Friday, July 14, 2023

Captain Jerome Bonaparte Cox (1827 -1895) - Building of railroad ended in deadly dispute


Gravestone of Bony Cox and news clipping of early legal problems

Captain J.B. "Bony" Cox was a native of Lee County, Virginia who served in the 10th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. We don't know the details of him leaving his military service, but there are some records of financial misdealings.

After the Civil War, he moved to California and undertook a number of large building contracts. Among them was the building of the Western Pacific Railroad between Niles and San Jose. 

He was hired by millionaire Charles McLaughlin, which resulted in litigation between the two men in 1867. The lawsuit dragged on for twenty years and resulted in a quarrel between the two men. Cox shot and killed McLaughlin in 1883, but was acquitted of the murder. The legal dispute between the two men also ended up being decided in Cox's favor. 

The general contract for the Western Pacific Railroad was awarded to McLaughlin & Houston and that negotiations for iron, equipment, and rolling stock. On October 31, 1864, the Central Pacific Railroad assigned all the rights of the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864 to the Western Pacific for the route between Sacramento and San Jose, including land grants. The amending Act of March 3, 1865 ratified and confirmed the assignment made by Central Pacific Railroad to Western Pacific Railroad and authorized Western Pacific Railroad as one of the charter companies. The construction of the Western Pacific Railroad began in February 1865 near San Jose and northward under a contract taken by J.B. Cox & Myers.

According to historian and Mountain View Cemetery Docent, here is what happened next:

They and their crews worked to lay the first 20 miles of track. They wouldn’t see any money from the federal government until they completed the work. 

They ran out of money while working. They reached Mile 20 at Dead Cow Curve. The government inspectors arrived in early October 1866 to certify the railroad’s work. They told Charles McLaughlin that he would get his money but not until the following January. There was paperwork, they explained. The Western Pacific was working on land that formerly (and may have still) belonged to the Spanish who had first laid claim to the real estate. 

An angry McLaughlin walked off the job, leaving rails, ties, equipment, locomotives, and — most disturbing — his workers behind. One of the contractors, Jerome Cox, was expecting to receive $50,000, about $1.5 million in today’s money. McLaughlin could not pay Cox, and for the next 17 years, Cox took McLaughlin to court time and again. He lost every time. Cox accused his rival of paying off the judges. Cox had finally had enough. 

On Dec. 14, 1883, Jerome Cox walked into McLaughlin’s office at 16 Montgomery St. in San Francisco, armed with a pistol. McLaughlin rose to greet his rival. Cox drew his weapon and shot McLaughlin dead. 

“He asked me for $40,000. When I refused, he shot me,” McLaughlin said with his dying breath. 

His eulogy was read by General W.H.L. Barnes, who said:

“Considering the vicissitudes of his life I do not feel like saying that this is an hour of sadness.  To him the sky is no longer clouded; his ears are no longer filled with the conflict of life.  He has passed from us, and I trust, that in his future home he will be happier than he was while in our midst.  There is no patriot who loved his country more than Jerome Cox.  No man has done more for his country than the one whose cold and rigid body is about to be consigned to the grave.  He lived a useful life but circumstances prevented him from enjoying it.  The serious trouble in which he was involved is, in one sense, to be regretted, yet we all felt he was justified.  He was persecuted and laughed at, and in a moment of frenzy he fired the shot that terminated the career of a relentless enemy.  He was right, and I trust that the recording angel will forever wipe the stain from the book of life and allow him to enjoy the peace and happiness that rightfully belong to him.”

[Sources: SF Call, April 25, 1895; Sacramento Daily Union, January 20, 1864; Alameda Sun, Dennis Evanosky;]

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Muriel James (1917-2018) Best-selling Author


"Born to Win" author Muriel James

Muriel James was a not psychotherapist, educator, and best-selling author who wrote 19 books about subjects from personal growth to spirituality.

