San Francisco History

The Beginnings of San Francisco

The Village of Yerba Buena, 1839-1846

In the year 1835 the bay of San Francisco was a vast solitude through whose bordering groves ranged the red deer, the elk, and the antelope, while bears, and panthers, and other ferocious beasts frequented the hills and often descended upon the scattered farm yards. The five mission establishments in its vicinity did not contain above two hundred white inhabitants while the few ranchos were of great extent and widely separated. Boats manned by Indians came down the creeks from the missions with their loads of hides and tallow for the ships anchored in Yerba Buena cove. The growth of the little settlement was slow and in 1844 it contained only about a dozen houses and not over fifty permanent inhabitants.

In 1839 Governor Alvarado ordered a survey of Yerba Buena, and the alcalde, Francisco de Haro, employed Jean Jacques Vioget, a Swiss sailor and surveyor, to do the work which was completed in the fall of that year. Vioget's survey laid out the blocks between Pacific, California, Montgomery, and Dupont streets, and shows Dupont street intersected at Clay by the Calle de la Fundacion, which branched off to the northwest towards the "Puerto suelo." Montgomery street is interrupted at Clay street by a lagoon that made in from the beach and occupied portions of the two Montgomery street blocks between Clay and Pacific streets. On the south, Montgomery street was again interrupted by a fresh water pond (Laguna Dulce) at the foot of Sacramento street which was supplied by a stream that ran down Sacramento street from above Powell. No names were given to the streets and the cross streets were two and a half degrees from a right angle. Down to 1846 lots were granted by Vioget's map, which I reproduce, and lots previously granted were made to conform to it. No street improvements were attempted, the line of streets being merely indicated by building and fences. In 1845 Captain Hinckley prevailed upon the prefect at Monterey to have Vioget's survey extended to Mason street on the west, Green street on the north, and Sutter street on the south. Early in 1846, according to Brown, [1] the map of this survey—which he calls the first map of surveyed lands— hung in Bob Ridley's billiard saloon, at that time the headquarters for all strangers in town, and the names of those who had lots granted were written on the map. The map became soiled and torn and Captain Hinckley volunteered to make a new one, which was done with Brown's assistance, and the original map was put away for safe keeping. The maps were left in the barroom until after the raising of the American flag when they were demanded of Brown, who was Ridley's barkeeper, by Lieutenant Bartlett, by order of Captain Montgomery. This map, I presume the original, hung in a frame, in the San Francisco recorder's office and was destroyed in the great fire of April 1906. A photographic copy of it is in the State Library at Sacramento. It bears the following certificate:

"San Francisco, Feb. 22, 1847.

"I hereby certify that this plan of the Town of San Francisco is the plan by which titles have been given by the Alcaldes from the first location of the town, and the numbers and names of lots and streets correspond with records transferred by me.

Washn. A. Bartlett,
Chief Magistrate.”

On this map Powell, Mason, and Green streets have no names, Stockton street is the first street west of Kearny, Pacific street is named Bartlett street, Sacramento street is Howard, Sansome street is Sloat, Battery street is Battery Place, and Bush and Sutter streets follow California to the south.

In March 1847 Jasper O'Farrell was employed to make a careful survey of the town and extend its limits. His survey covered some eight hundred acres and included the beach and water lots recently granted to the town by General Kearny. His map included the district bounded by Post, Leavenworth, and Francisco streets, and the water front; and south of Market street it showed four full blocks fronting on Fourth and eleven full blocks fronting on Second street. The streets in Vioget's survey were too narrow, but they could not be widened without a heavy expense which nobody wished to incur. It was considered indispensable, however, that the acute and obtuse angles of Vioget's lots should be corrected, and to do this a change of two and a half degrees was necessary in the direction of some of the streets. This transferred the situation of all the lots and was subsequently called "O'Farrell's swing" of the city. For years, on account of the swing, buildings were to be seen at various places projecting a little beyond the general line of the street.

The line of Market street was made to correspond with the road to the mission and the lots south of that line were made four times as large as those to the northward because smaller lots there were not considered desirable. [2]

In 1849 W. M. Eddy, city surveyor, extended the survey to Larkin and Eighth streets. Montgomery, Dupont, Clay, and Washington streets were named by Lieutenant Bartlett, and probably Kearny and Stockton also. Some time before July 18, 1847, Sloat street had become Sansome street, as appears in a communication from Major Hardie of that date. [3] O'Farrell's map gives the names of the streets as we now have them.

In 1835 Captain Richardson's Indians had a temescal on the flat at the foot of Sacramento street where, after heating themselves in the sweat house, they plunged into the waters of the Laguna Dulce. At the foot of Clay street a spring of good water flowed from under the bank and supplied the ships. Here in 1838-9 Juan Fuller had a washhouse. In March 1838 Francisco Cáceres, an ex-sergeant of dragoons, obtained a one hundred vara lot in the block bounded by Dupont, Kearny, Jackson, and Pacific streets and built an adobe house on what is now the southeast corner of Dupont and Pacific, where he lived with his family a number of years. In 1838, A. B. Thompson built a hide house at Buckalew's Point at the head of a little cove, near the northeast corner of Sansome and Pacific streets. Thompson was a Santa Barbara trader and ship owner who came in 1825. He was a native of Maine and he married a daughter of Cárlos Carrillo.

In 1837 John Casimiro Fuller, commonly called Juan Fuller, an English sailor who came in 1823, obtained a hundred vara lot on Kearny, between California and Sacramento streets. In 1839 he put up three small wooden dwellings on his lot, in one of which he lived. He was a butcher and cook and was well known to all early traders. Brown says that Fuller was one of a small party who attended, at Leidesdorff's house, the reading of the declaration of independence by Captain Montgomery, July 4th, 1846. [4] Fuller's wife was Concepcion Ávila and he has a number of descendants living in San Francisco.

In 1839 John Calvert Davis was granted a hundred vara lot on Kearny between Washington and Jackson streets, and built a house on Washington street near the southeast corner of this lot, and back of it a carpenter and blacksmith shop. He was an English ship-carpenter and blacksmith.

Near the southwest corner of Montgomery and Pacific streets, Victor Prudon built an adobe house in 1839. He came in 1834 with the Híjar and Padrés colony as a teacher; he was a Frenchman, well educated, of agreeable manners and attractive personal appearance. He became secretary to Governor Alvarado and captain of militia; later he was secretary to Comandante-general Vallejo with rank in the regular army as captain and brevet lieutenant-colonel. He was taken prisoner, with his chief, by the Bears at Sonoma. [5]

In 1839 William Sturgis Hinckley obtained by grant from Alcalde Guerrero the two middle fifty vara lots in the block bounded by Montgomery, Kearny, Clay, and Washington streets. He also appears to have owned a half interest with Spear in the fifty vara lot on the corner of Montgomery and Clay streets in the same block. This corner lot was divided, Hinckley taking the north half, on which he built in 1840 an adobe house next to Spear's store on Montgomery street, where he lived with his family until his death. Hinckley was a native of Massachusetts and nephew of William Sturgis of the mercantile firm of Bryant and Sturgis so prominent in the California trade. He came to California first in 1830 as master of the bark Volunteer; was engaged in the Honolulu trade for several years, and was master or supercargo of several vessels in turn. He assisted Alvarado in his affair with Guiterrez in 1836, landing two small cannon from the Don Quixote. He was accused of smuggling and was in more or less trouble with the revenue authorities. In 1844 he was alcalde and built a little bridge across the neck of the laguna at Jackson street, thus enabling the citizens to pass to Clark's Point without going around the laguna. This was the first street improvement work in Yerba Buena. In 1845-6 Hinckley was captain of the port. He died in June 1846, at the age of thirty-nine. His wife was Doña Susana one of Lieutenant Martinez’ handsome daughters. She was his second wife and after Hinckley's death she married William M. Smith. Alcalde Bartlett occupied the Hinckley house as both office and residence. The house stood on what is now the southwest corner of Montgomery and Merchant streets and was removed in 1850 to make way for the Naglee building.

