San Mateo County History
History of San Mateo County
by Philip W. Alexander, 1916

Frank L. Eksward

FRANK L. Eksward, the Secretary Manager of the San Mateo County Development Association, has taken a leading part in the recent development of the county. Many of the notable promotion projects of this community have been successfully launched and carried to a satisfactory conclusion under his leadership and co-operation.


Mr. Eksward was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1870. He has traveled all over the United States and visited portions of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. He has been identified with San Mateo County for the last seven years, five of which he has been engaged actively in promotion work. He is an enthusiastic worker for general county development and particularly for good roads. His only hobby is the upbuilding of San Mateo County.

Mr. Eksward spent much of his time before he became definitely interested in development and community publicity—in law work in various eastern cities.

Dr. William Ansyl Brooke

DR. Brooke was born 52 years ago at Dranion Springs, a little town near Placerville in El Dorado County. He studied medicine at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, and practiced first in Sacramento, as intern in the City and County Hospital, later moving to Alameda. He came to Halfmoon Bay, eleven years ago, and has resided there ever since. He is a member of the San Mateo Medical Society, State Medical Society and American Medical Association. He was appointed Coroner and Public Administrator on April 7, 1915, which term he is now serving. His personal popularity and professional ability have won for him the highest regard of his fellow citizens.

He also belongs to a number of fraternal organizations, among them being the Masons, Native Sons, Eagles, and Maccabees.

Dr. Allan R. Powers

THE thriving industrial center and model city of South San Francisco exerts a strong attraction upon the professional man as well as the captain of industry and business man. This is exemplified by the coming to this community of Dr. Allan R. Powers and other capable professional men who saw an excellent field wherein to build up a desirable practice.

Dr. Powers was located at Rio Vista, Solano County for two years before coming to San Mateo County. Before he took up his study of medicine he was in the United States Forest Service.

Dr. Powers received his university education at the University of California, graduating in 1901, with a degree of B. S. He attended Cornell and Yale in the east, and received his degree of M. F. from the latter institution in 1904. He graduated from Cooper Medical College as M. D. in 1912.

In addition to an extensive practice already acquired in South San Francisco, he is the District Surgeon at that city for the Southern Pacifc Co.

Dr. Powers was born at San Rafael, California, on May 23, 1881, and has been a resident of this state for thirty-four years. His home is now at 628 Grand Ave., South San Francisco.

In the month of August, 1913, Dr. Powers was married in Sacramento. He had one child, Edith Cornelia Powers, who died December 21, 1915.

Dr. Powers is a member of the Rio Vista Chapter of the K. of P., 165; Moose 832; Imp. Order of Redmen, Tippecanoe 111; Fraternal Brotherhood, and San Mateo County Medical Society.

John Pitcher

AN old and highly respected settler, being one of the original forty-niners coming across the plains from St. Louis in ox teams. He was born July 25, 1827 at Vincennes, Indiana; and has resided in San Mateo County for the past 55 years.

Mr. Pitcher has the distinction of being the oldest public official, holding the office of Justice of Peace, for the past 35 years.

Mr. Pitcher has been very successful during his stay in Halfmoon Bay, acquiring a large farm, town property in San Francisco and many other interests.

Mr. Pitcher is today, what he has always been, a man true to himself, true to nature, and true to his friends.

Kenneth M. Green

KENNETH M. Green, one of the County's most promising and successful young attorneys, maintains his offices at San Mateo, in which City, he enjoys a large and growing practice.

Mr. Green is essentially a local product, having come with his parents to San Mateo County at an early age. He is a graduate of the San Mateo Grammar School and a member of the first graduating class from the San Mateo Union High School, and is, at present writing, President of the Alumni Association of the latter institution.


After attending Stanford University, he studied law in one of the leading law offices in San Francisco, and, in 1909, was admitted to practice in all the Courts of this State, as well as the Federal Courts of this District.

Mr. Green has been honored with office in several fraternal organizations, being a Past Master of San Mateo Lodge of Masons, Past President of San Mateo Aerie of Eagles and Past President of San Mateo Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West. He is also member of the Elks and the Moose.

His hobby and particular interest, outside of his profession, is chickens, of the feathered variety, and he is President of the San Mateo County Poultry Association.

Kenneth Milton Green was born in Oakland, California, on the 25th day of July, 1887, is unmarried and is the eldest son of the Honorable Milton J. Green of San Mateo, late United States Referee in Bankruptcy at San Francisco.

Paul Pinckney

UNDER the head of "The Press" comes the name of Paul Pinckney, one of the foremost newspaper men of the county, and editor and proprietor of the San Mateo Times.

Mr. Pinckney was born in South Carolina on March 24, 1869. His early education was accomplished in the common schools and supplemented by a course under private tutors. At fifteen, instead of going to college he decided to see the world as both his parents had passed away.

Ever since this he has "been seeing the world" through the eyes of a newspaper man, serving in the capacity of both reporter and editor. He was the editor for two years of the Southern Home Journal, a literary magazine of Jackson, Mississippi;, whence it was moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

He served three years in the Spanish American War in the Philippines as steward in the medical department, being called upon to act in many responsible capacities.

After the war he was reporter on the San Francisco Chronicle, going from this position to San Mateo, where on September 12, 1903 he acquired a half interest in the San Mateo Times and made that sheet a prosperous one. In 1910 he purchased Mr. Henry Thiel's interest, and became sole owner.

