Frederick Trump - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the German-American businessman. For his son, see Fred Trump.

Frederick Trump (born Friedrich Trump, March 14, 1869 – March 30, 1918) was a German-born American businessman. He was the father of Elizabeth, Fred, and John G. Trump and grandfather of businessman Donald Trump. Trump made his first fortune operating boom-town hotels, restaurants and brothels[1] in the northwestern United States and western Canada.[2] He later returned to Germany and married, before returning to the United States.


Early life

Friedrich Trump was born in the town of Kallstadt in the Palatinate, to Christian Johannes Trump[3] and Katherina Kober.[4]:480 Kallstadt, a relatively impoverished region, was known for its viniculture since the Roman Empire. Trump’s ancestor, Hans Drumpf, first settled in Kallstadt in 1608, and his family owned a vineyard.[4]:25–26 In 1871, the Palatinate became part of the new German Empire. Trump's son Fred later denied his German heritage, instead claiming his father had been a Swede from Karlstad.[5]

After being sick with emphysema for ten years, Trump’s father died on July 6, 1877, at the age of 48, leaving the family in debt from medical expenses,[4]:28 although biographer Gwenda Blair described Trump’s family as "relatively prosperous" prior to the illness. While all five of his siblings worked in the family grape fields, Trump was considered too sickly to endure hard labor.[4]:29 In 1883, Trump, then aged 14, was sent to nearby Frankenthal by his mother to work as a barber’s apprentice and learn the trade. Trump worked seven days a week for two and a half years under barber Friedrich Lang. After completing his apprenticeship, he returned to Kallstadt, but quickly discovered that there was not enough business to earn a living. He was also approaching the age when he would have to serve a mandatory three-year military service. He quickly decided to immigrate to the United States, later saying, "I agreed with my mother that I should go to America";[4]:30 years later, his family members said that he left secretly in the night and left his mother a note without consulting her.[4]:30–31

Move to the United States

In 1885, at age 16, Trump emigrated from Bremen, Germany, to the United States aboard the steamship Eider, departing on October 7[4]:32 and arriving at the Castle Garden Emigrant Landing Depot in New York City on October 19. U.S. immigration records list his name as "Friedrich Trumpf", last place of residence as "Kallstadt", country of birth as "Germany", and his occupation as "farmer".[6] He moved in with his older sister Katherine – who had emigrated in 1883[4]:31 – and her husband Fred Schuster. Only a few hours after arriving, he met a German-speaking barber who was looking for an employee[4]:25 and began working the following day.[4]:34 He worked as a barber for six years.[2] Trump lived with his relatives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a neighborhood with many Kallstadt immigrants, at 76 Forsyth Street.[4]:33 Because the cost of operating at 76 Forsyth Street was getting expensive, they later moved to 606 East 17th Street[4]:37 and to 2012 2nd Avenue.[4]:39

In 1891, Trump moved to Seattle, Washington. With his life savings of several hundred dollars, he bought supplies, such as tables, chairs, and a range, and purchased the Poodle Dog, which he renamed the Dairy Restaurant.[2] Located at 208 Washington Street, the Dairy Restaurant was in the middle of Seattle’s Red Light District; Washington Street was nicknamed "the Line" and included an assortment of saloons, casinos, and brothels. Blair, the biographer, called it "a hotbed of sex, booze, and money, was the indisputable center of the action in Seattle."[4]:41 The restaurant served food and liquor and was advertised to include "Rooms for Ladies", a common euphemism for prostitution.[4]:50 Trump lived in Seattle until early 1893[4]:59 and voted in Washington's first presidential election in 1892.[4]:50 That same year he became a U.S. citizen.[4]:94

On 14 February 1894, Trump sold the Dairy Restaurant, and in March, he moved to the mining town of Monte Cristo, Washington in Snohomish County.[7] Monte Cristo was expected to produce a fortune of gold and silver because evidence of mineral deposits were discovered in 1889. This led to many prospectors moving to the area in hopes of becoming rich, with the financial investment of billionaire John D. Rockefeller in the entire Everett area creating an exaggerated expectation of the area's potential.[4]:53–58 Before leaving Seattle, he bought 40 acres (16 ha) in the Pine Lake Plateau, twelve miles east of the city, for $200, representing the first real estate purchase of the Trump family.[4]:59 In Monte Cristo, Trump found a plot of land near the train station that he wanted to build a new hotel on, but could not afford the $1,000-per-acre fee to purchase it. Instead, he filed a Gold placer claim on the land, which allowed him to claim exclusive mineral rights to the land without having to pay for it[4]:60 even though the land had already been claimed by Everett resident Nicholas Rudebeck. At that time, the US Land Office was known to be corrupt and allowed such activity frequently. Despite the placer's claim having given Trump no right to build any structure on the land, Trump quickly bought lumber to build a new hotel and operate it similarly to the Dairy Restaurant. He never attempted to mine gold on the land. Blair described Trump as “mining the miners”, since even if they never found any gold, they still needed a place to sleep at night when they were mining.[4]:61 While running the profitable hotel, Rudebeck filed to incorporate the land and then sent agents to collect rent in July 1894.[4]:65–66 Trump finally bought the land in December 1894.[4]:69 While in Monte Cristo, Trump was elected to office, winning the 1896 election for justice of the peace by a 32-to-5 margin.[4]:71

