Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Louis Kempff (1841-1920) - US Navy Admiral; Boxer Rebellion Hero

Louis Kempff
Kempff, Louis (Oct. 11, 1841-July 29, 1920) was born in Belleville, Illinois, the son of Henrietta and Friedrich Kempff. 

After attending the local schools in Belleville, Kempff entered the U.S. Naval Academy in September 1857 at Annapolis, Maryland. Towards the end of his senior year at Annapolis, the American Civil War erupted and Kempff was detached from the Naval Academy and called into active service in May 1861. Midshipman Kempff was assigned to the Wabash, a steam frigate in the Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On November 7, 1861, Kempff participated in the Battle of Port Royal, near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. On August 1, 1862, Kempff was commissioned as a Lieutenant and subsequently assigned to the Connecticut. At the close of the Civil War, Kempff was aboard the Suwanee in the Pacific Ocean.

In February 1893 Kempff became a member of the navy's Examining and Retiring Board in Washington, D.C., before being appointed to several other boards of inquiry and court-martial tribunals. In May 1895 he entered the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, where he completed the advanced course the following year. He then returned to the Examining and Retiring Board and was advanced to rear admiral in March 1899. He was posted to the Mare Island Navy Yard as commandant until March 13, 1900, when he became senior squadron commander, U.S. Naval Forces, of the Asiatic Squadron.   

In May 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, Kempff commanded the U.S. flotilla ordered to Chinese waters in support of allied ground operations and distinguished himself during the fighting in and around Ta-ku, at the mouth of the Pai (Pei-ho) River. Upon his arrival, he ordered a combined landing force of navy bluejackets and marines ashore to protect the American legation in Peking (Beijing). The American landing force was joined by troops from Britain, Germany, other European countries, and Japan. The combined forces endured skirmishes and ambushes along the route to the Chinese capital, where they were attacked by large numbers of Boxers and turned back. When ships from the other allied countries were positioned at the mouth of the Pai River in order to bombard the fortresses there, Kempff refused to go along. 

Boxer Rebellion
He later explained that the "Chinese government had not committed, so far as I am aware, any act of open hostilities toward the foreign armed forces." Citing Kempff's refusal to fire on the fortresses, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long, in a telegram to the admiral, expressed "the satisfaction with his conduct which was felt by the Administration and the recognition of his discreet conduct in not joining in the fire on the forts." Relieved of command of the USS Newark in February 1901, Kempff transferred his flag to the USS Kentucky and proceeded to the United States, where the navy commended him for his successful tour while in the Far East and for his actions during the Boxer Rebellion.   

Steamboat Boat Inspection Service badge
After a brief period of convalescent leave, Kempff assumed command of the Twelfth Naval District, which at that time encompassed the entire Pacific Coast. Concluding forty-six years of continuous naval service, he retired on October 11, 1903. Despite his retirement, he accepted positions as inspector, Steamboat Boat Inspection Service, in 1904 and as a member of a naval board of inquiry in 1909. After completely retiring from active naval service in 1909, Kempff died in Santa Barbara, California.  

Kempff's career as a naval officer followed the normal pattern of both sea and shore duty with special assignments, such as participation in tribunals and on examining and retirement boards. His skillful handling of the situation of Ta-ku, China, during the Boxer Rebellion demonstrated his solid professionalism as both a naval officer and a diplomat, skills not uncommon for naval officers during this era.   

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Folger Family: Coffee barons who were victims of Manson Family

James Folger and Folger's Coffee advertisement
Plot 31, Lot 12

James A. Folger (1835 - 1889) was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Brown Folger and Nancy Hill. His father was a master blacksmith who had invested in tryworks* and bought two ships. They had nine children of which James was the second youngest. The Folger family roots can be traced back to England. On July 13, 1846 a 33-acre fire broke out in Nantucket's business section and burned the works and ship. 11 year old James helped in the reconstruction.  

After the discovery of gold in California, 14-year-old James, along with his older brothers Henry and Edward set out in the autumn of 1849 on a ship bound for the Isthmus of Panama. After a raft and hiking journey across the Isthmus, the brothers waited at Panama City for quite a while before catching the Pacific mail steamer Isthmus on April 10, 1850. They entered the Golden Gate on May 5, 1850. 

