Friday, December 28, 2007

Bishop William Taylor (1821-1902)

A preacher's son born in Virginia, Taylor was converted to Christ at the age of 21. Quickly recognized for his powerful preaching skills, Taylor along with his wife Anne, and one child were sent to California in 1849 to engage in pioneer work in the San Francisco Bay area.

Taylor's deep Christian commitment and his extraordinary physical stamina allowed him to preach in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, England, India, North America and South America. In 1884 he was elected Missionary Bishop of Africa by the Methodist General Conference, and from that year to 1897 Bishop Taylor established mission stations in Angola and the Congo (Zaire). He also strengthened the Methodist work in Liberia and South Africa.

Bishop Taylor was known for his rugged individualism, directness of speech, adaptability to various cultures and circumstances, and amazing energy level.

William Taylor was a commanding figure. When he went to California he was six feet tall weighing 207 pounds. Although he preached throughout the world, Taylor is best remembered for his work in Africa with his first contact being in South Africa in 1866. This successful evangelistic effort energized the South African Methodist Church, and propelled Taylor into world-wide fame. From 1884 to 1897, Taylor revived the Methodist work in Liberia and attracted a number of missionaries to Angola and the Congo (Zaire) where he established mission stations.

In order to have effective Christian witness, Taylor expected his missionaries to live among the Africans at their host's economic level and to conform to their culture. These "self-supporting" missionaries faced severe hardships particularly during the early years, but many persevered.

William Taylor was the author of eighteen books, frequently writing the manuscripts during the long voyages across the world's oceans. These books sold tens of thousands of copies thus providing income for the Taylor family and his self-supporting missions.

[Excerpted from the Taylor University website]

William A. Herrick (1859-1894) Murdered Bank Teller

[Herrick obelisk photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 14B

This beautiful monument was erected by the San Francisco Savings Union in honor of bank teller William Herrick. The 33-year-old Herrick was killed when noted desperato Frederick Bonnemant (a.k.a. William Fredericks), handed the cashier a note demanding money or he'd blow up the building. When Herrick handed the note back to the would-be robber both men reached for their guns. Herrick missed Bonnemant, but Bonnemant hit Herrick right above his heart, killing him instantly.

An angry crowd chased down Bonnemant and he was captured. Bonnemant had a criminal past, having robbed a train and killing the sheriff of Nevada County.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

James Niecs McAllister - Infantryman



As far as I know, James McAllister was not famous. He served in the 49th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Company L and I happened to find a picture. I come up empty for much of my research, so it's fun when you find a little nugget like this photo.

John J. Valentine and Family - Wells Fargo President


[Valentine gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno; Valentine photo from Wells Fargo archives]

Plot 33

Born November 12, 1840, John J. Valentine was the classic story of advancement. He became President of Wells Fargo & Company only after working his way all the up the corporate ladder. His first job with the company was as an agent, then a route agent, cashier, general manager, vice-president and finally president.

It was Valentine who hired the famous western legend and friend of Wyatt Earp, Fred Dodge as an undercover man for Wells Fargo & Company. Wyatt Earp, with the insistence of Dodge, was also employed by the company as someone to look after Wells Fargo's interests like being a Shot Gun Messenger and to guard heavy shipments of bullion and money.

In Tombstone, Arizona, lived the most famous of Wells Fargo agents: Wyatt and Morgan Earp, Marshall Williams and Fred Dodge. Dodge's most famous case, which spanned from November 26, 1892 through April 25, 1895, was the "Brown Paper Case." A cash shipment of two bags left New York carrying $35,000. Both bags were destined for Galveston, Texas, but to two different banks. After many stops, the bags arrived at the banks, but to the clerk's amazement instead of money he found brown paper cut to the size of bills. Dodge threw himself into the case, but to no avail. The case is also known as the Hardin Case. Hardin was one of the agents who handled the bags in transport, but unfortunately not enough evidence was gathered for his conviction, thus the case was never solved. Fortunately, Dodge received a lovely gold watch from Valentine, for all his hard work on the case.

When the mining industry attempted to resurrect hydraulic mining through federal lobbying in 1892, a miners association asked Wells Fargo & Co. to contribute to its cause. John J. Valentine declined, standing alone among major corporations in its refusal to support efforts to resume the practice.

