The unraveling of Henry Meiggs

Once Henry Meiggs began using forged warrants from the city of San Francisco he found it was necessary to extend his criminal acts to the forging of promissory notes and signatures. And after Meiggs exposure for his unquestionable forgery of the warrants there were several charges made to this effect and some named amounts of several hundred thousand dollars. But even before Meiggs fled the city, the rumors began. By the fall of 1854 Meiggs must have realized that he could not escape detection for much longer.

San Francisco Bay looking towards Meiggs Wharf 1854

And there were those who said he had in fact been discovered but through his artful nature had convinced those whose name he forged from turning him in. One note, for fifteen thousand dollars, was found a forgery by a member of the firm it was drawn against. The man confronted Meiggs who pled his innocence so eloquently that the man then convinced the holder of the note of Meiggs honesty and because he did his firm later had to make good the note.

Sherman’s Bank in 1934

Meiggs owed the bank of Lucas, Turner & Co. eighty thousand dollars and William T. Sherman, the manager, insisted that the amount be reduced to twenty-five thousand dollars. Meiggs found a firm from Hamburg to accept all but the twenty-five thousand dollars and gave a new note to Lucas, Turned & Co. secured by his own home at Montgomery and Broadway Streets and by city warrants. When the securities given to the Hamburg firm were found to be worthless the firm failed. Lucas, Turner & Co. did realize the value of Meiggs home but lost ten thousand dollars on the forged warrants.



  1. You were right, the story just gets better.

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