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HENRY A PFISTER


Surnames:  Pfister, Glein, Hoffman, LaMolle, Landrum, Lynn
contributed by jchavnar

History of Santa Clara County California with Biographical Sketches, History by Eugene T. Sawyer, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California, 1922, page 366 - 371

HENRY A. PFISTER - If one were to tell the story of Santa Clara County from 1847 to the present day in the biographies of her distinguished sons - mean, in every sense virile, citizens, in every sense American - such a one would find inextricably woven with that history the name of the Pfisters. And to recount the advance of this community; to review the progress achieved, and to leave that name out, were to utter an apostrophe without an inflection of the voice; were to paint a picture without dipping the bush in the radiant tones of the artist's shades. While we have here essayed to write concerning the county clerk of this county, Henry A. Pfister, still it must be known that no such biography of however brief a compass would be complete with a word snatched from the past - some short word, written in retrospect, regarding those who have gone before.

Mr. Pfister's father, Adolph Pfister, was born in Strasburg, Alsace, in 1821; and after acquiring his education in the land of his birth, traveled extensively all over Europe, coming to New York in 1844. In 1847 he joined Stevenson's Regiment and circling Cape Horn came to California tinged with the romance of that early and gallant expedition, landing first at Monterey and coming later to San Jose.

After a short visit to the mines of Eldorado County, where he was amply rewarded in his pursuits, he returned to San Jose, and at once enlisted himself actively in the business and civic affairs of this city. He located first, on Santa Clara Street, near where the same is crossed by the Guadalupe River and there engaged in making saddle-trees. Later he erected the Washington Hotel, at the corner of Santa Clara and San Pedro streets - the first hotel to be built in San Jose.

This hostelry and landmark he later sold; then established himself in the general merchandise business at the corner of Market and Eldorado, now Post Street. Selling this, he then moved to a site at the corner of First and Santa Clara streets, where the Bank of Italy now stands, and there continued in the mercantile business. Upon selling this to the Farmer's Union he occupied himself in the grain business, owing at one time four flour mills in this county. Besides these many enterprises in which he was engaged he was also for many years the vice-presidentt of the Bank of San Jose. Safely can it be said that but few men have reached the civic heights of Mr. Pfister, for he was twice elected mayor of San Jose, and it was he who founded San Jose's first Free Library - having donated his salary as mayor that that philanthropic end; and was honored with the presidency of the Library Board for many years.

In 1850, Mr. Pfister married Miss Louisa Glein and to this marriage were born Henry A. Pfister, the present county clerk of Santa Clara County, his two brothers and three sisters, all of whom have made their mark in the work.

Henry Adolph Pfister was born in San Jose on January 26, 1859, and received the first rudiments of his education at the Gates Institute which stood on the east side of First Street, between St. James and Julian streets, but later matriculated at the Santa Clara College, from which institution he was graduated with honors, in 1874. With an uncle, C.E. Hoffman, he then went to Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and still later to Mexico, engaging in mining in these various places. He then returned to San Jose and soon opened and conducted a store at the Guadalupe Quicksilver Mines, at Guadalupe, in Santa Clara County. After the closing of the mines, he opened a large store in Santa Clara, in which business he was still engaged when on November 8, 1894, the voters of Santa Clara County bestowed on him the office of county clerk. For almost thirty years Mr. Pfister has occupied this position in the public service, and has acquitted himself at all times in a manner indicative of that type of public official that is fast becoming extinct, but the memory of which shall ever remain as the inspiration and examplar of coming generations.

He entered the political field as an Independent, with by no means weaklings offering the opposition, but his victory was assured from the very beginning; and his many times since happy returns to office, and at times over apparently invulnerable opponents, bespeak in glowing tones the admiration, confidence and trust with which the citizens of this county view him, his political career and his success as a public official. This repeated approval of his constituents has made him the longest incumbent in the chair of county clerk in the State of California, and one of the most respected in the state. This latter fact being shown by his being for the past twelve years, by unanimous voice, president of the County Clerk's Association of California. Fraternally, Mr. Pfister, is a Knights Templar Mason, and belongs to the native Sons of the Golden West.

On June 28, 1880, Mr. Pfister married Miss Maria N. La Molle, a member of an old, well-known and respected family of this community; a charming and accomplished lady whose untimely death on October 3,1920, left a wide circle of friends to mourn the passing of one, who, but to be known was to be loved. A daughter, Emily, who has since become Mrs. Thomas M. Landrum, the wife of a member of the C.C. Morse Co.; and another daughter, Marie, now the wife of Clarence M. Lynn of San Jose, and four grandchildren give hope of the perpetuation of this interesting family tree.

Henry A. Pfister is the possessor of an attractive personality that renders his individuality magnetic, pleasing and compelling. He is blessed with an acute mind; is quick of mental grasp and perspicacious, which give to him an analytic insight into things that would ordinarily baffle other men; and by reason of his long experience in public life he is able to apply broad and liberal principles which always find a happy solution to problems however perplexing and exacting. He is endowed with a native force of character strong but kind; and is fully cognizant that nobility obliges and that unselfish zeal and sacrifice have their own rewards. While profoundly clinging to the ideals and traditions of the past, he is not, however, blind to the innovations of today, all of which leave him clean and kind of heart. His lifetime of labor in public office gives his distinguished usefulness an eminence that compels the more sensitive to, or better able to discern, the public pulse and heartbeats, or more apt in the appreciation of public needs or better fit to met emergencies.

There has been no phase of governmental development in which Mr. Pfister has not shared, keenly sensing, as he does, the responsibility of one in office; and is therefore, found always working for higher civic standards and a healthier, stronger patriotism. This is shown, if in no other way, in his many and consecutive conscientious and efficient administrations where in his public and official capacity he ever retains the trust and confidence of his fellow-citizens, who repeatedly acclaim their approval of his many re-elections. His years of service has richly mellowed him into the kind protector of the counselor of all. Easy to approach, easy of access, he is always found willing to lend a hand; always ever ready to perform a goodly deed. The name of Henry A. Pfister will long be cherished and long will his accomplishments and achievements be retold, chiseled as they are on the annals of time, but mere words are vain and futile, for his praise stands out in the bold relief of service and deeds - truly is he the eminent son of a noble father - a scion worthy to perpetuate the heritage of the past.


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