Mr. Pinckney helped to organize the San Mateo Board of Trade in 1905, now the Chamber of Commerce, and has been its secretary ever since. In 1906 he helped organize the San Mateo Hotel Company, operating the Peninsula Hotel, the enterprise being capitalized at $600,000. He became the secretary, and later, one of the directors.

Joseph Debenedetti (Deceased)

THE life of a successful father, standing before him as an example, Joseph Debenedetti forsook Italy's sunny skies for the western lands of California. His father, John came to the United States in 1855, and in 1856 removed to the west. He mined for a short period, engaged in the mercantile business in San Francisco, and then went to Santa Clara where he died.

Joseph Debenedetti was born in 1849. When only six years old he firmly made up his active mind to follow his father across the sea. In 1867 he set out for San Francisco via Central America, and after his arrival he went to Calaveras County where he spent 10 months. He then returned to San Francisco, and for two years engaged in trading with remote settlers in the county. In 1872 he came to Halfmoon Bay and a year later opened a general merchandise store. In 1874 Mr. Debenedetti married Teresa Scarpa. Seven of their nine children are living,—Mrs. Josephine Michieli, John L., Mrs. Angelina Francis, George, William, Mrs. Irene Bettencourt, and Henry.

Politically Mr. Debenedetti was a Democrat and as a recognition, he was appointed postmaster by President Cleveland. He served as a supervisor of San Mateo County for 12 years, and while in this office he let the contract for the bridge over Paraleside Creek at Halfmoon Bay, the first concrete bridge erected in San Mateo County. He belongs to the I. 0. 0. F. Mr. Debenedetti died May 18, 1914.

Joseph B. Gordon

FEW men owe their success more to their own efforts than Joseph B. Gordon, junior member of the law firm of Kirkbride & Gordon of San Mateo. His path was not strewn with roses. It was one over which only sheer pluck, courage and perserverance can take the traveler.

Mr. Gordon had had only a high school education when he aspired to be a lawyer. After preliminary study he became a law clerk with Mr. Charles N. Kirkbride in 1904. While so engaged Mr. Gordon took a four year law course at the San Francisco Law School. Before its completion he was elected city clerk of San Mateo. Still ambitious to acquire a more profound knowledge in his chosen profession, Mr. Gordon enrolled for post graduate work, so for years we find him filling the position of city clerk in a splendid way, acting as law clerk in Mr. Kirkbride's office and attending law school at night. After completing his law study, he was admitted to the bar and in 1912 with Mr. Charles N. Kirkbride formed the law firm of Kirkbride & Gordon.

In spite of the demand that Mr. Gordon's large practice makes on his time, he interests himself in all public movements. He is an active member of the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce and the San Mateo County Development Association. He also belongs to the Elks, the Masons, and the Native Sons.

Joseph B. Gordon was born in San Jose, California, July 12, 1887. His parents removed to Santa Cruz County and engaged in ranching. Mr. Gordon received his early education in the schools of that county. Mr. Gordon was married in Watsonville, on July 18, 1914.

D. A. Raybould

ONE of San Mateo County's newcomers who has risen to a place of esteem in the community is D. A. Raybould of the San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Raybould is known in all parts of the county as one of its wideawake, energetic young men who has at heart the welfare of the county as well as the interests of his paper.

During the few years that Mr. Raybould has represented the Chronicle in San Mateo county he has enjoyed a reputation for fairness. His news articles have kept the peninsula cities in the foreground and not a day passes that some section of the county is not exploited in the San Francisco press.

A few years ago Mr. Raybould wrote the Peninsula Polo Annual, a history of the sport of kings in the county. Through this book which was distributed among all the leading clubs of the East, California polo received a great deal of recognition.

Mr. Raybould was born in Salt Lake City, September 12, 1888. He received his early education in the Salt Lake schools. He completed his education at the University of Utah. After leaving college Mr. Raybould connected with the leading journals of Utah. Since coming to California in 1911 Mr. Raybould has been with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr. Raybould belongs to the Owl and Key and the Skull and Bones of the University of Utah, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the Ophite club of San Francisco, the Peninsula Club of San Mateo and the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce.

Rufus H. Hatch (Deceased)

WHEN the discovery of gold made California the Mecca of the hopes of so many thousand people flocking from all parts of the world, to share in the treasures proclaimed, there were some who saw at once what had escaped the eyes of those looking below the surface of the land, the rich valleys and verdant hills and sunlight as bright as the glitter of gold.

With almost every day of his life, spent in tilling the soil, it was little wonder that Rufus H. Hatch felt his eyes gladdened by the sight of such productive farming land, and wasted no time in determining where his chosen work lay at hand.

Rufus H. Hatch was born in South Redding, Vermont on September 22, 1829, and passed his boyhood in that state. At the age of 24 he came to California, landing at San Francisco, November 10, 1853. With one year's work on a hog ranch near the old Mission, he came to San Mateo County, located January 20, 1855 on 320 acres of government land which he entered and paid for in greenbacks in San Francisco. This farm was located within three miles of Halfmoon Bay, and for about twenty years he spent his time upon it, engaged in general farming and stockraising. he also bought some timber lands and started a mill on Purissima creek.

Mr. Hatch married Martha Schuyler, daughter of James Schuyler, one of the oldest settlers in Halfmoon Bay. The children born to this union are Alvin S., who now has the lumber yard at Halfmoon Bay; Edna L. McGovern and Clara E. Kneese. Mrs. Hatch died in 1888.

He was connected fraternally with the order of Odd Fellows and F. & A. M. of San Mateo.

