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Male, born 1844-09, died 1917-03-05

Associated with the firms network

Ransome Company, Building Contractors; Ransome, Ernest Leslie, Engineer

Professional History


Ransome was one of the pre-eminent innovators in reinforced concrete in the late nineteenth century;

Superintendent, Pacific Stone Company, San Francisco, CA, c. 1871. (See San Francisco CIty Directory, 1871, p. 540.)

Principal, Ernest L. Ransome, Building Contractor, San Francisco, CA, c. 1875- . From about 1875-1880, Ransome operated his own business contracting for concrete-related jobs at 10 Bush Street in San Francisco. During this time, he advertised in the San Francisco city directories under a somewhat confusing array of business categories. In 1875, the San Francisco Business Directory for the Year Commencing March 1875, (p. 775), had his business listed under "Artifical Stone" contractors. The Business Directory of San Francisco and Principal Towns of California and Nevada, 1877, p. 572, categorized his firm under "Stone Yards." He was listed under "Drugs and Medicines--Wholesale," in the San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1877, (p. 955) business directory, for selling silicate of soda and chloride of calcium, and was listed as a purveyor of "Architectural Materials" (p. 920). His office continued to be located at 10 Bush Street in 1877.

In 1878, Ransome had the directory of that year classify his office under the "Architects' Materials" and "Carpenters-Builders" headings. (See B.C. Vandall San Francisco City Directory, 1878, p. 914 and 939.) Two years later, Ransome was listed in the classified ads of the the San Francisco City Directory, 1880, p. 1055 under "Pavements."

By c. 1883, Ransome had moved his office to 402 Montgomery Street. In 1883, there were four firms listed under "Artificial Stone" in the San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1883, p. 1106. Ransome's firm was located next door to the California Artificial Stone Paving Company at 404 Montgomery, and nearby to the William D. Perine Company at 28 New Montgomery Street.

The Earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco widened and enhanced Ransome's reputation as an reinforced concrete inventor and engineer. In the aftermath of the disaster, many engineers examined the structural weaknesses of the city's buildings, and Ransome's became famous for their imperviousness to the shock. An article in the Architect and Engineer of Californiashortly after his death stated: "Ernest L. Ransome, pioneer in reinforced concrete building construction in the United States, whose death was noted last month, is credited with having built the first reinforced concrete buildings in America. Bulletin No. 12 of the Association of American Portland Cement Manufacturers in 1906 says: 'Ernest L. Ransome, then of San Francisco, from 1885 to 1890 was engaged in applying his discoveries to works of the most elaborate and extensive character--we can bestow the greater credit and honor upon him for the courage and splendid mechanical and engineering ability which he displayed in undertaking the construction of steel concrete buildings of such magnitude in a country subject to earthquakes; and the value of his discoveries has been further accentuated by the fact that during the recent great earthquake in California all of the above structures cames through the ordeal unscathed, where buildings of brick and stone in their immediate vicinity were entirely wrecked.' It is said of Mr. Ransome that he was the inventor of more machinery for the purpose of mixing and placing concrete than all other inventors combined." (See "Concrete Industry Loses Pioneer Builder," Architect and Engineer of Californa, vol. XLIX, no. 2, 05/1917, p. 106.)

Professional Activities

Ransome dedicated his life to various aspects of making, applying and designing with concrete. He obtained numerous patents for machines that could make and apply concrete surfaces, many illustrated in H. Colin Campbell's book, The Ransome Book How to Make and How to Use Concrete, (New York: Ransome Concrete Machinery Company, 1917).



Ransome lived with his parents in Ipswich, UK, at 11 Lower Brook Street in 1861. The family address was listed on the 1851 English Census as Lower Brook Street, as well. (See, Source Citation Class: HO107; Piece: 1800; Folio: 450; Page: 17; GSU roll: 207449, accessed 08/28/2016.)

Ransome settled in the US in 1870.The next year, he resided at 1114 Clay Street in San Francisco.

In 1890, Ransome, listed in the CA State Voters' Register as a building contractor, lived at 1505 10th Avenue in the 7th Ward of Oakland, CA.

Ransome and his large family had a residence at 532 9th Street in Brooklyn, NY according to the 1900 US Census. That year's Census listed his occupation as "Engineer Stationary." The household included four children, one daughter-in-law, a grandson, and a servant, Annie Diviney (born 05/1881 in Ireland). (See, Source Citation Year: 1900; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 22, Kings, New York; Roll: 1059; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 0365; FHL microfilm: 1241059, accessed 08/28/2016.)