On January 15, 1840, Captain J. B. R. Cooper received a grant of a hundred vara lot on the east side of Dupont, between Washington and Jackson streets, where, on the Jackson street lot just below Dupont, his cousin, John Cooper, alias "Jack the sailor," built a shanty and kept a groggery.

Leese received the grant of his Montgomery street lot in January 1840, and the remaining third of the block—two fifty varas—fronting on Kearny street between Sacramento and Clay streets—was in the same month granted to Captain John J. Vioget. At the eastern end of the Clay street lot Vioget put up a wooden building in which he lived and kept a bar and billiard saloon. He rented this in 1844 to Robert T. Ridley who ran the business until February 1846, when he employed John H. Brown as bartender. Ridley, an English sailor, was in 1840-1 in the employ of Sutter, first having charge of his launch, going then, for a time, to Fort Ross. Later he was clerk for Spear and for the Hudson's Bay company under Rae. He was a pronounced cockney, a fine looking fellow, a tremendous drinker, and very popular with all classes. He became naturalized and married a daughter of Juana Briones. He succeeded Hinckley as captain of the port and after the Bear Flag affair was arrested by the Bears as a "prisoner of war," and sent to Sutter's fort. He was released with the other prisoners and was candidate for the office of alcalde against Washington A. Bartlett in the election held September 15, 1846. In 1845 Ridley built a house on the southwest corner of Montgomery and California streets, where the Clunie building now stands. The house was twenty varas back from each street and did not front on the line of Montgomery street as it now runs, but stood diagonally, like the casa grande of Richardson. It was a low one-story bungalow of adobe with a long piazza fronting the bay. In 1846 he sold the house to Leidesdorff who lived there until his death in May 1848, and it was then occupied by W. D. M. Howard, his executor, and later by Captain Folsom who purchased the estate from Leidesdorff's heirs. Folsom had his residence and quartermaster's office there. Leidesdorff was a lover of nature and his garden on the place was considered a triumph. In 1845 Ridley was granted Callayomi rancho at Sonoma which he exchanged with Jacob Leese for Visitacion rancho at San Francisco. In 1850 he was, with C. V. Stuart, keeping the Mansion house, a part of the mission buildings, and died there, November 11, 1851, aged 32.

To return to the Vioget house. After Ridley's arrest Brown conceived the idea of turning the place into a sort of hotel, there being no accommodations in town for strangers. He therefore hired Tom Smith, an English sailor, as cook and steward, and took in such visitors as came. After the arrival of the Brooklyn Brown found help in plenty and engaged a widow, Mrs. Mercy Narrimore, as housekeeper, Lucy Nutting as waitress, and Sarah Kittleman, as cook, all from the Mormon colony, and opened out as a hotel in regular style. Two carpenters of the same immigration made the tables, benches, and bedsteads; the beds were made of Sandwich island moss; blankets of heavy flannel with a seam in the center, and quilts of calico. The house had been called Vioget house, but at the request of some of the warrant officers of the Portsmouth who offered to make him a sign-board, Brown changed the name to the Portsmouth house. This was the first hotel in San Francisco. Sarah Kittleman married Dr. Elbert P. Jones, who gave his name to Jones street, and who succeeded Brown in the Portsmouth house, taking both hotel and cook off his hands. Jones was a Kentuckian, came in 1846, was active in town affairs and the first editor of the Star, predecessor of the Alta California.

On January 1, 1841, there arrived in Monterey the Hudson's Bay company's bark Columbia having on board Sir James Douglas, agent of the company, with a party of thirty-six men, and carrying a cargo of goods for sale. The relations between the company and the Californians had been friendly but not close. The object of Douglas' visit was to obtain from the California authorities greater privileges for his fur-hunting operations in the interior and permission to establish a trading post on the coast. His party was composed in part of hunters, and the others were to conduct to the Columbia river a herd of live-stock which he hoped to purchase.

