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1854 Apr 3
The SF Mint opened at 608 Commercial St. It issued $4 million in gold coins this year. An Indian princess appeared on gold dollars. The mint used equipment previously employed by SF-based Moffatt & Company.
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1854 Oct 3
San Francisco businessman Harry Meiggs departed SF aboard the bark America with his family after embezzling $800,000 from the city to cover debts. He took refuge in Chile where he built a railroad between Santiago and Valparaiso. After 13 years he moved to Peru.
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1854 Nov 1
Fr. Anthony Maraschi, SJ, arrived in San Francisco along with Fr. Charles Messea, SJ, and Fr. Aloysius Masnata, SJ.
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1854 Dec 8
Fr. Nicolas Congiato, SJ, arrived in San Francisco to serve as the superior of the Jesuit mission in California. He later served as the 2nd president of St. Ignatius College.
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1854
The 1st California State Fair was held in SF. It was managed and funded by Col. J.L.L. Warren, a respected California seed and floral agribusiness man.
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1854
Gustaf Francois Thomas arrived in SF from France and opened the G.F. Dyeing and Cleaning Works. In 2005 his descendants planned to end operations.
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1854
In SF the city’s original International Hotel was built on Jackson Street.
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1854
San Francisco’s South Park, the city’s first green space, was created as a private English-style oval.
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1854
In San Francisco the Lone Mountain Cemetery was established. It was later renamed Laurel Hill Cemetery.
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1855 May 1
In San Francisco a deed was granted to Fr. Anthony Maraschi for Lot 127 on Market St. between Fourth and Fifth. It had been owned by Thomas O. Larkin, the first American consul in Monterey, who sold it for $11,500.
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1855 Jul 4
The Whaling ship Candace, built in Boston in 1818, entered SF Bay and never left. In 2005 it was found at a SF construction site at Folsom and Spear streets.
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1855 Jul 15
In San Francisco St. Ignatius Church on Market St. was dedicated by Archbishop Alemany. The simple wood and plaster structure cost $4,000. Anthony Maraschi, SJ, soon began construction for a school and residence.
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1855 Oct 15
In San Francisco St. Ignatius opened for classes with 3 students, including Richard McCabe, at 841 Market St. In the 1880s St. Ignatius College moved to a new campus on Van Ness. An advertisement this year referred to the school as St. Ignatius Grammar and High School.
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1855 Nov 26
Several thousand people staged a parade and banquet at South Park, SF, to celebrate the Allied victory over the Russians in the Crimean War and the capture of the Malakoff fortress in Sevastopol. The celebration turned into a rampage after some 2,500 bottles of claret were consumed.
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1855
Raphael Weill, a French Jew, came to San Francisco and in three years became a partner in the J.W. Davidson Dry Goods Store, one of the biggest dry goods dealers in California. By 1885, the store was all his. The store was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. In 1909 a Beaux Arts-style building on the corner of Sutter and Grant became the home to Raphael Weill & Company and commonly known as the White House. The White House department store closed in 1965. Raphael Weill was a founding member of the Bohemian Club.
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1855
Hinton Rowan Helper of North Carolina published “The Land of Gold: Reality vs. Fiction,” in which he critically commented on California and San Francisco based on his three plus years in the state. “Suffice it to say that we know of no country in which there is so much corruption, villainy, outlawry, intemperance, licentiousness, and every variety of crime, folly and meanness.” The book was republished in 1948 under the title “Dreadful California.”
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1855
Frank Soule, John H. Gihon and James Nisbet authored their 800 plus-page “The Annals of San Francisco.”
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1855
In SF the State Marine Hospital building became the City and County Hospital of San Francisco with Dr. Hugh Toland of South Carolina serving as surgeon.
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1856 May 14
James P. Casey, editor of the SF Times, shot James King, proprietor of the rival Evening Bulletin. King died 6 days later. A “Vigilance Committee” of 2,600 later marched up Sacramento St. and broke into the jail where Casey was held. On May 22 Casey was lynched with his unfortunate cell mate, gambler Charles Cora.
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1856 May 20
James King, editor of the Evening Bulletin, died from wounds suffered on May 14. His death brought about the rising of The Second Committee of Vigilance and the take over of the SF government.
