San Francisco Streets Named for Pioneers
Owner of Ranch Within the City
Nicolás Galindo accompanied the Anza expedition as a settler in 1776. His grandson José owned 2,220 acres, largely within the present limits of San Francisco. Called Rancho Laguna de la Merced, the Galindo property extended south into San Mateo County. In 1837 the holdings were sold to the de Haro family for 100 cows and $25,
Geary Street and Geary Boulevard
John White Geary
First Postmaster of San Francisco, Mayor
San Franciscos first postmaster, sent from the East in 1849 with the first U.S. mail to come by steamer. He was a member of the State Constitutional Convention at Monterey, the last of San Franciscos American alcaldes, and the first mayor elected under the new city charter in 1850. Geary stayed in San Francisco a total of only three years and as a parting gift he gave to the city the land that was later named Union Square.
Gearys public service did not end in San Francisco. He became a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, was elected for one term as governor of Kansas, and was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania.
Lieutenant Edward Gilbert
U.S. Army Officer, Editor of Alta California
Came with Stevensons regiment in 1847. He was a printer by trade and became a partner in and editor of the daily newspaper, Alta California, and later a member of Congress from San Francisco. In 1852, when the Legislature sent a relief expedition to help incoming immigrants, its management provoked angry criticism and led to bitter controversy in the newspapers. An editorial on the subject in the Alta California precipitated a duel in which Gilbert was killed. He was only 30 years of age at the time of his death.
Charles H. Gough
Helped Name Streets in Western Addition
In 1850 sold milk in San Francisco, riding horseback through the streets carrying two milk cans, one on either side of his saddle pommel. By 1855 Gough had become an important member of the community, and was on a committee of three aldermen appointed to lay out and name the streets of the Western Addition, west of Larkin Street. Gough used his own name and that of his sister, Octavia, for streets, and most probably named another for his good friend Steiner, who was delivering water when Gough was delivering milk in earlier days.
Talbot H. Green
Merchant, Active in Civic Affairs
From 1841 until 1851 Green was one of the most influential citizens of Monterey and San Francisco, was popular, and always stood high in civic and social life. Closely associated with both Larkin and Howard, he became a leading merchant and amassed considerable wealth and property. In 1851, while a candidate for mayor of the city, he was recognized by someone who had known him in the East as Paul Geddes, an embezzler, who had left his wife and four children, and disappeared. He left for the East almost immediately, claiming he could disprove the charge. Many of the leading men of the town escorted him to the steamer and assured him of their confidence in him. He was actually Paul Geddes, and in the East he was taken back by his wife and family, and repaid the money he owed.
Early Ranch Owner in San Francisco
A highly respected Mexican citizen holding local offices before and after the American occupation in 1846. Became a large land owner from grants within the present city limits.
This street name has been difficult to prove because there were four Haights in San Francisco in the early 50sall related. Three of them were brothers: Samuel, a pioneer with Stevensons regiment in 1847; Fletcher, a lawyer and later a judge; and Henry, a pioneer who became manager of Page, Bacon & Co., the early banking firm. Lastly there was Henry H., a son of Fletcher, who was elected Governor of the State of California after the Civil War.
The street was named for Henry Haight who was the manager of Page, Bacon & Co., according to an old letter written by a granddaughter of Fletcher. It is this Henry Haight who gave the land for the Protestant Orphanage and was instrumental in its founding.
General Henry W. Halleck
U.S. Army Officer, Lawyer, Builder of the Montgomery Block
A lawyer, army officer and expert on fortifications, who came to California with a detachment of artillery troops early in 1847. Halleck was appointed by Military Governor Richard B. Mason as secretary of state and had a great deal to do with the successful military government under Mason and General Bennett Riley after the conquest. Later he became a prominent lawyer, specializing in land titles and land cases. In 1853 Halleck was principally responsible for the erection of the Montgomery Block, a building which, in 1954 still stands on the southeast corner of Montgomery and Washington streets. He played an active part in the Civil War, both in Washington and in the field, serving from 1862 to 1864 as General of the Army, the highest rank in the Union Army during that period.
Overland Party Leader
Led an overland party to California in 1846 including his wife and four children. He lived in San Francisco and Contra Costa County, and died in Santa Clara in 1850.
Edward H. Harrison
Merchant and City Official
The quartermasters clerk of Stevensons regiment of First New York Volunteers, arriving in 1847. He became collector of the port of San Francisco and a member of the town council. He was also a prominent merchant and a partner in the early firm of DeWitt & Harrison.