Douglas was courteously received by Alvarado and hospitably entertained at the capital, and with a dozen of his men was sent overland to San Francisco, enjoying along the way the generous hospitality of the rancheros. He found the authorities ready to grant him the concessions desired and returned to Fort Vancouver to submit to the company plans for a trading establishment at Yerba Buena. These were approved and Chief Factor John McLoughlin despatched his son-in-law, William Glen Rae, to take charge of the post with full power to select or purchase a site for the proposed store. Rae arrived in California in August and bought from Leese his hundred vara lot and building on Montgomery street, for which he paid four thousand six hundred dollars, half in money and half in goods.

The Russian property at Ross [6] had been offered to the Hudson's Bay company for thirty thousand dollars, but Douglas could not find that the company had any title to the land and was not disposed to buy the personal property at such a figure. It was afterwards bought by John A. Sutter.

Rae opened the Yerba Buena store with a ten thousand dollar stock of goods and on December 30th, Sir George Simpson, governor of the company, arrived and with him Chief Factor McLoughlin who brought his daughter Eloise, wife of Rae. Simpson visited Vallejo at Sonoma and was hospitably entertained at Monterey and at Santa Barbara. He gives the result of his observations in California in his narrative, from which I have quoted some extracts. [7] Mrs. Rae describes the company's house as about thirty by eighty feet with a big hall in the middle, on one side of which was the store and on the other the dwelling, with a dining room and sitting room in front and in back, four bed rooms, and a kitchen back of all. Davis says that Rae and Spear were the chief entertainers, there being no hotels. [8] Rae was a Scotchman of fine presence, a bon-vivant and hard drinker, but subject to periods of great depression. He disliked Americans and, it is said, boasted when in his cups that "it had cost the company seventy-five thousand pounds to drive the Yankee traders from the Columbia and that they would drive them from California if it cost a million." The large capital of the Hudson's Bay company gave them an advantage over the traders in Yerba Buena but the business did not prosper under Rae's management. In the revolt against Micheltorena Rae espoused the cause of the rebels and furnished them with fifteen thousand dollars' worth of stores and munitions of war. A treaty of peace was signed in December 1844, and Rae anticipated that the governor would punish the company for his unjustifiable interference. He pondered deeply over his position and the censure he felt would be laid upon him, and his depression was aggravated by the excessive use of intoxicating liquors. About eight o'clock on the morning of January 19, 1845, William Sinclair, Rae's clerk, and Mrs. John Fuller heard loud cries from Rae's room. They ran in and found Rae standing in the presence of his wife, his coat off and a pistol in his hand. Sinclair seized the pistol before it could be discharged, and hastened to call Hinckley. A shot rang out, and Rae fell to the floor dead. He had had another pistol. His wife fainted. Davis says that Rae was unfaithful to his wife and this becoming known, Rae, who was a very sensitive man, shot himself. [9] Robert Birney, Rae's chief clerk, denied that family troubles had anything to do with the suicide, which, according to Larkin, was the result of Rae's unfortunate participation in the revolution. James Alexander Forbes, British vice-consul at Monterey, took charge of the company's affairs and in March 1846, Dugald McTavish came down from the Columbia and closed up the business. This ended the Hudson's Bay company's operations in California which were, from the beginning, limited. The stories told by a recent writer of brigades of two hundred men disguised as Spaniards and led by La Framboise and McKay to the very doors of Monterey, and of a thousand-acre farm on the site of modern San Francisco are pure invention.

McTavish sold the property on Montgomery street to Mellus and Howard for five thousand dollars. In the winter of 1849-50 the building was converted into the United States hotel and was destroyed in the fire of June 14, 1850. On August 26, 1854, some workmen engaged in digging for a sewer on Commercial street west of Montgomery came upon a coffin through whose oval glass were seen the well preserved features of a dead man. A crowd gathered, and after some time Charles R. Bond, secretary for W. D. M. Howard, pushed his way through the people about the trench and recognized the body of William Glen Rae. The place of burial had been formerly the garden of his house. [10] The body was re-interred in Yerba Buena cemetery—now the city hall lot.

