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#AngelenoSwissHistoryMonth: Pioneer Eugene Germain

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via google Book “Los Angeles from the Mountains to the Sea” (Download PDF – 30MB)

One of the oldest commercial institutions in Los Angeles is the Germain Seed and Plant Company, whose founder was the late Eugene Germain. He established his home at Los Angeles almost 150 years ago, and was a man of wide and influential relationships with the city until his death.

He was born in the French part of Switzerland, November 30, 1849. Educated in public schools and the college at Lausanne until he was twenty, he then came to New York City and after a short time went west to Los Angeles by way of Panama. His first enterprise in California was a restaurant, but soon afterward he opened a grocery store and gradually developed the commission business then known as the Germain Fruit Company. While it was a general commission firm, an important feature was the handling of seed, nursery stock, wines, and the operation of a fruit packing plant at Santa Ana. Eugene Germain continued as president of the business until 1893.

President Cleveland appointed him United States Consul to Switzerland for a term of four years, and during his absence the business was left in charge of a manager. On returning to Los Angeles he sold the wine department to his brother Edward and the commission business to Loeb-Fleishman & Company, and thereafter concentrated his attention upon the seed and nursery features under the name Germain Seed & Plant Company. In this line he continued active until his death in 1909, when his son succeeded him.

April 2, 1872, at Los Angeles, Eugene Germain married Caroline Sievers. They had five children: Edmund, of Brooklyn, New York; deceased; Lillian, wife of C. A. J. Sharman, of Alberta, Canada; Clare, at home; and Marc L.

Eugene Germain was the first president of the Board of Trade, one of the first vice-presidents of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and a director and officer in many other important institutions. He was a Mason and Odd Fellow, a member of the Jonathan Club, a charter member of the California Club, and a democrat in politics.

Marc L. Germain, who was born at Los Angeles, August 20, 1882, attended the local public schools to the age of nine, and during his father’s residence abroad attended the schools at Zurich, Switzerland. He finished his education in Yale University, graduating in 1904. On returning to Los Angeles he became associated with his father in the Germain Seed & Plant Company, and as noted above, succeeded him as president in 1909. Eugene Germain has also been responsible for much building improvement in Los Angeles. Some of the buildings erected by him were the Germain Block’ on Los Angeles street, near Requena street, a building on Los Angeles between First and Second streets, another at the northwest corner of Fourth and Los Angeles streets, the Germain Hotel at Tenth and Hope streets, the Germain building at 224 South Spring, a large building at the southeast corner of Twelfth and Main streets, and 215. 219, 221 South Main, near Second street, now a parking lot.

The Germain business was originally located in the T- Kurtz building at First and Main streets, but in 1899 was moved to 326-330 South Main street. In 1918 a separation was made between the wholesale and retail departments, the retail being located at Sixth and Main streets and the wholesale at the Terminal Market.

Written by :+)!

July 10, 2016 at 8:08 am

Report: Swiss Foreign Direct Investment in the United States

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Written by :+)!

March 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm

One Night Only in LA, at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club: The History of the De Büren Family

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Written by M:)

April 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Auslandschweizer density vs other Expat Nations

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Written by M:)

March 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

Posted in Swiss-American History

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Art Show with Jean-François de Büren at the Historic Beverly Hills Women’s Club

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Our very own Helvetic.LA contributing editor
, designer, writer, historian, genealogist, and aspiring filmmaker, Jean-François de Büren has been passionate about his family history for as long as he can remember.
For the past 10 years he has actively worked on the story of his Swiss, Argentine & American roots. Jean-François’ presentation will cover his 800 year family story as well as highlight his current creative endeavors surrounding his heritage.

Soldiers and Statesmen. Adventurers and Artists. The History of the de Büren family.

Covering over eight centuries of history, in the United States, Switzerland and Argentina, the de Büren family saga is replete with passionate tales of soldiers, statesmen, adventurers and artists. From the blood-drenched battlefields of Europe to the steaming jungles of South America, from the fertile pampas of Argentina to California’s Central Valley,  the tale of the de Bürens reads like a great novel — evoking the grand sweep of history as well as its telling details, bursting with complex intrigue, fascinating personal stories, and the most compelling of family dramas.

