Beginning a Life Anew in the New World 1873: The Life of Konrad and Katharina


Konrad and Katharina Grieb originally migrated from Germany to Marysville, California in 1873. They traveled to the New World by ship just the two of them, leaving their 5 children behind in the care of Konrad’s sister and brother in Gumbach, Germany. 1873 was less than 100 years from the founding of America and only 23 years from California being admitted as a State in 1850. The voyage took them around the horn and back up the west coast of South America and then North America.

Konrad and Katharina were not settled in Marysville as the climate was unsatisfactory, the water supply was poor because the rivers were not controlled by dams and levees, and the land was not suitable for farming so Konrad began to investigate other California sites. Konrad corresponded with E.W. Steele a noted Dairyman living in the Edna Valley near San Luis Obispo, CA. Konrad inquired about the farming interests in San Luis Obispo County. Konrad and Katharina moved to Edna Valley and Konrad worked for Mr. Steele on his dairy while investigating farming interests for himself. Baby George was born during their stay with Mr. Steele.


Pacific Coast Steamship Company Schedule 1877

steamship late 1800

Pacific Coast Steamship

To get from Marysville to Edna Valley they traveled by steamboat that was part of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company which served ports up and down the west coast. The steamship left San Francisco and landed at Cove Landing which is now known as Pirates Cove.  All passengers and freight traversed down rope ladders to small boats called lighters to get to shore, then cranes were used to unload the cargo up the steep banks. Harford Wharf was built in 1873 by John Harford. The wharf was in Avila Beach and he used horses to off-load and deliver cargo to San Luis Obispo and beyond. In the 1880’s he connected the wharf with a narrow gauge railway to move cargo and passengers.

Once settled on the Steele ranch Konrad left his wife and newborn son to return to Germany to bring back the rest of his family. His spinster sister Helga came to the New World on this trip to take care of the children. They all made it safely, although enduring a long and harrowing journey. The Grieb family lived on the Steele ranch for 2-3 years.

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