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San Francisco Gold Rush Chronology

Related Museum Links "Ranch and Mission Days in Alta California," by Guadalupe Vallejo

"Life in California Before the Gold Discovery," by John Bidwell

California Gold Rush Chronology 1846 - 1849

California Gold Rush Chronology 1850 - 1851

California Gold Rush Chronology 1852 - 1854

California Gold Rush Chronology 1855 - 1856

California Gold Rush Chronology 1857 - 1861

California Gold Rush Chronology 1862 - 1865

An Eyewitness to the Gold Discovery

"Discovery of Gold in California," by Gen. John A. Sutter

William T. Sherman and the Gold Rush

Military Governor Mason's Report on the Discovery of Gold

San Francisco During the Gold Rush Era

Steamer Day in the 1850s

Sam Brannan Opens New Bank - 1857

January 1, 1852
Gold exports for the year 1851 amounted to $34,492,000.

Members of the Sansome Hook and Ladder Company and the Howard Engine Company paraded to celebrate the new year.

January 12, 1852
Ex-Governor McDougal and A.C. Russell, editor of the "Picayune," engaged in a duel today. Russell was hit in the hand and slightly wounded.
January 15, 1852
Charles E. Pickett began publication of the "Western American," a daily newspaper.
January 20, 1852
Deputy County Survey W.J. Sperry surveyed the lot at California and Battery streets for Lt. Maynard. It is lot No. 898.
January 25, 1852
Rev. Flavel S. Mines preached sermon at the opening of the new Trinity church in Pine Street.
February 11, 1852
Candelario Valencia laid claim to lands at the Mission Dolores.
February 17, 1852
Publication of the "San Francisco Shipping List and Prices Current" begun by S. O. Johnson & Co.
February 24, 1852
Germans in the city held a concert to benefit Grace Church.
March 2, 1852
"Bound Home; or, The Gold-Hunters' Manual," published by Stephen C. Massett on board the Pacific Mail S.S. Co. steamship "Northerner," commanded by Capt. Henry Randall, on her trip from San Francisco to Panama.
March 12, 1852
"Evening Picayune" sold at auction today for $15.
March 23, 1852
U.S. Senator William McKendree Gwin urged his colleagues to support the establishment of a navy yard and depot on the bay of San Francisco.
April 8, 1852
A new ordinance created the Board of Fire Wardens consisting of the three assistant chiefs, headed by the Chief Engineer to oversee the fire districts and to allow them to examine all places where fire was used.

Vigilant Engine Co. No. 9 organized. One of the organizers was James P. Casey. It was located on Ohio St. between Pacific and Broadway.

April 19, 1852
California Historical Society incorporated.
April 21, 1852
Signora Elisa Biscaccianti sang a benefit for the San Francisco Firemen's Fund Association.
May 4, 1852
Fire Department staffed apparatus and put extra men on duty on the third anniversary of the second Great Fire.
May 20, 1852
A time-ball will be dropped each day except Sunday at the City Observatory on Telegraph Hill as a service to mariners.
May 22, 1852
Ordinance passed by Board of Alderman for a fixed fire district bounded by Union, Powell, Post, Second and Folsom streets.
May 25, 1852
"Evening Journal" began publication by Pinkham Gee & Co.
June 1, 1852
Publication today of a manual of the corporation of the city of San Francisco containing a map of the city, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of the state of California, the charters of the city, the revised ordinances still in force, and certain laws relating particularly to the city of San Francisco.

The French newspaper "L' Echo du Pacifique" established.

June 2, 1852
10,641 immigrants arrived by boat during the month of May.

An earthquake tonight in San Francisco.

