Michael Henry de Young (September 30, 1849 – February 15, 1925) was an American journalist and businessman.

M. H. de Young
M. H. de Young 1885.jpg
M. H. de Young and the San Francisco Chronicle in 1885
Michael Henry de Young

(1849-09-30)September 30, 1849
DiedFebruary 15, 1925(1925-02-15) (aged 75)
San Francisco, California
Alma materHeald College
OccupationNewspaper publisher
Years active1865–1925
Known forCo-founder of San Francisco Chronicle and director of the Associated Press
RelativesCharles de Young (brother)

Early lifeEdit

De Young was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The family was Jewish, but the family history is murky.[1] Michael in later years claimed that his father was a Baltimore banker of French origin, but he may have been a peripatetic jeweler and dry-goods merchant named De Jong or De Jongh.[2] Michael was the son of Cornelia "Amelia"[3] (née Morange; 1809–1881) and, supposedly, Miechel de Young (d. 1854), who married in 1837.[4] His maternal grandfather, Benjamin Morange, who served as the French Minister to Spain under Napoleon I,[5][6] moved to the United States about 1815[3] and helped found the B'nai Jeshurun Congregation in New York in 1825.[7]

The de Young family moved from St. Louis to San Francisco in 1854. M.H. de Young's father was said to have died of a stroke during the journey.[8] M.H. de Young attended and graduated from Heald College, a San Francisco college founded in 1863.



In San Francisco, de Young and his brother, Charles de Young (1846–1880), founded the Daily Dramatic Chronicle newspaper, first published on January 17, 1865, with the loan of a twenty dollar gold piece which Michael received from his landlord. A third brother, Gustavus, whose initial originally appeared in the masthead ("G. and C. de Young"), later vanished.[2] The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was a four-page tabloid that was freely distributed throughout San Francisco. According to the de Youngs, the Daily Dramatic Chronicle would be "the best advertising medium on the Pacific Coast." On September 1, 1868, the de Youngs expanded their tabloid into a daily newspaper. The first issue stated that the Chronicle would be "independent in all things, neutral in none." The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was sold under the condition that it be renamed the Dramatic Review. De Young was also the director of the Associated Press for many years.[8]

Public LeadershipEdit

De Young, inspired by the events of the Chicago World's fair, led a campaign to bring a world's fair to San Francisco. De Young then became the Director-General of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. During a visit to New York City, De Young was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's location in Central Park.[9] As a result, de Young wanted the fair to be held in Golden Gate Park. However, John McLaren, the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park, was concerned about how the removal of many trees would affect the environment of the park. In a intense debate, de Young asked McLaren, "What is a tree? "What are a thousand trees compared to the benefits of the exposition?" Significantly, de Young owned about 31 blocks south of the park and could have been motivated by the fair's potential positive impacts on his real estate holdings. While the vast majority of the fair's buildings were destroyed, de Young persuaded the city to save the Fine Arts Building. The building was renamed the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum after de Young's death. De Young supported the museum throughout his life and bequeathed $150,000 to the museum upon his death.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

De Young and his wife Katherine had five children:

  • Charles de Young (1881–1913)
  • Helen de Young (1883–1969), who married George T. Cameron (1873–1955)[11]
  • Constance Marie de Young (1885–1968), who married Joseph Oliver Tobin (1878–1978)[12]
  • Kathleen Yvonne de Young (1888–1954), who married Ferdinand Thieriot (1883–1920)[13]
  • Phyllis D. de Young (1892–1988), who married Nion Robert Tucker (1885–1950)[14]

In 1884, he was shot by an irate businessman, Adolph B. Spreckels, apparently due to a negative newspaper article, but survived. M. H. de Young died on February 15, 1925 and a Catholic church mass was held in St. Mary's Cathedral[15] (he had converted to Catholicism after marrying his wife, Katherine I. Deane).[16]


The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, is named in his honor. According to his daughter Helen de Young Cameron, de Young "loved objects. He was an incurable collector. He collected everything. He stored his collections at the Memorial Museum, where he would visit them at all hours. He took genuine delight in sharing them with the citizens of San Francisco, insisting that his museum never charge admission."[2] De Young purchased many things of "curious and artistic and instructive value" for the museum.[17]


In 1956, one of De Young's grandsons, Ferdinand Melly Thieriot (1921–1956), the circulation director of The Chronicle, and his wife Frances (1921–1956), were among the 46 killed aboard the SS Andrea Doria when it was struck by the MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket.[18]

De Young was the grandfather of Nan Tucker McEvoy (1919–2015), former chair of Chronicle Publishing Company's board of directors until the 1990s.[19] He is also the great-great-grandfather of actor Max Thieriot (born 1988).[20]


  1. ^ Adams, Charles F. (2005). Murder by the Bay: Historic Homicide In And About The City Of San Francisco. San Francisco: Quill Driver Books. p. 59. ISBN 1-884995-46-2.
  2. ^ a b c Brechin, Gray (2001). Imperial San Francisco : urban power, earthly ruin (1st pbk. printing. ed.). Berkeley: University of California press. ISBN 0-520-22902-9. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Markens, Isaac (1888). The Hebrews in America: A Series of Historical and Biographical Sketches. Harvard University. p. 26. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  4. ^ University of Wisconsin – Madison (1974). Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly. Southern California Jewish Historical Society. p. 211. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  5. ^ The Hebrews in America
  6. ^ The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia: An Authoritative and Popular Presentation of Jews and Judaism Since the Earliest Times, Volume 7. Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Incorporated. 1942. p. 487. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  7. ^ "105th Anniversary of B'nai Jeshurun Congregation Marked". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 14, 1930. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Bruce, John (1948). Gaudy Century: The Story of San Francisco’s Hundred Years of Robust Journalism. New York: Random House, Inc. pp. 125, 127–128, 140–141.
  9. ^ Long, Charles (1995). 100 Years in Golden Gate Park: A Pictorial History of the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
  10. ^ Brechin, Gray (2006). Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin. University of California Press.
  11. ^ "HELEN DE YOUNG TO WED CLUBMAN Engagement to George Cameron Causes Stir in Social Circles". San Francisco Call (Volume 104, Number 3). June 3, 1908. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  12. ^ Sward, Susan (June 25, 2008). "S.F. philanthropist Nini Tobin Martin dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  13. ^ Harvard College (1906). Harvard College Class of 1906 Secretary's Third Report. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Crimson Printing Company.
  14. ^ Press, Associated (June 30, 1988). "Obituaries: Phyllis de Young Tucker; S.F. Publishing Family Member". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  15. ^ "Publisher of San Francisco Chronicle Buried With Simplest Rites". The New York Times. February 19, 1925. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  16. ^ Gale, Robert L. (2001). An Ambrose Bierce companion. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 79. ISBN 0-313-31130-7.
  17. ^ The Mineral Collector. Volume I, number 11, January 1895. Page 173.
  18. ^ Samuel Halpern, An Objective Forensic Analysis of the Collision Between Stockholm and Andrea Doria
  19. ^ Associated Press (March 27, 2015). "Nan Tucker McEvoy, Heiress Who Ran San Francisco Chronicle, Dies at 95". The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  20. ^ Q&A: Feeling the “Disconnect” with Actor Max Thieriot