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Folsom in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Leidesdorff Plaza

 
 
Leidesdorff Plaza Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, January 25, 2009
1. Leidesdorff Plaza Marker
Inscription.
Dedicated to the memory of
WILLIAM ALEXANDER LEIDESDORFF
Early California pioneer, civic
leader, merchant, trader, and
owner of 35,000 acre rancho
“Rio de los Americanos” in the
Folsom area.

Born 1810 in Danish West Indies
of Negro and Danish parents
Died 1848 in San Francisco

 
Erected 1966 by The Negro Museum and Library Association of Sacramento, Inc., May 1966.
 
Location. 38° 40.549′ N, 121° 10.812′ W. Marker is in Folsom, California, in Sacramento County. Click for map. Marker and site are located at the Folsom Light Rail Station. Marker is at or near this postal address: Sutter Street, Folsom CA 95630, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Folsom Terminal (here, next to this marker); Turning the Trains (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wells Fargo and Company (about 500 feet away); Folsom History Museum (about 500 feet away); Folsom Pony Express Terminus
Leidesdorff Plaza Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, January 25, 2009
2. Leidesdorff Plaza Marker
(about 500 feet away); J. Clifton Toney (about 600 feet away); Folsom City (about 800 feet away but has been reported missing); Ashland Station (about 800 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Folsom.
 
Also see . . .
1. William Leidesdorff. Born in the Virgin Islands, the gifted son of William Leidesdorff, a Danish sugar planter, and Anna Marie Spark, a native woman having Negro blood, Leidesdorff found his way to California as early as 1841. (Submitted on January 25, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.) 

2. William Alexander Leidesdorff - The First Black Millionaire. William Alexander Leidesdorff is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the pioneering of the West and the creation of the State of California. Born out of wedlock in St. Croix, Danish West Indies in 1810 to a Jewish Danish sugar planter and a black plantation worker, he went on to become the first Black millionaire when gold was found on his property shortly before he died in 1848. (Submitted on January 25, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.) 

3. Find-A-Grave: William Alexander Leidesdorff. This site has information regarding his importance in San Francisco. (Submitted on February 15, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.) 

4. The California Movement to Emancipation
Leidesdorff Plaza Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, January 25, 2009
3. Leidesdorff Plaza
Marker is off photo to the left. Marker seen in photo is a Pony Express Trail Marker.
. (Submitted on March 19, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.)
 
Additional comments.
1. William Alexander Leidesdorff (1810-1848)
In 1841, the schooner Julie Ann sailed into the San Francisco harbor and dropped anchor by the village of Yerba Buena. The owner of the Julie Ann was William Alexander Leidesdorff, who would become one of California's leading citizens and the owner of the land on which Folsom is now located.

A year earlier he had been a successful trader in New Orleans. Leidesdorff owned 12 ships and a prosperous business. He was engaged to be married and was head over heels in love with his fiancée. Then, without warning, he was refused admission to her home and the engagement ring was returned. Her parents informed him that she was no longer interested in seeing him. Though there is no proof, it seems that her proud Creole family had learned his West Indian mother had Negro and Carib blood in her veins thus making him unacceptable as a son-in-law.

Heartbroken, Leidesdorff sold all his property and ships, and left New Orleans forever. He sailed the Pacific, trading and moving on, until he arrived in Yerba Buena. He traded with both the Mexicans and the Russians. By 1844, trade in wheat, tallow and hides
Close-Up of Pony Express Trail Marker image, Click for more information
By Syd Whittle, January 25, 2009
4. Close-Up of Pony Express Trail Marker
Folsom was a terminus of the Pony Express

Click for more information.
earned him enough money to purchase a lot at Clay and Kearny Streets. He also had a warehouse built at California and Leidesdorff Streets.

He became a naturalized Mexican citizen and received a land grant of eight Spanish leagues, or more than 35,000 acres. The grant, called the Rancho Rio de los Americanos, began at about the point where Bradshaw Road connects with the river. A sign was posted there, one side faced west and was lettered Sutter while the east facing side said Leidesdorff. The grant extended upriver to where Folsom Prison is today. Two years later Leidesdorff had an adobe home built at the western end of his property, but he never lived there.

Meanwhile, Leidesdorff's career in San Francisco was spectacular. He became the contract agent to furnish supplies to the Russians and collect Sutter's debt. He built the City Hotel, the finest in San Francisco. He was a treasurer of San Francisco. He served on its first City Council and the first school Board. He was a close friend of Commodore Robert Stockton and was appointed Vice Consul by Thomas Larkin.

He brought the first steamboat to San Francisco Bay, the double side-wheeler SITKK. In 1847, the year after he had the adobe built, he took the SITKK to Sacramento. Little is recorded about the trip except that he raced an ox cart on the downstream trip to Benicia and lost.

The plans
William Leidesdorff Photo, Click for full size
California State Library, Calif. History Section, June 20, 2007
5. William Leidesdorff
he had for the Rancho de los Americanos will never be known. On May 18, 1848, as the first reports of rich gold strikes on the banks of the American River came filtering into San Francisco, William Alexander Leidesdorff died of pneumonia or typhus (two different accounts list different causes of death).
Source: Folsom History Museum - (http://www.folsomhistorymuseum.org/history.htm)
    — Submitted February 2, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.

 
Additional keywords. Gold Rush
 
Categories. African AmericansAgricultureIndustry & CommerceNotable EventsNotable PersonsSettlements & Settlers
 
Folsom Terminal Marker in Leidesdorff Plaza Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, January 25, 2009
6. Folsom Terminal Marker in Leidesdorff Plaza
Part of Leidesdorff Plaza in Background. See nearby marker for additional information.
William Alexander Leidesdorff Photo, Click for full size
By Folsom History Museum
7. William Alexander Leidesdorff
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,508 times since then and 86 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   5. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   6. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   7. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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