The consensus of public opinion concerning Theodor Gier is indeed favorable, and Oakland numbers him among its most representative and valued citizens. Few men have done as much to promote business activity and prosperity in this city, and in community affairs he has been very influential, his labors proving a co-operant factor in the successful conduct of many enterprises that have been of material benefit to this section of the state. A native of Germany, he was born on the 24th of May, 1860, in Peine, Hanover. His father, Henry Gier, who belonged to a prominent German family, was a railroad superintendent. He spent his entire life in his native country and died in the year 1900. His wife, who bore the mainden name of Marie Behrens, was also of an old and distinguished family of the fatherland and her death occurred in 1892.
In different schools of his native country Theodor Gier acquired his education and then entered a general wine and merchandising business in Peine. When eighteen years of age he went upon the road as a traveling salesman and covered the greater part of Germany. The year 1881 witnessed his emigration to America. He spent twelve months in chicago, during nine of which he was employed in a grocery store. he afterward visited various eastern cities in search of a permanent location, and in July, 1882, came to California, since which time his interests have been identified with those of the golden west. For two months he was employed in a grocery store in San Francisco, and then went to Los Angeles, where he remained for a month. he next purchased a small ranch at Anaheim, but sold this property in 1883 and located in Oakland, where he opened several grocery stores, which he conducted with succes until 1890. He then concentrated his energies toward the development of a wholesale liquor business, supplying the trade and families. In 1893 he purchased a vineyard at Livermore, in 1898 one at Napa, in 1901 a second at Livermore, and in 1903 became owner of another vineyard at St. Helena, Napa county, so that his landed possessions now aggragate one thousand acres, four hundred and fifty of which are devoted to the raising of grapes. He manufactures a large proportion of his own wines and expects soon to engage in the manufacture of brandy. His principal brand of wine is known as Giersberger, and he controls the most extensive business in his line in this district of the state. He was one of the organizers and promoters of the Merchants' Exchange, served s one of its directors for eight years, and for the past two years has been the president. he was one of the organizers and directors of the Security Bank & Trust Company, which has recently been formed with a capital stock of one-half a million dollars.
Mr. Gier, however, has not confined his attention solely to the building up of these enterprises, but has directed his efforts into channels through which flow the greatest good to the greatest number. He is a citizen whose public spirit and progressiveness are numbered among his salient characteristics, and his efforts in behalf of Oakland have been far-reaching and beneficial. He has ever looked beyond the exigencies of the moment to the possibilities of the future, and has planned not only for the temporal good, but for the permanent development of the city. He was one of the promoters and vice-president of the Oakland Exposition, the movement being instituted six years aog, and since its organization he has been for four years the manager. Through these means and in other ways he has done much toward educating the people to do their trading at home, and success has followed his efforts in this direction. He has brought to his fellow townsmen a realization of the benefits this brings to the community, and all lines of business activity have felt the stimulus of his efforts. He is president of the board of commissioners for Alameda county to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and at the time of this writing had the county's exhibit almost ready for shipment. One of the most important works that Mr. Gier has done in behalf of his fellow men has been in connection with the building of the tunnel between Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and had it not been for his intervention the project that has resulted in such widespread benefit to both counties would have been indefinitely tabled. When the question regarding the expense of the undertaking arose it was found that Contra Costa county could not stand this proposition, and the law did not authorize Alameda county taking up the additional burden. When the deadlock seemed imminent Mr. Gier, who represented the Alameda executive committee, stepped into the breach, personally guaranteeing to raise the fifteen thousand dollars that was causing the trouble, and the counties agreed to each pay half of the balance. On that guarantee the tunnel was constructed and mr. Gier's obligation was faithfully discharged.
On the 9th of February, 1886, in Oakland, Mr. Gier was married to Miss Ferdinande Hornumg, a native of Marysville, California, and a daughter of Dr. G. Hornung, one of the pioneer residents of this state, who is now engaged in conducting a drug store in Marysville, California. Three daughters have been born of this marriage: Grace, Elsa and Amalie. In the social circles of the city the family occupies an enviable position, and Mr. Gier is also well known as a representative of various fraternities. He belongs to the Masonic lodge, is a charter member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, has membership relations with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and many other fraternities and socieites. He has held positions in all of these and has passed through the chairs of a number. He is likewise the president of the Arion Singing Society of San Francisco. His political allegiance has been given to the Republican party since he became an American citizen. He believes heartily in the policy of the party, and has frequently been a delegate to city, county and state conventions. He ha no political aspirations for himself, preferring to devote his energies to his numerous business activities, and yet he is an earnest advocate of his party and does all in his power to promote its success. He was chairman of the finance committee appointed to raise funds to properly entertain President Roosevelt on his trip to the Pacific coast. In January, 1903, he was highly honored by Emperor William of Germany with a presentation of an Order of the Crown in recognition of services rendered on the occasion of the visit of Prince Henry to this country. Mr. Giero took a prominent part in the entertainment of the Prince, and as the result is now the possessor of a gold medal, of which there are but two others in the United States; those were presented by Germany's emperor to the mayor of Chicago and to the mayor of New York. These three presentations are the first that have ever been made to any but German subjects. The San Francisco Call at the time devoted considerable space to an exposition of the matter.
Coming to America a young man, Mr. Gier has steadily advanced along lines demanding keen intellectuality, close application and business foresight and executive ability. He stands to-day as one of the strong men of Oakland, one who is highly honorable in his relations with his fellow men. A farsighted expendience, a recognition of opportunity and an unfailing energy have enabled him not only to build for himself a fortune of no mean proportions but also to contribute in large measure to the welfare, progress and prosperity of his adopted state, and in this connection he well deserves mention as a representative citizen of California.
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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