Muriel helped popularize the ideas and methods of transactional analysis, which were pioneered by her mentor, Dr. Eric Berne. She gained acclaim in the 1970s and 1980s through popular self-help books, including the bestseller Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments, which she coauthored. She lectured to groups and conferences around the world about the concepts of “self-reparenting” and other approaches to psychotherapy and encouraged participants to come to grips with painful past experiences and become more aware of their behavioral “scripts.”

She was born Muriel Marshall in Berkeley, California, on February  14, 1917. Her father, John Albert Marshall, was a medical doctor and a captain in the U.S. Army. He was a professor of music, biochemistry, and dental pathology at the University of California. Muriel’s mother, Hazel Knowles Marshall, was an internationally recognized concert pianist. Like her parents, Muriel had a love of music. As a teenager, she briefly performed as a singer with a band at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco until her father put an end to it.

She grew up in San Francisco's St. Francis Wood neighborhood and attended Lowell High School. She was married three times.

During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross teaching swimming safety for naval recruits on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and first aid for the prison guards on Alcatraz Island. During the war she also worked in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, as a safety inspector, joining other “Rosie the Riveter” women in performing tasks previously reserved for men.

Interested in history, religion, and education, Muriel enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1954, at the age of 37, graduating in just 3 years. She simultaneously attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, where she earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree, and subsequently a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion. Later she earned a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Education.

Muriel was ordained as a minister and she founded the Laymen’s School of Religion in 1959, which was an interdenominational school meant to bring together all religions to address their commonality rather than their differences. 

Grave of Muriel James

Muriel was a strong advocate for women’s rights and civil rights. In March of 1965 she joined demonstrators who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, Alabama. In the late 1960s, she co-led teacher-student trainings in multicultural awareness at California high schools, seeking to help improve relations between black, white, and Latino students.

In addition to Born to Win, James authored other popular psychology books including Born to Love (1973), Breaking Free: Self-Reparenting for a New Self (1981), It’s Never Too Late to be Happy! Reparenting Yourself for Happiness (1985), and The Better Boss in Multicultural Organizations (1991), Hearts on Fire: Romance and Achievement in the Lives of Great Women (1991) and Religious Liberty on Trial: Hanserd Knollys, Early Baptist Hero (1997).

One of her last projects was to arrange for the publication of her grandmother Josephine Knowles’ autobiographical manuscript about her experiences during the Klondike Gold Rush. The book, Gold Rush in the Klondike: A Woman’s Journey in 1898-1899, was published in 2016.

[Bio excerpted from Transactional Analysis of Ireland website and SFGate]

Monday, July 3, 2023

James Hubert Davies (1903-1976) - Decorated Brigadier General

[Plot 50, Lot 348, Grave 5]

James Hubert Davies was born in Piedmont, Calif., in 1903. He graduated from high school there in 1924 and received his bachelor of arts degree in social sciences from the University of California in 1928.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Reserve May 1, 1928, General Davies was appointed a flying cadet the following February. Entering Primary Flying School at March Field, Calif., he graduated from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, May 8 1930, and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Air Corps.

Assigned to the 72nd Bomb Squadron in Hawaii, in March 1932, General Davies was transferred to the Third Attack Group at Fort Crockett, Texas, moving with it to Barksdale Field, La. In October 1936 he joined the 21st Reconnaissance Squadron at Langley Field, Va., and two years later was assigned to the 23rd Composite Group at Maxwell Field, Ala.

Appointed operations officer of the 27th Bomb Group at Savannah, Ga., in March 1941, the following November General Davies assumed command of the group and took it to the Philippine Islands. In February 1942 he was named commander of the Third Bomb Group in the Southwest Pacific, becoming chief of the Bomb Section at the school of Applied Tactics, Orlando, Fla., that November. Returning to the Southwest Pacific in April 1943, he was chief of staff of the Fifth Bomber command. A year later he assumed command of the 313th Bomb Wing at Colorado Springs, Colo., taking it to the Southwest Pacific in January 1945.

