BOLTON, James Robert

From Islapedia

BOLTON, James Robert (1817-1890), New York-born (January 24, 1817 in Jamaica, Queens) merchant and trader at Mazatlan in 1847 with commercial relations in California, which place he visited for the first time in June, 1847 on the Laliy Shaw Stewart. Pioneer attorney and real estate developer, in later years, Bolton became known as the principal claimant for the Mission Dolores estate in the Santillan case. [California Pioneers, 1542-1848.] His Russian Hill home in San Francisco was on the corner of Jones and Greenwich streets. His name appears in the 1870 San Francisco Census, and in 1885 he was residing in San Francisco as a capitalist.

At one time, Bolton had been employed by Jecker, Torre & Company, whose principals were Juan B. Jecker and Isidoro de la Torre, one-time share holders in the New Almaden Quicksilver mine discovered in 1845 by Andres Castillero. His closest friend was William E. Barron, nephew of Eustace Barron. Together they formed Bolton, Barron and Company (1850-1859). They built an office building at Montgomery and Merchant streets that survived the 1906 earthquake. A rift developed between the partners, and Barron bought out Bolton, renaming the company Barron and Company, taking in partner, Thomas Bell.

In the San Francisco directory of 1852-1853 Bolton is listed as Bolton, Barron & Company, merchants, 92 Merchant St., San Francisco. In 1852 in Santa Barbara, Francisco de la Guerra, Santa Barbara County treasurer, sold at public auction for taxes, “the southeastern half of the Island of Santa Cruz.” A deed of conveyance to James R. Bolton was recorded in Santa Barbara County on December 31, 1851 in Book of Deeds, Volume B, pages 28-30. On November 20, 1850, Francisco de la Guerra paid $26 for this land when it was auctioned by Antonio de la Guerra, Santa Barbara County treasurer. These claims were eventually denied by the court.

Bolton married Paula Estrada Montaño (1827-1888) and they had six children:

  • Sinie Bolton (b. 1850)
  • John Montaño Bolton (1852-1890)
  • Mary Ann Bolton [Alvarado/Coyle] (1856-1942)
  • Elizabeth Bolton (b. 1862)
  • Frances Pauline Bolton [Melliss] (b. 1863)
  • Robert Clay Bolton (1865-1930) = Mabel Eddy (1869-1955)

Bolton died in San Francisco on January 28, 1890 at age 73. He is buried in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA.


  • BOLTON, James Robert. Supreme Court of the United States, Appellant v. James R. Bolton. Appelle. December 1859. Leatherbound.
[original in SCIF archives]



In the News~

May 15, 1850 [DAC]: “Partnership. The subscribers, in connection with their friends Messrs. Barron, Forbes & Co., of Tepic, and Jecker, Torre & Co., of Mazatlan, have associated themselves under the firm of Bolton, Barron & Co., for the transaction of a general commission and exchange business in theis city, and are temporarily locaated at the iron store of Messrs. Everett & Co., foot of Sacramento Street. James R. Bolton, William E. Barron.”


May 29, 1850 [DAC]: “COPARTNERSHIP — The subscribers, in connection with their friends Messrs. Barron, Forbes & Co., of Tepic, and Jecker, Torre & Co., of Mazatlan, have associated themselves under the firm of BOLTON, BARRON & Co., for the transaction of a general commission and exchange business in this city, and are temporarily located at the iron store of Messrs. Everett & CO., foot of Sacramento Street. James R. Bolton, William E. Barron.“


August 15, 1850 [TAC]: “Br[itish] Brig Amelia, [Captain] McMillan, 26 days from Mazatlan, 5 pass[engers], to Bolton, Barron & Co.”


March 29, 1858 [DAC]: “Arrived. Schooner Ann G. Doyle, [Captain] Phillips, 3 days from San Luis Obispo; merchandise to Bolton, Barron & Co.


January 13, 1859 [SFDEB]: “…The members of the New Almaden Company are Eustace Barron of the city of Mexico, Martinez Escandon, E. W. Barron, Wm. Forbes, the heirs of Walkinshaw, John Parrott, J. R. Bolton, Wm. E. Barron, and it is said, some English and South American mercantile houses. All of these persons are non-resident aliens but three — which three assert between them ownership to but two-twenty-fourths in the New Almaden Mine. Wm. E. Barron is an English-Mexican, and resides in San Francisco. He is a partner in the house of Bolton, Barron & Co., who act as agents for the New Almaden Company in commercial business, and the local manager of the prosecution of the company’s claim before the United States District Court. John Parrott was born an American, but has passed in trade in Mexico those years of his life in which commercial character receives its strongest impressions. He also has held the office of American Consul at Mazatlan. James R. Bolton, also, was born an American, received his education in Mexico, and once, in the absence of Parrott, acted as American Consul at Mazatlan.”


August 20, 1859 [DAC]: “Dissoulution of Partnership. The partnership hitherto existing between James R. Bolton, William E. Barron and Barron, Forbes & Co., under the firm of Bolton, Barron & Co., is this day dissolved by lapse of time. Bolton, Barron & Co. San Francisco, August 15th, 1859.”