In 1836 Juana Briones, wife of Apolonario Miranda, built an adobe house on the westerly side of Telegraph hill, where now Powell and Filbert streets cross, in what is known as the North Beach. For years it was the only house between Yerba Buena and the presidio. Here she had a small farm and supplied milk, eggs, etc., to the ships. She was noted for her generous kindness to sick and deserting sailors. Thomes, writing of his visit to Yerba Buena in 1843 says: "We pushed on, and after a short walk stood on the top (of Telegraph hill) * * * In the rear of the town were vast mounds of sand, ever changing, while at the foot of the hill, on the Golden Gate side, was a large adobe house, and outbuildings, the residence and rancho of Señora Abarono, a rich widow, where I afterwards used to go for milk every morning, unless off on boating duty. The lady and I struck up quite a friendship. She always welcomed me with a polite good-morning, and a drink of fresh milk. * * * If the men had had some of the energy of that buxom, dark-faced lady, California would have been a prosperous state, even before it was annexed to this country, and we would have had to fight harder than we did to get possession.” [11] In 1838 Apolonario Miranda obtained one hundred varas of land near the presidio, known as the Ojo de Figueroa—the Well of Figueroa—where he had previously built a house. This well, which is still flowing, is near the middle of Lyon street, between Vallejo and Green. The water has been used until quite recently.

In 1842 Peter Sherreback, a native of Denmark, obtained a fifty vara lot on the southeast corner of Washington and Kearny streets and in 1843 built a wooden house on the lot. This gave way to the El Dorado gambling house destroyed by fire in 1849 and again in 1850. In 1850, Sherreback built on the rear of this lot, a house of entertainment known as "Our House" where refreshments, liquid and solid, could be obtained. There was neither bar nor counter, but on a table in the middle of the room was placed wine and spirits, and those who desired helped themselves.

In 1837 Francisco Sanchez received a hundred vara lot next to Richardson's—the fourth grant made in Yerba Buena, which in 1844 he sold to Captain John Paty who built a house on it. Paty was a prominent ship-master on the coast in the Hawaiian trade and was senior captain or commodore in the Hawaiian navy. He was associated with H. D. Fitch, Abel Stearns, and James McKinley in various enterprises, and in 1843-5 Paty and McKinley had a store in Yerba Buena, occupying the casa grande of Richardson which McKinley bought in 1842. James McKinley was also a well-known trader. Bancroft says he was a Scotch sailor boy who had been left at San Francisco or Santa Barbara in 1824 by a whaler. He lived in Los Angeles and later in Monterey where he married Carmen, daughter of José Amesti and Prudenciana Vallejo, and niece, therefore, of General Vallejo. Josiah Belden, who came with the Bartleson party in 1841, was clerk for Paty and McKinley. Belden became very wealthy through fortunate investments in San Francisco real estate.

One of the most enterprising and public spirited citizens of Yerba Buena was William Alexander Leidesdorff He was a native of the Danish West Indies, and came to California in 1841 as master of the American schooner Julia Ann sailing between California and Honolulu. In 1843 he obtained from Alcalde Sanchez the fifty vara lot on the southwest corner of Kearny and Clay streets and the fifty vara back of it in Clay street. In 1844 or '45 he erected a warehouse on the beach at the foot of California street at what was afterwards the corner of California and Leidesdorff streets, on a lot which was granted to him by Alcalde Noé April 22, 1846. The building was later used as a United States quartermaster's warehouse. In 1846 Leidesdorff built a large adobe house on his lot on the southwest corner of Clay and Kearny streets. This he occupied first as a store and dwelling, but later leased it to J. H. Brown, who opened it as Brown's hotel November 1, 1846. It was later called the City hotel. In 1848-9 it was the headquarters of the gamblers and in 1849 was leased for sixteen thousand dollars, and sublet for stores and rooms at a great profit. It was the stopping place for officers of the army and navy during 1846-8, and it was there, according to Brown, that the declaration of independence was read by Captain Montgomery, July 4, 1846, five days before the American occupation. It was destroyed by the fire of May 4, 1851.

