San Jose Tannery Owner
Tannery of Grozelier & Nelson. — Occupying two fifty-vara lots on the 
corner of Park avenue and River street, stands the establishment now under 
notice. It was commenced on its present location, in the year 1860, by 
Simon Grozelier and Gustavus Nelson, and was the first, and is the only tan- 
nery in the city of San Jose. The premises comprise beam house and cur- 
riers shop, indeed, all the requisite adjuncts to the manufacture of leather, 
the machinery for which is now driven by an engine of sixteen horse-power, 
which took the place in 1863, of a horse-power mill. The tan bark, of which 
there is an annual consumption of about five hundred cords, is procured in 
the Santa Cruz mountains, and the hides come partly from San Francisco, 
and partly from the Santa Clara valley, the leather manufactured being 
principally sole, harness, skirting, bridle, kips, and calf-skins, of which there 
is an annual out-turn of about ten thousand hides, a sale being found for 
them all over California. The leather here produced will bear favorable 
comparison with that of any other tannery in the State. Steady employ- 
ment is given to fifteen men. 



A business man long established in San Jose, whose metods of dealing with others have always been such that his word is as good as his bond, is Gustave Nelson, of 333 Vine Street, once the proprietor of the San Jose Tannery, famed for the quality as well as the quantity of its products. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 14, 1848, the only child of Gustavus Nelson, a native of Sweden, who had married Miss Christine Reshoeft, also of Hamburg, Germany. The father, a tanner by trade, was lured to join the rush for California, where he arrived in 1849, making the long trip by way of Cape Horn.

Shortly after his arrival in San Francisco he went to the placer mines, where he remained several years, but met with poor success, and later engaged in hydraulic operations until he broke down in health and suffered a paralytic stroke. When he had recovered sufficiently, he concluded to go back to his old trade of tanning, and obtained employment in a Santa Cruz tannery, where he worked several years and became acquainted with Mr. Simon Grozelier, engaged in the same business. Mr Grozelier went to San Jose about 1862, where he established a tannery on a small scale on Park Avenue, where the Roman Catholic school is now located, and in 1864 was joined by Gustavus Nelson in partnership under the firm name of Grozelier & Nelson. Gustavus Nelson had left his wife and child in Germany, for it was his purpose to establish himself firmly in business before bringing them out. This had been accomplished, and in 1868 he returned to Germany for his wife and brought her to San Jose the same year. His son, Gustave Nelson, had left two years before the father's arrival for Manila, P. I., where he was employed from 1866 to 1870, when he left and came to San Jose to join his parents, and soon after became an employe of Grozelier & Nelson, in the tannery; and when in 1876 his father retired from business, he conveyed his interest to Gustave. In January, 1887, the latter bought out Simon Grozelier's share, and conducted the business alone successfully until 1904 under the name of the San Jose Tannery, when he also retired.

In 1877,  Mr. Nelson erected his home at 333 Vine Street, and the following year, on March 10, was married to Miss Ida Krieg, a daughter of Julius Krieg,  who had settled in San Jose in 1870, coming from New York City. Mrs. Nelson is a noble-hearted woman who has proved the best of helpmates; and two children blessed their union, Adolph and Laura. Adolph is a salesman, is married, and resides at Sacramento; and Laura has become the wife of A. H. Lawry, a mining engineer at Goldfield, Nev.  Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are both members of the Santa Clara County Pioneer Society; and Mr. Nelson is a well-known member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 468