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.