Years of mining had revealed that there was not nearly as much gold and silver in Monte Cristo than had once been believed,[4]:68 and in August 1894, Rockefeller pulled out of most of his investment in the area, creating the "Everett bubble burst".[4]:67 By the spring of 1896, most of the miners had left Monte Cristo, causing a labor shortage and less business for Trump, despite his being one of the few people to make money in Monte Cristo. Trump prepared for the bubble burst by funding two miners in the Yukon in exchange for them staking a claim for him.[4]:72 In July 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush began with the arrival of boats with gold in San Francisco and Seattle, resulting in thousands of people rushing to the area to make their fortune.[4]:73 Trump sold off most of his property in Monte Cristo a few weeks later and moved back to Seattle.[4]:74

In Seattle, Trump opened a new restaurant at 207 Cherry Street. Business was so good that he paid off the mortgage in four weeks. Meanwhile, on July 7, the two miners that Trump had funded staked his claim at Hunker Creek, a tributary of the Klondike. After spending $15 to register the claim, they sold half of it for $400 the next day. A week later, another miner sold it for $1,000.[4]:77 On September 20, they staked a second claim, at Deadwood Cree. Half of it was sold in October for $150, while the other half was sold in December for $2,000. By early 1898, Trump had made enough money to go to the Yukon for himself.[4]:79 He bought all the necessary supplies, sold off his remaining property in Monte Cristo and Seattle, and transferred his 40 acres in the Pine Lake Plateau to his sister Louise.[4]:78 In 1900, Louise sold the property for $250.[4]:80 In the years following Trump's departure from Monte Cristo, Rockefeller canceled plans for a railway through the town, and it subsequently experienced some of the worst avalanches and floods in its history.[4]:79

Role in Yukon gold rush

Blair, the biographer, stated that after Trump left for the Yukon, he "had no plans to mine himself."[4]:81 He likely travelled the White Pass route,[4]:83 which included the notorious “Dead Horse trail”, so named because drivers whipped animals of transport until they literally dropped dead on the trail and were left to decompose. In the spring of 1898, Trump and another miner named Ernest Levin opened a tent restaurant along the trail. Blair wrote that "a frequent dish was fresh-slaughtered, quick-frozen horse."[4]:84

In May 1898, Trump and Levin moved to Bennett, British Columbia, a town known for prospectors building boats in order to travel to Dawson. In Bennett, Trump and Levin opened the Arctic Restaurant and Hotel, which offered fine dining and lodging in a sea of tents.[4]:85[8] The Arctic was originally housed in a tent itself, but demand for the hotel and restaurant grew until it occupied a two-story building.[4][8] When describing the Arctic in a letter to the Yukon Sun newspaper, [a journalist?] wrote: "For single men the Arctic has excellent accommodations as well as the best restaurant in Bennett, but I would not advise respectable women to go there to sleep as they are liable to hear that which would be repugnant to their feelings – and uttered, too, by the depraved of their own sex."[4] The Arctic House was one of the largest and most decadent restaurants in that region of the Klondike, offering fresh fruit and ptarmigan in addition to the staple of horsemeat.[8] The Arctic was open 24 hours a day and advertised "Rooms for ladies," which included beds and scales for measuring gold dust. The local Mounties were known to tolerate vice so long as it was conducted discreetly.[4]:86

In 1900, the 150-mile-long White Pass and Yukon Route, a railroad between Bennett and Whitehorse, Yukon, was completed, allowing Trump to establish the White Horse Restaurant and Inn in Whitehorse.[4]:87–88[9] They moved the building by barge, relocated on Front Street, and were operational by June.[4]:88–89 The new restaurant, which included one of the largest steel ranges in the area, prepared 3,000 meals per day and now included gambling. Despite the enormous financial success, Trump and Levin began fighting due to Levin’s drinking. They broke their business relationship in February 1901, but reconciled in April. Around that time, the local government announced suppression on prostitution, gambling and liquor, though the crackdown was delayed by businesspeople until later that year. In light of this impending threat to his business operation, Trump sold his share of the restaurant to Levin and left the Yukon.[4]:90–91[2] In the months that followed, Levin was arrested for public drunkenness and sent to jail, and the Arctic was taken over by the Mounties.[4]:92 Blair wrote that "once again, in a situation that created many losers, [Trump] managed to emerge a winner."[4]:93

Marriage and family

Trump returned to Kallstadt in 1901 a wealthy man. Blair, the biographer said that "the business of seeing his customers’ need for food, drink and female companionship had been good to him."[4]:94 He quickly met and proposed to his old neighbor, Elizabeth Christ (October 10, 1880 – June 6, 1966).[10][11] Trump’s mother disapproved of Christ because she saw Christ's family as being from a lower social standing. Despite this, they married on August 26, 1902, and moved to New York City.[4]:95 In New York, Trump found work as a barber and a restaurant and hotel manager. They lived at 1006 Westchester Avenue in the German-speaking Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx. Their daughter Elizabeth was born on April 20, 1904. Due to Elizabeth Sr.'s extreme homesickness, they returned to Germany later that year.[4]:96 In May 1904, when he applied in New York for a U.S. passport to travel with his wife and his daughter, he listed his profession as "hotelkeeper".[12] In Germany, Trump deposited into a bank his life’s savings of 80,000 marks, equivalent to $505,248 in 2016.[4]:96