Lawyer and Politician
At the time of the gold rush, after two years as U. S. Consul at Tahiti, Hawes came to San Francisco. He became a prominent lawyer, and was chief executive officer of the city under John W. Geary, the first mayor. Later he served in the State Assembly and Senate. He introduced the bill which consolidated San Francisco City and County.
In 1855 Hawes was appointed to a commission with Charles Gough and Michael Hayes to lay out the streets west of Larkin, called the Western Addition.
Colonel Thomas Hayes
Land Owner in the Western Addition
County clerk from 1853 to 1856. He had a large tract of land in what was known as Hayes Valley in the Western Addition, which the Van Ness Ordinance confirmed to him. Hayes house was between Van Ness and Franklin at Hayes Street. His brother Michael, who was one of three members of the committee which named the streets of the Western Addition in 1856, probably was instrumental in naming this street.
William D. M. Howard
Leading Merchant of Yerba Buena
A native of Boston, who came to California in 1839 as a cabin boy on the sailing ship California. For several years he was supercargo on Boston ships trading up and down the Pacific coast, and as such agent in charge of the collection of hides and tallow. In 1845 he and Henry Mellus formed the firm of Mellus & Howard. This firm had the most active commercial business in San Francisco in the years when the settlement was known as Yerba Buena, and in 1846 bought the property of the Hudsons Bay Company. Howard was one of the towns most public spirited and prosperous men and was known as the first citizen of San Francisco in the years just before the gold rush.
Alcalde of San Francisco in the First Year of American Regime
Admitted to the bar in Philadelphia and practiced law there. During the war with Mexico he had a feeling that California would be taken over by the United States, so, wanting to go West, he applied for a position in the Navy. He became captains clerk for Commodore Stockton on the U.S.S. Congress which arrived at Monterey in July 1846. About 1 year later he was appointed alcalde of San Francisco, following Bartlett and Bryant. This was at the exact time surveyor OFarrell used Philadelphia names on two important streetsMarket and Sansom(e). Hyde owned a large lot which was then considered out of the town to the south, but is part of the land on which the Mechanics Institute now stands.
Elbert P. Jones
Lawyer, Editor, Politician
A lawyer from Kentucky who came West overland in 1846. Early the following year he became the first editor of San Brannans California Star, which was the first newspaper established in San Francisco. He was elected a member of the first town council under American jurisdiction and took an active part in political affairs. Jones was a man of much talent and versatility, wrote Hubert Howe Bancroft. He owned many city lots and also became the owner of the second hotel built in San Franciscothe Portsmouth.
General Stephen Watts Kearny
Military and Civil Governor in 1847
Came west in command of an expedition to conquer and occupy New Mexico and California in 1846 and met defeat at San Pascual in Southern California. He was appointed military and civil governor of California in March 1847. He granted the water lots to the town of San Francisco, and soon after this they were surveyed and sold at auction. There lots were several hundred in number and most were located east of Sansome Street, in the part of old Yerba Buena Cove which was a mud flat at low tide.
In May 1847 Kearny turned over his command to Colonel Mason and went East to testify against Frémont, who after having been appointed governor by Stockton had resisted Kearnys military control of California. The Kearny-Frémont controversy became a feud and was fought out in the United States Senate, in court, and later in books.
Thomas O. Larkin
U.S. Secret Agent and Only U.S. Consul in California
Arrived in California in 1831 and for many years had a store at Monterey. He was the first and only American consul to the Mexican government and was a confidential agent of the U.S., trying to bring about American occupation of California without war. He was in the forefront of much that transpired during the six or eight years before the gold discovery, during the uncertain period of Commodore Jones, the Bear Flag revolt, Frémont, and the period of suspicion that several foreign governments were watching for a chance to take over California. Larkin was a local correspondent for New York newspapers, and served as a personal advisor to Kearny, Frémont and Stockton. He was a central figure in the first State Constitutional Convention.
Rev. Thaddeus M. Leavenworth
Chaplain and Alcalde
An Episcopal clergyman, also a physician and druggist. He arrived in San Francisco as chaplain of the First New York Volunteer regiment in March 1847. He was alcalde in 1848-49, but had difficulties with the military government and was removed from office.
Leese, Jacob Primer
Built First Permanent House in Yerba Buena
A Santa Fe trader who went to Los Angeles in 1833, and for a time transported mules between New Mexico and Southern California. Two years later he formed a partnership with two established Monterey merchants, Nathan Spear and William S. Hinckley for the purpose of starting a store in Yerba Buena; in 1836 he built for his residence the first solid structure in Yerba Buena. It was preceded only by a tent house put up by Richardson in 1835 the year before Leese arrived. He built a store in 1837 on Montgomery Street near Sacramento which did business mainly with the large ranches in San Francisco Bay area and the ships which came to California seeking hides and tallow. He had extensive land holdings which ran south from Visitación Valley. Later the store was sold to the Hudsons Bay Company and Leese moved to a large ranch near Sonoma. He married Vallejos sister and probably because of this he was taken prisoner with Vallejo during the Bear Flag Revolt and held captive at Sutters Fort.
