The Beginnings of San Francisco
It was believed that Mexico, torn with internal dissensions, would not be able to maintain much longer its feeble hold on the rich province of California, and it was known that a change of nationality would not be unwelcome to the higher classes of citizens, both native born and naturalized. The Americans were rapidly colonizing the country and made little effort to conceal their intention of acquiring possession. It was also understood that the English in California were making strong efforts to induce their government to interfere with the evident plan of the Americans to appropriate the country by the filibustering method. The actions of the Bear Flag party at Sonoma and elsewhere confirmed the belief of the English residents and the course of events was closely watched. In Yerba Buena interest was quickened by the arrival, shortly after the affair at Sonoma, of the United States sloop-of-war Portsmouth, twenty-four guns, which came in quietly and dropped her anchor in front of the town. Rumors were current of an expected conflict between the Portsmouth and an English man-of-war, for which, it was said, Forbes, the English consul, had sent to Mazatlan. On board the Portsmouth strict vigilance was maintained and the men were refused shore leave. Brown says that one morning early in July, they were startled by the report of a large gun and in a few minutes heard the long roll beat on board the Portsmouth and the ship was cleared for action, the guns run out and every man was at his post. The people came out of their houses expecting to see an engagement as an English war ship sailed into port and came to anchor abreast of the Portsmouth. She proved to be an English frigate on surveying service.
On the 8th of July, Captain John B. Montgomery of the Portsmouth received orders from Commodore Sloat to take possession of Yerba Buena and the northern frontier. Sloat advised Montgomery of his action at Monterey and enclosed him copies of his proclamation, in English and Spanish, instructing him to hoist the flag in Yerba Buena within reach of his guns and post the proclamation in both languages.
About eight o'clock on the morning of July 9th, Montgomery landed with seventy men at the foot of Clay street, marched to the music of fife and drum up Clay to Kearny, thence to the plaza, where he hoisted the American flag on the pole in front of the custom house. There was no Mexican flag on the pole to haul down, for the receptor de la aduana (receiver of customs), Don Rafael Pinto, had departed to join Castro and had taken the flag and placed it with his official papers in a trunk which he left with Leidesdorff for safe keeping. Montgomery's force consisted of a company of marines under Lieutenant Henry B. Watson and a few sailors under Lieutenant John S. Misroon. There was not a Mexican official in town from whom to demand a surrender. Sub-prefect Guerrero had retired to his rancho; the acting commander of San Francisco, Francisco Sanchez, had sent all his available militiamen to Castro, and, having no force to oppose the American commander, avoided the mortification of a surrender by retiring to his rancho; Port-captain Ridley was a prisoner in the hands of the Bears, and Receptor Pinto was with Castro.
The Portsmouth saluted the flag with twenty-one guns and the salute was followed by three hearty cheers on shore and on board. Captain Montgomery made a short address to the people assembled and then Sloat's proclamation was read in English and Spanish and copies in both languages were posted on the flagstaff. Lieutenant Watson was appointed military commander and with his marines took possession of the custom house. In his address, Montgomery invited citizens willing to join a local militia to meet at Leidesdorff's house and form a military company, choosing their own officers. He said that in case of attack all necessary force would be landed from the Portsmouth. The meeting was held and a company organized with W. D. M. Howard as captain, William M. Smith, first lieutenant, John Rose, second lieutenant, and about twenty privates. Lieutenant Misroon, with Purser James H. Watmough of the Portsmouth, Leidesdorff, and several volunteers made a tour of the presidio and fort. At the fort they found three brass cannon and seven of iron, spiked by Frémont. Two days later, in company with Leidesdorff and a party of marines, Misroon visited the mission and removed therefrom a lot of public documents. San Francisco thus became an American town without the firing of a gun and with the apparent satisfaction of most of its citizens.
