EDWARD GERE DENNISTON
Those who only know the San Francisco of today can have no conception of the
courage and foresight of the men who were able to look ahead and see some of
the marvelous developments which was [sic] bound to result from the westward
trend of emigration, and be willing to brave the disadvantages of life in what
was for many years a rough seaboard community. When Edward Gere Denniston
arrived, the first time, in San Francisco in 1853, there was but little of the
present magnificent metropolis to greet his eyes and make him promises for the
future. Yet the keen vision of the man enabled him to look forward, and
although he returned to his Eastern home, he came back, and made the city his
home until he was claimed by death, and was spared to witness such a marvelous realization
of his fondest dreams that to the last he could scarcely believe his own
senses. He not only established his residence in the city, but founded a large
industry, and invested largely in realty and bought stock in many local
enterprises, so that he may well be called one of the founders of the present
great San Francisco.
Edward Gere Denniston was born at Newark, New Jersey, a son of Isaac and Sarah
(Gamble) Denniston, and was the youngest of the ten children born to his
parents, three of whom came to San Francisco. Isaac Denniston was in a drayage
business at Newark, and he also owned a farm in the vicinity of Newark, but
later on in life came to the West and died at San Francisco. His father served
with the rank of major in the American Revolution. Mrs. Denniston died at
Newark, New Jersey in 1861.
Growing up in his native city, Edward Gere Denniston attended its schools, but
he lived in an age when adventure lured. Gold had just been discovered in
California, and from every community outside of the state people were streaming
forth in search of wealth, which they hoped might be theirs without undue
labor. In 1853 young Denniston started out on his travels, and after spending
several months at sea, during which period he visited the Hawaiian Islands and
Tahati [sic], he landed at San Francisco. Business reasons made it imperative
that he go back to Newark, but in 1868 he returned to the land of his dreams,
and after his second arrival at San Francisco established the San Francisco
Gold and Silver Plating Works, which his widow is still carrying on in a most
capable manner. As the years went on Mr. Denniston bought real estate and gave
his financial support to different business enterprises, and when he died,
August 7, 1916, was one of the city’s wealthy men. At the time of his death he
was one of the oldest members of Occidental Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons,
and he also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In political
matters he always worked in conjunction with the republican party. Mr.
Denniston took great delight in fishing, and during his later years spent a
good deal of time enjoying this sport.
On January 4, 1876, Mr. Denniston was married to Anna B. Cowie, who was born in
San Francisco, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (McGregor) Cowie, both natives
of Scotland. They came to San Francisco around Cape Horn in a sailing vessel in
1853. After a brief experience in the mines he started a foundry in Sonora and
conducted it until a short time prior to his death.
Transcribed by Donna L. Becker
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 209-210 by Bailey Millard.
Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.