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March 2, 2004 > The Salz Family

The Salz Family

Jacob Salz was born in Germany in 1832 and immigrated to America before he was old enough for military service. He came to San Francisco in 1853 and moved to Centerville to open a general merchandise store in 1855. He met Rachel Hart at an IOOF Ball and they were married in 1867. They established a home west of Main Street in Centerville where four of their children were born. Jacob is listed as owner of a general merchandise store in 1867. Jacob was listed as the last charter member of Mission Peak Lodge when he died in 1909.

Sigmund Salz, Jacob's nephew, was born in Germany in 1851 and came to America to become a merchant in Centerville in 1866. He formed a partnership with Edward Niehaus in 1874 and was appointed postmaster in 1882 and again in 1889. Niehaus was postmaster for four years in the middle of Salz's two terms, and the post office was apparently in their Salz and Co. store during this time period.

The Historical Atlas of Alameda County lists Sigmund as a Centerville merchant with 81 acres of land in 1878. A newspaper article in July 1879 noted "Salz and Co. have nearly completed their new store at Centerville. It is substantial and neat in appearance and its interior furnishings are to be in the finest style. It will be ready for occupation early in August. It will be the only brick building in the township." An 1879 business directory lists Salz and Co. as general merchants and agents for Wells Fargo and Co. and the Western Union Telegraph Company. Sigmund is listed separately as part of Salz and Co. and Jacob's son Edward as a clerk. Charles Shinn referred to the Salz store in 1889. An 1889 directory lists Ferdinand as proprietor of the Centerville Store.

Sigmund Salz married Fannie Hart, Jacob's sister in law, and established a home on a lot behind the present theater. Four of their children, Henry, Moses Kullman, Clarence, and Elma were born in Centerville. The youngest son, Arthur, was born in San Francisco. The children were prominent in a variety of ways and places. Elma was a talented singer and often performed at local events. She later married Herbert Allen and moved to Santa Cruz. She created a sensation in Jewish social circles when she cancelled her wedding plans with a San Francisco attorney a few days before the expected ceremony. Her father signed notes to prospective guests recalling the invitations.

There were many prominent and talented people in the Salz family. Sigmund's son, Henri Edward, was born at Centerville in 1878. He graduated from Washington High School, attended the University of California, and studied music in Berlin. He became a famous musician, composer, and concert pianist. He shared his talents in numerous programs and concerts around the Bay Area. He organized a two piano, eight hand club that delighted eager listeners. The group was still going when Henri died suddenly in 1940.

Edward Salz, Jacob's son, carried on the family business and specialized in warehousing. Salz and Co. put up their first warehouse at Centerville about 1885. Edward purchased the Hare grain warehouse at Decoto and the Irvington and Warm Springs warehouses about 1890. His 1907 stationary read "Hay and grain warehouses and feed mills Decoto, Irvington, and Warm Springs." An article noted that Edward Salz had a dozen warehouses at Decoto. Later he bought the Lowry and Volmer warehouse at Irvington and Decoto and gave up the Hare warehouse. He was reported to be the owner of about a dozen Decoto warehouses in 1910. He advertised "Feed, Coal, Lumber, Vehicles" at Decoto and Irvington. Edward sold his warehouses to Clarence Salz in 1923. The Salz warehouse burned on May 5, 1931 in one of the worst fires Irvington ever had. The Salz Brothers Warehouse at Decoto was still handling 4,000 sacks of grain and 1,000 bales of hay per season in 1950.

The current telephone book does not list the name Salz, so there may not be any family descendants living in the Tri-Cities area. However, there are still people who remember the family, their life here and the huge warehouses. We do not have any street named after the Salz family and even the warehouses are no longer a part of daily life here. We now have only memories and records to remind us of this prominent Washington Township family.

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