Friday, December 22, 2017

Frank Devello Stringham (1872–1931): Mayor of Berkeley

Garber family plot (photo: Michael Colbruno)
LOT 31

Frank D. Stringham (1872–1931) was Mayor of Berkeley, California from 1923 to 1927. Mayor Stringham was notable for leading the effort to adopt the city manager form of government. Prior to his becoming Mayor, Stringham served as Berkeley's City Attorney and as a Planning Commissioner. It was during his term as Mayor that the 1923 Berkeley Fire occurred. 

Stringham was born on December 9, 1872 in Topeka, Kansas. He attended the University of California where his uncle, W. Irving Stringham was a professor of mathematics. He graduated in 1895. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1897 after receiving his Law Degree from Toland Law College in San Francisco.

After law school, he taught night school in San Francisco for eight years and served as chief clerk of the City of San Francisco and the County Attorney. He served two terms as City Attorney of Berkeley, from 1909-11 and again from 1915-18. He resigned in 1918 to become the enforcement director of the United States Food Administration.

While serving as City Attorney in 1911, he had a kidney removed, which led to health problems for the remainder of his life.  He served as City Attorney under his friend Mayor Beverly Hodghead, who would also become his business partner in their law firm. 

In 1928, Stringham was appointed to serve as a director on the board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Stringham married his wife Juliet Garber in 1895. She was the daughter of John Garber, a prominent attorney and member of the Nevada Supreme Court, who owned much of the land upon which the Claremont District was developed. Frank Stringham and his wife donated part of the property to the City of Berkeley for a park which was named John Garber Park.

Stringham was a also a huge champion of the arts and big tennis fan, having served as a referee at a tournament and welcoming tennis legend Helen Willis. 

Stringham died at his Berkeley home of uremic poisoning on December 7, 1931 after having lapsed into a coma. He is buried in the Garber family plot.

Sources: Berkeley Daily Gazette,, San Francisco Call, Oakland Tribune, Mountain View Cemetery archives

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Oscar Shafter (1812-1873): Oakland Councilman and California Supreme Court Justice

Oscar Shafter's Supreme Court portrait and family burial plot

Judge Oscar Lovell Shafter (October 19, 1812 - January 23, 1873) served on the  Oakland City Council, Vermont Legislature, and was an associate justice on the California Supreme Court.

Born in Athens, Vermont, Shafter was the son of William Shafter, a farmer who was also a member of the Vermont Constitutional Convention of 1836, County Judge and State Legislative member, and Mary Lovell Shafter.  Judge Shafter was also the grandson of James Shafter, who fought in the battles of Bunker Hill, Bennington and Saratoga, followed by 25 years in the Vermont Legislature.

After attending Wilbraham Academy in Massachusetts, Shafter graduated in 1834 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and in 1836 graduated from Harvard Law School.  He practiced law in Wilmington, Vermont, and with his political star rapidly on the rise, Shafter was elected to the Vermont State Legislature and although he did not want to run for Congress, was the chosen candidate of the Liberty party, with which he was affiliated.

Sarah Riddle Shafter and three of their 11 children
Oscar Shafter married Sarah Riddle in 1840 and together the couple had eleven children, ten daughters and one son.

The prominent law offices of Halleck, Peachy, Billings & Park in San Francisco heard of Shafter's successful New England law practice from his friend Trenor W. Park, a junior member at the firm.  They recruited him to join their firm and after accepting their offer, Shafter moved with his family to San Francisco in 1854.  Although the firm dissolved shortly after he arrived, Shafter formed a partnership with his friend, starting the law practice of Shafter & Park.  Over the years the firm continued to grow and change with the addition and departure of various partners.

In 1863, Shafter served on the Oakland City Council, serving the city where he had built his home.  He spoke fondly of Oakland in his letters, and saw it as growing faster than San Francisco and quite fertile.  In a letter to his wife Sarah on April 30, 1855, Shafter wrote "I went with a friend to Oakland on the opposite side of the bay. There are thousands of acres of level land there and exceedingly fertile, lying between the bay and the mountains, and it is covered with ancient and gigantic oaks standing from 40 to 60 feet apart, and the sward beneath is covered with a luxuriant growth of grass and flowers. Among these trees the town is built. Every variety of fruit and flower, including many tropical exotics, grow here in the greatest perfection, and as to the climate, it is an unending June. Children here do not die young - at least rarely."

Oscar Shafter's gravestone
Shafter also had a role in the current location of Mountain View Cemetery, having mentioned the site which adjoined some property that he owned, to Rev. Isaac Brayton. The idea was brought to the trustees who were looking for a new location for Oakland Cemetery, which sat too close to downtown and had outgrown its usefulness.

In 1863, a constitutional amendment meant all of the seats of the Supreme Court of California were open for election. In October 1863, Oscar Shafter was elected as a justice on the Republican Party ticket, and begin his term in January 1864. The justices drew lots for term length and Shafter was assigned the long, 10-year term as an Associate Justice. According to court records, he was very slow and meticulous in preparing his cases.

He penned numerous cases, including the oft-cited and legally questioned Bourland vs Hildreth, which claimed that an action of the Legislature should be deemed Constitutional, unless an obvious error occurred. A number of the land use cases that he ruled on have defined certain geographic boundaries in Oakland and San Francisco to this day.

Shafter had a great fondness for Point Reyes, where he owned a ranch, Punta de los Reyes, and he had plans to build a home in Olema and take up the life of a farmer following his retirement from the legal profession and serving on the bench. A lone Sequoia gigantea was planted on the building site of his planned for home. He acquired large tracts of land in order to preserve its natural beauty and pass the land on to his descendants for their future homes.

After traveling to Florence, Italy in an effort to regain his health, Shafter died there on January 23, 1873. His funeral was conducted at the home of his son-in-law Charles Webb Howard. As the funeral cortege continued to the First Congregational Church at the corner of 10th and Washington Streets, many leaders of Oakland were in attendance, including numerous judges.