June 8, 1852
First known labor strike in San Francisco occurred when Chinese laborers working on the Parrott granite building demanded a wage increase.
June 18, 1852
Lola Montez, the Countess de Landsfeldt, will visit San Francisco this year.
June 30, 1852
Col. John B. Weller elected to the U.S. Senate to succeed John C. Frémont.
July 1, 1852
Protection Engine Company No. 2 changed its name to Lady Washington Engine Co.
July 4, 1852
What Cheer House opened on Sacramento Street by Robert B. Woodward.
July 12, 1852
Leland Stanford of Wisconsin settled in San Francisco.
July 23, 1852
First burial in the new National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco.
August 1, 1852
Colored Methodists organized Zion M. E. Church.
August 5, 1852
Rev. Flavel S. Mines, A.M. died. He was rector of Trinity Church.
August 9, 1852
City property in San Francisco sold by Theodore Payne & Co. by order and under the direction of the Commissioners of the Funded Debt of the city.
August 10, 1852
Oration today by Ogden Hoffman, Jr., at the celebration of the obsequies of Henry Clay by the citizens of San Francisco, and proceedings of the United States Court on the reception of the mournful intelligence of his death.
August 12, 1852
Dense smoke could be seen in San Francisco from vast fires burning in the hills near Contra Costa.
September 1, 1852
Gold dust to the amount of $29,195,965 has been shipped East so far this year.
October 19, 1852
Herman C. Leonard sold the brig "Emma Preston" to J. Truman Rufus and H.B. Tichinor.
October 20, 1852
Town Council purchased the Jenny Lind Theatre for use as a city hall.
November 2, 1852
Robert G. Crozier was again appointed City Marshal. He replaced David W. Thompson.
November 4, 1852
Crescent Engine Co. No. 10, Columbian Engine Co. No. 11, and Pennsylvania Engine Co. No. 12 organized.
November 5, 1852
Bad weather for the past two days caused 60 feet [18 metres] of Law's Wharf at Clark's Point to be carried away by waves.
November 7, 1852
Third anniversary of the San Francisco Bible Society celebrated in the First Baptist Chruch, Washington Street.
November 9, 1852
Knickerbocker Engine house on Merchant St. destroyed by fire.
November 12, 1852
Poles for the first magnetic telegraph service were installed at Montgomery and Merchant streets. The telegraph will connect San Francisco with San Jose, Stockton, Sacramento and Marysville.
November 22, 1852
Severe earthquake created a fissure a half mile wide and three hundred yards long through which the waters of Lake Merced flowed to the sea.
November 24, 1852
Mayor C.J. Brenham addressed the Common Council.
November 26, 1852
Series of earthquakes in the lower part of the state lasted several days.
December 6, 1852
Fire Chief Engineer Hossefross was re-elected.

Law enacted to forbid construction frame structures within densely built sections of town. It was to go into effect July 1, 1853.

December 10, 1852
10,000 people turned out to watch the first legal hanging in San Francisco. Jose Forner was hanged from gallows built on the slope of Russian Hill.
December 19, 1852
"Golden Era," a literary weekly, established.
December 21, 1852
Huge wind and rain storm did immense damage to shipping at the wharves.
December 22, 1852
Rev. T. Dwight Hunt addressed the New England Society of San Francisco at the American Theatre.
December 24, 1852
San Francisco Hall opened, Washington between Kearny and Montgomery.
January 1, 1853
Gold exports for the year 1852 amounted to $45,587,803.
January 2, 1853
Moderate shock of earthquake felt in San Francisco.

U.S. Land Commission began hearings in San Francisco to decide on the validity of claims of those holding, or attempting to hold, land under the old "Spanish grants."

January 16, 1853
"Weekly California Farmer," an agricultural paper, begun by J.L.L. Warren.
January 27, 1853
"The Pioneer," a monthly magazine, published by Lecount & Strong, is established.
February 13, 1853
Chinese Mission House organized by Rev. William Speer. He had been a missionary in Canton.
February 15, 1853
"The Curiosity Shop," a humorous illustrated weekly, established.
February 22, 1853
Second anniversary of the organization of the Fire Department of San Francisco, and celebration of the birthday of George Washington.
March 1, 1853
Mercantile Library Association of the City of San Francisco opened on the second floor of the California Exchange.

