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TAY & COMPANY

OSCAR JEROME BACKUS

 

††††† TAY & COMPANY.--The wholesale hardware establishment at 614 Battery Street, San Francisco, now known as Tay Company. Was founded in 1848 by Samuel Sanford. Mr. Sanford came to California in 1846 with Colonel Stevensonís regiment; the beginning of the business was a small tin shop occupying quarters 10x12 feet, on the corner of DuPont and Stockton Street, and the tools were brought from the Sandwich Islands. In February, 1849, C. Phelps, C. J. Fox and O. J. Backus arrived in San Francisco on the first steamer to enter the port; they went to Angelís Camp in Stanislaus County, where they mined until the June following, meeting with indifferent success. Mr. Fox then came to San Francisco to receive an invoice of tin ware shipped from New York as a speculation. He arranged for the formation of a partnership which was completed in July, 1849, the firm being known as Sanford, Fox & Backus; they employed sixteen hands, making picks, pans, rockers, and cooking utensils for the miners. Tin pans that now (1891) sell for twenty cents a piece, sold as fast as they could make them for $16 each, and a cook stove now worth $ 11 then sold for $150. The firm continued in this way until 1850, when O. J. Backus purchased the stock; the profits of the business up to that time were $150,000. In August 1850, the stock was removed to Oregon, and a business was established in Oregon City; later it was taken to Portland and was conducted there until 1854. In that year Mr. Backus returned to San Francisco; in 1856 John Gordon and John Brooks were made partners in the business, and the firm was known as Gordon, Brooks & Backus. The following year Mr. Tay joined them, and in 1860 the firm was changed to Tay, Brooks & Backus; this existed until 1871, when the following namedgentlemen entered in to a partnership: George H. Tay, H. B. Brooks, O. J. Backus, J. W. Bryan, William Smith, M. M. Harvey, and George M. Gould. The style of the firm was Tay & Co., and the business was continued until 1882, when Mr. Brooks died. In 1883 Mr. Tay also died, and the other members retired excepting Mr. Backus. After the death of Mr. Tay, Mr. Kellogg became manager of the firm for Mr. Tayís estate, and the old firm name of Tay & Co. was continued. From the very beginning the business has been a marked success, and now gives employment to 250 hands. Their goods are sold from Alaska to Mexico and in the Sandwich Islands. The foundry is at El Dorado and occupies a building three and four stories high; it was built of redwood in 1850 and the carpenters were paid $16 per day; the wood-work is apparently as good as when the house was erected.

††††† Mr. Backus, who has given the business his individual attention for forty-one years, is a native of the State of New York, born in 1830. His father, Delacira Backus, was a native of New York, born of German parents; his mother, Elizabeth Lindsley Backus was born in Lindsley, Shelby county New York, the town beining named for her forefathers who were prominent settlers in the place. Mr. Backus is next to the youngest of eleven children. He was educated in the State of New Jersey, and came to California in his eighteenth year. In 1872 he made a trip to the east for the purpose of introducing a water motor, his own invention, which has revolutionized light power throughout the United States. He was married in 1862, and has five children, all born in San Francisco. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in his political conviction is a Republican. While a resident of Portland, Oregon, he was elected a member of the first council of that town. He is a member of First Methodist Episcopal Church of Oakland. He is a man who is in every since worthy of the confidence which is reposed in him throughout the entire community.

 

 

 

Transcribed by Kim Buck.

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, Page 630, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.


© 2007 Kim Buck.

 

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