William Chapman Ralston (William Chapman Ralston)

William Chapman Ralston

Banker, Businessman. A native of Ohio, Ralston moved to Panama after the discovery of gold in California and joined a banking and shipping firm that carried miners to San Francisco. In 1854, he settled in San Francisco himself and spent the next ten years with various banking firms. In 1864, he co-founded the Bank of California with Darius O. Mills and was named the bank’s cashier. Taking advantage of the events of the time, he invested much of the young bank’s money into the silver mines of Nevada’s Comstock Lode and as a result, both Ralston and his bank profited greatly. Establishing himself as one of San Francisco’s leading bankers, he began using his money to benefit the city of San Francisco by coming up with and/or financing numerous ventures and projects including the California Theater, New Montgomery Street, the University of California Berkeley, and Ralston Hall. His most famous project however would be the Palace Hotel which after it’s completion in 1875, would become San Francisco’s defining landmark and be the place many famous personalities would stay when visiting the city. On August 26, 1875, crippled by Ralston’s overspending and failed ventures, the Bank of California collapsed and Ralston was asked to resign the next morning. Later the same day of his resignation, he accidentally drowned during his regular swim in the San Francisco Bay. For all of his contributions to the city, he is often considered today as the man who built San Francisco. (bio by: G.Photographer)  Family links:  Parents:  Robert Ralston (1797 – 1870)  Spouse:  Elizabeth Red Ralston (1837 – 1929)*  Children:  Samuel Fry Ralston (1859 – 1888)*  Etna Louise Ralston (1860 – 1862)*  William Chapman Ralston (1863 – 1924)*  Emelita Thorn Ralston Page (1865 – 1964)*  Bertha Ralston Bright (1872 – 1960)*  Siblings:  William Chapman Ralston (1826 – 1875)  Samuel W. Ralston (1832 – 1858)*  Andrew Jackson Ralston (1833 – 1918)*  James Alpheus Ralston (1835 – 1866)*  Thomas Hereford Ralston (1840 – 1918)*  Eliza M Ralston Brazell (1849 – 1922)* *Calculated relationship


  • January, 12, 1826
  • USA


  • August, 08, 1875
  • USA


  • Cypress Lawn Memorial Park
  • California
  • USA

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