|John Gay's photo of the Ladd memorial taken|
sometime in the 1980's
George Solon Ladd was born in Michigan in 1841 but moved with his parents to the mining town of Iowa Hill in California when he was 15. He worked as a telegraph operator for the Alta Telegraph Company as a 15 year old before moving on to Sacramento, Stockton and eventually San Francisco. Ambitious, hardworking and intelligent he rose rapidly in the incipient telecommunications industry, initially as an employee in the California State Telegraph Company but eventually setting up the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Company of San Francisco, specialising in the construction of private and commercial telegraph lines. In 1877 he formed the American speaking Telephone Company and brought the telephone to the West Coast. Two years later another of his ventures, the Western Electric Light Company carried out the first tests of electric street lighting in San Francisco. He was a prominent member of San Francisco society and despite the heavy work commitments that undermined his health also found time for civic and social activities. There were many obituaries in the American newspapers once the news of his death was cabled across the Atlantic but he was virtually unknown in England and his demise went completely unreported in the British press.
George Solon Ladd by Fritz Kettenburg, Reprinted from "INSULATORS - Crown Jewels of the Wire", February 1978, page 4: