San Francisco History



When I first came to the city, there was only one vessel in the harbor, the bark ''Emma'' of London, England. I cannot recall the Captain's name; but the First Officer was Mr. Pritchard, the Second, Mr. Norris. They were on a whaling trip and stopped at Yerba Buena for supplies, etc.

The only pay the City officials received for their services, was that raised by fines, most of which was taken from sailors, who would remain on shore after sunset. The fine for this offense was usually five or ten dollars, as the case might be, and the money thus received was equally divided between the authorities. Captains and First officers were permitted to remain on shore as long as they pleased.

As stated elsewhere I was in the employ of Finch and Thompson, having charge of the bar, and also keeping the accounts. Mr. Finch was a man of but little education; in fact, he could neither read nor write, and he had a peculiar way of his own in keeping accounts. He had an excellent memory for names and was in the habit of noting any peculiarity about a person as regards his dress and general appearance. Captain Hinckley wore brass buttons on his coat and was represented on the books by a drawing of a button. A certain sawyer in the place was represented by a drawing of the top saws of a saw pit, and many others were thus represented according to their various characteristics or callings. Many of the drawings showed considerable ingenuity and originality. I remained with Finch about three weeks, during that time I became acquainted with Robert T. Ridley the proprietor of a liquor and billiard saloon. He made me an offer of fifty dollars per month to take charge of his place. I accepted the offer and commenced my work there in the early part of February. 1846.

The bark ''Sterling'' of Boston, Captain Vincent, Master; and William Smith, Super Cargo; arrived in port in February, with a full cargo. Ridley had made some large purchases of wines and liquors from Mr. Smith. The billiard-room was at that time the head-quarters for all strangers in the city, both foreigners and Californians. All persons wishing to purchase lots would apply to Ridley: as the first map of surveyed land was kept in the bar-room, the names of those who had lots granted were written on the map. The map was so much soiled and torn from the rough usage it received, that Captain Hinckley volunteered to make a new one. He tried several times; but, being very nervous he could not succeed in making the lines straight, so he got me to do the work, according to his instructions. The original map was put away for safe keeping. The maps were left in the bar-room, until after the raising of the American Flag, when they were demanded of me by Washington A. Bartlett, of the United States Ship Portsmouth, by order of Captain Montgomery.

Things went on as usual in the city until the latter part of May, when a report reached the city, that trouble was expected. A party at Sutter's Fort were raising a company to take possession of the upper part of California. In the early part of June, a boat arrived from Martinez, with the news that Sonoma was taken, and a proclamation, with Mr. Hyde's signature, was posted in a prominent place which announced that General Vallejo and Timothy Murphy, of San Rafael, with many others, were taken prisoners. A few days after, a party of fourteen Californians came to Saucelito, and wanted to hire Captain Richardson's boat, to take them across to Yerba Buena. As they were all well armed with pistols, rifles and guns and were very much excited and badly frightened, Richardson inquired what the trouble was, they told him that a party of four armed men were pursuing them, and that they were afraid they would be shot. As they were fourteen against four, Captain Richardson asked why they did not stand their ground, and fight the men. They said they had been fighting the past four days; but had not succeeded as yet in frightening the party away; and as the men appeared very determined, and bent upon injuring them, they had decided that ''discretion was the better part of valor,'' and consequently took to their heels. A few days after, General Castro issued a proclamation, commanding all Mexican citizens to meet him at Santa Clara for orders. The only foreigners who left the city for Santa Clara, were Captain William Hinckley and Robert T. Ridley. They were ordered to stop all boats and prevent all persons from landing in Yerba Buena. On their return home, Hinckley was taken sick and died, on Burnell's Ranch, and was buried in the church at Mission Dolores.

