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Timothy Guy Phelps: Wikis


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Timothy Guy Phelps (20 December 1824 – 11 June 1899) was an American business executive and politician. He was the first president of the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1865 until 1868 when the railroad was purchased by members of The Big Four, and saw the railroad build its first tracks south of San Francisco, California.




Early years

Phelps was born in Oxford, New York, and completed his elementary schooling and then moved to New York City in 1845 where he worked in mercantile for a short time, then took time to study law. As soon as word of the gold discoveries in California reached New York, Phelps was on the boat to the west. He arrived in California, via Panama, in December 1849 and he moved to Tuolumne County, California where he tried his hand at mining. Failing to find a fortune in gold, he moved to San Francisco to resume a career in the mercantile.


Phelps' business losses were substantial in the great fire of 1851, but Phelps rebuilt and soon recovered his loss. It was during this period of recovery that he purchased 3,500 acres (14 km²) of land in what is now San Mateo County, California. He used the land for farming and soon decided to make the area, now the city of San Carlos, his home.

Living in San Carlos, in 1851 Phelps became involved in the local vigilance committee in an effort to uphold the law.

Following a failed state assembly bid in 1854, Phelps was elected as the first Republican from San Francisco and San Mateo Counties the following year and served until 1857. During his term, he served on the first Grand Jury on August 1, 1856. He then went on in 1858 to serve in the state senate until 1861 when he ran for Governor of California. Instead of that post, he was elected US Senator for California. His US Senate term lasted from 4 March 1861 to 3 March 1863.

Phelps chose not to run for reelection in 1862, instead he returned to California. His next job was in real estate until 1870 when he became the customs collector for the port of San Francisco (until 1872). In 1875 he again ran for Governor of California, and he was again defeated, by William Irwin.

He also served as regent of the University of California at Berkeley.

Personal life

He met and married Sophronia J. Jewell, of Guilford, New York in 1853. He died near San Carlos, California after he was struck by two boys on a tandem bicycle at 75.


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John C. Burch
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Cornelius Cole


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