The bank of James King of Wm.

Not long after James King arrived in California he journeyed to the mines along the South Fork of the American River, but after only a short stay there he returned to Sacramento where he entered the mercantile firm of Hensley, Reading & Co. as a partner and bookkeeper.  By the fall of 1849 however he relocated to San Francisco and on December 5, 1849 he opened the bank of “James King of William” on the corner of Montgomery and Washington Streets along with Jacob R. Snyder. Here his reputation and his wealth grew as he inspired confidence among those who did business with him

James King of Wm.

His wife and four children joined him in May of 1851. He built a fine home for them where he kept horses and a carriage and lived in a style fitting a prosperous banker. He was always outspoken in his beliefs and, while serving as foreman of the grand jury in 1853, he took a positive stand against the moral and social abominations and the political corruption that were rife in the city of San Francisco at the time. Here he became known as a man who possessed not only integrity and honor but intelligence and courage as well. As might be expected in such circumstance, King had many bitter enemies, but he also made a large number of devoted friends who trusted him and considered his good opinions worth more than gold. Unfortunately some of his employees were not as honest and one of them, by investing in certain mining properties in Tuolumne County, brought James King to the brink of financial ruin.

Bank of James King of William



  1. Steve Stapp says

    Howdy John,

    This article ends at the ‘brink’…did he or didn’t he make it? I get interested in stories about folks name of King in American history. Here in Florida we had Ziba King as the leading cattle baron…Texas of course had Richard King…and now you bring us James King…wealthy as well or not…that is the question? And don’t be an Erich and say you’ll have to buy my book to find out…LOL!

    • Hiya Steve,

      You are always welcome to buy my book but if you hang with me on mygoldrushtales you will see how critical James King of William was to the growing popular unrest in an extremely corrupt San Francisco that led directly to the second coming of the vigilantes there. It’s a powerful story of a very brave, honest man. This James King was a true hero.

  2. Hi John. Yah, did he make it through the tough times?

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