In 1844 Leidesdorff was naturalized and was granted the Rio de los Americanos rancho, eight leagues (35,500 acres) on the left bank of the American river. The town of Folsom is on this grant. In 1845 Larkin appointed Leidesdorff vice-consul of the United States. He took an active part in all the affairs of the town, was captain of the port, treasurer, etc., and an enthusiastic advocate of the American cause, going so far as to support the Bear Flag movement, and, it is said, advising the arrest of Hinckley and Ridley with whom he had quarreled. Leidesdorff owned the first steamer that ever sailed on the bay of San Francisco—a little craft thirty-seven feet long by nine feet breadth of beam, drawing eighteen inches of water. She was built at Sitka by an American, as a pleasure boat for the Russian officers, and bought by Leidesdorff and brought to San Francisco on the Russian bark Naslednik in October 1847, and on the 28th of November she started for Sacramento carrying ten or a dozen souls, including the owner and several passengers, and made the passage in six days and seven hours. She was called the Sitka. [12]

Leidesdorff died suddenly of brain fever on the 18th of May 1848, at the age of thirty-eight, leaving a large and valuable estate. Colonel Mason, governor of California, advised Consul Larkin to take charge of the estate, being under the impression that Leidesdorff was an American citizen. On finding however that he was a naturalized citizen of Mexico, Mason directed John Townsend, alcalde of San Francisco, to place the estate in charge of safe, competent men under bond of double its value. Townsend appointed W. D. M. Howard administrator. Leidesdorff was buried at the Mission Dolores with imposing ceremonies befitting his prominence and social virtues. His estate was heavily encumbered, owing some forty thousand dollars, and it was thought doubtful if enough could be realized from it to pay the debts, but the discovery of gold settled that and the estate became immensely valuable. Captain Joseph L. Folsom went to St. Croix, Danish West Indies, and bought from the heirs—the mother and sisters of Leidesdorff—the estate in California for seventy-five thousand dollars and later paid fifteen or twenty thousand more, the property being then worth several hundred thousand dollars.

In 1844 the governor authorized the building of a custom house at San Francisco, the cost not to exceed eight hundred dollars. While Monterey was the only port of entry, San Francisco had a receiver of customs and a few thousand dollars were annually paid there. The receiver in 1844 had his office in Richardson's casa grande which was then occupied by William H. Davis as agent for Paty and McKinley. Work on the custom house was begun in the summer of 1844, and the building completed in September 1845. The work was done mostly by Indians and some of the material was obtained from the presidio. It was built of adobe, with tile roof, one story and an attic, fifty-six and a half feet long by twenty-two feet wide, with a veranda six feet wide running across the front and both ends, and it contained four rooms. It cost about twenty-eight hundred dollars and it stood on the northwest corner of the plaza (Portsmouth square) with its front to the plaza and its north end on Washington street. This was the "old adobe" and "old" custom house so frequently mentioned by writers of early times. On the American occupation it was used as a barrack. In front stood the flag pole on which Montgomery raised the American flag. Later the building was used by the alcalde and revenue officers and as law offices. In July 1850, Palmer, Cook & Co. had their banking office in the south end and adjoining the bank were the law offices of H. H. Haight. Edward Bosqui who was a clerk in the bank and slept on the office counter, was awakened one night by a noise outside the building. He looked out of the window and witnessed the pleasing spectacle of a man being hanged from one of the beams of the veranda, a few feet from his window. It was the vigilance committee hanging Jenkins.

