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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Frank Fenk

Whatever part of the world draws to its citizenship representatives of the sturdy Swiss race, they invariably bring to their new homes the same energy, economy and thrift characteristic of the nation from the earliest records of history. In Northern California, as in the old home land, they have found dairying congenial to their tastes. Nature endowed them with the patience and skill necessary to the successful prosecution of the industry. Education brought the requisite knowledge of the work in which they have gained a reputation second to no people in the entire world. It is therefore a natural result of certain causes that Frank Fenk should enter into the dairy business after his arrival in Sonoma county, where since 1909 he has engaged in ranching and dairying near Petaluma. Under a lease of one year he secured five hundred acres of land, from Charles Lewis and here he established himself as a dairy farmer, building up a splendid herd of forty-one milch cows. In addition he owns some young cattle, eight head of horses and a flock of two hundred chickens. Through unremitting efforts he is establishing a reputation for sagacious farming, and h e has many friends who predict for him a successful future.

Born in Canton Unterwalden, Switzerland, in 1879, Frank Fenk is a son of Joseph and Pauline (Diller) Fenk, also natives of that country. The father, who was born in the year 1845, grew to manhood upon a dairy farm, and at an early age had acquired a thorough knowledge of the occupation. This work he followed after he came to the United States in 1881 and settled in California, where for fourteen years he made his home in Sonoma county. While general ranching was his occupation, he made a specialty of dairying and always kept a large herd of good milkers on his farm. Besides his son, Frank, he had three children, Joseph, Matilda and Mary. Joseph, who is living in Petaluma, is married and has five children, Joseph, Arnold, Frances, Mary and Jessie. Matilda, who remains in Switzerland, is the wife of Fritz Bokar. Mary who also resides in her native country, married Frank Frie and has two sons, Charles and Frank.

Upon the completion of the studies taught in the schools of his home land Frank Fenk took up dairy pursuits and learned the industry in all of its details. During the year 1902 he came to the United States and settled in Monterey county, Cal., where he secured employment as a hired laborer on a dairy ranch. Since coming to Sonoma county in 1909 he has established himself in the business, and with the aid of a capable young wife he is rapidly rising to a position of influence among the dairymen. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Fenk was Miss Alice Josse; she is a native of Switzerland, born in 1883, and received a fair education in the Swiss schools. During the year 1908 she came to California, where she married soon afterward. Her parents, Peter and Alice (Ophill) Josse, were born in Switzerland in 1848 and have been lifelong residents of that country. Their sons and daughters are named as follows: Andrus, Peter, Daniel, Michael, Otto, John, Arnold, Henry, Catherine, Elizabeth Grati, Anna, Johanna, Franna and a child that died in infancy. Three of the sons and two daughters are married, and two of the family, Michael and Franna, reside in Oregon, making their home at Portland. All are devoted adherents of the Roman Catholic Church, and Mr. and Mrs. Fenk contribute to the activities of that religious organization, as well as to general movements for the upbuilding of the race. Since becoming a citizen of the United States, with the privilege of franchise, Mr. Fenk has exercised that right in favor of the Republican party, and has been a steadfast upholder of its principles. The anxieties connected with his occupation and the necessity of unceasing industry do not permit him to take an active part in lodge work, public affairs or any form of recreation, but occasionally, when free from home duties, he finds ardent pleasure in the sport of hunting, and as a Nimrod has displayed more than ordinary skill.

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