List of mayors of Oakland, California
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Until the early 20th century, all Oakland mayors served terms of only one or two years each.
- Office terms:
- 1 year 1854 – mayor elected by fellow city council members
- 2 years 1893 – mayor elected by fellow city council members
- 4 years 1953 – mayor elected by popular vote
List of mayors
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|1st||April 17, 1854||Horace W. Carpentier||Horace Walpole Carpentier was born in July 1824, in Galway (village), New York, to James and Henrietta Carpenter. He graduated from Columbia College [now University] in New York City in 1848. He and his brother Edward, also a graduate from Columbia, arrived in San Francisco in 1849 and they practiced law for two years before beginning their vast land acquisitions in the East Bay.
On May 17, 1852, thirteen days after Oakland was incorporated, the board of trustees who governed the city granted Carpentier rights to the entire waterfront for a period of 37 years (soon amended to "in fee simple forever"), in exchange for $5 and the building of three wharves and one school house. Besides ownership of the waterfront, Carpentier also built up a ferry monopoly and a toll bridge across present day Lake Merritt, so that "he and his associates were collecting a fee on virtually every passenger, animal, or item of cargo that entered or left Oakland." Vehement efforts to overthrow Carpentier's monopoly of the waterfront began almost immediately and were later centered on the Central, or Southern Pacific Railroad, which had title to most of the estuary transferred from Carpentier in 1868.
In 1852 he was elected to the State Assembly in what was generally viewed as a highly fraudulent victory, but in the legislature he pushed for the creation of Alameda County and/or Oakland's incorporation as a city in 1854. He was then elected Oakland's first mayor on April 17, 1854, defeating S.J. Clark, 192-92, in another election whose legitimacy has often been questioned. Only 29 years old, Oakland's first mayor was also the youngest ever elected. He lived at a "sumptuous estate" at Third and Alice Streets (the latter was named after his only sister): Although reviled as the man who tied up Oakland's waterfront for personal gain for the entire 19th-century, Carpentier was also fully committed to the development of the new city, and he delivered a far-sighted inaugural address calling for, among other goals, Oakland becoming the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad (fifteen years before this goal was accomplished), and for strict preservation of the city's native oaks.
An unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for State Attorney General ended his political career, and for the next ten years he was president of the California State Telegraph Company, which built the state's first telegraph system, and president of the Overland Telegraph Company, which linked California to the East, as well as a founder of the Bank of California. He returned to New York in 1880 and died at his home at 108 East Thirty-Seventh Street in New York City on January 31, 1918, at the age of 93. He is buried at Galway, New York.
Carpentier had been elected to the boards of trustees of both Columbia University and Barnard College in 1906, at the age of 81, and served on the boards until his death. He was described as the "most progressive, enlightened, financially generous trustee" of his era, who endowed the first chair in Chinese studies at any U.S. university (which he had named after his Chinese valet, Dean Lung); pressed for alumni representation on the board, and for the recruitment of Catholic and Jewish trustees; championed the place of Barnard women within the university (out of respect for his mother, whom he described as a remarkable woman who had been denied an education); and continually pressed the president of the university, Nicholas Murray Butler, to make the university not only "great" but also "democratic." Carpentier, who lived with several servants and his collie dog for many years before his death, was also a trustee and benefactor to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A lifelong bachelor without any immediate descendants, he left an estate of $3.5 million, and gave over $2 million of that to Columbia University and Barnard College (in addition to the $2 million he had left those institutions previously), $100,000 to the University of California and $100,000 to the Pacific Theological Seminary in Berkeley. He left nothing to Oakland institutions.
Carpentier has been described as "obviously a man of immense energy, who in his unorthodox and often ruthless tactics had become a land baron of great significance...he was held in both contempt and esteem at the time of his death... in 1877 the Oakland Daily Transcript wrote, "If the early settlers had taken Horace Carpentier to a convenient tree and hung him, as they frequently threatened to do, the act would have been inestimably beneficial to immediate posterity." A Columbia University librarian concluded, "He was a real man of mystery – even the trustees who served on the Columbia board with him knew nothing about him or his past." When the Society of California Pioneers once asked him for an outline of his life and achievements, he wrote:
"Of no unworthy parentage – puritan of the Puritans – I was born, much as others are born, a diminutive savage, in 1824. Without education or culture I have lived a rather long and busy life doing many things in a common way and perhaps a few things well; a life, as I see it, of mixed good and ill, and with little or nothing in it of special interest to others or even to myself, or that can be worth a remembrance in the annals of your society. There may be others, masters of fiction and rhetoric, who could invent for me a larger and more rounded history, but this seems to be about the best that I can do."
|2nd||March 5, 1855||Charles Campbell||Very little is known about the city's second mayor, except for one brief description of him as a candidate of the "Anti-Squatters," elected on a pledge to break Carpentier's hold on Oakland, who spent most of his term relentlessly fighting the "waterfront scheme." He was born c. 1838 and died in Oakland on October 9, 1890, according to the records of Mountain View Cemetery (Oakland, California), where he is interred.|
|3rd||March 3, 1856||Samuel H. Robinson||Oakland's third mayor is also little more than a historical cipher. The very valuable 1939 WPA history of Oakland states that Charles Campbell tried to have Robinson's victory in 1856 declared void, claiming that Carpentier had engineered his defeat with illegal votes. Otherwise we have an intriguing note from the Oakland Enquirer, dated May 24, 1899, noting that Robinson, "who afterwards became the mayor of Oakland, and also the mayor of Gold Hill, Nevada, and whose widow now resides in west Oakland" had been a passenger aboard the bark Fanny, which had arrived in San Francisco fifty years before, at the height of the Gold Rush. It further noted that Robinson had been a "worshipful master of Live Oak Lodge, No. 61, F. & A.M. of Oakland" and he "now sleeps beneath the aromatic wild artemisia known as the sage brush on the slope of Mt Davidson, where the Washoe zephyrs thrum the Aeolian harp of the telegraph and sweep the slopes of that rugged mountain."|
|4th||March 2, 1857||Andrew Williams||Williams was born in Cherry Valley (village), New York c. 1800 and graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1819. He came to California in 1850 aboard the steamer New World and settled in Oakland in 1856, when he built "one of the most elegant mansions which the young city could boast" at Fifth and Clay. He has been called the father of the Oakland Public Library because of a speech he gave calling for the organization of a free circulating library before the Philomathean Association, one of the first literary societies in Oakland, in February 1857. Williams was one of the original communicants of the first Episcopal church in Oakland, St. John's, which was organized under an oak tree in 1854. He was a poet, who, like Carpentier and the other early city fathers, foresaw Oakland soon becoming an important railroad terminus, and he prophesied:
Hark to that shrill whistle from the plains!
Owing to a defective land title he lost his Oakland home and moved back to San Francisco, afterwards going East to live. He came out again to visit a son who lived in Oakland and died here on January 19, 1876. He is buried at Mountain View.
Although he has been described as "one of the most cultivated men who ever filled the office of chief magistrate of this city," Williams will probably always be best remembered as the stepfather of the writer Bret Harte. Henry Harte, Bret s father who died when his son was nine years old, had attended Union College at the same time as Williams. They became close friends and years later Williams courted the young widow, Elizabeth Ostrander Harte, in New York, though they were actually married in San Francisco in 1853. The following year Bret and his sister came out to be reunited with their mother and to stay, for about a year, at her new household in Oakland. Williams has been described as a "good-natured, rather windy and pompous gentleman...just smart enough to prosper in business and politics," and biographers of Harte generally agree that Williams served as a model for Harte's rather bombastic character, Colonel Starbottles.
|5th||March 7, 1859||Francis K. Shattuck||Shattuck was born in Crown Point, New York, on the shores of Lake Champlain, on March 6, 1825 and spent his early years in New York and Vermont, teaching and clerking. He came to California in 1850 aboard the steamer Oregon with his brother-in-law George M. Blake (see below). Both worked the gold mines for a year or two – Shattuck as a teamster, Blake as a miner. When Shattuck left the gold fields to become a landowner in the East Bay, he encountered and aided an ill and out-of-luck William Hillegas along the trail, thus beginning a long partnership between the two men in many ventures, including a prominent livery stable and Shattuck and Hillegas Hall, both on Broadway, and the Mt. Diablo Coal Mines. Shattuck also invested in water, gas, and local railroads. He was president of Oakland's First National Bank and Berkeley's first bank, the Commercial. One of the original landowners in Berkeley, with 640 acres (2.6 km2), he played a huge role in the development of that community and its university.
