Charles M. Goethe, circa 1890s

Charles Matthias (C. M.) Goethe was born to Henry John and Louisa Goethe in Sacramento on March 28, 1875. Goethe's grandparents immigrated to Sacramento from Germany via Australia in the 1870s. Goethe's father founded the profitable Goethe Company in Sacramento, which dealt in banking, agriculture and real estate investments. Following his graduation from Sacramento High School in 1891, Goethe joined his father's company where he eventually became president in 1906. After the Goethe Bank officially closed in 1909, Goethe listed his profession simply as "capitalist."

In December 1903, Goethe married Mary Glide after a lengthy courtship and numerous proposals. Mary finally agreed to wed Goethe once she secured a promise that they would dedicate their lives to human betterment, and not simply to the acquisition of wealth. The daughter of a wealthy and prominent pioneer family in Sacramento, Mary brought a substantial fortune to the marriage. Together, Mary and Charles ("We-2") increased their wealth through astute investments in real estate, stocks, and agriculture. At the time of his death in 1966, Goethe's estate was valued at twenty-four million dollars.

Throughout their marriage "We-2" traveled extensively through Asia, Africa and Europe. In their pursuit of human betterment, Charles and Mary were instrumental in the development of the supervised playground movement, the creation of interpretive nature parks, the Save the Redwoods League, city planning in Sacramento, anti-tuberculosis campaigns, and the California Church Council. In addition, Goethe founded and was a member of a number of key eugenics organizations, including the Eugenics Society of Northern California, the Eugenics Section of the Commonwealth Club of California, the American Eugenics Society, and the Human Betterment Foundation. He briefly served as the president of the Eugenics Research Association. Goethe's eugenic vision integrated commitment to nature conservation with immigration restriction and "better breeding" initiatives.

Throughout his life, Goethe was respected as a eugenicist, conservationist, naturalist, educator, humanitarian, philanthropist, writer, and banker. In Northern California, he was honored through the naming of a junior high school in Sacramento, a park on the American River, a street, the arboretum at Sacramento State, and a memorial grove in the Prairie Creek Redwoods. Charles M. Goethe died in Sacramento on July 10, 1966.

An entry from Charles M.Goethe's diary, October 5, 1902.
Pages 20-21, Pages 22-23, Pages 24-25

Charles M. Goethe Diary Entries

Charles M. Goethe was an avid reader and writer. On the October 5, 1902 diary entry, Goethe wrote about his observations of various children while on a train ride to San Francisco on September 26th. He noted the differences between the children that he observed based upon their race: "'Twas a vivid example of the difference between the Anglo Saxon and the Latin races. 'Twas only a crowd of children but what a story of Teutonic progressiveness of South of Europe decanence (sic)." On pages two and three, Goethe also made predictions on the future of the children based upon their appearances and ethnic background.

Marriage and Tithe

Charles M. and Mary Glide married in December 1903. Regarding his marriage, Goethe said, "We both had had in childhood, in adolescence thorough religious education. This taught the highest happiness came from endeavoring to lead lives of service to one's fellowmen.... Since We-two were accustomed to tithe-yielding from childhood, we agreed, before marriage, about the joy of exceeding them. Therefore, in our 42 years of married life, we allowed ourselves a mere salary. We invested all other earnings in human betterment."

Charles M. Goethe, Seeking to Serve, pp. 44-45

Mary Glide Goethe, wife of Charles M. Goethe, in 1905 

Mary Glide Goethe, sitting in chair, circa1900s
Mary Louise Glide Goethe

Mary Louise Glide was born on October 29, 1876 to Henry Joseph Glide and Elizabeth Helen Glide. The Glide family was one of Sacramento's most prominent and wealthy families. Mary stated that she would only marry Charles M. if he agreed that they would spend their life dedicated to human betterment. "We-two" or "Us-two" as they referred to themselves, shared similar eugenic visions. Mary died in 1946.


