South Lake County, CA

Local History



From My Book


They Left Their Mark On South Lake County

Joseph Getz & Bros. Lower Lake, CA





Copyright © 2019 Bill Wink


Bill Wink

P.O. Box 814

Middletown, CA 95461


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, modified, rewritten, stored in a retrieval system, or transferred in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electric, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express prior written permission of the publisher.



First printing, 2019

Library of Congress Control Number: 00000000000



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Joseph Getz was the second born son of Abraham and Sarah (Cohn) Getz. He was born in Zempelburg, West Prussia in the year 1835. By 1856 Joseph had six brothers and a sister. However, by that time, he was in the United States. He arrived in the U.S. on the ship; P. J. Behnck, on July 13th, 1852 along with two brothers, Marcus and Max. Their entry point was New York City.


On the way west the brothers stopped in Grass Valley and were in the business of barbering. Joseph and Max moved on and before 1860 the brothers were in Lower Lake, California. Over the next ten years the entire family would come to California from Prussia. The mother and father along with several of the children would settle in San Francisco.


Around 1860 Joseph and Max went into business with Hamlin N. Herrick and they opened a general merchandise store in Coyote Valley. All three men were counted in the 1860 census. It didn’t go so well and the Getz brothers moved back to Lower Lake.


Augustus M. Akins was a boy of fourteen when his family settled in Lake county. On April 1st, 1862 he found a job working for Herrick and Getz in Lower Lake. Part of the time he was engaged in clerking, but he was mostly doing outside work.


Joseph Getz and Hamlin Nelson Herrick had a short lived partnership and soon it was Getz Brothers with their store in Lower Lake.


Joseph married Johanna Jacobs Oct. 13th, 1864. They had five children of whom two proceed them in death.


In March of 1866 Solomon Getz was in San Francisco and soon traveled to Lower Lake to work in his brother’s store. He was 16. By 1872 he was running the store and Joseph had moved to San Francisco to carry on the exporting business. At this time, Getz’s major exporting and trading partners were in Shanghai and Hong Kong.


The other Getz brothers living in Lake county during this time were Marcus, Maurice and Max.  But Max moved on to Sonoma county where he soon went into the staging business.


Pacific Rural Press ran the following advertisement on September 4th, 1875:


“FOR SALE. A FIRST-CLASS DAIRY FARM AND STOCK RANCH,  Situated in Lake county, twelve miles from the flourishing town of Lower Lake; containing 880 acres of land, 400 acres of which is choice grain land, 80 acres of the best natural clover land, and the balance good pasture land, all of it tinder good fence and divided in seven divisions; abundance of water and well timbered. Title perfect—U. S. patent. This ranch is situated in the healthiest part of California, and has been used as a dairy ranch, where the celebrated Durst's Clear Lake cheese has been manufactured for a number of years, and is well adapted for that purpose, as also for grain, sheep and cattle raising. There is on the place a splendid dwelling-house, two large barns, cheese and milk houses, blacksmith shop, other out-houses and corrals, and water very handy. Price, $12,000; terms easy. There is also for sale first-class dairy cows, all the dairy and farming Implements, etc., at a reasonable price. For further particulars inquire of JACOB BPORNDLY, on the premises; JOS. GETZ & BROS, Lower Lake; or GETZ BROS. & CO., Commission Merchants, 513 Front St., San Francisco.”


By the early 1880s Getz Bros. was exporting food products to customers in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which later led to the opening of the first Getz overseas office, in Shanghai. The company did well shipping foodstuffs to China, its reach soon extending beyond Shanghai into northeast China, a populous region with an appetite for the cheese, oils, and meat products Getz exported.


The Grass Valley Morning Union ran this headline and story on April 1st, 1882:

“One of the Opium Smugglers.

Joseph Getz, who was at one time a resident of this place, engaged in the barbering business, but subsequently and for a number of years engaged in merchandizing in Lake county, is one of the parties under arrest in San Francisco implicated in the extensive smuggling of opium which has been systematically carried on by means of the steamers plying between Hong Kong and San Francisco.”


In August of 1888 Getz Brothers in Lower Lake was dissolved and a new partnership was formed. The firm’s new name was Joseph Getz and Brothers. I. S. Alexander, of Lower Lake, was included in the new firm and Joseph Getz became a special partner.


Daily Alta California January 1st, 1891:


“Within the past two years a new line of steamers has been put on between San Francisco and the principal Puget Sound ports by Joseph and Louis Getz, of 209 Market street, this city. At the present tine the firm is running two steamers, the Haytian Republic, of 1300 tons and the St. Paul, of 1100 tons, each accommodating about 130 passengers, and making the passage to the Sound in three days.”


Joseph Getz died on June 24th, 1896 in San Francisco, California. He was two months short of being 61.


San Francisco Call July 30th, 1905:


“Getz Bros.' Shanghai Agent Cables Firm to Cancel All Orders.

Louis Getz of Getz Brothers has received a cablegram from Shanghai which he has made public. The text is as follows: 'Cancel all orders. Boycott of American trade effective among Chinese merchants. All business entirely suspended." Mr. Getz says this cablegram was sent by R. H. Van Sant, the manager of the Getz Brothers' business in Shanghai.”


Max died in Napa on January 9th, 1907.


Sometime between 1900 and 1910 the building that housed the Joseph Getz & Bros. store in Lower Lake burned down. Augustus Akins, the boy who worked for Herrick and Getz, bought the lot and built his own successful store in its place.


Today the Getz Company Website tells this story:


The company started as Getz Bros, a California wholesale store in the mid 1850's to a formal company in 1871, to off shore trading in the 1880's, to its present leadership role in marketing and distribution activities.


Getz is an international marketing & services company with over 80 offices in 36 countries around the world. The origins of the company go back to 1852 when Joseph & Max Getz emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. They started with a small general store in Northern California by selling local products in and around the San Francisco area. Later they started exporting goods to China and other Asian countries. Business expanded and around the turn of the century, Getz opened offices in Shanghai and then Hong Kong and South-East-Asia. More followed and now it's major offices cover the whole of the Asia-Pacific region.


Over the years, Getz grew in size and reputation with mergers and acquisitions. New ventures and businesses developed because of growing collaboration with business partners. Today, Getz focuses on several core businesses in international trading, marketing and manufacturing.


Abraham Getz was born on May 24th, 1808 Zempelburg, West Prussia. He had seven sons and one daughter with Sarah Cohn between 1834 and 1856. He died on May 12, 1890, in San Francisco, California and was buried in Colma, California.


The children were: Marcus, 1834–1912; Joseph, 1837–1896; Max, 1843–1907; Maurice, 1845-1914; Louis, 1847–1921; Solomon, 1850–1924; Bernhard, 1853–1912; Minnie, 1856–1939.


Who’d a thunk?





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