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
Gold Rush Chronology 1855 - 1856
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
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
Theodore D. Judah published a practical
plan for building the Pacific railroad.
January 6, 1857
Rev. Joseph A. Gallagher, assistant pastor at St. Mary's, was elected State
Senate Chaplain. He declined the honor with regrets.
January 8, 1857
A series of earthquake shocks began around 11:30 p.m., and continued until
a little past 8 o'clock the next morning. There were six shocks but no
damage was done.
January 9, 1857
Earthquake felt in San Francisco at 8:15 a.m and lasted four minutes. It
was later learned that this quake cracked open the earth for 20 miles at
Fort Tejon, knocked down all buildings there, and caused water in Mokolemne
River to be thrown from its banks. Alfred Doten wrote, "In San Francisco
door bells were run, some brick walls were cracked, a small house which
stood up on stilts was thrown down, and many people were much frightened,
and ran out into the streets. These small shakings seem to be becoming
fashionable in this particular portion of Uncle Sam's dominions, but as
they do little or no damage, they are not much to be feared."
January 16, 1857
Concert Hall, corner Clay and Sansome, opened.
held at the Seamen's Bethel Church, on Mission Street, above First.
January 27, 1857
Henry Gibbons delivered the annual address before the San Francisco County
February 5, 1857
Buildings on made ground were shaken severely by an earthquake today.
February 23, 1857
Plans announced today to build a railroad along Market St. all the way
to the Mission.
March 23, 1857
Light shock of earthquake today.
March 30, 1857
Deed for the San Miguel Rancho signed by President Buchanan giving the
land to Jose de Jesus Noe, last alcalde of Yerba Buena.
April 1, 1857
Journeymen Shipwrights' Association of San Francisco organized.
April 29, 1857
Headquarters for Army's Division of the Pacific permanently established
at the Presidio.
May 5, 1857
William T. Sherman and his family left California aboard the "Sonora"
after closing out most of the business of Lucas, Turner & Co.
June 15, 1857
San Francisco Water Works organized.
July 1, 1857
Legislature passed the Stamp Tax. Stamps were required on all bills of
exchange, mortgages and deeds.
August 12, 1857
Police Chief Curtis paraded 16 young thugs through the streets to enduce
them to leave the city.
August 14, 1857
Metropolitan Theatre destroyed by fire.
September 1, 1857
First Mechanics' Institute Fair on Montgomery between Post and Sutter.
September 2, 1857
Light earthquake shock felt in San Francisco, although the tremor was felt
over 200 miles.
September 7, 1857
Henry Fairfax Williams delivered opening address at the fair of the Mechanics'
Institute at Platt's Musical Hall.
September 8, 1857
Mechanics' Pavilion opened on the west side Montgomery between Post and
September 14, 1857
Earthquake felt in San Francisco.
October 20, 1857
Three shocks of earthquake. Some people were frightened and ran from their
October 31, 1857
Sam Brannan opens new bank on the northeast corner of California and Montgomery streets.
November 2, 1857
There were several light shocks of earthquake during the night.
November 8, 1857
Earthquake felt in San Francisco, Oakland and Bodega.
November 9, 1857
Two earthquake today.
December 15, 1857
Johnson's Melodeon opened.
December 23, 1857
A light shock of earthquake was felt.
December 24, 1857
Four shocks of earthquake felt today.
December 30, 1857
Earthquake this morning at 5:40.
January 1, 1858
Drs. J. B. Trask & David Wooster establish the monthly "Pacific
January 2, 1858
New German Hospital opened at Steamboat Point.
January 13, 1858
Earthquake at 9 p.m. No damage.
January 21, 1858
Suit of John Hastings against Halleck, Peachy, Billings & Parke, for
professional negligence of attorneys, continued in court today with the
argument of Hasting's attorney, Gregory Yale, before the jury. The company
owned the Halleck Building, also known as the Montgomery Block.
March 6, 1858
"The Weekly Monitor," a publication of the Catholic Church, established
by Marks Thomas & Co.
