Among the conspicuous personal factors in the development of the city of Benicia there were few whose influence
was more widely and more helpfully exerted in that behalf than was that of the late Alexander Chisholm, one of
the founders of the Benicia Water Company, for years a member of the strong firm of McKay & Chisholm, and in
numerous ways prominently identified with the growing interests of the charming little city in which he elected
to make his home back in the '60s and to the progress and development of which he contributed largely.
Alexander Chisholm was a native of Canada, born in the seaport town of Pictou on the harbor and in the county of
that name in the maritime province of Nova Scotia, eighty five miles northeast of Halifax, and was there reared.
In the days of his adventurous young manhood, in the early '60s of the past century, accompanied by another able
young Pictouese, Thomas McKay, whose sister he afterward married, he came to California,
coming around by way of the Isthmus. He stopped at Santa Cruz and young McKay located at Benicia, where he set
up a small tannery. In the next year Mr. Chisholm joined his pal in the latter's enterprise at Benicia, the two
forming a partnership under the name of McKay & Chisholm, and under this direction that tannery was developed
into the largest establishment of its kind in the state in its day. This firm began its operations at Benicia about
the time that pleasant bay port was beginning to expand in a general commercial and industrial way and was a strong
factor in that development. Both Mr. Chisholm and Mr. McKay were among the prominent individual factors in the
development of the town, taking a helpful part in all progressive movements, and were among the founders of the
waterworks plant. Mr. Chisholm became a considerable property owner and continued active in business until his
retirement, which was hastened by failing health, along in the late '90s. His death occurred on April 18, 1904,
he then being fifty six years of age, and at his passing he left a good memory in the community to whose development
he had contributed largely.
It was on April 26, 1883, at Sacramento, that Alexander Chisholm was united in marriage to Miss Christy McKay,
sister of his business partner and friend of his boyhood and who also was born at Pictou.
Since the death of her husband Mrs. Chisholm has continued to make her home at Benicia, where she is very comfortably
and pleasantly situated, residing at 201 West J street. She has ever taken an interested and helpful part in the
community's general social and cultural activities. She is a past worthy matron of Silver Gate Chapter No. 3, Order
of the Eastern Star, and has for years been one of the helpful factors in the promotion of the interests of that
popular auxiliary to the Masonic order.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Solano County, CA
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