A Republican, described as "Union to the core," he served as clerk to the initial Oakland Board of Trustees in 1853, was elected city council member in 1856 and served as council president in 1858. He was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 1857 (serving until 1869, including seven years as chairman) and to the state Legislature in 1859. While serving simultaneously as Oakland mayor and state assemblyman(!), he used these positions to promote, unsuccessfully, Oakland as the state capital. He had built the first city office building, at Eighth and Broadway, in 1867, which housed the city government until the first city hall was built in 1871. He died on September 9, 1898 in Berkeley and is buried at Mountain View.
|6th||March 7, 1860||James Paine Miller Davis||Davis is another historical enigma. We only know that he was a physician, born in 1817 in North Carolina, a Democrat, elected in 1860 and 1861, in the first partisan elections for mayor, and that he died in 1864 and is buried at Mountain View. (N.B. – the photo of Davis used for the group portrait is now in the library of the Oakland Tribune, and it is labeled Dr. J.P.M. Davis – worth investigating, check out the history of the Alameda County Medical Association).|
|7th||March 5, 1862||George M. Blake||Blake was born in Elizabethtown, New York and educated at Middlebury College in Vermont. He arrived in California in 1850 with his brother-in-law Francis Shattuck, and while mining they met their future partners in East Bay real estate – James Leonard, an Irishman from Boston and William Hillegas from Pennsylvania. These four men were to become the first Americans to claim local property under the Possessory Right Law established by the state Legislature in 1852, when they bought four adjacent 160-acre (0.65 km2) tracts of land covering all of central Berkeley. Years later Blake's gift of ten of his Berkeley acres reportedly settled the question as to the new University of California relocating from downtown Oakland to Berkeley.
Blake was elected to Oakland's very first city council in 1854, and once again in 1861, before his election as mayor in 1862. Blake settled in Oakland as a lawyer, and his wife, Millicent Kittredge Blake, who was Francis Shattuck's sister, was the proprietress of Oakland's first girls' school, the Blake Seminary (also known at the Oakland Seminary), located on Washington between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets in one of the finest buildings in Oakland at that time. Blake died on October 16, 1875, and is buried at Mountain View.
|8th||March 1863||William Henry Bovee||Bovee was born in New York City in 1823 and came to California in 1849 aboard the Xylon for the Gold Rush. He mined in the Sutter's Creek area briefly before opening a general merchandise store in Sacramento. In 1856 he returned to San Francisco, where he opened the Pioneer Coffee and Spice Mill – a line of business he had successfully pursued as a young man in New York. He served on the Vigilance Committee of 1856 in San Francisco (as did Enoch Pardee and Samuel Merritt, two other future Oakland mayors), as well as an alderman and education board member in San Francisco, before moving to Oakland. He prospered in real estate and opened a San Francisco firm, Bovee, Toy, and Co., with his son-in-Iaw George Toy. Bovee died on May 14, 1894, at the Berkshire Hotel in San Francisco and is buried at Mountain View.|
|9th||March 14, 1864||Edward Gibbons||Gibbons was one of three prominent physician brothers – Henry, William, and Edward – born to a Quaker physician in Wilmington, Delaware. Edward was born in 1816 and graduated from the University of New York [now New York University] in 1841 and studied law in Memphis, Tennessee for four years. He returned to Delaware in 1848 and was elected clerk of the House of Representatives of that state. In 1850 he came to California with one of his brothers on the maiden voyage of the steamer Republic; they mined gold briefly before returning to San Francisco, where Edward, "prepared to fill any position in law, medicine, or legislation," was appointed physician to the cholera hospital. He arrived in Oakland in 1851 and, according to a history of the Alameda County Medical Association, "Dr. Edward Gibbons lived on the corner of Ninth and Washington Streets... was on the city council in 1856 and city clerk from 1857 to 1861, then mayor of Oakland...he practiced little, if any, medicine." He served three terms as president of the council before becoming mayor and two terms as council president afterwards.
The system of farming out the indigent sick that prevailed here for many years was very repugnant to him, and he induced the Board of County Supervisors to establish a hospital, or infirmary, the plan for the building of which he drew out, and when established, he gratuitously gave the county the benefit of his services for one year, as physician," according to Halley's 1876 history of Alameda County. He returned to the East in 1868 and did come back to California until 1873, the year he was nominated for the State Senate by the Independent Convention and elected by a "handsome majority." He died on May 30, 1886 in Calistoga and is buried in Mountain View.
|10th||March 6, 1865||Benjamin F. Ferris||Ferris remains one of the truly mysterious figures among all Oakland mayors. He was listed in 1869 and 1870 Oakland city directories as "banker, Wilcox Block," as a "capitalist" in the 1871 and 1872-3 directories, and as president of the First National Gold Bank of Oakland in 1875 and 1876. Following his service as mayor, he was elected to the city council in 1872 and 1873. He drowned, in an apparent suicide, in the Sacramento River, on May 20, 1876, according to the records of Mountain View cemetery, where he is buried. According to the Oakland Tribune of May 22, 1876:
"Nothing further has been elicited regarding the suicide of Judge Ferris, than was published in the Sacramento Bee of Saturday. That paper states a gentleman supposed to be B.F Ferris, but answering to the name of H.A. Johnson, was seen and spoken to by a runner on board the steamer Amador early Saturday morning. He was then setting on the guards of the upper deck with his feet tied together. The runner left him but soon returned only to find him missing. He is supposed to have jumped overboard and drowned. In his stateroom was found a note addressed to 'his Dear Wife and Daughter', stating that he was about to take poison and then drown himself, which was signed 'H.A Johnson, alias B.F.F.' He also wrote a letter addressed to Mrs. B.F. Ferris, Oakland and gave it to the clerk on the boat to forward."
|11th||March 5, 1866||John W. Dwinelle||Dwinelle was born in Cazenovia (village), New York on September 7, 1816, of French Huguenot descent and excellent pedigree – his father had graduated from Williams College and Yale Law School and served in both the New York Assembly and the U.S. Congress. His son John graduated from Hamilton College in 1834 at the age of 17, studied law under his father, and became an editorialist, typesetter and co-owner of a number of upstate New York newspapers. He practiced law in Rochester for ten years and served as city attorney there in 1844–45. Dwinelle arrived in San Francisco in 1849 aboard the Empire City, and served as city attorney there from 1850 to 1853. He returned to Rochester twice for several years before settling permanently in California in 1861. He built up a lucrative law practice in San Francisco settling land claims, based on his mastery of the Spanish language, acquaintance with Spanish land titles, and history of Mexican colonial times. In 1867, immediately after serving as Oakland mayor, he was elected, on the Union Party ticket, to the State Assembly, where he authored the bill to create the University of California, an institution he served as regent from 1868 to 1874. Like Shattuck, he was opposed to the annexation of Berkeley by Oakland and an advocate for the charter for an independent Berkeley, which was granted in 1878. A Mason, Odd Fellow, and Sire of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, as well as an omnivorous reader and noted bibliophile, he also traveled widely and contributed regularly to the daily press and periodicals, with detailed observations on such topics as agriculture and irrigation in western Europe or the conditions of the working classes there. In the words on one encomium, "his papers read before the Berkeley Club exhibit the wide extent of his culture and learning, sometimes marked by interesting and curious investigations, such as "Phallic Worship." He resided at Fifth and Clay in Oakland before moving to Berkeley and then San Francisco. On January 28, 1881, he was traveling to Benicia, California when he reached Port Costa, California on a stormy evening and attempted to board the steam ferry Solano, but the boat was pulling away and he slipped to his death in the churning waters of the Carquinez Strait. His body was recovered some three weeks later, and the funeral held at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in San Francisco, with the burial at the old Masonic Cemetery. He was re-interred at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in 1912.
In 1952, Dwinelle Hall on the University of California, Berkeley campus was named after John W. Dwinelle to honor his responsibility for the "Organic Act," which established the University of California in 1868, as well as the fact that he was a member of the University's first Board of Regents.
|12th||March 7, 1867||William Watrus Crane, Jr.||Crane was born in New York City on September 14, 1831, and educated in New York schools, including Columbia College. He studied law in New York City law offices and was admitted to the bar in 1852. He emigrated to California in 1854 and practiced law first in San Leandro and then, for twenty-six years, in San Francisco. Crane was elected district attorney of Alameda County in 1859 and elected to the State Senate in 1862. He resigned as mayor of Oakland on November 2, 1867, only eight months after taking office, and Samuel Merritt was chosen to succeed him. According to one source, "he was offered the nomination for the governorship of the state on several different occasions, but because of physical indisposition declined the offer." He was a bank director and president of the Oakland Gas and Light Company, as well as a poet, essayist, and financial supporter of the journal The Overland Monthly.