He was a member of the Advent Episcopal Church in Oakland and Vice President of the local YMCA.

Mary "Muffie" Valentine the last surviving grandchild of John J. Valentine died on Oct. 30, 2007. Muffie graduated from Piedmont High School and from Stanford University in 1938. She was married to Douglas Albert for 66 years and a Piedmont resident for 42 years. She was a member of the Piedmont Garden Club, Children's Hospital in Oakland and the Piedmont Bridge Club.

John F. Swift and Mary Swift - Ambassador and Suffragette


[Swift monument photos by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 33

John F. Swift was born in Missouri and trained as a tinsmith. In 1850, he moved to San Francisco where he amassed a small fortune in the produce business. He went on to study law and became an attorney in 1857.

John F. Swift represented the 8th District in the California State Assembly as a Republican in 1863 and 1873-75. In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Registar of the San Francisco Land Office, where he served for a year. In 1875, he ran as an independent for congress, but lost to William A. Piper. Along with Newton Booth, Swift formed an Independent Republican party whose platform was dominated by an anti-monopoly plank. The party dissolved after one year and Swift returned to the Republican Party. He later represented the 13th District from 1877 to 1880.

In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him to the commission that negotiated the Swift, Angel and Wescott Treaty, which became the Chinese Exclusion Act. In 1886, he ran for Governor of California, but lost to Democrat Washington Montgomery Bartlett. Bartlett is also buried in Mountain View [see blog post on this site]. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Minister to Japan, an odd irony considering his involvement in the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Swift died in Japan and was honored with one of the largest funeral processions ever seen in the country. Thousands of troops lined the streets of Tokyo and every foreign dignitary and Japanese government official was in attendance. The Japanese government provided a train to transport the body to Yokohama, where it was placed on a naval vessel en route to its final resting place at Mountain View.

Mary Swift was a suffragette, who helped found the Susan B. Anthony Club in San Francisco. Swift and co-founder Mary Sperry were instrumental in creating ties to their Southern California counterparts and strengthening the movement. Swift helped Caroline Severance reorganize the Los Angeles Suffrage Society, which later became the California Equal Suffrage Association (CESA). After the name change, the group actively encouraged the participation of men. Swift was a leader in the effort to secure the right of women to vote in California, which became law in 1911.

A strange irony in this marriage occurred in 1886, when Mary Swift's sister suffragette Clara Foltz supported and actively campaigned for Democrat Washington Bartlett over John F. Swift, who was his Republican opponent for governor, when the latter expressed the opinion that a woman had no right to be a lawyer.

George Hume - Canned Salmon Pioneer



George Hume, who had sold fresh and salted salmon from the Sacramento River in California since the 1850s, began the Pacific salmon canning industry there in 1864 with his brother William.

The brothers were limited to the sale of fresh and "salted" salmon, the only preservative available for salmon until that time. However, the Humes soon overcame this limitation by inviting an old school friend from Maine, Andrew Hapgood, to join them in the salmon business. Hapgood was a tinsmith and a fisherman in Maine, both skills that would prove useful as he had already successfully experimented in canning lobster as well as salmon. He arrived in Sacramento in 1864 with some rudimentary canning instruments. The company then became Hapgood, Hume and Company, with operations starting on April 1, 1864.

In 1866, after selling out his share of ownership, Hume returned to San Francisco and became interested in stocks, granting control of his investments to a near stranger. He lost $100,000 and returned to the cannery business after briefly dabbling in the freighting business.

When local fish supplies could not meet demand, they opened a cannery on the Columbia River in Washington. In 1872, George Hume hired Chinese immigrants to work in the cannery, but local laws forbade them from fishing. A few rebel Chinese workers left the cannery in 1880 to fish on their own, but were later found drowned in the river. Local white fisherman, not the Humes, were suspects in their deaths.

Hume suffered from ill health during much of the 1880's, but growing restless, he opened the Carquinez Packing Company in Benicia where he packed salmon and fruit.

David Hewes - Railroad Golden Spike




David Hewes is probably best known for donating the golden spike that linked the transcontinental railroad tracks in May of 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah. His long-time friends and associates, the Big Four (Crocker, Hopkins, Huntington and Stanford), built the Central Pacific Railroad that drove east to meet the Union Pacific pushing west. Crocker and another business partner, David Colton, are also buried at Mountain View.

