Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Among the citizens of foreign nationality who have left the impress of their individuality upon Watsonville's history is Albert Mundhenk, a retired capitalist, to whom the city is indebted for many of its finest buildings. He has made his own way in the world, and his life record proves what may be accomplished by courage, industry and perseverance, impelled by the spirit of progress and guided by good judgment.

A native of Germany, Mr. Mundhenk was born May 11, 1862, and after completing his studies served a three years' apprenticeship to the baker's trade at Pyr-mont. He worked in large bakeries in various German cities and at Stockholm, Sweden, and when twenty-one years of age yielded to the lure of the new world, arriving in New York city in 1883. He had no acquaintances in this country and was unacquainted with the English language, while his financial resources were very limited. Going to St. Louis, Missouri, he there spent a short time and then continued his journey westward, California being his destination. For a short time he engaged in prospecting in the mining districts of Michigan Bluff and Foresthill, Placer county, and on his return to San Francisco resumed work at his trade, entering the employ of Fred Helwig, a pioneer baker of that city. The business is still in operation in San Francisco and is now conducted by the son of its founder.

By the exercise of economy and self-denial Mr. Mundhenk had accumulated a small capital, which he decided to invest in Watsonville, and in 1887 he opened a store on Main street, near the corner of Fifth. Three years later he sold the business and started a bakery at the intersection of Seventh and Chestnut streets in Oakland, California. At the end of a few years he returned to Watsonville and re-entered business circles of the city, where he has since made his home. In 1897 he began operating in real estate, purchasing a lot on Main street, between Third street and Lake avenue, on the east side, and on this he built a business block of two stories. This structure and the Mansion House were at that time the only buildings on that side of the street, and Mr. Mundhenk conducted a bakery in one of the stores in his block, which he afterward sold to Charles Rowe. In 1910 he erected the A. Mundhenk block at No. 457 Main street, a modern three story brick building, which he still owns and rents. In the rear of the block he bought a piece of land running through to Van Ness avenue and on this property built three cottages, now known as Mundhenk Court. A sagacious, farsighted business man, he has been uniformly successful in his investments and has left as monuments to his enterprise and ability some of the city's best examples of architectural symmetry and beauty, greatly enhancing the value of realty in this locality.

In 1892 Mr. Mundhenk married Miss Anna Schneckeuburger, who died in 1921, leaving three children: Albert H., a gifted artist, whose portraits and outdoor scenes have won for him national repute; Pearl, who resides at home, and Harold, who is an attorney of San Francisco.

Mr. Mundhenk is a member of Pajaro Lodge, No. 90, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and also belongs to the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Independent Order of Foresters. In 1924 he returned to Germany, finding much pleasure in revisiting the scenes of his youth. He is loyal to his adopted country, being thoroughly in sympathy with American ideals and interests, and combines in his character all of the qualities of a useful and desirable citizen.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.