The Wentworth Boot and Shoe Company was established in 1883 (or 1878 6 or 1879 2) in Berkeley, then in 1885 moved to Oakland at the foot of 16th Street. 1,4 Just two years later in 1887 the plant was producing 600 pairs of boots and shoes daily. They also had a retail store at 1059 Washington Street, and another factory in San Francisco.
Several prominent businessmen of Oakland were stockholders in the company, including V. D. Moody, President of the First National Bank, Anthony Chabot of the Contra Costa Water Company, William P. Jones of the Oakland Home Insurance Company, Walter Blair of the Oakland Piedmont Railroad Company, former California Governor George C. Perkins, former Senator George Hearst, A. K. P. Harmon, A. M. Simpson, and Oakland City Council member T. L. Barker.
It was founded by Ira Martin Wentworth (June 22, 1837 - 1916). Wentworth was born in Rochester, New Hampshire. He learned shoe making from his mother, and the use of tools from his father, so he was also an able blacksmith and carpenter. 1
NB: The location of the factory was near where the 16th Street Station now stands. At the time, this was the location of the shoreline.
Wentworth lost substantial money purchasing a tract of land in Berkeley (Gilman/Harrison/San Pablo/2nd Street) in 1878 before an economic downturn. 1 But the property went on to become more valuable, and the "Wentworth Boot & Shoe tract" is referenced frequently in records of the time.
An obituary of William P. Jones in 1900 describes the company as "a losing venture." Jones lost $5,000 investing in Wentworth, along with many thousands in other failed investments. 5
Links and References
- The Bay of San Francisco: The Metropolis of the Pacific Coast and Its Suburban Cities : a History, Volume 1 Lewis Publishing 1892
- History of Alameda County by M. W. Wood 1883
New Edition of the Brief History of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Carruth and Carruth 1890
Oakland Items Daily Alta California May 6, 1894
Scattered His Gold to the Four Winds San Francisco Call February 9, 1900
Improvement in Boots and Shoes Pacific Rural Press November 16, 1878
BANC PIC 1996.003:Volume 27:123a--fALB UC Berkeley Bancroft Library