Mrs. Henry C. Finkler

PROMINENT in the club life of the county and the State is Mrs. Henry C. Finkler, president of the Redwood City Woman's Club. Although one of the most active clubwomen of the county, Mrs. Finkler has devoted her energies to many other good causes which has placed her in the front rank of the county's leading women.

Mrs. Finkler has lived in California almost all her life. The last eight years she has spent in Redwood City. Her first work after taking up her new place of residence was to take a leading part in the organization of the Redwood City Woman's Club. Since then no woman has been more active in the affairs of the club than Mrs. Finkler. As an appreciation of her work and efforts the members elected her president of the organization last year.

Mrs. Finkler holds a high place in State clubdom, one of her most important connections being auditor for one term of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs.

Few citizens have contributed more time and energy to Redwood City than Mrs. Finkler. Credit is due her for the annual May festival, famed throughout California. As an expression of Redwood City's gratitude to Mrs. Finkler for this work, the Board of Trade and the Floral Festival Committee presented Mrs. Finkler with a gold and silver loving cup. The Board of Trade has sent Mrs. Finkler to represent Redwood at several conventions.

In addition to her club affiliations, Mrs. Finkler is a member of the George F. Evans Relief Corps and the Red Cross Society.

Edward W. Howard (Deceased)

UPON leaving College, Edward W. Howard entered the Export & Commission Firm of Otis McAllister & Company. The will of his father, Wm. H. Howard, who died in 1910, appointed him executor of the estate, which embraced vast holdings in San Mateo County, immediately adjacent to San Francisco, and a magnificent Ranch of forty-six thousand acres on the westerly side of the San Joaquin Valley.

These properties he handled with extraordinary ability, and in 1905 formed the Howard Cattle Company, of which Corporation he acted as the executive head from its inception to his death.

By its business integrity this corporation earned for itself a great name, and today stands as one of the premier live stock corporations of the Pacific Coast States.

In 1905 Mr. Howard married Miss Olivia Lansdale of Philadelphia, and of this union there have been born five children, Olivia, William Henry, Ann, Gertrude and Marion.

The home life of the couple was one of beautiful simplicity, and perfect understanding, and the children are exemplars of their union.

In 1904 Mr. Howard was appointed by Governor Pardee a member of the California State Board of Agriculture and he remained in this position until 1914. During his incumbency, the Association made remarkable progress and today ranks high throughout the country.

Mr. Howard was long a devotee of the kingly game of polo, and a player of ability. The formation of the San Mateo Polo Club was his conception and the success achieved by that organization was, in large degree, due to his efforts as he was a controlling factor in the Club and served as a director thereof from its formation. It is generally conceded that no grounds excel in beauty, those of the San Mateo Polo Club. His love for the game and his association with things agricultural, naturally led him to take an active interest in the breeding of ponies, in which he proved very successful, and as a result the impress of the Howard ponies has been markedly felt throughout the United States, while many of them have been shipped to England.

As a tribute to his agricultural knowledge he was elected a member of the Live Stock Advisory Committee of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, and was also a member of the Polo Committee of the Exposition.

Mr. Howard's faith in California was complete, and preceiving the future of this great State, he, with two associates, in the latter part of 1912, secured an option upon eighty-six thousand acres of land on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley and worked actively and untiringly toward the development of this great property, forming as the holding company of the land a corporation, capitalized for ten million dollars, of which he was elected the president.

It was in connection with this very business that Mr. Howard entered the building in which the breaking of the elevator cables caused his untimely death.

As executor of his father's estates, he had apparently insurmountable obstacles to overcome, but to them all he brought to bear great discretion and good judgment. No one could come in contact with him and not feel impressed by the weight of his knowledge and dignity of expression.

As a result of the national fame which he had achieved, he was, shortly before his death, and without any previous knowledge on his part, unanimously elected a Director of the American Short-Horn Breeders' Association. This is a position usually greatly striven for; and no more eloquent tribute could be paid to his standing in the live stock world. He was also for many years a member of the executive committee of the American National Live Stock Association and a very dear friend of the president of that Association.

Mr. Howard was the president and executive head of the following corporations: William H. Howard Estate Company; Howard Ranch Company; Howard Cattle Company; San Mateo Development Company, and Black Mountain Land & Water Company. He was also a director of the National Bank of San Mateo, treasurer of the Church of St. Matthew of San Mateo, ex-president of the California Live Stock Breeders' Association and vice president of the California Cattlemen's Protective Association. Mr. Howard was also for many years a member of the Pa cific Union Club of San Francisco.

It can truly be said of him that his earnest efforts were beneficial to society at large, and the results of his activities were felt at an age when most men are only commencing their life work.

He died at the age of thirty-six, and, had he been spared, it is impossible to conceive of any limitation to the achievements of his brilliant and fertile mind.

Martin H. Walsh

ONE of San Mateo County's oldest and most efficient peace officers is Martin Walsh, constable of the third township who preserves law and order in the aristocratic Menlo and Atherton districts.

Mr. Walsh came to San Mateo County thirty-six years ago. He took up his residence in Menlo Park soon after his arrival and since then he has been one of Menlo's most highly respected citizens.

During his long residence in the county, Mr. Walsh has also been involved in public affairs. Thirty-two years ago he cast his vote for Judge Buck and P. P. Chamberlain and since then he has been linked with the political life of the county. He was one of the first school trustees of the Menlo district, was a deputy coroner under Dr. H. G. Plymire and is serving his second term as constable in the third township.

His record as a peace officer has not only been marked by a series of important arrests but by the fact that he has kept order in his district and made it noted for the few crimes that have been committed.