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1856 May 22
Charles Cora, a gambler, and James Casey, a member of the SF Board of supervisors, were hanged by the SF Committee of Vigilance led by merchant Charles Doane, following a drumhead trial at “Fort Gunnybags, ”the vigilante headquarters on Sacramento St. There was widespread belief that Cora and Casey were “in cahoots” with then sheriff David Scannel. Cora was in jail for recently killing US Marshal William H. Richardson, who had drunkenly insulted Cora's mistress, Belle Ryan.
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1856 Aug 18
In SF thousands of armed men paraded through the streets and then formally dissolved the second Committee of Vigilance. They had run SF for nearly 4 months much to the distress of Mayor James Van Ness and militia officer William T. Sherman.
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1856
A surveyor drew a line across the neck of the San Francisco peninsula marking the border between Daly City and San Francisco.
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1856
San Francisco’s Lowell High School opened as the Union Grammar School and attained its current name in 1896.
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1856
In San Francisco The Call newspaper was started by five unemployed printers and quickly became one of the city’s leading papers. Its original building stood at 612 Commercial St.
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1856
California Gov. Neely Johnson declared that SF was in a “state of insurrection” and called upon all citizens to enlist in a state militia, locally commanded by banker William T. Sherman, to crush it. Vigilantes in SF had forced some 25 cronies of Mayor David Broderick onto outbound ships following the discovery of false-bottom ballot boxes. Another 800 of the city’s “worst characters” had also been ordered to leave.
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1856
San Francisco preacher William Taylor (1821-1902) authored “Seven Years’ Street Preaching in San Francisco.” It became a best-seller with 20,000 copies sold. Taylor had arrived in the city from Virginia in 1849 and left in 1856 continuing his evangelical career in England, Europe, New Zealand, India, South America and Africa.
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1856
Ephraim Burr (1809-1894) became mayor of SF and continued to 1859.
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1857 Oct 2
In SF the cornerstone for the new St. Francis Church was laid.
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1857
The California Savings and Land Association at 465 California St. was built. Henry Collins, one of California’s wealthiest black leaders, served as president of the first African-American owned bank in the country.
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1857
SF merchant Charles Doane (d.1862), former leader of the SF Committee of Vigilance, was elected sheriff of San Francisco. He served two 2-year terms. Upon retirement in 1861 he was made general of in the California militia.
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1857
In San Francisco the City and County Hospital purchased the North Beach School transforming it into a 150-bed hospital.
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1858 Mar 5
In San Francisco advocates of civil rights rescued Archy Lee, a slave held by Charles Stovall of Mississippi, from being taken from the city aboard the ship Orizaba. The story was later told by Rudolph Lapp (1915-2007) in “Archy Lee: A California Fugitive Slave Case” (1969).
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1858
In San Francisco a saloon was established on the corner of Center Street (later 16th Street) at Guerrero. It burned down in the 1906 earthquake and fire. A new building was erected on the site in 1907. On Nov 21, 2003, it re-opened as the Elixir. In 2017 it claimed to be the 2rd oldest saloon in the city.
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1859 Apr 30
The California state legislature granted a charter to St. Ignatius Academy in San Francisco. The school then changed its name to St. Ignatius College with the right to confer degrees.
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1859 Sep 16
In San Francisco US Senator David C. Broderick died at the Leonides Haskell house at Fort Mason, following his Sep 13 duel with David S. Terry, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, near Lake Merced.
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1859 Sep 17
The San Francisco Call Bulletin published a notice on an inside page announcing that Joshua Norton (~1818-1880), formerly a prominent SF businessman, has proclaimed himself Norton I, “Emperor of these United States.” Norton lived at the Eureka Lodging House at 624 Commercial St., where he paid 50 cents a night for a modest room. The Masons provided him a stipend for the lodging. Norton soon added himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico with a proclamation delivered to the offices of the San Francisco Bulletin. He annexed the whole of the US and suspended the Constitution.
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1859
Richard Tobin, SF attorney, co-founded the Hibernia Savings and Loan Society.
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1859
The Shafter family of San Francisco bought 50,000 acres of West Marin pastures for dairy farms. The land was eventually divided into individual ranches, each designated by a letter. In 2009 the B Ranch shut down dairy production due to falling milk prices and rising costs.
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1859
In San Francisco the Chinese Presbyterian Mission Church founded the first school in the US to admit Chinese students. It closed after four months.
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1860 Mar 17
The Japanese ship Kanrin Maru, under Admiral Yoshitake Kimura, entered the Golden Gate after a 37-day voyage, on a diplomatic mission to San Francisco. It was the first Japanese ship to cross the Pacific. 3 sailors died while the ship was in SF. It set sail to return to Japan on May 8.
