Marum Loeb (Lewis) Gerstle (1824 - 1892)

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Marum Loeb (Lewis) Gerstle's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Ichenhausen, Bayern, Deutschland
Death: Died in San Francisco, CA, USA
Managed by: Judith יהודית Berlowitz
Last Updated:

About Marum Loeb (Lewis) Gerstle

The rise of Lewis GERSTLE from a poor immigrant boy to a commanding position in the financial world of San Francisco is one of the local inspirations to progress, proving that there are great opportunities here for those who have the pluck and ability to make the most of them.

    He was born in Bavaria, Germany, December 17, 1824, and came to the United States in 1847.  He settled first in Louisville, Kentucky, coming to California in 1850.  He had worked his way over as a deck boy, so he had no fear of beginning with nothing.  He first started a fruit stand, but afterwards entered the mines as a day laborer.  After a short time at this work he went to Sacramento, to run the first Pony Express.  His zest and genuine ability for business enterprise early manifested themselves, so that he was never contented long working for a salary.  After the Pony Express venture he went into the wholesale grocery business with SLOSS and GREENEWALD in Sacramento.  He continued some time with this firm, always becoming more and more successful, although the store was twice flooded out.
    Anxious for more ambitious speculation, he returned to San Francisco and went into the mining stock brokerage business, which he followed until 1870.  Then he got the first Alaska fur concession, and also the first Russian fur contract.  Furs were shipped to England and other large trade centers of the world, and the business continued to grow with the growth of the city and the Pacific Coast trade.  The next step was the founding of the Alaska Commercial Company, of which he was one of the founders and the first president.  Everyone knows the magnitude of this business at the present day.  The extent of their interests can be measured by the large building they have recently completed, one of the largest and most modern office buildings in San Francisco.
    The founding of the Alaska Commercial Company marks one of the most important events tending towards the development of Alaska since the purchase of the territory from Russia.  The United States Government gave to the company an exclusive concession, for twenty years, for the taking of the fur bearing seal from the Pribilof  Islands and the  Aleutian Islands.  In returned the company was required to establish trading posts, schools, churches, and otherwise develop the region towards a higher state of civilization.  It was an undertaking of the greatest magnitude, requiring capital, enterprise, business and executive ability, and also a comprehensive appreciation of the needs of the community.
    Mr. GERSTLE and his associates lent themselves to the work with characteristic energy, and every requirement of the Government was more than carried out.  It is important to note that the company differed greatly from other companies securing concessions for various products in other portions of the world, in that the members did not believe in stripping the concession of its value but by a wise system of conservation succeeded in making it more valuable at the end of the term for which it was acquired than it was at the time of securing it.  At the end of the twenty year period there were more seals on the island than at the beginning.
   In addition to this the founding of the schools and churches, a most important factor in the development of the community, has had a direct bearing on the social and personal life of the inhabitants.
    The importance of the venture from a commercial aspect can hardly be estimated, including as it has the building of towns, the establishment of steamship lines, and the opening of markets for enormous quantities of products from the United States, which have been the prime factors in the investment of untold millions of dollars and the giving of employment to thousands of men and women.  While Mr. GERSTLE and his associates benefited by the enterprise, it is certain that the public reaped the greater benefit.
    Mr. GERSTLE married in 1858 Hannah GREENEBAUM, who was also a native of Bavaria, but came to California with her father at the age of seven.  The children of this marriage are:  Sophie, who married Mr. Theodore LILIENTHAL; Clara, who married Mr. A. MACK; Bertha, who married Mr. B.G. LILIENTHAL, Mark L., and William L., GERSTLE.  Both sons are now with the Alaska Commercial Company.
    Mr. GERSTLE added to his financial genius a many sided public activity, identified with the growth of the best interest of the state.  He was a member of the Vigilance Committee.  Although of the Jewish faith and noted for his benefactions to the members of his own race, his benevolence did not stop there and he could always be called upon to give sympathy and aid to every worthy cause.  In other words, he had the art of spending as well as the art of making money, and his example has stimulated the activities of many younger men.  Everyone  has not the keensightedness to see the trend of successful business in advance, and build up from a small beginning, an immense business like the Alaska Commercial Company, but his very exceptional quality of such insight makes the story of its development the more interesting and profitable to study.  The history of every great seaport is the history of its trade development, its center as a market for the goods of neighboring countries, so that Mr. GERSTLE's enterprise is an integral factor in the history of the Queen City of the Pacific.
    Lewis GERSTLE died in 1902, after a long life of high efficiency and usefulness, and his sons have carried forward to international eminence the business he placed on such a sound basis.

Transcribed by Deana Schultz.

Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 53-55 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.

From http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~npmelton/sfbger.htm

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Marum Loeb (Lewis) Gerstle's Timeline

1824
December 17, 1824
Ichenhausen, Bayern, Deutschland
1854
September 4, 1854
Age 29
1859
May 9, 1859
Age 34
Sacramento, CA, USA
1861
June 7, 1861
Age 36
Sacramento, CA, USA
1875
February 26, 1875
Age 50
Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Deutschland
1892
November 15, 1892
Age 67
San Francisco, CA, USA
1902
November 21, 1902
Age 67
Colma, CA, USA
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