J.A. Folger Coffee in San Francisco and gravemarker
As an enterprising teenager he started selling coffee to the gold seekers and by 1855 he had become confidential clerk and bookkeeper in the Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mill founded in 1850 by fellow Mountain View Cemetery denizen William H. Bovee.  Bovee, then just a 27-year-old entrepreneur, was looking for a carpenter to build his first mill at Pioneer Steam Coffee in San Francisco. Because Folger was skilled in carpentry, Bovee hired him to erect the mill.

After working at Bovee's mill for nearly a year, Folger had saved enough money to stake a claim and headed out to mine for gold. He agreed to carry along samples of coffee and spices, taking orders from grocery stores in the mining country until he arrived in a town called Yankee Jim's in 1851.
Upon his return to San Francisco in 1865, Folger became a full partner of The Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills. There were other partners including August Schilling, but by 1872,  Folger had bought them out. He renamed the company J.A. Folger & Co. and controlled most of the market on the West Coast.

Although commercially roasted coffee was available in New York shortly before the beginning of the 19th century, it was still a luxury for big-city dwellers and was entirely unknown to the population at large. As for ground coffee, it was unheard of at the wholesale level.

His son, James II., succeeded him, and by 1890 Folgers was the largest coffee and spice maker west of Chicago.   

He and his wife, Eleanor Laughran of Vermont, moved to Oakland in 1866 and lived in a fashionable area near Lake Merritt. Folger was also active in the organization and development of Oakland’s schools.  

* A trywork, located aft of the fore-mast, is the most distinguishing feature of a whaling ship.  In two cast-iron trypots set into a furnace of brick, iron and wood, whale oil was rendered from the blubber of whales, much as lard is rendered from frying fatty pork. The use of tryworks on whaling ships allowed them to stay at sea longer since they did not have to carry unprocessed blubber home.

The Folger Family plot and Peter Folger
Peter Folger (December 26, 1905 – August 27, 1980) was an American coffee heir, socialite, and member of the prominent Folger family. He was also the longtime Chairman of the board and President at the Folgers Coffee Company. He is the grandson of founder James A. Folger, and the father of Charles Manson murder victim Abigail Folger. 

Born and raised in California, Folger studied business and graduated from Yale University where he was an athlete on their football, track and field, and polo teams. Peter Folger later served in World War II as a Marine Major.  

In 1963, after having helped to build the family firm into the third largest coffee wholesaler in the United States, Folger sold the company to Procter & Gamble for 1,650,000 shares of common stock. However, he and the Folger family continued to operate Folgers as a Procter & Gamble subsidiary. Since 2008, the company has been owned by the J.M. Smucker Company.

Folger married twice in his life. The first being to Ines Mejia, the daughter of the consul general for El Salvador and member of a prestigious California land grant family. They went on to have two children, Abigail, born in 1943 and Peter, Jr, born in 1945. Ines filed for divorce which was granted in 1952. They shared joint custody of their two children.

On June 30, 1960, Peter married his then 24-year-old secretary Beverly Mater. They had one daughter together, Elizabeth, in January 1961. Peter and Beverly lived with their daughter at the Folger mansion located in Woodside, California until 1974 when they moved to a newly built home on Roberta Drive. The murder of his eldest daughter, Abigail, in 1969, was said to have dimmed Peter's desire to continue living at the Woodside estate, where she grew up.

Daughter Abigail was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery
After Abigail died, Peter conducted his own investigation into her death and spent the rest of his life protecting her from being the subject of salacious gossip, threatening legal action against anyone who tried to use her name in damning articles or books about the Tate-LaBianca murders. As a result, very little information is available about her.

Folger died from Prostate Cancer at his home in Woodside, California, at the age of 74 on August 27, 1980. He was survived by his wife, Beverly. She never remarried following his death and died in 2001 at age 65.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thomas Henry Selby (1820-1875) - 13th Mayor of San Francisco; Founded Selby Smelting & Lead

Thomas Selby
Thomas Selby was the thirteenth mayor of San Francisco, serving from December 6, 1869 to December 3, 1871.

