San Francisco county figures as one of the most attractive, progressive and prosperous divisions of the state of California, justly claiming a high order of citizenship and a spirit of enterprise which is certain to conserve consecutive development and marked advancement in the material upbuilding of the section. The county has been and is signally favored in the class of men who have controlled its affairs in official capacity, and in this connection the subject of this review demands representation as one who has served the county faithfully and well in positions of distinct trust and responsibility. He is now occupying the position of auditor, to which he was elected in 1902.
He was born April 2, 1858, in Weaverville, Trinity county, California, and is a representative of one of the pioneer families of this state. His father, William Baehr, came to the Pacific coast in 1849, attracted by the discovery of gold in this section of the country. He was of German parentage and his birth occurred in Hanover. He became well known as a manufacturer of quartz jewelry, doing business at Sansome and Clay streets in San Francisco. He was among the first jewelry manufacturers in this city and carried on an extensive and profitable business for many years. His death occurred here January 9, 1900, and thus passed away one of the honored pioneers and respected representatives of commercial life on the Pacific coast.
Harry Baehr was a lad of only four summers when brought by his parents to San Francisco, and in the public schools of this city he pursued his early education, which was supplemented by a course in City College. He left school at the age of fifteen years and entered upon an apprenticeship to his father in order to learn the jewelr trade, but when he had completed the term of service he turned his attention to general merchandising, in Fresno county, California, in 1870. He there continued until 1880, when he became paymaster on the Glen ranch in Colusa county. This ranch covered about sixty-three thousand acres, and annually five hundred and fifty thousand dollars were paid out to the men employed. In the fall of 1882 Mr. Baehr left that position and loated in Tacoma, Washington, where he turned his attention to general merchandising; but that country was visited by a financial panic in 1885 and he left Tacoma and returned to San Francisco, where he engaged in the insurance business as city agent, representing the Phoenix Assurance Company of London, with which he continued until 1899. He was also at one time connected with the Daily Alta California and was in charge of the business affairs of that paper during the last ten years of its existence. In 1899 he was appointed deputy recorder, and in 1900 was appointed cashier of the license office. Two years later, at the biennial election of 1902, he was chosen by popular suffrage for the position of auditor for a term of two years, to which office he was re-elected in November, 1903. A contemporary publication has said of him in this connection:
"Mr. Harry Baehr, the newly elected auditor, is one of the most popular men in municipal politics. He is peculiarly fitted to ably perform the important work of this department of our government, because of his broad experience in general business and his close relationship with large insurance companies and other corporations, and also as cashier of the license office of this city.
"There are few, if any, offices in the government of San Francisco which demand a more rigid attention to detail, or that need to be systematized more perfectly than the auditing and the examination of the city's accounts. Further, it demands a clear brain, keen perceptive faculties and a full knowledge of other departments of the city. Mr. Baehr, having served in three distinct departments in San Francisco's municipal government, is in an excellent position to know what the expenditures in such departments should be. In addition to this, he is conservative and thorough in his work, and is a statistician and an accountant of recognized ability. His fitness to cope with the problems incident to this office has been shown to the public early in his administration.
"Mr. Baehr has an enviable reputation in this city for his honesty, his conscientious work, and his close attention to his duties, and the municipality is fortunate in having such a man at the head of this all-important office, for it can readily be appreciated that anything but the strictest attention to the accounts and expenditures of the various departments of the city, or anything but the most consicentious application would result in an unnecessary and perhaps disastrous cost to the tax-payers of thousands of dollars. The bond required from the auditor is fifty thousand dollars, no other being larger excepting the treasurer and tax collector, which are each one hundred thousand dollars."
He has always given his support to the Republican party and has been unfaltering in his advocacy of its principles. In June, 1884, in Tacoma, Washington, Mr. Baehr was united in marriage to Miss Linea L. Bowers, a native of Pennsylvania. Her father was at one time a United States marshal. To Mr. and Mrs. Baehr has been born one son, Walter Harry, who is now seventeen years of age and is pursuing a course in the Polytechnic high school of San Francisco. Mr. Baehr is a Mason, thoroughly informed concerning the tenets and teachings of the order and exemplifying in his life the beneficent spirit of the craft. He has advanced to high rank in Masonry, having attained the thirty-second degree of the York Rite. In all business and official relations he has been found conscientious and industrious, and his political record is commendble because of the honorable methods he has followed in all his political work and his fidelity to the public trust in the discharge of the duties of office.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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