Robert T. Ridley returned to the city to carry out the orders of General Castro, but could not find anyone to assist him, as there was not one Mexican citizen to be found in Yerba Buena, and the few foreigners who were here, were in favor of the ''Bear Flag,'' as it was called. This flag was made at Sutter's Fort, of bunting, and had the picture of a grizzly bear painted in the center, as the parties making the flag had no paint on hand, they used some blackberry juice, which answered the purpose very well. (The flag can still be seen at the Pioneer's Hall, in San Francisco). But they did not take up arms until the American Flag was raised.

A few days after the return of Ridley, a boat landed with two men, named Edge Path and Dr. Sample; Edge Path remained to guard the boat, and Sample came to the billiard-room and inquired for Mr. Ridley. He was in the house at the time and I went to call him, and when I returned with Ridley to the billiard-room, Sample drew his pistol and commanded Ridley to stand still, saying: ''If you make a move, or attempt to escape, you will be a dead man.'' Ridley wished to return to his room for some clothing, Dr. Sample refused, and told me to go and get the clothing he wanted. When I returned with the clothing, Ridley took some money, and two bottles of liquor, and then left with Sample, without communicating with his wife or family. He then bid me good-bye, telling me to take charge of things, and do the best I could for him. A few days later the ''Portsmouth'' came into port, anchored in front of the town, and lay there for several months. The officers and crew would come ashore daily, and I got well acquainted with them.

In the latter part of June, a gentleman by the name of Gillespie, an officer, arrived in San Francisco, on his way to Sutter's Fort, to recall Fremont, who was about leaving California. We were daily expecting to hear of the Declaration of War between the United States and Mexico; and, about this time I received a letter from Ridley, asking me to call on Captain Montgomery, and inform him that he was a prisoner; and to ascertain whether he could in any way, be instrumental in securing his release. I made inquiries of some of the officers, and also of Captain Montgomery, of the Portsmouth, who informed me that he had no power to act, until he received the news of the Declaration of War between the United States and Mexico. When this announcement was received, all persons who had been taken prisoners, under the Bear Flag would be released.

The next vessel that arrived in port was the ''Magnolia,'' Master, Captain Simmonds, afterwards associated with the well known firm of Simmonds and Hutchinson, who were doing an extensive business at that time. The ''Magnolia'' remained only a few days in the harbor and then went to sea again. In the early part of July there were some false reports started; one of which was to the effect, that an English Man of War was coming in to hoist the English Flag. It was the wish of most Californians to be under the English Government. One morning in July, while we were eating breakfast; there was a very heavy gun fired, and in about five minutes, the long roll was beat on board the United States Ship Portsmouth. All the port holes were thrown open and every man was at his post, and the few people who were in the town, came down to Clay and Kearny streets, expecting to see an engagement in the harbor between the English and American ships. Another report started, was that Alexander Forbes, the English Council, had sent a messenger to Massack Land for an English vessel to come and take charge of the city. Every precaution was taken and every movement watched by the officers of the Portsmouth, so that if the English vessel had made the least move, she would certainly have been sunk in the harbor. The English vessel came into harbor, rounded too, and came to anchor, right abreast of the Portsmouth. The cannon was fired for Captain Richardson and Captain Able as they were the only pilots in the harbor, and both resided at Saucelito. No one was permitted to leave the Portsmouth that day or the next, to go ashore. After 12 A. M. some eight officers and a boat crew, came ashore on liberty, from the English vessel. The Captain in full uniform walked through the town, and called on the English Consul, and then returned to his ship. Among the officers who came ashore, was a young Midshipman, named Elliot; his father was the owner of a large hotel in Davenport, Devenshire, England. We were old school-mates, and he was much surprised to find anyone he knew so far from home, and in such a lonely country. I asked him if he thought there was any truth in the report about the hoisting of the English Flag, in this town. He said: ''Not any, as far as I know.'' He said they were out on a surveying expedition for the Government, and were bound for Oregon, and expected to be gone for three years. The next day, at evening tide, the pilots went on board, and the vessel left for Oregon. In June, 1846, one of Captain Fremont's men, at Monterey, traded a horse for a mule with a Californian. After the man had made the trade he got out of the way, and the Californian wanted the mule back again; his excuse being that the mule was stolen property. They were willing to give the mule back, if the Californian would return the horse; but they wanted the mule without any compensation.