On the 9th, before landing, Montgomery sent Lieutenant Joseph Warren Revere in the ship's boat to Sonoma to take possession and raise the flag. Revere arrived at Sonoma before noon, and summoning the troops of the garrison (Bears) and the inhabitants of the place to the plaza, he read to them Sloat's proclamation and then hauling down the Bear flag he raised the stars and stripes in its place, much to the satisfaction of the Californians. Revere sent an express to the commander at Sutter' s fort with a United States flag to be raised and a copy of the proclamation to be read; also one to Stephen Smith at Bodega. The flags were hoisted at both places with the proper ceremonies. At Yerba Buena all was quiet. At Montgomery's invitation Captain Sanchez came in on the twelfth and pointed out where two guns were buried, and a few days Sub-prefect Guerrero came from his rancho at Montgomery's request and gave up the papers of his department. Lieutenant Misroon landed a party of blue jackets from the Portsmouth and constructed a battery at Punta del Embarcadero (Clark's Point). The work was begun about July 17th. High on the steep bluff facing the bay Misroon excavated a terrace whereon he mounted a battery of five guns.  This was called "the battery" and gave the name to Battery street, whose lines intersect it at Broadway. It was later called Fort Montgomery. The battery was in existence as late as the fall of 1849. On the 31st of July the ship Brooklyn arrived from New York, with about two hundred Mormons in charge of Elder Samuel Brannan. They had sailed from New York February 4th and June 20th were at Honolulu where they met Commodore Stockton about to sail for Monterey. Surmising that California would soon be occupied by the United States and not knowing what they might find there, Brannan bought in Honolulu one hundred and fifty stands of arms and drilled the men of his company on the way over. He had announced to Brigham Young before sailing that he would select the most suitable site on the bay of San Francisco for the location of a commercial city, but finding the United States in possession the project was abandoned.
The landing of the Mormons more than doubled the population of Yerba Buena. They camped for a time on the beach and the vacant lots, then some went to the Marin forests to work as lumbermen, some were housed in the old mission buildings and others in Richardson's casa grande on Dupont street. They were honest and industrious people, and all sought work wherever they could find it.
The peace and quiet of the town was undisturbed by anything more serious than the arrest of a few of the Portsmouth's men for disorderly conduct and one or two causeless alarms. Brown says that Lieutenant Watson was in the habit of coming to him at the Portsmouth house at a very late hour each night after he had gone to bed, to have his flask filled with whisky. Watson would come to Brown's window and give two raps on the shutter. When Brown answered, Watson would say, "The Spaniards are in the brush." At that Brown would get up and fill his bottle and Watson would go on duty. One night after Brown had gone to bed, Watson came as usual, and gave the signal, but Brown failed to awaken, when Watson, who had been drinking, fired his pistol and sang out at the top of his voice, "The Spaniards are in the brush." Instantly the guard at the barracks gave the alarm, the long roll was beaten and the men turned out under arms. The Portsmouth signaled to know if she should land a party, and the Mormons assembling with arms and ammunition ready for service, remained at the Portsmouth house for about three hours. Some shots were fired at what were supposed to be "Spaniards in the brush," but which were found to be only scrub oaks swaying in the breeze. In the morning Watson put Brown under bonds of secrecy, and the town resumed its tranquillity; but that they might be prepared in case the Spaniards really should attack, Lieutenant Misroon landed with a small party of sailors and constructed a log blockhouse at or near the northwest corner of Dupont and Sacramento streets on which was mounted a large Spanish gun from the presidio. After peace was declared this house was used as a jail by the alcalde. 
Another alarm was caused by a City hotel coffee pot which exploded with a loud report. The long roll was beaten, the marines turned out and the citizens of the militia formed in line at the barracks. There was nothing more serious than a badly scalded cook.