There is a memorial window commemorating Shafter in the First Unitarian Church in Oakland of a farmer sowing his fields. On September 4, 1892 Rev. Charles W. Wendte delivered the discourse at the dedication of the stained glass window placed in the church in memory of Shafter by his daughters.

Life, Diary and Letters of Oscar Lovell Shafter
He was the subject of a biography, the Life, Diary and Letters of Oscar Lovell Shafter, written by his daughter Emma Shafter-Howard and edited by Flora Haines Loughead and published in 1915.  

His nephew William Rufus Shafter was a general in the American Civil War, recipient of the Medal of Honor and had Shafter Avenue in Oakland named in his honor. His family on the Lovell side was related to President William Howard Taft.

Sources: Wikipedia, OaklandWiki, California Supreme Court archives, "Lives of the Dead" by Dennis Evanosky and Michael Colbruno, "Life, Diary and Letters of Oscar Shafter"

Friday, November 24, 2017

Helen Ekin Starrett (1840-1920): Iconic figure in Suffragette movement

Helen Ekin Starrett

Helen Ekin Starrett was a renowned author, editor, publisher, inventor, educator, reporter,  business woman and popular leader of the Women's Suffrage movement.

Before she passed away, she was one of only two original delegates still living to attend both the first Suffrage Convention and the Victory Convention in Chicago, 1920. She died three months after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote, something she had long fought for. She was also a close friend of Susan B. Anthony.
Helen Starrett and a women's suffrage convention

Her presence at the Victory Convention reportedly made her somewhat of a superstar in that she had become an idol and mentor to thousands of women. The New York Sun reported that you could always tell where she was at the Victory Convention because she was constantly surrounded by mobs of women of all ages who wanted to meet her. 

In February 1864, she married her childhood sweetheart Rev. William Starrett and moved to Lawrence, Kansas, taking on the role of pastor’s wife in the pioneer community. Not content in that role, Helen quickly turned to teaching music, served as a newspaper editor, assisting her husband in his school superintendent duties, and becoming one of the state’s leading speakers and lecturers on the Suffrage Movement.  

After her husband passed the bar in 1880, her family relocated to Chicago where she founded Western Magazine. After three years, the magazine closed and Helen once again returned to teaching. She was founder and principal for nine years of the Kenwood Institute, a classical school for girls and later founded and incorporated the Starrett School for Girls, both located in the Kenwood Community of Chicago. Founded in 1883, the Starrett School was one of the city’s oldest private schools, a large day school with accommodations for resident pupils providing classes from kindergarten to college preparation. 

Starrett became the second elected president of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association in 1893 and served the Association during the year of the World’s Columbian Exposition also known as Chicago’s World’s Fair.

A NY Sun feature Starrett's sons
At the age of 47, Starrett was left a widow and single mother of their seven children, her youngest was only ten years old when his father died. Her five sons would go on to become some of the most famous and influential builders of their time, with résumés boasting landmark feats of American engineering, including the Empire State Building, Pennsylvania Station, the Woolworth Building, the Biltmore Hotel, the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, the Plaza Hotel and the iconic Flatiron buildings. Both of her daughters married builders—her daughter Helen married William Stewart Dinwiddie, founder of the Dinwiddie Construction Company, the firm who built the mausoleum in which her cremains are interred.

When Helen “retired” to Portland, Oregon in 1916, The Oregon Daily Journal printed a story about her role as the new president of the Ainsworth Parent-Teacher Association. She remained active in education and social matters, and attributed these things to be the secret to her youth. Her children built her a beautiful house in Portland where she would spend her final years. 
Helen Ekin Starrett and one of her many books

In addition to having patented improvements to women's shoes, she published several books, including Letters to a Daughter (1882), The Future of Educated Women (1880) , The Charm of Fine Manners, (1885) Pete, The Story of a Chicken (1886), Letters to a Little Girl (1886), A Little Sermon to School Girls (1886), Letters to Elder Daughters; Charm of a Well-Mannered Home (1888), Let Her Stand Alone (1890), Crocus and Wintergreen (1907), The Future of Our Daughters, After College; Now What? (1885), many poems and song lyrics, and countless other written works.

Sources:, Find-a-Grave, Oakland Tribune, Illinois Woman’s Press Association, NY Tribune, NY Sun,

Monday, November 13, 2017

Leandro Campanari (1859-1939) Italian violinist, conductor, composer, teacher

Leandro Campanari
Plot MM Lawn Terrace, 225, T1 

Leandro Campanari (October 20, 1859 - April 22, 1939) was an Italian violinist, conductor, composer and music teacher, brother of cellist and baritone Giuseppe Campanari.

Campanari was born in Rovigo, Italy on 20 October 1859. He began studying at a very early age and was sent by the city of Venice to the Musical Institute of Padua when nine years old. At 12 he toured Italy as a violinist prodigy, and to London where he played under Julius Benedict. Later he was associated with Franco Faccio and Antonio Bazzini. At fifteen, he entered the Conservatory of Music in Milan and studied the violin, harmony, counterpoint and conducting with the most eminent teachers of that institution. He graduated at nineteen and travled to England, where he performed successfully with an orchestra. He then toured Italy and France as a virtuoso before establishing himself as a conductor.

He also taught privately and one of his pupils was the New York violinist Persis Bell, whom he married in 1880.

In 1881, he moved to America as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was featured in many concerts throughout the United States. He returned to Europe, but then returned to America, where he remained for three years as the head of the Violin School at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He also assumed the direction of the music at the Church of the Immaculate Conception and performed important sacred works for the first time in that city.

January 1910 issue of The Etude, with a feature on Verdi by Leandro Campanari
After his service in Boston, Campanari returned to Italy in 1886 and formed the Campanari String Quartet, which toured with great success for two years. During that time many notable composers, including Puccini, Catalani, Sgambati, Bazzini, Arturo Vanbianchi, Frugatta, Bossi and Andreoli composed music especially for the Campanari Quartet. 

He returned to the United States in 1890 to become professor of violin at the Cincinnati College of Music and remained there for six years. 

