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Collection Guide
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Finding aid to the William A. Leidesdorff collection, MS 1277
MS 1277  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The collection consists of Leidesdorff's correspondence (1845-1847) as vice-consul; correspondence, account books, orders, and receipts (1834-1848) reflecting Leidesdorff's activities as a merchant in Yerba Buena (later San Francisco), including accounts with the crew of the Schooner Julia Ann and Hawaiian and Indian sailors; papers relating to Leidesdorff's land grant, Río de los Americanos, and the legal battle between Joseph L. Folsom and Anna Maria Spark, Leidesdorff's mother, regarding the inheritance of Leidesdorff's estate; and papers of Henry W. Halleck from his law practice with Halleck, Peachy, and Billings, consisting of Halleck's drafts for clients' land grant claims and other legal documents, some dealing with Leidesdorff's grant.
Background
William Alexander Leidesdorff was born in 1810 in the Danish West Indies. His father, Alexander Leidesdorff, was a Dane, and his mother, Anna Maria Spark, was a creole of mixed-race ancestry. After conducting trade in New Orleans, Leidesdorff came to California in 1841 as master of the schooner Julia Ann, making frequent trips between San Francisco (then Yerba Buena) and Honolulu to sell hides and tallow. In 1843, he purchased a lot in Yerba Buena at the corner of Clay and Kearny streets, building a large warehouse on the waterfront in 1844 and the City Hotel in 1846. Naturalized as a Mexican citizen in 1844, Leidesdorff obtained a 35,000-acre land grant on the American River known as Rancho Río de los Americanos. A prominent merchant and landowner, Leidesdorff also served in a number of civic positions, including United States vice-consul to Mexico (appointed by Thomas Larkin in 1845) and treasurer of San Francisco.
Extent
1.5 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Restrictions
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Availability
The collection is open for research.