On August 26 Montgomery appointed Lieutenant Washington A. Bartlett alcalde, and ordered an election on the 15th of September following, when Bartlett was elected alcalde, his opponent being Robert T. Ridley. This first election under American rule was held in a back room of Leidesdorff's store—afterwards the City hotel. Brown claims that he made the ballot box from a box holding bottles of lemon syrup which Ridley had bought of Stephen Smith of Bodega. The inspectors were William H. Davis, Frank Ward, Francisco Guerrero, and Francisco de Haro. Ninety-six votes were cast; of these Bartlett received sixty-six, Ridley twenty-nine, and Spear one. John Rose was elected treasurer and Peter Sherreback, collector.
On July 23d Sloat turned over the command in California to Commodore Robert F. Stockton, and on the twenty-eighth sailed for home on the Levant. In the last days of September the frigates Savannah and Congress arrived from Monterey, the latter flying the pennant of Commodore Stockton, and on October 5th, the citizens tendered the commodore a public reception, which was accepted by him with much pleasure. Guerrero, Sanchez, Vasquez, and all the rancheros in the vicinity sent, for the procession, the choicest horses from their caponeras,  numbering a hundred or more. The people came in from all the surrounding country, and as the commodore landed from his barge at the foot of Clay street he was met by Montgomery, Bartlett, and Frank Ward, while the orator of the day, Colonel W. H. Russell, made the distinguished guest a flowery speech of welcome and presented him to the people. Then the procession, led by the chief marshall, Frank Ward, with a military escort under Lieutenant Jacob Zeilin, U. S. N., marched from Sacramento and Montgomery streets to Washington, to Kearny, to Clay, to Dupont, to Washington, and down Washington to Montgomery street where a platform had been erected. Here the people gathered while Stockton made them an address and gave them an account of the conquest of Southern California. [Note 37] At the conclusion of the address, the commodore with an escort of citizens made a tour on horseback to the presidio and mission and returned to a collation at Leidesdorff's residence.  The ceremonies concluded with a ball in the evening. Davis says that Stockton was a good horseman, was fine looking, of dark complexion, with a frank and offhand manner, active and energetic, and he impressed them as a strong man of decided ability. One of the first acts of Stockton on assuming command, was to order the release of General Vallejo and the other prisoners of the Bears confined at Sutter's fort. Why they were not released on the day the American flag was raised on the fort no one seems to know.
Throughout the disturbances incident to the state of war then existing, most of the rancheros of the better class remained quietly on their farms and submitted to the requisitions of Frémont and the other officers of the California battalion for horses, cattle, and other property for the use of the army, which they were obliged to exchange for Frémont's receipts. With these requisitions, which were perhaps regular, came other and more exasperating demands from irresponsible Americans who carried on the work of plunder under the pretense of military necessity. This at last became unendurable and the Californians determined to make an effort to protect their property.  On the 8th of December Alcalde Bartlett with five men started down the peninsula to obtain some cattle. Francisco Sanchez at the rancho of San Pablo, who had suffered severely from such demands and had lost not only his own horses but those of Mellus and Howard under his care, assembled a small party and captured Bartlett and his men and carried them prisoners to the hills. Other rancheros joined him until he had about one hundred men under his command. After some delay Commander Hull of the United States sloop-of-war Warren, who had succeeded Montgomery in command at San Francisco, sent one hundred men, under command of Captain Ward Marston of the marines, to put down this rebellion. The force consisted of marines and seamen from the ships and mounted volunteers from San José and from Yerba Buena. The rival forces met on the plains of Santa Clara on the 2d of January 1847. After a sharp engagement of several hours during which two Americans were slightly wounded and the Californians were unhurt, Sanchez withdrew his men into the hills and sent in a flag of truce stating his grievances and offering to submit if the United States would guarantee protection of property.  An armistice was agreed upon until the commandant at San Francisco could be heard from. Two days later a reply was received from the commander stating that the surrender must be unconditional but giving unofficial assurances that property should no longer be seized without the proper formalities and receipts.  The terms were accepted; San Francisco's alcalde was returned to his anxious friends and the Californians returned to their ranchos. This was the famous campaign and battle of Santa Clara about which so much absurd stuff has been written.
