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The Bay of San Francisco : the metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its suburban cities : a history online

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Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

San Francisco Public Library


Bayof Sai^prapeiseo

Tl(e Motropolis of tl|u Pacific Const
and it§ Suburban Cities.


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"A people that take no prida in the noble achievements of remote anoestors will never achieve anything
worthy to be remembered Virith pride by remote descendants."— J/acaw^ai/.



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fAMES SPIERS, wlio ranks among his
contemporaries as one of tlie most dis-
tinguished mechanical engineers of the
Pacific coast, and is one of San Francisco's
most successful business men, is a native of
the land of Walter Scott and "Bobby"
Burns, and embodies in his composition the
strength and elasticity of liber, the intellect-
ual breadth and equipoise, atid the sturdy
manhood for which the representative sons of
Scotland are famous. He sprang from Prot-
estant ancestors, his father's people belong-
ing to the Armenian school of religious
belief, and noted as thinkers, while his
mother's family were of the Calvinistic Pres-
l)yterian faith.

He was born on a farm in Renfrewshire,
he and one sister, who resides in Scotland,
being the only children. Endowed with a
genius for mechanics, yonng Spiers resolved
in early boyhood to learn a trade and bent all
his energies to that end. At twelve years of
age he left school, and, improving every op-
portnnity to learn the use of tools, before he
was fifteen years old he could cut all the
the stone for the jams, lire-places, lintels etc.,
of a cottage his father was building. This
house is still standing, and on one of its
jams are carved the initials "J. S. 1851,"

I which bear testimony to the skill of the youth-
ful artist.

There seeming to be no opening accessible
to him in his favorite trade, that of machin-
ist, near his paternal home, he went to Liver-
pool and spent a year and a half as clerk in a
book-store. Taking advantage of the oppor-
tunities thus afforded for reading and study,
he learned much about the Western World,
and became infatuated with the idea of com-
ing to America. Upon learning of this desire
of the young adventurer, his father sent him
a peremptory order to come home. Young
James next obtained employment as clerk in
in mill near the homestead, which position,
however, he terminated nine months later by
the financial failure of the firm. After work-
ing a few months for a ship and forwardiuCT
agency in Glasgow — still determined to goto
a trade — he sailed, unknown to his parents,
for Calais, France, arriving there just in
time to witness the emperor review the
troops on their leaving for the Crimean war.
Meeting with no opening to enter upon a
steady trade, and with the thoutrht that he
might become a captain, he shipped on board
the schooner "Tidy," of Yarmouth, engao-ed
in the coasting trade, where he had a few
months' experience in seafaring life. Finding



it dutasteful, be yielded to the advice of
friends and returned to Glasgow, and there
with soirie difficulty secured work in a small
millwriglit shop, of which John Oraig was
proprietor, at a salary of three siiillings per
week. Thus was taken the iirst step toward
gratifying his long-cherished ambition. After
remaining there two years and four months,
the door opened for him to take a step higher in
the way of apprenticeship in the machine shop
of the Barrhead foundry, John Cochran, pro-
prietor. While working there young Spiers
lived two miles and a lialf from the shop
which distance he walked twice a day. Eager
to acquire a technical scieutilie knowledge of
his chosen calling, as well as skill in the use
of tools, he spent all his leisure time in study-
ing the principles of mechanics and mechan-
ical drawing. His superior natural talent,
industry and zeal enabled him to advance
rapidly, and also won for hira the good will
and esteem of the foreman, who formed a
strong attachment to the faitiiful and studious
young apprentice.

When Mr. Spiers had heen in the establish-
ment about a year, the foreman, Mr. Whitford,
accepteil a situation in Edinburgh, and at his
solicitation, and with the prospect of more
wages than eight shillings per week, which
he was then receiving, Mr. Spiers joined him,
though strongly opposed by his former em-
ployer, who used every means in his power
to induce Mr. T. M. Tennant, the Edinburgh
proprietor, not to employ the young man,
but witiiout avail. About a year after mak-
ing this change, Mr. Whitford resigned the
foremanship; and although young Spiers had
not completed his apprenticeship, the pro-
prietor, Mr. Tennant, recognizing his ability
and trust worthiness, tendered the boy mechanic
the management of his manufactory. The
position was an e.\tremely critical one for a
youth of his years to undertake, for in ad-

