Biography of Albert Dibblee
San Francisco, CA Biographies





ALBERT DIBBLEE
One of the most notable citizens of early San Francisco was the late Albert Dibblee, whose career was filled with achievements of vast benefit to this city and which reflected the indomitable and progressive character of the man. He was born February 9, 1821, in Clermont on the Hudson, and he was of the sixth generation in descent from Robert Dibblee, who settled in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1630.

In 1837, when he was only sixteen years of age, Mr. Dibblee accepted a position in the first clearing house established in New York after the collapse of the United States Bank, and thereafter was employed for many years in the State Bank of New York. He left this institution in 1849, and sailed for California on the ship Martha, which left New York, November 20, 1849, and arrived in San Francisco, June 8, 1850, after a long and stormy voyage around Cape Horn. Mr. Dibblee had with him a clerk, a bill of goods, office fixtures, two portable houses and a thirty six foot sailboat, which was quite a pretentious equipment for a voyager of those days.

In the fire of 1851, he lost heavily, and he was likewise unfortunate in the failure of the Wells & Cole banking house, but in the face of these disasters he persisted, established a successful shipping business, and became exceedingly prominent in early San Francisco. He was one of the leaders in the famous vigilance committee of 1856; took a leading role in the people's reform party, having been president of the nominating committee in 1860; and led the fight against the corrupt ring which tried to steal the San Francisco water front by enacting the so called Parsons Bulkhead bill.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce was at this date a close organization of not more than seventy five members, and comprised all of the leading men in the city. In 1857, Mr. Dibblee was one of the vice presidents, and served as president in 1859-60 and 1860-61. He was chairman of the executive committee in 1867, and a trustee from 1870 to 1874 and again in the year 1881. During his term as president, the by laws of the Chamber of Commerce were revised, an executive committee was created, and bills were initiated in the state legislature for the survey of the water front in order to institute a comprehensive plan for its future development. Bills were also obtained from the legislature creating a wharf and pilot commission or board, with the president of the Chamber of Commerce ex-officio a member in order that the shipping and commerce of the port might be protected from the corrupt state politicians. The Chamber of Commerce kept in close touch with the proceedings of the legislature, and was always alert to protect the interests of the city.

Mr. Dibblee was one of the vice presidents of the great Union mass meeting held in San Francisco, May 11, 1861, just after the arrival of General Sumner for the purpose of combating the secession movement in California. He was appointed on a committee of thirty four to search out treason, and he took the lead in a committee of five which undertook the organization of the home guard to relieve the federal troops in northern California in order that General Sumner might dispatch them to the southern part of the state, where the secessionists were in the majority. As an active member of these committees, he continued to cooperate with the federal authorities in hunting out and defeating treasonable plots against the government.

Mr. Dibblee was president of a citizens meeting in 1867, which was called to investigate the health department during a serious epidemic, and he appointed a committee for the purpose, of which Judge Selden Wright was chairman.

During the three decades from 1850 to 1880, Mr. Dibblee was extensively engaged in the shipping business. In 1858, in company with William Corbitt, he purchased the Santa Anita ranch in the San Gabriel valley, and his brother, Thomas Dibblee, came to California to join him in the sheep business. Between the years 1863 and 1868, in partnership with Colonel W. W. Hollister, he bought the Lompoc ranch, the San Julian ranch, the Espada, the Salsipuedes, and the Las Cruces ranches in Santa Barbara county. These ranches extended for forty miles along the Pacific coast, and had upon them fully sixty thousand sheep, as well as many head of cattle. He became interested in the Giant Powder Company during the '80s, and was president of the company until them time of his death on the 5th of December, 1895. San Francisco lost an exemplary and useful citizen in his passing, one whose record has an imperishable place in the history of this municipality. He was sincerely admired for his extraordinary ability in public and organization affairs, for his intense loyalty to the welfare of his residence community, and for his fine personal character.

Albert Dibblee married Anne Meacham, who was born in Ohio in 1844 and who died in 1913. Four children of this marriage still survive: Albert J. Dibblee, born in 1870; Anita L. Dibblee, born in 1871; Harrison Dibblee, born in 1874; and Benjamin H. Dibblee, born in 1876.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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