Brig. Gen. James Davies

Moving to Hamilton Field, Calif., that December, General Davies was assistant chief of staff for operations of the Fourth Air Force. Entering the Air War College at Maxwell Field, Ala., in August 1946, he graduated the following June and became deputy chief of the command section, Air Transport Command, at Gravelly Point, Va. He entered the National War College in August 1948 and graduated the following June.

Joining the Air Training Command, General Davies was deputy chief of staff for personnel at ATRC headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., becoming chief of staff of the command in May 1950. Assuming command of the 3510th Combat Crew Training Wing, ATRC, at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, in August 1951 (redesignated the 3510th Flying Training Wing a year later), in April 1954 he assumed command of the 3380th Technical Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., becoming deputy commander that August.

A year later General Davies was named deputy commander of the Alaskan Air Command at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

His decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit and Air Medal with oak leaf cluster.

He is rated a command pilot, combat observer and aircraft observer.

[Bio courtesy of United States Air Force]

Louis Emanuel Martin, Jr.(1912-1997) - “Godfather of Black Politics”

Louis Emanuel Martin, Jr.

[Plot 53C]

Louis Emanuel Martin, Jr. was born on November 18, 1912 to Dr. Louis E. Martin and Willa Hill Martin in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Dr. Martin later moved his family to Savannah, Georgia because the weather in Savannah reminded him of the weather in his childhood home of Santiago, Cuba. While growing up in Savannah, Martin would also meet his wife of 60 years, Gertrude Scott.

Martin returned to his birthplace of Tennessee to attend Fisk University and later graduated from The University of Michigan with a degree in Journalism. Within the first year of his career as a journalist, Martin was employed at two esteemed Black newspapers – The Chicago Defender and Detroit’s The Michigan Chronicle. He also was a founding member of The National Publishers Association.

Although inconspicuous, Martin’s contributions to the political empowerment of African Americans is undeniable. Martin’s political prominence influenced some of the most historical Presidential decisions regarding African Americans in the late twentieth century, thus being called the “Godfather of Black Politics”.

JFK, Gus Hawkins and Louis Martin, Jr.

Louis Martin’s career as a presidential advisor began in 1960 when Democratic politician Robert Sargent Shriver recruited him to work with the Presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. In the same year, Martin was pivotal in advising Kennedy to contact Coretta Scott King to express his grievance over her husband Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being arrested at a sit-in protest in Atlanta. This moment was instrumental in Kennedy gaining the majority of the Black vote in the 1960 Presidential Election. During this time, Martin also began his tenure as Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a position he would hold until the end of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s term in 1969.   

After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Martin was one of a few advisors that transitioned to the Johnson administration. During Johnson’s presidency, Martin was influential in the President’s decision to nominate Thurgood Marshall as the first African American to serve as Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Martin also was a mentor and key benefactor to the political rise of Clifford Alexander, first African American Secretary of the Army and Vernon E. Jordan, advisor to President Bill Clinton.

Collections containing the records of Louis E. Martin housed at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum consists of textual documents, photographic material, and audiovisual material related to the work Martin did as Special Assistant to President Carter from 1978-1981. Under the Carter administration, Martin served as the primary liaison between the President of the United States and the Black community. Martin’s experience as a journalist and tenure as advisor to two previous Presidents made him a successful representative of the Black community during Carter’s presidency.

[Bio from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum]


Edward Colston Marshall (1821-1893) Congressman; California Attorney General

Hon. Edward C. Marshall

Edward Marshall (June 29, 1821 – July 9, 1893) was an American politician who served as congressman from California's at-large district from 1851 to 1853, and as California attorney general from 1883 to 1887. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Edward Colston Marshall was born in Woodford County, Kentucky on June 29, 1821. He attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and graduated from Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. He later attended Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar and moved to San Francisco, California and later to Sonora, California where he practiced law.

Marshall served in the Mexican-American War. 

He was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second Congress (March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1853); was renominated in 1852, but withdrew before the election. 

