Friday, December 28, 2007

Bishop William Taylor (1821-1902)

The Taylor Family plot
Plot 33, Lot 4

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 (Image: Oakland Tribune)
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. He was the brother-in-law of Leland Stanford.

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.