It was a dodge they very often played on foreigners. Then they wanted the man, Fremont told them if they wanted him to go and take him; but to be careful, or some of them might get hurt. There was a large number of Californians, who went out to take him, Fremont then hoisted the American Flag over his little company of brave men, and waited for them. The question then arose among the Californians as to who should go and take the man; as they knew, only to well, that all of Fremont's men were good shots, and no one ventured to go within two hundred yards, for fear of being hurt. Neither Fremont nor his men showed ''the white feather,'' as they remained in camp for several days, without having the slightest chance to fight; and it is my private opinion, that this affair was the real cause of the commencement of the war. At the time Ridley was made a prisoner, he only kept a billiard-room and saloon; but, as there were a large number of officers coming ashore daily, besides many other persons who wanted accommodations, a good lodging-house and restaurant was badly needed. I was persuaded by my friends to furnish the necessary accommodations. Shortly after this a whaler arrived in port, and discharged three of its crew, two Englishmen and one American. One of the men, Tom Smith, by name, I hired as cook and steward, while Charlie, as the other was called, joined Captain Fremont's company. While in his service he was reprimanded by the Captain for disobedience of orders, and he became so angry that he wanted to fight a duel with Fremont.

I will here mention, for the first time, the name of Captain Grant, who stayed with me at this time, more than a month, as he was very sick. He was attended daily by the surgeon of the Portsmouth. He was removed to Napa, where he died shortly after.

