Louis Gundelfinger, Jewish Pioneer Merchant of Fresno, California: An 1891 Description

Louis Gundelfinger

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Curator’s Note: We recently found part of a large book that appears to have been published in 1891 titled Memorial and Biographical His­tory of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, California. It lists many of the German born Jewish merchants and professionals that formed an important and interconnected part of the San Joaquin Valley’s economy.

In reading these biographical sketches, please note the language of the time, as well as the affection given to the subjects. The author is unknown. Below is one of the entries, edited slightly for our Museum’s “style.” These are 1891 “facts.”


Louis Gundelfinger is a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, born in 1849, the older brother of Leopold Gundelfinger [Click Here]


Louis Gundelfinger came to America in 1868, and for three months made his home in New York City.


Along the way . . .

Receiving a liberal offer of a business position in San Francisco, Louis Gundelfinger started for the West via the Isthmus of Panama.

From 1868 until 1872, Gundelfinger was employed as bookkeeper for the wholesale liquor firm of Wormser Bros., in San Francisco.

In the latter year he accepted a similar position in the wholesale clothing establishment of Greenbaum Bros., and was with them two years.

Then he was employed as bookkeeper for Levi Strauss & Co., a wholesale drygoods firm.

Fresno, California, Vintage Postcard


In September, 1877, Louis Gundelfinger purchased the interest of H.D. Silverman in the pioneer firm of Silverman, Einstein & Co., Fresno, Mr. Silverman having died in August of that year.

Since that time, Mr. Gundelfinger has been connected with this firm and has witnessed a large and steady growth in trade.

He is the active manager of the business, President of the stock company, and a faithful and energetic worker.

The firm does business in their fine building at the corner of Mariposa and Front streets, the site of the original one story frame building which was occupied by the pioneer Otto Froelich.

They do an immense business in wholesale, and retail general merchan­dise, their trade extending throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley.



Mr. Gundelfinger was married in 1879, and has a family of three children, all sons.

For more information on Louis Gundelfinger, see the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California, by Annie R. Mitchell, WSJH, Vol. 2, Issue #3, 1970.
  • “Jewish Businessmen of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties,” from Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern, California, 1891, WSJH, V34, #4, 2002

Since most of this exhibit is built on “facts” from 1891, any additional information or pictures would be appreciated – for the “Rest of the Story.”