San Francisco County








FREDERICK DELGER, a land-owner of Oakland, California, and the son of Gottlieb and Dorothea (Wechtler) Delger, was born in Saxony, March 11, 1822.  His father, whose life-work was mainly farming, died at about the age of sixty, and his mother also reached that age.  Frederick was brought up to farming, but later learned the shoemaker’s trade, serving three years as an apprentice, and afterward perfecting himself in the art as a traveling journeyman, after the manner of the craft at that time in his native county.  He traversed Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Bohemia for some years, and in November, 1849, came to America, by way of Hamburg and New York, going to work at his trade in New York.  He was married in that city, in 1848, to Ernestine Blecher, a native of Darmstadt.  He afterward worked in Philadelphia and again in New York, whence he set out with his wife for California, by way of Cape Horn, in 1852, arriving in San Francisco, January 7, 1853.  After working a short time for others he opened a shoe-shop on his own account, and, himself being frugal and thrifty, he began to accumulate.  Money was abundant in those days, and work of all kinds was paid for on a liberal scale, so that an industrious mechanic, with no disposition to misspend the fruits of his labors, was on the high road to fortune.

      In 1855 Mr. Delger opened a regular shoe-store, and in a little while a second one, and by 1857 was able to open a branch store in Sacramento, supplying all three with goods sent to lavishly from the Eastern factories and sold at auction in San Francisco at prices which left a handsome margin for the retail trade.  After a few years’ profitable business he sold out his retail stores and embarked in the wholesale shoe business for about a year.  Meanwhile he had bought several pieces of real estate in San Francisco, on Third street, Clay street, at the corner of Second and Silver streets, where he lived, and on Sansome street.  Selling some of these at good prices, he went to Oakland, in 1860, and bought ten acres for $4,500 on Telegraph avenue, between Seventeenth and Twentieth streets, and running west in part to San Pablo avenue.  Of this tract he eventually sold three and a half acres to Alexander Campbell, and subdivided the remainder, laying out what he named Frederick street (now Nineteenth) through the center; William street, between Nineteenth and Twentieth, and Delger street (now Twentieth), reserving 175 x 600 feet on the north side of Frederick street for his own homestead.  This he has beautifully and lavishly improved until the mansion and grounds have become fit for one of the sovereign people with a good bank account.  He built on a large proportion of the lots in his subdivisions, selling most of them when thus improved.  His great success in accumulating wealth is founded on no special favor of Dame Fortune, nor any alleged luck in buying lottery tickets, of which neither himself nor wife have ever owned a single one, or any fraction of one.  The phenomenon has not the faintest tinge of mystery, being the simple result of a thorough appreciation of the value of land possession in a new and growing community.  While making a little money in the humble vocation of repairing shoes, and still more in the business of boot and shoe merchant, he knew that the margin of profit in such lines was necessarily of a fluctuating character, and that the flush times would not last long, even in California, and that the only sure thing of steady, permanent and ever increasing value is land.

      As an illustration of this growth, let one instance here suffice.  The piece of property he owned on Sansome street, which he had bought for $4,500, after bringing him $175 a month rent for about twelve years, he sold for $50,000, with which amount he purchased the unimproved property 100 x 100 feet, for $32,500, and had erected a building thereon.  It is foreign to the purpose of this sketch to enumerate all the pieces of valuable property of which he has gradually become possessed.  It is but just to state that it is all the fruit of his thrift, economy and good judgment, and that but few men could have accumulated so much property with less injury to themselves or in justice to others than Mr. Delger.  As a landlord he is exceptionally attentive to the reasonable requirements of his tenants.

      In illustration of his benevolence of character and the motives that prompt his beneficence on proper occasions, it may be interesting to state that himself and wife have contributed $8,000 to that excellent local charity, the Fabiola Hospital, the impelling motive being the remembrance of kind treatment received by him in a similar institution in his native land, in the days of his poverty, when he had nothing but his needs to entitle him to such consideration.

      Mr. Delger has revisited Europe several times, the last time being 1885.  Since 1886 Mrs. Delger has been an invalid, and his faithful companion for more than forty years receives at his hands a devoted and chivalrous attention that all the gold in California could not buy.

      Mr. Delger is a stockholder in the Oakland Bank of Savings, of which he was director some years since, but his increasing years and responsibilities debar him from taking as active a part in public duties as his kindly spirit and sincere interests in the welfare of a community would otherwise impel him to contribute.

      Mr. and Mrs. Delger are the parents of four children, all of whom are married.  The eldest daughter, Mrs. Matilda Brown, was born in the year 1849; the next, also a daughter, Mrs. Annie Moller, was born in 1854; the son, Edward F. Delger, was born in 1859; the youngest, another daughter, was born in 1866.


Transcribed by Donna L. Becker 

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 182-184 Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2006 Donna L. Becker.



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