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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The name of Diepenbroek indicates the Teutonic origin of the family of Melchior H. Diepenbroek. One of the most learned and distinguished men of the family, a great-uncle and his namesake, rose to the rank of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church and wielded a powerful influence at Rome and at the court of the kingdom of Prussia. Judge Anthony Diepenbroek, a nephew of the Cardinal, was a native of Westphalia and received a classical education at Heidelberg. After a successful career as a lawyer in Westphalia he was chosen judge of his county and also served for years as superior associate justice of the district, holding his official positions until death terminated his usefulness. By his union with Caroline Von Besten he had a family of six children, among whom was Melchior H., born in Bocholt, Westphalia, Germany, December 30, 1858, and educated in the thorough schools of that land. He continued his studies of classics and philosophy until September, 1879, when he decided to cast his for- tunes in the land of the Stars and Stripes.

Coming to New York City and thence to Chicago, Mr. Diepenbroek acquired his first knowledge of the United States by contact with these two great cities, in the latter of which he worked as salesman with a firm manufacturing barbers' supplies. After two years he came to California in 1885 and settled in San Francisco, where he was proprietor of a Catholic book and supply house. Later he founded the first German Catholic newspaper in that city and held the position of editor with the same until 1891, the year of his location in Sacramento. Here he engaged in the manufacture of cigars and superintended the factory of the A. Coolot Company until it was dissolved in 1902, since which time he has given his attention to his own large personal interests in and near Sacramento. Among his other valuable properties he planned and built the Diepenbroek theater, an elegant and substantial brick building on the corner of Twelfth and J streets. The building is very large and used exclusively for a theater, having a seating capacity of sixteen hundred and fifty people, and is the largest and most modern in the city, com- paring favorably with any theater building in the state of California.

Ever since he became a citizen of our country Mr. Diepenbroek has voted with the Republican party, but at no time has he cared for political distinction or official honors. Fraternally he holds member- ship with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. In marriage he became connected with one of the prominent families of Sacramento, where July 18, 1888, he was united with Miss Clara Louisa Coolot. They are the parents of ten children. The eldest, Anthony B., born in 1889, has taken the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Harvard University, where the third son, Alois, is now studying for the same degree. The second son, Joseph C, acts as auditor of Diepenbrock theater. Marie, the eldest daughter, is a student in the Academy of the Sacred Heart at Menlo Park, Cal. Eugene, Alexander and Frank, aged respectively twelve, ten and eight years, are pupils in St. Joseph's Academy at Berkeley, Cal. Carola, the second daughter, attends the Franciscan school in Sacramento. The youngest members of the family circle are Victor and Clotilde, who are five and three years old respectively. The family are earnest members of the Roman Catholic Church and contribute generously to the maintenance of its charities and missions.

Nine miles south of Sacramento lies a farm of six hundred acres, which Mr. Diepenbrock owns and which he manages with the assistance of a capable superintendent. One hundred and fifty acres are under cultivation to asparagus, a like amount is in beans, while in addition about twenty-five hundred tons of alfalfa are cut annually. Modern improvements characterize the ranch, which is equipped for the dairy business. The barns are built with concrete floors and show the latest ideas in sanitation and convenience. The employes are accommodated in a house lighted by gas and equipped with baths and other conveniences. A cozy cottage is provided for the family of the superintendent.

Upon deciding to embark in the dairy business Mr. Diepenbrock purchased from dairies in the east some full-blooded Holsteins, exercising the greatest care in their selection. He brought in five carloads of young heifers, all Holsteins. Since then he has secured the services of Dr. Weldon, who in partnership with G. F. Heenan is now running the dairy part of the ranch. Subsequently Dr. Weldon superintended the purchasing, and the herd was increased to two hundred and seventy head of pure-bred Holsteins. This is said to be one of the most uniform dairy herds in the west. Eastern Holstein owners, visiting the ranch, have exclaimed with surprise upon the fine condition and uniform color of the stock. The most exacting diligence is exercised to provide pure, clean, fresh milk, and the utmost neatness is required of the employes in the barn. The milkers carry ten-gallon cans to a large tank, through which the milk runs into a trough and thence around ten coils of pipe filled with cold brine. When the milk enters the cans at the bottom it has been reduced to a temperature of forty degrees, has also been aerified and made germ-proof by the elimination of animal heat. After the milk is cooled it is placed in an ice-box and kept at forty degrees until loaded, one-half hour before shipping time. At nine o'clock it is placed on board the Navajo and conveyed to San Francisco for delivery to customers in the early morning.

The Diepenbrock ranch furnishes an ideal location for a dairy plant. It is partly surrounded by a canal and adjoins the river, so that almost the entire tract has sub-irrigation, a most important feature to a dairyman. The owner applied to the federal government for permission to build a wharf near his place, so that steamers could stop to take shipments. He is the pioneer milk shipper from this part of the county and his success caused many to predict that within a few years a daily milk boat would be run from San Francisco up the Sacramento river. No mention has been made of the young stock, which is one of the specialties of the ranch and which already has begun to augment the size of the herd, besides contributing to its value by the development of some exceptionally fine young pure-bred animals. The success of the dairy may be attributed to the sagacity of the owner, his willingness to expend large sums in an effort to secure the finest strains of milk cows and his skill in securing to assist him on the ranch men of intelligence, energy and trustworthiness. 

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