John Holze and his wife, Sophia, were at home on Capitol Hill, where they operated Queen City Florist Co.
HERE, WE’RE LOOKING south, and a little east, to the Queen City Florist Co.’s verdant nursery at the southwest corner of Union Street and 13th Avenue. The florists’ names were John and Sophia Holze. Most likely, that is the couple standing at the gate, bottom-center, posing for the unnamed photographer.
John was 36 and Sophia 20 when they were married on June 22, 1898. John was 20 when he came to the United States from Germany in 1883. Sophia’s parents emigrated from Germany, and she was born and raised in Wilson, Kan., a railroad town with an enclave of Pennsylvania Dutch, and so also a German-speaking community. The Midwest was then well-stocked with them. (Leaning on personal evidence, all my Midwestern grandparents spoke German more comfortably than English.)
In 1909, about seven years after they opened their nursery, the Holzes ran a classified in The Seattle Times seeking, “Girl for General Housework; two in family; German preferred, 1223 E. Union.” In the 1910 federal census, Emily L. Taylor is listed as living with the Holzes, but at age 57, the “cook and servant” was hardly a girl. Widower Herman Andrews, the 63-year-old “laborer, gardener” also living with them, was born in Germany.
In 1912, the Holzes added a store to their nursery. The Florist’s Review for Nov. 14, 1912, reported, “The company has the satisfaction of knowing that the place is now thoroughly up-to-date. The stock is all looking first-class … and everything is in condition for a large business.”
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As business grew, the couple and their flora did well. In 1905, John served as assistant secretary for the Seattle Florist Association’s flower show, which, The Times reported, “was not only an artistic success, but paid for itself.” It was Seattle’s first big flower show, and The Times concluded that it went a long way toward proving something “not to be so … the flippant saying that the men and women of Seattle are so busy making money that they have no time for the finer things.” Meanwhile, Sophia did the accounting.
For their first adventure after retiring their Union Street enterprise in 1927, the German-American couple vacationed in Germany. They stayed involved in the flower business, winning first prize for maroon carnations in the 1929 Northwest Florist Association Show.