"...not so scholarly as his elder brother, Thomas F. Marshall, nor possessed of such powers as a logician, but the master of as keen a wit and more playful and unstudied humor, and capable of rising to the highest flights of eloquence."  - Historic Families of Kentucky. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1964.

He then settled in Marysville, Calif., and again engaged in the practice of law. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1856. He moved back to Kentucky and devoted himself to legal pursuits for the next twenty-one years. He eventually returned to San Francisco in 1877 and continued the practice of law. In 1882, he was elected attorney general of California, serving in that role from 1883 to 1886. 

He died in San Francisco on July 9, 1893.

[Biography from Wikipedia]

Dr. Owen Chamberlain (1920-2006) Nobel Prize-winning Physicist


Dr. Owen Chamberlain

[Plot 36]

Owen Chamberlain was born in San Francisco on July 10, 1920. His father was W. Edward Chamberlain, a prominent radiologist with an interest in physics. His mother’s maiden name was Genevieve Lucinda Owen.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College in 1941. He entered graduate school in physics at the University of California, but his studies were interrupted by the involvement of the United States in World War II. In early 1942 he joined the Manhattan Project, the U.S. Government organization for the construction of the atomic bomb. Within the Manhattan Project he worked under Professor Emilio Segrè, both in Berkeley, California, and in Los Alamos, New Mexico, investigating nuclear cross sections for intermediate-energy neutrons and the spontaneous fission of heavy elements. In 1946 he resumed graduate work at the University of Chicago where, under the inspired guidance of the late Professor Enrico Fermi, he worked toward his doctorate. He completed experimental work on the diffraction of slow neutrons in liquids in 1948 and his doctor’s degree was awarded in 1949 by the University of Chicago.

In 1948 he accepted a teaching position at the University of California in Berkeley. His research work includes extensive studies of proton-proton scattering, undertaken with Professor Segrè and Dr. Clyde Wiegand, and an important series of experiments on polarization effects in proton scattering, culminating in the triple-scattering experiments with Professor Segrè, Dr. Wiegand, Dr. Thomas Ypsilantis, and Dr. Robert D. Tripp. In 1955 he participated with Dr. Wiegand, Professor Segrè, and Dr. Ypsilantis in the discovery of the antiproton.

Dr. Owen Chamberlain

For the next few years he and his colleagues studied the interactions of antiprotons with hydrogen, deuterium and other elements, and used antiprotons to produce antineutrons. In 1960 he, together with Professors Carson Jeffries and Gilbert Shapiro, pioneered the development and use of polarized proton targets to study the spin dependence of a wide variety of high energy processes, including the scattering of pi-mesons and protons on polarized protons, the determination of the parity of hyperons, and a test of time reversal symmetry in electron-proton scattering. These and other similar experiments were his main activity for the next 20 years. In the late ’70s and early ’80s he briefly participated in the study of the interactions of energetic light nuclei with nuclear targets at the Berkeley Bevalac accelerator. In the final years before retiring from active service he worked with Dr. David Nygren on the development and construction of the Time-Projection-Chamber that was subsequently used with great success to study high-energy positron-electron interactions at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957 for the purpose of doing studies in the physics of antinucleons at the University of Rome. He was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958, and served as Loeb Lecturer at Harvard University in 1959.

In 1943 he married Beatrice Babette Copper (dec. 1988). They had three daughters and one son. Subsequent marriages to June Steingart Greenfield (dec. 1991) and currently to Senta Pugh Gaiser.

[This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures.] 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Bob McKeen (1933-1999) - Cal basketball star and Oakland City Councilman

Bob McKeen

Main Mausoleum

Bob McKeen was a  two-time All-American basketball star for the University of California at Berkeley from 1951 to 1955. His career spanned the end of coach Nibs Price's long reign and the beginning of UC Berkeley's golden era under coach Pete Newall. McKeen lettered in 1952, '53, '54 and '55. He earned All-America honors in 1955 in addition to All-West Coast and all-conference.

