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George Robinson Fardon
[San Francisco Album. Photographs of the Most Beautiful Views and Public Buildings of San Francisco]
Salt paper print, albumenized
15.2 x 20.6 cm
George Eastman Museum
Courtesy of George Eastman House, Gift of Eastman Kodak Company: ex-collection Gabriel Cromer
The date of this photograph is likely to be 1856 and it involves a signficant incident in the early history of San Francisco.in the book "California: 1849-1913, or The Rambling Sketches and Experiences of Sixty-four Years' Residence in that State" by Lell Hawley Woolley (Oakland, Cal, 1913) it gives the following account of the civil unrest and the actions of the Vigilance Committee of 1856:
Our headquarters and committee rooms were at the wholesale liquor house of Truett & Jones, No. 41 Sacramento street, about a block from the water front, and embraced the block bounded by Sacramento, California, Front and Davis streets, and covered by brick buildings two stories high. The name "Fort Gunnybags" was ascribed to it on account of the gunnybags filled with sand which we piled up in a wall some six feet through and about ten feet high. This barricade was about twenty feet from the building. Guards were stationed at the passage-ways through it as well as at the stairs and doors to the buildings. On the roof was the bell (a huge 700 pounder) the taps of which brought us to arms at once. The use of this bell was tendered to the Committee by the members of the Monumental Fire Engine Company No. 6, stationed on the west side of Brenham Place, opposite the "Plaza." Our small field pieces and arms were kept on the ground floor, and the cells, executive chamber and other departments were on the second floor.
On March 21, 1903, the California Historic Landmarks League placed a bronze tablet on the face of the building at 215 Sacramento street that had formerly been the headquarters of the Vigilance Committee of 1856, inscribed as follows: "Fort Gunnybags was situated on this spot, headquarters of the Vigilance Committee in the year 1856."
(Source: http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/woolley.html, Dec 19, 2007)
[Addictional information kindly contributed by Dave Tooley, Dec 19, 2007]
Publisher: Herre & Bauer, San Francisco