Smart shock of earthquake felt in San Francisco.

March 2, 1853
Speech in the U.S. Senate by Mr. Gwin of California about the transportation of United States mail from San Francisco to Shanghai.
March 14, 1853
Groundbreaking ceremonies at Presidio Hill, just north of Lake Street and Thirteenth Ave., for a municipal water supply from Mountain Lake. Lt. Gov. Purdy and Acting Mayor Haven gave speeches. Water would begin to flow in Sept. 1853.
March 16, 1853
Builders and contractors of San Francisco met at the Mountaineer House. Capt. E.F. Lupton was elected President, and William Craine Secretary.
March 17, 1853
"The Wide West," a Sunday literary newspaper, established by Bonestell & Williston.
March 24, 1853
Governor Bigler delivered a special Governor's message about the extension of the Water Front.
March 25, 1853
California Legislature approved William M. Eddy's map to be the official map of the State of California. Eddy was the State Surveyor General.

State Legislature exempted San Francisco volunteer firemen from military and jury duty. These firemen became known as Exempt Firemen.

March 28, 1853
Lighthouse on Alcatraz completed and will begin operation when the latest revolving lantern arrives from France.
April 4, 1853
Meeting at 129 Montgomery St. to discuss found of an academy of sciences in San Francisco. Dr. Andrew Randall was appointed chairman and Lewis W. Sloat, son of the commodore, secretary. They were to draw up a constitution for "The California Academy of Sciences."
April 7, 1853
Cornerstone laid for U.S. Marine Hospital at Rincon Point.
April 9, 1853
"S.S. Lewis" ran aground at Bolinas, after overrunning San Francisco Bay. 385 passengers were rescued.
April 11, 1853
Steamer Jenny Lind exploded with a heavy loss of life.
April 25, 1853
Fire at the California Wharf, corner of Drumm Street; loss, $22,000. Another fire burned on Stockton Street near Union; loss, $20,000.
April 28, 1853
"Golden Hills News," published in Chinese, established by Howard & Hudson.
May 1, 1853
Emma Jane Swasey crowned first Queen of May.
May 1, 1853
J.C. Christian Russ invited the Germans in town to celebrate May Day at his property, Russ Gardens, at Sixth and Harrison streets.
May 16, 1853
Constitution and bylaws for the California Academy of Sciences approved.
May 18, 1853
Benicia became the capital of California.
May 19, 1853
"The Daily Sun" published for the first time.
May 21, 1853
Lola Montez, the Countess of Landsfeldt, arrived. She would appear at the American Theatre in "School for Scandal" and later perform her famous Spider Dance.
May 26, 1853
Fire on Merchant Street near Kearny; loss $8,000.
May 28, 1853
Members of the Columbian Engine Co. No. 11 celebrated the arrival of their new fire engine today. It was one of the most decorated machines in the city.
June 1, 1853
Lafayette Hook & Ladder Co. No. 2, Broadway between Dupont and Stockton, organized by Frenchmen in San Francisco and modelled after Paris fire companies.

U.S. Senator Gwin engaged in a duel with J.W. McCorkle. There were no injuries.

June 2, 1853
Lola Montez opened at the American Theatre.
June 16, 1853
Daily newspaper "Present and Future" established by Dr. E. Theller.
June 27, 1853
Hay fire on the vessel "Edwin Forrest" off Happy Valley; loss, $2,000.
June 27, 1853
The California Academy of Sciences incorporated. Meetings were held in the office of Col. Nevins, 622 Clay St. The colonel was the Superintendent of Common Schools.
June 28, 1853
Rev. William Speer addressed the issue of China and California, their relations past and present, at the Stockton Street Presbyterian Church.
July 2, 1853
Lola Montez married Patrick P. Hull at the Mission Dolores.
July 4, 1853
Fire at the corner Clay and Kearny streets; loss, $6,000.
July 15, 1853
Pledges were taken to build a Congregational Church at Mission Dolores.
July 17, 1853
Bishop Alemany laid the cornerstone of St. Mary's Church, California and Dupont.