After California was made a state he spent years in litigation over his large land holdings.
William A. Leidesdorff
Trader, Merchant, Land Owner
Born in the Danish West Indies, brought up by a wealthy plantation owner, and sent to New Orleans where he was popular in business and society. A broken engagement caused him to buy a sailing ship and become a trader in the Pacific for several years. In 1841 he arrived at San Francisco, then known as Yerba Buena, and became one of its most enterprising and public spirited citizens. He was a merchant and owner of much land, and he served as captain of the port. He was appointed by Larkin in 1845 vice consul at Yerba Buena. In 1847 he had the first steamer on the Bay, a side-wheeler called the Sitka. He built the first hotel, the City Hotel, and a large warehouse on the corner of California and Leidesdorff streets at the exact location where the head office of American Trust Company now stands.
Leidesdorff, whose activities were many and varied, also had a contract to furnish supplies to the Russian Fur Company. He owned perhaps the largest house in Yerba Buena, at the southwest corner of California and Montgomery streets, and when he died owned over 300 lots in San Francisco as well as a large ranch in the Sacramento Valley.
Land Owner and Philanthropist
In his youth worked as an expert organ and piano maker, following this trade some twenty years in Argentina, Chile and Peru. He arrived in San Francisco just before the gold rush with about $30,000 and made investments in what was then outlying real estate. He built the famous hotel known as the Lick House and continued to purchase real estate which kept being absorbed by the city as it grew. He also built a large flour mill in San Jose. As a result of investments he was very wealthy at the time of his death and left several million dollars for scientific, charitable and educational purposes.
Captain Nathaniel Lyon
U.S. Army Officer and Indian Fighter
Graduated from West Point and fought in the Florida War and the Mexican War. He was ordered to California as captain in the First Dragoons and for several years was actively engaged in campaigns against the Indians. He led a force against the Indians at Clear Lake to avenge the murder of Captain William H. Warner of the U. S. Topographical Survey in the year 1849. Lyon was killed in the Civil War.
Colonel Richard B. Mason
Military Governor at the Time of Gold Discovery
A colonel in the U. S. Army, and military governor of California from May 1847 to February 1849. He made an inspection of the gold districts in the summer of 1848 and sent the famous report to Washington which, together with letters from Larkin, started the big rush to California the following year. He successfully organized a workable government in California during the two critical years when very little help was coming from Washington and the start of the gold rush was complicating matters. Historian Hubert Howe Bancroft wrote: He was the right man in the right place. Mason had able help from Henry W. Halleck whom he appointed his secretary of state and his adviser in many difficult problems. Fort Mason was also named for Colonel Mason.
Lawyer and Jurist
A lawyer, prominent in his native Georgia as an attorney and a successful politician, who just missed being elected Governor of Georgia. He arrived in San Francisco in 1849 and was soon active as a lieutenant in the California Guards, and as a lawyer against the lawless element known as the Hounds. A distinguished jurist, he remained in San Francisco for the rest of his life.
Captain John B. Montgomery
Took Yerba Buena for the United States
As commander of the U.S.S. Portsmouth when at Yerba Buena, he received orders from Commodore Sloat to occupy the town or the United States. Montgomery landed seventy men and raised the American flag at the Plaza on July 9, 1846, just two days after Sloat had taken Monterey. Portsmouth Square was named for Montgomerys ship. Through Lieutenant Washington Bartlett, a junior officer on the Portsmouth, he organized the local government in San Francisco.
Montgomery remained in San Francisco Bay for five months in command of the district. He ordered the U. S. flag raised at Sonoma, Sacramento, and San Jose. A severe blow to Captain Montgomery was the loss of two sons, young naval officers, who started for Sacramento in a navy cutter and were never heard from again. A thorough search failed to reveal any trace of the boat or crew of twelve. The reason for the disappearance remained a mystery.
Lieutenant José Moraga
Took Over Command of Anza Expedition
Second in command of the Anza expedition which founded San Francisco. Anza returned to Mexico soon after his arrival here, leaving Moraga in command at the Presidio when building started there in 1776. Later Moraga had a leading part in the building of the Dolores and Santa Clara missions and in establishing the pueblo of San Josée.
Return to the top of the page.