dition to the great responsibilities of prepar-
ing and supervising the work in a large estab-
lishment, employing many skilled workmen,
the fact that a mere youth was placed in
authority over men much older and of larger
experience was calculated to excite their envy
and breed discontent. However, with some
misgivings, Mr. Spiers accepted the proffered
honor. With the prudence and forethought
of a philosopher he decided to avoid as far as
possible everything which would tend to fos-
ter jealousy, or to humiliate his older co-
laborers by unnecessary display of authority
over them. To this end his skill as a me-
chanical draughtsman served him a good
purpose, as well as to demonstrate to tliem
his capabilities for managing the establish-
ment. Instead of giving oral instructions
upon any piece of work, he made complete
detailed drawings of everything and gave
them to the workmen to execute. His in-
structions were always in the form of requests
rather than commands. Besides thus evin-
cing his knowledge and skill as a master of
his trade, and his consideration for the feel-
ings of the men under his control, he also
voluntarily organized the young men of the
manufactory into a class, and for three win-
ters taught them mechanical drawing free of
charge. This thouglitful and unsellish course
rapidly won the contidenceand esteem of both
employes and employer, and made his victory
complete. Under his energetic and efficient
control, the works experienced an eiaof great
prosperity, the number of laborers and the
volume of business being more tlian doubled
during his administration.

Mr. Spiers's fervent desire to come to
America had not abated, and to gratify this
thirst for adventure he resigned his position
in the spring of 1864. On learning of his
intention, he was urgently solicited by the
proprietors of the Paragon Machine Works,


of South Queensburg, to abandon it and ac-
cept the management of that extensive con-
cern; but, having determined to see the new
workl, lie declined the tempting offer. Messrs.
Tennant & Co., whom he had so ably served,
gave him highly complimentary testimonial
letters; and the entire force connected with
the manufactory, including proprietors and
employes, joined in tendering him a grand
reception and farewell banquet, on which oc-
casion 200 guests were present, and speeches
were made strongly eulogizing their depart-
ing friend, for his honorable, gentlemanly
qualities, his snperior talent and skill as a
mechanical engineer, and his fine executive
and administrative powers as a manager. A
number of elegant presents accompanied
these expressions of appreciation and regard
as tangible souvenirs of the friendship of
his associates. The writer of tliis article has
read the published proceedings of this (to the
actors) memorable event, with much interest,
as a worthy tribute to sterling manhood.

On leaving Europe Mr. Spiers brought
away numerous highly complimentary letters
from prominent business men and distin-
guished persons with whom he had been in-
timately connected. His objective point on
this continent was Vancouver's Island; but
meeting Mr. Risdon, one of the founders of
the Risdon Iron Works, en route, that gen-
tleman induced Mr. Spiers to stop of? at San
Francisco. Being offered a position in the
Miners' Works, he first took three
months to familiarize himself with the char-
acter of the machinery manufactured on the
Pacific coast and then entered the works as
general foreman, remaining in that capacity
three years, when he resigned to embark
iu business as a member of the firm of
McAtie, Spiers & Co. Subsequently he
bought his partners' interests and consolidated
the business with the Fulton Iron Works;

and under Mr. Spiers' masterly inanagemont
the growth of this great manufactory has
been almost phenomenal. Through his supe-
rior qualifications as a mechanical and con-
structive engineer, and his remarkable execu-
tive ability, it has become one. of the greatest
productive industries on the Pacific side of
the continent, giving employment to a small
army of skilled mechanics and distributing
many thousands of dollars per month among
the families of the laboring men of San

In spite of the expenditure of time and
nerve- force necessary in building up such a
mammoth business enterprise, Mr. Spiers has
found opportunity to engage in extensive
reading and research, and is a genteman of a
broad, cultured mind, belonging to the pro-
gressive, liberal school of thought, and is an
analytical reasoner.

He was married in San Francisco, to Miss
Kate Moore, a New York lady, in 1868, and
they have three children: James, born in
1870; Katharine, 1872; and William Glad-
stone, in 1874.

