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Biographies
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Sacramento County

 

PETER BOHL

At a period when the vast regions west of the Mississippi valley were yet very sparsely settled and the lands near the Pacific coast were held in large grants by representatives of the Spanish nobility, the Bohl family lived upon a small farm near Georgetown, Ohio, and the father, George Bohl, frequently hauled tanbark to the tannery owned by liis intimate personal friend, the father of Ulysses S. Grant. There were five sons and three daughters in the parental family and three of the eight are still living, namely : Frederick, who at the age of more than ninety years makes his home near Peoria, HI. ; Mrs. Sarah Ludwig, of Moweaqua, Shelby county. Ill.; and Peter, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 23, 1830, and whose advantages were so meagre that he may be called a self- educated and self-made man.

When news came concerning the discovery of gold in California the older brother, Frederick, made an immediate resolution to seek his fortune in the west. Accompanied by his young wife he started across the plains with a party of emigrants. Scarcely more than one-half of the long journey had been accomplished when Indians attacked the emigrants and stole the horses belonging to Mr. Bohl. Fortunately his wife had some jewelry and silverware with her and these she sold in order to raise enough for the purchase of another team. It had been their intention to go direct to California, but circumstances forced them to alter their plans and they went to Oregon first, arriving there with nothing but a gun and a dog. Fishing and hunting not only afforded them a scanty subsistence, but enabled them to earn a little money and with this Mr. Bohl went on to California, leaving his wife in Portland, Ore. Upon his arrival in Sacramento he started a small bakery. With the first money earned he sent for his wife. In the meantime his younger brother, Peter, had taken the gold fever and had come to California. By way of Panama he came to San Francisco from Peoria, Ill., where he had been working for two and one half years, in the meantime saving all the money he could to pay for the expensive trip.

Starting for the coast in January of 1853 Peter Bohl arrived in Sacramento not long after the subsidence of the disastrous fire and flood of that year, without a dime and in debt $150, but with plenty of pluck and a courage and determination to succeed. Immediately he began to work in his brother's bakery. The trade was phenomenal. It was impossible to count the money they received and so they put it in sacks, which they weighed and concealed under the counter. The front door had no lock and it was kept closed by means of a large squash. Notwithstanding the great risk thus taken, the proprietors of the bakery never lost anything except one-half a cake, which was taken by a man who pushed the door open and entered when no one was in the shop. After he had worked in the bakery for some time Mr. Bohl attracted the attention of Mr. Wright, who operated the Central hay and feed yard, and he gave him a lease of the business without any capital. Six months and twelve days later, when the emigrants began to arrive, he was paid $2000 for the lease by a Mr. Coue. Although he had been in the state for comparatively a very short time, the young business man now had $3000 and with it he bought one-half interest in a building on Tenth and J streets. For a time his brother owned the other half interest, but this he also acquired later and he still owns this now valuable corner. During 1856 he bought his brother's interest in the bakery, which he conducted for eight years. Afterward with Will- iam Hedrick he conducted a grocery and grain business for five years, this being at the time when Ben Crocker was buying grain for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Upon a return from visiting in the east Mr. Bohl in 1871 became identified with William P. Coleman in the real estate business, and their pleasant and profitable association continued until the death of Mr. Coleman thirty years later. At this writing Mr. Bohl holds office as vice-president and is a director of the J. C. Carly Company, a large real-estate and insurance firm. In addition he acts as director of the Sacramento Building and Loan Association, also as a director of the California State Bank. He still gives personal attention to the management of his valuable property interests and to the development of the city along the lines of commercial, social and educational progress. Particularly has his interest in education been constant and deep. Appreciating the ad- vantage of an education through his own deprivation thereof, he has done all within his power to promote the schools of the state and has been especially helpful in his identification with the University of the Pacific at San Jose, which he served as a trustee for twenty years with the greatest capability. In politics he supports the best man regardless of politics, although in national issues he favors the Republican platform of principles. For forty-five years he has been identified with the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Sacramento and meanwhile he has promoted many church enterprises, among them the building of the splendid edifice now occupied by the congregation. During 1855 he married Miss Julia Hauck and after her death he was again married, being united in 1907 with Mrs. Agnes M. Juergenson of Sacramento. His first wife was a native of Germany and received an unusually thorough education, becoming a woman of culture and refinement. Her father was a man of prominence and held the principal municipal office in the city where he lived. During his occupancy of his high position he entertained officers of the emperor and distinguished men from every part of Germany, as well as from other parts of Europe, so that his daughter from her earliest recollections enjoyed advantages of an unusual order in social contact with people of distinction. Of her marriage there were three children born, but one died at an early age. The two survivors are daughters, Amelia C. (a musician of prominence), and Laura (wife of Edward Plucker, of Sacramento). The family has a wide acquaintance in Sacramento and enjoys the friendship of people of culture and influence. 


Source:
History of Sacramento 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: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011