In 1875, he moved from 946 Myrtle to his new home at Tenth and Market, where he died on July 31, 1883. He rests at Mountain View.
|13th||November 1867||Samuel Merritt||Merritt was born in Harpswell, Maine on March 30, 1822, the son of a farmer of "independent circumstances" who had served in the Maine legislature. He graduated from nearby Bowdoin College with a medical degree in 1844. He further studied medicine in New York for about a year, followed by a very successful and lucrative three-year practice in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Merritt arrived in San Francisco in May 1850, in a brig and cargo which he had purchased with the help of his brother, a prosperous sea merchant. He immediately sold all the cargo and chartered the brig at $800 a month, thus beginning the process of accumulating a huge personal fortune, based on real estate, insurance, banking, and shipbuilding, in California. Merritt was a practicing physician and surgeon in San Francisco, often tending to ill seamen by rowing from boat to boat, but he apparently practiced medicine little if any after moving to Oakland. In San Francisco, following his participation in the Vigilance Committee of 1856, he was elected a supervisor on the People's Party ticket and in 1858 he decline that party's nomination for mayor. Not long after he moved to Oakland, where he already owned significant land holdings around the lake which today bears his name.
Serving one-and-a-half terms as mayor, Merritt succeeded, with the assistance of city counsel and future mayor, John B. Felton, and Horace Carpentier, in bringing about the "great waterfront compromise." After Merritt personally hosted about half the members of the State Assembly and Senate to dinner in Sacramento, legislation was passed which allowed Oakland to concede to Carpentier continuing control over half the waterfront, while conveying the other half to the Central Pacific Railroad for use as the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad. Merritt also initiated construction of the first municipally-owned city hall, introduced the city's first public health department, and brought Oakland's boom to sensational proportions. He contributed liberally from his private fortune to the construction of the Twelfth Street Dam which created Lake Merritt, and pushed to have the lake declared a wildlife refuge by the state legislature in 1870, the first official such refuge in the United States. As one of the original eight regents of the University of California, he was active in effecting the "highly advantageous" exchange of the Oakland property of the College of California for additional lands in Berkeley, and, as chairman of the regents' building committee, for much of the original planning of the Berkeley campus. He had constructed more than one hundred buildings in Oakland, "mostly from his own designs, and all erected with his capital" including the legendary Grand Central Hotel on Twelfth Street, which burned to the ground in 1880. His mill provided lumber for many structures of the time, including the Pardee Home.
Six feet, three inches (190 cm) tall and weighing 340 pounds, Merritt was truly a larger than life figure. He lived for years in a grand estate located between present-day Fourteenth and Fifteen, and Jackson and Madison Streets. A lifelong bachelor, he returned often to Maine to tend to his family there, and he died on August 17, 1890, at his Oakland home in the company of his sister and Chinese valet. Funeral services were held at his estate, with Congregational and Unitarian ministers presiding. His estate of approximately $2 million went to the building of Merritt Hospital (now part of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center) and to Bowdoin College. He is buried beneath one of the grandest monuments at one of the highest points in Mountain View Cemetery, which he had served as the first president of the cemetery association.
|14th||March 1, 1869||John B. Felton||Felton was born in Saugus, Massachusetts in 1827, son of an almshouse superintendent in Cambridge and brother of Cornelius Conway Felton, a renowned classics scholar at Harvard and Samuel Morse Felton, Sr., a railroad executive. He graduated from Harvard in 1847 and briefly served as a Greek tutor before pursuing the law. He studied the Civil Code in Paris for one year and became fluent in both French and Spanish, but he had agreed with a Harvard classmate, E.J. Pringle, that they should become law partners in San Francisco. Pringle arrived here in December 1853 and Felton a few months afterwards. He represented many wealthy property owners and achieved great professional prominence and wealth himself in the process. He campaigned unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1874. He was a regent of the University of California from its inception until his death. Felton resided on Adeline Street, between Ninth and Tenth Streets (probably at 930 Adeline?), as mayor and until his death on May 2, 1877, at the age of 49. He is buried at Mountain View.|
|15th||March 6, 1871||Nathaniel W. Spaulding||Born in North Anson, Maine on September 24, 1829, Spaulding learned the trade of carpentry from his father and uncle and worked as a carpenter in Portland and Boston. In 1851 he sailed from New York for the gold fields of California, where he pioneered in the building of mills and flumes on the Mokelumne River in Calaveras County. He also built and managed the first hotel in Campo Seco, where he was married in 1854. In 1859 he began business in Sacramento as a manufacturer of inserted-tooth saws, and he soon produced and patented a new type of saw, called the Spaulding saw or chisel-bit saw, which "thoroughly revolutionized the circular saw business, not only in the U.S., but also throughout Europe," according to one source. He moved to San Francisco in 1862 and established the Pacific Saw Manufacturing Co. there and the N.W. Spaulding and Bros. Co. in Chicago with two of his brothers.
"In religious matters he has inherited the Unitarian principles professed by his parents, and he has been an earnest member of the Independent Church of Oakland, where he has been a director and president of the society during many years."
Spaulding moved to Oakland in 1866 to "take possession of a home which forms one of the most elegant architectural features of that city." A Republican, he was elected to the city council in 1869 and 1870, where, as chairman of the streets committee, he played a major role in securing Oakland's status as "being one of the most conveniently and beneficially laid out, best lighted and best macademized cities in the Union."
He was elected twice as mayor, in 1871 and 1872, without opposition. Spaulding initiated the move to bring the county seat from San Leandro to Oakland, which was finally approved by the state legislature in 1874, with the county accepting Franklin and Washington Squares as sites for a new Courthouse and Hall of Records. He served two more terms on the council (1873 and 1874) after being mayor, and also served for four years as Assistant U.S. Treasurer following his appointment by President James A. Garfield. A high-ranking Mason, as founder and first master of the Oakland Lodge No. 188 and grand high priest of the California royal arch masons, he died on October 8, 1903, in New Britain, Connecticut, but he remains today at Mountain View.
|16th||March 4, 1873||Rev. Henry Durant||Born in Acton, Massachusetts on June 18, 1802, Durant graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover and Yale University, class of 1827. He also studied at Yale Theological Seminary and was ordained a Congregational minister in 1833, serving as a minister for sixteen years before resigning to become headmaster of Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts (1849–1852). After California was admitted to the Union in 1850, he became absorbed with ideas for developing higher education in the new state. He arrived in San Francisco on May 1, 1853, and on June 6 he opened Contra Costa Academy, a private boys' school, in Oakland, which was chartered as the College of California (later to become the University of California system) in 1855. Besides serving as headmaster, Durant also taught Greek and Latin. The college ceded its land and property to the new University of California, created by the Organic Act of March 1868. After some delay, he became the first president of the university, in August 1870, but he resigned as his seventieth birthday approached in summer, 1872. A resident of 1113 Franklin Street, he became involved in real estate and served as president of the city council for one term in 1870, before being elected mayor twice, in 1873 and 1874. Durant died in office, on January 22, 1875, and was buried in Mountain View.|
|17th||February 1875||Mack Webber||Webber is another research conundrum, but we do know that he was born in Ohio, c. 1834, and that he worked as a druggist and apothecary at Eleventh and Broadway. He served as president of the city council for two terms (1873–1874) before he was named to succeed Durant on February 1, 1875, and he was elected to a full term on March 1, 1875. He was a resident of the Grand Central Hotel while mayor, but he disappeared entirely from city directories after being mayor. He died in San Francisco on January 8, 1901 and is buried at Mountain View.|
|18th||March 13, 1876||Enoch H. Pardee||Pardee was born on April 1, 1829 in Rochester, New York, but was raised in the states of Michigan and Ohio. He was a renowned ventriloquist and magician as a young man in the Midwest. Cured of the rare eye disease Egyptian ophthalmia as a teenager by a leading doctor in Detroit, he determined to become an "oculist" and was studying medicine in Ann Arbor when he decided to come west for the Gold Rush. He made a good deal of money mining gold for about a year and then much more money as one of the leading eye doctors in San Francisco. He returned to the Midwest, to Rush Medical College in Chicago, to study for three years and earn his M.D., ten years after beginning his San Francisco practice and shortly before building his stately Oakland Italianate villa at 672 Eleventh Street (Pardee Home, http://www.pardeehome.org/). A staunch Republican and strict Unionist, he achieved great political prominence in the East Bay shortly after moving here – he was elected to four terms on the city council (1869–1872), including one as president (1871), as well as to the State Assembly (1871–72) and State Senate (1879–82), as well as winning two terms as Oakland mayor (1876 and 1877).
