California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
J. J. SUESS. — In everything he has done since coming to Redlands J. J. Suess has manifested the talents of a constructive business man, and has done much to supply and anticipate the needs of the community for commercial undertakings involving the vital necessities of life.
Mr. Suess, one of San Bernardino County's esteemed and successful business men, was born near Zurich, Switzerland, August 22, 1862. When he was five years of age his parents, John J. and Susan (Ulrich) Suess, left their home in Switzerland and came to America, settling at Fort Madison, Iowa, where his father for several years engaged in a manufacturing business. While there J. J. Suess attended common schools, and during his education acquired a knowledge of English, German and Spanish. From Fort Madison the family moved to Guide Rock, Nebraska, and a few years later both parents died there, leaving a family of nine children. J. J. Suess was next to the oldest. The children managed to keep together and look after the home farm.
J. J. Suess at the age of nineteen set out to make his own fortune in the world and came to California. His first home was in Ventura County, where he did farming for several years and then became manager of a general merchandise store at Nordhoff. On November 1, 1891, Mr. Suess b^;an his thirty years of residence in Redlands. At that time he bought a half interest from J. W. Lewis in the Star Grocery, at the corner of Orange and State streets. January 1, 1893, he became sole proprietor, and has been active head and owner of that business ever since. It is the largest, best equipped and most successful store of its kind in Redlands, and the business has grown and prospered from year to year through the constant care and effective management' of Mr. Suess. He has striven to make the business service adequate to all the needs of the community. In 1905 he added a modern bakery, supplying goods both wholesale and retail, the bakery product being shipped to many surrounding cities. In 1910, over the store, he opened a model cafeteria, which for years has been the favorite eating place in the Redlands business center, but it is now on the ground floor and a part of the store. Mr. Suess has exercised constant care to furnish the highest class and best prepared food. The cafeteria has a seating capacity of 125. The next important extension of his business activities was the organization in 1914 of the Imperial Valley Baking Company. At El Centro this company constructed one of the most modern and complete machine bakeries in the state. Mr. Suess is president of the company, and the business is entirely wholesale, supplying the bakery products for a large section of Southern California, including Imperial and adjoining counties. Mr. Suess is also president of the El Casco Land Company, owning the property formerly known as the Singleton Ranch. This is a very extensive tract, and under the present ownership and management is producing general crops and livestock. These lands and other business ventures are, through the careful business methods of Mr. Suess, constantly adding to the general benefit of the community. He is a republican in politics, and was mayor of Redlands for two terms, from 1904 to 1908.
On December 29, 1889, Mr. Suess married Miss Mattie E. Dewey, a native of Pennsylvania. She died in 1903, the mother of two children. Donald E. Suess, born August 30, 1895, attended Redlands High School and Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts, and acquired a thorough business training under his father. He is now with Reid Murdock and Company, wholesale grocers of Chicago. During the World war he enlisted in the army with the Grizzlies at Camp Kearney. The Medical Department ordered his release from this branch, but, determined to discharge his patriotic duties, he enlisted in the navy, and was on duty at Goat Island until after the signing of the armistice. The second child of Mr. Suess is Dorothy Deney Suess, born November 1, 1898, a graduate of the Redlands High School. She attended the Marlboro School for Girls at Los Angeles, also the University of California and the University at Redlands, and is a graduate of the Munson School for Secretaries, and is now doing an important work as secretary for the County Highway Commission of San Bernardino County. She is one of Redlands' favorite daughters.
On March 15, 1905, Mr. Suess married Miss Nellie Westland, who was born at Grand Ledge, Michigan. She was well known socially and in educational affairs at Redlands before her marriage, having been principal of one of the grammar schools of Redlands. She is a graduate of the Michigan State Normal School at Ypsilanti. She is of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and her grandmother was one of the first graduates of Oberlin College in Ohio, and her grandfather, Rev. E. T. Branch, was a Congregational minister who did missionary work for his denomination in Michigan while it was still a territory. Mrs. Suess is a member of the Congregational Church, belongs to the Contemporaneous Club, concluded in December, 1920, a two-year term as president of the Southern District of Federated Women's Clubs, and has been very active in civic and social betterment, having been a worker in the Red Cross during the war period and always deeply interested in the welfare and progress of the schools. She was an active leader in the movement for the creation and improvement of Sylvan Park, and was appointed secretary of the Park Commission. Mrs. Suess is a republican in politics.
Mr. Suess is a Mason, a member of Al Malaikah Temple and Shrine, also a member of Redlands Lodge of Elks and the Woodmen of the World, and belongs to the Rotary Club. In his years of industry he has made himself a strong factor in the commercial and civic integrity of Southern California. His success has been the result of energies and character proceeding from himself, since he started life with no capital in a material way.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011