Behrend Joost is one of the leading representatives of the business interests of San Francisco, and there is in the city probably no man who has done more for the business development and substantial upbuilding of this part of the state than has Mr. Joost. He certainly deserves great credit for what he has accomplished, as he started out in life empty-handed, possession no capital in money but having a rich store of determination, of strong purpose and integrity. Upon these qualities as a foundation he has constructed his success and as the architect of his own fortunes has builded wisely and well. His career is certainly one well worthy of emulation and he belongs to that class of representative American citizens who while promoting their individual interests have also advanced the general welfare and public prosperity.
Mr. Joost was born in a small village, Amt Lehe, in the province of Hanover, Germany, a son of Martin and Anna Dorothea (Borchers) Joost. In the family were five brothers and two sisters, the subject of this review being the sixth in order of birth. His parents undoubtedly never dreamed that their son would one day become a leader in the business work of one of the metropolitan centers in America, but his own strong purpose and indomitable energy have won him the enviable and honorable position which he to-day occupies as a foremost figure in business circles of San Francisco. His education was acquired in the village school of Kohlen, Provinz Hanover, Germany, and he displayed special aptitude in his studies. He was reared upon his father's farm and received training there in habits of industry, economy and honesty. When fifteen years of age, however, he bade adieu to home and native land and sailed for the new world. His father and mother paid his steamship passage and gave him pocket money amounting to ten dollars in United States gold. It was with this capital that he started out for himself. He had hoped to meet his eldest brother, Tonjes Joost, in New York. The brother had left home many years before and was supposed to be engaged in business in the eastern metropolis, but to the boy's surprise when he arrived in the American port he learned that his brother had disposed of his business interests there and had joined the emigrants who were then making their way to California. Accordingly, the following year Mr. Joost made preparations to come to the far west, and through the aid of a friend accomplished the journey, landing at the "Long wharf" in San Francisco on the 1st of April, 1857. He had made the journey by steamer by way of Panama, and it was not long ere he found his brother, who was then doing a prosperous business in San Francisco.
Mr. Joost entered his brother's employ in the capacity of a salesman, and during the two years which he thus served he saved from his earnings one thousand dollars. With this capital he began business on his own account. He opened a grocery store on the old Mission toll road, and started in this business a few days before Christmas of 1859. The land which he purchased at that time is now the site of Joost Brothers' hardware store at the corner of Eleventh and Mission streets. Mr. Joost continued in the grocery business for eighteen years and often conducted two or three stores. His business methods were such as would bear the closest investigation and scrutiny, and as he always carried a good line of staple and fancy groceries and put forth every effort in his power to please his patrons he developed a business that soon reached profitable and extensive proportions. One of the secrets of his success, perhaps, is that he never paid rent for any property, but always made it his plan to buy wherever his business was located. As time and opportunity afforded he thus made judicious investments, and having retained in his possession many pieces of choice property he is to-day the owner of valuable realty holdings, including some of the most desirable business locations in the city. Although he continued in the grocery trade for many years he did not find this pursuit entirely congenial, especially disliking the liquor feature of the trade, and in 1887 he disposed of his grocery stock in order to deal in hardware. At that time he entered into partnership relations with his brother, Fabian, who was the first of the family to come to California, and who was engaged in mining at the time of the arrival of Behrend Joost on the Pacific coast. Their hardware enterprise proved very successful from the beginning and has since been conducted. About 1893 the business was incorporated under the style of the Joost Brothers Company, and the trade has now reached a large annual figure. Mr. Joost devoted his entire attention to his hardware store until a few years ago and even now gives several hours daily to the business.
A man of resourceful business ability, he has been very active in many lines and has become a co-operant factor in a number of important concerns in San Francisco. Many men, desiring to engage in business, sought his financial support and counsel, and in a number of these cases Mr. Joost has made investment, but has always refused to enter into any great business undertaking in which he could not be the directing spirit. He has never placed himself in a position to be ruled by the opinions and actions of others. He was organizer of the first home loan and building association in the state of California, became one of its directors at that time and acted in that capacity until the affairs of the company were closed out. He was also one of the first stockholders in the California Savings & Loan Society. When the Panama canal project was first undertaken by Mr. De Lesseps Mr. Joost became one of the organizers of a company to contract for fourteen million dollars to be expended in dredging. This enterprise proved a financial success, Mr. Joost's profits amounting to eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars in fourteen months. With the property he secured in early life and the dividends from the Panama canal he began to operate in outside real estate, becoming one of the city's heaviest and nost successful dealers in outside lands. He now has large offices on Montgomery street and is president of the Clarendon Heights Land Company and several other companies, including the Sunnyside Land Company. One of his greatest enterprises has been the establishment of the San Francisco & San Mateo Electric Railway system, covering over twenty-one miles of track. In 1889 he secured a franchise for the electric railway to extend from the foot of Market street in San Francisco to the Baden stockyards in San Mateo county. Work was begun and the road was completed April 1, 1891. This is the first electric railroad to cross the hills, and thirty cars are now in operation. The cost of the road was one million six hundred thousand dollars, and Mr. Joost became the first president of the company, acting in that capacity for four years, when the road passed from his control. He afterward devoted his attention to the hardware and real estate business, in which he has continued to the present time.
In 1874 Mr. Joost was united in marriage to Miss Anna Miller, a native of Wisconsin and of German descent. They had six children, but lostone, the others being: Martin B.; Maria, the wife of J. Frank Walter; Anna Dorothea, who is a graduate of the California University and a dentist by profession; Behrend A.; and Wesley. Mr. Joost is a member of the old Dutch Reform church and his political allegiance is given to the Republican party. He is devoted to his family, finding his greatest pleasure at his own fireside, when not occupied with the duties connected with his extensive business interests. While "the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong," the invariable law of destiny accords to tireless energy, industry and ability a successful career. The truth of this assertion is abundantly verified in the life of Mr. Joost, who, though he has met many difficulties and obstacles, has overcome these by determined purpose and laudable endeavor, working his way steadily upward to success.
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