A Friendship Formed in Chocolate
James Lick arrived in San Francisco – then known as Yerba Buena – in January, 1848 when the population was barely 1000. Lick had acquired a modest fortune as a piano maker, fur trader and entrepreneur in Argentina, Chile and Peru in the years 1821-47. Lick used that money to buy land in San Francisco. One of Lick’s friends and neighbors in Peru was a man named Domingo Ghirardelli.
Domenico learned the confectionary trade as a young man. Like his friend James Lick he had immigrated to South America, in his case to Uruguay, then Peru where he had a successful confectionary business.
Lick had brought 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolates with him to California, which he quickly converted to cash. He urged Ghirardelli to come to California and ‘get into the chocolate business.’ Ghirardelli sailed to San Francisco. In 1852 he opened a “candy” store. He soon had several outlets and the business grew. In 1893, Ghirardelli and his two sons thought big and bought a city block of bay side property along North Point Street.. Ghirardelli Square still contains the old buildings that formed the core of the Ghirardelli family business for over 60 years.
James Lick was a man of many interests and talents, and was equally successful in California. In 1852-55 he built a four mill in San Jose, which was said to have produced the best flour in the West. He also imported rare and beautiful trees from all parts of the world. He built one of the Bay area’s first luxury hotels in San Francisco. He had a keen interest in science and near the end of his life he funded the Lick Observatory at Mt. Hamilton, near San Jose, and donated what was then the largest telescope ever made.
California Missions Resource Center
California factoid – Juana Maria
In 1853 an Indian woman later named Juana Maria was found on San Nicholas Island by Captain George Nidever. San Nicholas is the most remote of the Channel Islands, and lies about 53 miles off the Coast, west of Los Angeles. The Peores Nada, captained by Charles Hubbard, landed on the island in 1835 and began to load the Indians on board. A child was found missing and his mother pleaded to be left on the island to find him. She disappeared into the mist and wasn’t seen again for eighteen years. The Peores Nada intended to return when the weather cleared but the ship struck an object entering into the harbor at San Francisco, and sank. Several efforts were made in subsequent years to find the “last” Indian but none succeeded until Captain Nidever discovered her in 1853.
Captain Nidiver reported on the encounter in his memoirs The Life and Adventures of George Nidever. The party consisted of himself, another hunter named Charley Brown, “an Irishman we called Colorado from his florid complexion” and four Mission Indians. They landed on the island in July, planning several months hunting. Shortly after their arrival they found an “old woman” stripping blubber from a piece of seal skin. According to Nidiver’s account, instead of running way “she smiled and bowed, chattering away to them in an unintelligible language.” She was “of medium height… about 50 years old but …still strong and active. Her face was pleasing as she was continually smiling… Her clothing consisted of but a single garment of skins.” ” Through sign language it was determined that she was indeed the woman left in 1835 and, sadly, that she never did find her child.
Juana Maria (the name given her by the padres) became ill of dysentery, and died after just seven weeks on the mainland. She was buried in the cemetery at Mission Santa Barbara. All her personal possession were given to California Academy of Sciences but these were destroyed in San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.
California Missions Resource Center
Castroville, CA is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World. In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen. She went on to become actress Marilyn Monroe.
During his engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito. While there he wrote his last song and greatest hit: “The Dock of the Bay.”