Thursday, March 3, 2016

Henry Judson Booth (1830-1909): Company built first locomotive in California

Booth Family Plot

Henry Judson Booth was born in England in 1830. In 1832, his family moved to Ohio where he lived until 1851, when he moved to San Francisco. He was married to Elizabeth Booth with whom he had four children, Edgar, Jessie, Genevieve and Lizzie. They lived on Harrison Street in San Francisco.

Along with his partners George Prescott and Irving Scott, he founded the Union Iron Works in San Francisco which established itself on the West Coast and nationally as a key player in the early days of steel shipbuilding industry. Union Iron Works constructed engines and boilers for iron ships, locomotive equipment and the majority of mining equipment used in the Comstock silver mines. The firm built the first locomotive in California, which debuted on August 30, 1865 with Governor Frederick Low in attendance. The train traveled from the Mission District in San Francisco to San José, California.

Union Iron Works in San Francisco
An ad for Union Iron Works in San Francisco
Union Iron Works also cast the shaft for the steamer John S. McKim, which was the first iron casting in the state  of California. In June 1875, Henry J. Booth retired and the firm name was changed to Prescott, Scott and Company. He also owned a coal mine near Corral Hollow Creek in Alameda County.

The Union Iron Works Historic District still exists in San Francisco east of Illinois Street between 18th and 22nd Streets. It originally stood on what was once a small promontory surrounded by deep waters called Point San Quentin. In the 1850s it was renamed Potrero Point. The firm was located on a 22-acre shipyard situated along the shoreline and consisted of six main buildings and a wharf.

He died in New York City on November 26, 1909, where he lived with his youngest daughter Genevieve..

Sources: Port of San Francisco, New York Times,, National Park Service, Oakland Tribune


DeeDude said...

This is the photographer Edgar Cohen's father-in-law. His first one that is. He married Jessie Booth and they had two children: Alfred Booth Cohen and Beatrice, known to all as Bessie.

Edgar and Jessie estranged and she moved to Los Angeles where she passed away. She's buried in the Cohen lot here with Edgar, her children and Edgar's second wife, Jessie.

Someone ordered a stone for Jessie with her name and "Mother of Albert B and Beatrice" on it The stone never made it to the lot. I wonder if Emily had something to say about the matter. Emily's in the Cohen lot, too.

DeeDude said...

Noticed some mistakes in my posting:

Jesse is the correct spelling of Edgar's first wife's name, not Jessie.
Edgar's second wife's name is Emily. I have it as Jessie.
The reference to Emily in the third paragraph is correct.