Biography of Albert Elkus of Sacramento

One of the most popular residents of the city and county of Sacramento is Albert Elkus, the leading clothing merchant of the county and also a Republican whose influence in the party has made him one of its most prominent representatives. His life history displays many elements worthy of emulation, and in the city where his entire life has been passed he has many friends, a fact which indicates that his career has ever been honorable and straightforward.

Mr. Elkus was born in Sacramento on the 17th of August, 1857. His father, Louis Elkus, came to America from Posen, Germany, at the age of twelve years, and was for a long period a well-known manufacturer and wholesale dealer in men’s furnishing goods in San Francisco. His business career was attended with a high measure of success and he exerted a particularly strong influence in public affairs, especially among people of his own race. He was president of the Jewish congregation of San Francisco for thirty-one years, and after his removal to Sacramento he served as supervisor of the county for two terms. He married Cordelia DeYoung, a sister of M. H. DeYoung, proprietor of the San Francisco Chronicle and a daughter of Michael DeYoung, who died in pioneer days while en route for California. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Elkus were the following named: William, George, E. S., Edward, Louis, Charles, Albert, and Ida. The daughter is the wife of Dr. S. S. Kahn, of San Francisco.

Albert Elkus, the seventh brother, is indebted to the public school system of Sacramento for the educational privileges he enjoyed. He pursued his studies until he had entered upon the high school course, and he has also gained very practical business experience, wide and comprehensive knowledge, possessing an observing eye and a retentive memory. At the age of fourteen years he began to learn the typesetter’s trade, which he followed for more than two years. In 1873, however, he joined his father in the clothing and general furnishing-goods business, a relation that was maintained for about twenty-two years, when, in 1895, the partnership was dissolved, the father removing to San Francisco, while Albert Elkus established a retail clothing store, which he has since conducted. He is now at the head of the largest enterprise of the kind in Sacramento, having a very extensive trade, which brings to him a good profit. He also owns a second furnishing-goods store in Sacramento and a large retail establishment in Folsom, California. He is watchful of every detail of his business pointing to success, and yet there has been no esoteric phase in his career, his prosperity having been won through close application, unremitting diligence, and careful management.

In matters of citizenship, Mr. Elkus manifests the same strong purpose and deep interest which he shows in his business affairs, and the Republican party has found in him a stalwart supporter. He is frequently a delegate to city, county, and state conventions, and his influence carries weight among the leaders of Republicanism in central California. He was the president of the Central Republican Club, about a year ago, when the club won the primary fight for the organization. He was a member of the convention which nominated George C. Pardee for governor of the state, and in November 1901, was elected city trustee of Sacramento for a term of four years. At that time he was chosen chairman of the board and in 1904 was again elected chairman, so that he is now acting in that capacity. In the same year he was the Republican nominee for mayor in the city, but was defeated by a vote of five hundred and sixty-three. It was the saloon and gambling element that conspired to defeat him and they claimed one thousand votes. Mr. Elkus has long been recognized as an important factor in matters political, and is one of the most popular men in the city and county and has put forth his efforts as an official to advance the best interests of the municipality, pushing forward the wheels of progress along lines of material upbuilding, moral reform, and general improvements.

On the 28th of May 1882, in Oakland, California, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Elkus and Miss Bertha Kahn, who was born in New York and is a daughter of Israel Kahn, now deceased, who was formerly a leading merchant of Oakland. Her brothers now have the largest department store in Oakland. Mrs. Elkus is a lady of superior musical culture and natural talent, being recognized as one of the best pianists in the state and is the president of the Saturday Musical Club of Sacramento, the largest musical organization in the United States with one exception. She has held the office four consecutive times, and she is most popular with the members of the organization, possessing not only superior powers in the line of her art, but also excellent executive ability and that personal quality which for want of a better term has frequently been called personal magnetism. She is also the president of the local Red Cross Society and a member of its state board. To Mr. and Mrs. Elkus have been born two sons, Albert and Fred. The former is a student at the State University at Berkeley, where he has won fame in musical circles. He had already attained distinction as a musician and composer when eleven years of age, and one of his compositions written at that age was played in the Weinstock and Lubin’s concert, while another was rendered at an open-air concert. He is now at the age of nineteen years the composer of many excellent musical selections, many of which have been rendered in leading concerts of the west. He frequently composes extemporaneously, and his marked talent has given him a prestige in musical circles equaled by few. The other son, a student in the high school, also possesses excellent musical gifts and is a fine violinist.

Mr. Elkus has various fraternal relations, being connected with the Native Sons of the Golden West and is a past president of his local parlor and one of its trustees. He is also connected with the Elks and the Eagles and is a past grand president of the Order of B’nai B’rith, while at the present time he is one of the executive committee of the National Order of B’nai B’rith of America and Europe. He is the president and was one of the organizers of the Sacramento Driving Club, which was formed in 1900. He is likewise the president of the Sacramento Jewish Congregation, a position which he has held for eight years. His activities have thus touched upon many lines relating to the business development, the fraternal, political, and social growth and progress of the city. His genial manner, his unfaltering courtesy, his genuine worth of character, and strong personal traits have won for him the regard and friendship of the vast majority of those with whom he has come in contact and made him a representative citizen of Sacramento.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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