JOSEPH STEFFENS JR.
As with so many others of our prominent men, the early life of Mr. Steffens
was passed upon a farm, the summer being spent in work and the winters at school, and it was there that he
laid the foundation from which he
has reached his
present height.Not being of a very robust nature, his
parents feared that he
could not endure the severe labor of regular farm employment.Accordingly, when nineteen years of age he
entered the Rock Island Seminary
, where he
took an academic course; later he
entered "Bell's Commercial College," Chicago, as a student of mercantile branches.Upon completing a course he taught school for several terms; but, being anxious to devote himself to commercial life, he became a clerk for G.M.Clayton, dealer in paints and oils, at Freeport, Illinois, in 1859.He
remained with this firm three years, and there perfected himself in the line of trade in which he
has been constantly engaged ever since.Desiring to test for himself the truth of the stories current in the Middle States, and to take advantage of the opportunities afforded an ambitious young man in this glorious State, he
decided to come hither.
In the summer of 1862 he
crossed the plains with Levi Carter of Stockton, passing through Sacramento on his
way, and arrived at San Francisco September 9 of that year.He
found employment almost immediately with Fuller & Heather
, dealers in paints and oils, as bookkeeper, the salary being but $50 a month.His
abilities in this line of trade, his
knowledge of the business, and his
active attention to the interests of his
employers won their confidence, and he
was soon promoted to better positions.He
remained with this house until its consolidation with that of Cameron, Whittier & Co.
, under the name of Whittier, Fuller & Co.
, now so well known in the paint and oil trade; it being the leading firm on this coast.Fuller & Heather
had had two houses, one in San Francisco and the other in Sacramento.Upon the consolidation, the stores of the two firms were merged into one, located on the corner of Fourth and Pine Streets, where Mr. Steffens
continued for a year.At the end of this time, in 1869, he
was sent to Sacramento to take charge of the business here.He continued to act as manager of the Sacramento house until 1874, at which date he was admitted a member of the firm, and has since that time been a resident partner, controlling the financial affairs of the house in this part of the State.He is director of the California State Bank.
Such in brief, is a record of the life of the Hon. Joseph Steffens, but to give a fair understanding of the important part performed by him in the history of this section would be to almost write the history of this period, so active a part has he
taken in all public matters.He has been President of the Board of Trade since December 1882, and is the most active and responsible member of that valuable board; the annual reviews issued by the Board of Trade are documents of great value.
We shall not, however, in this place refer to this subject at greater length, as in another portion of this volume the matter is treated fully, with the assistance of both president and secretary of the board.Mr. Steffens is also an active member of the Sacramento Improvement Association, and is President of the California Museum Association, and takes a most lively interest in it.He
is distinctively a business man but interests himself intelligently in local and national politics, as they affect the well-being of the nation, and the community in which he
resides, and where he
has so much at stake.He is not a politician, however, although frequently importuned to enter political life.
In 1884 he
was induced to permit his
name to be used in the city election as a candidate for mayor on the Republican ticket.So close was the election that after one week's canvass, out of 4,000 votes polled, he
lacked but thirty-one of being elected - a high tribute to the esteem and popularity of a business man, whose hold on the hearts of his
fellow citizens had been gained by a life of intelligent devotion to their common welfare. Mr. Steffens
is a gentleman of quiet and pleasant manners, captivating address, and of social and cultured tastes.He
is an eloquent and effective speaker, and a graceful writer.His
speeches are full of matter worthy of preservation; being sound, thoughtful and argumentative, gracefully and clearly expressed, and interspersed with wit and happy humor; noteworthy among them may be mentioned the address at the opening of the Exposition of the Citrus Fair at Ashland, on the completion of the California and Oregon Railway, where he
appeared as a representative of this city, at Placerville, where he
likewise represented Sacramento on the completion of the railroad to that point, and his
letters and address at the time of the Margaret E. Crocker flower festival.These are not only interesting and valuable for their reference to important events and persons connected with the history of Sacramento, but they reflect the highest credit upon their author for ability, culture and taste.The letters written by Mr. Steffens
to the Record-Union during the course of a journey made through the East in 1881, in company with Mr. Albert Gallatin, during which they traveled some 12,000 miles, are of peculiar interest, and contain thoughts and suggestions of great value; and a noteworthy feature about them is the correctness of the forecast, and predictions as to what the future would bring forth in this happy land.
...Mr. Steffens is the owner of much property in this city, his palatial residence at No. 1224 H Street being one of the most notable structures in the city, and is pointed out to strangers with pride by our citizens.Mr. Steffens
was married January 15, 1865, in San Francisco, to Miss E. Louise Symes, of Hoboken, New Jersey; they have four children, whose names are Joseph Lincoln, Lulu, Laura and Lottie
...Joseph Steffens Jr. 15 Jan 1837 married Elizabeth Symes 15 Jan 1865 in California (Bio above).