Dedication of the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco.

July 20, 1853
Undersheriff John A. Freaner was shot and wounded while trying to evict a squatter from a house on Mission St.
July 25, 1853
Fire burned the barks "Manco," "Bacchus," "Herbert" and "Juno" off Market street Wharf; loss, $50,000.

Riggers' and Stevedores' Union of San Francisco organized after longshoreman struck for higher pay and better working conditions.

August 4, 1853
Fire at the Steam Bakery on Chesnut street, near Stockton; loss, $20,000.

Ladies' Protection and Relief Society founded.

August 19, 1853
The head said to be that of the bandit Joaquin Murieta was displayed today at a saloon and drew big crowds.
September 1, 1853
William Cornell Jewett purchased South Beach water property bounded generally by the Bay, Harris St., Harrison St., and Spear St.
September 6, 1853
Capt. William T. Sherman resigned from Army to take up banking.
September 7, 1853
Thomas W. Freelon was elected County Judge.
September 9, 1853
Pacific Fire Engine Co. No. 8 organized when Monumental Engine 8 withdrew. It was quartered on Front St. between Jackson and Pacific.
September 11, 1853
First electric telegraph opened for use, connecting the Merchants' Exchange with Point Lobos.
September 14, 1853
Brand Sequine was appointed City Marshal.
September 16, 1853
Money appropriated for building fence around Yerba Buena Cemetery.
September 19, 1853
Fire on Pine Street near Clay; loss, $7,000.
October 1, 1853
California State Telegraph Co. line opened between San Francisco and San Jose. The line all the way to Marysville will be completed by November 1.
October 1, 1853
Fire Chief Engineer Hossefross resigned to return to the East.

Sheriff T.P. Johnson attached the Mission College building at the head of Mission Spring to satisfy a debt of $267.77. Suit brought by George Scarpa against the Rev. Flavius Fontain for provisions supplied.

October 12, 1853
Testimonial dinner at Wilson's Exchange and Hotel for Gen. Hiram Walbridge, Congressman-elect of New York.
October 16, 1853
William Walker charted the vessel "Caroline." He and his 48 followers departed for Guaymas, Mexico, to establish the Republic of Lower California.
October 22, 1853
St. Francis Hotel, Clay and Dupont streets, destroyed by fire. James Coleman, foreman of the "San Francisco Herald," was killed and several firemen injured.
November 8, 1853
Members of Crescent Engine Co. No. 10 got into a fight with police when officers arrested one of the firemen.
November 14, 1853
Folsom St. planked road opened. It was built by the San Francisco and Mission Dolores Plank Road Company.
November 17, 1853
Street signs authorized to be affixed at the various crossings.
November 20, 1853
An earthquake was felt tonight; there have been more than 30 shocks of earthquake since January.
November 21, 1853
Another earthquake was felt today.
December 1, 1853
Charles P. Duane elected Fire Chief Engineer.
December 11, 1853
Light earthquake felt in San Francisco and at the Mission Dolores.
December 19, 1853
Cornelius Yager of Santa Clara deeded of one square foot [305 square mm] of land and right of way to the Pacific and Atlantic Rail Road Company for construction of a railroad from San Jose to San Francisco.
December 23, 1853
Metropolitan Theater opened on Washington St.; first theater to be lit by gas.
December 25, 1853
Edwin Booth appeared in "Richard the Third" at the new Metropolitan Theatre.

Heavy frost this morning covered the ground in San Francisco.

December 26, 1853
Auction at the Music Hall on Bush St. of 122 water lot properties, on each side of Central Wharf between Clay and Sacramento, and Davis and East streets. The properties were surveyed by James J. Gardiner, City and County Surveyor.
December 28, 1853
Selover, Sinton & Co sold more water lot property by order of the State Land Commissioners. Covered 22 lots bounded by Jackson St., the Bay, Washington St., and Front St.
January 1, 1854
Gold exports for the year 1853 amounted to $56,390,812.

