Financial History Issue 127 (Fall 2018) - Page 29

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Sutro & Co. By Susie J. Pak The history of the Sutro family in the United States is a varied and illustrious one. One branch featured the San Francisco pio- neer, Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro (1830– 1898). Born in Aix-la-Chapelle, Prussia, Adolph was the son of Emanuel Sutro (1791–1847), a clothing manufacturer, and the former Rosa Warendorff (1803–1883), the daughter of a merchant. After the death of her husband Emanuel in 1847 and the panic that followed the Revolution of 1848, Rosa Sutro immigrated to the United States with her children in 1850. The family moved first to New York and then settled in Balti- more. According to Adolph’s brother, The- odore, Adolph moved to California soon after, “having become fired with the gold fever.” There Adolph joined his cousin, Herman Frankenheimer, a clothing mer- chant. Later Adolph established several stores as a tobacconist, naturalized as an American citizen and married in 1856. In 1860, after the discovery of silver in 1859, Adolph journeyed to Nevada. Capitalizing on his earlier education in mineralogy at a polytechnic school in Germany, he made his fortune by laying a drainage tunnel (called Sutro Tunnel) through Mt. Davidson to the Comstock Lode. It was completed in 1878–79. With the proceeds from his mining investment, Adolph bought vast areas of San Francisco Portrait of Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro, circa 1865–1880. real estate in the late 19th century. In 1895, he was elected mayor of the city. The founders of the San Francisco house of Sutro & Co. were Adolph Sutro’s cousins: Charles, Gustav (also spelled Gustave), Albert and Emil Sutro were also natives of Aix-la-Chapelle. Their father, Simon Sutro, was a banker by trade. Their mother was the former Helena Waren- dorff. Like Adolph, the Sutro brothers immigrated to the United States, starting with Charles, who then moved to Canada, where he became a tobacconist. In 1852, Charles moved to San Francisco, where he worked for a merchant house and became involved in the mining business. He was joined by his brothers, who also natural- ized as American citizens. Together they founded a tobacco and gold-weighing business, which became Sutro & Co. Sutro & Co. (1858) Though the exact dates of the entry of each brother into the business are unclear, multiple sources suggest that Charles was the first to move to San Francisco and was the guiding force behind the firm. Gustav is often credited with founding the firm with his brother, Charles, but accord- ing to Gustav’s obituary, he first arrived in San Francisco in 1853 and joined his cousin Adolph’s tobacco and cigar busi- ness. Gustav then moved to Victoria, Brit- ish Columbia and lived there until 1870, when he returned to San Francisco and joined Sutro & Co. According to The Los Angeles Times, “In the colorful days of the first decade after gold was discovered in California, the Sutro Brothers engaged in the purchase and sale of gold and exchange and, in a very limited fashion, because of the scar- city of investment securities, conducted a government bond business.” In time, the firm became known as one of the oldest brokerage houses on the West Coast and “was one of the original underwriters of bonds for San Francisco’s cable cars.” It was also one of the charter members of the San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange (founded in 1882), the predecessor to the San Francisco Stock Exchange. After the death of Gustav and Charles Sutro, Gustav’s son, also named Charles Sutro, became the senior partner. Born in British Columbia, Charles was educated in San Francisco and Germany. In the first decade of the 20th century, the firm continued to add members of the Sutro family. In 1908, Gustav Sutro’s daughter, Olga, married lawyer Phillip I. Manson, who joined the partnership. Manson left in 1910 to continue practicing law. In 1910, Gustav’s son, Emil, joined the partnership, as did George Lowenberg, Charles Sutro’s uncle. By 1928, the firm had grown to seven partners. 1929 was a big year for Sutro & Co. The firm opened an office in Los Angeles, www.MoAF.org  |  Fall 2018  |  FINANCIAL HISTORY  27