Hewes had contracted to level off hill tops, sand ridges, and dunes of San Francisco. He started with a shovel, wheelbarrow, and a Chinese laborer. Within a few years his Steam Paddy Company purchased steam shovels for the work and went on to built the first steam locomotive on the Pacific Coast that hauled carloads of dirt to the eastern edge of the city where it deposited as landfill undoubtedly onto the rotting "skeletons" of Gold Rush schooners.

The proposal to join the Big Four must have tempted Hewes but, he was still smarting from recent loses. Hewes had joined the Gold Rush, but not to pan for gold. He had shipped collapsible metal buildings West to Sacramento, sold them to gain a foothold, then became a successful merchant, but he lost nearly everything in the Sacramento fires and floods of 1852 and 1853. Still in the process of recovering, Hewes was unwilling to take the financial risk and turned his friends down.

When the transcontinental railroad neared completion, however, Hewes, the tireless and talented promoter, recognized what his famous friends did not — the need for ceremony and pageantry to celebrate North America’s transcontinental railroad. He transformed an event, held in a remote and desolate part of the country, into a national celebration that was shared, simultaneously, from coast-to-coast via the telegraph system.

By the time Hewes was 84 years old, he was no stranger to disaster. Death had taken two wives, a prosperous business had gone up in smoke, blight had decimated his vineyards, and a land development project had failed. But none was quite as sudden or spectacular as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 that leveled his three-story office building at 997 Market Street. Age, however, had not quenched the spirit that brought David Hewes from poverty to prosperity. He wired his nephew: "Burned today; build tomorrow," then planned a 15-story building that was completed two years later at a cost of nearly $1 million. Hewes spent his time in both San Francisco and Anapuma in Southern California. He organized the David Hewes Orange and Lemon Association, built a packing spur and at age 90 and still drove his horse and buggy around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hockenbeamer Family - PG&E President

[Hockenbeamer gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 4

August F. “A.F.” Hockenbeamer was born in Logansport, Indiana on March 6, 1871. He served as President of Pacific Gas & Electric Company from 1927-1935, where he had worked since 1907. Before moving to California, he worked for the Pennsylvania, B. & 0. and Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroads from 1887-1903. In 1903, he took a job with the investment firm of N. W. Halsey & Co., which later became National City Bank.

Hockenbeamer was a self-made man whose first job was as a newspaper boy and collecting bad bills for a book store.

The cigar chomping Hockenbeamer originated the idea that the general public should be invited to hold stocks in utilities. This concept led to an increase in stockholders during his tenure from 3,000 to 50,000. In 1933, he opposed the Central Valley Project Act, because it got the state involved in the generation of electrical power. He claimed that excess power generation was bad for the taxpayers.

In 1933, he drew a salary of $75,000 a year, which was exorbitant enough to draw criticism from the International Association of Machinists.

He was one of the original donors to the San Francisco Opera Association Founder’s in 1923 and was an active Freemason. Fellow Mountain View "resident" Julia Morgan designed his Berkeley home, which was completed in 1913.

Alexandria Bernhardt "Mimi" Hockenbeamer lived to the age of 101 and continued her philanthropy until the day she died. At age 100, she chaired the American Lung Association’s “East Bay’s Century Partners” campaign, which urged people to give $100 to the century old organization.

Alexandria was born on July 5, 1904 in Stockton, CA, and was married to Embree Frederick Hockenbeamer [If anyone has information on him, please post it under Comments].

Known as Mimi, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1925. During WWII she served as a nurse's aide at Georgetown Hospital, Washington D.C. and later at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. She got involved with the American Lung Association after her husband died from a four-year battle with smoking related illnesses.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Judge Cameron Withgot Wolfe (1910-2002)


Cameron Withgot Wolfe was a longtime bankruptcy judge who also served under Earl Warren in the Alameda County district attorney's office and deciphered Japanese code during World War II.

Judge Wolfe was born in San Francisco, graduated from Oakland's University High School in 1927 and Stanford University in 1931. He received his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley in 1934.

