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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Carl Birkhofer

Occupying an honorable and influential position among the German-American citizens of Sonoma county, Carl Birkhofer, proprietor of Vine Hill Farm at Guerneville, has risen to this place solely through his own unaided efforts and by his modest success illustrates the statement that Sonoma county offers excellent opportunities to men of integrity and industry. The disadvantages under which he labored upon coming here, a stranger in a strange country, did not deter him from putting forth strenuous exertions to do his utmost. That he is now a land-owner and prominent tax-payer indicates the perseverance and untiring energy exhibited in his activities. This county owes not a little to its citizens of foreign birth, men of frugal habits, wise judgment and ceaseless industry, whose qualifications fitted them for aiding in the material development of the region and whose names are honored wherever known; of this class Mr. Birkhofer is a member, and he has an assured place among the horticulturists and farmers of his locality.

It was not until he was almost thirty years of age that Carl Birkhofer determined seek a home in the new world, believing better opportunities to await the poor here than in his native land of Germany, where he was born, in Baden, October 27, 1852. The family of which he was a member comprised eight children, all of whom married and established homes in their native land. Those besides himself were named as follows: John, Martin, Herman, Mary, Matilda, Anna and Freda, their father having been Carl, Sr., who was born in Germany about eighty-three years ago. Carl, Jr., received his education in the German schools and served three years in the army, in accordance with the custom of the country. Coming to the United States during the year 1881 he joined friends in Kentucky and secured employment in that state, whence in 1885 he came to California, settling in Sonoma county.

The marriage of Carl Birkhofer united him with Miss Eliza Gisel, a native of Canton Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Five sons and two daughters were born of their union, namely: Fred, Charles, Emil, Oscar, Herman, Mary and Laura. The sons and daughters were given as good advantages as the means of the parents rendered possible, and all were trained to industry and usefulness. Mary is married and has one daughter, Miriam. The younger daughter remains beneath the old home roof. The family have a large circle of friends among the people of their community. Through a residence here covering twenty-five years Mr. Birkhofer has become well-known to the people of Redwood township and the postoffice of Guerneville, and by all he is mentioned in terms of respect and esteem. While at not time has he been prominent in politics, he has convictions concerning the tariff and other public questions and favors Democratic principles, voting the ticket at all elections, but never allowing the use of his name as a candidate for any of the local offices within the gift of his neighbors. His attention has been given wholly to the care of his farm and the harvesting of the crops. The homestead consists of eighty acres in Redwood township, a half mile from Guerneville, improved with the necessary buildings and fences. A portion of the estate is in meadow and pasture, but he keeps only such stock as the needs of the farm demand, his specialty being horticulture. Seventeen acres of the farm are in a vineyard of choice grapes, large crops of which are annually marketed at fair prices. It is his experience that grape-culture is more profitable than general farming, and for this soil and climate he considers horticulture both a pleasant and remunerative occupation. Vine Hill Farm, as the place is known, is also one of the popular summer resorts of this section, a hotel having been erected which will accommodate sixty people, also a pavilion, while tent accommodation is available for about thirty families.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011