Arriving in San Francisco witli only $200
as his entire worldly possessions — ^which, with
more, he subsequently lost in a mining ven-
ture — Mr. Spiers has by his own efforts and
through purely business methods accumu-
lated an ample fortune. Indulging his pa-
triotic spirit for fostering worthy public en-
terprises, he is an active and zealous member
of the Mechanics' Institute, and has served
some eighteen years as a trusted of that or-
ganization; he is also a member of the Geo-
graphical Society of San Francisco, the
Technical Society of the Pacific coast; has
been president of St. Andrews Society; is
now one of the permanent trustees of the
Cogswell Polytechnic College of San Fran-
cisco, and is connected with several mechan-
ical societies. In politics, though not a par-



tisan, he is a protectionist so far as applies to
American industries wliicli produce articles
for American consumption.

l^EN RY K A PIN. —The firm of Henry
^^ Kahn & Co., San Francisco, importers
^Bl of French, German and English dry
goods, is composed of the following gentle-
men: Julius Kahn, S. Bine, L. Klein and
Henry Kahn. The house was established in
1879. In their particular line (French and
English goods), they are the largest dealers
in San Francisco. They also have a house in
Paris. Since the establishment of their busi-
ness in this city they have made fonr moves,
each time seeking larger and better quarters,
thus evincing a constantly increasing busi-
ness. Their trade now extends over Califor-
nia, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana,
Texas, and several of the Pacific Islands — a
vast area of rapidly developing country.

Mr. Kahn is a native of France, born in
1855. He came to the United States in 1872,
after the Franco-German war. During the
siecre of Paris, when not yet sixteen years of
age, he served in one of the hospitals. His
father was financially mined by the war. His
brother Emil came from France to enlist in
the Union army, and served until he lost his
life in the great struggle to maintain the
Union. Mr. Kahn is a graduate of the Lycee
Charlemagne of Paris. He came direct to
San Francisco in 1872; was at first employed
by his brothers in the wheat-bnying business^
and later became a partner with them. The
firm becoming aware that there was room in
San Francisco and its adajcent territory for a
business like that they now conduct, one of
the brothers returned to Paris and opened
the house tliere, while Mr. Kahn and his
partners established their business in this city.

Mr. Kahn is married, has invested in
real estate in San Francisco, and identified
himself with the affairs of the country of
his adoption. In his business relations
he is most courteous and obliging, and
no house in the city enjoys a higher reputa-
tion for honorable and liberal methods than
does that of Henry Kahn & Co. His political
preferences are with the Democratic party.

tS. B. SAWYER has been connected
with the United States Circuit Court
® in San Francisco since 1870. He was
born in 1842, in Ohio. His father. Rev.
Lester A. Sawyer, a prominent Congrega-
tional minister, is still living, and has passed
his fourscore years. After taking a jjrep-
aratory course, our subject entered Hamilton
College, Oneida count}', New York, graduating
intheclassof 1862. He pursued his legal stud-
ies in the Columbia College Law School in
New York city, and was admitted to prac-
tice in all the courts of the State. He came to
the Pacific coast in 1867 and engaged in the
practice of law for two years, when he was
appointed to his present position, which he
has held for the past twenty years.

fHARLES TOWE, Fire Marshal, San
Francisco, was born in the city of Bos-
ton, in the year 1849, is a caulker by
trade, shipped before the mast and for some
years followed the sea. He came to Califor-
nia in 1873, and two years later joined the
fire patrol. The following year he became
connected with the fire department, was ap-
pointed assistant foreman of engine No. 5,
and was promoted foreman of hose No. 1.
In 1886 he received the appointment of Fire


Marshal, and since then has filled the respons-
ible position with ability and credit, his office
being in the new city hall. He belongs to
the I. O. O. F., Templar Lodge, Unity En-
campment, and also to the order of. K. of P.

J^OWELL V. ARMISTEAD, one of the

^m\ successful medical practitioners of Ala-
^M meda county, was born in Bedford
county, near Lynchburg, Virginia, February
26, 1859, the fourth in a family of nine chil-
dren born to James H. and Sarah Armistead,
both also natives of Virginia. The Armi-
steads are of the old and influential Virginia
families, and their advent into that State
antedates the Revolution, and members of
the family also participated in the war of
1812. The father of our subject entered
the military service during the rebellion, and
served with distinction until the close of the
war, but a short time aftevvard lost his wife
by an accident.