March 11, 1858
Legislature approved the Van Ness Ordinance.
March 15, 1858
French Hospital on Brannan St. opened.
March 18, 1858
Dona Josefa Sanchez de Bernal died at 97. She was one of the earliest settlers
in this part of the state.
March 20, 1858
Capt. Joseph Francis drowned while his ship chased a whale into the surf
at Monterey Bay.
Gallagher, who had been forcibly placed aboard the bark "Yankee"
by the Committee of Vigilance, sued the vessel's captain J. Smith.
April 1, 1858
Daily stage coach service began operation between Shasta and Sacramento.
April 2, 1858
Two distinct shocks of an earthquake were felt at San Francisco.
April 5, 1858
The "John L. Stephens" sailed out of San Francisco Bay with $1,674,294.33
April 7, 1858
12,000 tons [5,400 kg] of rock slid down Telegraph Hill into Battery St.
There was no damage.
April 12, 1858
Hon. M.C. Blake became County Judge of San Francisco.
April 14, 1858
Former San Francisco County Treasurer Col. R.E. Woods died.
April 20, 1858
State Senate committee enquiring into the possibility of moving the State
Capitol to Oakland was reported in favor of it.
newspaper "The Pictorial News Letter" criticized the Legislature,
saying, "If they had never sat, there would have been little loss
to California, as their acts, thus far, have been of the most trifling
June 2, 1858
Adelphi Theatre burned.
July 19, 1858
Spring Valley Water Company organized.
August 18, 1858
Earthquake today. No shock so severe as this in San Francisco since Feb.
September 2, 1858
Second annual fair of the California Horticultural Society held in San
September 11, 1858
Martin J. Burke elected Chief of Police.
September 12, 1858
An earthquake lasting fifteen second struck today. No damage.
September 15, 1858
The first coaches of the Overland Mail left simultaneously from the eastern
termini, Tipton, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas and the western terminus,
September 16, 1858
San Francisco Water Works Company began operation.
September 19, 1858
"Two Worlds United. The Atlantic Submarine Telegraph": a discourse by Rev. Dr. William A. Scott, pronounced in Calvary church, Sept. 19, 1858, first Sunday after receiving the intelligence that the cable was successfully laid.
September 27, 1858
Oration by Colonel Edward D. Baker, delivered on the occasion of the public
celebration of laying the Atlantic telegraph cable.
October 1, 1858
W. H. Mantz & Co. begin publication of the "Daily Evening Telegram."
October 3, 1858
J. C. Duncan began publication of the "Weekly California Home Journal."
October 10, 1858
First Butterfield Overland Mail arrived, having left St. Louis on Sept.
October 24, 1858
Clock completed on St. Mary's Cathedral tower on California St.
November 26, 1858
A violent earthquake at 12:35 a.m. At the Musical Hall, where the Independent
Guards were holding a ball, the shock was not noticed on the dancing floor,
though the building was much shaken. In the Merchants' Exchange building,
opposite the Custom House, some large cracks were made, and a portion of
the cornice of the U.S. District Courtroom was shaken down. At City Hall
some small pieces of plaster were shaken off. In many portions of the city
bells were rung and crockery rattled. There was much damage at San Jose.
December 23, 1858
"The Telegraph Hill," a weekly newspaper, began publication.
January 17, 1859
Thomas S. King sold his interest in the "Bulletin" to Christian
February 1, 1859
State Senator Holden of Stanislaus demanded that U.S. Senator David C.
Broderick be censured for disregarding the instructions of the Legislature
of 1858, in relation to the admission of Kansas to the Union.
February 18, 1859
United States. Dept. of Justice report to the Attorney General on the title
conveyed to the United States by the city of San Francisco, to lots No.
5 and 6 in Hospital Square.
February 23, 1859
U.S. Senate Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia inquiry into
allegations of fraud in the proposed purchase of a site for fortifications
upon the north side of the bay of San Francisco.
April 12, 1859
Hibernia Savings & Loan Society of San Francisco incorporated.