Martin Hurbert Walsh was born in Iowa on May 31,. 1858. He married in Menlo in 1882 three years after coming to California. Mr. Walsh is a cement worker by trade. Among his fraternal affiliations is membership in the Knights of Columbus, the Foresters and the Woodmen of the World.

P. P. Chamberlain

MR. P. P. Chamberlain came to Redwood City in 1868. He accepted the first position that [was] offered and became grocery clerk for Isaac M. Schlouecker. Soon after this he went into the merchandise business with W. J. Wilcox, and after the withdrawal of his partner, carried the business on alone, under the name of P. P. Chamberlain which firm is still in existence.

During early days of the grocery business, Mr. Chamberlain was elected county treasurer which office he has faithfully administered for more than thirty years.

Mr. Chamberlain is interested in the Redwood City Building and Loan Association and the Redwood City Realty Company. He has always taken an active interest in the social side of city and county life, and now although seventy-four years old, he may still be seen enjoying himself at public functions, dances and receptions. He takes a keen interest in fishing. He is a member of the San Mateo B. P. O. Elks.

Mr. Chamberlain's boyhood life was spent in Ohio from which he went into the wilderness of Minnesota, and lived the rough and ready life of the lumber camps before he journeyed westward and threw in his lot with the old timers at Redwood City. He brought west with him an enviable record as a soldier.

Ellis C. Johnson

MR. Ellis C. Johnson is one of Daly City's most influential citizens as well as having the distinction of being that city's first Postmaster, and City Recorder ever since that municipality was incorporated. He is also serving as Justice of the Peace.

Mr. Johnson was born in Philadelphia, July 1860. He has been a resident of California since 1881, while San Mateo County has claimed him only since 1907.

Before coming to Daly City, Mr. Johnson was located in Stockton, being the superintendent for the Haggin and Tevis Ranch.

William H. Toepke

MR. Toepke has been identified with the profession of architect for the last eighteen years both in San Francisco and in San Mateo County.

He drew the plans for the San Mateo Union High School, the San Mateo central fire station, the Elk's Club, and numerous residences of Burlingame, San Mateo and Redwood City.

Among the many edifices for which Mr. Toepke has drawn plans in San Francisco might be mentioned the Flatiron Building at Market and Sansome Streets, an apartment for the Cuneo Estate and the Doe Estate, the Mission High School and the Maskey Building, where Mr. Toepke has offices.

Mr. Toepke was born July 12, 1871 in San Francisco, and has lived in this city all his life, with the exception of the last eleven years when he has resided in San Mateo County. He received his education in the city's grammar and high school, and then later fitted himself for the profession which he is now following.

Mr. Toepke is interested in fraternal life and is a member of the San Mateo Elk's Club No. 1112. He served as Trustee for the City of San Mateo.

E. W. Florence

MR. E. W. Florence who holds a responsible position with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in the county, is one of its foremost men.

Mr. Florence is a native son, being educated in the public schools of Chico, and then graduating from Heald's Business College in San Francisco.

On February 2, 1901 he entered the employ of the P. G. and E. Company. He represented this Company in Chico for eight and a half years; and was then transferred to Fresno as their representative where he remained for two years. From there he came to Redwood City where he has been for the last four years and a half.

Alfred F. Green

ALFRED F. Green was one of San Mateo County's most loyal citizens, spending the greater part of his life within its limits, until his recent death in December 1909.

He was a native of Vermont, coming to California as early as 1853, settling first in San Francisco where in 1855 he was married to Mary C. Tilton. In 1858 he moved to San Bruno where he went into the dairy business, remaining there until 1865, when he removed to Millbrae, and established himself there in the same business. At Millbrae he joined with D. O. Mills and was with him for twenty years.

At the end of this period he was engaged by the Spring Valley Water Company to superintend the building of their concrete dam at Crystal Springs. He continued with this company until his death at Millbrae,

Mr. Green was a member of the Board of Supervisors for thirty years, and served one term in the legislature in the sixties.

Mrs. Guadaloupe Valencia

ONE of the names that comes to us from the earliest historical records of the county is that of "Valencia".

The Valencias were large landholders during the early pioneer days of the county and still retain a small portion of these large early holdings in the vicinity of San Bruno, where Mrs. Valencia and some of her daughters are still living in the family home, bordering on the State Highway.

Mr. Valencia came from a large family, his brothers being Leonard, Frank, Eustaquio and Antone. His father's name was Juan Sotelo Valencia.

Mrs. Valencia was married fiftytwo years ago at the Mission Dolores which was established in 1777 in San Francisco. She was blessed with a large number of children—ten in all. The names of those still living are: Mrs. Petra Whitaker (whose husband ran the famous Union Hotel in San Francisco); Mrs. Francis Colleta; Mrs. Anne Fernandez, Miss Celestine Valencia, Mrs. Pauline Ford, Mrs. Clara Stevens, Mrs. Inez Overholser, Mr. Samuel Valencia, and Mr. Edward Valencia.

Mr. Guadaloupe Valencia had the distinction of belonging to the San Francisco Fire Department in the early days of that city, and was, just before his death, the oldest living member of that organization.

Mrs. Valencia was born in San Rafael, but was raised in San Mateo County where she has lived ever since being married.

James Daniel Hedge

THE name of James Daniel Hedge has been only comparatively recently inscribed upon the scroll of names which includes some of the brainiest men of the county—its newspaper proprietors and editors.

Although Mr. Hedge was born in Redwood City, he has been permitted by circumstances only recently to throw in his lot permanently with that city, where he is now the Managing Editor of the Redwood City Democrat.

