Nov 23

Goldtree Brothers, pioneer merchants in San Luis Obispo and San Miguel

They advertised in the first issue of the first newspaper in San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo Pioneer, and were the Wal-Mart of their day. The ad on January 4, 1868 touts

The Oldest Business House in San Luis Obispo. Established, 1856.”
Keep constantly on hand, and offer for sale to the public, their well selected and complete stock of all kinds of
boots and shoes ,
furnishing goods,
Of every description for Men, Women, Boy’s and Misses wear. Together with a large assortment of
paints, oils, varnish, medicines, stationery, tinware, crockery, lamps, liquors ETC.
All of our Goods are PURCHASED AT AUCTION, and we assure the Public that we are enabled to sell
Cheaper than the Cheapest!
All kinds of
Country Produce
Taken in exchange for Goods purchased.
Call and examine our stock before purchasing elsewhere.
All Orders from the Country promptly attended to.
San Luis Obispo, Jan. 4, 1868

Legal notice in the Nov. 27, 1857 Tribune told the story of the Goldtree business expanding to San Migue.

By 1875 business was doing well enough that the brothers Nathan, Isaac, Marcus and Morris were able to buy out partners in a store in San Miguel. Apparently Morris was an attorney and the brothers were a mainstay of local newspaper advertising in the latter half of the 1800s. Nathan was an early investor in what became the Pacific Coast Railway, the narrow gauge line built from Port San Luis, to San Luis Obispo and later to Los Olivos.
Isaac was selected as Chaplain of the American Legion of Honor organized in 1881. The organization included other prominent land holders and newspaper editors. The society was one of the few secret societies that allowed women to join without a sponsoring male relative.
The Goldtree brothers were involved in real estate, railroad development and retail businesses. The 1883 Myron Angel history of the county shows the Goldtree brothers owning 9.000 acres, one of the top landholders in the county.
Later the brothers were active in the Committee of 21, the group of businessmen who smoothed the way for Southern Pacific to build the unfinished Coast Line link between Santa Margarita and Ellwood (Goleta). Also active in that group was Tribune editor Benjamin Brooks.
To honor their involvement, the Goldtrees were memorialized with a Southern Pacific station name. The location is between the Stenner Creek Bridge and the horseshoe curve behind the California Mens Colony. There were eight named stations between Santa Margarita and San Luis Obispo, only two were named for local lumniaries the other being Hathway, named for a doctor who furnished the land to the railroad in 1894.
By the early 1900s however the Goldtree name no longer appears in advertising.
What happened?
What is now the Garden Street Inn was the home of Morris and Helena Goldtree.
The Bed and Breakfast’s website tells part of the story.
Morris arrived with his brothers Nathan, Isaac and Marcus in 1858. The German/Jewish immigrants found success in the region, they established the Goldtree Block at the northeast corner of Chorro and Higuera Streets built in June 1883.
According to the Garden Street Inn website the family returned to native Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
The return to the homeland would be short lived.
The family returned to America, escaping the Holocaust as Hitler assumed power in Germany.
Decedents of the family have stayed at the Inn.


One other advertisement of interest is the sale what looks to be a boatload of eucalyptus [gum] trees. Apparently William Dempsy had 4,000 trees he wanted to sell quickly if you had the cash. My guess this is one of the earliest mass plantings in the region of what is mostly an Australian native tree.

Thanks to the City/County Library for microfilm of the San Luis Obispo Pioneer and thanks to books Southern Pacific’s Coast Line by John Signor and Myron Angel’s History of San Luis Obispo County for historical details.

Related posts:

  1. Santa Claus is coming, San Luis Obispo ad 1875
  2. Monterey Street stories – San Luis Obispo
  3. San Luis Obispo Map, 1941
  4. San Luis Obispo Roundhouse
  5. James J. Ayers, founder of the San Francisco Call, editor of San Luis Obispo Tribune