Returning to Italy in 1896, he divided his time between Milan, Paris and London. He gave a series of symphony concerts at La Scala, and a cycle of Beethoven symphonies at the Lyric Theatre in Milan. The orchestra then embarked on a highly successul tour. The next important engagement of Campanari and his orchestra was in London, at the Imperial Institute, which lasted nearly four months. In Milan he introduced several first performances in Italy of now-famous orchestral works. He also conducted opera in Milan, Venice and Genoa. While in Genoa, he was given the opportunity to play Paganini's violin, Il Cannone Guarnerius. He played Gounod's Ave Maria and Liszt's Campanella.

In 1907, he appeared in New York City as one of the opera conductors of Hammerstein's Opera Company. He also conducted the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra for a short time. With the same organization he appeared in Reading, Trenton, Wilmington, Washington and Baltimore for performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He also conducted in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Campanari's friendship with Verdi extended over a period of many years. As a youth he played in an orchestra conducted by the composer, and Verdi's last work, the Stabat Mater, was first given under the direction of Campanari. The conductor's brother, Umberto Campanari, a lawyer, was one of the executors of the estate of Verdi. Leandro wrote an intimate piece about his relationship with the master for The Etude (January 1910).

When his wife fell ill, Campanari moved to San Francisco and eventually resumed his work as a virtuoso and a conductor after her recovery. He became director of the California Conservatory of Music where he taught both violin and voice, and composed many English songs, as well as three text-books for violin playing. 

He died in San Francisco in 1939.

Biography from Wikipedia

Herbert Alexander Collins, Sr. (1865–1937) Canadian-born American artist

Artist Herbert Collins
Herbert Alexander Collins, Sr., (1865–1937) was a Canadian-born American artist known for his portraits and landscapes.

While still in his teens, he apprenticed with John Wycliffe Forster of Toronto, one of the foremost portrait painters in Canada. He was so talented that before he completed his first year of his apprenticeship, he was asked to paint a portrait of Albion Rawlings, a member of the Ontario Parliament.

He emigrated to Nebraska in 1884 and opened an artist shop in Omaha with his brother James, who was also an artist. While in Nebraska, he painted portraits of leading entertainers, military figures and prominent politicians.

In 1890, he moved to Chicago where he successfully worked as a portrait artist. In 1893, he went to London for six months and studied at the Royal Academy. While there he met Henry Charles Heath, the noted miniature painter, who inspired his work of painting miniature portraits with watercolor on ivory.

Devils Tower Bear Legend by Herbert Collins
In 1921, after a brief stint in Los Angeles, he moved to Berkeley, California. He went into semi-retirement from 1928-34 and lived in Los Gatos with his second wife. When he re-emerged after traveling the world with his wife, he spent the next three years as Artist-Preparator in the Western Museum Laboratories at the National Park Service in Berkeley. He called this the happiest time of his life. His painting of the legend of Mato the Bear hangs over the fireplace in the visitors center at Devils Tower National Monument.

Herbert made several significant portraits of naturalist John Muir. The Sierra Club uses one of his portraits in their biographical materials about Muir.

He died at his home of a heart attack on December 5, 1937 in Berkeley.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

John Wallace Brown (1850-1941): Landscape artist

John Wallace Brown gravestone
Plot 36
John Wallace Brown was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1850 and immigrated to Hanover, Massachusetts with his family at age two.

After moving to San Francisco in 1880, he was a marine engineer and ship designer. He married Sarah "Sadie" Boyce in 1881, who died in 1918. The 1900 U.S. Census shows his residence as the United States Marine Hospital in San Francisco, where he was listed as a patient.

  "Landscape with Hills" courtesy of University of St Andrews
Upon retiring in 1910, he traveled to Holland, Italy, and England to study art for three years. His work was exhibited throughout California, including at the Bohemian Club in Northern California and Santa Barbara City Hall.

Upon returning to California, he lived in San Francisco and Alameda until 1920 and then moved to Santa Barbara where he remained until his death on November 7, 1941. In 1921, he was remarried to Harriett Greissinger, a retired piano instructor, who died in May 1941.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Francis Stuart Low (1894-1964): World War II Admiral

Francis Stuart Low and gravestone
Requa Family Plot

Rear Admiral Francis Stuart Low was born in Albany, New York in 1894. He was a graduate of the US Naval Academy, Annapolis in 1915. His second wife was Alice Requa, whose parents were Mark and Florence Requa, prominent East Bay members of High Society.

During WWI he served in submarines and later worked on submarine and torpedo research. Vice Admiral Low played an important part in the Allied effort to combat German sub­marines during World War II. He was Chief of Staff for a time to Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, who di­rected the 10th Fleet.  The 10th Fleet, organized in 1943 to counter a German sub­marine campaign, used surface and air forces of the Atlantic Fleet and sea frontier forces. 

Ladislas Farago's book "The Tenth Fleet"
During World War II he also served in the Pacific, as com­mander of a cruiser division in the invasion of Okinawa and in strikes against the Japanese mainland. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which entered America into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked his top military leaders to figure out a way to strike back at Japan's homeland as quickly as possible. In response to the President's urging, Captain Low then an Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer on Admiral Ernest King's staff, presented the plan it might be possible for Army medium bombers to take off from a Navy carrier.

When Captain Low took his concept to the President and his Military General Staff, four squadrons of B-25 bombers of US Army Air Corps volunteers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle were formed and put into secret training. Thus of April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25 bombers lunched from the carrier USS Hornet, resulted in Jimmy Doolittle's air raid against Tokyo Japan which marked the beginning toward victory for America and her allies in World War II.

After the war he was in charge of neutralizing all Japa­nese naval installations in Ko­rea, Commander of the Service Force of the Pacific Fleet and Deputy Chief of Naval Opera­tions (logistics). From 1953 un­til his retirement in 1956 he was Commander of the West­ern Sea Frontier.

 Sources: NY Times, John "J-Cat" Griffith,, Find-a-Grave

Monday, October 30, 2017

Osborne Lyon (1902-1931): Oakland Police Officer killed by truck

Oakland Police Officer Osborne Lyon (photo of gravestone by Michael Colbruno)
LOT 43

Oakland Police Officer Osborne Lyon was a motorcycle patrolman who was killed in the line of duty. He had been transferred to the Traffic Bureau shortly before his death.

