August Frederick Langenberger

Augustus LangenbergerAugust Frederick Langenberger was born on July 6, 1824 in Stadthagen, Germany, the son of Dr. Amadeus Langenberger, a prominent physician and surgeon.  During his early education, August learned to speak four languages, which he used to his advantage in a mercantile career in his native land. He immigrated to New Orleans in 1846, and was lured to California by the Gold Rush in 1848. After two years of limited success, August left mining and started a general merchandise store in San Gabriel, where he met and married Maria Petra Ontiveros in 1850. Two years later the couple moved to the rancho of Petra’s father, Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, where August Langenberger became one of the largest cattle ranchers and buyers of the section, driving his stock annually to the San Francisco market with Don Marco Forster. Petra and August had seven children, Frederick (1850), Caroline (1852), Regina (1854), Adelaide (1856), Charles (1858), John (1860) and Albert (1862). 

In 1857, August Langenberger was influential in the selection of 1,165 acres of the Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana by the Los Angeles Vineyard Society for the founding of the new Anaheim colony. Recognizing a golden opportunity, he established the first general merchandise store, Langenberger & Co., in partnership with Benjamin Dreyfus. August Langenberger constructed a two-story adobe structure at 114 West Center Street (now Lincoln Ave.), with the store on the first floor and the second floor serving as his family’s newLangenberger store & residence residence. In 1860 he was appointed agent for Wells Fargo & Co., providing freight and mail service to the fledgling colony. He also served as director and president of the Anaheim Union Water Co. and was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from 1868 to 1869. 

On September 7, 1867 Maria Petra Ontiveros Langenberger passed away and was buried in the newly established Anaheim Cemetery. Shortly thereafter, August Langenberger became infatuated with Clementine Schmidt, who lived with her then husband, Theodore, on a neighboring vineyard. What may have started as a secret passion became public knowledge in 1869, when August filed a new Subdivision Map for the proposed Langenberger Tract, with a new street named “Clementine”, that bordered the Schmidt Residence. Becoming convinced that Clementine Schmidt returned August’s affection, Theodore Schmidt transferred title to the Anaheim vineyard lots to his wife, and relinquished power of attorney to August Langenberger. Theodore Schmidt left Anaheim in 1871 and established himself in the wine business in New York.  In 1873, Clementine Schmidt filed for divorce, which was granted on February 2, 1874.  August Langenberger and Clementine Schmidt were married in Anaheim on April 15, 1874 by A. Bailey, Justice of the Peace. In 1875 the couple added a set of twins to the eleven children of their combined families.

Dickel Hardware storeAugust Langenberger’s personal, political and business reputation seemed impervious to the scandal and subsequent gossip. In 1875, he erected a new two-story brick building at 202 West Center Street (now Lincoln Ave.), where he conducted his successful general merchandise and Wells Fargo business, until he sold it to son-in-law, Herman Dickel in 1892. August Langenberger was elected to a two-year term on the Anaheim City Council in 1876. Known for his generosity, when Langenberger passed away on April 3, 1895, his estate included promissory notes amounting to $2,000 owed to him by Anaheim families.