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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


WILLIAM ZARTMAN. The life which this narrative depicts began in Northumberland county, Pa., October 20, 1829, and came to a close in Petaluma, Cal., February 6, 1908. His parents, Michael and Polly (Harb) Zartman, were natives and life-time residents of Pennsylvania, and the father of the latter was also a substantial citizen of that state, who was born in 1745 and died in 1843, having lacked very little of reaching the century mark. This old Pennsylvanian became very well-to-do through unwearied exertions, and through five marriages became the father of twenty-one children, who worthily bore his name and continued his interests. By trade Michael Zartman was a wheelwright, but as the work confined him indoors he preferred to carry on farming and teaming, and it was this dual occupation that proved the main support of the family. After reaching a good old age he passed away in 1846, his wife having died some years previously, in 1838. Twelve children were born to them, but of these only two sons and three daughters are now living, and William being the only one to locate in California.

When he was a lad of twelve years William Zartman was taken by his parents to Schuylkill county, Pa., and continued there until the death of the father. At an early age he entered upon a clerkship with Mr. Hilliering in Minersville, and still later he worked in the same capacity for Mr. DeHaven, but by the spring of 1848 he had become dissatisfied with his outlook and had determined to come to the west. He then came west as far as Illinois, where for a time he worked as a carpenter, and in the fall became a clerk in a wholesale establishment on Water street, Chicago. After continuing there several months he gave it up to begin in apprenticeship at the carriage-making business under William Wayman, subsequently working as a journeyman until November 26, 1851. On that day he left Chicago for New York City, where he boarded a vessel bound for California via the Isthmus, and on January 14, 1852, he firs touched foot on her soil. From the metropolis he went immediately to the mines of Calaveras county, mining in the vicinity of Carson’s Flat and Angels Camp until the last of June. His mining venture had netted him $2,800 thus far, and with this he engaged in a business undertaking, having as partners John Fritsch and a Mr. Leeman. Mr. Fritsch was a wagon-maker and a blacksmith and Mr. Leeman was a painter, and it was decided that the knowledge of the three partners could be best employed in the carriage-making business, and Mr. Zartman was commissioned to find a suitable location for the establishment of the shop. Starting out on his quest, he walked the entire distance from the old town of Benicia to Napa, and from there to Sonoma and Petaluma, the latter of which he chose, instinctively, as there was no apparent reason for the choice, the little settlement showing small prospect of becoming the thriving town that it has since become. In 1852 he purchased a lot on Main street, where the Racket store now stands, and near the site of the American hotel, and from that time until his death, with the exception of a few years, Mr. Zartman had entire management of the business, which developed into the largest general wagon and blacksmith shop in the country.

With his two partners Mr. Zartman became interested in a quartz mill in Gold Hill, Nev., in 1861, but two years later the business was disposed of and the year following Mr. Zartman superintended the mill for their successor in ownership. In 1868 Mr. Zartman became the sole owner of the carriage-making business, which he carried on alone until his sons became interested with him. A change in the firm name was made in 1884, when his son William Henry was taken into the partnership, business being conducted thereafter under the title of Zartman & Co., and in 1898 the son, Frank assumed his half interested in the business, leaving the father free from business cares. At one time Mr. Zartman was a stockholder in the Golden Eagle flouring mill and was also a director in the Petaluma Savings Bank. From time to time he had invested his means in real estate, and at his death he left considerable valuable property to his heirs, including business blocks which he had built up and residences in Petaluma, as well as property in San Francisco.

On January 1, 1854, William Zartman was united in marriage with Miss Rhoda Carothers, a native of Indiana. Six children were born to them, and of these four are living, as follows: William Henry; George Washington; Kate A., the wife of L. E. Rankin, an attorney of Petaluma; and Benjamin Franklin. At the time of his marriage Mr. Zartman bought the lot where the family residence now stands, first erecting a part of the house, in which he and his wife lived until they were able to complete it according to their ideas. It is now considered one of the finest residences in the city, and here Mr. Zartman and his wife celebrated their golden wedding January 1, 1904, the presence of friends and their children and grandchildren contributing to make it one of the most memorable occasions of their lives. In this same home the death of Mr. Zartman occurred four years later, February 6, 1908, when friends again gathered, this time to mourn the loss of one they had held as a dear personal friend for many years.

Fraternally Mr. Zartman was an Odd Fellow, having joined the order in 1855, and at the time of his death was the oldest of those who joined the order in that year. He was also a Knight Templar Mason, belonging to Petaluma Lodge No. 180, F. & A. M. Since 1858 he had been a member of the Methodist Church, in the work of which he had always taken an active part, and for many years served as a trustee. Of a cheerful, optimistic disposition, he is remembered by his fellow-citizens as well as by his family as one of Petaluma’s most sterling men.

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

Zartman, William. Was born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, October 20, 1829. When a child his parents moved to Schuylkill county in that State, where William was educated and resided until 1848. Previous to this date both his parents had died, and he determined going West, which he carried out by settling in Chicago, Illinois, where he was engaged in clerking for one year. In the Spring of 1849 he engaged as an apprentice to the wagon-maker's trade, and at the completion of his engagement, on December 1, 1851, he came to this State on the steamer "Falcon" to Panama, and on the steamer "Isthmus" to San Francisco, arriving at the latter place January 14, 1852. He at once proceeded to Calaveras county, where he engaged in mining until the end of June, when he became a resident of Petaluma. In July following he, in company with John Fritsch, opened a wagon and blacksmith shop. In 1861 Mr. Zartman, Fritsch and others built a quartz-mill at Gold Hill, Nevada, and the subject of this sketch was selected as its superintendent until 1864, when the mill was disposed of. In 1865 Mr. Zartman took passage on the steamer "America" for the East via Nicaragua. On the east side of the Isthmus he took passage on the "Golden Rule." After visiting most of the Eastern and middle States, he took passage on the "Golden Rule" for California in May, 1865. He was delayed on the way, being wrecked in the Caribbean sea. Two days after the wreck the passengers succeeded in reaching an island, and after inhabiting this lonely spot for eleven days they were rescued by United States gunboats. Out of seven hundred passengers, only one was lost. After crossing the Isthmus he took the steamer "America," and arrived at San Francisco July 1, 1865. Mr. Zartman went direct to his previous home in Petaluma, where he has since resided. In 1867 he built his present carriage shop, where he has since conducted business. He married, January 1, 1854, Miss Rhoda Carothers. She was born in Indiana March, 1829. By this union they have five children: William H., George W., Benjamin F., Katie A. and Mary B.

Source: HISTORY OF SONOMA COUNTY, Alley, Bowen & Co. 1880

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011