About the first of December 1846 the Warren's launch was sent up the Sacramento river with twelve men, including two sons of Captain Montgomery: William H., acting master of the Warren and John E., his father's secretary, with Midshipman Daniel C. Hugenin. She carried, it is supposed, money to pay the garrison at Sutter's fort. They never arrived at Sutter's and after several weeks Robert Ridley was sent in another launch up the Sacramento and San Joaquin, but found no trace of boat or crew. Ridley's opinion was that the boat was lost in a gale shortly after setting out, though there were those who thought that the officers had been murdered by the crew. 
On the 30th of January 1847, a notice appeared in the California Star signed by Washington A. Bartlett, ordering the name of San Francisco to be used on all public documents or records appertaining to the town. The order stated that the name of Yerba Buena was but local, originating from the name of the cove on which the town was built, and "therefore, to prevent confusion and mistakes in public documents, and that the town may have the advantage of the name given on the public maps, it is hereby ordered that the name of San Francisco shall be hereafter used in all official communications and public documents or records appertaining to the town.”
On the 22d of February 1847, Lieutenant Bartlett was ordered to his ship by the commanding officer of the squadron, and Edwin Bryant was appointed alcalde by General Kearny. Bryant was a native of Massachusetts who came overland in 1846 and served in the California battalion as lieutenant of company H. It was during his administration that the tide land grant was made by General Kearny to the town of San Francisco and the survey of Jasper O'Farrell was extended to include the beach and water property. Bryant resigned May 28th and returned to the East with General Kearny, leaving the valley of the Sacramento June 19th and reaching Fort Leavenworth August 22d, making the journey in sixty-four days. He published his book, What I Saw in California, in 1849; the same year he came across the plains to California and for several years was a citizen of San Francisco. He died in Louisville, Ky., in 1869 at the age of sixty-four.
George Hyde, who succeeded Edwin Bryant, was appointed by Kearny first alcalde May 28th. He was a native of Pennsylvania and came on the United States frigate Congress in 1846 as secretary to Commodore Stockton. He served as second alcalde under Lieutenant Bartlett while that officer was a prisoner in the Montara hills, and was first alcalde from June 1847 to April 1848. Hyde had many controversies with the citizens and charges were preferred against him by Ward, Brannan, and Ross; these charges Colonel Mason instructed the counsel to investigate. Hyde seems to have had the faculty of creating violent opposition, but was, I think, fully vindicated from all charges of official misconduct. In June 1848-9 Hyde lived on Clay street near Dupont, occupying the house afterwards known as the "Sazerac." Later he lived on Broadway whence he removed to a grassy lot of considerable size quite out of town, near the junction of Post, Market, and Montgomery streets, where he built a large square house surrounded by a garden and lawn. The Mechanics' Library building now occupies a portion of this lot and the rest of it still belongs to the Hyde estate.
