One of the most prominent and representative citizens of San Jose is Henry Adolph Pfister, who is now serving for the third term as county clerk of Santa Clara county, and his prominence and popularity are indicated by the fact that he has been chosen for the office by constantly increasing majorities. He is one of the native sons of San Jose, his birth having here occurred on the 26th of January, 1859.

He is a son of Adolph and Louise (Glein) Pfister, the former a native of Alsace, France. Crossing the broad Atlantic to the new world when a young man the father landed at New York and remained a resident of that city for some time. At the outbreak of the Mexican war he enlisted for service in Stevenson Regiment of new York and served throughout the period of hostilities, taking part in all of the movements of his regiment. His company was discharged at Monterey, California, and Mr. Pfister determined to remain upon the Pacific coast. he made his way northward to San Jose, where he has continuously resided to the present time, being now eighty-three years of age. He is one of the oldest settlers of Santa Clara county, and as an honored pioneer well deserves representation in this volume. During his business career he was active and influential in commercial circles and in public life. He owned and operated four flour mills and also engaged in general merchandising and dealing in grain. His business activity was a factor in the commercial advancement and prosperity of the town. In public affairs, too, he took a most commendable interest, and his co-operation was ever along the line of progress and improvement. For a number of years he was honored with the office of mayor of San Jose, and his administration of the city's affairs was characterized by unfaltering loyalty to the general good and to the trust reposed in him. He established the San Jose library by devoting his salary as mayor to that purpose. The agricultural class have ever found in him a warm friend and champion, and he has labored most earnestly and effectively for the welfare of the city and county, public improvements having been largely conserved through his efforts. Following his discharge from the army at the close of the Mexican war in 1849 Mr. Pfister was married in San Francisco to Miss Louise Glein, and to them have been born three sons and three daughters, of whom the following are yet living: Henry Adolph; Herman C., who is connected with the Eagle Brewing Company; and Emily, who is living at home.

Henry Adolph Pfister is indebted to the public school system of California for the early educational privileges he enjoyed, and later he benefited by instruction in Santa Clara College. He left school, however, at the age of sixteen years and was engaged in mining for a considerable period, being thus connected with the development of the mineral wealth of California, Mexco, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. In 1887 he embarked in merchandising in Santa Clara, California, and continued to operate along that line until 1895, when he was chosen county clerk of Santa Clara county. He discharged the duties of the office so capably that in 1899 he was re-elected for a four years' term, and in January, 1903, was again chosen for a term of four years. In 1899 he received a majority of thirty-seven hundred and in 1903 his majority was forty-six hundred. No higher testimonial of efficient service could be given than this fact. He entered the office with the trust and confidence of his fellow men, and no act in his official career has ever caused him to fall one degree in public estimation.

In 1880 Mr. Pfister was married to Miss Marie La Molle, a native of California. They have been blessed with two daughters, Emily and Marie. Mr. Pfister has attained to the Knight Templar degree in Masonry, and also holds membership relations with the Knights of Pythias, the American Order of Foresters, the Woodmen of the World, the Eagles and the Native Sons of the Golden West. In politics he is a Democrat, unfaltering in his allegiance to his party yet placing the public good before partisanship. His career has been one of activity, full of incidents and results. In every sphere of life in which he has been called upon to move he has made an indelible impression, and by his excellent public service and upright career he has honored the city and county, which has honored him with official preferment.

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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