April 26, 1859
Ceremonies of dedication of the Odd Fellows' Hall on the fortieth anniversary
of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the United States.
April 27, 1859
Two shocks of earthquake today.
May 5, 1859
Medical Department of the University of the Pacific at San Francisco opened
with addresses by George Barstow, Rev. Dr. Peck and Rev. Mr. Cutler.
May 9, 1859
Portion of the roof of a Chinese theater on Commercial St. collapsed. There
were no injuries.
May 12, 1859
Isaac Rowell addressed the University of the Pacific in San Francisco.
July 5, 1859
Members of Knickerbocker Co. No. 6 and Monumental Co. No. 6 involved in
a fight on Third near Howard St. One member of the Knickerbockers was shot.
August 5, 1859
Edmund Randolph, Democratic candidate for Attorney-General of California,
spoke at the Musical Hall.
August 10, 1859
Smart shock of earthquake today. Also felt in San Jose.
September 5, 1859
Horace Greely, editor and publisher of the "New York Tribune,"
left San Francisco and returned East.
September 13, 1859
Judge David S. Terry shot and mortally wounded Sen.
David C. Broderick in a duel near Lake Merced.
September 17, 1859
Joshua A. Norton, who lost his money in an attempt to corner the rice market,
declared himself Norton I, Emperor of the
September 18, 1859
Colonel Edward D. Baker delivered funeral oration over the body of David
C. Broderick. Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, quoted Broderick
as saying on his deathbed: "They have killed me because I was opposed
to a corrupt administration and the extension of slavery."
September 20, 1859
Pacific Railroad Convention convened at San Francisco.
September 22, 1859
Strong earthquake today.
September 24, 1859
There was a slight shock of earthquake.
October 2, 1859
Cornerstone laid for St. Francis Church on Vallejo St.
October 5, 1859
Severe earthquake shock today.
November 15, 1859
Portion of the Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo, San Francisco,
subdivided into garden lots by J.S. Silver, auctioned today.
November 19, 1859
Slight shock of earthquake today.
November 20, 1859
John W. Dwinelle delivered funeral oration for David C. Broderick at the
chapel of the New York University.
November 27, 1859
Two shocks of earthquake felt today.
December 1, 1859
Smart shock of earthquake, also felt in Oakland and Benecia.
December 2, 1859
Norton I dismissed Gov. Wise of Virginia for hanging John Brown and appointed
John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky to replace him.
December 5, 1859
F. Gilbert's Melodian opened.
December 6, 1859
Slight shock of earthquake felt today.
December 19, 1859
Grading began for Market Street Railroad.
December 24, 1859
Earthquake felt just before 1 a.m.
January 1, 1860
A light shock of earthquake on New Years' Day.
January 14, 1860
John Downey sworn in as the seventh governor of California.
February 1, 1860
French Savings & Loan Society incorporated.
I ordered representatives of the different states to assemble at Platt's
Musical Hall to change laws to ameloriate the evils under which the country
February 2, 1860
Baptist convention held at the First Baptist Church this week.
February 9, 1860
An earthquake was felt today.
February 19, 1860
Edward Ryner Highton delivered address upon the philosophy of the Dashaway
Association; the treatment of habitual drunkards in San Francisco.
March 2, 1860
Legislature passed a resolution in favor of Congressional appropriations
for certain mail routes, light-\houses, buoys, and the removal of Blossom
rock, in the harbor.
March 17, 1860
Japanese Embassy staff arrived in San Francisco aboard the Japanese steamer
March 24, 1860
Clipper ship "Andrew Jackson" arrived from New York in 89 days.
April 5, 1860
There were several shocks of earthquake today.
April 14, 1860
First Pony Express rider arrived in
San Francisco from St. Joseph, Missouri.
April 16, 1860
A severe shock of earthquake was felt in San Francisco.
May 1, 1860
First school for the deaf founded on Tehama Street.
May 6, 1860
Olympic Club organized. It grew out of an informal gymnastic club formed
by members of the Lafayette Hook and Ladder Company.
May 10, 1860
Annual meeting of stockholders San Francisco & Marysville railroad
Company held in Marysville.
