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Henry Lee Dodge was born on January 31, 1825, to Nathan and Hannah Dodge in Vermont. Little is known of his early life in New England. In 1849, he set out westward with a party of New Englanders. They were the first party to make the trip to San Francisco via Vera Cruz, Mexico, overland to San Blas, and thence by sail to San Francisco, arriving June 1, 1849. Dodge immediately set out for the mines, but he was quick to realize that there were greater opportunities in San Francisco than in the gold mines.

After a few months he returned to San Francisco and became secretary of the town council. The next year he became Town Clerk under Mayor Colonel Geary, and in 1852 he opened a law practice. In 1856, he left the law practice to establish a wholesale provision business later known as Dodge-Sweeney & Company.

In 1861, Henry Dodge became a town supervisor, and in 1863, the year that he helped found The Fireman’s Fund, Dodge was elected to the state senate. In 1877, he was appointed superintendant of the United States Mint in San Francisco, and in 1885 he was made president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

A long-time president of the Society of California Pioneers, Henry Lee Dodge was not only a founder of Fireman’s Fund, but, through his civic and business service, a founder of San Francisco. He died in 1901, at the age of 76.

From Henry Lee Dodge biography file, [01-03-00-001-0003, 01-27] and


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