Lewis Francis Byington

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Lewis F. Byington
Lewis F. Byington.jpg
District Attorney of San Francisco
In office
Preceded byDaniel J. Murphy
Succeeded byWilliam H. Langdon
San Francisco Supervisor
In office
Personal details
Born(1868-05-24)May 24, 1868
DiedMay 7, 1943(1943-05-07) (aged 74)
San Francisco, California
Political partyDemocratic

Lewis Francis Byington (May 24, 1868 – May 7, 1943) was an American lawyer, author, and Democratic politician who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (1890–1892) and as District Attorney of San Francisco (1890–1905).[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Byington was born on May 24, 1868, in Downieville, California, a historic mining towns in Sierra County, northern California. He was a son of Lewis Byington, an early pioneer of Sierra County, and Catherine (Freehill) Byington. His grandmother was Abigail Webster, a cousin of Daniel Webster.[3]

His sister, Mary Emma Byington, was married to Tirey L. Ford, 18th California Attorney General and General Counsel for the United Railroads.[4]

Byington went to public school in Downieville. He graduated from Santa Clara College, now the University of Santa Clara, and in 1887 graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He subsequently practiced law in San Francisco.[1]


Lewis Byington was a member of the California bar. His practice was in the Supreme Court and Federal Courts of California.[5][6]

Lewis F. Byington caricatures

In 1898 he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Botkin and Byington

In 1899 he was elected San Francisco District Attorney, serving from 1900–1905.[7] As District Attorney of the Seventh Ward, he prosecuted the murderer Cordelia Botkin.[8] He was elected a further two times.[9]

Byington was president of the San Francisco civil service commission for major James Rolph.[10]

In 1935, Byington became president of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which provides water and electric power services to the city. He held this position until his death in 1943. As president, Byington oversaw the completion of the aqueduct and tunnels of the Hetch Hetchy system that brought water to San Francisco.[11]

Private life and affiliations[edit]

Byington was unmarried. In retirement, he made his home in San Francisco.[2]

He was vice president of the California Historic Landmarks League and served as president of the Native Sons of the Golden West. On September 15, 1912, Byington acted as chairman of the ceremonies, during the dedication of the new NSGW, speaking to the audience about the history of the building and the difficulties in its completion.[12]

He was also a member of the University of California Club, the National Geographic Society, the San Francisco Lodge, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He was a principal speaker for the celebration of California's admission to the Union.[1]


On May 7, 1943, Byington died of pneumonia at Stanford Hospital, San Francisco. He was 75 years old. Funeral services were held at St. Mary's Cathedral. He was buried at the Holy Cross Mausoleum.[2]


Byington wrote the following books:

  • Byington, Lewis Francis (1931). The History of San Francisco. S. J. Clarke. OCLC 9592779. OL 6768917M.
  • Byington, Lewis Francis. Downieville and its Historic Past. OCLC 83751114.
  • Byington, Lewis Francis. Sierra County and its Historic Past. OCLC 54234050.

See also[edit]

San Francisco District Attorneys


  1. ^ a b c San Francisco and its Municipal Administration 1902, Hon. Lewis F. Byington, page 46
  2. ^ a b c "L. F. Byington Dies in S.F." Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 1943-05-07. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  3. ^ Byington, Lewis, The National Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1941
  4. ^ Bailey Millard (1924). "History of the San Francisco Bay Region". The American Historical Society, Inc. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  5. ^ San Francisco: its builders, past and present, pictorial, p. 249
  6. ^ "Encyclopedia of American biography. New series". American Historical Society. New York. 1895. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  7. ^ Municipal Reports for the Fiscal Year 1898-99 By San Francisco (Calif.) Board of Supervisors
  8. ^ "TWO LEADING FIGURES IN THE RECENT BOTKIN MURDER TRIAL]". the Tacoma Times. 1904-04-30. Retrieved 2015-08-16 – via Chronicling America.
  9. ^ "Lewis F. Byington". San Francisco Chronicle. 12 Jan 1916, Wed • Page 40. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  10. ^ Reno Evening Gazette, Sept. 14, 1931, p. 15.
  11. ^ Report of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. San Francisco, Calif. : The Commission. 1933
  12. ^ "Native Sons Dedicate New Building". The San Francisco Call. San Francisco, California. 16 Sep 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 2021-10-05.

External links[edit]