Friday, September 25, 2015

Everett Brown (1876-1947): Stole Stanford Axe; Superior Court Judge

Judge Everett Brown's grave (Photo by Michael Colbruno/Sketch: Oakland Tribune)
On April 17, 1899, Everett Brown was part of the first group to steal the axe awarded to the winner of the Cal-Stanford football game. The other participants were (Billy Drum, Archie Cloud, Jerry Muma, Clint Miller, Coleman Broughton, Jimmy Hopper, Fred Dorety, Charlie Pringle, and Harry Morrison).

The legend goes that Stanford students came to a Cal-Stanford baseball game with a 15-inch lumberman axe and threatened to "give it to the Blue and Gold in the neck." After the game, Everett Brown and his co-conspirators stole the axe and put it under lock and key in a safe-deposit vault at the First National Bank. For the next 31 years, the axe stayed in Berkeley as a prize of conquest. In 1930, twenty-one Stanford students plotted to take back the axe from Cal. This group became known in Stanford lore as the Immortal 21; Cal partisans call them the Immoral 21.

After the rally, four Stanford students posing as photographers temporarily blinded Norm Horner, the Grand Custodian of the axe, with camera flashes. In the subsequent scuffle, the Stanford students grabbed the axe while several others disguised as Cal students tossed a tear gas (or smoke, depending on account) bomb at the Cal students who guarded it. The axe was taken to one of three cars which sped off in different directions. Several other Stanford students, who were disguised as Cal students, further delayed attempts to recover the axe by organizing a search party away from the direction of the getaway cars. Although several of the raiders were caught, the zxe made it back to Stanford where it was paraded around the campus.

Delger Monument at Mountain View Cemetery (Photo: Michael Colbruno)
In 1933, both sides agreed to designate the axe as the annual trophy to be awarded to the Big Game's winner; in the event of a tie, it would be kept by the side already possessing the Axe.

Brown graduated from Cal in 1898 and from Hastings School of Law in 1901. He went on to become an attorney. Alameda County District Attorney and appointed as Alameda County Superior Court Judge by Governor James H. Gillette in 1908. During his time on the bench, he created the Juvenile Court Division. He retired in 1920 from the bench. From his retirement to his death he was a partner in the law firm Brown, Rosson & Berry.

He is buried in the plot of his grandfather Frederick Delger. His mother was Matilda Brown, Delger's daughter. She was the founder of the King's Daughters Home, which Judge Brown dedicated on November 24,  1912. You can read about it HERE.

Sources: Bancroft Library, Oakland Tribune, Wikipedia