Pardee was elected mayor against the backdrop of a nationwide economic depression, with growing labor unrest and agitation against "the Chinese" here in Oakland. He was confronted with mass demonstrations demanding an end to all immigration and issuing threats to burn down Oakland's Chinatown, then consisting of seventeen buildings located between Grove and Jefferson Streets, beside the railroad on Seventh Street. Pardee fought off a revolt within the Republican party and won re¬election in 1877, but his second term was characterized by such turmoil as the suspicious fire which destroyed City Hall on August 25, 1877; the declaration of martial law by Mayor Pardee; the creation of a deputized committee of safety, or Posse comitatus (common law), of almost 1,000 men; and the formation of two dissident political parties – the Workingmen's and the Citizens'. When not engaged in civic affairs, Pardee was also a nationally renowned marksman, an ardent Mason, and a co-founder of both the First Unitarian Church of Oakland and the Athenian Club, which he served as its first president. He died on September 21, 1896, and is buried at Mountain View, beside his son, George, the twenty-ninth mayor of Oakland.
|19th||March 25, 1878||Washburne R. Andrus||Andrus was born on September 23, 1841, in Farmington, Connecticut, where he trained and worked as a carpenter, except for seven years of service on the Hartford, Connecticut police force, including a time as Captain of Police. He moved to California in 1873, first to San Francisco and then to Oakland, where he continued working as a carpenter – he reportedly" worked quietly at the bench up to the day before his inauguration." Formerly a Republican, the labor unrest of the 1870s led him to join the Workingmen's Party, which nominated him for mayor on February 19, 1878 at Oakland's Germania Hall. He was elected the next month by a margin of 210 votes, exactly the same margin by which he won re-election one year later. Although further study of the two-year reign by Oakland's "carpenter mayor" would be highly recommended, it does appear that initial fears that the new mayor was a working-class radical never were justified, and that his tenure was relatively quiet. He served for three years as secretary to the State Board of Railroad Commissioners after being mayor and later for the city of Oakland as the "tender of locks" at the Twelfth Street Dam. A resident of 1408(1410?) Tenth Street in west Oakland when he was mayor and up until his death on June 6, 1895 at the age of 55, Andrus was buried at Mountain View cemetery following a Masonic funeral.|
|20th||March 8, 1880||James E. Blethen||Blethen was born on June 25, 1828 in Maine, and was educated and trained as a carpenter in the town of Dover. In 1849 he worked his way to California as the ship carpenter aboard the Golconda. He became partner in a San Francisco mill until 1858, a rancher from 1861 to 1868, and then a partner and finally sole proprietor of Pioneer Planing Mills at the foot of Broadway, from 1868 to 1882. He was elected mayor in 1880 as a Republican. He worked as a carpenter as East Oakland Planing Mills after being mayor. Blethen was a resident of 568 E. 14th Street while mayor and for many years afterwards. He died on June 23, 1909, after working as a contractor for 43 years in Oakland according to his Enquirer obituary, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery following a Masonic funeral.|
|21st||March 13, 1882||Charles K. Robinson||Robinson was born in Livingston County, New York, on January 16, 1835, but moved at the age of three to Genesee County, Michigan, where his family was pioneering farmers. He studied at Oberlin College and Antioch College in Ohio, and graduated from Antioch in 1857. He received his law degree from the Ann Arbor Law School in 1860 and practiced law in East Saginaw, Michigan for fifteen years, as well as becoming a prominent banker there. In January 1875, he moved from Michigan to Oakland, where he devoted himself chiefly to literary pursuits, according to one source, although city directories listed him as both a solicitor and book canvasser. Robinson was a Republican who defeated his Democratic opponent, Israel Lawton, by a margin of 2,444 to 2,061, running on a platform of restricting Chinese immigration, though this issue was settled by the US. Congress immediately after his election. A resident of 1706 Seward as mayor, he died November 22, 1887, in Oakland and is buried at Mountain View.|
|22nd||March 12, 1883||J. West Martin||He was born to the gentry in Hagerstown, Maryland on February 6, 1822. He abandoned his early training for the ministry to pursue various commercial enterprises in the South before moving to California in 1853, when he and his brother purchased Rancho Santa Rita in Alameda County. They sold his ranch in 1865, and he moved to Oakland, where he became president of the Union Savings Bank from 1875 until his death, president of the Oakland Gas Light Co. (1881–82), and a regent of the University of California. Martin was a Democrat, who defeated the Republican candidate, E.M. Gibson, 2,514 to 2,206 votes, by advocating economy in city spending, and as mayor practiced economy to such an extent (fired employees, slashed salaries, and turned off half the city's gas lights) that he was not reelected. A resident of 720 Fourteenth Street as mayor and up to his death on August 18, 1899, he was buried at Mountain View.|
|23rd||March 10, 1884||Ashmun Cooke Henry||He was born on December 6, 1828 in Millersburg, Ohio, the son of a merchant and State Representative. He sailed to San Francisco on the steamer North American in 1851 and established himself in business, first in Georgetown and then in Placerville, until the discovery of silver in Nevada, when he organized a company which built a wagon road from El Dorado to Placerville and then to the Washoe silver mines – "one of the finest mountain highways ever constructed in the state," according to one source. He was also one of the founders of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad. After a return visit to his old home in Ohio, he established his residence in Oakland, where he organized the first banking house in Alameda County, the Oakland Bank of Savings, which he served as president until 1869. He subsequently became president of both the Union Savings Bank and the Union National Gold Bank. A Republican who defeated the Democratic incumbent, J. West Martin, 2,531 to 2,216, in the 1884 mayoral race, he was also elected city clerk and treasurer (1887–88) after serving as mayor. Henry was a resident of 1221 Harrison Street from before his election until his death on January 15, 1907. He now resides at Mountain View.|
|24th||March 9, 1885||Eli W. Playter||Playter was born on October 6, 1819, in York, Upper Canada, (now Toronto, Ontario, Canada), but his family moved to rural Niagara County, New York as farmers when he was a youth. In 1852 he began the study of law in Buffalo, but the same year he was offered a ticket to California, and he came, via Panama, and mined gold for a period before settling in San Francisco, where he became a prosperous hardware merchant (Dunham, Carrigan, and Co). He relocated his residence to Oakland around 1865. A Republican and "devout Methodist," he defeated the Democratic candidate, John S. Drum, for the mayor's office in 1885, and the following year was re-elected by defeating the Democrat, Captain John Hackett, by a vote of 2,818 to 2,691. He later served as a commissioner on the Board of Public Works (1889–90) and president, Board of Police and Fire Commissioners (1892). Playter resided at 1167 Castro while mayor and for some years beforehand and afterwards. He died January 9, 1893, and was buried in Mountain View.|
|25th||March 14, 1887||William R. Davis||Born in Washington County, Iowa, on February 26, 1850, Davis came to California at the age of five, and was educated in the public schools of Sonoma County and at Oakland's Brayton School before graduating from the University of California in 1874. He became the editor of the Santa Rosa Times and then principal of Washington College in Irvington (present-day Fremont. He studied law under Henry Vrooman, an influential Oakland lawyer, was admitted to the bar in 1877, and became a partner in Vrooman and Davis. A Republican, Davis was elected mayor in 1887 with 2,761 votes to the Democrat's Henry Hayes' 2,009, with former mayor J.W. Martin receiving 1,357 votes as the American Party candidate. As mayor he advocated for the beautification of the eight city parks, the building of a new west end park, and construction of a three-mile (5 km) boulevard around Lake Merritt. He also played a key role in the shaping and passage of the new 1889 city charter. He resided at 514 Eighteenth Street (demolished) in the 1880s and early 1890s, then moved to 322 22nd Street (demolished) and finally to 474 Prospect Ave (later listed as 474 29th Street, then 404 29th Street) (demolished). He died there on March 17, 1915, and was buried at Mountain View.|
|26th||March 12, 1888||Charles D. Pierce||According to Mountain View records, Pierce was born in 1859 in Pennsylvania, but we know nothing else of his early life, until he appeared in Oakland in the late 1870s. By the 1880s, he was a resident of 1416 Grove Street and a partner in Pierce and Co. (W.F. and C.D. Pierce), wholesale and retail dealers in hardware, guns, etc., at 971 Broadway. Pierce was a Democrat who defeated the Republican candidate, Dr. S.H. Melvin, by 67 votes, 2376 to 2309, in the last election held under the old charter; the new charter, effective in 1889, increased the city council to eleven, with the addition of four at-large seats and increased all terms, including the mayoral term, to two years. Pierce apparently moved his business to San Francisco during the 1890s and moved himself across the Bay c. 1900. He died on October 17, 1909, in Stockton, and is buried in Mountain View.|
|27th||March 11, 1889||John R. Glascock||Glascock was born in Mississippi in 1845 and raised there, as well as in North Carolina and Virginia. His family moved to San Francisco in 1856 and to Oakland in 1858. He attended Henry Durant's Academy and graduated from the College of California as valedictorian in 1865. He studied law in his father's office in Oakland and at the University of Virginia before becoming his father's law partner. A Democrat, he was elected district attorney of Alameda County in 1875. In 1882 he was convinced to accept the Democratic nomination for the "State-at-Large" seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and, after campaigning throughout the state, was elected by a 13,000 majority. In 1889 Glascock received the largest vote for mayor up to that time, as a "scathing" public rebuke of boss rule, elected after a "furious" election centering on the new city charter. Glascock headed a "fusion" ticket (Democratic, Independent Republican, and American Parties) and he defeated the Regular Republican candidate, Judge J.P. Ames, 5148 to 2131, though he was defeated in his race for a second term. Glascock practiced law in Oakland for over forty years, and he resided at 829 Jackson from c.1876 to 1901, including his term as mayor, then moved to San Francisco c. 1902, then to Berkeley in 1907. He died on October 10, 1913 in Woodside and was buried in Mountain View.|
|28th||March 9, 1891||Melvin C. Chapman||Chapman was born in Westfield, Illinois on December 5, 1852, but his family moved to Chicago when he was only five. He was educated in the public schools there, as well as the Grand Prairie Seminary in Onarga, Illinois. He moved to California in 1869, when he was 17, and studied law under Henry Vrooman (as did Mayor Davis) and at Hastings College of Law before opening what became one of the largest and most lucrative law practices in Oakland in 1884. Chapman was a Republican, elected to the State Assembly from the Fifty-third district in 1888 and elected mayor in 1891, on a platform of pledging street, sewer, plaza, and park improvements, reclamation of the West Oakland marsh, dredging of Lake Merritt and construction of a boulevard around the lake. Voters were fed up with the Glascock administration's failure to implement the public works provisions of the new charter, so Chapman won easily, with 4,240 votes to Democrat Charles D. Yale's 2,141. He resided at 587 Hobart as mayor; moved to 532 Simpson Ave. (23rd St.) in 1896; to 57 Santa Clara Ave., c. 1911; and to 131 Waldo Ave. in Piedmont shortly before his death on March 4, 1936. His current address is Mountain View Cemetery.|
|29th||March 13, 1893||George C. Pardee||George Pardee, son of Enoch H. Pardee, who was born on July 25, 1857 in San Francisco, was destined to become the first native son of California to serve as Oakland mayor, as well as the first California governor born in the state. He was raised during his earliest years in the then fashionable Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. When he was eight years of age, his father, a loyal Republican and abolitionist, took him from Chicago to Washington, D.C., so that they could call upon President Lincoln at the White House, and he would always recall his moments sitting in Lincoln's lap as a formative political experience. He attended McClure's Academy on Telegraph Avenue before graduating from Oakland High School (California) and the University of California, class of 1879. He studied medicine at Cooper Medical College (now part of Stanford University School of Medicine) in San Francisco, followed by three years of study at the University of Leipzig in Germany, where he received his M.D. in 1885. During his time in Leipzig he wrote a monthly column to the San Francisco Chronicle under the nom de plume Amos Koag about daily life in Germany (he hated it!). Like his father, he was trained as an eye, ear, and nose specialist, and he practiced medicine with his father in San Francisco for some years following his return home from Germany. He served on the city council for one term, representing East Oakland's Seventh Ward, before being elected mayor.
