August Kunze belongs to the little group of distinctively representative business men who have been the pioneers in inaugurating and building up the chief industries of this section of the country. He stands at the head of the Roberts Island Brick Company, engaged in the manufacture of brick at Roberts Island, San Joaquin county, and, moreover, he belongs to that class of representative American citizens who owe their success entirely to their own labors. His record should prove an inspiration to many of young man on starting out, as he did a few years ago, with no capital save brains, integrity, determination and perseverance. These after all are the best capital and without them wealth, influence and position amount to naught.

Mr. Kunze was born in Prussia on the 21st of January, 1838, a son of Anton and Helen (Heinrich) Kunze, who were also natives of Prussia. In that land August Kunze was reard and educated, attending the public schools. When twenty-eight years of age he bade adieu to friends and native country and sailed for America. He went from Germany to England and at Liverpool took passage on a sailing vessel, which in due course of time dropped anchor at Castle Garden, New York. He remained for a short period in Chicago, Illinois, and also for a brief time in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was employed in a brick yard, thus acquiring practical experience in the manufacture of brick. The knowledge thus obtained resulted in his active connection with the business at a later date. Subsequently he went to Yankton, South Dakota, where he established a brick yard, this being the first industry of the kind at that place. He conducted it successfully for many years, and the Kunze brick yard became one of the well known industrial enterprises of that portion of the country. He was meeting with very prosperous success when, in 1881, there occurred a great flood, the Missouri river overflowing its banks and destroying the brick yard, plant and other valuable property of Mr. Kunze in Yankton.

This necessitated that he begin life anew from a business standpoint. He subsequently went to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was engaged in the manufacture of brick until 1887. That year witnessed his arrival in California. He first located in Los Angeles, but soon afterward went to San Francisco, and in 1890 came to San Joaquin county. Here he began the manufacture of building brick on Roberts Island and was a member of San Joaquin Brick Company for a short time. Subsequently he became treasurer of the Stockton Brick Company of Roberts Island, incorporated, acting in that capacity for a number of years. Indeed, he practically founded and was the head of the concern. In 1903 he established his present brick yard on Roberts Island under the firm style of the Roberts Island Brick Company, in which enterprise he is associated with Otto P. Miller, of Yankton, South Dakota. Mr. Kunze is a practical business manager and has established an industry which has already reached extensive and profitable proportions. His long experience, capable management and keen discernment have been important elements in his success, and the output of the plant is now quite large.

Mr. Kunze has been married twice. He first wedded Johanna Drezler, a native of Prussia, and they became the parents of six children, of whom five are living: Charles and Adolph, who are residents of San Francisco; Bertha, the wife of Paul Hannan, of San Francisco; Anna, the wife of James Kingsbury, of Yankton, South Dakota; Martha, who is living in New York; and Elizabeth, deceased. For his second wife Mr. Kunze chose Mrs. Amelia Cooper, of Chicago, Illinois, and they now occupy a pleasant home in San Joaquin county. He has served as a trustee of the Fairchild school district.

Mr. Kunze is independent in his political views, but as a public-spirited citizen gives an earnest and effective support to many measures that have advanced the general welfare. He is practically the father of the brick industry on Roberts Island, and is manufacturing there an article which is surpassed in quality by no other firm in this part of the state. If those who claim that fortune has favored certain individuals above others will but investigate the causes of success and failure, it will be found that the former is largely due to the improvement of opportunity, but the latter to the neglect of it. Fortunate environments encompass nearly every man at some stage in his career, but the strong and successful man is he who realizes the proper moment has come, that the present and not the future holds his opportunity. The man who makes use of the Now and not the To Be is the one who passes on the highway of life others who started out ahead of him, and reaches the goal of prosperity far in advance of them. It is this quality in August Kunze that has made him a leader in the business world and won him the enviable name in connection with the manufacture of brick.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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