Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Fred W. Hesse

In the United States it is a matter of pride that a large proportion of the best and most prominent citizens in the different walks of life have risen to distinction solely through their own efforts, unaided by wealth, influential family or circumstances over which they have no control. A notable instance of the sterling worth which overcomes obstacles and creates its own opportunities is presented in the career of Fred W. Hesse, a well-known resident of Santa Rosa, where he conducts a lock and gunsmith shop, in addition to which he handles bicycles and repairs bicycles and automobiles.

In Hanover, Germany, the birth of Fred W. Hesse occurred in 1846, the son of parents who were also natives of the Fatherland. In keeping with the custom which prevails in the Fatherland Mr. Hesse attended school during the prescribed period, and later learned a trade, this also being a part of the training of the German youth. Not until he had served the required four years in the army of his native country could he hope to be free to follow his own inclinations. However, the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian war made demands upon his services, and seven months he put to practice on the field of battle his four years’ training in the army. After his release from obligations in his native land he determined to come to the United States, and the year 1872 witnessed his arrival in New York. He remained in that metropolis for about one year, having found employment at his trade of tool-maker, and later went to New Haven, Conn., where he continued work at his trade with a surgical instrument company. Altogether he remained in the east about two years, then coming to the far west and locating at San Francisco. His residence in Santa Rosa dates from March 16, 1877. Here his knowledge of the too-maker’s trade stood him in good stead, and the small locksmith shop which he then opened formed the nucleus of the large and varied business of which he is the proprietor today. In addition to his enlarged gun and locksmith business he added dealing in bicycles and bicycle repairing when that vehicle came into common use, and more recently, in order to keep up with the march of progress, he has added the repairing of automobiles to his other accomplishments. His natural mechanical ability makes him a genius in his line, and when a job is placed in his hands his patron is assured of the best service possible to obtain. While the greater part of Mr. Hesse’s time is given to his business in town, he still carries on a ranch enterprise that any one less ambitious than he might think was a sufficient business in itself. Two and a-half miles from Santa Rosa he owns a ranch of eighteen acres that he purchased soon after coming to the west, and which has been his home ever since. Two acres of the land is in prunes, and the remainder is used as pasture for his cattle and poultry, the raising of cattle and chickens being carried on on a modest but remunerative scale.

While in the east, in 1873, Mr. Hesse was united in marriage with Minnie Schlueter, who, like himself, was a native of the Fatherland, as were her parents also. Ten children were born of this marriage, evenly divided as to sons and daughters, but the two eldest sons are now deceased. All of the remaining sons are still single, while three of the daughters are married and located in homes of their own. Walter E. is associated with his father in the lock-smith and repairing business in Santa Rosa; one daughter, Sophie, is a resident of Berkeley, Cal.; and Rachel is at home, a pupil in the public school at Santa Rosa. All of the children are native sons and daughters of California. In his political belief Mr. Hesse is a Socialist. Through a membership extending over many years he is well known in the Odd Fellows order, belonging to Lodge No. 53, and also to Camp No. 53, and for the past twenty years he has served efficiently as secretary of his lodge. By adding the name of Mr. Hesse to its citizenship more than thirty years ago, Santa Rosa was to profit by the efforts of a man thoroughly in sympathy with its progress, and one who was in a position to grasp its most desirable opportunities.

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