Pardee ran for mayor, not as a Republican, but as the nominee of the Citizen's Municipal League, formed in 1893 to take immediate action toward recovery of the waterfront from the Southern Pacific, to end the alleged graft and incompetence of the Chapman administration, to achieve strict enforcement of liquor laws, to dredge Lake Merritt, and to insist that the proposed lake boulevard should be paid for by neighboring property owners. The new Populist Party nominated John L. Davie (see below), who surprised everyone by coming in second to Pardee – 2,776 votes for Pardee; 2,328 for Davie; 2,191 for Democrat R.M. Fitzgerald; and 946 for Republican Timothy Barker. One other candidate, Dr. E.H. Woolsey, an Independent, received only 47 votes, but citizens flocked to his Magic lantern slide shows, depicting the shortcomings of his opponents, during the campaign. Like his father, the Pardee fils faced major labor unrest, including striking railroad workers seizing trains, marines being called in from Mare Island to quell riots, and hundred of "Coxey's Army" adherents being herded into box cars and shipped to Sacramento, an incident which earned the mayor the epithet of "pick-handle Pardee" for his alleged use of such an instrument against the strikers – an allegation which he always angrily denied.
Pardee went on to be elected governor of California in 1902, defeating his Democratic opponent, Franklin Lane, a fellow alumnus of Oakland High, by only the narrowest of margins. As governor he presided over the aftermath of the greatest natural disaster in California history, the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, coordinating emergency relief to San Francisco from the old City Hall in Oakland. Following his years in Sacramento, he went on to become a leading voice in the early conservation and progressive movements, a founding commissioner for the Port of Oakland, and, most importantly, the "father" of East Bay MUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District) and the eponym for the Pardee Dam, which has provided the East Bay with one of the highest quality water supplies in the world since 1929. Pardee died on September 1, 1941, at his Oakland home, and was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery, next to his father, Oakland's eighteenth mayor, following a grand funeral at the Masonic Scottish Rite Temple overlooking Lake Merritt.
|30th||March 11, 1895||John L. Davie||Davie was born on June 24, 1850, in Saratoga County, New York, where he grew up near the Carpentier family which had produced Oakland's first mayor. As a teenager he worked on the nearby Erie Canal as a mule driver, and was studying the law in Chicago when the Great Chicago Fire there uprooted him and caused him to travel west, stopping over in Nevada to work as a ranch hand, before landing in San Francisco in 1876. Among the many callings heeded by the exuberant Davie during his varied life was that of opera singer in San Francisco, as well as actor, inventor, and butcher.
In the late 1880s, he moved to Oakland, where he and his family settled on a "small ranch at what is now 33rd and West Streets – ten acres, good house, barn, and outhouses." Here he opened a hay, coal, and feed business on Washington Street, as well as a bookstore next door, where he enjoyed the company of the city's literati. He conducted a "David and Goliath" struggle with the Southern Pacific Railroad over their throttle hold on the Oakland waterfront, first when he constructed a wharf to serve his business and then when he introduced ferry service which was the only competition to the railroad's, and, after earning a law degree and arguing his case all the way to the Supreme Court, he was able to claim at least partial victories over the reviled Southern Pacific.
In 1895 Davie ran for the mayor's office as a Populist, as he had two years earlier in his defeat by Pardee, but this time he drew 4,543 votes to 3,861 for J. Nelson, the "fusion" nominee of the Citizens' Municipal League, the Democrats, and the Republicans. This was to be his first of two tenures as Mayor of Oakland. His pledge not to allow any tax rate above $1 was the downfall of his administration, as all city services suffered, and finally Davie was expelled from the Populist party. He ran for re-election as an Independent and champion of the small taxpayers, and narrowly lost to W.R. Thomas.
|31st||March 9, 1897||William R. Thomas||Thomas was born in Cook County, Illinois on February 12, 1842, orphaned at the age of six, and educated in the Chicago public schools until the age of thirteen. He was a Civil War veteran, entering as a nineteen-year-old private and leaving as a captain, after sustaining two injuries during the war. He settled in DeKalb County, Illinois after the war, but moved to California in 1870. He lived in Redwood City and served as deputy county clerk and recorder of San Mateo County before relocating to Oakland in 1876. Here he became deputy county clerk of Alameda County (c. 1883–85) before becoming the police chief of Oakland from 1885 to 1888, when he introduced the first police patrol wagons and proved a vociferous opponent of gambling. In the 1897 mayoral race, Thomas was the nominee of the Republican and Citizens' Municipal League Parties, who, in an era of tight, multi-party races, defeated the incumbent mayor John L. Davie, 3,071 votes to 2,962, with 2,260 votes for the Democrat Seth Mann, 802 votes for the Populist S. Goodenough, 419 votes for former mayor A.C. Henry, running as an Independent, and 39 for Prohibitionist Dr. P. McCarger. He was a partner in Benham and Thomas (real estate, insurance, and investors) from c. 1889 to the early 20th century. Thomas was a member of the First Congregational Church and head of the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic for seventeen years. A resident of 816 11th Street as mayor (from c. 1887 to c. 1905), he died in his home at 1728 Pleasant Valley Road on April 12, 1930.|
|32nd||March 13, 1899||Roland W. Snow||Snow was born on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, in 1850 and adopted by shipbuilder Joshua Snow at the age of four. He moved to Chicago when he was eighteen and to Oakland seven years later, in 1875. He was elected as the first city auditor and assessor under the new charter of 1889 and served in these offices until becoming mayor. In 1899 Snow was the nominee of the Citizens' Municipal League (also endorsed by the Republicans) and ran on a platform of municipal ownership of utilities, particularly the water supply, consolidation of city and county governments, and an end to private control of the waterfront; he garnered 5,716 votes to 3,913 for John L. Davie (Democrat and Independent), 249 for Populist Alexander Hoenisch; 243 for Socialist Labor Party candidate J.H. Eustice, and 86 for Prohibitionist Dr. W.O. Buckland. Snow had been a wholesale hardware and plumbing merchant in San Francisco before becoming mayor, and he resided at 672 14th St. (demolished) from 1880 to 1896, but resided at 914 8th St. (demolished) as mayor. He was not related to Henry Snow, the eponym of Snow Park or the old Snow Museum.
