Contra Costa County












SIMON BLUM.  Now retired from the active cares of business life Simon Blum is still remembered as a pioneer merchant of Martinez, and gratefully named among those who were instrumental in the early development of the city.  A native of France, he was born in the northern part of that country May 22, 1834, and there attained a common school education.  At sixteen years of age, being of an ambitious and enterprising spirit, he decided to immigrate to America, his judgment bespeaking better opportunities for advancement in the western world.  Landing in New York City, he was first employed in a wholesale mercantile establishment, where he remained until the spring of 1853.  The same spirit which had prompted his first emigration now induced him to cross the continent.  After crossing the Isthmus his voyage was completed on the steamer Sierra Nevada, and he arrived in San Francisco in due course of time.  After a brief period spent in that city he came to Martinez, Contra Costa county.  The town at that time consisted of between four and five hundred inhabitants, and boasted one school building, a hotel, two churches and a small number of dwelling houses.  Mr. Blum purchased a store of Captain Fogg, taking into partnership with him a brother, the style of the firm name being S. Blum & Bro.  In his management of this business Mr. Blum met with the success which had characterized his earlier efforts.  Their custom grew and they were successfully established in the commercial life of the city when their building was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1856.  With characteristic energy and enterprise, the young merchants immediately rebuilt, and with the passage of time became the most extensive merchants in the city.  The business continued until 1899, when Mr. Blum disposed of his interests and retired to private life.


In the meantime, Mr. Blum had studied and mastered the Spanish as well as the English language and was for many years employed as interpreter and translator in the settlement of many of the Spanish land grants.  He has at the present time in his possession many valuable papers of the early history of the Spanish in California, and probably no man in the state could give more data on this subject than he.  He also became an extensive land owner, being at one time the largest individual owner in the county, though he has long since disposed of the greater part of his landed property.  In 1873 he built his present residence in Martinez, a beautiful home in the midst of a well-tended lawn covered with flowers and shrubbery and dotted here and there with fountains of water.


In San Francisco, in 1861, Mr. Blum was united in marriage with Leontine Alexander, also a native of France, and to them have been born five children, namely: Myrtle, Albert, Edmund, Rosa, and Hermine.  Rosa married Lee Goldsmith, of San Francisco, and Hermine married M. Strouse, of New York, N.Y.  Fraternally Mr. Blum is identified with the Masons and Odd Fellows, and has been so for many years, in both orders serving in an official capacity.  What Mr. Blum has accomplished toward the commercial development of the country cannot be computed.  In addition to his store in Martinez he established branch stores in various parts of the county and became an extensive dealer in grain.  He assisted materially in the erection of the wharf and warehouses, and at one time owned three vessels, the Hermine Blum, the Melrose and the Martinez, all used exclusively in the handling of freight and grain.  The firm with which he was then connected was known as Blum, Baldwin & Garvin, with offices on California street, San Francisco.  They were among the most extensive shippers in the west, a large part of their produce finding its way to Liverpool and other European ports.  Mr. Blum also assisted in the establishment of the Bank of Martinez and served for many years as a director of the same.




Transcribed by Donna Toole.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 606-607. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2015  Donna Toole.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library