McKeen, who still holds the Golden Bears' record as leading rebounder, was the then-Minneapolis Lakers' first-round draft pick when he graduated. But the Lakers were offering $6,500 a year and a life of constant travel, so he turned down the offer, and instead studied for a master's degree in business administration at UC Berkeley.

He founded his own real estate firm and served on the Oakland City Council from 1960 to 1964, holding the office of vice mayor during his last two years on the council.

McKeen, who often made the society pages during his second marriage to Stephane McKeen, turned down an invitation to the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in the late 1970s so he could attend a high school basketball game in Brentwood, where his son Bryan was playing for Miramonte High. His first marriage was to Estelle Knowland, the daughter of William F. Knowland, Oakland Tribune newspaper heir and a former U.S. Senator.

[From SFGate obituary and Cal Bears Sports]


Taylor Douthit (1901-1986) - Centerfielder for Cubs, Cardinals & Reds


Taylor Douthit

Taylor "The Ballhawk" Douthit was an American professional baseball player. From 1922-24, he lettered at the University of California at Berkeley in both baseball and basketball.

He played in the major leagues as an outfielder from 1923 to 1933, most notably as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he won a World Series championship in 1926. Douthit set a record for single-season putouts by an outfielder (547) in 1928. 

Late in his career, Douthit played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs. He retired from baseball in 1933 rather than accepting a trade to the American Association, and he moved back to California to work in the family insurance business. 

Douthit started out in the Cardinals organization and became a major league regular in 1926. The year before, he had hit .372 for Milwaukee of the American Association. As a rookie, he hit .308 and then .267 in the World Series to help St. Louis win the championship. 

Before Douthit made his second appearance in a World Series in 1928, Cardinals manager Bill McKechnie compared him favorably to star outfielder Tris Speaker. "He has been compared to Speaker, but, in my opinion, it should be the other way," McKechnie said. "Speaker at his best should be compared with Douthit. [Douthit] covers an almost unbelievable amount of ground and is a sure catch. He leads off for us and has shown rare ability in 'getting on'." 

In 1931, Douthit was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He played in 95 and 96 games for the Reds in 1931 and 1932, respectively. The team waived him in late April 1933; he had made only one appearance (as a pinch runner) with the Reds that year. The Cubs claimed Douthit off waivers on April 29, but he did not stay in Chicago for long. The Cubs traded him to Kansas City of the American Association on June 29, 1933. Douthit thought that he should still be able to play in the major leagues, and he retired days later rather than reporting to Kansas City.

Douthit is the all-time record holder for range factor by a center fielder. His 547 outfield putouts in 1928 is the record for most outfield putouts in a season. His baseball glove was displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame in an exhibit that discussed the putouts record. He is in the University of California Hall of Fame for his baseball and basketball play there.  In 1,074 games played, Douthit compiled a .291 batting average (1201–4127) with 665 runs, 29 home runs, 396 RBI, an on-base percentage of .364 and a slugging percentage of .384 in 11 seasons. In 13 World Series games, he batted .140 (7–40) with 5 runs and 4 RBI. He posted a .972 fielding percentage at all three outfield positions. 

[from Wikipedia]

William Ewing (1854 - 1923); Born into slavery; Became wealthy miner


Ewing Photo: Oakland Tribune, 1912

[Bio by Joan Skilbred, Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation]

William T. Ewing was "one of the richest miners in the North," according to a newspaper article published by the Dawson Daily News in September 1908. He was "known all the way from California to Nome and the Klondike as 'Bill Ewing, 'the man of pluck and luck." He is a member of the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame. 

He was born in slavery to his parents David and Maranda Ewing in August of 1854 at Keytesville, Missouri. It is probable that the family took the last name of the slave owner William Nathaniel Ewing, to whom William T. Ewing's family belonged or was associated with in some other way. 

