William Holtz, engaged in real-estate and insurance, and holding several offices in Alameda, was born in Hamburg, Germany, September 21, 1829, a son of John C. and Mary Holtz. Of his father's family of three sons and two daughters, a brother and a sister, besides himself, came to the United States. The brother, Edward Holtz is now a resident of Mexico, and the sister is Mrs. Henrietta Jager, of San Francisco. Mr. Holtz was thrown upon his own resources at the early (sic) of fourteen years. From that age until he was twenty-one he was a clerk in a grocery in Hamburg; he was then drafted in the army and served three years.
The California gold excitement being still at its height, he embarked from Hamburg in the sailing vessel Herman, about the middle of June, 1852, and came by way of Cape Horn to San Francisco, arriving in December. Here he found every one a stranger to him and speaking tongues equally strange to him, while he was at the same time entirely out of money. Of course he had to take whatever job of work he could get. The first three days he shoveled sand on Dupont street, and then obtained a situation in a brick yard, which he retained for five years, saving a considerable portion of his wages. In 1858 he bought a half interest in a grocery on the corner of Third and Howard streets. Selling out at the end of three years he purchased a half interest in another store, on the corner of Montgomery and Pacific streets, where he did business up to 1867. In the early part of this year he sold out and with his family visited his parents in Germany.
Returning to California in October he bought back his old grocery stand and kept it until 1869, when, his health becoming impaired, he sold out again and moved with the family over to Alameda. In company with others he bought a tract of land on Santa Clara avenue, his share being two acres. He afterward opened a store on that avenue near Third avenue. That portion of the village had then but few improvements. This grocery he kept until 1883, since which time he has been engaged in his present business.
While conducting the grocery trade on Santa Clara avenue, he served as Justice of the Peace, first by appointment and afterward by election, for three years. In the fall of 1888 he was again elected Justice of the Peace for Alameda township. He was first appointed Notary Public in June, 1885, by Governor Stoneman, and reappointed by Governor Bartlett in 1887, and still again in 1889 by Governor Waterman,--the last commission being given for four years. His official duties, together with his real estate and insurance business, kept him pretty busy. He is a zealous Democrat, but has many fervent friends among the Republicans, as he is very popular. At the last election he was the only Democrat chosen in the county. March 7, 1872, he was elected a member of the Board of Education of Alameda, and he served three years. He is a Freemason, a Knight of Pythias and a member of the A.O.U.W., of which latter lodge he has been Financier for the last eight years. He was the first Master Workman of West End Lodge, No. 175, of this order ten years ago. Judge Holtz can emphatically be regarded as a self-made man, considering that he has risen to his present position, as above meagerly described, from nothing when he first arrived here but his inherited talents, --even with no knowledge of the English language and no money. He has been industrious, thoroughly devoted to his business and successful in almost all his undertakings. He now owns considerable property, some of the most valuable of which, in a business point of view, is in the west end of the city. In his official relations he has given the best satisfaction to the people.
He was married in 1858 to Miss Augusta Benn, a native of Germany, and they now have one daughter, the wife of P.C.Jurgens, postmaster at Traver, Tulare county. They lost two children,--Louisa dying in San Francisco several years ago, a mere child, and Fred J., who died December 6, 1889, at the age of thirty years; this was a sad blow to the family.
Transcribed 4-15-05 Marilyn R. Pankey
Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 57-58, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.
© 2005 Marilyn R. Pankey.