Mr. Hedge received his early education in the Redwood City grammar school and Sequoia Union High School, from which he went to Stanford University, finally fitting himself for a business career by a course at Heald's Business College.

Mr. Hedge has lived in the state thirty-two years; been in Goldfield, Nevada three years and in San Mateo County twenty-six years. He was married May 1906 in Goldfield. He has two children,—Roland L; and Norman J. Hedge. Mr. Hedge belongs to Redwood Parlor No. 66 of the N. S. G. W.

Daniel P. Flynn

DANIEL P. Flynn was born and raised in San Mateo County, and has spent his busy and useful life in activities which have had the county of his birth for a setting. His recent appointment, on February 7, 1916 to fill the unexpired term of C. D. Hayward (deceased), the former County Assessor, was a signal mark of recognition of the ability which has characterized all his business career.

Mr. Flynn was born in Redwood City on November 23, 1875. He attended the public schools of this city, and later embarked in a business career, in which he has successfully devoted his energies to farming and the contracting business. He is trustee of the Selby Estate which is estimated to amount to about three-quarters of a million dollars.

It is an interesting fact that Mr. Flynn is still living in the very house in which he was born, and to which many pleasant memories of early childhood are attached. His father's name was Martin Flynn. Mr. Flynn is married and has four children,—Mary, Agnes, Martin and Francis.

Hugo Pinkney Frear

MR. Hugo Pinkney Frear, after about thirty years of residence in various parts of California, finally decided, eleven years ago, to go to Burlingame, then a little village. He was one of the first to build here; and so well pleased that he is still residing in this place.

Mr. Frear's profession is that of Naval Architect at the Union Iron Works where he has been associated with Mr. Geo. Dickie in the building of some of the greatest battleships and cruisers of the American Navy. He is a graduate of Oahu College, Honolulu and Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Worcester, Massachusetts.

Mr. Frear took an active part in the incorporation and the improvements of Burlingame; and it was through his efforts that this city received its public library site. He served on the first board of trustees and was elected the first chairman of the town board.

Mr. Frear was married in 1891 in San Francisco. He has a daughter Beatrice. Mr. Frear's father was the Rev. Walter Frear, D. D.

Mr. Frear is a member of the Institution of Naval Architects of London; Society of Naval Architects and Marin Engineers, N. Y.; Society of Naval Engineers, Washington, D. C.; National Geographical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C.; and the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco. Mr. Frear has served on the committee of the International Engineering Congress during the recent Exposition.

He has been naval architect for the Union Iron Works for the last thirty-two years, superintending the designing and construction of 141 vessels including battleships, armored cruisers, cruisers, monitors, gunboats, torpedo-boat destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, passenger steamers, freighters, tankers, ferryboats, brigs, tugs, yachts and other craft. He designed the 23-knot cruiser Chitose for the Imperial Japanese navy in 1899, the fastest cruiser to date, built in America. He designed and patented the ore-carrying fleet for the Bethlehem Steel Company and executed the plans for the great dome of the Lick Observatory at Mount Hamilton.

Clarence Decatur Hayward

MR. Clarence Decatur Hayward was serving his sixth term as Assessor of San Mateo County when his sudden and entirely unexpected death on January 21, 1916, deprived the county of one of its most trusted and highly respected servants.

Mr. Hayward was born in 1863, and spent the early part of his life at the home of his parents in Pescadero, San Mateo County. Part of his youth was spent working in his father's lumber mill where he acquired a knowledge of the lumber business. He was elected Assessor of San Mateo County in 1894, and has held that office ever since.

Mr. Hayward is the son of B. and Cornelia S. Hayward, and is survived by Mrs. Maud Merrill Hayward, Mrs. A. S. Kelenborn, and Mrs. David Moore. He was a member of Redwood Lodge of Masons, San Mateo Elks Club and Redwood City Native Sons. The Hayward home is located in Redwood Highlands, Redwood City, San Mateo County.

Timothy Guy Phelps

FOREMOST among San Mateo County's greatest men and best loved pioneer, stands the name of Timothy Guy Phelps, statesman and farmer.

Big hearted, strong and lovable—his accomplishments are written large upon the scroll of the county's greatest achievements, as well as those of the state. Many times a State Assemblyman and Senator, once United States Congressman during Lincoln's administration, twice Collector of the Port of San Francisco, Regent of the University of California for 21 years and Chairman of the Lick Observatory during that time—these were some of the posts of trust held by Timothy Guy Phelps.

Timothy Guy Phelps was born in Chinango County, New York, December 24, 1824. He received a common school education, and when twenty-one he went to New York City to study law. A few years later, when news of the discovery of gold in California reached New York, Mr. Phelps started for California by way of Panama, arriving in San Francisco on December 14, 1849, after a passage of one hundred and two days from Panama. He started immediately for the mines in Tuolumne County, and engaged in river mining with but scant success. Here he spent the following spring and winter.

On his return from the mines to San Francisco, he first engaged in the mercantile business in that city. Afterwards he became a partner of Jim Dow, one of the most successful of the early Californians, and well known to all the early timers.

In the great fire of 1851, he sustained great financial loss, but before the embers had cooled, he started in to rebuild. He was again successful and soon recouped his former losses.


About this time he bought a large ranch of 3500 acres in San Mateo County where San Carlos is now located. Here he spent all his spare time engaged in agricultural pursuits.

