Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Frederick Delger (1822-1898) - Millionaire Shoe Salesman

[Family mausoleum photo by Michael Colbruno]

Millionaire's Row

Frederick Delger was one of the best known Alameda County pioneers of his day. He lived in New York from 1848-1852 and came to California via a ship journey 'round the Horn,' in the early 1860s.

Delger is often considered to be Oakland's first millionaire.

After amassing a sizable fortune in the 1860s and '70s from investing his earnings as a shoe and leather goods merchant into Oakland real estate, Delger bought 10 acres between 17th and 20th Streets, and Telegraph and San Pablo Avenue (near the Sears store). He turned the plot of rolling grasslands, then north of downtown, into a lucrative subdivision of upscale homes. His growing family were comfortably accommodated in his own rambling mansion, considered at the time to be one of Oakland's most impressive estates. The property contained an aviary, water tower, greenhouse and a "honeymoon cottage."

One of the residents of the house was Lillian Moller Gilbreth, who was the inspiration for the book and movie Cheaper by the Dozen.

He and his family rest in and around a grand Gothic Revival aediculum -- one of two Fulgenzio Seregni-designed aedicula in the cemetery -- right next door to Charles Crocker on Mountain View Cemetery's Millionaire's Row.

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