Howell V. was reared and educated in his
native county, and graduated at the Lynch-
burg High School in the class of 1879, after
which he taught school two years in order to
meet the expenses of his collegiate course,
and at the same time also read medicine. He
came to California in 1881, locating in Stan-
islaus county, where he became steward of
the county hospital, and also continued the
study of medicine with Dr. C. W. Evans.
Mr. Armistead took his lectures in the med-
ical department of the University of Cali-
fornia, and also gained clinical experience in
the hospital of San Francisco. He graduated
in the fall of 1885, after which he returned
to Stanislaus county, locating at Hill's Ferry,
and devoted himself energetically to the
practice and further study of medicine.
Three years later he removed to Newman,

same county, where he remained until 1890,
and in that year located at Golden Gate,
where he has since become the partner of
Dr. Collins, an able practitioner. They have
a lucrative and growing practice, and Dr.
Armistead is also interested in stock-raising
and the breeding of blooded horses in Stan-
islaus county.

During his residence in the latter county,
the Doctor was a member of the Board of
School Trustees, and was active in the coun-
cils of the Democratic party. Socially he
affiliates with the K. of P., Newman Lodge,
No. 189, of which order he has passed all
the chairs, and also in the A. O. F. of A.,
Shelmanuel Court, No. 7,261, Golden Gate.

p^^^HILLIAM SHEW, the pioneer pho-
/ffl tographer of San Francisco, was
^^^^ born in Providence, Fulton county,
New York, in 1820, where he was also reared
and educated. He soon acquired the art of
taking pictures, and he and his brothers
were among the first operators in this coun-
try, taking lessons from the eminent Professor
Morse, of telegraphic fame. Soon after the
gold discoveries in California, Mr. Shew de-
termined to come to the Pacific coast, and
left New York in 1851, and arrived on the
ship Tennessee, March 4, of the same year,
via the Isthmus. He visited the mines
while waiting for his apparatus, which came
via Cape Horn, and he afterward established
a portable machine on the Plaza, on Kearny
street, between Clay and Washington, but a
short time afterward removed to a vacant lot,
and later to Montgomery street. Messrs.
Shew, Vance and Bradley were the only
photographers here at that time, and the
former is now the only one living. He has
been connected with the profession for over


fifty years, and lias also been identilied with
various other enterprises, but not with the
same degree of success as in his chosen call-
ing. During the early days he was identi-
fied with political affairs, and has in his
possession a printed notice of the call for
the first Free-Soil Convention, to be held
October 8, 1852, and this raeeting was held
in his rooms on the Plaza. Mr. Shew has
always been interested in good government,
and has served as a member of the Board of
Education. His only daughter is married,
and is now living in Oakland.

tSCHWARZSCITILD, a member of the
firm of Feigenbaum & Co., 520 to
* 526 Market street, Ran Francisco, rep-
resents the wholesale fancy goods and toy in-
terest of the Pacific coast. The firm is
composed of Messrs. B. and J. Feigenbaum
and Schwarzschild, all natives of Germany.
The co-partnership was formed and house
established on Jnly 1, 1869, by purchasing a
small outfit on Battery street, where they
remained until 1874. At that time, needing
greater capacity, they purchased a seven-
story bnilding, 30x90 feet, on Sansome
street, and there conducted their interests
until 1883, when, needing still greater space,
they sold their store and moved to their present
8paciou8 rooms at 520 and 526 Market street.
Here their main salesroom lias an area of
60 X 165 feet; the basement is 60 x 165 feet,
and besides these they have three other
floors, all of which are well stocked with toys,
Yankee notions, smokers' articles, stationery,
willow-ware .and musical instruments. Forty-
one hands are employed in conducting the
several departments of the business. Their
territory covers the Pacific coast States,
Idalio, Arizona. New Mexico, Mexico and

the Sandwich Islands. Their territory is
extended because all goods are of European
manufacture. The business is difficult of
successful management on account of the
great distance from market, the bulky goods,
the heavy rates by freight, shipments by
water necessarily taking months in transit,
etc. The peculiar features of the business
require special knowledge and adaptability.
Several houses have failed, while this estab-
lishment has pushed steadily forward, its
success being largely diae to the efficient
management of Mr. L. Schwarzschild, who
had eight years' experience in the business
prior to the establishing of this house.

