John Lick

Managing Real Estate Broker with Fathom Realty PB00068179

James Lick was born in Stumpstown (now Fredericksburg) Pennsylvania back in 1796.  The son of a carpenter, he learned the craft at an early age.  When he was 21, he moved to New York City where he set up shop.  Moving again to Baltimore, Maryland he learned the art of piano making, quickly mastering the skills he started making pianos.

He moved around a lot finally settling in San Francisco, California in 1848 with $30,000.00 in gold (valued in 2020 at 2.75 million) and 600 pounds of chocolate.  The chocolate sold quick so he convinced his friend to move to San Francisco (more on that in a moment).  He also started buying up land.  A few weeks after his arrival the California Gold Rush started.  He continued to purchase land in Santa Clara, Lake Tahoe and a ranch in Los Angeles Count and all the Santa Catalina Island. 

His friend from Peru did move to San Francisco and started making chocolate there, maybe you’ve heard of him Domingo Ghirardelli, the founder of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.  At the time of his death in 1876 James was the richest man in California.

NW Arkansas come for a visit, stay for a lifetime.

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NW Arkansas the home of WalMart, JB Hunt Trucking and Tyson Foods.


Come for a visit stay for a lifetime.  



Comments (23)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:


Wonderful post.  We frequent Peru's shops whenever we are in Cali.  Enjoy your weekend, thanks for the post.  Bill Salvatore

Jun 05, 2021 04:58 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi James - Love it.  When in San Francisco buy plenty of Ghirardelli Chocolate.

Jun 05, 2021 05:17 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning James. Have been to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory but did not know the whole story. Lick was one smart cookie! Enjoy your day!

Jun 05, 2021 05:22 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

So, he originally made his fortune from selling pianos?  I don't really even know how to play the piano, haha.

Jun 05, 2021 05:24 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello James - your story has a great twist today.  A man named Lick and another man with the name of Ghirardelli join forces.  Almost like serendipity.    

Jun 05, 2021 06:04 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Chocolate - a great way to get rich! I like their chocolate although I'm not sure that it's my favorite.

Jun 05, 2021 08:14 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

What a great success story James Dray . I'm guessing that the majority of his wealth came from his dealings in Real Estate.

Jun 05, 2021 09:25 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a fun post, we actually met someone from the Ghirardelli family, and agent who had a listing on one of their properties...The company is now owned by a Swiss firm Lindt & Sprüngli, and we also know a Lindt...LOL we do love chocolate.  A

Jun 05, 2021 10:53 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

The best chocolate there is for a number of great recipes that I put them into .  Have a great day!


Jun 05, 2021 11:08 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi James- I am very familiar with that chocolate and it is the only brownie mix I use. 

Jun 05, 2021 11:54 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Hey there James. I can't imagine traveling with 600 pounds of chocolate back before refrigeration

Jun 05, 2021 12:44 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Where the heck did "John" Lick go?

Jun 05, 2021 01:02 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, James, for sharing this story.

Have an outstanding weekend.

Jun 05, 2021 01:09 PM
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

He was a pretty good business man if I don't say so myself. And his friend made awesome chocolate.

Jun 05, 2021 01:49 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi James Dray - When you put chocolate and San Francisco in the same paragraph, I knew you were talking about Ghirardelli.  Decades ago, we flew to San Francisco and walked from the pier to Ghirardelli Square.  It was raining lightly and very romantic. 

Jun 05, 2021 01:53 PM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi James,  Thank you for sharing the background story of Ghirardelli chocolates.  Sounds like his chocolate was as good as gold back then .

Jun 05, 2021 08:28 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

James when you said San Francisco and Chocolate I was guessing and I was right first time in a long time:)Endre

Jun 05, 2021 10:48 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

p.s.: I just read Sheri Sperry - MCNE®  comment oh boy we were on the same page:))))Endre

Jun 05, 2021 10:49 PM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Now that is a inspiration of a blog post. Thank you for sharing James Dray 

Jun 06, 2021 04:18 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

There is the James Lick Observatory in the mountains outside San Jose. There is James Lick High School in San Jose. James Lick is buried under a 5,000 pound stone beneath the Lick Observatory telescope on top of Mt. Hamilton.

As for Ghirardelli…YUM! Great Chocolate!

Oct 21, 2021 12:05 PM