California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
EDWARD DOLCH. — As a participant in the frontier development of Southern California for forty years, Edward Dolch, of Victorville, bears witness to the history of that and other localities, and has been one of the steadiest, truest and best esteemed citizens of San Bernardino County.
He is the oldest son of Joseph and Caroline (Pelzolo) Dolch and was born in Silesia, a portion of the German Empire, on December 23, 1860. His father was a farmer. Up to the age of fourteen he attended the common schools of his native land, and then left home to begin his apprenticeship as a barber and surgeon. It was still customary in Silesia for a barber to perform the principal service of the surgeon — blood letting — true to a tradition running back to unknown times.
At the age of nineteen Mr. Dolch was compelled to begin his army service for a period of three years. After he had been in the army about two years an opportunity was presented to escape across Holland border, and he accepted it and came to America. In Silesia he had been vice-president of a local organization known as the Colizota Company to promote immigration to America. This was a scheme for projecting a colony in Benton County, Arkansas. On reaching America Mr. Dolch went to the city of this colonial enterprise in 1882, and soon discovered that conditions were far from what they had been presented to his fellow countrymen back home. He took effective measures to break up this fraudulent scheme, and thus saved many of his compatriots from further losses.
Mr. Dolch spent some time in Little Rock and then at Atkins in Cook County, Arkansas, where he was in the grocery business. The Arkansas climate afflicted him with malaria fever, and in 1885 he had to come to California for the sake of his health. He lived at Los Angeles a year or so, and not finding his health restored as rapidly as expected in 1887 he bought some mules and wagon and started for the desert country. He stopped where Hesperia now stands, and settled on the first ranch of one hundred and sixty acres west of the townsite. This was all desert and wild land, and for a time he had to haul his domestic water supply eight miles from Victorville. He planted and developed a splendid orchard of deciduous fruits without irrigation. It was an experiment, but it demonstrated the possibilities of the country. While at Hesperia he was overtaken with two successive dry years, the total rain fall of those two seasons being only one inch. On this account he was compelled to abandon his land, which he later traded, and moving to Victorville he engaged in mercantile business in the old town across the tracks. He bought the business of Strickhouser, who was the first merchant and postmaster there, he being the second postmaster. He served five years during the Cleveland administration. Selling out his store interest in 1900, Mr. Dolch went to Gold Mountain, then the scene of a great mining excitement, and there he established a general store. This mining camp went to pieces in 1905, and he left there after losing over seven thousand dollars. On returning to Victorville he turned his attention to the improvement of some lots and other property which he had previously acquired, and since then his property and business interests have been in and around Victorville. He has some substantial investments in city property, and has developed a ranch of thirty-two acres adjoining the farm, purchasing the land at a hundred and twenty-five dollars an acre and it is now one of the finest ranches in the valley. The old Mormon trail crosses the land, and in the process of clearing many old muskets were unearthed, these being relics of the early conflict between the Indians and Mormons.
In 1896 Mr. Dolch married Miss Elizabeth Greenlee, a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, and daughter of James and Catherine Greenlee. Mr. and Mrs. Dolch have one son, Edward G. Dolch, who was born February 13, 1898, at Cambric City, Indiana. He is a graduate of the Victorville Grammar School, and of the San Luis Obispo Polytechnic. While under age, he attempted to enlist at the time of the World war, but about the time of his enlistment he was stricken with the influenza and pneumonia and was rejected. He then returned to his father's ranch and began raising food for his country.
Edward Dolch immediately after reaching America took out citizenship papers, and his record as an American citizen is one of which he may be justly proud. He was originally a democrat in politics, but is now a republican, and has always been a keen student of politics and public affairs and greatly deplores extravagance and waste of public funds by Governmental authority. He still has some holding in mining claims. Mr. Dolch was the first constable in the Hesperia District, was made a deputy sheriff under Sheriff Booth, and he served twelve years as constable of Victorville. At one time this was the toughest town in the state, due to the presence of many Indians, Mexicans and the unlimited use of booze and guns. One of the frequent occurrences was a party of Indians getting drunk and engaging in a free fight among themselves. One night in his official capacity Mr. Dolch had to take six wounded Indians to a hospital. When America entered the World war he volunteered for active service, but was rejected on account of his age. However, he was assigned to local guard duty, and of twenty-five men selected for such service he was the only one to remain faithful throughout the period of the war. His duty was as guard of the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge over the Mojave River. While he was living in Los Angeles Mr. Dolch served as a corporal in the California National Guards, during 1885-87.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011