During Mr. Phelps' many trips on business down the peninsula to secure options on grain crops, he journeyed as far south as San Juan, and soon became imbued with a love for the country around San Carlos and then made up his mind that here was the place where he would like to make his permanent home. A short time afterward he became one of the owners of the Rancho de las Pulgas—and continued to add to his holdings until he had acquired 3500 acres.

Mr. Phelps took an active part in the stirring historical events of '51, when the masses of the law-abiding people organized under the name of the Vigilance Committee to suppress crime and restore order. In 1853 Mr. Phelps journeyed east, and was united in marriage to Miss Sophronia J. Jewell of Guilford, New York. He became a member of the first grand jury held in this county, August 1st, 1856. In this year his public career really began when he was elected to the State Legislature from San Mateo and San Francisco Counties on the first Republican ticket ever presented to the voters of this electorial district. It is interesting to know that today this district still remains.

In the role of legislator in the Assembly, Mr. Phelps showed such ability that he was sent to the Senate, at the next election. In representing his constituents in the Senate Mr. Phelps led the opposition against what was known as the Parson's Bulkhead Bill, which would have given control of the city's entire water front to a company of capitalists for a period of fifty years, and equipped them with the right to charge a toll on all in-coming and out-going merchandise, thus throttling the commerce of the city and ruining competition. His fight against these big interests gained him great popularity and the confidence of the people.

In 1858, he was re-elected to the Senate, contesting the election with Major-General Halleck, afterwards commanding general of all the Union armies. In March, 1857, when senator from the Fifth Senatorial district, (S. F. and S. M. Co.) Mr. Phelps introduced into the State Legislature "An Act to reorganize and establish the County of San San Mateo," which became a law in April 18, 1857. This act defined the southern boundary, and provided for an election to be held in the following May. Mr. Phelps served in the Senate from 1858 to 1861, introducing the first street railway bill for the City of San Francisco.

In 1859-60, the contest to steal the waterfront of San Francisco was renewed with greater determination than ever. Mr. Phelps again threw himself into the fray as champion of the people against the powerful syndicate of capitalists backing this nefarious movement. His fight in the state legislature is historic.

In 1860 he became vice-chairman of the state convention which met in San Francisco to send delegates to the memorable convention in Chicago that nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. His services in the State Legislature as an assemblyman covered several terms, and extended over a period of many years.

Mr. Phelps joined the Society of California Pioneers in 1861, and was later elected Vice-President of the organization.

In 1861 he attended the Republican State Convention at Sacramento, being a candidate for nomination for Governor of the State, but withdrew in favor of Stanford. He was, however, immediately nominated for Congress, and elected by a majority of 20,000 votes, serving from 1861 to 1863. He took a prominent place in Congress, his duties bringing him into close touch with President Lincoln who became his intimate personal friend. Lincoln consulted him on all issues pertaining to the Pacific Coast. Serving during the Civil War, he was known as the "War Congressman."

Upon Mr. Phelps' return from Congress, he found upon investigation that the officers in charge of the Presidio were all southern men, and were just ready to deliver the state to the Confederacy. He immediately informed President Lincoln that plans were made and mature to split California from the Union. Lincoln immediately sent a relief and removed the Presidio officers, replacing them with true adherents of the Union cause.

Among other measures, he voted for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.

Mr. Phelps performed one of his greatest services to the State when he was chosen and sent to represent the ranch owners and bankers of California, to protest the attack on the validity of the Spanish Grants, and particularly the boundaries of the Pulgas Rancho. The bill was killed in the committee, and this unjust legislation was crushed forever.

Before Mr. Phelps arrived in Washington upon this mission, one of the Committee who had this matter in charge, asked Senator Sergeant, who they were sending from California. "Why", he said, "Farmer Phelps." After Mr. Phelps' speech before the Committee, this same man remarked to Senator Sergeant, "I'd like to know—if those are the kind of farmers in California—what kind of statesmen have you there? I would like to live in that state."

A few years later his wife died.

While in Congress, he voted for the first street railway bill of the city of Washington. He was prominent in securing the passage of the overland railroad law, and in conjunction with the California delegation, succeeded in placing a representative from the Pacific Coast on the Supreme Court Bench of the United States.

On January 24, 1870, he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as Collector of Customs in San Francisco, for a period of four years. In the same year he was married to Josephine A. McLean of San Francisco, a daughter of one of the old pioneers.

Five years later, in 1875, he accepted the Republican nomination for Governor as he was in favor of uniting the Independent and the Republican parties. Governor Pacheco and others assured him that he could thus strengthen the Republican party. But two weeks later the Independents under Booth, Swift and Estee reconsidered, and concluded to nominate a ticket of their own, believing they would again control the state. It was a hard fight. Irwin, of course, was elected, but only by a majority of 435 votes. Although the Republicans lost the governorship, they succeeded in holding their party together, and thereby crushing the Independent party whose main object was hostility to the railroads.

Mr. Phelps became Regent of the University of California in 1878, and spent much of his time during the following years in the upbuilding of the State university.

One of his most public-spirited acts was giving the railroad—later known as the Southern Pacific—its present right of way from Belmont to Redwood City. On January 4, 1890, he was again appointed Collector of the Port of San Francisco under another president,—Benjamin Harrison. During the same year he was decorated with the United Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States for distinguished services to the government during the war.

Timothy Guy Phelps lived to the age of seventy-three years, and at the time of his death was the picture of robust health and strength. His demise was due to an accident. He passed away on Decoration Day, May 30, 1899.

The bulk of his large estate was left to his widow, although he remembered his brothers and sisters and their heirs in a substantial way. He left no children.

