Those who have opened the way for civilization in our land, as the star of empire has taken its way towards the sunset gates, have been men of strong character: courageous, hardy, tenacious of purpose and willing to endure hardships and privations for the sake of making homes for themselves and posterity. All honor has been paid the pioneers who blazed their way through the sylvan wilderness of the middle west in the past generations, while not less is homage due to those whose fortitude led them to traverse the plains, invade the mountain fastness and do battle with a dusky and treacherous foe in the great empire of the far west. Among those who are to be considered as genuine pioneers of California is John Mundorf, who came to the state in 1852 and is now a prosperous and progressive merchant of Sonora.
Mr. Mundorf was born in Germany on the 21st of January, 1831, and is of German lineage. His parents, Jacob and Catherine (Ans) Mundorf, had eleven children with whom in 1845 they crossed the Atlantic to America, locating in New York City, where the father carried on a tailoring establishment, conducting a successful enterprise until 1865, when his life’s labors were ended in death, he having then attained the advanced age of eighty-three years. His good wife had departed this life six years previously, at the age of sixty-five years. They were people of true worth and instilled into the minds of their children lessons of industry, economy and honesty. Three sons and three daughters of the family are yet living, but the subject of this review is the only one in California.
John Mundorf pursued his education in the fatherland and during his early boyhood attended night school in New York City, while in the daytime he worked at the trade of white-smith, making edged tools. He served a three year apprenticeship in that way and then accepted a clerkship in his brother’s grocery in the eastern metropolis. In 1852, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, and the possibility of rapidly acquiring a fortune, he took passage on the Northern Light, which sailed from New York City to the Isthmus of Panama, whence he made his way to San Francisco, arriving on the 14th of December, 1852. He at once continued his journey to Jamestown, Tuolumne County, where he engaged in placer mining for seven and one-half years, sometimes enjoying a period of high prosperity and again meeting with ill fortune. On the expiration of that period he opened a bakery and saloon in Sonora, next door to his present location. He conducted the bakery business for three years and then added a grocery stock, and as the years have passed he extended the field of his labors by adding other departments to his store until he now has the largest general mercantile business in his county. He occupies three stores, side by side, filled with all the various kinds of merchandise used in this portion of California. His stock is carefully selected, with a view to the needs of his patrons, and his earnest desire to please, combined with careful management, indefatigable energy and honorable principles have secured him a large and constantly growing trade, whereby his bank account has been annually increased. He also has a ranch of four hundred acres near the city.
Mr. Mundorf was married in 1861 to Miss Elizabeth Kline, a native of Germany, and their union was blessed with nine children, of whom seven are yet living, namely: Lizzie, now the wife of Richard Inch; George, who is married and is engaged in business with his father; Kittie A., who married November 27, 1900, John Reid and resides in Sonora; Maggie, Daisy M., Lottie and Luzie. His children were all born in Tuolumne County and assist their father in conducting his very extensive business, while two men are also employed in the store. The family has a very commodious residence and Mr. Mundorf is today the possessor of a handsome competence, well earned by honorable business methods.
In 1861 he was made a Master Mason in Tuolumne Lodge, No. 8, and since that time he has taken the Royal Arch, council and commandery degrees, becoming thoroughly familiar with the teachings and tenets of the fraternity and exemplifying in his life its principles of mutual helpfulness, benevolence and brotherly kindness. His Democracy has been a part of his life since he gained the right of franchise, and his fellow townsmen, recognizing his ability, have called him to public office. He has been treasurer of his county and is now the mayor of the city. His administration has been of practical benefit, and he has been the promoter of needed reforms and improvements, exercising his official prerogatives in support of all that he believes will prove of general good. His career has ever been upright and honorable and his friendship is prized most by those who know him best.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.