San Francisco County
A career of thirty-eight years in public life, thirty-three of them in the position of recorder of San Francisco city and county, is the incomparable record of Edmond Godchaux, well known and admired citizen of the bay region, and descendant of one of the city’s pioneer families. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 25, 1848, and is a son of the late Adolph and Sophie (Wellhoff) Godchaux, whose ancestors were residents of Reichshofen, Alsace-Lorraine, France.
The first of the family in the United States was Edmond Godchaux, grandfather of the immediate subject of this biography, who made his way to New Orleans in 1838, but later returned to France, where he died. Adolph Godchaux, who was born in Reichshofen, January 1, 1821, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, when he was nineteen years of age. He remained in the southern city until 1851, in which year he brought his family to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. He arrived in San Francisco, April 6, 1851. The journey across the isthmus was one of adventure. Edmond Godchaux was carried along the tortuous trail by a native servant who, for some unknown reason, abandoned him in a clump of high grass and returned along the trail whence they had come. The absence of the native and his valuable burden was soon discovered, but fortunately the son was found. Adolph Godchaux opened one of the first general merchandise stores in San Francisco adjoining the site of the hall of justice at Washington and Kearny streets, which latter point was occupied by the famous old El Dorado gambling house. He remained here two years, and then with his wife and son went back to France, only to return again to San Francisco in 1853. He was an outstanding importer and exporter of dry-goods in the early days and his business was known as Godchaux Brothers & Company. He was considered one of the wealthiest men of that time. He died in 1910, when he was eighty-nine years old. His wife, Sophie (Wellhoff) Godchaux, was also a native of Reichshofen, in Alsace-Lorraine.
Edmond Godchaux received his education in Dr. Chittenden’s San Francisco College, in Dupouey Brothers Union College, and in the Lycee Charlemagne of Paris, France. His first employment was in the capacity of buyer for his father. He began his public career in 1892, when he was elected to the thirtieth California legislature, and late in 1893 he was appointed secretary of the board of health under Mayor Sutro. In 1898, Mr. Godchaux was named as chief deputy assessor of San Francisco by Washington Dodge, and he was first elected recorder of San Francisco city and county in 1899. He has been reelected continuously since that time, which fact is indisputable evidence of the high efficiency and masterly skill which he has shown in the conduct of his many responsible duties. He has that knowledge of his office and its vast detail such as only three decades of service can give, and he holds the profound respect and confidence of all San Francisco. He has developed the routine and technique of the recorder’s office through the years to meet the steady growth of the city, and has in every phase of his service made himself a satisfactory public servant.
Mr. Godchaux is a democrat, and is a member of the Jewish Church. He belongs to the Masons; to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Academy of Science; the San Francisco Real Estate Association; the Jewish Welfare Association; The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals; the Fraternal Order of Eagles; the Order of Sciots; the Commonwealth Club; the Lafayette Club; the Public Spirit Club; and various French societies. His residence is situated at 2620 Buchanan street in San Francisco. He is unmarried. Mr. Godchaux’s club and society affiliations are indicative of the interests he has aside from his public career in office. The welfare of the community, the development of beneficial institutions, and similar worthy affairs are the things which have commanded his attention, and have made him an invaluable citizen of the bay region.
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Source: Byington, Lewis Francis, “History of San Francisco 3 Vols”, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1931. Vol. 2 Pages 385-387.
© 2007 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.