California Biographies


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California Genealogy and History Archives

Contra Costa County


CHARLES LUTHER TRABERT is a man of marked ability and judgment, a resident of Berkeley, California, and prominently identified with the industrial interests of California. He is connected with the C. A. Smith Lumber Company as secretary. Mr. Trabert was born at Ephrata, Pennsylvania, April 30, 1871, son of the Rev. George H. Trabert, pastor of an English Lutheran church. Mr. Trabert has devoted his entire life to the lumber business, and has been associated with the C. A. Smith companies longer than any of his business associates. He has made a scientific study of forestry and has accomplished a great deal of important work along this line. His father, in his seventy-second year, is still active in the ministry as pastor of the Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the only English Lutheran minister for years in the Northwest, and he established churches in Duluth and Red Wing, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; La Crosse, Wisconsin; and many other cities. His wife. who was in her maiden­hood Miss Mary Elizabeth Minnigh, is of mixed Pennsylvania Dutch and English stock, an ancestor of the family having come from Munich in 1622. Charles L. Trabert received his education in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Minneapolis, where he attended high school for three years. He was a member of the first manual training class in that city, and was for three years a student in Gustavus Adolphus College, at St. Peter, Minnesota. During his last year in college he became identified with the C. A. Smith Lumber Company in the office, drawing maps and plans. In this way he became interested in the lumber business and gained a knowledge of standing timber. Mr. Trabert spent some time in the Pine River district and accompanied the driving crews, thus becoming familiar with the details of practical lum­ber. At this time Mr. Trabert decided to take his final year in college, and attended Newberry College, North Carolina, graduating in 1894, and receiving the degree of B. A. He returned to Minneapolis and permanently entered the employ of C. A. Smith & Company, then a partnership of C. A. Smith and ex-Governor John S. Pillsbury. Mr. Trabert became connected with the timber end of the business, and in one year became private secretary to Mr. Smith, which position he held for seventeen years. January 1, 1904, the C. A. Smith Timber Company was organized with a capital stock of one million dollars; this company took over all the timber holdings of the former concern, and in May, 1912, removed their offices to Oakland, California. The C. A. Smith Timber Company acquired interests in the West, and their business grew rapidly, and subsidiary corporations were formed, and Mr. Trabert was made secretary of the various holdings. As the Smith timber was cut off in Minnesota and the various interests on the Pacific Coast grew, Mr. Smith, in looking for a western location, decided upon Oakland for the reason that the five timber districts controlled by the Smith interests—two fir tracts and one spruce in Oregon, with one redwood and one sugar-pine and yellow-pine tract in California—were tributary to tide-water. He there­fore moved all of his interests to Oakland, and established yards, planing- mills, and a box-factory at Bay Point, California. Mr. Trabert is a member of the National Foresters Association, the National Geographical Association, the Archaeological Association of America, a kindred body. He also belongs to the Oregon Conservation Association. He has frequently lectured before the University of California and the Forestry Club on the subjects of forestry. On June 25, 1894, Mr. Trabert was united in marriage to Miss Harriett Abney Wells, of Newberry, South Carolina, a daughter of Osborne Wells, one of the most prominent men of that city and an officer in the Civil War. To this union a daughter, Dorothy, was born in 1895. Mr. Trabert was well known in social circles of Minneapolis. He held membership in the University Club, the Interlochen Minneapolis Choral Club, the Philharmonic Club, of which he was president, and the Federation of Men's Clubs. He was a member of the Minneapolis bar, having received his degree in law from the University of Minnesota in 1899. In Oakland he holds membership in the Athenian and Commercial clubs, and is a member of the University Club of San Francisco, and the Faculty Club of the University of California. During his entire life Mr. Trabert has been active in the affairs of the Lutheran church, assisting in the organization of the St. Michael's Lutheran Church of Berkeley, which was incorporated September 29, 1913, and is vestryman and choir-master. He is a director in the Berkeley Ontario Society, and a member of the Sons of the Revolution, while Mrs. Trabert is treasurer of the John Rutledge Chapter, D. A. R. She is in addition a member of Joseph Le Conte Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy. She is also a member of the Wednesday Morning Musical Club and the Ebell Society of Oak­land.

The History of Contra Costa County California
Edited by F J Hulaniski
Published by The Elms Publishing Co., Inc, Berkeley, California 1917

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011