The life of Timothy Guy Phelps was an honor to the state and the county where he made his home. In his speeches—particularly his memorable speech on taxation—his voice was ever heard in the defense of labor and the industries of the people.

His domestic life was particularly happy. In Mrs. Phelps he had a helpmate whose unfailing sympathy, social tact, and clear-headed advice in all matters, did much to enable him to successfully follow his career.

The name of Timothy Guy Phelps stands to-day an honor to the State of California, revered by her citizens and beloved by her people. Honesty of purpose, uprightness of living, protection to the growing Republic; combined with gentleness and a loving nature, have endeared his memory in the hearts of all.

*   *   *

[Picture: W. J. Martin, One of the Leading Spirits in the Upbuilding of South San Francisco]

Mr. Robert Sheldon Thornton

THE life history of Mr. Robert Sheldon Thornton reads more like a narration based on fiction, than the actual events of a most useful and instructive career of one of San Mateo county's leading citizens.

Mr. Thornton was one of the earliest settlers in the county and took an active and unselfish part in the upbuilding of the community, assuming the role of democratic leader for a considerable period.

When 33 years old he reached San Francisco, in the year 1852. He did not take the long route around the Horn but came by way of Panama. He crossed the Isthmus via the Chagres River; braved and survived the dangers of yellow fever—although he was himself stricken with the disease—and after interminable delays, he set sail again on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, and in time reached San Francisco. He landed with 50 cents in his pocket, but full of confidence and enthusiasm. As luck would have it, while in search for his brother, the first man he saw was a friend whom he had outfitted the year previous for California with three hundred dollars. This man whose name was Charlie Ford, luckily was able to reimburse Mr. Thornton and thereby pay off his earlier indebtedness. Later, fully recovered from the yellow fever, Mr. Thornton set about establishing himself firmly in California.

Before we follow Mr. Thornton in his admirable career in California, let us hark back to his earlier days in the east, before he was influenced to try his fortune with the other Argonauts in the golden west.

His father was Deacon Eaton Thornton, a well-to-do farmer of Johnston county, R. I. Robert Sheldon Thornton was born October 31, 1819, just seven years after the war of 1812 against Great Britain. Today Mr. Thornton, although ninety-seven years of age enjoys excellent health.

He was one of a family of eight, consisting of three boys and five girls. The girls received an excellent education, but the boys were expected to get out and meet the world at an early age, and shift for themselves. Robert Sheldon proved no exception to this rule and was soon sent to work in a blacksmith and carriage-maker's shop. He enjoyed this work and very soon demonstrated to his employer that he was a workman of no mean ability.

He soon went into business for himself; and was from 1844 to 1851 doing a general blacksmithing business and building carriages of all kinds in North Scituate. These years were the formative period in Mr. Thornton's life, and although he worked hard, there were pleasant hours of relaxation spent upon the water; for North Scituate in those early days was an important shipping center as well as harbor and rendevous for whaling vessels. It was then that Mr. Thornton learned to sail a boat, and this knowledge stood him in good stead in his early days in California, as his first job here was on board a vessel plying up and down the bay of San Francisco.

In 1827 he was married in Rhode Island to a farmer's daughter. There were two children by this union and both died within a year of their birth and were later followed by their mother who passed away with quick consumption. A second marriage in 1849 in North Scituate, R. I., was more fortunate. The second wife lived to a ripe old age; and only on July 27, 1912 passed away. She is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Josephine Lindsey who is now living with Mr. Thornton; and is his companion in his declining years.

In his younger days in North Scituate, Mr. Thornton was a leader in many ways among the young men of that period. He was director of the North Scituate band, and now has stored away among his most precious possessions the E flat bugle which he played. But honors did not come singly, and when only eighteen years old he received from Governor King of Rhode Island his commission as Captain of a military company, which he led for a long time, in the town of Gloucester.


In 1851 he turned his face toward California and entered the second period of his life. It was not long after he arrived in California that he directed his attention to the acquirement of land from the Government. In 1853 he settled on 160 acres of government land located about six miles south of where the Cliff House now stands. The first blacksmith shop in this locality was started by him. He worked industriously at this trade, combined with carriage-making, and was soon able from the proceeds thereof to acquire more land, so that it was not many years before he was the possessor of more than five hundred acres of the choicest land in that vicinity. In after years Mr. Thornton sold at various times parcels of this land when the increase of its value warranted a sale. Nevertheless at the present day he still holds 160 acres, his home and a number of lots—all valued at a very high figure.

Before Mr. Thornton had resided in the state many years he began to attain an enviable political prominence. Following in the steps of David Cook, the first supervisor of San Mateo County, he was in the fall of 1858 also elected supervisor, which office he held for five years. As he became more prominent in politics he was elected county chairman of the Democratic Committee, and held this office for a long time. His object in assuming this last office was to hold the democratic party together, which he was a prominent factor in doing. He was also nominated several times by the democrats for state senator, but as the county was overwhelmingly republican, he never attained the satisfaction of holding this office.

Had Mr. Thornton taken no further part in San Mateo County activities than the part he assumed in the famous case of the United States Government versus Laguna Merced Rancho, in which he was the representative of thirty property holders whose titles were in peril of being lost—his name would go down in the annals of the county in grateful remembrance. Each of the thirty litigants had valid claims to 160 acres of land apiece; and as these claims were in dispute, they made Mr. Thornton their attorney. The case was tried in the district court and later in the Supreme Court. After six years they won their case. The decision was handed down by Judge Field who was appointed by Abraham Lincoln. By the decision which was unanimous, the thirty legatees together with Mr. Thornton, secured patents to their land. Judge Field who was a friend of Mr. Thornton, personally congratulated him upon his victory.