Snow's life came to an extremely bizarre end on the night of March 27, 1912, when he and Adolph Goldman, a San Francisco clothing merchant, murdered each other in the sanctuary of the First Congregational Church at Clay and Thirteenth Streets. This duel, which occurred just as the Wednesday evening prayer meeting was about to commence, was the "closing chapter of a strange history watched by and involving many prominent men, a history which for strangeness and grotesque tragedy outrivals the weird studies of erotics made by Havelock Ellis," as the Tribune exclaimed on its front page the following day. For some two weeks before the tragedy, the former mayor had been living under an assumed name at the Merritt Hotel at Ninth and Franklin Streets, and had been exchanging letters threatening murder with Goldman. Snow had asked for protection from the district attorney and had had his mail routed through the chief of police, while Goldman had hired a San Francisco private detective to help him physically locate Snow. When the detective learned that Snow regularly attended the Congregational Church, which he had once served as president of its trustees, it was just a matter of time before the fatal attack occurred.
Snow and Goldman had first met in 1900, when the former was mayor and the latter, a native of Constantinople and a new arrival in Oakland from New York, owned a clothing store on Washington St. between Eighth and Ninth Streets. Goldman had reportedly approached the mayor for a letter of introduction so that he could visit some wealthy relatives in China, and his extraordinary infatuation with Snow resulted from their very first meeting. In 1904 Goldman shot at and badly injured Snow in the Clarendon Hotel in San Francisco after accusing his daughter of trying to end their friendship; he was eventually found guilty of assault with intent to commit murder and sentenced to five years in San Quentin, but he was released in March 1906 after less than a year of incarceration. Six more years of personal tumult between the two men followed before the fatal duel. Snow was cremated and his ashes interred next to those of his deceased wife in Ventura County; the remains of the 38-year-old Goldman were buried in Salem Cemetery in San Mateo County.
|33rd||March 11, 1901||Anson Barstow||Barstow was born in Haverhill, New Hampshire on November 29, 1831, and educated in that state and Massachusetts. In 1850 he followed his two brothers to California, where he mined gold briefly, and engaged in business in San Francisco until 1853. He returned East, married, and did not return to San Francisco until 1867, after receiving an appointment as inspector of customs, a position he held until 1873. In 1870 "he removed to Oakland and erected a commodious residence at Eighteenth and Linden" and in 1873 he entered business in Oakland, first as a partner in Sarpy and Barstow (flour, hay, grain, and feed) at 423 & 425 11th St during the 1870s, then as a partner in Barstow and Garber (flour, hay, grain, wood, and coal) and Barstow and Babbit at Thirteenth and Franklin from c. 1880 until his tenure as mayor. A Republican, he was elected to the city council in 1893 from the Fifth Ward; six years later he was elected councilman-at-large and council president. Barstow was elected mayor and ex-officio commissioner of public works, under a new charter, in 1901 in a close five-man race – he polled 2,944 votes to Citizens' Municipal League nominee Walter G. Manuel's 2,808; Independent Davie was a close third at 2,471, Democrat Warren English was fourth with 982, Socialist Jack London (yes, that Jack London) fifth with 247, and Prohibitionist Allen Shorkley was sixth with 60 votes. It was his privilege in May 1901 to welcome President William McKinley to Oakland while mayor, shortly before the president's assassination in September at Buffalo, New York. He lived at 1356 Franklin from c. 1889 until his death on February 5, 1906, buried at Mountain View Cemetery.|
|34th||March 9, 1903||Warren Olney||Olney was born in Davis County, Iowa on March 11, 1841, and educated at the Baptist College at Pella, Iowa. He entered the Union Army as a private in 1861 and was discharged as a captain in 1865. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School before coming to California in 1869, where he eventually became a senior partner in the law firm of Olney, Chickering, and Thomas of 101 Sansome Street in San Francisco and president of the California Bar Association. A "fusion" candidate endorsed by the Republican, Democratic, and Municipal League parties, he beat his Union Labor Party candidate E.L. Blair by 5,609 to 4,947 votes. He was a "staunch advocate of municipal ownership of the water system and so far-seeing he predicted the bringing of Sierra water to Oakland, far in advance of its accomplishment."
Olney was also an avid hiker and fisherman, who was familiar with the Sierra and Coastal mountains even before he met John Muir in 1889 through their mutual friend, William Keith, the eminent landscape painter. The three would meet first in Keith's downtown San Francisco studio and later in Olney's nearby law office to "talk about the mountains."; The articles of incorporation of the Sierra Club were drawn up by Olney and signed in his office on June 4, 1892, with Muir as president and Olney first vice-president; Olney's office served as headquarters during the first year of the Sierra Club's existence. He became close personal friends with Muir on many family and club outings, but broke with Muir and resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of the fate of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, which he believed had to be sacrificed to assure municipal control of San Francisco's water supply. Olney resigned from the organization, in 1910, after seventeen years of personal leadership, when its membership voted 589 to 161 in opposition to the Hetch Hetchy project. He lived at 481 Prospect Avenue (29th Street)(demolished), where John Muir, William Keith, and David Starr Jordan were frequent visitors. He was a long-time trustee and benefactor of Mills College, where the oldest dormitory on campus is named after him, as well as a close friend of Cyrus and Susan Mills. A member of the Berkeley Club, the University Club of San Francisco, and president of the Unitarian Club, he died on June 2, 1921 in Oakland, and was buried at Mountain View.
|35th||March 1905||Frank K. Mott||Mott was born in San Francisco on January 21, 1866, but his family moved to west Oakland (Twelfth Street, between Wood and Willow), when he was two years old. His father, who worked for the Central Pacific Railroad (later Southern Pacific Railroad), died when he was 11, and Mott, who had attended Prescott School, went to work as a messenger boy for Western Union and then as a telephone operator, the first ever in Oakland, according to his obituary in the Tribune. He entered the hardware business as a clerk at the age of 16, eventually becoming the sole proprietor of Frank K. Mott Co. located, from 1900, at 908–910 Broadway. He also entered the real estate business in 1907. A veteran of two terms on the city council (1895-7 and 1899–1901) from the First Ward, Mott was another "fusion" candidate, backed by the Democratic, Republican, and Municipal League parties (like Olney), who defeated the perpetual candidate John Davie 5,459 to 3,199, with Union Labor candidate George Randolph third with 1,800 votes, and Socialist Jack London with 981.
Mott, considered to be "The Mayor Who Built Oakland", presided over the greatest disaster relief operation in Oakland history when an estimated 150,000 people sought refuge in the city from the great '06 earthquake in San Francisco – a mobilization of resources so successful than perhaps 65,000 refugees eventually settled in Oakland. He was re-elected in 1907 by a six-to-one margin, defeating Socialist O.H. Phillbrick, 7,317 to 1,226, and re-elected in 1909 by defeating Citizens' Party candidate Dr. F.F. Jackson 8,352 to 6,045. Following the adoption of a new city charter establishing a commission form of government in 1910, Mott won the 1911 election by defeating Socialist opponent Thomas Booth 11,722 to 9,837. In a fascinating but little-known chapter of Oakland history, Mott survived the city's first recall election, initiated by the radical Industrial Workers of the World, on August 5, 1912, with 17,139 voting in favor of keeping Mott in office, and 10,846 against.
He achieved, in 1909, final resolution of the waterfront issue which had preoccupied the leaders of Oakland since the city's founding, with a negotiated agreement with Southern Pacific to give up its rights to the waterfront in exchange for a fifty-year franchise on the property it then held. In 1911, Mayor Mott welcomed President William H. Taft to Oakland. The Chief Executive laid the cornerstone for the present City Hall. The massive harbor improvements which immediately followed were just part of an unprecedented era of public works projects, including the dredging of Lake Merritt, the building of the current City Hall and the Civic Auditorium (now known as the Kaiser Convention Center), establishment of the pioneering Oakland Public Museum in the Josiah Stanford (now Camron-Stanford) House, and vast expansion and improvements to sewers, streets, lighting, electricity, fire and police protection, etc. He retired in 1915. Mott and his family lived at three different addresses as mayor – 1066 Jackson (1905–08), 1509 Webster (1909–1911), and 276 Lee Street in Adams Point (1912–1939) – all demolished. He served as the city's right-of-way agent from 1927 until his death on December 16, 1958, at the age of 92, at the Athens Athletic Club. An Episcopalian, Mott was cremated following his funeral at the Chapel of the Oaks under the auspices of Masonic Lodge 61.
|36th||July 1, 1915||John L. Davie||Davie returned to the Mayor's office, ultimately becoming the longest-serving mayor, when he won the May 1915 election with 24,949 votes to Frank W. Bilger's 17,861. He easily defeated a recall vote in December 1917, with 23,081 votes cast in his favor and 9,164 against. He won the April 1919 election with similar ease, gaining over 50% of the vote cast in a seven-man race, and likewise won the 1923 election with just over 50% of the votes in a four-man race. Finally, he won the 1927 election by a much narrower margin, with 29,318 votes to Frank Colbourn's 23,386.