Bosqui tells of climbing up to the attic, which proved to be a long, narrow, dimly lighted room, filled with a varied assortment of flint lock muskets, pikes, lances, battle-flags, ammunition, cartridge-boxes, tents, and other war-like stores. The building and all of its contents were destroyed by fire in 1851. [13]

In 1839 or '40 Spear built a two story frame building for a mill on the north side of Clay street between Montgomery and Kearny. It stood fifteen feet back from Clay street, was run by mule power, and was the first grist mill in California. Daniel Sill was the builder and miller. Thomes in 1843 speaks of an old adobe mill about a cable's length from Clark's Point, run by mule power, which ground out some sweet and nutritious but very dark flour. [14] It was not an adobe building and was more than a cable's length from Clark's Point, but Thomes was writing from recollection many years after.

In 1844 Benito Diaz built an adobe house on the east side of Montgomery street, between Jackson and Pacific, near the lagoon. In 1847 Diaz sold this to Alfred J. Ellis who opened a boarding house and groggery. Beside the house was a well twenty-three feet deep. When a peculiar taste to the whisky caused Ellis to suspect the water, he cleaned out the well and found a drowned Russian sailor. Brown says that most of the citizens had been to Ellis' saloon and had drunk the water and with some of them it went very hard. Captain John Paty lay in bed for two days from the effect of it, and Robert A. Parker and many others were made very sick. [15]

John Finch, known as "John Tinker," an English blacksmith and tinker, built in 1844-5 a saloon and bowling alley on the northwest corner of Kearny and Washington streets where afterwards stood Wright & Co.'s Miners' Bank and later the Bella Union theater. John Finch was present at the raising of the American flag July 9, 1846.

William Davis Merry Howard, one of the principal citizens of San Francisco, was a native of Boston and came to California in 1839 as cabin-boy on the ship California. He worked for a while as clerk for Abel Stearns in Los Angeles and was for several years supercargo of various Boston vessels in the California trade. In 1845 he formed a partnership with Henry Mellus and bought the Hudson's Bay property on Montgomery street. Mellus came on the brig Pilgrim with Richard H. Dana, and left  the vessel to become clerk for Alfred Robinson, the company's agent; he was supercargo of several of the Boston vessels, including the Admittance, the ship that brought Thomes in 1843. The firm of Mellus and Howard became very wealthy. Mellus married a daughter of James Johnson of Los Angeles, whose wife was a Guirado, and in 1850 withdrew from the firm. His name was originally given to Natoma street but the citizens were angered by charges made by him against Howard and changed the name of the street to Natoma.

In 1848 Mellus and Howard built on the southwest corner of Clay and Montgomery streets the first brick building in San Francisco, and transferred their business to this store. They were also the principal promoters of the Central Wharf project, now Commercial street, and gave to the company the right of way—thirty-five feet—across the block owned by them and bounded by Clay, Sacramento, Sansome, and Battery streets. Howard was a large, fine-looking man, deservedly popular with all classes, and taking an active interest in everything pertaining to the welfare of the town. His name was first given to Sacramento street and later, in 1848-9, to Howard street. His first wife, who died in 1849, was an adopted daughter of Captain Eliab Grimes of Honolulu and San Francisco. His second was Agnes, daughter of Dr. J. Henry Poett. He died in 1856, at the age of thirty-seven, leaving one son by his second wife. [16]

In 1845-6 Stephen Smith of Bodega obtained a fifty vara lot on the southeast corner of Dupont and Washington streets where he built a wooden house. In 1846 he leased it to Sam Brannan who lived and published the Star there. Smith was a native of Maryland and came to California first from Peru in 1841. He obtained permission of Governor Alvarado to set up a steam saw-mill with a promise of land suitable for his operations. He brought the mill machinery from Baltimore in 1843, and with it also three pianos, the first steam mill and the first pianos in California. In 1844 he was naturalized and received from Micheltorena a grant of eight leagues of land at Bodega and there he set up his mill.

