Charles Waldemar Dodenhoff (1854-1948) emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1872. He originally settled in New York but moved to Pennsylvania in 1878, soon marrying Lina Zirkel. They moved to Oregon with their children in 1886, where Lina contracted tuberculosis two years later.
At the advice of her doctor, they planned to move to a drier climate. In 1888, Charles decided on Old Palmdale, which was a settlement called Palmenthal at the time. He purchased some land, returning home to gather his wife and their belongings to make the move to Palmdale. Unfortunately, Lina’s condition worsened and she passed away soon after. Following Lina’s death, he married Hulda Lavina Kimsey and moved to Palmdale along with the three children from his first marriage.
Dodenhoff is often credited with bringing several German families from the East coast to settle in Palmdale, self-proclaimed as “father of the region” in his personal diaries. He lived in Palmdale for 15 years. During his time in Palmdale, he worked in many professions, including real-estate agent, lumber dealer, secretary and board member of the Palmdale Irrigation District, a community news reporter for the Los Angeles Herald, census taker, notary public, justice of the peace, deputy assessor, and voting inspector.
Dodenhoff fathered 13 children in total, 6 born in Palmdale. One of his sons passed away in infancy and was buried on the family property in Old Palmdale. One of his daughters, Una Helene (1895-1966), was likely the inspiration behind the Palmdale-Harold Una sag pond namesake.
Dodenhoff ultimately decided to leave Palmdale with his family during the devastating drought that hit the Antelope Valley communities at the end of the century. They moved to San Bernardino in the early 1900s, eventually returning to Oregon where he would stay.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"