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1860 Mar 29
The USS Powhatan arrived in San Francisco as part of a diplomatic mission from Japan. It carried official envoys including Niimi Buzennokami, the first Japanese ambassador to the US.
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1860 Apr 3
The US Pony Express mail system began when one horse and rider carrying a bulging mail pouch began the 10 1/2-day run from San Francisco, Calif., to St. Joseph, Mo. Riders left St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, Ca., at the same time. They averaged 12 mph over 75-100 mile segments between 157 relay stations located 5 to 20 miles apart. The freight company of Russell, Majors and Waddell began the service. The enterprise failed after only 18 months, however, due to mounting financial losses and competition from the ever-expanding telegraph network. Donald C. Biggs (d.2000 at 72), prof. of history at SF State, later authored "The Pony Express: Creation of the Legend."
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1860 Apr 14
First Pony Express rider arrived in San Francisco with mail originating in St. Joseph, Missouri. The bay horse and rider with 25 letters arrived on the steamer Antelope following a 10½ day journey.
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1860 Jun 7
San Francisco workmen started laying track for the Market Street Railroad. The line was planned to reach to San Jose.
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1860 Jul 4
In San Francisco the Market Street Railroad Co. opened a line on Market from Third to Valencia running both horsecar and steam train lines. This was the first street railway on the Pacific Coast. It was opened by banker Francois Pioche. The steam railway ran from Battery and Market to Valencia and then south to his Willows beer garden.
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1860
The population of SF reached 56,802.
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1860
The Saloon at 1232 Grant Avenue began operating about this time. It survived the 1906 earthquake and fire as fire fighters managed to save the building, also home to a brothel.
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1861
1865
The mid-downtown park, donated to San Francisco by Mayor John Geary, became the site of rallies on behalf of the Union that gave the park its name. Many of the rallies were led by Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King (1824-1864). The block was renamed Union Square to commemorate the rallies.
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1861
An Octagon House was built in San Francisco at Gough and Union by William C. McElroy, a miller and his wife Harriet. In 1953 the Colonial Dames persuaded PG&E to sell it for $1 on the condition that they move it across the street to 2645 Gough.
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1861
In San Francisco the Oakdale Bar and Clam House opened at the corner of Oakland and Bayshore. It later came to be known as the Old Clam House.
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1861
In San Francisco the Catholic Sisters of Charity purchased the top of Mount St. Joseph.
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1862 Jan 21
In San Francisco Fr. Maraschi stepped down as the first president-rector of St. Ignatius. Fr. Nicolas Congiato took over.
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1862 May
In San Francisco St. Ignatius held a ceremony for the cornerstone of its new Jesuit residence and college on Market Street.
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1862 Jun
SF Lawmakers signed a petition to anoint Lazarus (d.1963) and Bummer (d.1865), 2 popular rat catching dogs, as official city property and exempt from the recently passed muzzle law. In 1984 Malcolm E. Barker authored “Bummer & Lazarus: San Francisco’s Famous Dogs.”
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1862 Sep 14
In San Francisco some 3,000 people packed into Platt’s Music Hall at Bush and Montgomery to hear Unitarian minister Starr King (1824-1864) speak on behalf of the Sanitary Commission, a forerunner of the Red Cross. His speech inspired businessmen to raise money and within 5 days $100,000 was raised. In one year California raised some $500,000.
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1862
In San Francisco the Pioneer Woolen Mill, later part of Ghirardelli Square, was designed by Swiss-born architect William Sebastian Mooser. Uniforms for Union soldiers were manufactured here during the Civil War. The brick building replaced the original wood frame mill which was built in 1858 but soon destroyed by fire.
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1862
In San Francisco torrential rains made this the city’s wettest winter.
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1863 Jan 1
The clipper ship Noonday hit an uncharted rock off the coast of San Francisco and sank in 240 feet of water. All hands were rescued and the rock was named Noonday.
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1863 Mar 14
Asbury Harpending (24) of Kentucky, Ridgely Greathouse of Kentucky and Alfred Rubery of Britain set sail from San Francisco with 20 fighting men aboard the J.M. Chapman on an expedition to intercept outbound Panama steamers loaded with gold and silver and send the money to the Confederacy. They were quickly intercepted, taken to Alcatraz, and found guilty of high treason. Harpending was granted amnesty after four months in jail.
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