NAME, Years Elected to City Council

John Frederick William Sohst (1836-? ) was elected in 1876, 1877, 1878

Political Affiliation



Sohst was born in Warin, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany in 1837. After working in Sandusky, Ohio for five years, he arrived in Oakland in 1857 (or 1859?). He went to work for the Pioneer Carriage Factory, a carriage and wagon manufacturer, and in 1861 he and his brother Henry J. Sohst bought the business. In 1870 he expanded, buying a horse-shoeing company. In 1873 he merged the two businesses under the Pioneer Carriage Factory name into one location, on the northeast corner of 8th and Franklin Streets (Sohst Bros proprietors). In 1887 the business was still listed in the Oakland Directory, with a number of employees.

In 1863 John Sohst married Margaret Nolan and together they had 6 children.1 Sohst was residing at 1376 Telegraph Avenue in 1887, along with Miss Nellie Sohst, who was probably a daughter. His brother Henry Sohst lived at 1812 San Pablo Avenue that same year.

As Director of the Merchant’s Exchange, Sohst proposed consolidating Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley.2 The proposition passed the Exchange unanimously, and also was favored by the Chamber of Commerce (of which Sohst was also a part). The two groups brought the matter to (then) Governor Pardee’s attention, but clearly nothing came of it.3

Sohst was a member of the City Council from 1874–7. He helped organize the Oakland Turnverein Society, was a member of the Deutcher Club and a director of the Altenheim.

Along with his consolidation activities, Sohst and the Chamber of Commerce sought to build a scenic road through what is now Montclair. The road would have traveled from 13th Avenue to Claremont, passing Medau, so it’s not clear exactly what road this was/is – perhaps something approximating the path of Highway 13 from Park Blvd.4 He is also named as the person who proposed the “Contra Costa Tunnel” – aka the Kennedy Tunnel.6

Other Positions in City Government

1902: Water Committee (to investigate municipal ownership of Water)5


  1. The Bay of San Francisco, Vol. 2. Lewis Publishing Co: 1892.
  2. “The Merchants Favor Unity: Exchange Strongly for Civic Consolidation a Favorable Report Passed Without Any Opposition.” San Francisco Chronicle: Feb 18, 1898.
  3. “Oakland Consolidation Plan Is Turned Down.” San Francisco Chronicle: May 26, 1906.
  4. “Oakland Wants a Scenic Driveway.” San Francisco Chronicle: April 12, 1897.
  5. “Mayor Appoints Water Committee.” San Francisco Chronicle: April 12, 1902.
  6. Guinn, James. History of the State of California and Biographical Record to Oakland and Environs. Historic Record Co.: 1907.
  7. “Result of the Primaries: Oakland Republicans Select Delegates.” San Francisco Chronicle: April 19, 1896.
  8. Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific. Tribune Publishing Co: 1898.