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,

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