Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Martin A. Tovaraz, one of Watsonville's enterprising merchants, has made each day count for the utmost, improving the opportunities of the hour and thus-advancing steadily in a land where the individual is unhampered by class distinctions. He was born October 15, 1883, at Stoh, in the province of Dalmatia, Austria, and his home was situated on the sea coast. His father was a fisherman and when the son was eight years of age he was allowed to accompany him on the nightly expeditions for anchovies and sardines, which were caught in a net. A light was cast down into the ocean and the nets were filled while the boat was in motion.

In 1899, when sixteen years of age, Martin A. Tovaraz followed the tide of immigration to America, coming direct to San Francisco, California, of which city his uncle was a resident. He was given employment as dish washer in the latter's restaurant at No. 522 Sacramento street, and his evenings were spent in the study of English at the Lincoln school at the corner of Fifth and Market streets. He worked for six months for his room and board and later was promoted to the position of cook. Leaving San Francisco, Mr. Tovaraz came to Santa Cruz county and for two months engaged in picking apples and cherries in the vicinity of Capitola. He next went to Arroyo Grande, in San Luis Obispo county, and worked for a time as a fruit packer for L. G. Sresovich. He then returned to San Francisco and reentered the employ of his uncle. Later the subject of this sketch became the proprietor of a cafe at the corner of Post and Powell streets, but lost everything in the memorable fire of 1906. In the fall of that year Mr. Tovaraz came to Watsonville and for one and a half years was employed in the Main street restaurant of Andrew Strazicich. On the expiration of that period he returned to San Francisco and opened a restaurant at No. 30 Luderdorff street, which he conducted for eight years under the name of the Insurance Grill. In 1919 he took over the management of the Central Hotel of Watsonville, which he operated for four years, and is now at the head of the Plaza Grocery Company of this city. Their store is situated at No. 22 Peck street and is one of the finest groceries in Watsonville. Mr. Tovaraz is a business man of broad experience and mature judgment, and under his expert management the firm is constantly expanding the scope of its activities.

In San Francisco, in 1912, Mr. Tovaraz married Miss Anna Bakich, who was reared and educated in that city but was born in the province of Dalmatia. They have a family of three children: Anthony, Peter and Nina, aged respectively twelve, nine and seven years, and all are natives of San Francisco.

Along fraternal lines Mr. Tovaraz is connected with the Independent Order of Foresters, being a member of Court No. 10 of San Francisco. He is also affiliated with the Austrian-American Society of Watsonville and the Austrian Military Society of San Francisco. Being a man of strong purpose, progressive spirit and indefatigable energy, he has "made good," and his fellow citizens entertain for him high regard.

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.