Young America Engine Co. No. 13 organized with quarters at 144 Second St.

January 3, 1854
Police raided the Hung Gate Society on Jackson St. and arrested 159 Celestials for extortion.
January 9, 1854
Meeting of mechanics, merchants, traders, bankers, convened at the Merchants' Exchange to oppose the licensing law.

Slight shock of earthquake was felt.

January 10, 1854
Description of The Seasons, composed by Joseph Haydn, with an oratorio about the short life of the composer by Henry C. Watson, performed by The Philharmonic Society of San Francisco, at the Musical Hall under the direction of Mr. R. Herold.
February 5, 1854
Earthquake shock felt in San Francisco.
February 7, 1854
Arguments heard before the Supreme Court in the case of Isaac N. Thorne against the City of San Francisco over land grants.
February 11, 1854
San Francisco Gas Company turned on first coal gas lamps tonight. The occasion was celebrated at a grand banquet at the Oriental Hotel. The gas illuminated 86 lamps and also the Metropolitan Theatre.
February 25, 1854
Sacramento became the capital of California.
March 1, 1854
California Steam Navigation Co. organized.
March 2, 1854
Light earthquake caused doors and windows to rattle.
March 9, 1854
Auction sales! By Selover & Sinton, real estate auctioneers and agents. Public auction of real estate in the City of San Francisco by the Board of California Land Commissioners. Covered the area bounded by Jackson St., the Bay, and Washington St.,
March 10, 1854
Dr. Dickson of the Marine Hospital killed in a Sacramento duel.
March 11, 1854
Mayor G.K. Garrison hosted a dinner for the Common Council and Executive Officers of San Francisco, at Robb's "Court Block," T.P. Robb, H.H. Doty, W.B. Gould, Proprietors.
March 16, 1854
Earthquake felt tonight.
April 1, 1854
Ordinance for the suppression of houses of ill-fame went into effect that abolished the fandango, dancing and bawdy houses along Dupont, Jackson and Pacific streets.
April 3, 1854
First U.S. Mint opened on Commercial St.
April 4, 1854
Police raided a fandango house on Pacific between Stockton and Dupont. 11 men and 14 women were arrested under new anti-prostitution ordinance.
April 5, 1854
Thousands of people gathered at the Plaza for dedication of the new City Hall bell. Fire Chief Engineer Duane broke a bottle of champagne over the bell that was also to be used for alarms of fire. The tower was to be used by fire spotters.
April 10, 1854
Two earthquake shocks, one at 10:30 a.m. and another 15 minutes later, were felt. The second was the most severe, and more violent at Pt. Lobos.
April 12, 1854
Walls of the U.S. Bonded Warehouse at Battery and Union collapsed. There had been a rash of such collapses lately.
April 14, 1854
Two earthquake shocks were felt.
April 20, 1854
Capt. Creesy sets a world record by sailing from New York to San Francisco in 88 days.
April 28, 1854
"Gold Hills News," first Chinese paper, published. There were 25,000 Chinese in California and almost all of them could read.
May 3, 1854
Town of Ravenswood, in San Francisco County, was surveyed today by C.H. Tracy.
May 6, 1854
Catholic Church publication, the Weekly Catholic Standard, established.

Convention for the organization of the Grand Chapter of California Freemasons held in Sacramento.

