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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Jacques Fehr

To a noteworthy degree success has rewarded the efforts of Mr. Fehr in the new world and has left him no reason to regret the decision that brought him, a friendless emigrant with scant means, to the country that has since become his by adoption. Born in Eglisau, Canton Zurich, Switzerland, in 1857, he descended from a long line of Swiss forefathers who were experts in the making of watches. In the days when a watch was the product of one pair of hands and the visible expression of but one manís unerring judgment, his father and grandfather earned their livelihoods by following the trade and in their canton, where watch-making was the principle occupation of the people, they stood high as skilled workmen. An unerring accuracy governed every detail connected with the construction of a watch and thus Jacques had the inestimable advantage of careful training in a trade whose successful prosecution necessitates exactness and precision. Work filled his vacations during boyhood and in the winter months he was a student in local schools, remaining at home until he had completed the high school studies and then completed his trade at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton Neufchatel.

When nineteen years of age Mr. Fehr came to the United States. The ship on which he sailed across the ocean landed him at Galveston, Tex., and employment was secured at once in that city. There he followed his trade for four years. Next he came to California and settled in San Francisco, where immediately he found work as a watch-maker. For a long period he resided in that city and there, in September of 1894, he married Miss Mathilda Benson, who was born in Sweden and came to the United States about 1888. In his choice of a helpmate Mr. Fehr was singularly fortunate. Supplementing his integrity, perseverance and industry, her thrift as a housewife, kindly traits as a neighbor and devotion as a wife have aided him in securing a high standing among the people of Occidental, where they have resided since 1895. At first he limited his attention to the making and repairing of watches, but about 1900 he added jewelry to the other business and since then he has carried in stock a large and select assortment of articles to be found in all high-grade establishments of the kind. The latest newspapers and periodicals also are kept in the store and in addition he acts as collector for the National Casualty Company.

The fact that Mr. Fehr has gained a commendable degree of success speaks volumes for his energy. Coming to this country poor, without friends or influence, he had nothing to aid him except a rugged constitution, a thorough knowledge of his trade and an industrious disposition. With these as his capital he has risen slowly but steadily to a position of prominence among the business men of his town and county. Evidence of faith in the growing prosperity of the locality appears in his investment in real estate, which causes him to be ranked among the responsible men and leading tax-payers of the village. His parents and likewise the parents of his wife have passed from earth and they have no children to gladden lifeís afternoon, but they posses a host of warm personal friends and well-wishers and loneliness has never entered into their busy, cheerful lives. Charitable projects receive their generous assistance and all movements for the permanent welfare of their locality have in them intelligent advocates.

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