Soon after returning German authorities determined that Trump had emigrated from Germany to avoid his tax and military-service obligations, and he was labeled a draft dodger.[4]:98[13] On December 24, 1904 the Department of Interior announced an investigation to expel Trump from the country. Officially, they found that he had violated the Resolution of the Royal Ministry of the Interior number 9916, a 1886 law that punished emigration to North America to avoid military service with the loss of German citizenship.[4]:99 For several months, he unsuccessfully petitioned the government to allow him to stay.[4]:100 He and his family finally returned to New York on June 30, 1905.[4]:102

Trump’s son Fred was born on October 11, 1905, in Queens, New York. The family lived at 539 East 177th Street. In 1907, his second son John was born. Later that year they moved to Woodhaven, Queens. While living in Queens, he opened a very successful barber shop at 60 Wall Street in Manhattan.[4]:110

Later life and death

In 1908, Trump bought real estate on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven. Two years later, he moved his family into the building on the land and rented out several other rooms. He also worked as a hotel manager at the Medallion Hotel on 6th Avenue and 23rd Street.[4]:112 He had plans to continue buying more land, but during World War I, he was compelled to keep a low profile because Americans were suspicious of German-born citizens.[4]:113–115

On March 30, 1918, while walking with Fred, he suddenly felt extremely sick and was rushed to bed. He died a few hours later of pneumonia during the 1918 flu pandemic.[4]:116[14] He was 49 years old.

At his death his net holdings included a 2-storey, 7-room home in Queens; 5 vacant lots; $4,000 in savings; $3600 in stocks; and 14 mortgages. Altogether his net value was $31,359 ($493,900 today).[4]:118 Elizabeth Sr. and Fred continued his real estate projects under the Elizabeth Trump & Son moniker.


The immigration records list his name as Friedr. Trumpf, but sources including the genealogy organization FamilySearch, a genealogist at, and the 2013 book America's Obsessives concluded that both his father and his aunt's surname were Trump;[15][16][17] while the 2001 book The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate wrote that the family name was changed from Drumpf to Trump during the Thirty Years' War of the 1600s.[18][19][20]

See also


  1. ^Panetta, Alexander (September 19, 2015). "Donald Trump's grandfather ran Canadian brothel during gold rush". CBC News. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ abcdBlair, Gwenda (August 24, 2015). "The Man Who Made Trump Who He Is". Politico. Retrieved March 11, 2016. 
  3. ^Johann Trump, Katharina Kober, Friedrich Trump, Kallstadt Kingdom Bavaria, March 29, 1869, FHL microfilm 193950 –
  4. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzaaabacadaeafagahaiajakalamanaoapaqarasatauavawaxayazbabbbcbdbebfbgbhGwenda Blair (2000). The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-1079-9
  5. ^Crolly, Hannelore (August 24, 2015). "Donald Trump, King of Kallstadt". Die Welt online (in German). Retrieved November 21, 2015. 
  6. ^"U.S. Immigration records. Line 133 mentions "Friedr. Trumpf", age 16, born in "Kallstadt", Germany."
  7. ^Evan Bush (August 25, 2015). "Donald Trump's grandfather got business start in Seattle". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ abc"How the Trumps struck Klondike gold". Daily Mail. September 8, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  9. ^Rozhon, Tracie (June 26, 1999). "Fred C. Trump, Postwar Master Builder of Housing for Middle Class, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  10. ^"Elisabeth Trump". geni_family_tree. 
  11. ^"Donald Trump genealogy". Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  12. ^US Passport Applications: Fred Trump U.S. Passport Applications 1904-1905, Fred Trump, Roll 653, 25 May 1904-31 May 1904
  13. ^Grier, Peter (August 24, 2015). "Donald Trump: the son of an immigrant". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  14. ^Sean Keeley (July 28, 2015). "Don't Like Donald Trump? You Can Blame Seattle". Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  15. ^"Friedrich Trump". FamilySearch. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  16. ^Powell, Kimberly. "Ancestry of Donald Trump - Great Grandparents". Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  17. ^Kendall, Joshua (2013). "America's Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation". Grand Central Publishing. Retrieved 7 March 2016. John Henry Heinz's mother was Charlotte Luise Trump, a sister of the Donald's great-grandfather, John Trump 
  18. ^Blair, Gwenda (2001). The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate. Simon and Schuster. pp. 26–27. Retrieved March 4, 2016. 
  19. ^Victor, Daniel (March 2, 2016). "Donald Drumpf: A Funny Label, but Is It Fair". The New York Times
  20. ^"Why Donald Trump trumps Donald Drumpf". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 3, 2016.