I will give a true account of the reading, for the first time, of the Declaration of Independence, in this city, July 4th, 1846: On the morning of July 4th, Captain Leidsoff asked me if I was an American; I told him that I was a white-washed one and had been naturalized. He invited me to come to his house, corner of Clay and Kearny streets, fronting Portsmouth Square, (afterwards known as the City Hotel) where Captain Montgomery was to read the Declaration of Independence. There were present: Captain Leidsoff, Captain Montgomery and two sons, John Fuller, a Midshipman, from Portsmouth, and myself (John H. Brown). I have been particular in naming all the persons present on this occasion, as I have both read and heard, many reports in regard to the rejoicing of the first fourth of July in this city, which were incorrect. The next year, 1847, the Declaration was again read, at the same house, on the verandah, by Dr. Sample; and at the same place in 1848, by Joseph Thompson, while Dr. Sample delivered an address. I will not mention the celebration of later years, as there are many persons now living in this city who can remember events, as well as myself, and will, no doubt, be proud to speak of them. Business in the city was improving, and Yerba Buena was rapidly becoming quite a place of note. In July 1846, a young man named Fisher arrived in this city from Monterey, with dispatches for Captain Montgomery, bringing the glorious news that the flag had at last been hoisted, and that the stars and stripes were waving over the city of Monterey. On the following day, shortly before noon, we heard the fife and the beating of the drum. There was great rejoicing by the few who were in the city, and that small and faithful band were as united as brothers; and their hearts swelled with pure pride and patriotism at the thought of being under the protection of the flag of their own country. The first person who made his appearance was Captain Watson of the marines, with his company of soldiers. The next in command was the First Lieutenant of the Portsmouth, whom everybody called by the nickname of ''Mushroom'' for lack of a better. He was followed by Lieutenant Revere's two Midshipmen, and about a dozen sailors. They all marched up Clay street to Kearny, and thence to the old Mexican flag pole in front of the Adobe House, used as a Custom-House. This being an important event in the History of San Francisco, I will give the names of those who witnessed the hoisting of the American Flag. Captain Leidsoff, John Finch, Joseph Thompson, Mrs. Robert T. Ridley, Mrs. Andrew Hepner, Mrs. Captain Voight, ''Richard the Third,'' and John H. Brown. The following improvements were made in 1846, Thompson and Finch doubled the size of their blacksmith shop; in June Captain Leidsoff moved from Fuller's to his own building; a store and two rooms, finished shortly before the event of which we speak. There was a company formed in Sacramento under Major Redding, Captain Snydn, Major Hensley, and many others, who arrived in San Francisco in the early part of July, for the purpose of engaging a vessel for the lower country. The only vessel there in harbor was the Bark Sterling, Master, Captain Vincent, of Boston; (who was burned in the May fire in William Davis's building, on Montgomery street). The above named persons chartered his bark to run to Los Angeles Captain Leidsoff and myself supplied them with ship stores; which, in those days was no easy task; the easiest article to furnish was home made brandy. Being twenty-three men, besides the those mentioned above, took passage in the same vessel. The people of San Francisco well knew what was meant by the engaging of this vessel, and everyone knew what the result would be, as they were expecting, from day to day, a declaration of war with Mexico. The war news was received in Yerba Buena before the vessel reached Los Angeles. In the latter part of July, the Mormon ship, Captain Richardson, Master; and the ship ''Brooklyn,'' of New York, Samuel Brannan, Commander, arrived. When they first came there was great difficulty in finding places enough to make homes for them. Their head-quarters were in a large adobe building belonging to Captain Fisher of Los Angeles, and Mr. McKinley of Monterey. Previous to their occupancy of the building, Joseph Belding, an old resident of San Jose, had opened a dry goods store in it for a short time. The first sermon delivered in the English language in Yerba Buena was preached by Samuel Brannan, who is well known, and will probably be remembered by many of the present day, and they will, no doubt, be surprised on hearing of his serving in this capacity. He preached on the last Sunday in July, 1846, as good a sermon as any one would wish to hear. The first wedding which took place after this city was under the protection of the American Flag, was celebrated in a building owned by the proprietors of the Portsmouth house. The ceremony was performed in a large room on the ground floor, which was generally used by the Mexicans as a calaboose or prison. The marriage took place among the Mormons, who had arrived so short a time before. The contracting parties were: Lizzie, the second daughter of Mr. Winner, and Mr. Basil Hall. The marriage ceremony was performed by Mr. Samuel Brannan, according to the Mormon faith. I was one of the guests, and I never enjoyed myself, at any gathering, as I did there. There was a general invitation extended to all, a large quantity of refreshments had been prepared, and as there was plenty of music and singing, we had lots of fun. The festivities were kept up until twelve o'clock, when everyone returned to their homes, perfectly satisfied, and ready to pronounce the first wedding a grand success. Mr. Hall, the bridegroom, had accumulated considerable wealth in this country, and he left here in 1850, for Washington city. On his return home, he purchased a colored woman, a slave, Mr. Winner told me that Mrs. Hall treated the colored woman brutally; and the woman, tired of her treatment, and determined to have revenge, one day put Mrs. Hall's feet into the fire, and held them there until she was burned to death.

Shortly after the hoisting of the American Flag, some men were sent ashore from the Portsmouth to build a house, in which a cannon was placed for the better protection of the people. They also cut a road and built a Fort, some distance below Clark's Point, which is now known as the lower end of Battery street, from which it took its name. In this Fort there were five mounted cannons, brought from the old Mexican Fort. The log-house was built on Clay street, near Stockton. After peace was declared, this house was used as a Calaboose by T. M. Leavensworth at that time Alcalda. One night a man, by the name of Pete, from Oregon, was put in the ''Calaboose,'' for having cut the hair off of the tails of five horses and shaved the stumps. When asked what he did it for, he said that he wanted to send him to England, to be made into a brush, to brush the flies off the Queen's dinner-table. As Leavensworth did not send him his breakfast, he called on Leavensworth at his office, with the door of the Calaboose on his back, and told him if his breakfast was not sent up in half an hour he would take French leave. Leavensworth sent his breakfast; but it was the first and last meal he had in that place.

