San Francisco County







SOHST BROTHERS (John F. W. and Henry J.), of the Pioneer Carriage Factory of Oakland, were born in Warin, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, sons of Henry John and Sophie (Edler) Sohst.  The parents arrived in America May 26, 1868, accompanied by their son, Henry J., and their daughter, now the widow of Edward Boehm, Three sons, Adolph, Carl and J. F. W., having preceded them.  All settled in New York city, except J. F. W. and H. J., of Sohst Brothers.  The mother, born in 1804, is still living, in 1890.  The father, born in 1803, died May 15, 1885.  They had resided in Warin, Germany, about thirty-five years, the father following the business of a blacksmith.  Grandmother Mary (Jurs) Sohst, died in 1808, aged over fifty, and her husband, a baker by trade, died in 1811, aged about sixty, both dying in Kroepelin, where they were born.  Grandfather William Edler lived to the age of seventy, and his wife, by birth Sophie Abraham, also lived to old age.  Great-grandfather Sohst, a native of Sohst in Westphalia, and a baker by trade, moved to Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was there married and lived to an advanced age.

      John Frederick William Sohst, born August 28, 1836, received a common-school education to the age of fourteen, when he went to work at blacksmithing with his father, attending night school to complete his education.  After three years in his father’s shop he worked one year in New Buckow, and left Hamburg for America May 1, 1854, arriving in New York, by the Oregon, June 22.  In two weeks he left that city for the West, stayed in Toledo, Ohio, a week and set out for Cincinnati by canal boat.  Landing at New Bremen in Auglaize county, and happening to get a job at his trade, he remained there eight months, and escaped the cholera epidemic of that period.  He next moved to Sandusky, where he remained at work until February, 1857, then spent a year in Republic, Seneca county, in a carriage and wagon-making shop, and moved from there to Leipsic, Putnam county, where he went into partnership with John Denis, under the style of Denis & Sohst, carriage manufacturers and blacksmiths.  Here he was taken ill with the typhoid fever, and on his recovery sold out his interest to his partner and set out for California by way of New York.  He left that city on the Illinois, March 7, 1857, and in due time took the Golden Gate at Panama, arriving in San Francisco March 29, after a rough voyage on the Pacific side.  Working at his trade until July 10, he then came to Oakland and went to work for Artemas Davidson, carriage and wagon manufacturer and City Marshal.  On the rise of the Washoe excitement in 1861, the opportunity was presented of buying out his employer, who had established the business at the corner of Water street and Broadway ten years before.  He bought out Mr. Davidson December 3, 1861, thus becoming the owner of Pioneer Carriage Factory of Oakland.  In 1863 he moved up higher on Broadway, between Seventh and Eighth, and in 1870 bought out M. M. How, the pioneer horse-shoer on Eighth street, running both shops separately until he united them at the present location, Eighth and Franklin, in 1873.  In 1875 he admitted his brother. H. J., into partnership.  They keep well to the front of their line, usually employing ten or twelve skilled workmen.

      J. F. W. Sohst was married in San Francisco in 1863 to Miss Margaret Nolan, born in Boston July 4, 1843, a daughter of Thomas and Mary (Buckingham) Nolan, both now deceased, the mother in Boston and the father in Jersey City, each being aged about sixty.

      Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Sohst have six children: Minnie, now the wife of Louis Emlay, of Emlay & Son, harness-makers of this city; Nellie, William, Adolph, Alice and Carl Sohst.

      J. F. W. Sohst is a member of Pacific Lodge, No. 7, A. O. U. W.; of Oakland Lodge No. 118, I. O. O. F.; of Eureka Lodge, I. O. R. M., and of Oakland Turnverein.  He was elected a member of the City Council in 1875 and re-elected in 1877.

      Henry John Sohst, junior partner of the firm of Sohst Brothers, was born February 4, 1838, went to school at the age of fourteen, learned the blacksmith trade of his father until the age of seventeen.  He then worked at his trade in different cities of Germany,—Berlin, Kemnitz, Dresden, Hamburg and elsewhere,—perfecting himself in his trade, until he came with his parents to America in 1868.  He there worked for a few months until the fall of that year, when he came to this coast by way of the isthmus with his brother, J. F. W., who had gone East to visit his parents and the other members of the family after their arrival from Germany.  He worked with him here as journeyman until 1875, when he was admitted into partnership.  He was married in this city, in 1877, to Miss Minnie C. Koch, a native of Jackson, Amador county.  They have had three children, of whom only one, Sophie, born August 11, 1878, survives, a boy and girl having died in November and October, 1889, respectively, aged nine and three years.  Henry J. Sohst is a member of Pacific Lodge, No. 7, A. O. U. W. and of California, Lodge, No. 2, Herrmann Söhne, and was a Schood Director from 1883 to 1887.


Transcribed by Donna L. Becker 

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 673-674, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2006 Donna L. Becker.



California Biography Project


San Francisco County


California Statewide


Golden Nugget Library