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Finding aid to the William D. M. Howard papers, 1823-1878, undated, Vault MS 30
Vault MS 30  
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • System of Arrangement
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Contents
  • Bibliography

  • Title: William D. M. Howard papers
    Date: 1823-1878
    Collection Identifier: Vault MS 30
    Creator: Howard, William D. M. (William Davis Merry), 1818-1856.
    Extent: 4 boxes, 1 oversize box (2.75 linear feet)
    Repository: California Historical Society
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94105
    URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
    Location of Materials: Collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Most items are in English, with a few in Spanish.
    Abstract: Collection consists of San Francisco merchant and financier William D. M. Howard’s correspondence and business papers. Also includes business papers of William R. Warren, a Honolulu merchant; Howard’s brother George; Henry F. Teschemacher, tenth mayor of San Francisco; and William A. Liedesdorff. Collection contains correspondence relating to an 1852 plan to light San Francisco with gas. A small number of papers relating to the outfitting of the expedition to rescue the Donner Party are also part of the collection. Two volumes are included: a log from the schooner Julia Ann, and court records relating to the Lup-Yomi Rancho case.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William D. M. Howard papers, Vault MS 30, California Historical Society.

    Acquisition Information

    The William D. M. Howard papers were given to the California Historical Society by Mr. and Mrs. K. K. Bechtel in 1955.

    System of Arrangement

    Items are arranged in chronological order. Folder headings were added to facilitate access.

    Biographical Information

    William Davis Merry Howard was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1818 and became a sailor, eventually working on trading ships along the Pacific Coast. He settled in San Francisco and dealt in hides before partnering with Henry Mellus in 1845. Mellus and Howard were successful in the general merchandise business, especially as business boomed during the Gold Rush. Howard assisted in the financial organization and support of the expedition to rescue the Donner Party in 1847. His first wife, Mary Warren, died in 1849 and he soon married Agnes Poett, with whom he had one son, William. Howard became a community leader, serving on the first city council, and was a well-known philanthropist in San Francisco. He also owned a rancho on land near San Mateo. He died in 1856 and, after his death, his widow Agnes married his brother George. Howard Street in San Francisco is named after him.

    Scope and Contents

    Collection consists of correspondence, invoices, and receipts from pioneer California residents, merchants, and companies, reflecting William D. M. Howard's extensive commercial activities through his firm, Mellus & Howard; business and personal papers (1823-1863) of Henry F. Teschemacher, mayor of San Francisco from 1859-1863; business papers (1823-1849) of William R. Warren, a merchant in Honolulu; Howard estate papers; business papers of Howard's brother, George; a small amount of papers relating to Howard's involvement in the Donner Party rescue; papers relating to William A. Leidesdorff, including estate papers while Howard was the executor, and records of Leidesdorff's schooner, Julia Ann; papers relating to the Lup-Yomi Rancho case and other land settlement cases; and to an abortive plan for lighting San Francisco by gas in 1852, involving Howard and Frederick A. Woodworth. Other persons represented include William Heath Davis, Henry D. Fitch, Thomas O. Larkin, and Jacob P. Leese. Also included are family letters from Howard’s mother, sister, and nephew in Boston, and from his second wife, Agnes, who married his brother George after Howard’s death.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Howard, George H.
    Howard, William D. M. (William Davis Merry), 1818-1856--Archives.
    Julia Ann (Schooner).
    Leidesdorff, William A. (William Alexander), 1810-1848.
    Mellus & Howard Company.
    Teschemacher, Henry F.
    Warren, William R.
    Donner Party
    Rancho Lup-Yomi (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)--Commerce.


    Biograpical information from:
    Block, E. The Immortal San Franciscans for Whom the Streets Were Named. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1971.