He was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in
1841, and at the age of fifteen years began
his mercantile life. He was first employed
in a cloth factory, and subsequently as trav-
eling salesman for hop and wine establish-
ments of France, where he resided from boy-
hood. He came to California in 1861, and
entered the toy-house of Thurnauer & Finn,
importers and dealers, with whom he learned
the intricate business. He is now consid-
ered one of the best judges of toys in this
country, and is frequently appealed tj by
the customhouse authorities to fix valuations
upon importations. Mr. Schwarzschild makes
an annual trip to Europe, visiting England,
France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland,
purchasing from the several manufacturers
such an assortment as his trade demands,
consuming about five months on each trip.

Mr. Schwarzschild was married in San
Francisco, in 1867, to Miss Amelia Ochs, a
native of Frankfort-on-the-Main, and to
them have been born five daughters, viz.:
Alice, now Mrs. M. S. Hellman, of Los
Angeles, and Leontine, Adele, Jennie and

He is a member of the A. O. U. W. and
several benevolent societies.


Messrs. Feigeubanm came to this State in
1857, and settled in Humboldt county, where
thej engaged in a general merchandise busi-
ness until 1869. They are both married
and have sons growing up in the lousiness
with them.

This firm is the only wholesale toy estab-
lishment on the Pacific coast, and, with an
annual business of about $500,000, enjoys
an extended patronage.

— *§-^-i - ■

fANIEL E. HAYES, member of the
firm of Hinckley, Spiers & Hayes, pro-
prietors of the Fulton Iron Works, is a
son of New England, where several genera-
tions of his ancestors were born, and is re-
lated to ex-President R. B. Hayes. His
father was a native of Maine and a graduate
of Yale. Mr. Hayes was also born in Maine,
1838. After preparing for college under the
tutorage of Professor (afterward Governor)
Chamberlain, he entered Bowdoin College
at fifteen.

Coming to California in 1858, he obtained
the position of bookkeeper in the Fulton
Foundry. In a year he was making estimates
on work, and his knowledge of and pro-
ficiency in the business became so valuable
that in 1863 he was admitted into the firm as
an eighth owner. Subsequently his interest
was enlarged to a fourth, and upon the for-
mation of the present copartnersliip in 1877
his interest was further increased to one-third,
he tiius becoming an equal partner with
Messrs. Hinckley and Spiers. For thirteen
years he has been actively connected with the
financial department of the Fulton Iron
Works; and much of the remarkable growth
and success of that great establishment is
due to his application and ability. Endowed
by nature with superior mental faculties, ed-

ucation and experience have developed and
rounded them out, resulting in the clear, act-
ive intellect and culture of the true gentle-

In 1864 he married, in San Francisco, Miss
Eleanor A. Olwell, an Ohio lady.

fA. ROGERS, an artist of San Fran-
cisco, was born in New Haven, Con-
® necticut, in 1848, the son of New
England parents. During early childhood
he went to Brooklyn, New York, where he
was reared and educated. While quite small
he developed a taste for drawing, and early
commenced to take lessons in that branch of
art. He subsequently went abroad and con-
tinued the pursuit of his studies in Germany,
Italy and France, receiving instructions from
some of the best teachers in Europe. On his
return to Brooklyn he opened a studio in
New York city, and afterward one in Chica-
go. Seeking a more congenial climate, he
came to California in 1877 and located in
San Francisco.

In his portfolios and on the walls of his
studio in the Flood Building are many of
nis sketches and finished works that have re-
ceived favorable mention from artists and art
critics. Among his many subjects and noted
works are: "Lake Lugano," "Scene in Fras-
cate," "Street in Ancient Tiber," "A Covered
Street in Florence." Several Italian subjects
recently sold by him brought good prices.

Mr. Rogers is versatile witii brush and
pencil painting, both in oil and water colors,
filling many orders for portrait work as well
as landscape, and has done much in crayon,
pastel and water colors. The qualities in
which Mr. Rogers excels in his work is cotn
position, light and shade. He has a passion


for brilliant effects of color, which he renders

Online LibraryLewis Publishing CompanyThe Bay of San Francisco : the metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its suburban cities : a history → online text (page 1 of 97)