The Valley of Heart's Delight



Bio- Sawyers History of Santa Clara  pg.1683

A sturdy highly-esteemed early settler, with a wealth of pioneer reminiscence, who has always worked for the best interests of Palo Alto, is Gustav Laumeister, of 275 University Avenue, Palo Alto, known as University Park when he first pitched his tent here, inspired with the idea that the proposed Leland Stanford University would be the cause of a good-sized city, in time. He came to this place from Menlo Park, to work at carpentering for John McBain, the contractor, and he helped to put up the flags for the lot sale for the Pacific Investment Co. That was in 1888, and there was then no house in Palo Alto in which to live, but Mr. Laumeister had the faith of a seer and a patriot, and he bought lots in University Park, which was later renamed Palo Alto. He bought as much as he was able, and built as fast as he could, and he has grown and prospered as a successful builder and a director in the Palo Alto Mutual Building & Loan Association, where he has his office at 257 University Avenue. His high intelligence, general education and executive ability, easily enable him to make his assistance felt.

A native son, he was born at the Old Mission of San Jose, in Alameda County, on January 27, 1865, the son of the late John A.Laumeister, a native of Frankfort, then in the State of Bavaria, who was also a well-educated and well-trained man of exceptional ability as a practical miller and a millwright. When Germany broke out into Revolution, in 1848, he sympathized with and joined such revolutionists as Carl Schurz, and fled to America for refuge, sailing with his family to New York. He gained American citizenship at the earliest date, in 1852, and while in New York he helped to build the Croton Mills. The same year in which he became a full-fledged American, he migrated west to California for the purpose of erecting the old Pacific Mill; and later he built and managed the Laumeister Mills at Mission San Jose, Calif. He had become married in Philadelphia to Miss Fredericka Haussler, a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, who proved an excellent helpmate, congenial to a man of his clear mind, determined character and, withal, kindly heart. Although reared under Catholic auspices in Bavaria yet he became a very active and well-known Freemason in California, and a landowner of some importance near the Mission San Jose, where Gustav Laumeister was born, and where he passed his youth. In latter life, he was largely engaged in buying grain. He died in 1893, in his seventy-fifth year, as the result of an old injury. His wife outlived him by several years, attaining the age of eighty-six. There were two daughters, sisters of our subject: Anna had become the wife of Professor P. M. Fisher, of Oakland, formerly Superintendent of Schools in Alameda County and now principal of the Oakland Polytechnic, and also formerly editor of the State Educational Journal, but she is now deceased; Christina W. is Mrs. Ambrose Megahan of Oakland.

Gustav learned the carpenter trade under his father, as well as under other expert builders, having attended the public schools and Washington College in Alameda County, and he also studied architectural drawing, which has been of the greatest service to him. He went to Menlo Park in 1886, there to follow carpentering and building; and having become acquainted with ex-Governor Leland Stanford intended to create there a great institution of higher learning. He boosted the plans of the Southern Pacific Townsite Company, later the Pacific Investment Company, for the upbuilding of Palo Alto, fell at once into the progressive spirit of the new town, invested heavily, and has never regretted it. He not only built houses for his own investment, but he and his good wife participated actively in the social life of the new burg; and it is an item of no little interest that the first Mrs. Laumeister, formerly Emma Loveland of Menlo Park, played the organ at the corner-stone laying for the Leland Standford, Jr., University, while Professor Ellwood of San Jose, conducted the singing. Mr. Laumeister recalls clearly the simple but very impressive ceremonies, attended, of course, by Governor Stanford.

At first Mr. Laumeister put up small residences, but he soon undertook to erect larger and more pretentious structures, and public and business buildings. To his credit, for example, is the Peninsular Hospital edifice, recently sold to the city of Palo Alto,and many lesser buildings and business blocks in the city, and he is still very actively engaged in building operations. But his interest in the upbuilding of Palo Alto is not limited to his own building enterprises; he has energetically backed the movement to secure a waterfront and a public wharf for the town, and by personally buying the right of way in 1920, Mr. Laumeister has well nigh assured this commendable project. He was also the first to propose having the Middlefield road both graded and macadamized, and made available to relieve the tremendous and growing traffic on the State Highway running through Palo Alto.