In the early Sunday morning hours of August 19, 1931, Lyon was patrolling the streets of East Oakland when he observed a vehicle driving at a high rate of speed.  While giving chase, he sideswiped a truck and was thrown to the street, suffering a fractured skull and other injuries. He later died at Highland Hospital.
He was survived by his wife Vivian (née Chick) and son William.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Richard Richardson (1831-1867): First Oakland Police Officer killed in line of duty

OPD Officer Richard Richardson and Headstone (photo: Michael Colbruno)
On October 23rd, 1867 Oakland Police Officer Richard Batten Richardson became the first member of the force to die in the line of duty. 150 years later his unmarked grave received a headstone due to the efforts of the Alameda County Heroes Grave Project. The project was organized by a group of Alameda County peace officers who are raising money to honor and place headstones at the unmarked graves of any peace officer killed in the line of duty in Alameda County. Richardson's grave kicked off the effort.

Richardson was killed when he went to execute a warrant to John Thomas at a shanty bounded by 9th St, 10th St, Brush and Castro streets in Oakland. Arriving on horseback, he encountered an elderly, nearly blind man who was being evicted from the property, which had been sold. Richardson did not know that the seemingly harmless looking man had murdered two men in El Dorado County and was believed to have a killed a man in Mission Dolores across the San Francisco Bay.

When the elderly man's wife refused to allow Officer Richardson entry, he forced his way into the house, and was shot in the neck by Thomas. The bullet severed his artery and hit his spinal cord. Thomas died in jail before being convicted of the crime.

Richardson was survived by his wife Mariah and sons Louis and Filaseo.

To learn more about the Alameda County Heroes Grave Project visit their website at

Sources: San Francisco Call, Alameda County Heroes Grave Project,

Friday, September 22, 2017

Edward K. Taylor (1860-1930): Alameda's first mayor; Banned spitting on the sidewalk

Edward "E.K." Taylor and the family plot
Plot 33, Lot 4

Edward "E.K." Taylor was born in Elmira on August 2, 1860. His father was the famous Bishop William Taylor, who organized the Methodist Episcopal Church in California. [Read his bio HERE]

Taylor grew up in Alameda where he attended the local schools before being admitted to the University of the Pacific. In 1885, he received his law degree from Hastings School of Law and was admitted to the California Bar on his birthday that same year.

In 1903, he was elected to the California State Senate where he served for four years. His major accomplishment was successfully promoting a constitutional  amendment which saved taxpayers about two percent interest on bonds. He also introduced legislation to protect both game and non-game live birds.

Taylor served as the City Attorney of Alameda from 1893-1907, where he worked to widen and pave streets, as well as beautify the city, acquiring Alameda Park along the way. He also successfully had Webster Street widened by over 30 feet. In 1907, he was elected to serve as mayor, where he successfully passed the first law in the country banning spitting on the sidewalks. Devoted to the welfare of children, he enlisted the help of Alameda's youngest citizens to promote the construction playgrounds on the island community.

Upon his death in 1930, the city of Alameda had his body lie in state at City Hall for four days before his burial in the Taylor family plot at Mountain View Cemetery.

Monday, September 4, 2017

James Latham (1830-1876): Stock Broker; Early Animal Rights Advocate

James Latham monument (photos: OaklandWiki)
James Hoge Latham (1830-1876) was born in Columbus, Ohio, served in the US-Mexican war at age 17, and worked for Wells Fargo & Co. in Victoria and Sacramento. He later opened what was then the largest brokerage business in San Francisco.  One of his brothers, Milton S. Latham, was the 6th governor of California, a Congressman and a United States Senator. 

His wife Henrietta had family roots in the California Gold Rush. 

Along with his wife, he was an early advocate for animal welfare, donating large sums of money to the cause of animal rights. Henrietta was a staunch advocate for the humane education of children from an early age. The family claimed that when James visited a new city, he often visited the zoological gardens first to check on his animal friends.
Latham Fountain (photo: City of Oakland; drawing: Oakland Tribune)

The Latham Fountain was erected in their memory James and Henrietta's memory by their three children, Edith, Milton and Charles. The fountain at the intersection of Telegraph & Broadway in downtown Oakland, was built to honor the Latham's work in "animal respect activism" and for the promotion of humane education, whose purpose was to teach the respect of animals and others in schools. A foundation was created, which originally stood at the Latham Square Building overlooking the fountain. The Latham Foundation continues today at

Before the unveiling there had been only one memorial to local citizens in downtown Oakland, the Jack London memorial oak tree in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

In 1876, James Latham had been ill so, his doctors recommended a sea voyage for his health. Just three days out from New York, James died at sea aboard the steamship Celtic. Henrietta returned to Oakland with his body, and James was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in the Latham family grave in plot 9. The funeral was held at St. Paul's Church on 12th Street near the Grand Central Hotel. The music for the program was lead by Oakland Municipal Band director Paul Steindorff, who is buried right down the road from the Lathams. 

The Latham monument was designed by the noted firm of Seregni & Bernieri, who also designed the nearby monument of A.K.P. Harmon, as well as those for David Colton, Frederick Delger and the iconic angels sitting atop the graves of Henry Crocker and Frances Scmidt. The angel at the top of the Latham monument glances downward awaiting the arrival of the departed.

Henrietta Latham, who also wrote one of the first vegetarian cookbooks, published in 1898, called The Golden Age CookBook, lived until 1909.

The 15' x 12' fountain was designed by the distinguished French sculptor Monsieur Payre, and was originally envisioned to be built on a smaller scale. The memorial originally contained drinking fountains alongside water troughs so that both man and beast could enjoy refreshment. After Payre’s model was sent to the US, the Gorham Company of New York fabricated the piece using expensive pink Maine granite and American standard bronze. 

In August 2017, noted vegan author and activist Colleen Patrick-Goudreau led a walking tour to the fountain to honor the legacy of these early animal rights pioneers.

