Rev. James Samuel West, who is a prominent member of the San Francisco clergy, now being the pastor of the First
Baptist Church of this city, was born in High Peak, Virginia, March 17, 1875, and is a son of the Rev. William
Wallace and Margaret Emeline (Underwood) West.
Rev. West has had a very thorough education in preparation for his religious work. He received the degree of Bachelor
of Arts from Denison University in the year 1904, and then entered the Rochester Theological Seminary, from which
he graduated in 1908. Later he returned to Denison and in 1926 received his Doctor of Divinity degree, which was
also conferred upon him by the Berkeley Divinity School in the same year.
In 1904-05, Rev. West was state department field secretary of the Ohio Young Men's Christian Association, and in
1908 he was ordained to the Baptist ministry, following his graduation from the Rochester Theological Seminary.
In the same year, he assumed a pastorate in West Union, West Virginia, and remained until 1909, when he became
pastor of the First Church in Bucyrus, Ohio, occupying its pulpit until 1911. From 1911 until 1915, he was pastor
of the First Church in Bakersfield, California; from 1915 to 1919 pastor of the First Church of Tacoma, Washington;
from 1919 until 1920 pastor of the First Church of Middletown, Ohio; from 1920 to 1922 pastor of the Beulah Church
in Detroit, Michigan; and in November, 1922, he was called to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in San
Francisco, which is his present position.
When Rev. West became pastor of the First Baptist Church in San Francisco, the congregation had not had a pastor
in residence for seven years. He immediately began most energetic work to rehabilitate the church, and his success
is evident in the wonderful condition of this congregation at this writing. Two hundred new members were enrolled
during the first year of his pastorate, and an average of one hundred and twenty five have been added yearly since.
The present membership is about seven hundred and fifty. It is interesting to note at this point that the First
Baptist Church was the first house to be erected for Protestant worship in California, and was in connection with
the first free public school. The original church building was situated on Washington street, and the lumber for
it was brought around the Horn in a sailing vessel in the year 1849. The building was fifty two by eighty five
feet in size; the sides were made of cotton cloth, and the top was made from a sail taken from a ship. The building
was completed in twenty days; the lot cost six thousand dollars, and the building itself ten thousand. Rev. O.
C. Wheeler was the first pastor. The second church building, which was erected on Eddy street at a cost of sixty
two thousand dollars, was dedicated in 1876, and was used until its destruction in the great fire of 1906. In 1910,
the present church house on Octavia street was constructed.
On May 15, 1908, Rev. West was married to Miss Helen Elizabeth Tufts, of Canandaigua, New York, and they have become
the parents of a daughter, Virginia Aileen.
Since 1927, Rev. West has been president of the California branch of the White Cross Anti Narcotic Society of America,
the suppression of this social evil being one of his greatest ideals. He is a member of the Kappa Sigma collegiate
fraternity; is a Knights Templar Mason; and belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Loyal Order of
Moose, the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, and the East Bay Country Club.
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
San Francisco, CA
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