Scope and Content
Title: Shiman Family Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1859-1921
Collection number: Mss31
Reginald R. Stuart
Extent: 7.5 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Shiman Family Papers, Mss31, Holt-Atherton Department of
Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John L. Shiman and his wife Johanna J. Shiman came to California from Germany in the
mid-19th century. John Shiman settled at San Lorenzo, Alameda county, where he operated a
general merchandise store, and, in 1857, became first postmaster. For about twelve years
he was in partnership with Lewis Lengfeld (1853-c1865) then remained in business for
himself until his death in 1898.
During the 1870s Shiman purchased substantial tracts of agricultural land east of San
Lorenzo and north of San Lorenzo Creek where he grew cherries. He was one of the first
California growers to ship fruit east by refrigerator railroad car.
By the 1880s Shiman apparently owned stores in San Leandro, Mt. Eden and San Lorenzo. His
Mt. Eden store stood on the north corner of present-day Hesperian Boulevard and Jackson
Street. Shiman's insurance accounts reveal that he also owned a butcher shop and a
cobbler shop, as well as residential properties in Oakland and southern Alameda county.
From the late 1880s, three of his four sons, Louis G., William J. and Lorenzo also
participated in the operation of the various family businesses. The original Shiman Store
in San Lorenzo ceased operations after 1901.
Southern Alameda county seems first to have been a German enclave, although by 1900 it
was probably more widely known as a Portuguese colony. Many of the important pioneers of
southern Alameda county--especially those with German and Portuguese surnames--did
business with John L. Shiman. Biographies of nine of these individuals, including Edward
Clawiter, Justus Gading, J.H. Gansberger, William Meek, Henry Meininger, George S. Meyer,
Erik Ruus, and A.W. Schafer, are to be found in various histories of Alameda county.
Scope and Content
The Shiman Family Papers consist principally of the records of the San Lorenzo store.
These records occupy six journals (1860-1863, 1869-1890), eleven day books (1859-1863,
1873-1885, 1888-1890), three cash books (1879-1896), an inventory book (1888, 1891) and a
purchase order book (1866-1880). There is also a small collection of business
correspondence (1870-1890), tax receipts and miscellaneous licences.
A secondary collection within the papers consists of a scrapbook, scattered
correspondence and some domestic accounts (1872-1875) produced by Mrs. Johanna Shiman.
These materials are partly in German.