Contra Costa County











     Owing to the present lamentable state of Finnish affairs the people of that far northern country who transfer their allegiance elsewhere must necessarily command the interest individually, as they do the sympathy nationally, of this great free commonwealth.  Long before the heavy band of persecution settled over the land now claimed by Russia, its countrymen were zealous, industrious and thrifty, and their advent in any port in the world presaged a high standard of industrial and commercial worth.  Instances are many in California of the trust of this assertion, for Finlanders landed on the shores of the state almost at the beginning of its pioneer development, and have invariably found their way into places of trust and responsibility, or at least of honor and efficiency.  To this class belongs John Richard Nystrom, a former sailor and present real estate man of Richmond, and who was born in Finland August 24, 1848.  He is the eldest of four sons and four daughters, whose parents, John and Johanna (Kallis) Nystrom, spent their entire lives in Finland.

     Reared on a farm and educated in the compulsory public schools of Finland, Mr. Nystrom gave vent to his spirit of adventure when eighteen years old, and embarked on a seabound vessel as a deck hand.  He was brave and fearless and capable, adapted himself readily to nautical laws and regulations, and mastered the intricacies of guiding a ship in safety to the ports of the world.  He visited practically all of the ports included on the charts of the merchant marine, and was advanced to able seaman in a shorter time than the majority. Arriving in San Francisco harbor in 1871, he omitted the formality of securing his discharge and continued sailing on San Francisco bay and rivers for a time.  Deciding to abandon seafaring life, he located on a ranch with men by the name of Ellis and Smith, at the Ellis Landing.  After a time Ellis was left at the landing and Mr. Nystrom and Smith went to Stege, but later went back to Ellis Landing, and in 1881 Mr. Nystrom bought seventy acres of the San Pablo grant, upon which he now resides.  The property was in litigation at that time, but was adjusted satisfactorily, and Mr. Nystrom continued to improve and farm it until 1903.  By this time he had come to a realization of its value as a residence section, and subdivided his entire farm into the town of Richmond, reserving five acres for his own use, and calling the whole the Nystrom Addition.  The same year, with other parties, he bought the El Cerito Land Company's property of forty-three acres, which also is subdivided, and of which Mr. Nystrom is a director and the treasurer.  With Harry Ellis he bought the Suarez tract of forty acres, and is thus engaged in one of the largest real estate enterprises in Contra Costa county.  Mr. Nystrom is an enthusiastic promoter of county interests, having made a thorough study of the resources and possibilities of the soil, and of the enterprises and institutions which contribute to its high place among the counties of the state.  His business prospectus shows an encouraging number of lots sold in the Nystrom Addition, and the easy terms and fair treatment of prospective buyers promise a speedy building up of this well watered and well located part of the town.

     For many years Mr. Nystrom served on the school board of San Pablo School District, and his political allegiance, although not active, is with the Republican party.  Fraternally he is connected with McKinley Blue Lodge No. 347, F.& A.M., of Richmond, and the Eastern Star, and in religion he is a member of the board of trustees of the Presbyterian Church.  In Richmond he married Mary, daughter of Owen Griffins, who was born on a ranch adjoining that of the Nystrom's, and whose father was a native of England.  Mr. Griffins was formerly a merchant in Australia, coming to California at an early day, and settling next the Nystrom Addition.  Ten children comprise the Nystrom household:  Alfred; Edwin, of San Francisco; William, Raymond, Betsey, Mabel, Alice, Louise, Hazel and Edna, all living at home.





Transcribed 8-28-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1287-1288. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library