FREDERICK KELLER KRAUTH, JR.
No greater evidence of popularity or eminent fitness for important responsibility is required of Frederick Keller Krauth, Jr., than the fact that he has successively been honored as the choice of the public for official capacity since his first assumption of such duty September 16, 1876. It was on this date that he helped to organize the first fire company of Alameda, becoming assistant foreman, since which time he has risen to the position of chief of the fire department, having served for more years in this capacity than any other man in the state. A native of New York city, Mr. Krauth was born March 21, 1848, a son of Frederick Keller Krauth, Sr.
The elder Mr. Krauth was a native of Hagerstown, Md., and early in life learned and mastered thoroughly the details of the printer's trade. Induced to try his fortunes in California by glowing reports circulated, in 1849 he came around the Horn in the brig Mary Ellen, which brought many men of note to the western state. For a short time following his arrival in California Mr. Krauth was engaged in mining on Mormon Island, after which he returned to San Francisco and was employed on the Alta, going thence to Sacramento, where he helped to establish the Union. He remained there until 1857, when he went to Santa Cruz, and bought out the Sentinel, conducting the same for a period of two years. Disposing of his interests he went back to Sacramento and worked in the Union job office, but in the same year went to Placerville as foreman of the Mountain Democrat. Returning to San Francisco in 1862, he was employed as foreman in the jobbing office of B. F. Sterritt. Four years later he became foreman of the Alta, and later foreman of the Pacific Churchman. While on this latter paper, in 1869, he established the Alameda Encinal, the first issue printed in San Francisco, appearing September 16 of that year, after which he came to Alameda with a printing plant, locating near the Broad-gauge depot on Park street. At first he ran the paper as a weekly, later as a semi-weekly, and began publishing it as a daily in 1891. This was the first paper published in Alameda, and Mr. Krauth's identification with it for so many years made him a familiar and prominent figure in the public life of the place. In 1897 he sold out to George F. Weeks. Mr. Krauth became one of the leading men of Alameda, and was always active in his efforts to promote the best interests of his home city, watching its growth from days of infancy to its present prosperous condition. He was a member of the board of education and served as its vice-president for many years, and was instrumental in the erection of the original high school building, and also the original Episcopal Church, of which he was a member and to whose support he gave liberally. Fraternally he was a member and past grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and an active member of the Good Templars. His death occurred in 1898 at the age of seventy-four years.
The marriage of Mr. Krauth, Sr., occurred in the east, and united him with Mary J. Sherwood, of New York city, who died at the age of seventy years. Mr. Krauth made his first trip to California alone, but in 1852 he returned to New York city via the Isthmus of Panama and brought his family back with him. While in the east he purchased a type outfit, and all the latest papers. The return trip was made by way of the Isthmus of Panama, over the trail on mule-back and on foot, and on account of Mr. Krauth's heavy outfit of type, etc., which the natives took to be treasure (it being packed in a stout leather trunk), the two oldest children were slipped away from their party and away off into the forest jungle to be held for ransom. When their absence was discovered a search party was at once organized by the accompanying argonauts, which included a number of returning Californians, and the children were rescued just in time for their parents and friends to rush them down to the beach and signal the steamship as it was about to start for San Francisco. The subject of this sketch and his sister were held a day and a night by the natives, most of the time riding in baskets strapped to the natives' backs, and were well treated, though badly frightened when their friends came on the scene armed to the teeth and ready for trouble. When the steamship reached its destination Mr. Krauth had culled the important eastern news and set up the types ready to be put into the columns of the Alta which was a great “scoop” for those days and gave that paper quite a lead over its competitors, and this spirit of enterprise accounts largely for the success which accompanied all of his efforts.
To Mr. and Mrs. Krauth, Sr., were born the following children: Mary Augusta, who became the wife of Daniel Morgan, of Corralitos, Cal.; Frederick K. Jr., Frank Julian, deceased; Benjamin Sherwood, deceased; Walter Howard, deceased, and Theodore Warren, a railroad man.
Reared to manhood in his adopted state, Frederick K. Krauth, Jr., received his education in Sacramento and Placerville, and while still a lad in years entered a printing office with his father, and with the same spirit which animated the elder man, devoted his energies to the complete mastery of the subject before him. Having accomplished his object and become competent in all branches of the work, he worked on various papers in Sacramento and San Francisco. Upon the organization of the police department of Alameda he was appointed chief of the department, holding that office about four years, or until the spring of 1878. When the fire department was organized in 1880 he was elected chief of the department, though he had been connected with this work in Alameda since 1876. Since his election in 1880 he has served continuously with the exception of two years, when he discharged the duties of deputy sheriff, to which office he had been appointed. When a young man he became a member of the volunteer fire department of San Francisco and is now a veteran fireman of that city. In 1876 he assisted in establishing the Citizen Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 on Webb avenue, and was the first assistant foreman, this company remaining in service until November 1, 1901. In October, 1877, the West End Engine Company was organized as Whidden Hose Company No. 2, and on June 21 the trustees admitted into the department the Whidden Hose Company No. 2, Central Hose Company No. 3, and Pacific Hose Company No. 4. April 5, 1884, the Citizen Hook and Ladder Company No. 2 was organized, but was disbanded September 28, 1888. February 22, 1890, High Street Hose Company No. 5 was organized. Central Hose Company No. 3 was disbanded May 25, 1891, and June 15 of the same year Sherman Hose Company No. 3 was admitted. In 1891 a fire alarm system was installed and two chemical engines and one steam fire engine were purchased. The department now consists of three volunteer hose companies, two call companies (one hook and ladder and one hose company), one steam fire engine, one hook and ladder truck, one chemical engine, two combination chemical and hose wagons and three plain hose wagons.
In 2870 Mr. Krauth married Elizabeth C. Barlow, who died in 1897. They had two children, both of whom are now deceased. His second marriage occurred in 1808 and united him with Julia Damon, a native of Alameda, having been born where the city hall now stands, a daughter of Charles W. Damon. Fraternally Mr. Krauth is a member of Pawnee Tribe No. 67, I.O.R.M., and belongs to Alameda Lodge No. 49, K.P. He is also a member of the Society of California Pioneers and the Veteran Firemen of San Francisco. That which has won Mr. Krauth the esteem and popularity so universally accorded him is the character which is his both by inheritance and training, his many sterling qualities establishing him firmly in the best business and social circles of the city.
Transcribed 5-5-15 Marilyn R. Pankey.
Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 534-537. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.
© 2015 Marilyn R. Pankey.