The biggest banks of the gold rush

Montgomery Street 1852

The Tallent & Wilde bank opened in February 1850, followed in June by Page, Bacon & Co. and Felix Argenti & Co. In September during a business setback common in those days, there came a financial panic and a run on the banks. These new institutions weathered the storm well as did the older firms of Burgoyne & Co., Wells & Co. and James King of William, but the Exchange and Deposit Office of Henry Naglee was forced to close and never reopened.

Sherman’s Bank in 1934

Between that time and the early part of 1855 a number of new firms entered the banking business, with the most notable being Lucas, Turner  & Co., Page, Bacon & Co. and Adams & Co. The fame of Lucas, Turner & Co. came later because of the Civil War exploits of it’s manager, William T. Sherman but the firms of Page, Bacon & Co. and Adams & Co. were well known as the most extensive and popular institutions of the day.

Parrotts Granite Block, San Francisco

Page, Bacon had started in St. Louis with Daniel Page and his son-in-law Henry Page as partners. The California operation added David Chambers, Henry Haight, and with Daniel’s son Francis Page in charge of the Sacramento operation. The San Francisco branch, with Henry Haight, as manager, was the most prominent bank in the state with over two million dollars in deposits.

Alvin Adams ca1850

Adams & Co. began as an express company in Boston with Alvin Adams at the head. In 1849 he sent David Haskell to San Francisco to establish a branch office. In a short time the express firm of Adams & Co. made larger shipments of gold to New York than anyone in California. At first its express routes didn’t extend beyond Sacramento and Stockton, connecting with Freeman & Co. in Sacramento for service in the northern mines and Newall & Co. in Stockton for the southern. But Adams quickly bought out both Freeman and Newall and soon had an office or agent in every mining town of importance in California.


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