Born in Germany in 1829, Classen was our first immigrant Sheriff. At the age of 19, he set out from New York on a ship bound for California, where he was eager to partake in the Gold Rush.
While on a job delivering 150 cows and 60 mares from Nicolaus to Oakland, he crossed from Benicia to Martinez on the ferry. The Ferry Captain’s daughter caught his eye and his heart and the two were married in 1857.
Classen served as Under Sheriff for both John F.S. Smith and John J. McEwen.
He was both a prominent citizen and a Master Mason when voted into office as the Sheriff.