Davie presided over an unorthodox commissioner form of municipal government, in which fifteen commissioners, including the mayor, each headed different city agencies and also acted as the legislative body, and charges that this system fed large-scale "cronyism" were a counterpoint to his popularity with the voters. However, there were many civic accomplishments during the Davie years, including the creation of EBMUD and the Port of Oakland, the opening of natural history and fine arts museums, the building of Skyline Boulevard by city prisoners, construction of the Posey Tube, construction in 1927 of the Oakland International Airport, major improvements to the harbor and Lake Merritt, and more.
He lived at the Bauer Hotel Apartments, at 1770 Broadway, as mayor, but retired to the Hotel Oakland, where he would still "hold court" in the lobby with his trademark red carnation and dapper clothes and walk to his frequent rowing trips on Lake Merritt. Davie, who retired in 1931 at the age of 80 and died on February 2, 1934, authored the only autobiography ever written by an Oakland mayor, His Honor, the Buckaroo, which was first serialized by the Oakland Post-Enquirer and later reprinted in book form. As the title suggests, it is filled with hokum.
|37th||July 1, 1931||Fred N. Morcom||Morcom was born March 3, 1874 in Grass Valley, California, but little is known of his upbringing. He had established himself as proprietor of Morcom's picture frame and art store at 1724 Broadway by 1920. In 1931, he was the first Oakland mayor ever to be selected by his fellow council members and not by popular vote, under a charter reform meant to reform the excesses of the Davie era. However, Morcom quit as mayor after only one term, stating that a businessman could not afford to serve as mayor, with a monthly stipend of $100 a month plus $15 per council meeting, and that he did believe in the new council-manager form of municipal government (council-manager government), but that the mayor should be popularly elected and properly paid. Morcom returned to the city council, as councilman-at-large, from 1941 to 1953. In 1933 he planted the first rose in the municipal rose garden, which was renamed the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses in 1953. He lived at 4231 Lakeshore Avenue as mayor and up to his death on October 4, 1955.|
|38th||July 1, 1933||William J. McCracken||William James McCracken, who was born in Oakland on January 31, 1878, graduated from Oakland High, the University of California and the UC Dental School. He was a long-time dentist in Oakland, who represented District 4 on the city council for sixteen years, including his eight as mayor, before being soundly defeated for re-election to the city counsel in 1949 (and by a woman!). He claimed credit, as mayor, for the acquisition of Tilden Park, the building of Woodminster Theatre, the creation of the Naval Supply Base, and the inauguration of the Pride Clubs which planted over 20,000 trees and shrubs in the city. He died on December 3, 1949, at his long-time home at 744 Arimo Avenue in Trestle Glen, and was cremated following services at the Chapel of the Chimes, presided over by Dr. Clarence Reidenbach, pastor of the First Congregational Church, and officers of Brooklyn Masonic Lodge No. 225.|
|39th||July 1, 1941||John F. Slavich||John Francis Slavich, Jr. was born March 27, 1881 in Portland, Oregon. The son of John F. Slavich, Sr. and Abbie (née Krieger) Slavich (1862–1945) a native of New York. The family came to Oakland, when John was a boy and grew up at 582 24th Street, as the son of John Slavich, Sr., longtime proprietor of the Louisville Restaurant on Broadway. He graduated from St. Francis de Sales Elementary, Oakland High, the University of California at Berkeley, and from the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF) in 1904. A veteran of World War I. He practiced medicine in downtown Oakland for over forty years. A member of the city council from 1931 to 1947, he first joined the council by soundly defeating the venerable Frank Mott, 28,230 to 7,591, for an at-large seat in 1931. Slavich was mayor during World War II, a time when the city was being virtually transformed by the major role it played in the Allied efforts in the Pacific. He and his wife, his former nurse, resided at 412 Bellevue Avenue while he was mayor. His sisters were, Margaret E. Slavich (1880–1956) a proofreader at the Oakland Tribune and Adrienne M. Slavich Somerville (1893–1955). John F. Slavich died on October 2, 1950, with services held at the Chapel of the Oaks. He was buried at Saint Mary Cemetery in Oakland.|
|40th||July 1, 1945||Herbert L. Beach||Beach was a farmer's son, born on April 14, 1876 in Stafford County, Virginia. He moved to Oakland in 1905 and opened Berkeley's first motion-picture theater and several of Oakland's first independent neighborhood movie theaters before retiring from that business in 1935. He had been instrumental in the adoption of the council-manager form of municipal government in 1931, and was a member of the city council, representing District 1, from that year until 1947, when he was defeated in what was described as "the biggest upset in Oakland's political history." He died on August 30, 1959 at his home at 5311 Golden Gate Avenue in Rockridge, where he had lived as mayor. He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.|
|41st||July 1, 1947||Joseph E. Smith||Joseph Edward Smith was an Oakland native, son of Joseph John Smith, a mail carrier and Elizabeth Dougherty Smith, born August 15, 1913, "in Watt's Tract, on 34th St near Hanna," in his own words, who "attended Clawson, Grant, and St. Francis de Sales before going to St. Mary's High School." Smith was a 1935 graduate of UC-Berkeley and 1938 graduate of Boalt Law School. Smith married G. Marie Phillips on January 7, 1939. He served as a Navy ensign during World War II. When he was elected mayor in July 1947, by a 7–1 vote of his fellow council members, the thirty-three-year-old Smith became the youngest man to serve as mayor since Horace Carpentier. His election was considered a major upset, since Dr. McCracken had been considered a certainty to return to the mayor's office. However, following Smith's election, McCracken was still considered the deciding vote between the four returning incumbents, loyalists to the "Joseph R. Knowland Machine – The Power in the Oakland Tribune Tower," as their opponents perceived them, and the four new councilmen, including Smith, elected by "joint labor action and disgruntled citizens." Smith and the other new council members had run with the active support of local CIO unions and other progressive organizations, and they were extensively "red-baited" during the campaign. He narrowly defeated a recall attempt as a city council member after serving as mayor, on February 28, 1950, but was defeated soundly in a run for a councilman-at-large seat the following year, ending his political career. Smith was a resident of 2535 55th Ave. in East Oakland at the time of his election, but the mayor and his family moved to 782 Rosemount Road in Trestle Glen while he was in office. For many years after his tenure as mayor, Smith resided at 136 Dudley Avenue in Piedmont while practicing law in the Financial Center Building. He died at Rossmoor Walnut Creek California on February 13, 1999.|
|42nd||July 1, 1949||Clifford E. Rishell||Rishell was born in Glenwood, Iowa, on October 10, 1890. He left school at the age of 16 to lay railroad track, and also worked as a "printer's devil" at the Glenwood Opinion and as a sign painter in Council Bluffs before following his brother to Oakland in 1912. He worked here as a sign painter for Standard Oil before establishing his own painting firm. A Republican, he was elected to the city council from District 6 in 1949, and in 1953 he became the first Oakland mayor elected by popular vote since John Davie in 1927 – a change due in large part to his own efforts -winning over 50% of the vote in a six-man race. He was also the first mayor to serve under a charter amendment restructuring the city government as a city manager system (mayor-council government). In 1957 he easily defeated his sole opponent, Benjamin Marlowe, 42,724 to 29,765. As mayor he gained the title of "Ambassador of Goodwill for Oakland" and "Oakland's Super Salesman" due to his many business trips to Washington and privately financed jaunts abroad. He was badly defeated for re-election in 1961 by John Houlihan and defeated again in a 1963 "comeback" bid for the at-large council seat. Long-time residents of 2707 Humboldt Avenue in East Oakland, in 1957 the mayor and his family moved to a new home on a street named in his honor (!!) (141 Rishell Drive, in the Crestmont district, high in the hills). Rishell's tenure saw the start of the "white flight" from Oakland, to the suburbs of Southern Alameda County and Contra Costa County. In 1960, the American Football League was created and Rishell worked with Wayne Valley and Ed Mc Gah for the acquisition of the Oakland Raiders), In 1963, declaring that he no longer wished to live in Oakland, he and his wife relocated to a trailer park in Palm Desert before moving to a retirement community in Santa Barbara, where he died on January 14, 1971 at the age of 80.|
|43rd||July 1, 1961||John C. Houlihan||John Charles Houlihan was born October 31, 1910 in San Francisco, the son of a San Francisco policeman. He was raised in the Mission District and graduated from the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University School of Law. He practiced law in San Francisco before moving his practice to Oakland in 1944. He was a city planning commissioner who was appointed to a vacant city council seat by Mayor Rishell in 1959, two years before Houlihan soundly defeated Rishell in a "torrid" mayor's race (53,340 to 36,423). He served as mayor from 1961 to 1966, and actively presided over such major civic accomplishments as the construction of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena the building of the new Oakland Museum of California, and major improvements to the Oakland airport and port.
