The Photographs of W.C. Ralston and His Mansion in Belmont, Calif. collection contains eleven photographic albumen prints
taken by Eadweard Muybridge in 1874. The prints, some of which are stereograph halves, are gathered on four mounts --two prints
being individually mounted, the remaining nine divided among two larger mounts. The collection features exterior views of
the estate's various buildings and grounds; interior views of the dining room, ballroom, balcony and foyer; and a photographic
reproduction of a portrait print of William C. Ralston by an unidentified artist.
William Chapman Ralston was born near Plymouth, Ohio in 1826. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Wellsville, Ohio, on
the banks of the Ohio River, where the young Ralston would become enchanted with the promise of adventure to be had on the
river boats on their way to and from the Mississippi River and New Orleans. As a teenager, Ralston pursued his ambition, and
went to work as a deck hand on the Mississippi River. Gifted with both a talent for numbers and natural charm and wit, he
quickly became head clerk of the river boat Constitution. During this time Ralston met Cornelius Garrison and Ralph K. Fretz,
then partners as river boat merchants, whom he greatly impressed with his prodigious skills and initiative. In 1849, upon
hearing of the discovery of gold in California, Ralston immediately left for San Francisco. En route, he was delayed in Panama,
and was there hired by Garrison and Fretz. They, along with Charles Morgan of New York, had exploited the Gold Rush traffic
across the Isthmus of Panama and established the profitable shipping firm of Garrison, Morgan and Fretz. Ralston rose to become
a junior partner in the firm, and was often called on to handle its most delicate negotiations.Edward James Muggeridge was born on April 9, 1830 in Kingston-on-Thames, England. He was the second of four sons born to John
Muggeridge and Susanna Smith Muggeridge. John Muggeridge was a grain, coal, and timber merchant and Susannah Smith Muggeridge
came from a prosperous family engaged in the business of carrying by barge. At the age of 22 Edward decided to go to America
and he changed his name to Eadweard Muygridge. He took the spelling of his first name from the "Coronation Stone," which had
been discovered in Kingston in 1850. Seven Saxon kings had been crowned upon this stone and two kings named Eadweard appeared
on its plinth. As for the spelling of his last name, the "muy" may have been added to reflect some Spanish ancestry.
11 photographic prints, various sizes; albumen; compiled on 4 mounts, 26 x 29 cm. or smaller.
11 digital objects
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted
in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.