August 20, 1859 [DAC]: “Dissolution of Co-partnership. The firm of Bolton, Barron & Co., having been this day dissolved, the undersigned shall continue in business in this place, in connection with the house of Barron, Forbers & Co., Mexico, under the firm of Barron & Co. William E. Barron, San Francisco, August 15th, 1859.”


November 23, 1850 [Santa Barbara County Deeds Book B, pages 10-11: Land sales. Antonio de la Guerra, treasurer, to Francisco de la Guerra, southeastern half of the island of Santa Cruz; consideration, $26.


December 31, 1851 [Santa Barbara County Deeds Book B, pages 28-30]: Land sales. Francisco de la Guerra, treasurer, to James R. Bolton, southeastern half of the island of Santa Cruz; consideration, $13,000.


January 26, 1874 [SBDP]: “The following is a list of the passengers per steamer Orizaba which arrived at this port [Santa Barbara] on Sunday evening, January 25th ...Dr. J. B. Shaw, J. S. Bell, ...J. M. Bolton, ...A. Larco...”


January 29, 1890 [DAC]: “James R. Bolton, the well-known capitalist, died at his residence, No. 2210 Jones Street, early yesterday morning, at the advanced age of 73 years. His death was not unexpected, as he has been sick of late and has suffered from paralysis for three years. In 1846 Mr. Bolton was United States Consul at Mazatlan, Mexico, and was connected with the firm of Jecker, Torre & Co. of that city. This firm was interested in the New Almaden mines, and in 1849 they sent Mr. Bolton to this city to look after their interests. Barron, Forbes & Co. were also interested in these mines and Mr. Bolton became associated with this firm in 1850. Mr. Bolton acquired large landed interests, and in the early 60’s he retired from the firm to look after his property. He leaves two sons and three daughters.”

January 30, 1890 [SWI]: “Died. James R. Bolton, father of J.M. Bolton of Jolon, died in San Francisco on the 28th inst., aged 73 years. He was a 49-er and owner of the Ojitos grant at Jolon.”


February 2, 1890 [SFCall]: “James R. Bolton's Will. The will of the late James R. Bolton, who died on the 28th of January, was filed for probate yesterday... The value of the estate is estimated to be in excess of $1,000,000... The Testator bequeathed his residence to his widow, Mrs. Pauline M. Bolton, together with a monthly allowance of $500; a lot on Chestnut Street, to his step-daughter, Eutemia Estrada; a lot on Clay Street near Prospect Place, to his son, John M. Bolton; a lot on Montgomery Street to Edward E. Bolton; ten Southern Pacific Railroad bonds, worth $10,000, to a brother, E. C. Bolton, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; $1000 each to the Catholic and Protestant Orphan Asylums of this city. Of the residue of the estate the deceased leaves one-fourth to his daughter Mary A., wife of John C. Alvarado; one-fourth each to his other daughters, Eliza M. and Frances P. Bolton, and his son, Robert Clay Bolton...“


January 19, 1896 [SFCall]: “John Bolton's contest. He wants more than $150,000 from his grandfather's estate. Charges that James R. Bolton was unduly influenced against his son. The will of James R. Bolton, which has been probated, and under the terms of which the estate has been distributed, is being contested by John R> Bolton, a grandson of the testator. The grounds for the contest are undue influence and unsoundness of mind. James R. Bolton died on January 28, 1890. He left an estate valued at $500,000. Three days after his death Daniel Rogers and Robert C. Bolton files for probate a will dated January 25, 1888. Attached to the will were two codicils, one dated April 6, 1889, and the other October 29, 1889. Rogers and Bolton were named as executors. The will was admitted to probate, the estate was distributed on January 22, 2894, and on May 29, 1894 the executors were discharged. The petitioner is the 15-year-old son of John M. Bolton, deceased, who was a son of James R. Bolton, the testator, and he has several brothers and sisters, all under age. In his petition he avers that prior to the execution of his will, James R. Bolton was afflicted with paralysis and paresis, and that he was not in a mental condition to sign any document, much less a will disposing of an estate worth $500,000. It is also averred that Bolton was for a long time, while mentally weak, under the influence of Rogers, Robert Bolton, Eutemia Estracia, Mary A. Bolton and Frances P. Melliss. To These the bulk of the property was bequeathed. These bequests, he alleges, were secured by artifice and influence, for they forced him to sign the will and the codicils as drawn. Only a very small portion of the estate, a piece of real estate valued at $15,000, was all that was left to John M. Bolton and his family. This amount out of a $500,000 estate, it is claimed, is but an insignificant sum, and not at all like what the testator would have left had he not been influenced against John M. Bolton and his family. The petitioners pray that the will admitted to probate be declared not to be the last will of James R. Bolton; that its probate be revoked; that the order of distribution be vacated, and that an administrator be appointed until the estate can be properly distributed.”