He was only 17 years old and about to enter Stanford when he met his wife, Jean. Her father was Judge Everett J. Brown, a Cal grad and "one of the bluest of old blues," said Judge Wolfe's son. Initially appalled at the thought of his daughter going out with a Stanford man, Brown was eventually won over.The two were married for 66 years.

Judge Wolfe's first job was as an assistant district attorney under Warren in the 1930s.

As a lieutenant commander during World War II, he worked as a code breaker in San Francisco. He was one of those who decoded a message early in the war indicating that the Japanese were going to invade California at Gold Beach, in Humboldt County.

After the war, Judge Wolfe opened his own practice and, from 1946 until 1971, served as U.S. commissioner and U.S. Magistrate in Oakland.

As a magistrate, he once ordered Huey Newton to stand trial in an assault case and, moments later, found himself in the same elevator with the purportedly volatile Black Panther leader. Newton and his cronies apparently did not recognize the judge without his robes.

Judge Wolfe was appointed U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of California at the age of 65.

He worked as a senior bankruptcy judge throughout the western United States -- handling, among others, cases involving Charles Keating and his failed savings and loans -- until his retirement at the age of 81.

[Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle obituary]

Andrew Kohler - Piano Retailer




[Photo by Michael Colbruno is of grave of Louisa Kohler, his daughter, who died at age five; Historic photos from SF Library]

Andrew Kohler left the East Coast for San Francisco in 1849. Shortly after his arrival he rented an old barn on Broadway Street and set up his collection of various musical instruments that he had carried across country.

Since it was the only music store in the city, business thrived and he soon moved to Stockton Street at Jackson. Although he initially had a difficult time stocking his store, once the Pacific Mail steamship line began regular service his store quickly filled the needs of the music hungry prospectors streaming into San Francisco. Before long he entered into a partnership with a Maine transplant and pioneer named Quincy A. Chase and the business became Kohler & Chase. Chase quickly put a plan in action to expand the business throughout California and Kohler & Chase moved to bigger stores over the ensuing decades.

Kohler & Chase pianos remained popular for many decades in America.

Andrew Kohler also owned land in what is now known as the Temescal district in Oakland. Quincy Chase is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

Stephen Otis (1823-1907) - Stockbroker and Silver Mining Executive

[Otis monument photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 15

Stephen Otis was born in Limington, Maine and was president of the Granite State Gold & Silver Mining Company in Alpine County, California. He also owned cattle in Arizona and Nevada and was a stockbroker in San Francisco for forty years. He was the father of Assemblyman Frank Otis.

His home at Larkin St. and Green Street in San Francisco was destroyed by the earthquake and fire of 1906. He moved to Alameda, California, where he died a year later.

Albert "A.G." Gurnett

[Gurnett monument photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

A.G. Gurnett was president of the San Francisco Stock and Exchange Board from 1895-1899. His greatest success was increasing the trade of local stocks, but he became extremely popular amongst the membership for eliminating the $5 monthly membership fee.

Gurnett also owned and raised race horses. In 1898, his gray gelding “Who Is It?” set the world trotting record for 3-year-olds in Santa Rosa, California. He was also the treasurer of the Rio Vista Gold & Copper Mining Company.

The Patten Family - Early Oakland Pioneers

[Patten gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 1

The Patten family were among the very first settlers of what is now Oakland. The three brothers – Robert, William and Edward – arrived here in 1850.

Robert Foster Patten was born in Maine in 1798 and became a tanner. In March 1849, he departed from Boston aboard the ship “Sweden” and arrived in San Francisco five months later. By February 1850, all three brothers were in San Francisco and they decided to head across the Bay. There amongst the vast array of Oak trees, they met Vicente Peralta and leased 640 acres of land from him. They turned that land into successful farm land, growing wheat and barley.

The property later became the town of Clinton near what is now known as Lake Merritt. The Pattens entered into partnership with Moses Chase, who many consider the first actual settler of Oakland. Chase is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

The Pattens proved themselves to be honorable men, unlike Edson Adams, A.J. Moon and Horace Carpenter, who squatted on the Peralta land, stole timber and killed cattle. Adams has a prominent crypt at Mountain View Cemetery.

