VIPS in the Port of San Francisco during the 1800s


Third Mayor of San Francisco

Dr. Harris sailed from New York on February 9, 1849 enroute to Panama. He arrived there on March 7 and had to wait two-and-a-half months for a steamer to San Francisco.

Few sailing vessels were landing at Panama during that time. Those that did sailed from port crowded with passengers who paid extravagant prices.

Dr. Harris was fortunate to book passage on the S.S. Panama, which arrived in San Francisco on June 6, 1849. By virtue of the fact that he arrived on these shores prior to January 1, 1850, he became a member of the "Society of California Pioneers."

California Pioneers.
California Pioneers, c1850

After forty days of gold-digging at Smith's Bar, Dr. Harris returned to San Francisco to set up a drug business at the corner of Clay and Montgomery with goods he had previously shipped from New York.

Even though he lost his business to the disasterous fires that claimed early San Francisco, he perserved and was elected mayor of San Francisco in September 1851, and City Comptroller in 1853.

Daily Alta California, October 4, 1851

District Court. L. Parsons Judge

No trials were bad in this court yesterday. A suit was instituted for the purpose of ousting Mr. Brenham from the Mayorship of the City and placing the office in the hands of Mr. Harris, wbo was elected on the 3d of September last. The complaint ia as follows:

The People of the State of California vs. G. J. Brenham. The people of the State of Calfornia, suing by their attorney, J. A. McDougall, upon the complaint of Stephen K. Harris, bring their action against C. J. Brenham, and show to the court that said C. J. Brenham ia now and since the 3d of September, 1851, has been unlawfully holding and exercising the office of Mayor of the City of San Francisco, an office created by an act of the Legislature of the State of California, that Stephen R. Harris was on the 2d of September aforesaid, duly and legally elected to fill that office and is now entitled by law to occupy, hold and exercise the same; that said Harris has been qualified as required by law, and demanded from said Brenham the office aforesaid, with the books and papers belonging thereto, but said Brenham refuses to yield the said office, and continues to hold and exercise the same contrary to law, and to the great injury and prejudice of the people of this State and of said Harris; Wherefore, said plaintiff prays that said Brenham may be ousted from said office and prohibited from the further exercise of its duties, and that the said Harris may be, by the decree of this court, declared the lawful incumbent of said office, and invested with the authority and duties appertaining thereto, and for aoch other relief as the court may deem proper, with costs, &c.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.






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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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