Joseph Libbey King was born in Georgetown, D.C., on July 26, 1845. Mr. King was the second son of a family of six children born to James King and Charlotte Libbey King.

Surrounding the name of Mr. King’s father, James King of William, is associated much of the romance, tradition and courage that characterizes the efforts of the early pioneers of California to bring law and order out of the then existing chaos of crime, and which efforts, largely through the instrumentality of James King of William, eventually resulted in the formation of the historical Vigilance Committee. 

James King of William was one of the pioneer bankers of San Francisco, his bank bearing his name as well as designation. He was the founder of the San Francisco Bulletin, with the publication of which he continued to be identified for a number of years. At the time of his death James King of William was one of San Francisco's most influential and outstanding citizens. 

Joseph Libbey King, for a large part, received his early education in the public schools of San Francisco, and similar advantages were given to the other children of the family, all of the sons of James King of William, Charles’s Joseph I., William Freeborn and George, being now deceased, while the two daughters still reside in San Francisco—Annie, the widow of Edward Dutton, and Josephine, widow of R.J. Wilson. 

As a young man Joseph Libbey King was for a time employed in one of the pioneer banks of Virginia City, Nevada, and as this was during the period of the nation-wide mining excitement of the Comstock days, Mr. King became identified with this era of romantic mining activity and at a place that was then the shrine of those who played and prayed for fame and fortune. 

When Mr. King returned to San Francisco he became actively associated with the stock brokerage business, in which he for many years continued to be a prominent and influential representative. Mr. King was for a term of years allied with the brokerage firm of B.S. Sherwood & Co., and was one of the best known and most popular members of the San Francisco Stock Exchange, in which institution he held the position of caller at the time of his death. 

His Masonic affiliations included membership in the California Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar, and Mr. King was also one of the active early members of the well-known Bohemian Club.

To Mr. King belongs the distinction of being among the first to foresee the magnitude of the oil industry as affecting the welfare of his state, and was the first man to initiate and urge the establishment of an oil exchange. As a citizen and as a business man, Mr. King was known for his wide vision and his progressive ideas. 

Mr. King was the author of the “The History of the San Francisco Stock and Exchange Board,” an authoritative volume, embracing not only extremely valuable statistical and other information of the history of the institution as such, but in addition this volume shows Mr. Kings as a kindly chronicler of the successes and failures, of the ambitions and the hopes of that speculative epoch. Mr. King’s book teems with lights and shadows and interesting personal reminiscences of considerable historical importance. 

With the passing of Mr. King, one of the few remaining links between the gallant adventurers of the Comstock days and those who have reaped the benefit of their foresight was served. 

Mr. King was married to Miss Flora Ellen Mower, a native of Bangor, Maine, on May 28, 1868. Mrs. King still resides in San Francisco. Of the five children of this union, all native San Franciscans, the first born, James William is deceased; Ralph Mower is engaged in farming in Lassen County and is the father of two children, Lucie and Ralph P.; Percy Libbey is actively associated with the California Packing Corporation; Joseph L., Jr., is with Hind-Rolph & Co. of San Francisco, and Lucie is the wife of L.W. Harris of San Francisco, her family consisting of three boys, Lawrence Junior, King and Robert. 


Louise E. Shoemaker, Transcriber February 13, 2004

Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 70-72 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.


© 2004 Louise Shoemaker


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