Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nathaniel Spaulding (1829-1903) Saw inventor; Mayor of Oakland

Spaulding Grave (photo: Michael Colbruno); Mayor N.W. Spaulding from (Photo: Oakland Tribune)
Plot 6, Lot 1

Nathaniel Spaulding was born in North Anson, Maine on September 24, 1829. He learned the carpentry trade from his father and uncle and worked in the trade in Portland and Boston.

In 1851, he sailed for the Gold Fields of California, where he pioneered in the building of mills and flumes on the Mokelumne River in Calaveras County. He also built and managed the first hotel in Campo Seco, where he was married Mary Clinkinbeard in 1854. The couple eventually had ten children.

In 1859, he began a business in Sacramento as a manufacturer lf inserted-tooth saws. Spaulding patented the saw, which became known as the Spaulding Saw or chisel-bit saw. According to one source it, “…thoroughly revolutionized the circular saw business, not only in the U.S., but also throughout Europe.

He moved to San Francisco in 1862 and established the Pacific Saw Manufacturing Company. He also established the N.W. Spaulding & Company in Chicago with two of his brothers.

Spaulding moved to Oakland in 1866 where he built two large homes, one at 9th & Madison and the other in Highland Park. He was elected as a Republican to the City Council, where he was named as chair of the committee that oversaw streets. Spaulding played a major role in the layout and lighting of the city. He was elected as Mayor in both 1871 and 1872 without opposition. He was a noticeable presence in City Hall, as he stood 6’3” and weighed 220 pounds, which was unusually large for the time.

As Mayor, Spaulding led the effort to move the Alameda County seat from San Leandro to Oakland, which was approved by the California Legislature in 1874.

After his terms ended, he served two more terms on the City Council and then was appointed as Assistant U.S. Treasurer by President Garfield. He also served as a trustee at Stanford University.

A thirty-third degree Mason, Spauling was founder of the Oakland Lodge No. 188 and Grand Priest of the California Royal Arch Masons. He died on October 8, 1903 in New Britain, Connecticut from complications related to malaria.

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