Houlihan was both a nationally renowned theorist on urban issues and a convicted felon. He served as a researcher and administrator for major studies on inner-city problems funded by think tanks including the Fund for the Republic and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions before and while he was mayor, and he taught local government at Sonoma State and other Bay Area schools following his release from prison. Houlihan, who had stated publicly and often that his $7,500 mayoral salary was inadequate, finally resigned in February 1966 (effective April 30), because of the salary issue, two months before he was indicted for embezzling $95,000 from the estate of an elderly widow, Sarilla Whitlock (as a private attorney, but while in office as mayor). He was eventually convicted of this charge, and it was also discovered that he had embezzled a further $100,000 from other estates, including a Catholic order in Oakland. He was imprisoned at the minimum-security California Medical Facility in Vacaville in 1967, paroled in 1969, and pardoned in 1973 by Governor Ronald Reagan. He died in Santa Rosa on July 31, 1986 at the age of 75. A Republican and Catholic (St. Pascal's Church), Houlihan and his wife and four children lived at 4994 Stacy Street (near Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park) while he was mayor.
|44th||May 1, 1966||John H. Reading||Reading was born on November 26, 1917 in Glendale, Arizona to a cotton farming family, but raised in Oakland. He worked as a newspaper delivery boy while attending Frick Junior High and Fremont High Schools, and he also worked his way through UC-Berkeley, class of 1940. He served during World War II in the Army Air Force as a pilot and flight training officer and attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel He inherited his father's substantial East Oakland business, Ingram's Food Products, famous for its frozen "Red's Tamales," but sold it while mayor. He was appointed to the Seventh District seat on the city council in 1961 by Mayor Houlihan, and in 1966 was elected by a 5–3 vote of the council to replace Houlihan as mayor. In 1968, Reading welcomed the American League of Major League Baseball when Charles O. Finley moved his baseball team from Kansas City. Redding was mayor when the Oakland Athletics won three World Series. He was subsequently elected to the office three times: in 1967, to finish the unexpired term which he was filling by appointment, with around 85% of the vote in a three-man race; in 1969, to his first full four-year term; and in 1973, when he defeated the famous Black Panther leader Bobby Seale by a margin of 77,634 to 43,749, Reading and his family lived at 4735 Sequoyah Road in the Oak Knoll District. He died February 7, 2003 in Indian Wells, California.|
|45th||July 1, 1977||Lionel J. Wilson||Wilson was born March 14, 1915, in New Orleans, the eldest of eight children. His family moved to Oakland when he was three. He was a graduate of McClymonds High School, UC – Berkeley, and Boalt School of Law. An accomplished athlete as well as a scholar, he once pitched for the Oakland Larks, a black professional team. He was the first African-American appointed to the Alameda County Municipal Court, in 1960, and the first to serve on Superior Court. He was elected the city's first black mayor on May 17, 1977 by defeating Dave Tucker 42,961 to 37,060. He was re-elected in 1981 with over 70% of the vote in a four-man race, and again in 1985 with 32,602 votes to 17,656 for his closest opponent, Wilson Riles, Jr., in a seven-man race. However, in a pivotal primary election on June 5, 1990, in which the four top vote-getters in a seven-person race were all African-American, Wilson came in third, with 13,158 to Elihu Harris' 34,733 and Wilson Riles, Jr.'s 18,505, and was thus eliminated from the general election that fall (see below).
During Wilson's tenure as mayor, he appointed the first two African American females to serve on the powerful Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, Christine Scotlan and Carole Ward Allen. In his last three months in office, he convinced the City Council to appoint him to the port, which was extremely controversial. Wilson died at the age of 82 on January 23, 1998. He was praised both as a "man drafted to oversee the removal of Oakland's old Republican guard and the rise of African-American politics and politicians" and as a jurist and civic leader who embodied fairness to all of the city's communities.
|46th||January 7, 1991||Elihu M. Harris||He was born on August 15, 1947 in Los Angeles, though his family moved to Berkeley when he was young. He was a graduate of Berkeley High School, California State University, Hayward (bachelors), UC-Berkeley (masters), and UC-Davis (J.D.). Harris served on the staffs of U.S. Congresswoman Yvonne Burke and California Assemblyman John J. Miller and as director of the National Bar Association before his election to the State Assembly in 1978 from the 13th District. He was re-elected to the Assembly in 1980, 1982, 1986, and 1988. He placed a strong first in a seven-candidate primary election for mayor in 1990, and went on to defeat his closest rival, Wilson Riles, Jr. by a count of 54,259 to 40,586 in the general election. Harris was unfortunate enough to assume office in a city that was barely beginning to recover from the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake when the Oakland Firestorm of 1991 destroyed some 3,000 homes in the city's finest neighborhoods. However, by the end of his eight years in office, the fire zone was substantially rebuilt and a downtown revival was underway, highlighted by the renovation of City Hall. Harris resigned from the mayor's office, in order to seek re-election to his old State Assembly seat, a campaign in which he was upset by Audie Bock, who became the only Green Party candidate to win a state legislative seat in the U.S. He resided on Homewood Drive in Montclair as mayor.|
|47th||January 4, 1999||Jerry Brown||Brown was born in San Francisco on April 7, 1938 to the future governor of California, Edmund Gerald (Pat) Brown, Sr. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, studied at Santa Clara University and at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos before graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961 with a degree in Greek and Latin, and he received his law degree from Yale University in 1964. He served as California secretary of state from 1971 to 1975, as governor from 1975 to 1983, as attorney general of California from 2007 to 2011, as governor from 2011–2019. He was the sixth-youngest governor in California history when first elected in 1974, and in 1978 he won re-election with the largest vote margin ever in a governor's race here. After winning in 2010, he is the oldest governor in California history. As governor, (1975–1983) he established the first agricultural relations law in the nation, started the California Conservation Corps, enacted the California Coastal Protection Act, halted nuclear power development and made the state the national leader in solar and alternative energy. He also appointed more women and minorities to high government positions than any other governor in California history. He mounted three unsuccessful runs for the presidency, in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and one unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. Following the last attempt, he moved to Oakland and built a live/work space at 200 Harrison Street in the waterfront warehouse district, where he hosted a populist, call-in radio show "We the People," beginning in 1994. He was elected mayor in 1998, garnering 58.7% of the vote in an eleven-candidate primary, and he was also able to muster his enormous popularity to win support for a "strong mayor" initiative which was passed by the city's voters in the general election. He took office as Oakland's very first "celebrity mayor," as much a national icon of political iconoclasm and a figure in popular culture as an established force in state or city politics. In March 2002, Brown defeated his only opponent in the primary, Wilson Riles, Jr., a veteran city council member and mayoral aspirant, by a vote of 39,628 to 22,794.|
|48th||January 8, 2007||Ronald V. Dellums||Born in Oakland on November 24, 1935, Dellums grew up at 1014–16 Wood St. in West Oakland and attended St. Patrick's School on Peralta Street, Westlake Junior High on Harrison Street, and Oakland Technical High School on Broadway. Dellums spent two years in the Marines. He has a B.A. from San Francisco State University (1960) and an M.S.W. from UC Berkeley (1962) and spent some time in social work.
Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council in April 1967, and served during the People's Park crisis of May 1969. While on the Council, he defeated sitting U.S. Representative Jeffery Cohelan in the Democratic primary of June 1970 and won the general election in November. He served in Congress, representing Berkeley, neighboring cities and part of Oakland, from 1971 until his resignation in February 1998, becoming Chairman of the House Committees on the District of Columbia (1979–1993), and Armed Services (1993–1995). Dellums became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War immediately after his arrival in Washington, and in later years he became equally well known on the national stage for his fundamental challenges to the domestic priorities and international initiatives of successive presidential administrations.
|49th||January 3, 2011||Jean Quan||Jean Quan is the first woman and the first Asian American to be elected Mayor of Oakland. She was the first Asian American woman elected to the Oakland School Board and to the Oakland City Council. She is the first Asian American woman mayor of a major US City. Quan's family roots in Oakland date back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when her great-grandfather, grandfather and his two brothers took the ferry across the Bay and became part of a new Oakland Chinatown. Quan's father died when she was five, and she was raised by a non-English-speaking mother. She received a scholarship to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where she helped found Asian American Studies and worked to recruit poor and minority students. Quan has been married to Dr. Floyd Huen for more than 40 years.|
|50th||January 5, 2015||Libby Schaaf|
- Conmy, Peter Thomas (1961). The beginnings of Oakland, California, A.U.C. Oakland, Calif.: Oakland Public Library. OCLC 7488215.
- "From then to now: these were mayors". Oakland Tribune. 1952-05-01. p. W-7, Oakland Centennial special edition.Includes photos
- Nicolai, David (2002, Pardee Home Museum Director). Mayors of Oakland: 1854 – 2009. Populists, Visionaries, & Self-Promoters: 47 Oakland Mayors (Researched and wrote most of the Notes above)
|url=(help). Check date values in:
- List of mayors, Oakland Public Library
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress