Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jeremiah C. Sullivan (1830-1890) - Civil War General;

[Photo of Jeremiah Cutler gravesite by Michael Colbruno]


Jeremiah Cutler Sullivan (October 1, 1830 – October 21, 1890) was an Indiana lawyer, antebellum United States Navy officer, and a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was among a handful of former Navy officers that later served as infantry generals during the war.

Jeremiah C. Sullivan was born in Madison, Indiana. He was the son of Virginia-born attorney Jeremiah Sullivan, who served as a justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and coined the name "Indianapolis" for the new state capital. He was the brother of Algernon Sydney Sullivan, New York attorney and founder of the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm.

Sullivan was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated in 1848. He was commissioned as a midshipman and spent the next six years primarily at sea, serving aboard four different vessels, including duty during the Mexican-American War.[1] In April 1854, he resigned from the Navy and returned home to Indiana, where he studied law, passed his bar exam, and opened a private practice.[2]

Sullivan helped recruit and organize a three-months' infantry regiment, the 6th Indiana Volunteers. He was elected as a captain and led his troops into combat at the Battle of Philippi in western Virginia. Following the expiration of his term of enlistment, Sullivan mustered out of the army. However, he soon received an appointment from Governor Oliver P. Morton as the colonel of the 13th Indiana, a three-years' regiment. Sullivan returned to western Virginia in the army of George B. McClellan and fought at Rich Mountain and Cheat Mountain in the summer of 1861.

In the spring of 1862, Sullivan commanded a brigade of infantry during the Valley Campaign and led it into action at the First Battle of Kernstown. He was commissioned as brigadier general to date from April 28, 1862. Later in the spring, he was transferred to the Western Theater and assigned command of a brigade in the Army of the Mississippi, serving under William S. Rosecrans. Sullivan again saw combat in the battles of Iuka and Corinth in Mississippi. In the autumn of that same year, Sullivan was given command of the District of Jackson, Tennessee, and its widely scattered garrisons of Union troops. There, his men were often pitted against the raiders of Confederate general Nathan B. Forrest.

During the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, Sullivan served on the field staff of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant as the acting inspector general for his army. Following the surrender of Vickburg on July 4, Sullivan took the position of Chief of Staff for Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson. In September, he was reassigned to the Department of West Virginia to serve under his father-in-law, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley. Given command of a division, Sullivan was tasked with protecting the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Western Maryland. In mid-October 1863, he led a column from Harpers Ferry that thwarted an attack on Charleston, West Virginia, by Confederates under John D. Imboden, driving the enemy up the valley.

During the Valley Campaigns of 1864, Sullivan drew the ire of his superior, Philip H. Sheridan, with his perceived poor performance, and was replaced by Brig. Gen. George Crook. Sullivan was never again given a significant command. He resigned from the army on May 11, 1865, and tellingly was not among the scores of Union generals who received brevet promotions to higher rank at the close of hostilities.

Sullivan moved to Oakland, Maryland, after the war, and then headed west to California in 1878. Despite his previous training and experience as an attorney, he instead worked at a variety of menial clerical jobs in both states.

Jeremiah C. Sullivan died in Oakland, California, in the fall of 1890 not long after his sixtieth birthday.

[Biography from Wikipedia]

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Peter Wigginton (1839-1890) - Congressman; Candidate for Governor and Vice President

[Photo of gravesite by Michael Colbruno]

PLOT 17, LOT 6

Peter Dinwiddie Wigginton was born in Springfield, Illinois on September 6, 1839. He moved to Wisconsin with his parents in 1843 and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 1859 and practiced law.

He served as the editor of the Dodgeville (Wis.) Advocate.

In 1862, Wigginton moved to Snelling, California in Merced County, where he practiced law. He served as the district attorney of Merced County from 1864-1868. While living in Merced, he co-owned the Merced Woolen Mills Company and married the former Sallie E. Moore.

He was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1875. In the 1878 election, he beat former Governor Romualdo Pacheco by a single vote.

In 1880 he settled in San Francisco and resumed the practice of law, representing the Southern Pacific Railroad. In an attempt to revive his failing political fortunes, he became involved in forming the American Party, which railed against foreigners entering U.S. soil. The party had minor success recruiting working class men and some white-collar employees.

