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James C. Flood/Silver Baron

Born: October 25, 1826
Died: February 21, 1889
Famous For: Mining the Comstock Lode in Nevada, and with his 3 other Irish partners, becoming some of the richest men in American history

James C. Flood
James Clair Flood was born to Irish immigrant parents in New York, and was apprenticed to a carriage maker. He sailed for California in his early twenties to try his hand at mining, earning enough capital to open a saloon in San Francisco with a partner. It wasn't long before patrons starting giving Flood tips on mining stocks, which he quickly capitalized upon, and which led to the sale of the saloon and a start-up brokerage firm.

Flood and his three other Irish partners in the stock business amassed a great fortune in a short period of time. In 1875, the value of the company's mine investments was estimated to be about a billion dollars. What would that be equal to today...a gazillion perhaps? It was enough for the 4 Irish mining barons, named "The Bonanza Kings", to establish the Nevada Bank, which then merged with Wells Fargo.

There are two historic buildings named Flood, which still exist in San Francisco. The first, and more well-known, is the James C. Flood Mansion, at 1000 California Street, on top of Nob Hill. In a neighborhood swarming with gigantic residences built by the rich and powerful ore and railroad tycoons of the late 1800's, the Flood Mansion was the only one to survive the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

James C. Flood Mansion
This home is built of Connecticut sandstone which was shipped around the Horn and was the first brownstone building to be erected west of the Mississippi.

Then there is the Flood Building at 870 Market Street, just south of Union Square. It was erected by Flood's son, in his honor in 1904, and at the time, it was the largest building in San Francisco. It too, managed to survive the earthquake and fire, and in 1982 became a city landmark building. The most famous tenant in this magnificently designed commercial structure, was Woolworth's, the modern department store's predecessor.

Flood Building