Early in March 1847 the ship Thomas H. Perkins arrived from New York bringing Colonel Stevenson and the first detachment of his regiment, the Seventh New York volunteers, who were enlisted for the war and were to be disbanded in California to become settlers. Jonathan Drake Stevenson was born in the city of New York January 1, 1800. He was private secretary to Governor Thompkins of New York and colonel of a New York militia regiment. In January 1846 he was a member of the New York legislature and in June of that year President Polk offered him the command of a volunteer regiment for service in California, if he could raise one. Stevenson accepted the commission and opened the rolls in New York, July 7th; by the end of July the lists were filled and on August 1st the regiment was mustered into service at Governor's island. On September 26th the expedition sailed on three transports, the Thomas H. Perkins, the Loo Choo, and the Susan Drew, under convoy of the United States man-of-war Preble. The regiment was mustered in as the Seventh but afterwards changed to the First New York volunteers. Several officers of the regular army were assigned to the regiment while the rank and file were mostly young men and the rough element was largely represented. Though their record in California was not altogether enviable, and some of their number ended their careers on the gallows, the muster roll of the regiment contains the names of a large number of men of standing who attained positions of wealth and influence. I can give here but few of the best known names. Colonel Stevenson was a familiar figure in San Francisco where he lived much respected until his death, February 14th, 1894, at the venerable age of ninety-four. The lieutenant-colonel, Henry S. Burton, and the major, James A. Hardie, both regular army officers, became general officers in the war of secession. Joseph L. Folsom, captain and assistant quartermaster, also a regular army officer, is frequently mentioned in this story. He died at Mission San José in 1855, a very wealthy man. Henry M. Naglee, captain of company D, was a graduate of West Point and a lieutenant of the regular army. He saw some active service in Lower California where he received the severe censure of his commander for causing two prisoners to be shot. For this Colonel Mason ordered Naglee's arrest and reported the matter to the adjutant-general to be laid before the president for his action, but the end of the war and the mustering out of the regiment prevented further prosecution of the matter. Captain Naglee established the first bank in San Francisco January 9, 1849, under the firm name of Naglee and Sinton. His partner was Richard H. Sinton who came on the line-of-battle ship Ohio in 1848, with Commodore Jones, as acting paymaster. The "Exchange and Deposit Office" of Naglee and Sinton was in the Parker house on Kearny street, fronting the plaza, now the site of the Hall of Justice. Sinton soon withdrew and after the destruction of the Parker house by fire, the business was continued on the corner of Montgomery and Merchant streets, under the name of H. M. Naglee & Company, until closed by a run on the 7th of September 1850. Naglee served in the war of secession as lieutenant-colonel of the regular army and was made a brigadier-general of volunteers. He returned to California, became a man of great wealth, settled in San José, and was a well-known viticulturist and manufacturer of brandy. He died March 5, 1885. Francis J. Lippitt, captain of company F, was prominent in city affairs, speaker of the "Legislative Assembly" of San Francisco, member of constitutional convention, colonel of First California infantry in the war of secession. John B. Frisbie, captain of company H, became a railroad director, bank president, etc. Edward Gilbert, lieutenant of company H, first editor of the Alta California, member of constitutional convention, first member of congress for California, was killed by General J. W. Denver in a duel in 1852. William E. Shannon, captain of company I, was a member of the constitutional convention and author of the section of the bill of rights that forbade slavery in California. Shannon was born in Ireland and came to the United States at the age of seven, his father settling in Steuben county, New York. He studied law but joined the regiment for California in 1846. He was for a while a trader at Coloma and later a lawyer at Sacramento, where he died of cholera in 1850. Nelson Taylor, captain of company E, was a member of the first legislature, became a prominent citizen of Stockton, went to New York in 1856, served in the war of secession where he became a brigadier-general, and in 1865 was member of congress. Edwards C. Williams, first lieutenant of the company, was a prominent lumber manufacturer in San Francisco and for many years president of the Mendocino Lumber Company. He is one of the few survivors of the regiment, and, rich in that which should accompany old age, lives honored and respected in his Oakland home. There, in January 1911, he gave me many interesting details of the officers and men of this regiment that was mustered out of service more than sixty-three years ago. Thomas L. Vermeule, second lieutenant of company E, was a member of the constitutional convention, a well-known lawyer and politician. Edward H. Harrison, quartermaster's clerk, was afterwards a prominent merchant of San Francisco, of the firm of De Witt and Harrison. Thaddeus M. Leavenworth, chaplain of the regiment, was second alcalde of San Francisco under Hyde and Townsend, and first alcalde, 1848-9. James L. C. Wadsworth was sutler's clerk, and a well-known resident of San Francisco. Sherman O. Houghton was sergeant of company A, a prominent lawyer, mayor of San José, and member of congress, 1871-5. He is living in Los Angeles.  He married Mary M. Donner, and after her death, Eliza P. Donner, her cousin, both survivors of the Donner party. The Russ family, well known in San Francisco, came, twelve in number, on the Loo Choo, the father and three sons having enlisted as privates in the regiment in consequence of losing by burglary the entire stock of their jewelery store in New York. Of them more later.