In 1886, he ran as the American Party candidate for Governor of California, losing to Mountain View Cemetery denizens Washington Bartlett (Dem.) and Jonathan F. Swift (Rep.). Two years later he was nominated by the American Party as their candidate for Vice President. He ran with James Curtis of New York and received only 1,591 votes nationwide. The party platform advocated a fourteen-year residence for naturalization; the exclusion of socialists, anarchists, and other supposedly dangerous persons; free schools; a strong navy and coastal defense; continued separation of church and state; and enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine.

He died in Oakland on July 7, 1890.

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Warren English (1840-1913) - Congressman; Confederate Soldier

Gravesite of Warren English (Photo: Michael Colbruno)
Warren English from the SF Call, June 18, 1896

[Photo of gravesite by Michael Colbruno]

PLOT 17, LOT 42

Warren Barkley English was born in Charles Town, Virginia. (now West Virginia) on May 1, 1840.

After graduating from Charles Town Academy in June 1861 he joined the Confederate Army serving in Company B, Twelfth Virginia Cavalry, Army of
Northern Virginia.

In 1866, he sailed on the steamer Montana to San Francisco and moved to Oakland, California. He attended the California Military Academy. After graduation he accepted a job as Secretary to the Silver Peak and Red Mountain Gold and Silver Mining Company, in Esmeralda County, Nevada.

During a brief return to Oakland, he married the former Clara Norris in 1872 and they had five children: Clara, Warren Jr., Norris, Hancock and Donald. During this time, he worked as a farmer, manufactured borax and co-owned a lumber company.

In 1877 he was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and served four years, before joining the California State Senate.

For many years, his brother William English, was considered one of the most powerful power brokers in the Democratic Party. In 1894, Warren English challenged Democrat Samuel Hilborn for Congress and won the election. However, he lost his bid for reelection in 1896 when Democrats lost 125 seats due to severe economic conditions under President Grover Cleveland. After his loss, he was appointed as the Collector of Customs at the Port of Oakland. His pay was $2,500 a year.

He later got involved in the real estate business in Oakland, California.

In 1905 moved to Sonoma County and became a viticulturalist. He died in Santa Rosa, on January 9, 1913.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Henry T. Johns (1828-1906) – Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

[Photo of Henry Johns gravesite by Michael Colbruno; Etching from Johns' book]

Plot 33

Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served as a Private in Company C, 49th Massachusetts Infantry, Union Army.

When the Union forces were attacking at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on May 27, 1863, during the general advance a call went out for volunteers to take part in a dangerous movement on the enemy's works while under a heavy fire. Private Henry Johns was one of three men from Company C, 49th Massachusetts Infantry who answered the call and earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in the volunteer action. His two companions were Sergeant James Strong and Corporal Francis Warren.

In 1890, he published a 400-page account of his experience entitled "Life with the Forty-Ninty Massachusetts Volunteers." The book is a series of letters and provides a vivid and disturbing account of the disease, suffering and death that the soldiers faced on a daily basis. This was Johns’ account of the event:

“Ignoring my privelege to keep out of the fight, I volunteered as one of a squad of fifty. According to orders we marched towards a rise of ground, from which we were to charge on the enemy’s ranks. It was the most peculiar charge that I have ever heard of. There was no sudden rush, no cheering, nor the usual din of a general charge. We were merely following orders without confidence of success, yet determined to do our best. The plan was a failure in conception and execution. We had to charge over three-quarters of a mile of open country, exposed to the fierce fire of the enemy, and then climb the enemy’s breastworks. But we never reached it. I ran on, knowing that my comrades were dropping on every side of me. Nevertheless we pressed forward until, seeing that to go farther would be useless and only mean death, we retreated.”

He later achieved the rank of First Lieutenant and was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 25, 1893.

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Charles Clark Stevenson (1826-1890) – Nevada Governor

Plot 33

Charles C. Stevenson was born in Ontario County, New York on February 20, 1826. His education was limited and attained in the public schools of Canada and Michigan.

In 1859, he joined a group that was headed west to Pike’s Peak, but decided to continue on to Nevada where he was one of the first to arrive on the Comstock. When he arrived in Ophir (later Virginia City), there was only a tent and a brushwood saloon.

Stevenson found moderate success in the silver mines, and also worked as a farmer and a miller. He also became part-owner of the Cooper and Stevenson quartz mill and later in life struck gold.

