Contra Costa County











††††††††††† FRED MEINKEN. A successful orchardist, Fred Meinken is located upon his ranch at Antioch, Contra Costa county, engaged in the cultivation of a variety of fruits, among which special mention should be given his almond grove, which, according to its size, is one of the finest in the state. Both quantity and quality of the fruits produced on this ranch give strong evidence of the care and attention bestowed upon their cultivation and speak eloquently of the reasons for Mr. Meinkenís success.

††††††††††† In Hanover, Germany, Mr. Meinken was born May 2, 1851, the son of Albert and Elizabeth (Minderman) Meinken. He was reared and educated in his native land, remaining there until 1866, in which year he immigrated to America. After remaining in New York about ten years, in 1876 he came to California and, after visiting San Francisco and various other places in the state, through the assistance of friends he opened a saloon at Antioch, which he conducted for about ten years. He won and retained the esteem of many during the years of his business activity, but desirous of an outdoor life he sold out his business interests and bought ten acres of the T. N. Wills ranch, near the Southern Pacific depot. This was a wheat field at the time and a very desirable location. Mr. Meinken immediately built a fine cottage, laid out spacious grounds to flowers and tropical plants, set out the land to almonds and a variety of fruits for family use, and proceeded to an intelligent and interested cultivation of his property.

††††††††††† The marriage of Mr. Meinken united him with Mrs. Annie Wilkening, a native of Somersetshire, England, and the daughter of John and Hannah (Holway) Percy. In young womanhood she came to America, and October 18, 1876, she became the wife of Henry Wilkening, who was born in Hanover, Germany, November 28, 1835. He was reared in his native country and came to the United States in 1852, traveling throughout the country until 1854, when he arrived in California. After following mining in various places for nineteen years, he returned to New York state, intending to make his home there, but having lived so long in the genial climate of the Pacific state he was not satisfied, and the following year he once more located in the west. He followed mining for seven years, when, in July, 1874, he came to Contra Costa county and rented what was then known as the Red house, near where the Byron hotel now stands. At that time that was the only hostelry between Antioch and Tracy where accommodations for rest could be secured, and consequently became noted among the travelers of that day. In 1877 he purchased land where the town of Byron now stands and put up stores, livery and residences, and in 1878 built the Byron hotel, which he conducted until his death, in 1882. The one child born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilkening, Byron Henry, was drowned in 1884, at the age of four years. Mrs. Meinken was employed in the Jackson hotel in Antioch at the time of her marriage to Mr. Wilkening, and it was there that she met Mr. Meinken, who was employed there also. Mr. and Mrs. Meinken were married in San Francisco in 1885, after which they embarked on a journey to the old country. Both Mr. and Mrs. Meinken have traveled extensively, the former having crossed the Atlantic ocean three times and the latter seven times, the two visiting their birthplaces together.





Transcribed by Marie Hassard 20 April 2016.

≠≠≠≠Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Page 1087. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016 Marie Hassard.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library