Selby arrived in California in August 1849 to make his fortune. He had been in a failed business venture in New York with his brother and a man named Peter Naylor. Selby was under pressure to make money quickly in order to pay back his creditors, which prompted him to join the Gold Rush. 

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Selby saw the potential for making his fortune in the city. In 1850, he built one of the first brick buildings in San Francisco at California Street near Montgomery, where he opened Thomas H. Selby and Company. This company dealt in the import and export of non-precious metals and other commodities. 

In 1856, Selby would found the Selby Smelting and Lead Work at First & Howard Street, which was the first smelting operation for metals other than gold and silver on the West Coast. His company enlarged their facility to forty furnaces and Selby quickly became the largest metal smelter in America. The 200-foot tall structure known as the Shot Tower became a well-known city landmark, which could be seen from miles away. In the shot tower, lead was heated until molten, then dropped through a copper sieve high up in the tower. The liquid lead solidified as it fell and formed tiny spherical balls as a result of the surface tension.

Shot Tower at 1st & Howard
Selby became very active in both politics and civic life. He was elected as an Alderman of the Fifth Ward in 1851 and was influential in reorganizing the police department. He left office for one term to return to his business, but was elected to the same seat the following term. Seven of the eight Alderman elected that year were members of the Whig Party, including Selby. The Alderman met at the Jenny Lind Theater at 750 Kearny Street, which later officially was purchased by the city and became City Hall. In December 1869, he reluctantly ran for the city's highest office and was elected the 13th mayor of San Francisco, serving for two years.  

During his time as an Alderman, the Board of Education was composed of the Mayor, one member from each branch of the Common Council, and two citizens at large. Selby represented this body from the Board of Aldermen, and worked tirelessly to create free public schools, an issue that he was passionate about. 

Selby also helped build the Presbyterian Church at Stockton near Broadway and the Calvary Church on Bush Street. 

He died in San Francisco on June 17, 1875 of pneumonia. 

Thirty years after his death, Selby's smelting company was sold to the American Smelting and Refining Company.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Edward Payson Heald (1843-1925) - Founder of Heald Business College

Edward Payson Heald
Receiving Vault (Behind Main Mausoleum)
Section 15 Tier 2

Edward Payson Heald was one of ten children born to Abel Heald and Mary A. Sterns on February 5th in Lovell, Maine. Heald spent his youth in Maine where he took advantage of the educational opportunities afforded him, eventually becoming an instructor at the Portland Business College in Portland, Maine. Although young, Edward was highly regarded among both the faculty and students. Eventually he decided to leave his native state of Maine and travel to the West Coast. In 1863, at the age of twenty, he traveled to San Francisco, California.  

Upon his arrival to California, Heald set to work establishing Heald Business College in San Francisco, the first institution of its kind in the western part of the United States. Edward’s ability as a teacher and executive helped Heald Business College soon become a leader in the   educational and business activities of the west.   

The original Heald College and a contemporary school in Concord, CA
Edward Heald was an educational pioneer in many ways, especially when it came to women’s education. Heald Business College was one of the first schools that afforded women the   opportunity to gain practical business training and played a major role in paving the way for women to enter into the business world. Also, as the industries of the world changed, Heald Business College changed along with them, introducing the study of the various branches of engineering, mining and even automotive repair to the course catalog. Heald College’s mission was, and continues to be, to prepare students for successful careers by providing them with career education that focuses on practical, hands-on learning.  

Heald College has persevered since 1863, weathering two major earthquakes and two World Wars, always remaining true to its original mission. As the needs of the workplace have changed, the Heald College curriculum has evolved from business courses to include technology, healthcare and legal degrees.   

In addition to the establishment of the college that bears his name, Heald was also heavily   involved in many philanthropic and benevolent organizations and lent his influence and co- operation in support of efforts promoting the general good of the community. He was also involved in agriculture throughout the state including the operation of a large raisin vineyard near Fresno and a fine stock farm in Napa County, where he made a specialty of breeding high- grade roadsters, trotters and carriage horses. He also served as president of the Pacific Coast Trotting Horse Breeders' Association. 