He first entered politics as a member of the Nevada State Senate, a position he won election to in 1866, 1868, and 1872. He was a delegate to the 1872 and 1884 Republican National Conventions, and served as chairman of the 1885 Nevada Silver Convention. He also served as a member of the University of Nevada Board of Regents from 1875 to 1887, and was a state commissioner representing Nevada at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The early success of the University of Nevada is often credited to Stevenson’s efforts as Governor and as a Regent.

Stevenson next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected Nevada’s fifth governor by a popular vote in 1886. During his tenure, the Stewart Indian School was created, the University of Nevada was restructured, railroad construction was advanced, and programs were established that supported the livestock and farming industries. Stevenson is credited with introducing top-graded Jersey cattle to Nevada at his own expense.

During his tenure as Governor his brother, Edward Stevenson, served as the Governor of the Idaho Territory. Edward died from a opium overdose while being treated for back pain.

On September 21, 1890 Governor Charles C. Stevenson died of typhoid fever at his home in Carson City, becoming the first Nevada governor to die in office. His sons from a first marriage, Edward and Lou, challenged Stevenson’s will. Both had been bequeathed $1,000 with and an additional $500 for their children. The judge ruled against them and in favor of their stepmother who had been named executor of the estate. She died two years later and is also buried at Mountain View.

The succession of the new Governor after his death was a bit unusual. Lieutenant Governor H.C. Davis died about a year before Stevenson. Frank Bell, the warden of the state penitentiary, was appointed as acting Lieutenant Governor. Upon Stevenson’s death he assumed the office of Governor.

[Much of this information is extracted from Hubert Howe Bancroft’s “History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming: 1540-1888,” the Reno Daily Gazette and the website of the State of Nevada]

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William "Bloody Bill" Higby (1813-1887) - Congressman; Friend of Lincoln

[Photo of Higby obelisk by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 13

William Higby was born in Willsboro, N.Y. on August 18, 1813.

He attended a preparatory school in Westport, N.Y. and graduated from the University of Vermont at Burlington in 1840. Higby studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1847 and began practicing law in Elizabethtown, N.Y..

In 1850, Higby moved to California and settled in Calaveras County, where he resumed the practice of law and unsuccessfully mined for gold. He served as the district attorney from 1853-1859, as well as a District Judge. He was nicknamed “Bloody Bill” because of the harsh treatment that he inflicted on criminals.

He was elected to the California State Senate in 1862 and 1863 as a Republican. He was then elected to Congress, where he served from 1863-1869. He was a frequent guest at the Lincoln White House. Higby chaired the Committee on Mines and Mining.

After leaving office he worked as the editor of the Calaveras Chronicle, was collector of internal revenue from 1877-1881, and devoted himself to horticulture until his death.

Higby was paralyzed the last three years of his life, eventually dying in Santa Rosa, California on November 27, 1887.

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Smokey EIlisian (1926-1959) - Race Car Driver

[Elisian photo from Find a Grave; Photo of grave by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 52D, Lot 466

Edward Gulbeng "Smokey" Elisian (originally Eliseian) was born in Oakland on December 9, 1926.

Elisian was a race car driver known as an aggressive competitor whose style reminded many of his friend and idol, Bill Vukovich, Sr. During the 1955 Indianapolis 500, Elisian pulled his car off the track and ran to the site of Vukovich's accident. This earned him praise from the racing community, but it earned him the wrath of the car owner.

Elisian was later accused of causing the death of popular 1955 Indianapolis 500 winner Bob Sweikert during a 1956 sprint car race at Salem, Indiana. Films of Sweikert's accident vindicated Elisian.

Elisian qualified for the position in the middle of the front row of the 1958 500 Classic. In a heated first lap duel with pole sitter Dick Rathmann, Elisian lost control attempting a pass in the third turn and triggered a multi-car accident that resulted in the death of popular driver Pat O'Connor. Elisian received a suspension for this, although he was reinstated days later.

After missing the 1959 Indianapolis 500, Elisian was tragically killed in a fiery accident during the 1959 Milwaukee 200 championship car race. The car in which he lost his life, "The Travelon Trailer Special," was rebuilt and propelled Jim Hurtubise to the status of fastest qualifier and Rookie-of-the-Year for the 1960 Indianapolis 500.

Elisian is buried with his parents and 2 brothers in a family plot under his original family name.

