George Roeth, one of the most valued and highly esteemed citizens of Oakland, where he took up his permanent abode
a half century ago, has for the past fourteen years been successfully engaged in business as proprietor of the
Housewives Free Market, the largest free market in Oakland.
His birth occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, on the 8th of March, 1859, his parents being Ferdinand and Wilhelmina
(Ehrenphort) Roeth, both of whom were natives of Germany. They were married in 1852. The father, born in 1822,
was a young man of twenty years when, in 1842, he crossed the Atlantic to the United States and settled in Baltimore,
Maryland, where he embarked in business as a dry goods merchant. At the time of the Civil war his business was
confiscated by the rebels, and in 1867 he removed to Kankakee, Illinois, where he carried on general merchandising
until his death in 1872. His widow, who survived him, passed away at Kankakee, Illinois, in 1878. Their family
numbered eleven children.
George Roeth, their fourth child, began his education in the schools of Baltimore and continued his studies in
Kankakee, Illinois, for he was a lad of but eight years when the family home was established in the latter city.
There he attended the grammar and high schools and assisted his widowed mother in the conduct of her business interests
until he had attained the age of eighteen.
In 1878 Mr. Roeth came to California, and his arrival in Oakland was coincident with the advent of the first railroad
here. He obtained employment as bookkeeper and cashier with the J. Lusk Canning Company, in the service of which
concern he continued until 1884, supervising the labors of one thousand Chinamen. Subsequently he turned his attention
to the box and lumber business, incorporating the Eagle Box & Manufacturing Company in 1885, and doing business
at the foot of Market, Myrtle and First streets in Oakland for a period of thirty years. He also associated himself
with the Great Eastern Quick Silver Mining Company, Inc. in Sonoma county, of which he is president and principal
owner. Since 1914 he has managed the Housewives Free Market, which is the largest free market in Oakland, located
at Washington and Sixth streets and Clay and Fifth streets. It is open to the public on Wednesday and Saturday
of each week. Mr. Roeth, moreover, is actively identified with manufacturing interests in Oakland and is widely
recognized as one of the city's substantial and representative business men.
In 1896 he was one of twelve citizens who organized the first manufacturer's exhibit, which was maintained for
three years. The first exhibit was held in the Mills tabernacle at Twelfth and Webster streets. At the time of
the earthquake and fire of 1906, Mr. Roeth was elected treasurer of the Masonic bodies and was put in charge of
all the money that came to Oakland from the Masonic lodges of the different states for the relief of sufferers,
and to his duties in this connection he gave his attention from six o'clock in the morning until midnight for an
entire month. As president of the Union National Bank at Twelfth and Broadway streets he saved over one million
dollars to depositors during the panic of 1907 and every depositor was paid in full. His connection with any undertaking
insures a prosperous outcome of the same, for it is in his nature to carry forward to successful completion whatever
he is associated with. He has earned for himself an enviable reputation as a careful man of business and in his
dealings is known for his prompt and honorable methods, which have won him the deserved and unbounded confidence
of his fellowmen.
On the 1st of June, 1887, Mr. Roeth was united in marriage to Louise J. Pedrini, a lady of Swiss and Italian descent,
who was born at Garden Valley, Eldorado county, California. They are the parents of two daughters and a son, namely:
Guglielma Louise; George Roeth, Jr., who is associated with his father in the grocery business in the Housewives
Free Market building in Oakland under the firm style of Roeth & Roeth; and Eunice Dagmar, the wife of Lawrence
Mr. Roeth is a Knight Templer and thirty second degree Mason and a worthy exemplar of the teaching and purposes
of the craft. He is a Shriner, being a member of the Aahmes Temple of Oakland, which he helped to organize. His
religious faith is indicated by his membership in St. Paul's Episcopal church and his life in every relation has
been such as to commend him to the warm regard and friendship of all with whom he has come in contact.
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928
Alameda County, CA
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