The Taft Family - Oakland Retailers


[Taft gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno; store photo from Oakland Public Library]

Plot 14B

Henry Clay Taft owned the dry goods store Taft & Pennoyer at 14th & Clay in Oakland, which later became Capwell's. He was born in Rochester, New York and moved to California in1865. He originally settled in Petaluma, but in 1878 he moved his business and his family to Oakland. In 1880 he went into partnership with Albert Pennoyer and opened their eponymously named store, which had one of the first passenger elevators in Oakland. Taft wanted a store that would prevent people from taking boats across the Bay to San Francisco, so he stocked a vast array of merchandise.

He married his wife Lizzie Maxwell in 1877, who is also buried here. Lizzie Maxwell was related to many prominent New Yorkers, including United States Senator Theodore Pomeroy and poet William Cullen Bryant, a major driving force behind New York City’s Central Park.

The Tafts had three children, Joshua Maxwell, born March 11, 1878, Clara Maxwell, April 21, 1879, and Dorothy Elizabeth, December 18, 1890, who all lived in Oakland. Clara studied at Anna Head School (see blog posting) and became a Carmelite after studying at Columbia University. Following in the footsteps of her relative William Cullen Bryant, she published a book of poetry called “Give Me the Stars.”

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Anna Head (1857-1932) - Founder of School


[Head gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

Anna Head was born in Boston in 1857, the daughter of Judge Edward and Eliza Head.

Judge Head moved to Oakland in 1861 where he established a law practice and his wife established a French and English school. Anna graduated from Oakland High School in 1874 and the University of California at Berkeley in 1879. After graduation, she traveled and studied extensively in Europe, with much of that time spent in Greece where she developed a lifelong passion for the classics. Many of her ideas about education were formed during these years.

When Eliza Head retired in 1887 she helped her daughter, Anna, start her own school in Berkeley, where no doubt the presence of the University of California was the reason for selecting Berkeley rather than Oakland.

The school, initially located at Dana and Channing streets, moved to its present location between Channing and Haste streets at Bowditch Street, in 1892. Anna Head named this building Channing Hall and had it designed by her cousin, the noted architect Soule Edgar Fisher. Channing Hall is the oldest shingled building standing in Berkeley. Subsequently additions built between 1895 and 1927 and mostly designed by Walter Ratcliff, Jr. resulted in a complex of shingled buildings set around a courtyards and gardens.

The school operated as a day and boarding school for grades one to twelve. Anna Head remained owner and director until 1909 and the school has changed hands only four times since then. Until 1957, the school refused admittance to Jewish and African-American students. In 1964, when the university acquired the school, it was relocated to Oakland and reorganized, merging with a boy’s school, and renamed Head-Royce. A board of directors now operates it.

Anna died on Christmas Day in 1932.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Random Picture

Captain WIlliam Shorey - Captain and Prominent African-American



[Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 14B

Captain William Shorey was born in Barbados in 1859. As a young man, he served as an apprentice seaman. In 1880, he sailed from the East Coast, around the Cape of Good Hope, and eventually to San Francisco as a junior officer aboard the Emma Harriman on a voyage that consumed three years. By his fourth trip aboard this vessel, and third leaving San Francisco, he was commander. He married Julia Ann Shelton, the daughter of a prominent African-American family, and later had five children.

Before and after his retirement from the sea, William Shorey was a prominent political figure. In 1903, influential black citizens from around the Bay Area attended a dinner at the Shorey house in honor of Booker T. Washington, who spoke to raise funds for educational growth and his school at Tuskegee.

In February of 1907, his ship, the John and Winthrop sailed from San Francisco to the Sea of Okhost. This voyage took in excess of 40 days and before setting course back to the Bay Area, Captain Shorey and his crew had taken four whales. In both October and November of the same year, the John and Winthrop encountered fierce typhoons that stripped the vessel's sails and deprived the men of food. Despite the sea's relentlessness, there was no loss of life. The crewmen credited the "coolness" of their captain for this fortune.

William Shorey also captained the Andrew Hicks and the Gay Head at other points in his distinguished life at sea. He earned the coveted "Masters License," which permitted him to pilot ships of any size, anywhere in the world. His exhibitions of bravery and selflessness were chronicled regularly in the San Francisco dailies. Following his death, Shorey Street in West Oakland was named after him. He was the first black resident in Oakland to be honored by the city fathers.

