Heritage Server > Our People > Arthur M. Ebbetts

"Arthur Ebbetts was born in New York on January 18, 1830. Ebbetts began a career in business in New York, but soon abandoned it upon the discovery of gold in California. He set sail for California around the Horn, and arrived in San Francisco aboard the Pacific on August 5, 1849.

"Upon his arrival he set up a general merchandise store on the corner of Sansome and Broadway Streets. The original store was improvised out of the packing boxes in which he had shipped his stock of merchandise from New York. During his first five months in business he cleared $40,000 in profits, and the firm of Ebbetts and Co. quickly became known as one of the most prominent businesses on the Pacific Coast.

"In 1851 he established a branch house at 47 Pearl Street, New York, and began engaging in the shipping and commission business. The company prospered for many years, despite the problems of the market and the devastation wrought by the San Francisco fires of 1850 and 1851. While living in San Francisco, Ebbetts considered it his civic duty to become involved in with the Vigilance Committee, the community policing group that preceded organized policing in the city.

"In 1857 he opened a general merchandise business at Bellingham Bay, just in time for the discovery of coal at Fraiser River. Ebbetts quickly gave up the general merchandise business and traveled back to San Francisco, where he engaged in the coal trade.

"While in San Francisco, Ebbetts took part in the civic life of the city, being elected county recorder in 1861 and supervisor in 1874. He was the director of the Mercantile Library for nine years, and also served as its president for one term. During the latter part of the 1880s Ebbetts was a director of the Society of California Pioneers, and also served a term as president of the association. He was president of the Sportsman’s Club of California and vice-president of the Pacific Yacht Club.

"In 1863 he was among the original fifty directors of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company."

Quoted from Early Days and Men of California, W.F. Swansey, Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1891, Fireman’s Fund Archives [04-03-01-001-0073-0814]


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