Just prior to the Civil War, William Nathaniel Ewing went to college and took many business courses and had an interest in the mining industry. In 1887, Ewing headed West, to Tacoma, Washington. While there he took up homesteading and secured a patent to a ¼ section located in nearby King County in 1890. Over the next few years, he worked several menial jobs until he found employment within the Tacoma Police Department, where one of his duties was driving the horse drawn paddy wagon. However, Tacoma did not offer the kind of opportunity Bill Ewing was seeking, so early in 1896 he left Tacoma and headed North in hopes of securing a better financial future. 

He arrived in Alaska in March 1896 and by the fall he was at Circle City on the Yukon River. This was right before the big Klondike gold strike. When the big news came downriver, Ewing joined many other miners and made his way to the fabulous new diggings. During his time there he mined on Bonanza, Hunker and several other creeks, as well as owing several mining claims within the Klondike mining district. His mining efforts were successful enough to afford a trip back to his Tacoma property in 1897 for a visit, then returning to the Yukon in 1898. 

When news of the Nome strike hit Dawson, Ewing joined the great stampede to the new gold fields on the Seward Peninsula. He travelled over 1,200 miles by dog team, arriving there in April of 1900. Nome however, was not to his financial liking, so he returned to Tacoma by the fall of that same year. 

Nome, Alaska in 1900 (Photo, William Hester)

The following spring Bill Ewing travelled back to Alaska and engaged in a mining partnership with Jesse Noble. They went to the Delta River country and built one of the first cabins in that area. For the next couple of years, they prospected and mined in and around the Chesna Glacier, primarily focusing their efforts on Slate Creek. They arrived at Fairbanks in 1903 by coming down the Tanana river to investigate the promising ground located in the hills North of the new camp on the Chena river. 

It was in Fairbanks that Bill Ewing finally achieved the financial success he was looking for. At that time Fairbanks had a lot of men with more arriving daily, but no one had any capital. The Fairbanks mines desperately needed monetary investment to purchase the winches, boilers and other equipment needed to drift mine the rich gold laden paystreaks of the Fairbanks District. Many claim owners sat on millions of dollars of untapped pay but could not get it out of the ground because they lacked the money for the equipment to accomplish the task. One of these claim owners was Daniel A. McCarty. 

McCarty owned Discovery Claim on Fairbanks Creek which he staked on September 12, 1902. One year later, on September 10, 1903 he commenced work sinking a prospect shaft on the lower end of the claim with his wife Sarah. They were living in small cabin they had built, had little food, and they were out of money. The prospect shaft showed six feet of pay that averaged about 2 ½ cents to the pan at an assay value of about $17.00 per ounce. However, the McCarty's did not have the means to develop the prospect, so it sat idle until December 1903. According to testimony given later in a court case, D. A. McCarty stated that he offered fifty percent to any man who would work with him that season. William Ewing not only took McCarty up on the offer, but he also possessed the needed capital to purchase provisions and the equipment to mine the claim, thus providing McCarty a grubstake in addition to the 50% business agreement. Ewing was one of the very few men in the Tanana District who possessed any monetary reserves in 1903. 

Beginning December 22, 1903, McCarty & Ewing with the help of two hired hands, worked within twenty feet of the boundary line on the lower end of the Fairbanks Creek Discovery Claim, completing their drifting operations by April 17, 1904. They had worked ninety days, and Ewing's share of the profits amounted to $40,000. In June of 1904, the Chena Herald noted that one cleanup from their winter dump netted 200 ounces in 2 ½ days of sluicing. Several years later, in an interview he did for the Oakland Tribune in 1912, Ewing described McCarty as "an upright Alaskan, to whom he has always merited appreciation and retained a close friendship." 

When the gold started rolling into Ewing's pokes, he took his profits and purchased several empty lots in the new city of Fairbanks, which he sold several months later at a large profit. It was at this time that he began to apply the valuable business knowledge he had absorbed from his younger days. Ewing also purchased Alaskan mining claims and association interests in mining claims. He was well on his way to making his fortune. 

