Joseph Steffens, prominently identified with business interests as a bank director and president of the Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento, is honored and respected by all. His position in the public regard, however, has not come merely as a tribute to his success, but is in recognition of his personal worth and the honorable and straightforward methods that he has ever employed in his business career.
A native of Canada, Mr. Steffens was born in 1837, his parents being Joseph and Mary Anne (Graham) Steffens, both of whom were natives of that country. In the year 1840 the father removed to Illinois, settling in Carroll county, where he engaged in farming. His wife died in her native country soon after the birth of her son Joseph, who was the youngest of a family of eight children. The father afterward married again and by the second union had eight children, who were reared in Illinois.
Joseph Steffens was reared upon the family homestead in Illinois, early becoming familiar with farm work in its various departments. The summer months were spent in the fields and during the other seasons of the year he attended the district schools until he had mastered the elementary branches of English learning, when he became a student in the Mount Morris Seminary at Mount Morris, Illinois. Subsequently he pursued a business course in Bell's Commercial College of Chicago, graduating with the class of 1858. He afterward went to Freeport, Illinois, where he entered upon his business career as a clerk in the employ of G. M. Clayton & Brother. He was retained in the services of that firm for three years, when in 1862 he gave up his position in order to come to California, crossing the plains with a team of horses. He arrived in San Francisco on the 9th of September 1862 -- admission day. Here he entered upon a business connection with the firm of Fuller & Heather as a bookkeeper. In 1868 the firm consolidated with Mr. Whittier under the style of Whittier, Fuller & Company, and Mr. Steffens continued with the house in San Francisco until the following year, when he came to Sacramento to take charge of the branch establishment in this city. In 1874 he was admitted to a partnership in the business and retained his connection therewith until the spring of 1892, when he disposed of his interests and retired from the firm. He then became an active director in the California State Bank and has continued as such to the present time. For ten years he was president of the Sacramento board of trade and is now the president of its successor, the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.
In 1865 occurred the marriage of Mr. Steffens and Miss Louise Symes, of Hoboken, New Jersey. They have four children, Joseph Lincoln, Louisa, Lottie and Laura. The son has taken up literary pursuits and is on the editorial staff of McClure's Magazine, being one of the best known writers in the country. Mr. Steffens holds membership relation with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while his political affiliation is with the Republican party. For seven years he was a member of the board of management of the Stockton State Hospital, to which position he was appointed by Governor Markham, and by Governor Gage he was appointed a trustee of the state library, which position he is now filling. Endowed by nature with high intellectual qualities, to which have been added the discipline and embellishment of culture, his is an attractive personality. While he has won marked success in business he has at the same time kept in touch with the thinking men of the age and is thoroughly informed upon many of the subjects which concern the general interests of society and the welfare of the nation.
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