The Weidner Family

This page is about San Francisco photographer Charles Weidner (1867-1940) and his family:

thepostcard.com has fabulous pictures of Charles at work and a biography, luckymojo.com repeats the same bio with no pictures, weidnerca.com (hosted at his great grandson's business) has a nice slideshow of Weidner postcards, and postcard.org posts a comprehensive article by Frank Sternad on Weidner postcards. I searched old city directories, census records, and newspapers for more information; see my notes, census records, and Weidner postcards.



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I found the photo at left online while writing my Upper Noe webpage. Taken looking west on 30th Street at San Jose, it shows three women with five young children doing laundry in the street after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The building behind the lean-to, on the northeast corner of 30th/San Jose, still stands at 797 San Jose. (The lovely Victorian across San Jose from it, on the northwest corner, appears in 1890s photos on my Upper Noe page, but it's gone now.) Writing on the photo identifies the girl at right as "Mrs. Lindquist of Vacaville". Not long after, I found the photo at right, obviously taken on the same day, with the people slightly rearranged.

I eventually figured out that San Francisco photographer Charles Weidner (then ca. 39 years old) took these photos of his own family. His widowed mother-in-law Anna Horstmann lived at 7 30th, so these photos were taken in front of her house. Anna's eldest child, also named Anna, married William J. Krase in 1888, and her daughter Margaret married Charles Weidner in 1897. In 1900, Charles and Margaret Weidner and their family lived with Margaret's older sister Anna Krase and her family in a beautiful house at 68 Fair Oaks (four adults and five kids total). From 1905, the Weidner family lived at 3204a Mission (at Valencia), a couple blocks north of Anna Horstmann's house. I'm guessing that the first photo shows (left to right, with approximate ages): Anna Horstmann (60), Margaret Weidner (35) holding baby Edwin Weidner (1), Alfred Krase (11), Arthur Weidner (8 or 9), Edmund Krase (8), Anna Krase (41), Lillian Weidner (5). The second photo shows (left to right): Anna Horstmann, Edwin, Anna Krase, Alfred, Arthur, Margaret, Lillian.



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I later found a pamphlet in an antiquarian bookstore with the same picture on the cover (sans "Mrs. Lindquist" note). Lillian M. Lindquist published Do I Dare Say I Was There? to accompany her appearance at the 4/22/1965 meeting of the California Historical Society. Its 24 pages consist almost entirely of reproductions of post-earthquake stereoview slides taken by her father Charles Weidner. The caption to the cover (on page 4): "Weidner family kitchen after the 1906 earthquake. Lillian M. Lindquist, as a child, on the right." Page 21 reproduces a Weidner logo as shown above. You can view the pamphlet as a slideshow, as individual pages, or as individual stereoviews (for crosseyed viewing). Sadly, the image quality of the original is fair at best, and my copy is in poor condition. My collection of San Francisco Stereoviews does not include any Weidner stereoviews, but I have found two Weidner stereoviews (Cliff House Beach and Sutro Baths) online. Each has a number and caption but no credit information on the front, and purportedly "Charles Weidner, photographer" is stamped on the back of each.



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Margaret's German-born father Henry Horstmann was saloonkeeper of the Precita Valley House on the southwest corner of Mission/30th starting in 1873. In 1880, Henry lived above the saloon with his German-born wife Anna and their five California-born children, including Margaret; eventually they had two more children. The 1886 Sanborn map above shows the saloon building at Mission/30th. The neighborhood still has several dairies and half a dozen tanneries within a few blocks, though urbanization is rapidly spreading south on Mission. 1890 newspaper articles describe a fatal assault outside Horstmann's saloon (Daily Alta California 05/06/1890, Call 05/06/1890). The Horstmanns placed an ad in the Call on 11/20/1892 for rental of "elegant new flats" at Mission/30th ($25 for a 6-room flat or $18 for a 5-room flat!), suggesting a newly built corner building. In 1894, Anna suffered severe head injuries in a trolley accident at Chenery/30th (Chronicle 08/28/1894, 08/29/1894) but survived. Henry died in 1895, deeding the Mission/30th property to Anna (Call 03/18/1895, 03/22/1895). Anna placed ads in the Call on 07/04/1898 (and again later in the same month) for rental of the store at Mission/30th (rent $25).



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The 1905 Sanborn map above shows the new saloon building at Mission/30th (replacing the building in the 1886 map above) and 7 30th just west of it, with empty lots on both sides. Today a gas station built in 1968 occupies both the Mission/30th lot and the 7 30th lot, but the houses at 11/13/15 30th still remain.



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Here are the Weidners (Arthur, Margaret, Edwin with dog, Charles, Lillian) at an Ocean Beach bonfire some years later, with the Cliff House and Seal Rocks in the background.



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Weidner took this San Francisco panorama from Nob Hill in 1904.



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Charles Weidner published hundreds of beautiful postcards. Weidner's cards were printed in Germany, as noted next to the Auto-chrom process logo on these cards. The Ferry Building card lists "Goeggel & Weidner, Publishers". Goeggel was dropped from later cards, and eventually printing in Germany ended because of World War I. Until March 1907, the Post Office required the back of a postcard to contain only the address ("undivided back" cards), so sender wrote messages on the front of the card, as seen at left and center above (postmarked 8/08/1905 in SF, with notation "THIS SIDE IS FOR ADDRESS ONLY"). As far as I know, almost all of Weidner's postcards use Weidner's own photos.



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Weidner postcard 209 shows the fire downtown on 4/18/1906 (earthquake day). Postcard 233 shows the fire in the Mission on the following day, looking east down 15th Street from Corona Heights above Beaver Street.



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The Bancroft Library has a set of 25 Weidner photos of SF earthquake relief camps, including the photos above that appear on my Dolores Park 1906 page (left: Mission Park, now Dolores Park, from 18th/Dolores; lower left corner of each: "Weidner Photo SF").



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Here's a lovely 1914 Weidner panoramic postcard of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. More Weidner postcards from the Exposition are here.