The Perkins carried the colonel, the surgeon, the quartermaster, and companies B, F, and G; the Loo Choo, companies A, C, and K, Major Hardie, Assistant-surgeon Parker, and Chaplain Leavenworth; while the Susan Drew had companies D, E, I, and H, with Lieutenant-colonel Burton, Commissary Marcy, and Assistant-surgeon Murray.
The Perkins came in on March 5th, the Susan Drew on the nineteenth, and the Loo Choo on the twenty-fifth, while some men who had been left behind in New York came on the ship Brutus, April 18th.
The war in California was over and the regiment was assigned to garrison duty. Companies H and K were stationed at the presidio under Major Hardie; A, B, and F, were sent to Santa Barbara under Lieutenant-colonel Burton; E and G to Los Angeles under Colonel Stevenson as commandant of the post and of the southern military district; company I to Monterey and later to San Diego; company C was stationed at Sonoma, and company D after a detail in pursuit of Indian horse thieves was sent to La Paz, Lower California, where also were sent companies A and B, with Lieutenant-colonel Burton in command. These three companies, A, B, and D, were the only ones that saw any active service. On the ratification of the treaty of peace, the regiment, enlisted for the war, was mustered out of service in August, September, and October, 1848. There were many complaints of insubordination and disorder while in the service and it was stated that the company officers had little control over the men. Colonel Mason reports the serious mutiny, at La Paz, of the men of company A, affecting the entire command, and necessitating the sending of the Independence from Mazatlan to restore order. He also complains of the bad conduct of certain soldiers of the three companies since their return from Lower California to be mustered out, and states that they had committed gross acts of pillage upon public and private property. Several murders were credited to the discharged soldiers of the regiment, and there is little doubt that they formed a considerable portion of the organized band of desperadoes known as Hounds or Regulators.
On the 15th of July 1847, Governor Mason ordered Alcalde Hyde to call an election for a town council of six members, but the letter was not sent until August 13th, and in the meanwhile Hyde had appointed a council on July 28th. The election was held September 13th, and William Glover, W. D. M. Howard, W. A. Leidesdorff, E. P. Jones, Robert A. Parker, and William S. Clark were elected to hold their office until the end of 1848. The council was authorized to make all municipal laws and regulations and to appoint the necessary town officers and determine their pay. This was the first legislative body of the town since losing its ayuntamiento in 1838. 
On the 7th of August 1848, Colonel Mason issued a proclamation announcing the ratification of a treaty of peace between the United States and the republic of Mexico by which California was ceded to the United States.
One result of the conquest I can only look upon with regret. Some of the American officers seemed to regard the change of flag as necessitating a change or translation of Spanish names. To have a formal official dispatch transform the Ciudad de los Angeles into the City of the Angels is as absurd as it would be to address Don Pablo de la Guerra as Mr. Paul of the War. The practice of translating the Spanish names makes the dispatches of that date most confusing. Though the St. John, St. Joseph, Hawk's Peak, Bird Island, of the Conquerors have vanished, and San Juan, San José, Picacho del Gavilan, and Alcatraz are returned to their own, the Rio de los Americanos has become the American river, Rio de los Plumas, the Feather river, Isla de los Angeles, Angel island, and Isla de los Yeguas, Mare island. The work of transformation, begun by the officers of the army and navy, was carried on by uncouth mountaineer trappers and hunters and rude borderers of Missouri, to whom everything Spanish was poison; so, many a Spanish name, significant and musical was supplanted by an outlandish, harsh, or common-place designation.