[Courtesy of theshoreyhouse blog]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Philetus Everts (1830-1914) - Lumber and Railroad Magnate

[Family mausoleum photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 14B

Philetus Everts, a native of New York, was born in 1830 and came to California in 1852 where he dabbled in various businesses. He was a major owner in the Eureka Lumber and served as superintendent of the Eureka & Palisade Railway Company from 1873-1882

Everts and railroad lobbyist Stephen T. Gage [see posting on this blog], hosted an annual affair at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco celebrating their departure from Astabula County, Ohio in 1852.

Mountain View docent Stafford Buckley has pointed out that this crypt is unique in that it is the only crenalated crypt at Mountain View. Crenellation is the distinctive pattern found on the tops of the walls of many medieval castles, generally known as battlements. Crenellation is the irrlegular pattern of squares and/or rectangles along a roofline which historically was used for archers to mount their bows and arrows in defense of a castle.

Perhaps the most famous crenallation is at the Great Wall of China.

Sadly, the interior of this crypt is in need of major maintenance.

Edward & Kate Newland

[Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno; Portrait from Oakland Tribune]

Plot 14B

A popular monument which I often see being photographed.

Edward Newland was born in Kirkdale, England in 1828 and moved to Boston in 1837. In 1849, after hearing about gold in the California hills, he chartered a boat with 360 others and headed west.

Rather than heading to the mines with the others, he started a stage line. He soon established a draying business and began amassing a small fortune.

He moved to Oakland in 1859 and resided at 2nd & Webster Street. He was one of the first people in the area to start a livery stable business in the area and he was known to have some of the finest thoroughbreads in Northern California. After his retirement, he bred horses for Senator Stanford, many who were frequent champions at local race tracks.

Newland was a member of the vigilance committees who took law and order into their own hands, frustrated with alleged corruption and inaction from law enforcement officials.

Josiah Stanford (1817-1909) and Josiah W. Stanford (1864-1937)


[Stanford monument photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 14B

Josiah Stanford moved to California in 1849 and sold supplies to gold miners. One of his brothers was Leland Stanford, the founder of Stanford University, former Governor and Senator and one of the Big 4 railroad barons.

Josiah Stanford and his second wife Helen lived in the Camron-Stanford House, which remains to this day at 1418 Lakeside Drive by Oakland’s Lake Merritt. They split their time between their Oakland home and the family ranch east of Fremont near Warm Springs, which was originally the site of the fashionable resort for wealthy San Franciscans in the 1850s. There Josiah and Helen helped to established a large and prosperous grape vineyard. In addition to wine, Stanford Brothers Winery produced California’s first champagne.

Josiah W. Stanford, the son of Josiah and Helen, ran the Warm Springs Ranch after his father's death, producing hay, barley and beef as well as wines. Years later, Stanford Brothers Winery became Weibel Winery.

 The original brick winery from the Stanford era still stands at the end of Stanford Lane in Fremont, near the Mission Peak Regional Park staging area, in the Warm Springs district of Fremont. The olive trees that formed an allee on Stanford Lane were relocated to Mission Boulevard when the vineyards became a subdivision.

Josiah, often in conjunction with his brothers, struck up many business ventures. During and after the Gold Rush they imported oil and kerosene from the East Coast. When the Civil War drove prices higher as supplies to the West Coast dwindled, this created a climate for a short-lived California oil boom that took place around Sulphur Mountain in Ventura County.

Josiah Stanford became the first person to establish commercial production of petroleum in the state and a principal in one of California’s first major oil companies. By 1866, his digs, incorporating Chinese labor, began to produce 20 barrels a day that were loaded and sent by ship, to the Stanford Brothers Refinery in San Francisco for processing.


The font on the gravesite monument is the same one used by Stanford University.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Random Picture

Kraft Family - Tehama County Millionaire




The Kraft Family were pioneer Tehama County residents active in retail and banking activities.

Herbert Kraft was one of the wealthiest men in Tehama County in the late 19th century. He was born in Wurtemberg, Germany on March 15, 1831 and was a banker, farmer and politician. He owned some of the primest real estate in the County for farming and timber, most of which he eventually sold. He also owned the Bank of Red Bluff, and was a major shareholder in the Mutual Savings Bank of San Francisco.

