George B. Katzenstein certainly deserves representation among the men who have been the founders of the New California. He has done much to advance the wheels of progress, aiding materially in the development of business activity and energy wherein the prosperity and growth of the state always depend. He has found in each transition stage opportunity for further effort and broader labor, and his enterprise has not only contributed to his individual success, but has also been of marked value to the community in which hemakes his home.
Mr. Katzenstein was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 28, 1848, and is a son of Eugene and Marie (Leibschutz) Katzenstein, both of whom where natives of Lorraine, France. They came to America in 1846, settling in New Orleans, where the father engaged in merchandising for a number of years. In 1853 the family came to California and a home was established in Marysville, where Eugene Katzenstein engaged in the hotel business, there conducting one of the first hostelries of that place. It was known as the Ohio House and stood at the foot of D street. In later years he retired from active business and made his home with his son George in Sacramento, his death occurring in this city in 1884. In the family were three sons and a daughter, of whom the subject of this review is the eldest. The others are Samuel, who resides at Spokane, Washington, and Edmond, who is living in Newcastle, California, where is employed by the Earl Fruit Company, and Mrs. F. N. Kidder.
Mr. Katzenstein was educated in public schools and high school of Marysville, California, being graduated with the class of 1865. He applied himself so closely to the mastery of the branches of learning constituting the high school curriculum that his health became impaired, and he spent a few years in travel for rest and recuperation. He then came to Sacramento and joined William H. Mills in the conduct of the Rescue, a fraternal paper. he also assisted Mr. Mills in his duties as grand secretary of the Order of Good Templars, and they were likewise associated in an insurance business. At length Mr. Mills retired in order to take charge of the Record, while Mr. Katzenstein succeeded him in the secretaryship, also as editor of the Rescue, and in the insurance business, continuing his activities in these various lines until 1891. He then took up a plan of colonization and was one of the organizers of the Orange Vale Colonization Company, which purchased three thousand acres of land and improved it by establishing a piped water system. This land was then sold in ten-acre tracts to eastern people, whom they had induced to come to California. The company planted orchards and vineyards, setting out many varieties of oranges, lemons and deciduous fruits. They also planted table grapes, thereby demonstrating the feasability of producing citrus fruits in the northern as well as the southern section of California, and thus attracting attention to this portion of the state as a fruit-producing center. This colonization scheme has been a very important and valuable element in the development of the valley. In the summer of 1868 Mr. Katzenstein took charge of the Sacramento and northern California business of the Earl Fruit Company, the most extensive shippers of deciduous fruits in the state. He continued the management of hte northern business for the company up to the winter of 1901, when the Earl Fruit Company sold out to the present owners, of which Mr. Katzenstein is one and was continued in the same position. The company annually ships three thousand carloads of fruit to the eastern markets from the northern section, and a still larger quantity is shipped from the southern portion of the state. As manager Mr. Katzenstein thus controls an extensive business which has made him well known among the horticulturists of California. He was one of the organizers of the California Fruit Distributors, the plan of this company being to establish a clearing house for all fruit concerns, and it now controls practically ninety per cent of the fruit shipped out of California, which it distributes in eastern markets. Its shipments are largely sold at auction in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toranto and Montreal. The company are also large exporters of green fruits to the markets of Great Britain and Europe, and likewise make extensive shipsments of the more hardy fruits such as apples and pears to the Australian markets.
In 1869 Mr. Katzenstein was united in marriage to Miss Ida M. Richards, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts, and the only child of Leonard J. Richards, of that city, who became a pioneer miner of California, arriving in this state at an early period in its development. After a number of years spent on the Pacific coast he returned to Lowell, where he is now living retired at the advanced age of eighty years. In the family are four children, three of whom are living: George G., Jr., who is now assistant manager of the Pacific United States Wire & Fence Company at San Francisco; Albert W., who is with the auditing department of the Sacramento Gas Electric & Railway Company; and Carleton L., who is still in school.
Mr. Katzenstein is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and his prominence in the fraternity is indicated by the fact that he is a past grand. He is also past grand chancellor of the Knights of Pythias fraternity, having filled the highest office within the gift of that order in the state in 1885. He is likewise past grand master workmen of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and it will thus be seen that his prominence in fraternal circles is equal to that in his business career. In politics he is a Republican, keeping well informed on the questions and issues of the day and taking an active interest in the growth and success of the party in relation to local, state and national affairs, yet he has always declined to accept any political office, preferring that his energies should be devoted to business interests, wherein he has gradually worked his way up to prominence and prosperity.
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