Appendix C: Partial Listing of Real Estate Holdings of C. M. Goethe*

Bonita Vista Bonniemead
Broderick Subdivision Cedarhurst
Fruitridge Park Goethe Additions A to Q
Goethe Additions F (Amended Lots 48-53) Goethe Colonies 1 to 114
Goethe Subdivisions 1 to 163 Hillcrest Park
Las Palmas Los Alamitos
Los Ceritos Mission Trecho
New Brighton Oak Terrace
Park Terrace Park Villa
Rosehedge Park Sacramento Heights
Sequoia Park Sutter County Colonies
Yolo County Alfalfa Land

* From: Schauer, Andrew. Charles Matthias Goethe, 1875-1966. Sacramento: Foundation of California State University, Sacramento, 1976. p. 189

"Axis of Growth"

"We first bought within the old Sutter limits. This included such tracts as the Mission Trecho hopyards, also Casa Alameda, Las Palmas, Los Alamitos.

The Goethes also had become owners of what was left of Oak Park. This was the first large extraterritorial subdivision beyond Captain Sutter's incorporated Sacramento. It included Sacramento's first golf links, also the present 35th Street business section, north of McClatchy Park. This we sold at $150 to $250 per lot, $5 down, $5 monthly. These same lots sold later at $5,000.

Beyond this our subdivisions penetrated another zone. This included Oak Terrace, Park Terrace, Goethe Additions A to F, Sacramento Heights, Fruit Ridge Park, Cloverdale. Both sides of what now is Stockton Boulevard became spotted for miles with Goethe subdivisions. This for years continued to be the main axis of growth."

Charles M. Goethe, Seeking to Serve, p. 25

Report of the State Planning Commission upon its Investigation of the Planning of the Capital of California, State Printing Office, Sacramento, 1918. cover, page 20, and page 22

Report of the State Planning Commission upon its Investigation of the Planning of the Capital of California

A reprinted letter written to Charles M. Goethe, chairman of the State Capital Planning Commission, from E. A. Dickson, January 19, 1918. Dickson wanted the State Capital Planning Commission to look at several options that he outlined in his letter.  

"Dr. Charles M. Goethe Day" Proclamation Issued by Sacramento Mayor James B. McKinney, March 31, 1962

"Dr. Charles M. Goethe Day"

Sacramento Mayor James B. McKinney issued this proclamation naming March 31, 1962 as "Dr. Charles M. Goethe Day" as a "tribute to one who has worked zealously to preserve the beauties of nature for the people for all time, and in recognition of the many contributions and philanthropies he has made during his lifetime on behalf of human betterment." This is one of several proclamations by the mayor naming March 31 st as Charles M. Goethe Day.   

"Happy Birthday, Dr. Goethe." The Goethe Go-Round, Vol. 4, No. 13, March 19, 1965

"Happy Birthday, Dr. Goethe"

The Sacramento Unified School District named a school after Charles M. Goethe. The Charles M. Goethe Junior High School newsletter celebrated the birth date of the school's name in 1965.  

C. M. Goethe National Recognition Day Banquet Program and Commemorative Booklet, March 28, 1965

The C. M. Goethe National Recognition Day Banquet Program and Commemorative Booklet, March 28, 1965

In this commemorative booklet, the different sections described Goethe as a humble man, scientist, conservationist, educator, friend of youth, and church, fraternal and civic leader. Dr. Guy A. West, President of Sacramento State College, was the chairman of the C. M. Goethe National Recognition Day Committees. At the Banquet, the unveiling of a portrait painted by well-known portrait artist De Witt Whistler Jayne, who was also a faculty member at Sacramento State, was presented to Goethe and a commemorative booklet was prepared by various organizations and individuals throughout the United States. Goethe was not present at the banquet due to illness but the event was video-taped so that he would be able to see the celebration.

"Goethe Tributes are Plentiful on 90 th Birthday." Sacramento Bee. March 28, 1965. p. A3

Tributes to Charles M. Goethe on 90th Birthday

The article states that "The Sacramentan whose life's work has been devoted to furthering causes which have promoted the betterment of his fellow man today is being showered with tributes from those whose lives he sought to improve."