Leidesdorf Book Series Announced

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Leidesdorf Book Series Chronicles Historical Contributions to Mankind

Family legacy includes creation of the State of California, world-class businesses, and philanthropic deeds crossing all boundaries of race and religion

        Atlanta, GA, October 25, 2005:  Everyday people pass Leidesdorff Street in San Francisco and Leidesdorf Way in New York City not knowing that the people for whom the streets are named are part of a legacy of goodwill, which is prevalent throughout their family’s history.  Since the 1600s, the Leidesdorf family has constantly exemplified traits of respect for freedom, risk-taking, entrepreneurship, and true care for the fellow man. 

        William Alexander Leidesdorff, born October 23rd, 1810, assisted in establishing the Bear Flag Republic, declaring California under American occupation.   He was the Treasurer of San Francisco when he donated land to create the first public school in the State.  Samuel David Leidesdorf, born in 1881, earned his success through his own accounting firm, S. D. Leidesdorf & Co., but was renowned for his ability to raise money for philanthropic causes including the United Negro College Fund, the Red Cross, the United Jewish Appeal, the Young Women’s Christian Association and the New York University Medical Center.  These are two examples of Leidesdorf family members who made their contributions to society and left their legacies to the world.

        In his new book, entitled “William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer,” author Gary Palgon recounts the many accomplishments of the little-known man who became the first Black millionaire when gold was found on his property just prior to his death in 1848.  With flags at half-mast, his burial in the historic Mission Delores was a tribute to his efforts in settling the state, holding the office of Treasurer of San Francisco, launching the first steam-powered schooner on San Francisco Bay, and holding the first horse race in the state, among other firsts.

        In Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 131, then-California Assemblyman Dave Cox referred to Leidesdorff as “a prominent civic leader and pioneer in the successful quest for California to become the 31st state in the United States.  He was elected Treasurer of the City of San Francisco, owned the largest home in the city, constructed the first City Hotel, built the first commercial shipping warehouse, and donated the land to build the first public school in California.”

        "As the original source material in Gary Palgon's biography makes clear, many of William Leidesdorff's most notable accomplishments relate to his participation in the beginnings of business and commerce in California. The achievements of this African-American entrepreneur, diplomat and California pioneer are truly remarkable." commented Martin McGuinn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mellon Financial Corporation.

        “William’s life was cut short in 1848 at the age of 38 years when he died of meningitis”, said Mr. Palgon, “and the sad part is that family, friends and the government spent the next fifty-plus years arguing over his estate, which was valued at more than one million dollars at the time.”

        William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer is available at www.FamilyTreeExpert.com/Legacy.  The author may be contacted at Expert@FamilyTreeExpert.com.

About the Author

Gary Palgon, the Family Tree Expert, was born in Miami, Florida, and has lived in Atlanta, Georgia since 1990 working in the computer industry. In 1981, he began researching his family’s history, tracing over 4,500 relatives back to the 1600s on six continents. His research has taken him throughout the United States, Eastern Europe and the Middle-East, visiting the towns where his ancestors lived.  He has published four books about his family history as well as several others pertaining to genealogy. 

William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer

By Gary Mitchell Palgon
ISBN: 1-4116-4625-8
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2005900955
Publication Date: October 2005
96 pages; 38 figures; index.

 

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