Friday, December 28, 2018

David Adlington (1822-1910): Built some of San Francisco's first homes

Gravestone of David Adlington
Plot 48

David Myrick Adlington was a pioneer carpenter and home builder who arrived in San Francisco from Nantucket, Massachusetts during the Gold Rush. He arrived after a long boat ride around Cape Horn and briefly mined for gold before settling in San Francisco.

San Francisco's Portsmouth Square, Adlington built his first homes on Kearney Street
He built some of the earliest home for the new settlers on the West Coast. Trained as a carpenter, he constructed a number of homes on Kearney Street, only to see them destroyed in the fires of 1851 and 1906. After the earthquake and fire in 1906, he briefly lived with daughter in Berkeley before returning to the city where he had set down roots. His hometown newspaper, the Boston Post, reported him safe on the opposite coast.

He retired as a wealthy man in lived out his final years in San Francisco. His wife, Sarah Rule, died in 1892.

Sources: Boston Post,  U.S. Census,, Oakland Tribune

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Oscar Roy Morgan (1879-1958): Newspaper Publisher; Coined Reno's Slogan

Oscar Morgan

Plot 40, Lot 51
Oscar Morgan was born in Cherokee, California and moved to the mining town of Bodie, California with his parents shortly after his birth. His father, who had served as sheriff, town constable and school trustee, died suddenly when Oscar was just nineteen.

After his brother Alfred, bought the Hayward Review newspaper, he moved there and finished high school. After graduation, he entered the University of California at Berkeley.

When Alfred died suddenly in 1899, Oscar and his brother, Stanley, took over the Hayward Review and published it until they sold it in 1905. Oscar purchased the Reno Evening Gazette in 1904, and moved to Reno, Nevada.

The Gazette developed it into one of the state's leading publications and Morgan built the Gazette Building. He was a vocal opponent of gambling in Nevada, which remained illegal until 1931. He also covered the development of Reno into a "marriage and divorce" mecca.

Gateway to Reno on Virginia Street
Oscar Morgan is best remembered for creating Reno's city slogan, "Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World." Morgan recounted that he was a judge at The Commercial Club to pick a slogan for the then sleepy town of 5,000. He claims he coined the slogan after he decided that he didn't like any of the entries into the contest.

In 1912, he sold the Reno Evening Gazette due to ill health and moved to Oakland. He purchased the Modesto News that same year, which he eventually sold to the McClatchy Newspapers. While in Oakland, he wrote numerous articles for the Sunday Knave section of the Oakland Tribune, many of which dealt with Nevada history. During the 1940's, he was on Radio KSFO as the Country Editor.

Sources: Oakland Tribune, Find a Grave, San Mateo Times

Monday, December 24, 2018

Second Lt. Charles J. Robinson (1838-1877): Civil War Veteran

Charles Robinson (courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society)
Second Lt. Charles J. Robinson was born in Wisconsin in 1838.

He served in the Civil War with the Wisconsin 1st Infantry.

The 1st Wisconsin Infantry was organized into a regiment of three-month service at Camp Scott in Milwaukee, and then mustered into service on April 27, 1861. Following that it reorganized for three-year service at Camp Scott, and mustered in again on October 19, 1861.The regiment left Wisconsin for Louisville, Kentucky, October 28-31, 1861, and moved through Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia during the war.

It participated in the Battle of Chickamauga and the Siege of Atlanta, and mustered out on October 13, 1864.

The regiment lost 300 men during service. Six officers and 151 enlisted men were killed. One officer and 142 enlisted men died from disease.

He died of consumption (tuberculosis) in Oakland in 1877 and was buried in the G.A.R. (Civil War) plot at Mountain View Cemetery.

Source: Find a Grave, Wisconsin Historical Society, National Archives

Monday, December 17, 2018

Charles Wendte (1844-1931): Unitarian Minister & Author

Charles Wendte
Rev. Dr. Charles William Wendte (June 11, 1844–September 9, 1931) was a Unitarian minister and responsible for much of the early growth of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland.

Wendte was born in 1844 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father died when he was young, and Charles developed tuberculosis at age 14. Doctors urged him to go west for his health, so he moved to California, and there met Thomas Starr King, a Unitarian and Universalist minister. Charles' health improved, and during the Civil War he served as a drill sergeant. After the war, he returned east and studied at a divinity schools, graduating from the Harvard Divinity School in 1869. After various assignments, he came to Oakland in the 1880s.

In 1886, Rev. Wendte reorganized the Rev. Laurentine Hamilton's break-off congregation into the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. For his work at the church, the main meeting hall was named Wendte Hall in his honor. Rev. Wendte helped raise much of the money required for the new Unitarian church building. During his time in Oakland, he presided over the funerals of several people of note, including Josiah Stanford and pioneer educator Emma Marwedel (both of whom are buried at Mountain View Cemetery).

Although it was thought he was to be a life-long bachelor, in 1896 he surprised his friends and married Abbie Louise Grant (December 22, 1857–October 25, 1936), the daughter of George E. Grant (1823–1904) and Ellen Louisa Daggett (Grant) (1833–1910), a wealthy merchant family in East Oakland. Charles and Abbie had no children. Wendte is buried in the Grant family plot.

First Unitarian Church of Oakland (California Historical Landmark 896)
 Rev. Wendte was an early supporter of women's suffrage. In the 1896 "Twenty opinions on woman suffrage by prominent Californians," Wendte wrote: 
"The same enlightened confidence in human nature which led the fathers to found the Republic on manhood suffrage, and its saviors to confer the ballot on millions of emancipated slaves, should animate us, their successors, in bestowing equal political rights on that half of our population which is confessedly the most virtuous, order-loving and trustworthy. Until this is done there can be no true democracy among us, and our Republic is such only in name."  
After some disagreements about the church's debt (they extended the mortgage on the new building, and were behind on paying his salary), Wendte left Oakland and accepted a call in 1897 to a Unitarian church in Los Angeles.

Rev. Wendte's name appears frequently in the California newspapers of the 1880s and 1890s, generally for typical news of the day: traveling here; lecturing there; presiding over a funeral. But it also seems he was no stranger to controversy. Most infamous seems to be a comment he made about the state of reform schools in California and responsibility of then-governor Budd. John P. Irish (editor and principal owner of the Oakland Times newspaper) seized on this, and soon articles and opinions were flying, with one of the school's trustees referring to Wendte as a "yellow" preacher.

Some people took exception to his sermons ("The Catholic Clergyman's Caustic Words to the Oakland Divine"), ("Thou Shalt Not Kill" - after a sermon on euthanasia being OK in some cases) but sometimes it was over trivial things ("Rev. Dr. Wendt's Magic Lantern Slides Enter the Controversy" - whether Lutherans should use his images from Europe ). There was even a small but vocal group at the church in Los Angeles opposing him becoming their next pastor.

Bio by Oakland Wiki

Maggie Gee (1923-2013): Pioneering Aviator & Political Activist

Maggie Gee
Margaret "Maggie" Gee, whose Chinese name was Gee Mei Gue, was born to a successful Chinese importer and a first generation Chinese-American. Maggie's maternal grandparents were fishers who immigrated to the United States to escape the Taiping Revolution. Her father had a heart attack on a San Francisco street after the announcement of the Stock Market crash in 1929, and died shortly thereafter, leaving his daughter, five siblings, and their mother to manage on their own. Maggie witnessed her mother take on great responsibility, not only raising six children and working, but remaining actively involved in her church and community. Despite hardship and hard work as a youngster, Maggie said, "My heroes were Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. I loved to watch airplanes fly."

When America entered WWII, she passed a drafting test and left her first year of college to work at the Mare Island Naval Shipyards in Vallejo, California as a draftsperson for the engineers working on classified US Navy ship repair.

Maggie Gee
By 1942, Maggie had saved enough money to move to Minden, Nevada for flight lessons, paying $800 for six months of training and fifty hours of flying time. After she soloed and accrued the requisite flight hours, she applied to the Women Airforce Service Pilot program at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, and was accepted into class 44-W-9. In June, 1944, in Berkley, California, she boarded a troop train filled with soldiers, and for the next two days, sat on her suitcase or stood up -- all the way to Sweetwater. One hundred seven women pilots entered that class, but she was one of only 55 who earned their silver wings and graduated as WASP on November 8, 1944. She promptly deployed to Las Vegas Army Air Field in Las Vegas, Nevada where she served as a tow-target pilot for male cadets' flexible gunnery training.

She returned to Berkley, completed her formal education after WASP deactivation, and traveled, supervising a European Service Club in the early 1950's.

Later, she worked as a physicist and researcher at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Her areas of research included cancer, nuclear weapons design, and fusion energy.

Maggie's lifetime passion for politics began in the Truman Administration, and she supported voter registration and fundraising. She served on the Berkley Community Fund, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, and as a board member of the Berkley Democratic Club, the California Democratic Party Executive Board, and the Asian/Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus. She was quoted during this extensive activity as saying, "I'm very optimistic about the world and people... It will be all right. You can make changes. I think just one small person can make a little bit of change...."

Bio by: PerseidsGirl