He left Fairbanks in the fall of 1904 and went back to Tacoma for a while, and then on to Oakland, California where he invested in more real estate. He purchased several properties in the city on Telegraph Avenue, Chestnut Street, West Oakland, and along Foothill Boulevard. Ewing also made further investments in mining and industrial propositions as well. By the early 1920's he was the president of the Trinity Mining Company located in Trinity County, California. All these investments gave him the financial security needed to live out the rest of his days comfortably on the ranch he purchased for himself near Hayward, California. 

When he passed away on April 18, 1923 he had no heirs and his estate was valued at $100,000. In his will he left the entire estate to the Booker T. Washington Institute at Tuskegee, Alabama for the betterment of his race. The will was contested by his cousin and a woman who claimed to be engaged to Ewing at the time of his death. The engagement claim was later dismissed by the court due to a lack of evidence, and the cousin made a financial settlement with the trustees for the Tuskegee Institute for part of the estate proceeds in October of 1923. 

William T. Ewing's remains were laid to rest in Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery in Plot 52. There is a large masonry marker that has the name Ewing with a gold pan and crossed pick & shovel to indicate he was a miner. On the other side of his name is a Maltese cross, which is a symbol associated with the Civil War. In front of this large upright marker is a smaller slab marker that sits flush with the ground and it says: "William T. Ewing, b. 1854 — d. 1923, a native of Missouri. His estate left to educate his people." 

Ewing's contribution to mining history is remarkable because his hard work and business acumen had put him in a position to seize opportunity when it came to him on Fairbanks Creek in 1903. He was one of the rare miners that left here with wealth that was not squandered or lost over the years that followed his initial luck. He also continued to be involved in mining ventures & real estate in Alaska, Washington and California until his death in 1923. 

The fact that he had the desire to leave his entire estate to educate for the betterment of his race rather than bestowing it upon a few individuals, is indicative of his admirable progressive intellect. It also shows that because of William T. Ewing, Fairbanks gold built the fortune that later helped to build the Tuskegee Institute into the modern world class university that it is today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dr. Selah Merrill (1837-1909): Clergyman; Anti-Semitic U.S. Consul to Jerusalem

Dr. Selah Merrill

Dr. Selah Merrill was a virulent anti-semite who served as U.S. Consul to Jerusalem under three American Presidents. His views were instrumental in shaping the State Department’s infamous hostility to the presence of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.

Merrill was born in Canton Centre, Connecticut on May 2, 1837 and was a member of the fifth generation of the Merrill family in America. The Merrills were descended from an old Massachusetts family and his original immigrant ancestor was Nathaniel Merrill, who was one of the earliest settlers in Newbury, Massachusetts.

After graduating from Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts, he studied at Yale College, but did not graduate. He studied theology at the New Haven Theological Seminary, graduating in 1863, and was ordained in the Congregational Church, at Feeding Mills, Massachusetts in 1864. He spent two years in Germany at the University of Berlin where he studied the ancient Hebrew language.

He served as a chaplain of the 49th U. S. Colored Infantry, also known as the 11th Louisiana Regiment Infantry, at Vicksburg, Mississippi from 1864 until the close of the Civil War.

From 1874–1877, he worked as an archæologist in Palestine for the American Palestine Exploration Society, excavating the second wall of Jerusalem and trying to determine the site of Calvary.

He was a staunch opponent of the commune at the American Colony, Jerusalem and sought every opportunity to dismantle it. He also opposed Jewish agricultural settlement in Palestine. Merrill believed that the Jewish people didn't want land to colonize, but cities “where they can live on the fortunes or the misfortunes of other people.”

He also believed that there must have been some hidden justification for the persecution of the Jews in Russia, or the government would not have been so determined to get rid of them.

In 1872 and 1879, he taught at Andover Theological Seminary and became curator of the Biblical Museum there. In 1907 he served as American Consul at Georgetown, Guyana.

Merrill was the author of numerous books including, East of the Jordan, Ancient Jerusalem, Galilee in the Time of Christ, and The Site of Calvary.

He died at his sister's home in Fruitvale (now Oakland, California).

Sources: Jewish Post, Wikipedia, Find a Grave, Washington Post, NY Times