Sources: OaklandWiki,, Oakland Tribune, City of Oakland

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Walter Balfour Harrub (1830-1912): Successful Gold Miner; Entrepreneur

Grave of Walter and Katherine Harrub (photo by Michael Colbruno)

Walter Balfour Harrub was born in Plymouth County, Massachusetts on July 16 1830. He lost his mother as a young boy and was basically on his own from that point. He learned the trade of a shoemaker while living with an uncle, but eventually became a cooper, a person who makes or repairs casks and barrels.

At age 19, he came to California during the Gold Rush aboard the barque* Pleiades. He arrived in San Francisco on September 18, 1849 after a 218 day journey and set out for Marysville, which was known as the "Gateway to The Gold Fields." During a trip back to San Francisco, Harrub fell and ill and required six months to fully recover. He eventually settled in Foster Bar, California and hired some Native Americans to take him to a nearby location where he staked ten claims and was successful in finding gold.

Ruby Hill, California during the Gold Rush days
He took his earnings and opened a hotel near Fremont and managed the food operations at a hotel in Shasta, but eventually returned to the gold fields near Grass Valley. He took his money and invested in a variety of ventures. He opened a large cattle ranch near Sacramento and a butchering operation in Dayton (formerly Grainland), located in Butte County, California. He also operated a freight line from Dayton to both Virginia City and Washoe City, which also carried mail. Perhaps his largest venture was forming the Ruby Hills Water Works, named after the nearby mining camp.  Harrub built two pipe lines covering 10 miles, which supplied water to most of the neighboring mining camps.

In 1874, Harrub moved his family to Oakland, where he bought four homes and other property in the Fruitvale area. His second wife Katherine was a well-known hostess of society events in Oakland.

He died after suffering from an abscess of the throat for six months.

* Barque: a sailing ship, typically with three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast are square-rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore-and-aft.

SOURCES: History of the State of California by James Miller Guinn, Wikipedia, The San Francisco call,, Oakland Tribune

Monday, May 8, 2017

Dr. Richard Hersey (1949-1990): Lobbied for affordable AIDS drugs; Partner of neuroscientist Simon LeVay

Richare Hersey
Plot: 50 
GPS (lat/lon): 37.8339, -122.23381

Richard George Hersey was born in Berkeley on October 9, 1949 in Berkeley, California and graduated from Miramonte High School in Orinda in 1967.

He was an American exchange student in England when he met Simon LeVay, who would go on to become one of the leading researchers about the human brain in the world.

In 1971, while Hersey was completing his studies at the University of California at Berkeley,  LeVay got a job with future Nobel Prize winners David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel at the Harvard Medical School. The couple bought an old Volkswagen Bug and traveled across the country to meet Hersey's parents. In 1972, Hersey went east with LeVay and did some course work at Boston University. He eventually was accepted in the UCLA School of Medicine, so the couple lived on opposite coasts. After medical school, he did his internship at Boston City Hospital and the couple were reunited, living in the Beacon Hill area.

After graduation, the couple were apart again, as Hersey accepted a job as a kidney specialist in New York. In the mid-1980's, Hersey was diagnosed with AIDS, which was a time when the disease was still a death sentence. He started on a regimen of AZT and fought to get the price of the drug down for patients struggling for their life, including himself. 

Richard Hersey's Op-Ed in the NY Times

He penned an Op-Ed for the NY Times and lobbied Congress about the high cost of the drug treatment. He was quoted in an 1987 article in the New York Times, saying "At first, I tried to be unemotional about [my diagnosis]. But there's no question, if you're doing O.K. you start thinking it would be risky to be without [AZT].''

An avid bicyclist, his illness did not prevent him from taking a bike ride in Iceland by himself, as well as rides in the Faroe Islands and in Scotland. When he got too sick to look after himself, he moved to San Diego to be with LeVay, who was working at the Salk Institute. He died at LeVay's home of Kaposi’s sarcom with his partner and father by his side. The couple were together on and off for 21 years and LeVay dedicated his 1993 book The Sexual Brain to Hersey.

Hersey's father published a World War II memoir entitled A Ship with No Name.

SOURCES: My Life - A Personal Sketch by Simon LeVay, The AIDS Reader, edited by Loren K. Clarke, 1967 Miramonte High School yearbook,  Ancestry. com, Find a Grave, New York Times

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Charles Holbrook (1830-1925): Mayor's race bet became part of Nevada lore

The Holbrook Family Mausoleum on Millionaire's Row and Charles Holbrook
Charles Holbrook was born on August 31, 1830 in Swanzey, New Hampshire and was educated in public schools  After finishing school he learned the trade of machine builder at the American Machine Works.

After hearing about the discovery of gold in California he embarked on the steamer Georgia at New York on April 13, 1850. He went down to the coast of Panama, walked over the Isthmus, boarded the sailing vessel Thomas P.  Hart and landed in San Francisco. 

After spending eighteen months in the mines, he went to work for the iron merchants Howes & Prader in Sacramento. He eventually worked in the lumber business in El Dorado County,  with a stove and metal merchant in Sacramento and as a partner at J.D. Lord & Company. However, the severe storms and floods from the winters of 1861 and 1862 Sacramento pretty much ruined his business.
R.C. Gridley's famous flour sack
In 1863, he decided to open a branch house of J.D. Lord & Company in Austin, Nevada, where he remained as a manager there for two years. But he had his eye on politics. 

In 1864, at the height of the Civil War, when many western states still had split loyalties between the North and the South, the little town of Austin, Nevada held its first mayoral election. The pro-Confederate Democrats nominated David Buel to run against the pro-Union Republican Charles Holbrook.

On election day, a brass band led a parade down Main Street and men placed wagers on the election outcome. One bet involved a guy named R.C. Gridley who told his friend Dr. Henry Herrick that if Buel lost the election he'd carry a 50-pound sack of flour a quarter-mile up Main Street marching to "Old John Brown."

