was due to natural causes.

And two days after his death, there was a very small obituary in the San Francisco Examiner.

Adolph Gunzendorfer Obit SF Examiner 3 Mar 1932 Page 19
The San Francisco Examiner
Thursday, March 3, 1932
Page 19

A very interesting and almost mysterious life was reduced to just two short paragraphs in the local newspaper?  Surely there must be more to the story.  Grandma, where are the clues?


  1. That ride sounds like the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disney World. I imagine it was a very popular exhibit at the Exposition.

    It must be a sign that today we're more aware of the symptoms of a heart attack. The pain in Adolph's arm is a common sign that apparently others knew about yet no one said anything.

  2. That submarine ride must have been really something back then.

    Wow! Those Coroner's Registers were quite interesting too.

    I want to let you know that your wonderful blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  3. I saw your post at Jana's Fab Finds. Very interesting!!! I'll have to read some of your other posts about him.

  4. This is such an interesting post, Debi. In one way it's surprising that you found so much information and in another, that you didn't find more. It seems that your Adolph led an interesting life. I hope you're able to learn more about him.

  5. So...what happened to the ring? Did the family get it?

    Debi, I am wondering whether there might have been a bigger obituary in a Monterey newspaper, if that was where Adolph's family was from, or in a trade journal published for those in the occupational field in which he operated.