In addition to the presentation Jean-François will showcase family heirlooms, as well as engravings, drawings, sketches, watercolors and sculpture made by family members during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Jean-François grew up in Northern California is a dual Swiss and American citizen and is active in the local Swiss community. He will publish this year his great-great-grandfather’s journals chronicling a two-year journey through the Americas of the 1850s.

As a companion to the book, Jean-François aims to retrace his Ancestor’s expedition for a documentary film. He is also writing a screenplay for a feature film set in Switzerland that centers around his deaf-mute ancestor. Additionally, Jean-François writes about Swiss emigration to California, and is currently working on the Swiss-American version of the popular Swiss board game Helvetiq.

WHEN: APRIL 8, 2011, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

WHERE: Beverly Hills Womens’ Club
1700 Chevy Chase Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

DETAILS:
6:00pm Cocktails & Light Buffet
7:00pm Presentation
$ 40. – Members & Guests
$ 60. – Non-Members & Guests after April 5
RSVP by April 5, 2011: info@bhwomensclub.org

PARKING FYI:
Access to the Parking lot is off Benedict Canyon,
just south of the Clubhouse.

Would you kindly forward this PDF to potentially interested family or friends, and invite them to join Jean-Francois de Büren’s soirée?

“The Grand Tour” Preview (PDF)

Jean-Francois de Büren, April 8th, Beverly Hills Womens Club (PDF)

 

Written by M:)

March 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

21st Century Ticinesi in California: the Dairy Farmer

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Written by M:)

January 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Westward

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On Friday evening I was priveleged to attend the book signing for Westward by Swiss author Susann Bosshard-Kälin at the Robert Mondavi winery. The book revolves around 15 portraits of Swiss women who immigrated to the United States in the 20th century. “The fifteen stories show women standing between two worlds, two cultures, and two languages, – but above all people who have shaped their lives and world with a zest for life, with humor, courage, equanimity, and wisdom.” The event specifically honored two of the California-Swiss women interviewed in Westward, Anna Conti-Tonini and Margarit Mondavi Biever Kellenberger.

Robert Mondavi Winery

The event was held in a private room at the winery which opened onto a breathtaking vineyard. The sun set slowly over the hills, bathing the room in an amber glow as friends of the honorees mingled and drank wine.

Historian Loe Schelbert, an eminent scholar on American immigration and the Swiss in the United States originally provided the author with the idea for the book. Schelbert noted in an early conversation with Bosshard-Kälin that “documentary sources of women emigrants are little known, although women acheived just as much as men either by themselves or as mothers or partners.”

After conferring with Schelbert at his home near Chicago, Bosshard-Kälin went on a muli-year journey across the U.S. in search of unique Swiss immigrant stories. One of her daughters also tagged along and is responsible for the wonderful photos within the collection.

The author signing copies

Anna Conti Tonini, one the women interviewed would immigrate to California and marry a man whose family had also come from Ticino. She still has vivid memories of the Ticino of her youth. “Milking was a daily task, and in the summer making hay was the main task for us children. Two cuts yearly, one at the end of May when the meadows were full of flowers, the second cut in July or early August… We had little money, but we lived well… We never went hungry. We fed ourselves from our own vegetables, potatoes, milk, butter and cheese.”

In a great passage, another interviewee, Magarit Mondavi, wife of Napa Valley legend Robert Mondavi, summed up her love of Switzerland, appreication for the United States and outlook on life this way: “I have lived in Switzerland but a quarter of my life. And yet something from that time remains in my heart. I like to travel every year to my old homeland. But I feel American through and through. The opneness and freedom in this country are wonderful. I could realize my dreams. Bob told me many times, ‘If you have a job that you like you don’t have to work another day in your life. And then, do it as well as you can.’ These were good tips from Bob. In my life, I have found much I like to do, much that give me joy.”

Bosshard-Kälin’s collection of interviews are both touching and inspiring. They are a testament to the human spirit and should not be missed.

Copies of Westward can be purchased through the Swiss American Historical Society, Book Editor, 2523 Asbury Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201.

Written by jdeburen

September 19, 2010 at 1:28 am

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