Holbrook eked out a victory and the bet became a big deal in town, as citizens gathered to watch Gridley pay up his bet. After he completed his march, Gridley placed the sack on a stand and the men, most of whom had been imbibing at the local saloon all day, began bidding on the flour sack. The flour sack ultimately went for $350 with the money going to the Sanitary Fund, a forerunner of the American Red Cross. As a challenge, the bidding continued on the flour sack, eventually raising $4,349.75.

After news of Gridley's Sack spread to adjoining communities, bidding took place over and over as a means to raise money for the Sanitary Fund. Although no final tally was ever formally done, accounts estimate that between $100,000 to $275,000 was raised for the Civil War soldiers. ($1.5-$4.5 million in today's dollars!). The town of Austin decided to commemorate the fundraising success by adopting a coat of arms with an image of the sack and the motto "SANITARY FUND $5,000" inscribed onto it. The sack is now on display at he Nevada Historical Society in Reno. 

The Holbrook Libray at the Pacific School of Religion
In 1865, he created a new firm called Holbrook, Merrill & Company, which he eventually located in San Francisco. During his time in San Francisco, he served as a director of the Market Street Railway, the San Francisco & San Joaquin Valley Railroad, the California Insurance Company, Pacific Lighting, the Mutual Savings Bank and the Union Trust Company of San Francisco.    

He developed the Holbrook block at Beale and Market streets in San Francisco, as well as serving as a trustee of the Pacific School of Religion, the Lux School of Industrial Training, the Hospital for Children of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association.  In 1883 he was teamed with educator/philanthropist Sarah B. Cooper and Archbishop George Thomas Montgomery in organizing the Associated Charities in San Francisco.

The Holbrook Home in San Francisco
He build a spectacular home on the northwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and Washington Street, where he lived for almost forty years until it was destroyed by fire. He also donated money to build the library at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.

He died on July 25, 1925, at the age of 94.

After his death, he was honored for his contributions to society by having a 297-acre stand of redwood trees named after him just north of Garberville, which was added to the California State Park system.

Sources: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard, Berkeley Daily Gazette, Oakland Tribune, The San Francisco Call, The Windsor Page, Wikipedia,, "It Happened In Nevada: Remarkable Events that Shaped History" by Elizabeth Gibson

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Frederich Edwin Meese (1857-1933); Oakland City Councilman; City Treasurer

Ed Meese gravesite and obituary
Frederich Edwin Meese (1857-1933) was a Republican member of the Oakland City Council from 1899-1907 and later served as the City Treasurer.

Meese was born in San Francisco in 1857 to Herman and Catharina Meese, who traveled west around the Horn in 1850. He attended Lincoln Grammar School in San Fransisco, Concordia College in Indiana and graduated from the Heald Business College in 1876.

He worked as secretary of the Bay Sugar Refinery, which was owned by his father and was the first sugar refinery on the West Coast. He then went into the mercantile and insurance business, including a brief stint in Sacramento. He was a member of the Board of Trade, the Nile Club and in 1905 became a founder of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.

In 1898, he was elected from the Fourth Ward on Oakland's west side and later served as the at-large councilman. He served as chair of the City Council's Finance Committee. In his May 1907 election, he won by just nine votes after a recount.

The Meese Family plot at Mountain View Cemetery
In 1908, Richard B. Ayer resigned from his post as the City Treasurer & Tax Collector. He had been appointed to the position in 1906 then elected in 1907. Meese was appointed to the position on April 1, 1908 by Mayor Frank Mott. Allegedly Ayer resigned to continue in his personal business affairs, but it was noted that the whole thing was handled with great secrecy. Meese had already declared to run for the office in 1907. He was replaced on the Council by Frank Bronner, an accountant at the Central Bank.

In 1912, Meese was accused of graft in his post as Treasurer & Tax Collector and charges were brought in Superior Court by Rev. Robert Whitaker, pastor of the 23rd Avenue Baptist Church. Meese responded to the reverend by stating, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor - Ninth Commandment." It's unclear whether anything became of this.

Meese was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church and active in German Lutheran affairs in the state.

He died of a heart attack at his home in Oakland. The City Council adjourned in his memory on June 1, 1933.

His great-grandson Edwin Meese III served as Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan.

Sources: OaklandWiki, Oakland Tribune,

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Malonga Casquelourd (1947-2003): Famous Congolese Dancer, Choreographer

Malonga Casquelourd and the arts center named in his honor
Plot 76, Grave 1067

Malonga Casquelourd was born on November 5, 1947 in Douala, Cameroon as Auguste Leonard Malonga

He started dancing as a young boy and by his teens was a member of the National Congolese Dance Company, touring Africa, Europe and the United States. He eventually joined the Le Ballet Diaboua in Paris as a choreographer and principal performer. In 1972, he moved to New York and co-founded Tanawa, the first Central African dance company in the United States.

In the mid-1970s, he moved to Oakland where he taught Congolese dance and drumming at CitiCentre Dance Theater at the Alice Arts Center. When the Alice Arts Center faced closure in 2002, Casquelourd led the effort to keep it open. He also taught African studies at San Francisco State University. 

Plot 76 where Malonga Casquelourd is buried
He was also the voice of the 'Baaka Leader' in the 2002 film "The Wild Thornberrys Movie." 

In 2003, while returning home from his niece's graduation party, he was hit head on by a car going in the wrong direction and was killed. The Alice Arts Center was renamed the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts in his honor. 

SOURCES: IMDb, SF Gate, Oakland Tribune,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

James Raymond "Gimi" Lippi (1913-1942): Only British Commonwealth military burial

Lot 65, Grave 2741

There is only one known burial of a British Commonwealth war grave, which is that of Pilot Officer James Raymond Lippi. He was the son of Oaklanders Paul and Elvira (nee Fava) Lippi of Oakland.

He was American born in Santa Cruz, California in 1913, but in July 1942 he went to Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force to serve in World War II. His occupation was listed at bottler and records show he may have been in the process of a divorce.

He was killed during a training fight in Vulcan, Alberta along with Flying Officer Almond Maynard Vandre in September 1942 and was returned to California for burial. It is unclear why he went to Canada, but his death certificate from the Royal Canadian Air Force states the he "...exhibited a copy of the certificate of his birth in the United States and declared his willingness to serve but took no oath of allegiance."

