Heritage Server > Our People > John Stratman


"There is no more picturesque character in all San Francisco than Major Jack Stratman.

"He was born in Philadelphia in 1824, and, after a public school education, began his career, at the age of 11, in a New York printing office. Soon a spirit of adventure seized him and he ran away and went to sea, wandering successively to New Orleans; over to Mexico where he took part in the Mexican War of 1846, participating in the Battle of Buena Vista; then back to New Orleans to recover from a fever, and finally winding up with the gold seekers of ’49 in the rush for California.

"After varied experiences Major Jack Stratman opened a stationery store on the corner of Washington and Sansom Streets, just diagonally across from the first office of the Fireman’s Fund, where he did an excellent business.

"He joined Broderick Engine Company No. 1 in 1853-54 to please Dave Scannell and in order to vote for him as chief engineer of the volunteers. Major Jack says the engine house was on the corned of Sacramento Street near Kearny, and that the engine was very heavy to handle and frequently got away from the boys and ran into the drug store on the northeast corner of Sacramento and Kearny Streets, smashing off lamp posts and severely damaging the store. Several men were killed by the engine, which came to be known as ‘Broderick No. 1-the man-killer’.

"Major Stratman bitterly opposed the ‘Pay Fire Department Bill’ at the legislature, and had it defeated three different times.

"But of all Major Jack’s activities none will be remembered with more affection than his political campaigning. He was one of the original founders of the Republican Party on the Pacific Coast, by means of his organization of campaigners, called the ‘Stratman Zouvres’; was instrumental in electing Abraham Lincoln president. He was leader of the ‘Grant Invincibles’ in 1868, and was elected a delegate to the National Convention which nominated Grant for president. It was during the Civil War when Grant had his armies before Richmond and Fredericksburg that Major Jack started the ‘Grant Invincibles’ which, during the two Grant campaigns, made frequent journeys to interior towns where they paraded at night with their white caps and torches and were recipients of much attention. From this organization sprung successively the Hayes Invincibles, Blain Invincibles, the Dirige Club, and finally, the Union League Club, one of the strongest Republican institutions in the state.

"Major Stratman, at the time of his death in December of 1906, was one of the oldest members of the Masonic Order on the Coast. He was a 33 Degree Mason, F. and A.M., G.C.G. Lodge No. 30, K. of P. and Supreme Representatives, K. of P. He organized the California K. of P. in 1865. He started the Territorial Pioneers, which was made up of everyone who arrived within the State prior to its admittance to the Union of September 9, 1850.

"John Stratman was one of those elected to serve on the first board of directors of the Fireman’s Fund as a fire department representative."

Quoted from Fireman’s Fund Archives short biography [04-03-01-001-0247-0818]


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