May 8, 1854
Col. William Walker, ex-San Francisco newspaper editor, surrendered to the U.S. Army near Tia Juana after attempting to establish a republic in Lower California.
May 11, 1854
"Star of the West," formerly the "California Temperance Organ," began publication.
May 19, 1854
F. A. Bonnard's Daily Sun appeared as a weekly.
May 22, 1854
San Francisco Board of Engineers reported to the Town Council in relation to street grades.
May 23, 1854
Earthquake felt in San Francisco.
May 27, 1854
Marine telegraph from Fort Point to San Francisco completed.
May 30, 1854
Lone Mountain Cemetery dedicated.
June 2, 1854
New light house on Bird Island, also known as Alcatraz, illuminated for the first time. It could be seen 12 miles at sea.
June 4, 1854
Chapel for Chinese founded at Sacramento and Stockton streets. H.C. Beales was one of the trustees.
June 9, 1854
Squatters riot on Green near Stockton St. Several men were arrested.
June 10, 1854
Mass meeting form an association to protect property against squatters. Judge Freelon of the Court of Sessions, however, issued a restraining order to stop the formation of the association.
June 16, 1854
Rev. Dr. William Andrew Scott lectured before the Mercantile library Association of San Francisco on the influence of great cities, at Musical Hall.
June 20, 1854
Volunteer Engine Co. No. 7 organized and quartered on Pine between Montgomery and Sansome streets.
June 28, 1854
First interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
June 29, 1854
Survey of the southern portion of the De Haro Rancho, San Francisco, completed by the Surveyor General's Office.
July 11, 1854
Bank building constructed by William T. Sherman for Lucas, Turner & Co. opened at 800 Montgomery St.
July 13, 1854
Lady Washington Engine Co. changed its name to Manhattan Engine Co. No. 2.
July 17, 1854
Calvary Presbyterian Church organized.
July 28, 1854
10,000 people gathered to watch the legal hanging of William Sheppard near the Presidio.

California Freemasons adopted constitution and installed officers in San Francisco.

July 31, 1854
Capt. Ulysses Grant resigned his commission in the Army at Ft. Humboldt because his commanding officer said his weakness for liquor was cause for court martial or resignation. Capt. Grant then came to San Francisco and lived at the What Cheer House.
August 17, 1854
Sale at public auction by Selover & Sinton of water lot property in the city of San Francisco.
August 26, 1854
Coffin of pioneer W.C. Rae was uncovered by workman under Commercial between Montgomery and Kearny streets. Thomas O. Larkin identified the body, and said Rae, who committed suicide in January 1845, had built the first two-story house in San Francisco.
September 16, 1854
Commander David Glasgow Farragut assumes command of the Navy yard at Mare Island.
September 15, 1854
First proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences published
September 19, 1854
Paving of Montgomery at California streets began.
September 23, 1854
School house in the Fifth District of San Francisco dedicated by Frederick Billings.
September 25, 1854
German newspaper "Abend Zeitung" established by A. J. Lafontaine.
October 2, 1854
John W. McKenzie was appointed City Marshal.
October 6, 1854
"Honest Henry" Meiggs, a prominent citizen, was accused of forging city warrants, and fled the city.
October 8, 1854
Rev. Albert Williams resigned as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and gave his farewell sermon.
October 14, 1854
Capt. E.O.C. Ord married Mary Mercer Thompson in San Francisco.
October 16, 1854
Sheriff William R. Gorham auctioned the College House at the Mission Dolores to satisfy debts. It was sold to John Nobille.
October 21, 1854
The severest earthquake since 1851 struck tonight at 7:30.
October 26, 1854
Earthquake shock was felt. It was followed by a swell in the bay around midnight.

Public auction by Selover & Sinton at 11 o'clock, to sell the the interest of the state of California in water lot property in the city of San Francisco by order of the California Land Commission.

November 2, 1854
Cobblestone paving of Washington Street began between Dupont and Kearny.
November 12, 1854
William H. Mantz & Co. began publication of "Town Talk."
November 22, 1854
Saloon keepers at a mass meeting decided to keep the free lunch, despite the high cost.
December 23, 1854
Earthquake in the harbor at Simoda, Japan, caused a sea wave that registered on the tide guage in San Francisco 12 hours and 38 minutes after the tremor.
December 25, 1854
Bishop Kip led Episcopal services at Grace Church today.

St. Mary's Church dedicated on California St. at Dupont.

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