I will here relate how the first hotel in the city got the name of Portsmouth House. The non-commissioned officers on board the Portsmouth, Whittaker, the sail-maker and Whinnesy, the ship carpenter offered to make the sign-board, paint it and find everything needed, if I would call it by this name. I agreed; the sign was made on board the Portsmouth, brought ashore, and put on the building; and it was the first sign-board ever put up in the now large city of San Francisco. In July, 1846, Captain Montgomery sent ashore Washington A. Bartlett, to take charge of the town and to act as Alcalda. There came with him a young man, called Downing, who acted as clerk. Downing served but a short time when he was ordered aboard ship. The next clerk was George McDougal The officer at this time lived in the frame residence of William C. Hinckley, on Montgomery, between Clay and Washington streets. There was considerable contention among the Mormon residents. Several suits were commenced against Samuel Brannan, and tried before Washington A. Bartlett, complaints were made to Captain Montgomery that Bartlett showed partiality to those who were against Brannan. Captain Montgomery issued an order, calling for an election for Alcalda. The election was held in a room, at the back part of Leidsoff's store, facing Portsmouth Square, known after as the City Hotel. The candidates for Alcalda were: Washington Bartlett and Robert T. Ridley, who had been released by Captain Montgomery, and had returned. The ballot box was an empty box in which lemon syrup, in bottles, had been packed. The box was bought by Robert T. Ridley, from Steve Smith, of Bodego, and given to Ridley as pay for surveying two fifty vara lots in April. Ridley asked me to nail down the corner of the box tight. I made a small hole in the cover, so that the names could be dropped in. Each name was written on a slip of paper, I carried the box over to the room where the election was held, and wrote Ridley's name on a piece of paper, which they put in the box, and that was the first vote ever cast in this city, after it came under the rule of American Flag. That same day Yerba Buena was named San Francisco, by Washington A. Bartlett; but, I have a document in my possession, that I obtained from Alexander Forbes, and it was dated in San Francisco over six months before this event. Washington A. Bartlett obtained a majority of the votes cast, and was elected Alcalda. The first foreigner naturalized in this city was Captain J. Young, a Scotchman by birth, afterwards Superintendent of the Quicksilver Mines, at San Jose. It has often beon disputed as to where the first post-office was located. It was in the old Spanish Custom-House, in Portsmouth Square. The mail was carried by United States soldiers, free of charge, but they soon found it would not pay to deliver the mail free. After the arrival of the ''Brooklyn,'' I found I could employ help, on very reasonable terms. I engaged one lady as house-keeper, a widow with one young son, her name was Meramore; also a waitress, named Lucy Nutting, and a good cook, named Sarah Kittleman, I then fitted up the beds and started the first hotel in the city, I was just on time, on the second day of August, 1846, there arrived in port from eight to ten whaling ships, and, by the advice of Captain Montgomery they staid in port four months. The following are the names of the captains: Captain Simmonds, who was the first one to take lodgings in the hotel, Captain Mallory, Captain Bottom, Captain Rayne, Captain Henly and Captain Winters. The above named laid in port from 1846 to the early part of 1847. I must relate how I obtained furniture in those days: I got a couple of carpenters (who arrived in Brooklyn,) by the name of Kittleman, to make benches, tables and bedsteads. Our beds were mostly made of Sandwich Island moss, excepting four feather beds, which I purchased from the Mormons. The blankets were made of heavy flannel, with a seam in the center. The quilts were made of calico. Our sheets were the best part of the bedding. I had one bedstead made of extra length, thinking it would be long enough for my tallest lodger. Dr. Sample tried it, as he was a few inches taller, than any of the rest, and the next morning he asked me if I had any chickens I wanted to roost, as his legs came out at the foot of the bed sufficient to roost about a dozen. The bedstead was six feet in length; but, the next day I had one made that measured seven feet six inches, which the doctor said was a perfect fit, and I always kept this bed expressly for Dr. Sample, William Blackburn, Jacob Schneider, and one Burrows all very tall men.