His parents came to the United States when he was ten years old. At eighteen he left home without his father's permission after having learned the tinning trade. When he left home his worldly wealth amounted to $9. He arrived in Placerville (then Hangtown) on August 2, 1852 and worked in the tinning business for one month and then left for Sacramento, where he found employment and saved his money.

In 1854 he headed north, on foot and alone, traveling through southern Oregon and northern California, in search of a permanent location. He ended up in Red Bluff and opened a small tin-shop and continued to save his money. Before long he had the largest hardware and tin business north of Sacramento, which he operated for twenty-one years. Kraft married Elizabeth Krauth on March 15, 1861 in Louisville, Kentucky, the home of her parents. They had eight children, all born in Red Bluff: George H., Edward C., Augustine, Elmer, Nettie and Gertrude.

Edward Kraft created a scholarship fund in his will in 1920, which to this day provides scholarships primarily to freshman college students from the counties surrounding Tehama County.

The Kraft family plot is one of my personal favorites at Mountain View, with the beautiful crypt and adjoining markers. The attention to detail is magnificent.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Charles Henry Holt - Tractor Pioneer


[Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno; Tractor photo from Sacramento Public Library]

Plot 33

Charles Henry Holt was born in London, New Hampshire. He went to school in Boston, where he subsequently studied accounting. After periods working in his family's business, and then in the accounts department of a New York shipping company, he embarked on a ship in 1865 and sailed to San Francisco. For two years he worked as a teacher and a bookkeeper in the North Bay, saving $700 and returning to San Francisco.

His family was in the timber business back in Concord, New Hampshire. They specialized in the supply of hardwoods used in the construction of wheels and wagons, so Charles Holt established himself, as C. H. Holt & Co, by buying timber from his father and selling it to Californian wagon and boat builders. There was considerable demand for this service because of the scale of developments then taking place in California. One of his brothers, Frank, also moved out to California and established a branch of the business to produce wheels and their respective components. This was not entirely successful as the wheels made in the wetter atmosphere of the east were not suitable for the much drier western summers and frequently failed.

To try to overcome this problem, wood was shipped to California and seasoned before being made into wheels, but this, too, was not wholly successful and the brothers looked for a place where the climate was more suited to their particular needs. They settled on Stockton, 150km/90 miles inland lr from San Francisco and formed the Stockton Wheel company.

After around 60 years of successful manufacture of steam engines, and some of the first viable crawlers, the Holt and Best companies merged to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company in 1925. In 1931 the first Diesel Sixty Tractor rolled off the new assembly line in East Peoria, Illinois, with a new efficient source of power for track-type tractors. By 1940 the Caterpillar product line included motor graders, blade graders, elevating graders, terracers and electrical generator sets.

Twombly-Burchard

[Twombly angel photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 13

Charles "C.H." Twombly was a San Francisco capitalist who in May 1875 was one of the founders of Oakland's First National Gold Bank. He was an active member of the Oakland Lodge of Masons and the Oakland Commandery, Knights of Templar. Twombly's wife Mary was from the Burchard family, who are also buried in the crypt.

Rev. John L. Burchard moved from Missouri to Marysville, California, remaining there four years, followed by six years in Stockton and four in Gilroy. After returning to Marysville he was appointed Indian agent at Round Valley. In 1872 the family removed to Oakland, in order to afford their children better educational advantages.

Abraham Powell (1828-1895) - Politician and Master Joiner

[Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]


 Plot 12

Abraham Powell was born on January 24, 1828 in Philadelphia, Pa. As a youth he was employed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and learned the trade of ship-joiner and civil engineer. He made numerous sea journeys in his youth, traveling to the West Indies and Europe.

In 1849, Powell joined the rush to California and boarded the ship "Oseola" in Philaelphia with sixty-four of his fellow pioneers. The ship went around Cape Horn and arrived in San Francisco on August 5, 1849. Upon arrival Powell entered into partnership with a fellow traveler as builders and joiners. Together they constructed numerous houses and buildings around San Francisco.

In 1850, Powell returned to Philadelphia. He was appointed Master Joiner at the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1854. Until 1858 Powell had full control of the yard operations on the Island. He was also Naval Constructor during this period, but continued as Master Joiner down to 1864.