In 1909, and for the second time, Mr. Laumeister was married when he took for his wife Miss Mabel Seale, a daughter of the well-known pioneer, Thomas Seale, who owned all the land where Palo Alto now stands, in fact owned all the land from the San Francisquito Creek to a point far beyond the Embarcadero Road. A portion of this he sold, however, to Timothy Hopkins. The Seales have always been deservedly prominent. Miss Emma Laumeister, our subject's only daughter, has become the wife of Ernest Haskell, the artist of international fame residing at New York. Always patriotic, progressive and generous. Mr. Laumeister rendered very valuable service during the late World War, participating actively on the Red Cross Home Service Commission. He is a Republican and is a member of the Masonic Lodge and Commandery of Palo Alto.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page  1683


Bio- Palo Alto Community Book

One of the odest residents of Palo Alto, and a most highly revered pioneer citizen, is Gustav Laumeister who put up the flags for the original  auction sale of lots in Palo ALto in February, 1889, and he has been here almost continuously for the past sixty-three years, having been an important factor in the upbuilding of the community.

Mr. Laumeister was born in Mission San Jose on January 27, 1865, the son of John A. and Federica Christina Laumeister.  He attended the Mission San Jose school and the old Washington college at Irvington, which was a particularly well known institution of his day.  His father desired that he enter the University of California but instead he began work in the building trade in Alameda.

For several years Mr. Laumeister was with the Pacific Improvement Company, and he also worked on buildings on Senator Stanford's stock farm and the University.  While still a young man he entered in the building business with John McBain in Menlo Park, but he early commenced building operations in Palo ALto on his own, and became the leading contractor in Palo Alto of his day.  In addition to erecting numerous  homes in this area, he also built many of the original business structures and other institution, including the Nevada Building, the Castilleja School building and he erected the first hospital here.

Mr. Laumeister was for years on the Palo Alto's most prominent real estate developers.  He spent many years developing his real estate holdings, as well as the large acreage of his second wife.  He added several subdivisions to the city, including South Court and South Court Addition.  He sold the land on which Leland Manor is located to Palo Alto Properties, Inc. for development.

In addition to his real estate building operations in Palo Alto, Mr. Laumeister erected many home in Carmel, where he still spends a considerable portion of his time.  He owned a home there for many years.

Mr. Laumeister married (first) Miss Emma Loveland, formerely of Meno Park, who is deceased.  One daugher was born of this union, Emma, the wido o f Ernest Hackell of New York, who was an internationally known artist.  There aer two grandchildren: Ernest Haskell, Jr., and Josephine, the wife of Edward Seward Stevens, and three great great granchildren:  Edward S. Stevens, Jr., Diana Stevens, and Karen Stevens.

In 1909, Mr. Laumeister married (second) Miss Mabel Seale, who passed away in 1946.  She was the daughter of Thomas Seale, who at one time owned practically all of the land on which Palo Alto now stands.  The portion of his land north of Embarcadero raod was sold to Timpthy Hopkins who founded University Park, the orniginal name of what is now Palo Alto.

Mr. Laumeister, until very recently, maintained membership in the Menlo Country Club, and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.  He still is a member of the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, the Native Sons of the Golden West, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  He holds a life membership with the Masons.

Although now well beyond the alloted three score and ten, Mr. Laumeister iw well able to enjoy life with his daughter at his residenc on Washington Avenue.  He still takes great interest in following the development of Pao Alto and finds his principal pleasure in seeing his friends and motoring.

transcribed from Palo Alto Community Book- by Guy C Miller, published 1952


SANTA CLARA COUNTY -The Valley of Heart's Delight
July 19, 2005