Henry A. Jastro, known as “The Commodore,” was an important cattleman and an influential politician. Born in Germany in 1850, Jastro immigrated to America with his family at age 13. He eventually moved west, working cattle and sheep in Southern California before arriving in the Bakersfield area. The town was small but growing, and Jastro saw opportunity there. He quickly settled into the community and a partnership in a brewery with Colonel Thomas Baker.
In 1872 he married Mary Whalen, Baker’s stepdaughter. Jastro became a major player in the business and civic life of the town and the county, working for more than 50 years for the Kern County Land Company. The company owned 1,395,000 acres in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. Jastro’s financial acumen and energy helped the company to prosper, and his name became recognized across the West.
He was president of the Kern County board of supervisors for a quarter of a century. Jastro also served several terms as president of the State Board of Agriculture and of the Western Cattlemen’s Association. He organized the Bakersfield Building & Loan Association and was president and principal owner of the Bakersfield Gas & Electric Company.
Jastro donated the land to establish a public park in Bakersfield. Named for Jastro, it became one of the most popular public parks in the city and features a historic bandstand. As a lifelong cattleman, Jastro had a strong relationship with the College of Agriculture at the University of California Davis. The College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences offers a scholarship in his name, which was endowed by Jastro’s estate.
When Jastro died in 1925, all the leading citizens of Bakersfield attended the funeral.
Jastro is buried in a private mausoleum in Union Cemetery space 61-17.