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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Indicative of the genuine business ability and purposeful energy of Mr. Lavenson is the important commercial concern established by his unaided efforts and built up to its present magnitude through his sagacious supervision. It was during 1877 that he opened a small shoe store on the corner of Fifth and J streets, Sacramento. He was young and without capital, but what he lacked in means he possessed in enthusiasm and determination. Even more important than this, he had excellent taste in selecting shoes and accurate judgment as to the wants and needs of customers, so that from the first he won the confidence of his patrons. To assist him at the start he had one man, au experienced cobbler, who took charge of repair work and also assisted in waiting on the trade. The twenty-three years of his occupancy of the same quarters were years of growth and slow but steady development, bringing the ultimate necessity of enlarged accommodations for customers and for the stock of shoes. Therefore in 1900 he removed to the corner of K and Seventh streets, where now he has twenty-two assistants to aid him in the management of the business. With this large force he is able to care for customers promptly, while the splendid equipment and modern conveniences of the new establishment give him one of the finest shoe stores in the entire state.

Born in Germany, December 27, 1852, Mr. Lavenson came to the United States with his parents when he was thirteen years old, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended the public and high schools until he was sixteen years of age. Mr. Lavenson has made Sacramento his home since May of 1869, having been one of the very first to come across the continent over the newly completed Central Pacific Railroad. Five years before this an older brother had come to California, where for a time he engaged in the mercantile business at Rocklin, Placer county, but more recently he has made his home in Portland, Ore. An uncle, Samuel Lavenson, a prominent pioneer of California, for years was a member of the firm of Lock & Lavenson, dealers in carpets and manufacturers of mattresses; this business was established during 1850 and has a reputation of being one of the very oldest in Northern California.

After his arrival in Sacramento a search for employment brought Gus Lavenson to the firm of Peyser & Lyons, on the corner of Seventh and J streets, where he secured work as an errand boy. His worth was soon proved. By various promotions he won his way to a rank among the head men in the store, where he remained for seven years, resigning in order to embark in business for himself. In his specialty he is well informed, posted concerning every change in style of shoe or leather, courteous among his customers and painstaking in his efforts to meet their wishes ; with such qualities as these success comes in the nature of things. The conduct of the business, however, does not represent the limit of his activities, for during recent years he has been treasurer of the Sacramento River Farms Company, an organization incorporated in March of 1908 with the following-named officers; Clinton L. White, president; Herman T. Silvins, vice-president; H. F. G. Wulff, secretary; and Gus Lavenson, treasurer. About the time of their incorporation the company acquired considerable property from Virginia Vanderbilt, a member of the famous New York City family of that name. They now own eleven thousand acres of rich bottom land in the Sacramento valley and also a part of the town site at Knight's Landing. In order to protect their fertile land from overflow and render it available for remunerative cultivation, they have expended more than $600,000 in improvements and have built more than fifteen miles of levee. There is every reason to believe that the hopes of the projectors will reach a gratifying fruition.

The marriage of Mr. Lavenson took place in Sacramento April 10, 1881, and united him with Miss Flora Goldman, a native of New York state, but from girlhood a resident of the capital city, where she is now a prominent member of the Tuesday and Saturday Clubs. Her parents, both now deceased, were Simon and Clara (Bien) Goldman, the former one of the well-known business men of Sacramento during the pioneer period. Mr. and Mrs. Lavenson are the parents of two daughters, Claire and Selma Rose. Both are leaders in athletic recreations in the capital city and are especially prominent as expert swimmers. Nor are they less capable as equestriennes. It is said by competent judges that they have in the west few superiors in either art. During the summer of 1911 they accompanied a party on a twelve days' trip through the Yosemite valley and during eight days of that time they were continuously in saddle, making four hundred miles on horseback with ease and speed, and returning home un- wearied by the strenuous nature of the excursion. 

History of Sacramento 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: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011