Pioneer Jacob Leese

Jacob LeeseOhio-born Jacob Leese, aged 21, was a trapper in Arkansas and soon afterwards a trader in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He first came to Mexican-owned California in 1833 to transport mules between New Mexico (also a Mexican province) and Southern California, returning in 1834 to settle briefly in Los Angeles. Two years later he formed a partnership with two Monterey merchants for the purpose of starting a store in the little mud-shack village of Yerba Buena, later renamed San Francisco.  He was the second permanent settler on the peninsula, and the first to build a substantial residence at what is now Dupont and Clay. In 1837 he married Maria Rosalia Vallejo, the sister of General Mariano Vallejo, the highly respected military commander of the northern regions. Four years later he sold his business to the Hudson’s Bay Company and moved to Sonoma, having been granted a large rancho in the Napa area. During the Bear Flag revolt in 1846 he was taken prisoner with Vallejo, acting as interpreter between the English and Spanish-speaking factions. Leese and his family moved to Monterey in 1849, while the California Gold Rush was in full swing. Fourteen years later, as California’s population was rapidly expanding, he and others wanted to obtain a concession from the Mexican government for 2/3 of Baja California land for colonization purposes. To work on this enterprise (which was not successful) Leese moved to New York in 1865, leaving his family behind.  He returned in 1885, after an absence of 20 years. Leese Street in San Francisco is named for him.

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