Biography of Robert K. Malcolm
San Francisco, CA Biographies





ROBERT KENNEDY MALCOLM
Reared in a rural community, Robert Kennedy Malcolm early acquired habits of industry and perseverance, which have constituted the basis of his progress and success, and in business circles of San Francisco he is a forceful personality, well known as president of Liberty Farms Co. He was born in Watsonville, Santa Cruz county, California, April 10, 1868, a son of Henry Malcolm, and is a member of one of the ancient families of Scotland. He traces his genealogy in that country to Archibald MacCullum (later spelled Malcolm), of Poltalloch, fourth laird, who held the title from 1648 to 1659. His son, Duncan Malcolm, became the father of Niell Malcolm, a commander in the French Navy who married a lady of the noble family de Longueville, and their son, John Malcolm, an officer in the British Navy, was the founder of the family in America. Coming to this country prior to the Revolutionary war, he espoused the cause of the Royalists, but his sons aided in winning American independence. He was one of the founders of the first Jockey Club of Philadelphia and also of the St. Andrews Society of that city, and later was a royal justice, domiciled at Wilmington, Delaware. He was a resident of Pennsylvania at the time of his demise, which occurred in 1803, when he had reached the advanced age of ninety years. He had a son, Dr. Henry Malcolm, who married Rebecca Olner of Providence, Rhode Island. Their daughter, Angelica, became the wife of Joseph Gibbons Malcolm, and they were the parents of Henry Malcolm.

The last named was reared and educated in Pennsylvania and remained in the east until 1851, when he started for the Pacific coast, reaching California by the canal route in 1852. Attracted to the gold fields, he spent some time in Placerville, and being a lover of horses he entered the breeding and livery business in San Jose, where he bred and owned some of the finest horses of that time. It was here he met Janet Kennedy, who later became his wife. Subsequently he purchased land near Watsonville, California, and there engaged in farming and horse breeding until his death in 1881 at the age of fifty five years. He gave his political support to the republican party and, like his forbears, was loyal and public spirited, serving with the Vigilantes in the early days. Mrs. Malcolm was born in Canada, and in 1851 crossed the plains with her father, James Kennedy, organizer of the Kennedy Party, who became keeper of the toll gate at Los Gatos, California, thus continuing until 1880, when the toll gate was demolished. He then removed to San Jose, where he resided until his death in 1887 at the advanced age of eighty four years. He had a son, James G. Kennedy, a prominent educator, who was the first president of Cogswell College of San Francisco, and was president of the State Normal School of San Jose at the time of his death, and another brother, Thomas Kennedy, served as inspector of schools of San Francisco in pionee times. Mrs. Malcolm, like her husband, was of Scotch descent and passed away at Watsonville in 1921, when eighty one years of age. She was the mother of ten children of whom nine reached mature years.

Reared on the home farm, Robert K. Malcolm attended the public schools of Watsonville and at the early age of fourteen assumed the burden of self support, obtaining a position in the firm of the Charles Ford Company, general merchants. His initial salary was seven dollars per week and he was with that company for three years, or until 1885, when he removed from Watsonville to San Francisco. Here he secured employment with Porter Brothers, owners of the largest produce house on the Pacific coast, and worked for them for two years. Through the exercise of thrift and self denial he had accumulated the sum of seven hundred dollars and with this capital he began his independent career as a produce merchant. He exerted every effort to gain a foothold and with great difficulty continued the business after the disastrous earthquake and fire. Immediately following this catastrophe, Mr. Malcolm was appointed on the committee for the rehabilitation of the city. It was here that he showed his great ability in organization and his loyalty to city duties. His efforts were devoted to that portion of the city known as the wholesale commission district, where he raised a considerable sum of money and organized a force of workmen and lieutenants, working under his supervision. He soon disposed of the debris lying in the streets. As a testimonial to Mr. Malcolm's and his co committeemen's efforts at this time, the San Francisco papers paid many tributes, and so clean were the streets after the work had been completed that a banquet was given in the open air on one of the streets. Accounts of this banquet were published in all the magazines of the country and did a great deal to advertise San Francisco as a clean city once more. When that critical period was over there was a marked improvement in his financial condition and he retained his mercantile interests until the spring of 1917, when he retired from active business, but it was not long before he became active again. In the fall of that year he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, locating seven miles east of Rio Vista, in Solano county, where he reclaimed six thousand acres of virgin land, devoted to the growing of sugar beets, asparagus, grains and other farm products. On this property there are two hundred and forty miles of lateral ditches running into drainage canals, affording the best facilities for irrigation, and all of the equipment is of the latest and most improved type. This extensive acreage, comprising what is known as Liberty Farms Co., is owned and controlled by a company, which is leasing the land to eighteen different tenants and has an average force of two hundred and fifty employes. As president of the company Mr. Malcolm has created a highly efficient organization and heads one of the largest and most successful agricultural projects in this part of the state.

On the 1st of October, 1921, Mr. Malcolm was married in San Francisco to Miss Esther Jarrett, a native of Daihart, Texas, and a daughter of William Jarrett, whose family was among the early settlers of the Lone Star state. Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm have one child, Mary Vernon, who was born in San Francisco, December 15, 1923. The family residence is at 694 Twelfth avenue and Mr. Malcolm has a suite of offices in the Russ building of San Francisco. He finds his diversion largely in coursing greyhounds, and for a number of years has been president of the Golden State Coursing Club. In politics he is a republican, allied with the anti prohibition forces of the party, and his religious views are in harmony with the doctrines of the Episcopal Church. He belongs to the York and Scottish Rite bodies of Free Masons and to the Shrine, and is also identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Merchants Exchange Club and Stanford Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West. A broad minded man of marked public spirit, Mr. Malcolm aided in financing the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco, contributing to the Exposition the sum of one hundred and ten thousand dollars, the largest amount raised by one individual. A man of great personal charm, strong and self reliant, he has fought life's battles alone and unaided, and his record illustrates most clearly what can be accomplished with effort and ambition combined.

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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