J. W. Stow correspondence, 1863-1869
Creator/Contributor:Stow, J. W. (Joseph Washington), 1828-1874, creator
The collection consists of J.W. Stow's incoming correspondence, 1863 though 1869. There are 36 documents; three are on letterhead.
Correspondents are primarily businessmen associated with the Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company, including A.W. North,
P. Oliver, Jason B. Ogden, and I.D. Russell.
The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1963 and 1964. During these years Stow was establishing an agency for Russell and
Erwin in San Francisco and the correspondence focuses on this enterprise. Much comment is made about the difficulty of shipping
stock to California. On July 2, P. Oliver writes: "I regret to say we were disappointed in not being able to ship to you per
Str. Champion samples we have in hand for you. We sent down our shipment to steamer on July 1 (to sail July 3rd) and were
flatly & positively refused. Reason given that vessel was filled with dispatch goods and could not take a pound. Our design
now is to ship by Brig soon as possible to Aspinwall and via Isthmus & P. Ocean by steam. If we get an early shipment cannot
probably make more than 2 or 3 weeks delay in reaching you."
Attention was also paid to the stock for the store. On Aug. 28th, 1863, J.B. Ogden writes: "We note your remarks in regard
to Underhill's sales of shovels & picks. In regard to your stock of them we shall depend entirely upon you to know just what
style shape weight & maker you require as we are of the opinion that these particulars are essential in these articles especially."
Evidently Stow was quite enthusiastic about this undertaking, as on Sept. 2, Ogden is complaining: "We shall try to send you
during this month samples of almost all the goods we have sampled in our N.Y. w'house, by steamer. But you must be aware that
such shipments are troublesome to get up & pack & it takes a great deal of time. You have stirred us up so effectually now
that we do not know which end we stand on. We have two men doing nothing else but attend to California's wants."
In 1864 the ongoing Civil War had affected the business climate. On May 14th, A.W. North explains: "Our telegram explained
why we wished gold remitted -- it was in view of the almost certain advance in gold and unless the rebellion is effectually
put down -- & the Govt expenses curtailed -- gold must to to 200 & higher." He goes on to comment on labor unrest, perhaps
reflecting another aspect of the wartime economy: "Every man in our iron foundry is on a strike & have been for a week. We
shall probably close that branch of the business for the present rather than submit to their demands. Should we knock under,
the balance of the men [will] take a turn at it & so alternate. The iron molders wages have already been advanced twice since
Also in the correspondence are several letters of introduction for men heading for California to make their fortune. A.W.
North writes on Dec. 3, 1863: "One word about young Mr. Bradley who goes out by str today. His father spent considerable time
with the writer yesterday in "opening" him up. He says he has been in in his store seven years -- is now twenty three yrs.
old and is perfectly correct in every respect. It was his intention to give him an interest in his business & he would be
glad to do so now, but (the son) prefers to knock out a fortune on his own account & has decided that Cala is to be the field
for future operations."
Stow, J. W. (Joseph Washington) -- 1828-1874 -- Correspondence
Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company. -- Records and correspondence
Businessmen -- California -- Correspondence
Hardware industry -- California -- History
Hardware stores -- California -- San Francisco
Joseph Washington Stow was born in Middlebury, Vermont, in 1828. He arrived in San Francisco in 1862, and the following year
established an agency of New York's Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company, serving as a distributor for their tools, hardware,
and agricultural implements. Stow quickly became involved in public affairs. He served as a vice-president of the Union Party,
was a founder of the Merchants' Exchange, and served as vice-president and president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Both J. W. Stow and his wife were philanthropists; he served as a trustee of the San Francisco Benevolent Society and the
Ladies' Seamen's Friend Society.
Stow was active in San Francisco's industrialization. He was an incorporator of the Leaming Petroleum Company, which revitalized
the Pico Canyon oil fields in Los Angeles County, and the Citizen's Gas Light Company of Sacramento. He also incorporated
and served as president of the Pacific and Colorado Steam Navigation Company; San Francisco's Metropolitan Gas Company, which
manufactured illuminating gas from petroleum; the Pacific Pneumatic Gas Company, which installed self-contained gas-makers
on site; and the Consolidated Tobacco Company, whose Gilroy operation was reportedly financed by banker William C. Ralston
and employed 700 individuals. J. W. Stow was president of the latter two companies at the time of his death at forty-six,
from tuberculosis, on 4 August 1874, in San Francisco.
During the Civil War, J. W. Stow's wife, Marietta, founded a home for the orphan daughters of Union soldiers. In 1869 she
served as president of California's Woman's Suffrage Association, and she ran for Director of Schools in San Francisco in
1880. The following year she established the periodical "Woman's herald of industry". In 1882 she ran for Governor of California.
She organized the Equal Rights Party in 1884, and subsequently ran for vice-president of the United States under its banner.
And Mrs. Stow was the first woman to preside over a national presidential convention. She died in Oakland in 1902.
Stow, J. W. (Joseph Washington), 1828-1874. Letterpress copybook, 1870-1873 (CALIF** HD9567 C2 S7).
J. W. Stow correspondence, 1863-1869.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
MANUSCRIPT SMCII Box 18 Folders 15-17
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.