He was posthumously awarded the General Service Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

SOURCES:, Royal Canadian Air Force records, Veterans Affairs Canada, Winnipeg Free Press

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dudley Brown (1835- 1911): Oakland City Councilman; Alameda County Supervisor

Obituary photo from the Oakland Tribune
Dudley Brown was an Oakland City Councilman, Alameda County Supervisor and owner of a men's clothing store.

Brown was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on January 5,1835 and came to California in 1872, settling in Sacramento before moving to Oakland two years later. In 1881, he founded the men's clothing store Brown & McKinnon at 1018 Broadway Street in downtown Oaklnad. In 1906, the store moved to San Pablo remained until his business partner died a few years later.

An Oakland Tribune ad for Brown & McKinnon
Brown served on the Oakland City Council from 1887 to 1889 representing the Fifth Ward. His dsitrict comprised everything east of Broadway, south of Twentieth and Delger Streets, north of Tenth Street, and west of the dividing line between Oakland Township and Brooklyn Township.

After losing election, he successfully ran for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors where he championed the development of infrastructure, particularly the growing need for roads.  He served from 1890-1894 and then became a member of the Grand Jury for the United States District Court of Northern California, where he remained until 1903.

He was one of the early organizers of the Merchants' Exchange and served as President. The Exchange association whose primary objective was to bring together the merchants of Oakland, bring new manufacturing to the City, improve transportation and work with city and county government to improve conditions for local merchants. 

He died two weeks after suffering a stroke while on his way home. He was survived by his wife Angenette and two daughters, Carrie Brown Dexter and Mrs. Benjamin Brittin.

SOURCES: San Francisco Call, Oakland Tribune,

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Louis de Rome (1854-1910): Prominent foundry owner

Louis de Rome and his foundry workers
PLOT 30 

Louis de Rome (May 14, 1854 – January 7, 1910) owned the de Rome Foundry in San Francisco.

De Rome was born in Buffalo, News York, in 1854 and came with his parents to California in 1858. He was reared, educated and learned his trade as a brass molder in San Francisco, eventually becoming the head brass molder at the Garratt Brass Works for eight years.

He eventually founded the Globe Brass and Bell Foundry, of which he is the practical business manager. In 1880, he joined with Neil C. Whyte in founding the Whyte and de Rome Foundry. Over the course of his career, de Rome was responsible for forging many iconic structures, including twenty-seven large bronze lamp-posts for the new City Hall, numerous bells for fire stations, the bell at the San Miguel Mission, the Lick Observatory Medallion and statuary, the Native Sons Fountain in San Francisco, the Robert Louis Stevenson statue in Portsmouth Square, the Mechanics Fountain at Market & Battery, the President McKinley bust in Berkeley,  the Robert Burns Monument in Golden Gate Park and the Christ Of The Andes statue in Santa Clara.

The Whyte & De Rome Foundry also cast one of the most iconic structures at Mountain View Cemetery, the big, bronze elk that sits atop a tumulus in Plot 32. The elk was commissioned by the Oakland Lodge Number 171 of Elks to mark their burial plot at the cemetery. It was completed in 1896.  The elk was modeled after an actual animal in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park known as “Father Elk” who had been moved to the park from the wild. The sculptor was Frank Hapersberger and the cast was completed at the  in Oakland.  The burial plot where the elk stands is known as “Elks Rest,” which is common term for Elks burial plots and they exist in almost every state.

In 1900, de Rome was badly burned, including his eyes, when he was experimenting with Acetylene gas, which was commonly used in welding.

Louis DeRome died January 7, 1910, from heart problems that started aboard the ferry returning from San Francisco in April 1908.

SOURCES: OaklandWiki, Berkeley Gazette, California State Library, Ancestry. com, Oakland Tribune

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lydia Flood Jackson (1862–1963): Businesswoman and social justice activist

Lydia Flood Jackson was born in Brooklyn (now part of Oakland) in 1862. She was a businesswoman, advocate for women's rights and racial equality.

Flood’s mother, Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, led the 19th Century campaign for desegregated education in California and founded the state’s first African American school in Sacramento in 1854. Her father Isaac Flood, one of the first African American residents of Oakland, also fought for education and equality for blacks. In 1871, he led the successful fight to admit black students into the Alameda County schools. Her brother George was believed to be the first African-American child born in Oakland in 1857.

In 1872, she became the first African American child to attend the newly integrated John Swett School in Oakland. Flood continued her education attending night school at Oakland High School and married William Jackson. In part because of the efforts of her parents, the black schools were closed in 1875 and integrated schools became the law in California in 1880.

An entrepreneur and inventor, Lydia Flood founded Flood Toilet Creams, a successful West Coast cosmetic business which manufactured toiletries, creams, and perfumes.

She was also a political activist who traveled to Mexico, the West Indies, and South America on speaking engagements. She rallied audiences with her calls for democracy and questioning of white male supremacy in her speeches. Jackson challenged all women to question stereotypical roles that limited their options. She spoke at the 1918 state women's convention in favor of suffrage. She was present at the 80th anniversary of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, a church her parents had helped found in 1858 (then Shiloh AME).

At the time of her death at age 101, newspapers claimed she was the oldest native of Oakland. Along with her parents, she is buried in an unmarked grave in the Elks Plot.

SOURCES:, Online Archive of California, San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, OaklandWiki, Oakland Tribune

Gustave B. Hegardt (1859 -1942): First General Manager at Port of Oakland

Gustave Hegardt's official Port portrait

Gravestone of Gustave Hegardt (photo by Michael Colbruno)

Gustave Hegardt was born in Sweden in 1859 and came to the U.S. as a boy. He  graduated from several technical schools and was naturalized as a kkU.S. citizen in Cook County, Illinois in 1885. His earliest work records show him employed with the Illinois Corps of Engineers in 1887. The Portland city directory shows him working as a "U.S. Assistant Engineer" based in Ft. Stevens near the Oregon/Washington border as early as 1888. For fourteen years he supervised the construction of locks, jetties and fortifications on the Columbia River.