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[Bio by Warrick L. Barret]

Charles Clayton (1825-1885) - Alcalde; Congressman

[Photos of Clayton plot by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

Charles Clayton was born in Derbyshire, England on October 5, 1825. In 1846, he headed to Oregon before settling in California two years later.

He served as the alcalde under the Mexican territorial government in Santa Clara, California from 1849-1850. In 1852, he founded the Santa Clara flour mills with S.S. Johnson, reportedly the first steam flour mill in California. A year later he moved to San Francisco and entered the grain and flour business.

He served as member of the California State Assembly from 1863-1866 and as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1864-1869.

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Clayton as United States surveyor of customs of the port and district of San Francisco.

Clayton was elected as a Republican to Congress serving from 1873- 1875.

He served as California state prison director from 1881-1882.

According to his obituary, Clayton died on October 4, 1885 from “congestion of the brain.” At the time of his death he was the President of the Merchants’ Exchange and was allegedly upset about losing money in a barley deal.

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Romualdo Pacheco, Jr. (1831-1899) - California's Only Latino Governor; Congressman

[Photos from]

José Antonio Romualdo Pacheco, Jr. (October 31, 1831 – January 23, 1899) was an American politician and diplomat. Involved in California state and federal politics, Pacheco was elected and appointed to various posts and offices throughout his more than thirty-year career, including the California State Senate, Governor of California, and three terms in the United States House of Representatives. Pacheco, who was of Mexican descent, remains the only Hispanic governor in the state's history. He was also the state's first California-born governor.

Pacheco represented California in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1877 to February 7, 1878, and from March 4, 1879 to March 3, 1883. He was the first Hispanic Representative from a U.S. state; several others had previously served as delegates for U.S. territories and as such did not have full voting privileges. He served as Lieutenant Governor of California under Newton Booth until Booth was elected to the United States Senate in 1875. Pacheco then served as governor from February 27, 1875 to December 9, 1875, when Lieutenant Governor William Irwin, winner in the September elections that year, was inaugurated.

Early in his political career in the 1850s, he was a Democrat. He became affiliated with the National Union Party in the 1860s, but was elected to most of his positions as a candidate for the Republican Party.

He was born in Santa Barbara, California to Ramona Carrillo de Pacheco and Captain José Antonio Romualdo Pacheco. His family was prominent in what was then Alta California. Captain Pacheco had moved to California from Guanajuato, Mexico in 1825 and served as an aide to Governor José María de Echeandía. However, he died when the young Romualdo was just five weeks old. His mother later married a Scotsman named Captain John D. Wilson, who sent Romualdo to Honolulu, Hawaii for his education.

At age twelve, Pacheco began an apprenticeship aboard a trading vessel. The Mexican-American War broke out two years later, and he was briefly held by American forces on one trip in July 1846 as he brought cargo to Yerba Buena, which is now San Francisco. The ship he was on was searched, and he made an oath of allegiance to the United States and was released.

Pacheco's association with a prominent family in the state helped him to gain support as he entered politics in the 1850s. He was also well-respected by Anglos coming into the area. He was elected to the state senate in 1857 and re-elected two times, serving until 1863. During the American Civil War Pacheco was appointed the rank of brigadier general by Governor Leland Stanford and directed to disarm military companies in the Los Angeles area that were not loyal to the Union.

Pacheco served as state treasurer for a few years, then returned to the state senate until becoming lieutenant governor. After briefly serving as governor, Pacheco ran for a U.S. House seat, winning by just one vote. His opponent, Peter D. Wigginton contested the election, eventually forcing Pacheco to leave in 1878 when the House Committee on Elections refused Pacheco's certificate of election. Returning to California, he went into business until winning a House seat again in September 1879. He was reelected in 1880.

After leaving Congress, Pacheco lived on a cattle ranch in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila for five years until appointed U.S. Minister to Central America in 1890. He returned to California in 1893, and died in Oakland in 1899.

In 1863 he married Mary McIntyre, a beautiful and talented 22-year old playwright. They had two children, Maybella Ramona (b. 1865), and Romualdo ("Waldo"), who died in childhood. In 1889 Maybella married Will Tevis, the son of a powerful business family, in San Francisco. Maybella and Will would give Romualdo and Mary Pacheco four grandsons.