He and his family had moved to Plainfield, NJ, by 1910. Ernest, Mary Jane and Percy Ransome lived at 910 Madison Avenue in Plainfield with a servant, Margaret McCormack (born c. 1870 in Ireland, who emigrated from that country in 1882). The 1910 US Census listed him as a "concrete engineer." (See, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Plainfield Ward 3, Union, New Jersey; Roll: T624_910; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0096; FHL microfilm: 1374923, accessed 08/28/2016.)


His father, Frederick Ransome, Sr., (born c. 1917 in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK) operated an "artificial stone" manufacturing company employing about 60 people in 1861. (A decade earlier, Frederick was a coal merchant in Ipswich.) His mother, Catherine (born c. 1816 in Cheddar, Somerset, UK), was busy with nine children in the household. The Ransomes were sufficiently prosperous to afford four servants, Hannah Ransby (born c. 1834 in Bawdsey, Suffollk, UK, a general servant), Anne Theobald (born c. 1837 in Norton, Suffolk, UK, nurse maid), Hannah Barslett (born c. 1838 in London, UK, general servant) and Rebecca Cousins (born c. 1837 in Offton, Suffolk, UK, general servant).

Other siblings living at home in 1861 included: Frederick, Jr. (born c. 1838 in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK), Jessie (a daughter, born c. 1842 in Ipswich), Mary Catherine (born c. 1846 in Ipswich), Lucy Anne (born c. 1848 in Ipswich), (Agnes, born c. 1853 in Ipswich), John Wilmer (born c. 1855 in Ipswich), Gertrude (born c. 1856 in Ipswich), and Harriet H. (born c. 1858 in Ipswich).

Ten years earlier, a James Ransome (born c. 1851 in Ipswich) appeared on the English Census sheet. At this time, the household had two servants--Maria Kerr (born c. 1796 in Ipswich, a monthly nurse) and Elizabeth Stopher (born c.1821 in Yoxford, Suffolk, UK, a nurse maid). A civil engineer by the name of George R. Rumele (born c. 1814 in London, UK), was a visitor to the household. (See, Source Citation Class: HO107; Piece: 1800; Folio: 450; Page: 17; GSU roll: 207449, accessed 08/28/2016.)


He married Mary Jane Dawson Ransome (born 05/1846 in England) on 03/05/1868 in Levington, Suffolk, UK. She emigrated from England to the US in 1871, a year after her husband.


In 1900, the US Census indicated that he and Mary had had 8 children, 7 of whom were alive in that year. The children who lived at home in 1900 included: Arthur Wilfrid Ransome (born c. 04/1876 in CA), Alice M. Ransome (born c. 10/1877 in CA), Kate C. Ransome (born c. 05/1881 in CA), and Percy Ransome (born c. 10/1888 in CA). Arthur, age 24, was listed on the census form as a builder, and had married Maude M. Ransome (born c. 08/1874 in England) with whom he had a child, Ernest L. (born 07/04/1899 in Oakland, CA). Maude had resettled in the US in 1884. Ernest L. Rasome's other children were still in school.

Arthur W. Ransome attended the University of California, Berkeley(UCB), and majored in history. He graduated in 1898, in the same class as the architect John Davis Hatch (1874-1955).

Later in life, Ernest and Arthur founded the Ransome Concrete Machinery Company, at Dunellen, NJ.

Biographical Notes

Ernest Ransome was made a naturalized US citizen on 02/14/1889. N.W. Spalding and P.J. Dickinson served as witnesses at the proceedings. (See, Source Citation, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index To Naturalization In The U.S. District Court For The Northern District Of California, 1852 - ca. 1989 (M1744); Microfilm Serial: M1744; Microfilm Roll: 129, accessed 08/28/2016.)

Other records indicated his naturalization was finalized on 05/01/1889 and that the naturalization occurred in San Francisco. (See, Source Citation California State Library; California History Section; Sacramento, California; Miscellaneous Card Indexes: Vital Statistics Index (1900-1951); Reel #: 21; California History Room: Microfilm # 734, accessed 08/28/2016.)

Associated Locations

  • Plainfield, NJ (Architect's Death)
    Plainfield, NJ

  • Ipswich, Suffolk UK (Architect's Birth)
    Ipswich, Suffolk UK

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PCAD id: 2766