Leopold Gundelfinger, Pioneer Merchant & Banker of Fresno, California: An 1891 Description

Leopold Gundelfinger

Values Codes I-E-L

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.”

Leopold Gundelfinger is a native of Germany, born in Wurtemburg, in 1853.

At the age of thirteen he emigrated to America, settled in New York and there received his education.

Along the way. . . .

Leopold Gundelfinger entered upon a business career in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, from which place he went to McGregor, Iowa.

1872, is the year of Mr. Leopold Gundelfinger’s arrival on the Pacific coast.

After stopping a few months in San Francisco, he opened an establishment in Plumas County, in the northern part of California.

Fresno

Leopold Gundelfinger came to Fresno in 1874, accepted a position in the store of Jacob & Co., and remained with that firm several years. While in their employ he went to Kingsburg and opened a branch store, of which he had the management for eight years, until it was closed out.

After that, Leopold Gundelfinger spent a year in Europe, returning to California the latter part of 1886.

About this time the present flourishing Bank of Cen­tral California was established, and he became one of its direc­tors and the cashier, positions which he still fills.

He is also one of the stockholders of the corporation of Louis I. Einstein & Co., the well-known “Pioneer Store” of Fresno.

Civic

In a quiet and unassuming way, Mr. Gundelfinger has been closely identified with the interests of this city.

He organized the Fire Department in Fresno, for a long time having in charge the hook and ladder company.

Family

In 1887, Leopold Gundelfinger wedded Miss Minnie Rowe.

They have one child, a daughter.

For more information on Leopold 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.”