Hegardt moved to Portland in 1905 and founded the consulting firm Hegardt & Clarke, which specialized in land surveys, irrigation systems, and reclamation projects. In 1911, he was appointed as chief engineer of the newly established Portland Commission of Public Docks, which later merged with the Port of Portland.

In 1925, Oakland voters approved bonds for an expanded port with an autonomous Port commission. In 1926, the newly created Port of Oakland hired Hegardt as its first General Manager along with his assistant from Portland, Arthur Abel.

Hegardt had been on a three member board of consulting engineers appointed by the Oakland City Council who created a general plan for harbor improvements in Oakland. The other members were Charles Leeds, consulting engineer at the Port of Los Angeles and Charles Marx, a professor of engineering at Stanford University. The trio recommended a series of new priorities for the Port, which included a wharf and watershed on the western waterfront, a pier with a double transit shed on the estuary, a pier and shed between Clay and Washington, and a larger facility near Brooklyn Basin. The total cost was estimated at $9,960,000 ($135 million in 2017 dollars).

(Left to right-standing) Retsu Kiyosawa-NY representative Hochi Shimbun R.H.Tibbits -Mitsubishi Co.  B.H.Pendleton Seiji Yoshihara Gustave Hegardt (Seated)
The trio also recommended that Port administration be "vested in a board or commission of competent, responsible men, serving without compensation and free from political interference." Oakland Mayor John L. Davie opposed the expansion of the Port, believing that it could not compete with San Francisco and wanting to turn it over to private development. The first Board of Port Commissioners were sworn in on February 12, 1927 and included former Oakland Mayor and Governor George Pardee (who is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery).

After meeting with Commissioner LeRoy Goodrich, who outlined his duties, he made his first order of business the construction of two double-fill piers at the foot of Grove Street and Clay Street, which were 520' long and 450' long respectively. The cost of the piers was approximately $1,000,000 (approximately $13.5 million in 2017 dollars). He also made the dredging of the inner harbor a top priority. Under Hegardt's leadership, the Port rapidly developed new terminals to accommodate larger cargo vessels, which served the Port for 40 years until the advent of containerized shipping.
Charles Lindbergh (center) and Gustave Hegardt (far right)

Hegardt and Abel also initiated studies in 1927 for a municipal airport in Oakland. Construction began later that year and was completed in 1929 and became Northern California's largest and best-equipped airport. In a July 5, 1927 report to the Board, Hegard wrote, "The grading of a runway, 150 feet wide and 7000 feet long, was completed on June 25th, in readiness for the Oakland-Hawaiian flight by an Army and a private plane...The details of this flight have been so fully covered by the press that it seems unnecessary to make further comments thereon in this report." The flight he references was that of the Fokker Bird of Paradise, piloted by Army Lieutenants Lester Maitland and Albert Hegenberger.

When Hegardt stepped down as general manager in 1932, he was replaced by Arthur Abel. Hegard remained with the Port as a consulting engineer and was paid $400/month ($5,400/month in 2017 dollars). He died in 1942 and was honored by the Board of Port Commissioners.

SOURCES: Port of Oakland, Oregon Historical Society, SF Call, Pacific Gateway by Woodruff "Woody" Minor, Oakland Tribune, Oakland Aviation by Ronald Reuther and William Larkins, Portland City Directory

Monday, February 6, 2017

Captain Edwin Webster Woodward (1839-1920): Civil War Vet Chased off City Council floor

Captain Edwin W. Woodward
Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Plot

Captain Edwin Webster Woodward was a Civil War veteran and elected official in Oakland, San Francisco and Napa.

Woodward was born in Tunbridge, Vermont on January 4, 1839 and migrated to Weaverville, California in 1859, He worked in mining and merchandising until the Civil war broke out in 1861, when he joined the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry (also known as "The California 100." Also known as the CAL 100, the regiment was led by Captain J. Sewell Reed and was the first company from California to report for active duty in the field. The soldiers were assigned to the Second Massachusetts Cavalry and engaged in many hard-fought battles, including those of the battle of Winchester, Berryville, Pike, Charlestown, Opequan Creek, Front Royal, Snake Mountain, Waynesboro, Cedar Creek, Gordonsville, South Ana, Southside Railroad and Appomattox Courthouse, and participated in the same engagements in the Shenandoah Valley (where future President William McKinley also fought).

G.A.R. Memorial at Mountain View Cemetery
Woodward remained in active service until the end of the war and the surrender of the Confederate armies at Appomattox. For gallant service he was promoted lieutenant, captain and major. He remained active in Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) posts his entire life and was involved in erecting the monument in honor of G.A.R. soldiers at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, which was unveiled on Memorial day, May 30, 1893.

After the war he returned to California and worked in the real estate and auction business in Oakland, becoming senior partner of the firm of Woodward & Taggart, who handled large lines of property in the Bay Area. He also established a real estate business in St. Helena, was active in the creation of the wine industry in Napa County and helped organize the Bank of St. Helena.

He also partnered with James Gamble in the firm Woodward & Gamble, which built the western connection of telegraph lines which stretched across the continent. Their telegraph lines connected San Francisco to Salt Lake City.

In 1898 he was appointed by Oakland Mayor W. R. Thomas to replace Aaron Fibush, who had resigned. His honeymoon on the City Council was short-lived, as after just ten days he was shouted down by fellow council members and chased from the chambers by an angry crowd after he voted to raise water rates. He was taken to the city prison where he found safe refuge until the angry mob receded.

Apparently unfazed by his prior experience in public office, he accepted an appointment as San Francisco's Notary Public by Governor Henry Gage in 1901. By all accounts, his service in that office went smoothly. He was eventually appointed by subsequent governors as Notary Public for Alameda County and Napa County.

Woodward was married to the former Addie O. Rogers, daughter of the late Henry Rogers, former proprietor of the Boston Journal.

Sources: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II, Find a Grave,, OaklandWiki, SF Chronicle, Oakland Tribune