[Biography reprinted from Wikipedia]

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Anson Weeks (1896-1969): Big Band Leader

[Photo of Anson Weeks gravesite by Michael Colbruno; Biography taken from SF Museum online archives with additional information from Ned Sparks]

The posting of Anson Weeks is the debut of the first video on this site. I encourage you to watch it, as it’s an absolute delight.

Oakland-born Anson Weeks was king of the Nob Hill hotel dance bands during the 1920s and 30s, with a long run at the Peacock Room in the Hotel Mark Hopkins. During this time he also played regularly at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.

He formed his first band in 1924, and played in many famed Oakland and Sacramento hotels. In 1925, his band cut a test disc in Oakland for Victor Talking Machine Co., but, apparently, Victor executives failed to offer a contract, and the recording of “New Moon” was never issued. By the late 1920s the Anson Weeks orchestra was increasingly popular along the West Coast, because of nightly radio broadcasts.

His big recording break came in May 1928 when Columbia Records waxed “Dream House” and “Wob-a-ly Walk.”

January 29, 1929 saw his first recordings as “Anson Weeks and His Hotel Mark Hopkins Orchestra” for Columbia Records. He recorded under the Hotel Mark Hopkins moniker through 1932.

Weeks broadcast almost nightly in 1930 from Hotel Mark Hopkins, for KFRC, and NBCs West Coast network. His “Lucky Strike Magic Carpet” radio program was broadcast coast-to-coast from the Mark on NBC during 1931. It was while broadcasting for Lucky Strike in New York that columnist Walter Winchell coined the imperishable phrase "Dancin' with Anson."

In September 1932, while Bing Crosby played San Francisco's Fox Theatre, it was arranged that he record the song "Please" from his film (released October 14) "The Big Broadcast." At that time, Weeks was an exclusive Brunswick artist, as was Mr. Crosby. On September 16, 1932 Crosby recorded this one song with Weeks' orchestra in the Mission Street studio of MacGregor & Sollie, Inc., and it would become Weeks' best-selling record.

When Weeks reorganized in 1933 he phoned Crosby to ask if he had any recommendations for a male band singer. Without skipping a beat, Bing told him "I have a brother who sings like a bird." So without much preparation, Bob Crosby arrived in San Francisco, began his career at "The Mark" as a professional singer.

The early- and mid-30s saw a string of hit Columbia and Brunswick recordings by Weeks, some with vocals by Bob Crosby, Carl Ravazza, Kay St. Germaine, and Dale Evans — later known as “Queen of the West,” after her marriage to cowboy star Roy Rogers.

Weeks, injured in a 1941 automobile accident, left the band business, but returned in the late 1940s.

1956 brought a revival of Weeks’ career when his six-piece orchestra opened at the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco for a long run, and he recorded three albums for Fantasy Records. During the 60s he fronted a combo, mostly in the Sacramento area, and died there February 7, 1969.

There is a great selection of Weeks’ music available on YouTube.

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"The Fates" at the Main Mausoleum

[Photo of the Moirae by Michael Colbruno; Text excerpted from Wikipedia]

Take a walk down the main road of Mountain View Cemetery and stop at the entrance to the main mausoleum and look up. You will find this beautiful relief of the three fates from Greek mythology.

The Moirae, also known as the "apportioners" or “The Fates” in Greek mythology, were the white-robed personifications of destiny.

The Greek word moira (μοῖρα) literally means a part or portion, and by extension one's portion in life or destiny. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death (and beyond). Even the gods feared the Moirae. Zeus also was subject to their power.

The three Moirae were:

* Clotho ("spinner") spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Her Roman equivalent was Nona, (the 'Ninth'), who was originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month of pregnancy.
* Lachesis ("allotter" or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. Her Roman equivalent was Decima (the 'Tenth').
* Atropos ("inexorable" or "inevitable", literally "unturning", is sometimes called Aisa) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner and timing of each person's death. When she cut the thread with "her abhorrèd shears", someone on Earth died. Her Roman equivalent was Morta ('Death').

The Roman equivalent of the Moirae were the Parcae, euphemistically the "sparing ones", or Fata; also equivalent to the Germanic Norns. It is difficult to separate the Moirae from the other Indo-European spinning fate goddesses known as the Norns in Norse mythology and the Baltic goddess Laima and her two sisters.

Despite their forbidding reputation, Moirae could be worshipped as goddesses. Brides in Athens offered them locks of hair and women swore by them. They may have originated as birth-goddesses and only later acquired their reputation as the agents of destiny.

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