Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: Fredrick A. Hihn
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

For more than 60 years, Fredrick A. Hihn was the dominant figure in the commercial, political, and social life of Santa Cruz County, and was instrumental in shaping the community into the great body it is today.

Hihn was born in Germany on August 16, 1829. While still in his teens, he fled the political repression of his country and joined the flow of humanity towards the gold fields of California. Hihn injoyed moderate success in the mines and eventually entered the world of commerce in San Francisco and, later, Sacramento.

Photograph of the Memorial for Frederick Hihn
The Memorial for Frederick Hihn

In 1851, Hihn landed in Santa Cruz and built a mercantile store with partner Henry Hintch. Hihn's entrepreneurial acumen and creativity spurred business growth in the county and helped guide the commercial community into the 20th century.

Hihn was also Santa Cruz's first millionaire and one of its greatest philanthropists. Not only did he serve the community honorably in various political capacities, ranging from school trustee to state assemblyman, but his countless charities also distinguished him. Twice a year, on Christmas and Easter, the Hihn family opened their doors to the children of Santa Cruz, showering them generously with gifts.

When he died on August 24, 1913, thousands of local citizens joined the funeral cortege to pay their last respects.

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