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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Emil E. Drees

A native of the town towards whose upbuilding he has contributed so much, Emil E. Drees was born in Petaluma April 4, 1864, the son of August H. Drees, who came to California from Germany in 1852 and settled at what has since become the thriving town of Petaluma. For a time after locating here the father was engaged in a number of occupations, accepting any labor that offered fair remuneration, and subsequently he became interested in the hotel business, as half owner of the Franklin hotel on Main street. Later he sold this interest and bought a ranch west of town which he maintained for a time, but finally sold it and returning to Petaluma engaged in the produce business until his death in 1882. Besides handling all kinds of country produce, such as poultry and eggs, he also dealt in hides and pelts and game, and up to the time of his death carried on a lucrative business in dealing in these varied commodities.

Emil E. Drees attended the schools of Petaluma with considerable regularity until he was fourteen years of age, when he became his father's assistant in the store, the two working harmoniously together until the death of the father terminated the association. An experience of four years in the store had made him familiar with the business, which the death of his parent left to his management, and although he was only eighteen years old at the time, the ability which he then displayed proved beyond question that youth is no bar to success when ability and determination are a part of the make-up. He is still proprietor of the business inaugurated by his father so many years ago, a business that has kept pace with the growth of the town.

Although Mr. Drees has a splendid reputation as a merchant and business man in his home town, he is even better known as the agitator and leader in the movement which has resulted in the good roads and sidewalks which the citizens of Petaluma refer to with such pride, and well they may, for it is conceded that no city in the state can surpass them in these respects. It was during his service of two terms as city trustee, beginning in the year 1892, that his initial efforts were exerted along this line, in the face of much opposition, and during his third term, following the incumbency of a political opponent, he brought to fruition the agitation and work of former years. In 1893, on the Democratic ticket, his fellow-citizens honored him further by making him their representative in the state legislature, representing the people of the sixteenth district. At the present time he is a member of the Freeholders board, who have under way the drafting of a new city charter for Petaluma, the old charter no longer filling the needs of a town of its present size.

In 1894 Mr. Drees was united in marriage with Miss Ema Gossage, a native of Petaluma and the daughter of Jerome B. Gossage, an early pioneer of the state, an account of whose life will be found elsewhere in this volume. Two children have been born to Mr. And Mrs. Drees, Alvin and Darrele. Fraternally Mr. Drees is associated with a number of orders, among them the Masons, Odd Fellows, Elks and the Yeomen.

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