May 25, 1860
Two shocks of earthquake at 6 a.m.
May 29, 1860
State Sunday school convention opened.
June 7, 1860
Workmen began laying track for Market Street Railroad.
June 25, 1860
Cornerstone laid for the Masonic Temple.
June 27, 1860
Gould & Curry Silver Mining Company, with offices on Montgomery St.,
was incorporated. The president was John O. Earl. Office, corner of Montgomery
and Jackson streets.
July 1, 1860
Single track of the San Francisco and Mission Railroad completed; a distance
of three miles from the foot of Market Street to the Mission.
Census population count for San Francisco was 56,802.
July 4, 1860
Service began on Market Street Railroad, San Francisco's first street railway.
July 25, 1860
Nevai Shalome Cemetery opened.
July 26, 1860
Norton I dissolved the United States of America
August 16, 1860
Archbishop Alemany purchased 60 acres [24 hectares] of Lone Mountain properties
and consecrated the greater portion as Calvary Cemetery.
September 3, 1860
Exempt Fire Company organized.
September 12, 1860
William Walker was court-martialled
and shot by Honduran authorities after he surrendered to a British naval
officer. It was the end of his second Nicaraguan campaign. He had landed
at Tuxillo, Honduras, in an attempt to travel overland to Nicaragua.
September 16, 1860
A patriotic oration given by Mexican General Jose María Pérez
Hernandez, to a Mexican celebration of the movement for independence in
September 23, 1860
Earthquake felt in San Francisco. It was very severe in Martinez.
October 1, 1860
Norton I barred Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1860
Opening sermon before the Synod of Alta California, delivered by the moderator,
Rev. William Wallace Brier, in the Howard Street Presbyterian Church.
October 4, 1860
First exhibition of the San Francisco Bay District Agricultural Society
opened. 15,000 dollars and 500 diplomas offered in premiums. Exhibit closed
Kamehameha of the Kingdom of Hawaii arrived aboard his private yacht.
October 8, 1860
Telegraph line opened between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
October 15, 1860
"The Bulletin" began publication of a geographical listing of
the missions, with date of founding, location by latitude and distances
apart, as well as notes of ceremonies performed, Indian population, livestock
and crops, with names of priests currently in charge of each mission.
October 17, 1860
Brig. Gen. Newman S. Clarke, commander of the Dept. of the Pacific died.
He was succeeded by Lt. Col. Benjamin Lloyd Beall. Gen. Clarke moved the
headquarters of the Division of the Pacific from Benecia to San Francisco
in October 1858.
October 18, 1860
Hon. Reverdy Johnson spoke on The influence of Christianity on the individual
and social condition of man; a lecture delivered by invitation of the Church
of the Advent.
October 26, 1860
Hon. Edw. D. Baker, U.S. senator from Oregon, spoke to the Republican mass
meeting at the American Theatre.
November 7, 1860
Address by Rev. Judah Philip Benjamin upon the general changes in the practical
operation of our Constitution compared with its theory, delivered by invitation
of the Church of the Advent, in San Francisco.
November 27, 1860
Lyceum Theatre destroyed by fire.
December 21, 1860
Earthquakes were felt this morning as a series of light vibrations or quivers
that continued for a period of a half hour.
December 22, 1860
New Rincon Hill Schoolhouse dedicated.
February 2, 1861
Earthquake felt in San Francisco.
Hose Co. No. 2 organized.
February 5, 1861
Norton I changed the place of his National Convention to Assembly Hall,
Post and Kearny, because Platt's Musical Hall had burned.
February 15, 1861
Fort Point completed and garrisoned by two companies of the 3rd Artillery.
February 22, 1861
Great mass meeting in favor of the Union held in San Francisco, on Washington's
Birthday. Meeting was called by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
under Resolution No. 1061 of Feb. 18, 1861.
February 23, 1861
California Mutual Marine Insurance Co. organized. It was the first company
in the state to carry on the business of fire and marine insurance.
February 26, 1861
Opening of Gibbath Olom Cemetery.