Edward Heald passed away in 1925 and is still regarded as a pioneer of education in the state of California. Heald College continues today with twelve campuses throughout California, Oregon and Hawaii and celebrated its 150th anniversary this year.

Walter Blair (1830 - 1888) - Early settler of Piedmont; Noted businessman

Walter Blair and his home on Highland
Walter Blair (1830 - 1888)  Plot  28, Lot 11

Walter Blair and his brother William, Vermont natives, came to California via Cape Horn in 1852, and settled in Alameda County in 1853.

The area that is now Piedmont, and parts of Oakland, was originally a community of ranches. The Beard Ranch is now Trestle Glen; the Biglow and Gladding ranches are now Pleasant Valley and Vernon Heights. Walter Blair created the largest of these - 600 acres for which he paid the Peralta family the grand sum of $1.25 per acre.  

James Gamble & "The Highlands," home of the Requa family
Other landowners included early Piedmont pioneers Isaac Requa, Hugh Craig, Jesse Wetmore and James Gamble. The estates generally were self-sufficient with their own water, fruits & vegetables, livestock and chicken.

A farmer and dairyman, Blair’s dairy farm property ran from the cemetery wall (on the Moraga Avenue side) to and beyond Blair Avenue in Piedmont. He bought the land from the US Government, which now owned most of the original Vicente Peralta land grant. 

Blair’s Dairy was at the southwest corner of what is now El Cerrito and Blair Avenues. The dairy supplied milk and butter to the surrounding area and San Francisco. He raised cattle and planted wheat and barley. Old-timers referred to it as “Blair’s Pasture.” 

Boundaries of Blair Park
In 1862, Walter married fellow Vermont native Phoebe Harvey, with whom he had two daughters – Ethel (aka Florence) and Mabel. They lived in a house on Highland.

Blair and his brother planted Eucalyptus trees, which still provide the border between Mountain View Cemetery and Piedmont. These trees were known as “Blair’s Gum Trees” and ran from Moraga Road to Montclair. They were removed in 1936 for street widening. 

The Blair Quarry #1
Diagonally across from the dairy, Blair developed a quarry where Dracena Park was later located, and sold the basalt and chert to pave streets in Oakland and Piedmont. Some of the rock from the quarry can still be seen at MVC where it was used to make gravestones. When the quarry filled with water, the quarry became a favorite swimming hole. When someone drowned in the 1920s, the city filled the quarry with construction debris. 

Blair Park Trolley and Piedmont Cabel Car
Blair made his major mark was made in the field of transportation. Along with Montgomery Howe, he founded the Broadway & Piedmont Railroad horsecar line. He was also involved in lines that ran up H Street, Market and Adeline. Both James Gamble and Montgomery Howe were investors in his transportation companies.

Not only did the streetcars provide service for Oakland, but it brought prospective property owners and homeowners to Piedmont. This was also why both the Key System, developed by Borax Smith in the 1890s and early 20th century, and rail lines in L.A. built by Henry H. Huntington at the turn of the 20th century were built.

The Key System served a number of neighborhoods, particularly where development was happening.
·      The B served Lakeshore and Trestle Glen
·      The C served Piedmont
·      The E served Claremont

It was Blair who designed the cable car grip that replaced the original one of Hallidie’s -- the basic design still in use today. 

Piedmont Springs Hotel and visitor Mark Twain (taken by Eadweard Muybridge)
In 1870, Walter Blair built the Piedmont Springs Hotel where natural sulpher springs bubbled from the ground. The hotel became the terminus for one his streetcar lines. The streetcars ran hourly, connecting the hotel to Piedmont Avenue, where riders could transfer to Oakland or head to the ferries to travel to San Francisco.

The hotel had 20 bedrooms and five dining rooms. The main dining room featured a crystal chandelier, fine china and velvet drapes. It could seat up to 35 guests. The water of the spring was thought to have curative powers. Wealthy San Franciscans journeyed to the hotel during to visit "the country" and often stayed for a week. It was considered one of the finest resorts in California at the time. One of the most famous visitors was Mark Twain, who arrived in 1871. 

