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   John Lewis Bromley, real-estate agent, of Oakland, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, December 24, 1820, a son of Lewis and Ann Catherine (Irons) Bromley.  His mother, who was born in Hampton, Maryland, in 1800, of a family originally English and long established in that State, was married in 1819.  His grandmother, by birth a Miss Scott, of Elk Ridge, Maryland, was brought up as a Hicksite Quaker, and lived to the age of about seventy years, and Mr. Irons also reached an advanced age.  William Bromley, the great-grandfather of John L., was from Nine Partners, New York, born in 1719, and in 1770 moved to Vermont.  He is on record as Town Clerk of Danby, Vermont, 1776 to 1780; as a member of the Committee of Safety in 1777; Selectman in 1781; Town Treasurer, 1783 to 1785.  He died in 1803, aged eighty-four, his wife dying a few years earlier, also at an advanced age.

   Of the patriotism of the Bromley family and their military ardor, interesting evidence is preserved in the muster roll of a company of militia at Danby Corners, in the war of 1812, in which twelve of that name appear on record.  John, a son of William, born also in New York, was married in Vermont, to Eliza Palmer, a native of that State, who died comparatively young.  After her death the husband, who dealt in horses and cattle and sometimes conducted droves as far south as Virginia, settled in Maryland, becoming known as John Bromley of Mt. Savage, Maryland; he lived to the age of seventy.  His son Lewis, the father of him whose name heads this sketch, was born in Vermont, moved to Maryland, and was married in Baltimore, 1819, to A. C. Irons.  Of their children two are on this coast—John L., of Oakland, and Washington L., a merchant of San Francisco.

   Mr. Bromley, our subject, completed his school days in an academic course in his native city, being a pupil of three distinguished educators of that day—Professors Cooper, Post and Reese.  From the age of seventeen to twenty he was clerk in a wholesale grocery house, and in his twenty-first year engaged in the grain and feed business on his own account, continuing in that line some three years.  He then went to farming, chiefly stock-raising, on land he owned in Virginia, amounting finally to about 500 acres.

   In 1846 he enlisted in the Mexican war, becoming Orderly Sergeant in the Fourteenth Regiment, and was among the first to enter the city of Mexico.  Wounded in the service, he returned home in 1848, and has now for some years been a pensioner of that war.

   Before the close of 1848 he engaged in business in Baltimore, in the firm of Rutledge, Bromley & Co., foreign and domestic commission merchants.  Selling out his interest in 1852, he came to California, by way of Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco in May, 1853.  He then entered the produce firm of Booth & Co., remaining till 1854, when he moved to Contra Costa county, buying some 128 acres, afterward increased to 400 acres, of the Mt. Diablo ranch, between Concord and Clayton, which he still owns.  Engaged chiefly in stock-raising, he resided in that county until 1873, enjoying the confidence of the community, as shown by his election and appointment on various occasions to offices of trust and honor.  He served as Justice of the Peace and Associate Justice of the Court of Sessions two years, Supervisor three years, and Assessor by appointment for an unexpired term, about 1861.  In 1873 he settled in Oakland, mainly with a view to securing a higher education for his children.  Since coming here he has chiefly been engaged in real estate, often as Joint Commissioner on opening streets, appraising estates, and was a member of the Committee on the New Charter.

   He has been married three times: first, at the age of twenty-three, to a lady who died leaving no children, fifty-one weeks after her marriage.  In 1848 he was again married, his second wife dying in child-birth, fifty-three weeks after marriage, and leaving no children.  In 1851 Mr. Bromley married, in Baltimore, Miss Anna Levering, who was born in that city in 1829, a daughter of William and Susan (Hall) Levering, natives of Maryland, and died in Baltimore, at an advanced age.  Mr. Bromley’s children, all but two born in Contra Costa county, are: William Lewis, born in Baltimore, May 30, 1852, died in Oakland in 1883; Thomas, born February 1, 1854, now a topographical engineer and artist of Oakland; Anna Catherine, born in San Francisco, April 17, 1855; Robert Innis, born January 24, 1857, now a physician and surgeon of Sonora, California; Martha Maryland, born October 16, 1858; Joseph Hall, born in 1860, died in his ninth year; Ella Virginia, born in 1862, died in her third year; Walter Frederick, born in 1863, also died in childhood; Marion, born March 22, 1865, now a student in the University of California; Virginia, born February 5, 1867; and Roscoe Palmer, May 29, 1869.  Mrs. Bromley’s father was born in Philadelphia, and died young.  His father, Peter Levering, was a native of the same city.

   Mr. Bromley has been endowed with a remarkable vigor of body and mind, which give fair promise of adding several years of usefulness to the three-score years and ten already reached.  Apparently a frail man of small frame, he has been sick but one day in more than forty years.  Mrs. Bromley also is in full possession of her mental faculties and bodily powers.



Transcribed by Donna L. Becker 

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 126-128, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2005 Donna L. Becker.




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