March 23, 1861
Quite severe shock of earthquake today.
April 4, 1861
Spring Valley Water Company celebrated the filling of the Potrero Hill
April 19, 1861
California Legislature approved the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad
April 22, 1861
Valuable law library, containing three thousand volumes, being the entire
law library of Messrs. Halleck, Peachy & Billings, sold by James E.
Wainwright & Co., auctioneers.
May 4, 1861
Slight shock of earthquake was felt.
May 11, 1861
Union demonstration at Market and Post streets following the news of the
firing on Fort Sumter.
May 27, 1861
California State Teachers' Institute and Educational Convention in session.
June 1, 1861
Banking house of Donohoe, Ralston & Co. established.
June 13, 1861
Slight shock of earthquake was felt.
June 14, 1861
Howard Engine Company opened new firehouse with a banquet.
June 29, 1861
San Francisco Republicans ratified the state party platform in meeting
at Platt's Hall, northeast corner of Bush and Montgomery streets.
July 1, 1861
New public schoolhouse opened at the corner of Washington and Mason streets.
July 2, 1861
Three-day Ladies Festival began at the Willows for the purpose of paying
off the debt of the French Church "Notre Dame des Victoires."
July 3, 1861
Severe earthquake followed by two light shocks were felt. It was very severe
at Doherty's Ranch in Amador Valley across the Bay. Adobe houses were seriously
damaged, and men working in the fields were thrown down.
July 4, 1861
Severe earthquake shock was felt in San Francisco.
address by Master John Brannan at the July 4th celebrations.
July 21, 1861
Dedication services at the Howard Street Presbyterian Church. Erected in
1851, enlarged and repaired in 1860, it reopened for public worship on
Sabbath at 3 o'clock, p.m.
July 26, 1861
Mark Twain began his trip west.
July 31, 1861
Omnibus Railroad Company adopted articles of association and bylaws.
August 1, 1861
Great mass meeting at Mechanics' Hall; the Mechanics' League, was formed
to carry on the fight against convict labor.
August 12, 1861
Rev. William C. Anderson addressed the national crisis of the war between
the States; an address delivered before the YMCA of San Francisco at its
August 14, 1861
Meeting of the San Francisco Tax Payers' Protective Union held today.
August 24, 1861
H.A. Cobb & R.H. Sinton sold the splendid homestead property on the
northeast corner of Third and Harrison streets today.
August 27, 1861
The "Daily Times" suspended publication.
August 27, 1861
Deutsche sangerfest (German song festival) held in San Francisco.
August 29, 1861
Thomas Starr King addressed the issue of "Peace: What it Would Cost
Us?" at Platt's Musical Hall, for the benefit of New York and Massachusetts
September 9, 1861
Military group called the McClellan Guards organized.
September 17, 1861
A new theater, Tucker's Hall, opened with a performance of Norton the First,
or An Emperor for a Day.
September 25, 1861
Military group named the Siegel Rifles organized.
October 21, 1861
Col. Edward Dickinson Baker, a friend of President Lincoln, was killed
in battle at Balls Bluff, Virginia. The President had named one of his
sons Edward Dickinson Lincoln in his honor.
October 24, 1861
Completion of overland telegraph and end of Pony Express.
November 4, 1861
Dr. Levi Cooper Lane delivered address at the opening of the course on
physiology, for the session of 1861-2, in the Medical Department of the
University of the Pacific, San Francisco.
November 16, 1861
Completion of the new St. Mary's Hospital on Rincon Hill.
November 30, 1861
Part of Sen. David Colbreth Broderick estate property sold by H.A. Cobb and R.H.
Sinton at Platt's Musical Hall, Montgomery Street. Broderick was shot and
killed by Judge Terry in 1859.
December 8, 1861
St. Joseph's Catholic Church dedicated.
December 11, 1861
Edward Stanly delivered the euology at the funeral of Col. Edward D. Baker.
December 31, 1861
Incorporation of the California Powder Works with a capital of $100,000.
to the top of the page.