1849 Arrival in California
The De Boom family owned a fleet of sailing ships based in Antwerp where Cornelius graduated from from navigation school. Everett Witzel remembers his mother Emma telling him that Cornelius was instructed by his father to take ships “to go and to trade as best as you can.” Cornelius established branch offices in Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile, very busy trading centers at the time .
Cornelius was in Chile in the fall of 1848 when the news arrived of the discovery of gold in California. Sensing business opportunities, he set sail for San Francisco and arrived on February 18,1849 after a voyage of about two months. He quickly set up yet another office in San Francisco to act as agents for the family firm and became the Honorary Belgian Consul. By 1850 he had left the local firm to engage in real estate. One of his partners was John Townsend and together they speculated on property at Hunter’s Point and elsewhere. In 1850 Cornelius invited his brother, Peter Romain De Boom, for whom De Boom St. is named, to come to San Francisco.
While Honorary Belgian Consul in San Francisco, Cornelius authored a book titled A political and Social Solution: Confederation, Decentralization, Emmigration, published in France in 1864. See http://www.archive.org/stream/unesolutionpolit00boomuoft/unesolutionpolit00boomuoft_djvu.txt for the text in French. (Thanks to Alain Marsily for this information.)
Society of California Pioneers
Cornelius was the childless uncle and god-father of Emma’s father, R.C. De Boom, whom he made his heir. Emma proudly hung this very large certificate in her home at 576 17th Ave. It passed to her oldest son, Frederick, who eventually gave it to his youngest brother, Everett, and currently (2017) it is in the possession of Ron, Claude’s younger son. For a clearer view, click on Certificate.