As soon as the American Flag was hoisted, Captain Watson was sent on shore to guard the city with a file of marines from the ship Portsmouth. Their head-quarters being the adobe building, known as the old Custom-House. There was a captain here, by the name of Philips, from Boston, who had lost his vessel at Bodego, who did a very brave act; he took his boat with four men, went to the Presidio, where the old Mexican cannons were lying on the ground and ''spiked'' them, thinking that he was doing the Government a favor. He might have taken up his abode at the Fort without any difficulty, as there was not a Spaniard nearer than the Mission Dolores, to oppose him in any way. Washington A. Bartlett was elected by the votes of the sailors from the Portsmouth, who were sent ashore in boats to vote for him, as it was thought that Ridley would favor the Mexicans. After Captain Watson came ashore to guard the city he made it a rule every morning to fill his flask with good whiskey. It was usually at a very late hour when he called for it, and I would be in bed. His signal would be two raps on the shutter. As soon as I would answer him, he would say: ''The Spaniards are in the brush,'' this was the pass-word, I would then get up and fill his bottle, and he would leave and go on duty. A short time after the arrival of so many whalers in port, there was about five captains who remained on shore to have a good time with some of the officers of the Portsmouth. Captain Watson being one of the number, and several prominent Californians, among whom were Guerrero and Sanchez. They kept me up two nights in succession, and when they finally departed, I decided to take a good night's rest, as there was no business doing after ten o'clock, so I took to my room an extra allowance of whiskey. I was sleeping sounder than usual, when there were a number of raps on the window shutter. I did not hear them, however, and as Watson, who had been imbibing freely, found the raps did no good, he fired off one of his pistols, and sang out at the top of his voice, ''The Spaniards are in the brush!'' The report of the pistol was heard at the Barracks, and they began to beat the long roll. I jumped out of bed, (more asleep than awake) filled Watson's flask, and was told that no one would hurt me, and to go to bed again. There were signals given from the Portsmouth that men would be sent ashore for duty. The Mormons had only arrived a few days prior to this event, and at the beat of the long roll they were all up and on hand with arms and ammunition, ready to furnish what service they could. They remained under arms for about three hours, in the yard of the Portsmouth House, and were then discharged. That night there were several shots fired by those on duty, thinking they were shooting at Californians; but, they found next day, to their great surprise, that instead of dead bodies, some scrub oaks had received the shots. The wind in bending the oaks hither and thither had made them suppose that ''The Spaniards'' were really in the ''brush.'' Captain Watson called on me the next morning in the billiard-room, and told me that if I ever told, or even mentioned what happened the night previous, as long as I lived, I would be a dead man, as it would greatly injure his reputation if it were made public.

There were three persons, who arrived by the ship Brooklyn, as cabin passengers, who were not Mormons. I believe one of them is still living at Benicia, by the name of Van Phfster. A man named Captain Thompson, a brother to Mr. Thompson of Santa Barbara, also Frank Ward, a merchant, whose store was on Montgomery street in a house owned by Mrs. Wm. C. Hinckley. Several days after the alarm above mentioned, the authorities commenced erecting a log building, for the use of the cannon, so that they would be in readiness to protect the city in case of another alarm. They commenced at the same time to build a battery, some distance below Clark's Point. In early days it was a very common thing for sailors to run away from their vessels. It was pretty generally understood that the captain would give five dollars reward to anyone returning the runaway to his respective vessel. One person whom I will mention here by the name of Peckham, is now living in San Jose and he will, no doubt, remember the circumstances. When Peckham arrived here during the Mexican war, on the whale ship ''Magnet,'' (Captain Bottom) he deserted the vessel, thinking he could get away without being known. A few days later, while the Captain was in the billiard-room, Tom Smith, (a man who made it a regular business to catch runaway sailors) informed the Captain that one of the men had deserted. The Captain was surprised and inquired what kind of a looking man he was. Tom told him he was a ''seven footer,'' and after thinking a moment, the Captain made up his mind who it was. He then asked Smith what he got for bringing in runaway sailors. He said five dollars was the regular price. The Captain told him he thought five dollars was too much; but, he would be willing to give him two dollars and a half if he would let the runaway sailor go wherever he pleased to, as he was no earthly account aboard a ship. The same sailor, Mr. Peckham, got a situation with Captain Dring, as clerk in a store, where he studied law, and afterwards became one of the best lawyers in Santa Cruz, where he practiced, and also served as County Judge.

A schooner was built and launched here in 1846, by the following parties: John C. Davis, John Rose and Cheno Reynolds. The iron work was done by Finch and Thompson; the sails were made by ''Jack the soldier,'' or rather, John Cooper, who was an old English sailor. This schooner was of great benefit to the city, as it made regular trips to Santa Clara and Napa, and each time would bring in a great assortment of provisions. The schooner was sold in 1847 to Captain Folsom, to be used by the United States. The first trip this vessel made for the Government, was to take a horse-saw mill to the ''Cordes Madera,'' the latter was the property of Captain Cooper, of Monterey, and it was soon put in running order by men from Stevenson's Company, and made a large quantity of lumber for the Government. There were a number of house carpenters amongst the Mormons, arriving in 1846; who commenced several buildings which were not finished until 1847. I will mention them hereafter, as I think some of the buildings are now standing. In reading the history of early days in this country, I have seen mentioned the names of many persons now living in California, who got a good deal of praise, which they never deserved; and which should have been credited to others whose names have never appeared in print, and who were too modest to feel otherwise than that they had done their duty. I will mention first those who were of great service to the country during the Mexican war, Purser Whatmore of the sloop of war ''Portsmouth.'' He was instrumental in raising Charlie Weaver's company, of San Jose, and did much valuable service; Lieutenant Revere's, who was also from the Portsmouth, he was sent to Sonoma to take charge of that city under the United States Flag, and when he arrived there he found it a very difficult task, as many persons who went there under the Bear Flag, claimed all the property they could lay hands on, and Revere's first orders were, that all property should be delivered to the rightful owner within twenty-four hours. If they refused he would imprison them, and that if they made the slightest resistance, he would blow the top of their heads off. Revere's was considered by all who knew him to be an honorable man, one who served his country well. The first work given by Captain Leidsoff, for completion was the old City Hotel. He then opened a bar and billiard-room; but the house was known as the ''Large Adobe.'' In the early part of the month of October, Leidsoff wished me to take his house, at a rent of two thousand dollars per year; payable, quarterly in advance. I found it very difficult to get furniture. In a conversation with Mr. Henry Mellish, who was doing business for a Boston House on this coast, he told me that he had a lot of furniture on board his vessel that he would sell to me at a low figure, and give me my own time to pay for it. I then sold out the Portsmouth House to Doctor Jones; and on the first day of November, 1846, I rented the Adobe House, hoisted a sign, the name of which was Brown's Hotel. This sign was in very fine gilt letters, the cost of which was one hundred dollars. The work was done by the eldest son of Mrs. Hager, who arrived here on the ship Brooklyn. There are but very few signs, at the present day, gotten up in better taste and shape that this one was. A short time after the opening of Brown's Hotel. there was a call for all those who wished to join a company for the protection of the city, to meet at the hotel. On the evening designated several attended, and elected the following officers: Wm. D. M. Howard as Captain; Wm. Smith, First Lieutenant; John Rose, Second Lieutenant; and there were about twenty privates.

Source: Brown, John H. Reminiscences and Incidents of "The Early Days" of San Francisco. 1886: San Francisco, CA. Reprinted, 1933: San Francisco.  Library of Congress, "California as I Saw It:" First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900.


Return to San Francisco History Index
Public Commons License