When the government made a systematic survey of this land, Mr. Thornton assisted in the surveying work, and the sectionizing of the land in the neighborhood of Colma for settlers.

Although Mr. Thornton never joined any fraternal societies, he has always shown a willingness to assist financially various organizations and associations as well as religious orders, no matter what their creed, when the demand made upon him was just. He has always contributed generously to churches and benevolent organizations.

Having lived a well ordered and useful life, and outlived most of his early associates, Mr. Thornton has, in keeping with the well ordered and methodical habits acquired in his busy life—already laid his plans for the disposal of his large estate. He owns a private burial ground in North Scituate where it is his desire to be laid to rest with the members of his family who have gone before.

Edward Rucker Dixon

ONE of the most popular young men in the banking circles of San Mateo County is Edward Rucker Dixon, who was born at Merced, California, March 21, 1883. After leaving high school, he secured a position with the bank of Newman, California, where he remained for twelve years, serving faithfully in every branch of the banking business. It is partly due to his efforts that this bank has been developed to one of the most influential banks of the great San Joaquin valley.

Mr. Dixon came to the National Bank of San Mateo, January 10, 1916, to fill the position of cashier, being selected from a large list of applicants. In the selection of Mr. Dixon as cashier, the National Bank of San Mateo feels that it has added another good asset to the city of San Mateo as well as to its working organization.

Mr. Dixon is fraternally connected with the B. P. O. Elks, F. & A. M., and Knight Templar lodges.

Ed. T. McGettigan

ABOUT five months ago a new Chamber of Commerce sprang into existence in Redwood City that has already done as much for the advancement of its chosen field, as any similar promotion organization in the entire State.

 The creator and moving force of this association is Mr. Ed. T. McGettigan who has made community building, trade-development and trade-protection a life study.

Mr. McGettigan was born in Vallejo, California, March 3, 1875. Early in life he attended the "College of Hard Knocks," obtaining his education in a life of practical experience, including in his curriculum, salesmanship, government clerkship; and finally taking up newspaper work, which he followed for twelve years. His newspaper experience covered a field ranging from San Francisco to Denver.

The positions he is now filling are: Secretary-Manager of the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce, and General Manager of the Peninsula Industrial Commission, an organization formed for the purpose of making known, through widespread newspaper publicity, the merits of San Mateo County. In a little over two years, Mr. McGettigan's articles on the good roads of San Mateo County have been published in magazines and papers in nearly every state in the Union as well as in Canada and Australia, being largely responsible for the recent development of the County during the last two years.

Mr. McGettigan lives in Wellesley Park, Redwood City with his wife and four children. He is Past Exalted Ruler of Vallejo lodge of Elks, the B. P. O. E., being the only fraternal order of which he is a member.

John J. McGrath

SAN MATEO is fortunate in having so many of San Francisco's substantial business men listed among its residents. John J. McGrath is one of them who, although burdened with the responsibilities of an important position, gives painstaking support to every movement for the good of the city and enables the community to reap the benefit of having men of his type as a resident.

Mr. McGrath is an expert salesmanager, having been in this line for twenty-five years. His first sales position was with Swift & Co., when he had emigrated from Ireland and settled in Chicago. Two years later he came to California and became identified with the Western Meat Company. He ascended to the position of assistant sales manager in the eighteen years he was with this company. He left them five years ago to become traveling representative in San Francisco for Folger & Co.

In his twenty-five years experience in selling goods, Mr. McGrath has handled hundreds of salesmen and has become a recognized expert in this work. The rules and suggestions that he makes for his men, have proven so valuable that his friends have urged him to print them in book form, that more persons may benefit from them.

The heavy tax that business imposes on Mr. McGrath's time has not prevented him from taking an active part in civic affairs, and every movement that is launched for the public good, finds him a substantial backer.

John McGrath was born in Limerick, Ireland, on July 23, 1872. He received his education in his native land. With the exception of two ,years spent in Chicago, Mr. McGrath has lived in San Mateo continually since coming from Ireland twenty-five years ago. He married Miss Mary Kelly, a native of San Mateo. His daughter Carmelite, aged 13, is a pupil in the San Mateo schools, while his son, John G., aged 18, is preparing for the priesthood at St. Patrick's seminary. His youngest daughter, Manolln, aged 6 years, is also a pupil of the San Mateo public schools. Mr. McGrath is a property owner in both San Mateo and Hillsborough.

John J. McGrath has recently, on January 7, 1916, been appointed by President Wilson to be postmaster of San Mateo for a term of four years, relieving Thomas E. Byrnes, whose term expired Dec. 20, 1915. Mr. McGrath was specially endorsed for this office by the Democratic County and State Central Committees, and by United States Senator James D. Phelan.

The office of Postmaster is an important one, as it carries a great responsibility; and those who are appointed to this office may consider themselves highly honored by the trust imposed in them by their fellow townsmen, as well as by the Chief Executive of the United States.

Source: Alexander, Philip W. History of San Mateo County : from the earliest times, with a description of its resources and advantages, and the biographies of its representative men.  Burlingame, Calif.: Press of Burlingame Pub. Co., 1916, 247 pgs.

Return to History of San Mateo County
Return to San Mateo County History
Return to San Mateo County Genealogy
© Copyright  2003-2005 Ron Filion and Pamela Storm.  All rights reserved.
last updated: 14 April 2005