Blair Park Bridge and Entrance (that's possibly Walter Blair on the bridge)
In 1884, in Moraga Canyon, at the end of his Oakland and Piedmont Railroad horsecar line where the hotel now stood, Blair developed a 75-acre amusement park, Blair’s Park. This was an inducement for people to ride his street railroad, which took someone 25 minutes to travel by horsecar up the hill from downtown Oakland to Blair's Park. At the park you could sail small boats, ride ponies, watch acrobats hang from hot air balloons, have a picnic by one of the waterfalls and listen to music.

1n 1890, the Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company leased the park from Blair’s widow and added attractions to lure more riders to their cable cars. The offered free concerts on Saturday and Sunday and built a dancing pavilion. There were also plans for a 3-story casino with a large veranda, but it was never built.
Newspaper ads for the Park and Hotel
The Park eventually saw it’s demise due to a number of circumstances, including competition from other amusement parks (Bushrod, Idora and Shell Mound), problems with “hoodlums and hooligans,” and a tragic balloon accident involving a 6-year-old boy named Bertram Hills. 5,000 people witnessed the boy fall 1,000 feet from the sky. Newspaper accounts claim that Mrs. Edna Olney fainted when she saw the boy fall from the sky. In 1897, Blair’s heirs put the park up for sale. It was purchased in 1902 by Frank Havens’ nephew, the poet George Sterling. By 1904, it was owned by the Havens Realty Syndicate and developed with homes around 1917.

In January 1891, the women of Piedmont led a temperance movement to block the sale of liquor at the Piedmont Springs Hotel, which was increasingly getting complaints about noise and public drunkeness. They petitioned the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to withdraw the liquor license granted to the owner of the hotel. The liquor controversy ended quickly with the Piedmont Springs Hotel fire in the early morning of November 17, 1892. The absence of any water supply left the occupants of the doomed building no other recourse than to sit down in the shade and watch the building burn. The closest fire station was 5 miles away in Oakland and the horses had a difficult time getting the fire equipment up the steep hills.

Mountain View Cemetery purchased the land between the lower and middle lakes.

This is not the same Blair Park that we know today off Moraga Ave, although it shares some of the same footprint. 

The Gamble House
In 1877, Blair sold 350 acres to James Gamble, then president of Western Union Telegraph.  James Gamble built a large home on the property on Hillside Avenue, established the Piedmont Land Company and planned to sell the rest of the property for homes. The President of the Company was George Beaver, with Gamble as VP. Investors involved in the venture included S.P. Van Loben Sels, T.L. Barker, James de Fremery and L.A. Booth. Directors included Booth, as well as  James Gamble, Henry Bigelow and Arthur Bowman.

With the development of homes, schools were needed. The nearest school was miles down a dusty country road at 28th & West St. Walter’s brother, William, drafted a petition in 1878, which was submitted to the Alameda County Board of Education. The state required that 5 students were required to start a school. 

Piedmont School
George Hume, a local millionaire had two school age children. Along with Walter’s two children and one other local child they met the requirement.

George Hume’s sister-in-law, Zylphia Raymond, was a teacher and was appointed as Piedmont’s first school teacher. The first classes were held in the Hume home. Three years later the first school was constructed at what is now Piedmont Ave and Pleasant Valley Rd. Mrs. Raymond ran the school until 1880, when the attendance “swelled” to ten students and a schoolhouse had to be built. The school was built on land purchased from Montgomery Howe (near what is now Mather Road). 

Not all kids attended the school, as many had home tutors.

Walter Blair did not live to see his ranch become the city of Piedmont.

Centennial Hotel
In 1876, he built the 3-story Centennial Hotel at the corner of 14th and Clay in Oakland, and lived there at the time of his death in 1888. His wife insisted that get away from the lonely and isolated country life of Piedmont. He would die in his apartment there 11 years later at the age of 57 of complications from diabetes

[Biography by Michael Colbruno, Stafford Buckley and Gail Lombardi]