In 1865 Powell entered into the private sector and became general manager of the Puget Sound Lumber Company. He first established a retail yard in Vallejo and then extended his operations by building yards in Napa, Suisun, Colusa, and in Yolo County. He also owned a redwood mill at Stuarts Point in Sonoma County. Powell was active in the Masonic Order, both in Philadelphia and California.

He served as Mayor of Vallejo for eight years and was a member of the board of Supervisors of Solano County

Governor Henry Huntly Haight (1825-1878)


[Monument photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 11

Henry Huntly Haight was born in Rochester, New York, on May 20, 1825. He graduated from Yale University in 1844, studied law, and then joined his father in a law practice in St. Louis, Missouri. Eventually he moved to San Francisco, where he prospered and earned a reputation of his own.

In 1859, Haight became chairman of the California State Republican Committee, however he later returned to the Democratic Party. On September 4, 1867, he was elected California's 10th governor, and on December 5, 1867, he was sworn into office. Haight ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 1871, and left office on December 8, 1871.

During his term, the transcontinental railroad was completed, the Golden Gate Park was designed, and the San Jose Teachers College was established. The state debt was reduced under Haight's administration, and the State Board of Health and the University of California were established, both of which had only been in the planning stages prior to Haight's term. After his defeat, he returned to his law practice, and served as a member of the board of trustees of the University of California.

Haight was elected to the 1878 state convention, but died before taking his seat

Though commonly thought to be true, San Francisco's Haight Street is not named in his honor, but rather that of his uncle, the pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight (1820-1869)

John Augustus Bohn, Sr. (1911-1986) - Noted Attorney

[Family mausoleum photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 11

John Augustus Bohn was the chief architect of Guam's legal system and co-editor of the Alaska state code.

John Bohn graduated from Stanford University and the law school of the University of California at Berkeley. In 1951, he was asked to draft Guam's legal code in the territory's transition from Navy control to civilian status.

He set up Guam's court system, served as counsel for the territory's Legislature and practiced law. In 1976, he filed suit on behalf of Guam to recover land he charged had been taken by the Navy with only minimal compensation. Mr. Bohn went to Alaska while it was preparing to become a state in the late 1950's and served as co-editor of its state code.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Andrew Jackson "A.J." Stevens (1833-1888) - Builder of Locomotives




[Statue and plaque photos courtesy of Dennis Evanosky; Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno; letter and locomotive photo from Sacramento Public Library]

A.J. Stevens was born in Vermont Sep. 14, 1833. In 1869 he was hired by Leland Stanford, President of Central Pacific (parent organization of Southern Pacific) as Master Mechanic. He was responsible for many locomotive inventions until his death in 1888.

Perhaps Stevens is best remembered for having built "El Gobernador," which at the time was the largest railroad locomotive in the world. Sadly, this engine appears to have largely been a victim of impatience on the part of the railroad's president, Leland Stanford. A locomotive this size had never been constructed before and proved to be a unique engineering challenge. As soon as Stevens was able to figure out a part, Stanford would order it built and installed on the new engine, without giving any proper time for testing. Stanford also apparently kept the other members of the The Big Four (minus Mark Hopkins, who had died several years before) in the dark about the project as well.

Once, while Stanford was away, Charles Crocker came through the locomotive works on a tour of inspection and saw the partially completed El Gobernador under construction. Having not been told about the project, he angrily demanded to know what they were up to. When told by A.J. Stevens that they were attempting to build the largest engine in the world, Crocker ordered all work stopped immediately. Meanwhile, Stanford returned to find that no new work had been done on the engine and when informed of the events that transpired, Crocker's orders were reversed.

William Walkerley (1818-1887)


In 1887 William Walkerley died in East Oakland leaving an estate valued at $650,000*. He left a young widow to whom was born a son shortly after her husband's death. Numerous claims against the estate were made and the case landed in the California Supreme Court. The issue at hand was whether a trust could be made in perpetuity. Numerous heirs were paid off in an out of court settlement and the widow reportedly received $500,000.

The son, Willie Walkerley, died at the tender age of six.

* The value of his estate has variously been listed as anywhere from $650,000 to $40,000,000.