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Alameda County






HEESEMAN, CHARLES JOHN, Merchant, Oakland, California, was born in Charleston, S. C., April 10, 1871, the son of Gerhard F. and Louisa (Nordhausen) Heeseman. His father, Gerhard F. Heeseman, was born in Germany, but when very young went to America, and first made his home in Charleston, S. C. On November 5, 1849, he reached California, and though he subsequently returned to Charleston for a while, he is a pioneer of this State. On his return to California in May, 1883, he brought his family with him and settled in Oakland, where his son, C. J. Heeseman, has since become a successful and prominent citizen. The latter was married there on June 27, 1901, to Miss Luella Kesler, daughter of J. W. Kesler.

From 1877 to 1883 Mr. Heeseman attended the primary school in Charleston. Moving to Oakland, California, in the latter year, he was a student at the Tompkins Grammar, and also at the Lincoln School, during the next three or four years. In 1887 he entered Heald’s Business College, in San Francisco, where for a year he took a commercial course to equip himself for the business career he had planned.

      Mr. Heeseman’s active business life began in 1888, in the employ of Kohlberg, Straus & Frohman, dry goods merchants of San Francisco. Here he was placed in charge of the country department and remained therein six months. He then went over to the house of Kahn Brothers, for whom he worked for the next four years, at the end of which period he entered the employ of his uncles, C. and A. Nordhausen, clothiers. Beginning as a clerk, he rose, through the seven years of his connection with this firm, to the post of manager, and on the death of both of his employers, bought out the business, with his savings, and also with the understanding that if he “made good” he could continue the enterprise. That he has supported his end of the agreement the present condition of his affairs is ample testimony. From what was about the smallest business of its kind in the State, he has built, in the short space of twelve years, one of the largest concerns in this line on the Pacific Coast.

      After purchasing the Nordhausen interests, he started with a store, twenty by sixty feet, at the corner of Broadway and Eleventh street, Oakland. On December 8, 1900, he moved to his present location, 1107-1113 Washington street, where, until 1909, he occupied the ground floor, and then took the entire building, which he altered to meet the requirements of his expanded trade. This includes everything in the line of men’s outfitting, not only supplying the local demand, but also doing a large mail-order business. Mr. Heeseman has recently completed a handsome building of his own, at Clay and Fourteenth streets, into which he will move when it becomes convenient to do so. Besides this, he has acquired valuable real estate in Oakland, and is regarded as one of her most substantial and public spirited residents. For a dozen years he has been a director and treasurer of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. He is also a director of the Security Bank and Trust Company, and a member of the advisory board of the West Oakland Home of the Boys’ Retreat. As a club man he is an active participant in club entertainments and amateur theatricals, wherein his talents are in great demand. He is a member of the Lambs and the National Democratic of New York; Bohemian, Family and Southern of San Francisco; Athenian, Nile (of which last he was president for three years and a director for ten), Rotary, Oakland Motor (director), and the California Automobile Club of California. His fraternal orders are the Masons, of which he has been through all the grades, Elks, Knights of Pythias, Woodmen of the World, and many others.


Transcribed 11-21-09 Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 357, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta.  1913.

© 2009 Marilyn R. Pankey.