By the operation of a law increasing the number of inhabitants necessary for a municipal government, San Francisco lost its ayuntamiento in 1838. From that time until September, 1847, the town was ruled by an alcalde, who was a judge of first instance, and tried all minor cases. Noé, the last alcalde under Mexican rule, lived on the northeast corner of Dupont and Clay streets. José de Jesus Noé came with the Híjar and Padrés colony in 1834 and settled in San Francisco. In December 1845, Noé received from Pio Pico a grant of the San Miguel rancho, one league, in what is now the geographical center of the City and County of San Francisco. A tract of one thousand and fifty acres of the rancho is yet undivided and belongs to the estate of the late Adolph Sutro. Francisco Guerrero y Palomares, was another of the Híjar and Padrés colonists who settled in San Francisco. He was receptor and administrator of customs, alcalde, and was sub-prefect of the San Francisco partido, at the time of the conquest, and again under American rule, in 1849. He was a man of high standing and well regarded by Americans as well as Californians. He married Josefa, daughter of Francisco de Haro, and both he and De Haro lived at the Mission Dolores. Guerrero was murdered in San Francisco in 1851. He bought from Galindo in 1837 the Rancho Laguna de la Merced in San Francisco, and in 1844 was granted Corral de Tierra rancho at Half Moon bay.

According to Davis the inhabitants of Yerba Buena in July 1846, numbered about one hundred and fifty. I have accounted for some of the more important ones and the rest, consisting mainly of small traders, saloon keepers, and mechanics, I see no reason for enumerating here. Davis mentions Henry Teschmacher and R. S. Sherman as residing in Yerba Buena at that time, but I think they were later in settling there.

Authorities: Bancroft, Hist. of Cal. ii-vi; Davis' Sixty Years; Hittell, Hist. S. F.; Bosqui, Memoirs; Thomes, On Land and Sea; Soule, Gihon and Nisbet, Annals of San Francisco; San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 26, 1909; Alta Cal., Feb. 17, 1867; Brown, Early Days; Dwinelle, Colonial Hist.; Simpson, Narrative; Cong. Doc. Senate No. 17.
1. Brown: Early Days of San Francisco, Chap. ii. [back]
2. Hittell: History of the City of San Francisco, pp. 114-16. [back]
3. Dwinelle: Col. Hist. S. F. addenda, p. 258. [back]
4. Brown: Early Days, Chap. ii. [back]
5. The members of the Bear Flag party were called by the Californians Los Osos—The Bears. [back]
6. The Russian company had endeavored to extend their holdings to the Sacramento river on the east, and southward to the Bay of San Francisco. Failing to obtain the consent of Mexico, they decided to abandon their establishment in California. [back]
7. The matter relating to California is in Vol. 1, pp. 267-411. [back]
8. Davis: Sixty Years in Cal., p. 116. [back]
9. Davis: Sixty Years in Cal., p. 120. [back]
10. Commercial street, which was Long Wharf, had been extended to Kearny street through the block between Sacramento and Clay. [back]
11. Thomes: On Land and Sea, 187-8. Telegraph hill and the Golden Gate had not received those names in 1843, nor was "Señora Abarono" a widow then. The foreigners, apparently, could not understand the Spanish custom of calling a married woman by her maiden name. A baptismal entry, for instance, would be (time, place, and name): "hija legitima de Apolonario Miranda y de su legitima esposa Juana Briones." If she wrote her name in full it would read, Juana Briones de Miranda. Of course she was always called "Juana Briones." Brown says (Early Days): "Mr. Baroma and family resided at North Beach, near Washerwomen's Bay." [back]
12. McKinstry Papers, MS. Bancroft Collection. The author says: "She was so very crank that the weight of one man on her guard would put her on her beam ends, and when the order was given to trim ship we would pass Mrs. Gregson's baby over to starboard or larboard." [back]
13. Bosqui: Memoirs, pp. 45-58. [back]
14. Thomes: On Land and Sea, p. 186. The building was sold in 1848 to Cross, Hobson & Co., who used it for store, dwelling, and office building. [back]
15. Brown: Early Days, Chap. iv. [back]
16. Howard Presbyterian Church was named for him. He gave the land on which the church was built, and was very liberal in contributions of money. [back]
Source: Eldredge, Zoeth Skinner. The Beginnings of San Francisco. 1912: San Francisco.

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