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Samuel W. Garretson, mechanical engineer and superintendent of gas and electric-light works for the Pacific Lighting Company of California, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1844. He served his apprenticeship to the machinist trade during the years 1861 to 1864. Like many patriotic young men who lived during the dark days of the Rebellion he shouldered his musket and volunteered his services to our Government, and served in the Twenty-first Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, in the Army of the Potomac. After completing his trade he went to sea and spent about ten years on the ocean as an engineer of steamships. He was attached to one of the pioneer steamships of the Pacific mail company’s service, which enter the ports of Japan, after the government of that country had opened its harbors to the commerce of the outside world. He spent six and a half years as engineer on steamers which were plying between the numerous ports of Japan and China. He returned to the United States in 1873 and closed his sea-faring career.
He was constructing engineer of several gas works in different cities in the East, and in October 1880, came to the Pacific coast, which has been his home and field of activity ever since. He built the following gas works: for the Palace Hotel, the Baldwin Hotel, the works of the Pacific Gas Improvement Company, all in San Francisco; the gas works at Benicia, San Diego and San Bernardino, in California; the Gas Works at East Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona.