Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eli Welding Playter (var. Ely) (1819-1893) – Oakland Mayor; Hardware merchant



PLOT 12
[Photo of Playter house from Oakland Tribune; Photo of Playter obelisk by Michael Colbruno]

Playter was born on October 6, 1819, in Toronto, Canada, but his family moved to rural Niagara County, New York as farmers when he was a youth.

In 1852 he began studying law in Buffalo, but the same year he was offered a ticket to California, and he came, via Panama, and mined gold for a period before settling in San Francisco, where he became a prosperous hardware merchant (Dunham, Carrigan, and Co).

In 1860, he married Sarah Matilda Neville, a native of Ireland who had also lived in New York. They had two children Charlotte Playter and Grace Playter, who married Murrey L. Johnson. Charlotte lived in a house designed by Mountain View Cemetery denizen Julia Morgan, located at 612 Mountain Avenue in Piedmont.

Ely Playter relocated his residence to Oakland around 1865. A Republican and "devout Methodist," he defeated the Democratic candidate, John S. Drum, for the mayor's office in 1885, and the following year was re-elected by defeating the Democrat, Captain John Hackett, by a vote of 2,818 to 2,691.

Playter built a home in 1879 at 14th & Castro, which is pictured above. In 1906, the house became a refuge for “working girls” after being purchased by the YWCA. The house was torn down in 1948 to make room for a service station.

He later served as a commissioner on the Board of Public Works (1889-90) and president, Board of Police and Fire Commissioners (1892). Playter resided at 1167 Castro while mayor and for some years beforehand and afterwards.

He died January 9, 1893.

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1 comment:

Walker Zed said...

Thanks for the mini bio and pics of Ely Welding Playter. I have been trying to find out more about him and his family ever since I saw his name on a list of Mayors of Oakland. Steve Playter