Anyone who looks at Los Alamitos property maps around 1920 comes across the name “J. Stern and Sons” as owners of the land of what is now called Apartment Row. After emigrating from Germany, Stern partnered with a cousin, __ Goodman, to start a small store, Stern & Goodman, in Fullerton. From there the pair became one of the largest hay and grain brokerages in Orange County and then on his own Stern & Sons grew intro one of the largest land0wners in Orange County in the early 20th century. The company had small stores in many towns throughout the county, with one having over 20 employees. Here is Stern’s bio from John McGroarty’s “From the Mountains to the Sea”, p. 528-530.
Jacob Stern. Thirty years ago Jacob Stern was partner in a small general merchandise store at Fullerton, the store building having a twenty-five-foot frontage. The great extent of his present interests can not be confined to any one building or even a single county of California. It is said that Mr. Stern owns land in nearly every county of California.He is president of the Stern Realty Company, Incorporated, of Los Angeles, which handles a vast amount of his propert}^ interests. He is an executive and director in a number of other corporations, and is undoubtedly one of the wealthiest and has been one of the most successful business men of Southern California. He came here practically friendless and alone.
He was born in Saxony, Germany, September 20, 1859, a son of Marcus and Rosetta (Goodman) Stern. His parents spent all their lives in Germany, where his father was a dealer in hops and cattle. Jacob Stem grew up on his father’s farm and had a substantial education acquired in the common schools and also a business college. After leaving school, until his
twentieth year he assisted his parents on the homestead farm, marketing the hve stock and produce. He left the port of Hamburg in June, 1884, crossed the ocean to New York, thence went to Cleveland, was also at Bryan and Bucyrus, Ohio, and for about five years was employed in the wholesale clothing house of Lehman, Richman & Company at Cleveland. Mr. Stern came to Fullerton, California, in 1889, forming a partnership with Mr. Goodman. They had only a small stock of general merchandise, but their business grew and prospered until the merchandise was housed in a building 270 feet in front, covering seven-eighths of an entire block, and representing an investment of half a million dollars of capital. This was the Stern & Goodman Company, Mr. Goodman having entire charge of the store at Fullerton, while Mr. Stern looked after the hay, grain and real estate departments, with headquarters in Los Angeles. It is estimated that three-fourths of the hay and grain business of Orange County was handled by Mr. Stern.
The Stern & Goodman Merchandise Company sold their stock of goods at Fullerton in 1918, but still own the Stern & Goodman Block. In former years as merchants they dealt in every conceivable commodity likely to be required by their widely extended patronage. They were even interested in live stock, town lots and farms. In 1904 Mr. Stern opened his real estate office in the Pacific Electric Building at Los Angeles, and in 1915 moved to the Haas Building, Seventh and Broadway. For several years he specialized in oil lands and general lands, chiefly in Los Angeles and Orange County, and the Stern Realty Company, incorporated in 1911, now handles real estate and investments, including citrus and other groves, unimproved land, but still makes a specialty of Orange County property. Mr. Stern has been interested in developing some of the choice suburban sites around Los Angeles. Among them is Richfield Acres, Yorba Linda, Orange County, Leffimgwell Heights tract and East Whittier Acres, also Aubumdale Acres near Corona, and several other tracts in the southern part of Los Angeles County and Orange County. In the month of October, 1919, he sold to Pacific Colony part of Wrights tract, near Pomona, for $175,000. He is owner of ‘the Stern lease, from which, in October, 1919, the General Petroleum Company brought in a gushing oil well, with a flow estimated at five thousand barrels per day. Mr. Stern is also president of the Richfield Mutual Water Company, the Corona Pumping Company, the Coyote Hill Land Company, and is a director of the Central Pacific Improvement Company. He owns more than twenty thousand acres of land in California, besides several buildings in Los Angeles. He was formerly interested in the general merchandise firm of Stern Brothers at Anaheim, his partnership with his brother continuing until 1909, when he sold out his interests. He also owned a store at Placentia, and oil wells at Olinda, in Orange County, and likewise conducted a general store, also in Brea, and Yorba Linda.
In 1891, at Los Angeles, Mr. Stern married Miss Sarah Laventhal, daughter of E. Laventhal, a pioneer settler in Los Angeles County, now deceased. The wedding was one of the largest affairs in the city of Los Angeles. Mrs. Stern was born at Fullerton and was a teacher in Los Angeles before her marriage. For a number of years Mr. and Mrs. Stem lived in Fullerton, but in July, 1904, they bought the magnificent Colonel Northam home in Hollywood, at the comer of Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard. This is one of the show places of the beautiful Hollywood District. The five acres of land surrounding the residence is adorned with every art of the landscape gardener. Mr. and Mrs. Stern are the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters. 530 LOS ANGELES The oldest child, Harold M., graduated from the Hollywood High School in 1910, from the University of California in 1913, and took his law degree at Harvard Law School in 1916, in which year he was admitted to the California bar. During the war he was in the navy with the rank of ensign, serving on the Eastern coast, and is now assisting his father in business. The daughter, Elza, is the widow of Melville Jacoby, who died of influenza in January, 1919. Helen, the second daughter, is in the Hollywood High School, and Eugene J. is also in high school. All the children were born in California. For six months Harold was also on duty with the Bureau of Imports in the War Trade Board at Washington. Mr. Stern joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Fullerton and is also affiliated with the Fraternal Aid and Knights of Pythias. He is a republican, a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, Chamber of Commerce, Realty Board and Automobile Club of Southern California. He is a fine representative of the men who have accomplished big things in the advancement of all enterprises in California.
Mr. Stem’s assistance as one of the firm of Stern & Goodman, to the ranchers at Fullerton will long be remembered and their leniency and advice in enabling the ranchers to hold on to their holdings during the hard times from 1890 to 1900.
Source, FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA 529