Biography of Arthur M. Ebbets
San Francisco, CA Biographies





ARTHUR M. EBBETS
A notable pioneer figure of San Francisco was Arthur M. Ebbets, now deceased, who was a successful business man, a public office-holder, a member of the famous vigilantes, and altogether one of the most progressive type of citizens, the kind who made possible the development of the community in the face of almost insurmountable difficulties. A brief, but authentic, account of Mr. Ebbets' career is that written by himself under date of February 4, 1901, and addressed to the Historical Commission. The manuscript of this story is in the possession of the Pioneer Society at present; it follows:

"In answer to your request, I arrived in San Francisco on the 5th of August, 1849, on the ship 'Pacific' from New York. Our departure was on the 22d of January, 1849. We stopped at Rio de Janeiro and Callao and our voyage of one hundred and ninety five days was made up of storms and calms and good weather, and was without any particular incidents excepting an exchange of captains at Rio. Little sickness, and no deaths among a crowd of exceptional passengers. Lots of fun and all kinds of amusement helped pass away the time.

"On my arrival I bought a lot on Broadway just west of San-some street and built a story and a half house for a store and a home. On the ship I had quite an assortment of goods which were sold at a high figure and gave me quite a capital for trading. With my two partners, under the name of Ebbets & Company, made some forty thousand dollars before the first of November, part of which was spent for property on California and Sansome streets, on which in 1850 we built a four-story wooden building, framed and sent out from New York.

"In November, 1849, one of my partners went east to buy goods and get shipments from our friends. In 1851, bought on the northwest corner of California and Front streets and sold half to W. T. Coleman. Sent to China for the granite and in 1852 built a granite and brick building, thirty-three by one hundred and twenty-eight feet, and enlarged our shipping and commission business, and bought an interest in several clipper ships. In 1857 our firm dissolved and after a short stay in an insurance and adjusting business, I opened a store at Bellingham Bay during the Fraser River fever of '58. Made and lost a lot of money, and returned to San Francisco in 1859 and immediately started in the coal trade, in which I continued until my health broke down in 1899, since which time I have done no active work. I bought my homestead lot at city sale in 1852 on the northwest corner of Jones and Washington and built in 1854 a home in which I am still (1901) living. On the property where I carried on my coal business for forty years on Sacramento, Davis and Drumm streets, I have built four brick stores which are just (1901) finished and for rent. My San Francisco life of nearly fifty-two years has been interspersed with happiness and sorrow. I have buried two wives and three children and have remaining three girls and two boys, the youngest eighteen years old. I have lived my allotted years and am ready to leave when my Maker calls me, having little to regret. Outside of an active business life, I have taken part in all the vigilance committees, been mayor of the city for forty-eight hours on the death of James Otis, filling the office and being chairman of the finance committee and of the supervisors until his successor was appointed. I have been receiver and deputy assessor, president of the Mercantile Library and Sportsmen's Club of California, vice president of the Pacific Yacht Club, and have served in other smaller positions without pay, so I think I have done my share of work to help along our city.

"My father's family originally came from England and my mother, whose name was Stanbury, from Holland. On both sides my ancestors were among the first settlers in what is now New York, where I was born January 18, 1830.

(Signed) Arthur M. Ebbets."


From the publication, Bay of San Francisco (Lewis Publishing Company, 1892), the following data concerning the late Mr. Ebbets are taken : "While Mr. Ebbets was actively engaged in commercial pursuits, he did not neglect the duties of a loyal citizen. He was a prominent member of all the vigilance committees and did his full share in establishing law and order, which had been well nigh overcome by the strong influx of an element that knew no restraint. In 1861, he was elected on the people's ticket recorder of the county, and in 1857 he had held the office of deputy assessor. In 1874, he was elected by the republican party, of which he had been a member since its organization, to the office of supervisor and was chosen chairman of the finance committee. Mr. Ebbets was president of the Society of California Pioneers and on several occasions a director. He was president of the Sportsmen's Club, and vice president of the Pacific Yacht Club. He was president of the Mercantile Library, and for many years a director. He also had the honor of having been a member of the first republican convention held in this county."

The death of Mr. Ebbets occurred May 5, 1903, in San Francisco.

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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