The Society of California Pioneers and its members are listed in the Annals of San Francisco of 1855. The key stipulation seems to be that they arrived inCalifornia prior to December 31, 1849. Since this was a membership organization, it lists only a portion of the pioneers that came to California prior to 1850. Membership fees in 1854 were $10 to join plus a $1/month subscription fee.

The Society was based in San Francisco and most of the members resided there, as opposed to other important pioneer cities such as SacramentoMonterey,Santa BarbaraSonoma and San Diego.

The purpose of the Society was, according to its constitution, "to cultivate the social virtues of its members, to collect and preserve information connected with the early settlement and conquest of the country, and to perpetuate the memory of those who sagacity, enterprise, and love of independence induced them to settle in the wilderness, and become the germ of a new State."

The Society continues to be a membership organization, and "Membership is open to descendants of pioneers who arrived in California prior to January 1, 1850."[1]


The Society continues to exist and has its headquarters in San Francisco as it always has been. Presently the Society is located at 300 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA, in downtown, south of Market Street. The headquarters contains a museum and library.

The collections include paintings, prints, drawings, etchingslithographs, posters, playbills, theater announcements, music sheets, photographs, silverware, clothing and personal effects, medical devices, musical instruments, tools and artifacts dating from the Gold Rush era to 1945. The painting collection includes works by Thomas HillWilliam KeithJules Tavernier, and William Hahn, among others. The photography collection includes the work of Carleton Watkins, Lawrence & Houseworth, and Turrill & Miller.

The museum displays changing exhibits drawn from the Society's collections that focus on California art, history, and culture. Admission is free, although a donation to the Society is appreciated.

Bear Flags

Several Bear Flags were donated to the Society during the last half of the 19th century, including a flag which almost certainly was the Bear Flag which was lowered at Sonoma on July 9, 1846, when the U.S. Flag was first raised at that location. This same Bear Flag very well may be the original Bear Flag which was made at the beginning of the Bear Flag Revolt of June/July 1846. The donation records of the Society show that two Bear Flags were donated to the Society by California U. S. Senator Weller on September 8, 1855.[2] For many years, the Society would carry the Bear Flag during Admission Day parades and also on Anniversaries of the Bear Flag Revolt. Unfortunately all of the Bear flags held by the Society were destroyed in April 1906 as a result of the earthquake and fires which destroyed the Society's Pioneer Hall. Luckily a few photographs of the flags which had been taken survived so that we know what the flags actually looked like. Also a duplicate of the Bear Flag was made in 1896, the 50th Anniversary of the Bear Flag Revolt, and this flag continues to be displayed at the Sonoma Barracks, in Sonoma, California.


1.       ^ The Society of California Pioneers

2.       ^ 1848-1855 Naval Correspondence re: Montgomery Bear Flag


Source: Wikipedia
Contributed by Anonymous
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