Evarts I. Blake.

Greater Oakland, 1911, a volume dealing with the big metropolis on the shores of San Francisco Bay .. online

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He was nominated in the direct primary
vote as a candidate for Commissioner and
was subsequently elected by a goodly ma-
jority, which ofifice he is now occupying.
As Commissioner he has supervision of the
very important department of Revenue and
Finance, and judging from the careful atten-
tion he has given to whatever work he has
had in hand in the past, he will no doubt
give the public a conservative and business-
like administration in his present ofifice.

Mr. Forrest has been a prominent labor
man all his life. Having been a worker
himself he appreciates the needs and diffi-
culties of all other workers and has done
much to further the cause of labor. He is
at present the president of the Gas Workers'
Union of Oakland, which position he has
held for many years.

He is well liked by everyone, because his
success has made no change in his attitude
toward his friends, and the public has found
him an unassuming, courteous and pains-
taking official.


Greater Oakland, 1911


Commissioner of Public Health
AND Safety

Couiiesy of S/cuati Photo

Frederick Chester Turner

Commissioner of Public Health and Safety

at the head of the Public
Health and Safety Depart-
ment of the city of Oakland,
is widely known among his professional
brethren on the Pacific Coast, and his thor-
ough education and broad experience in his
chosen work have given him an excellent
equipment for his present duties.

Mr. Turner is a New Yorker by birth,
born in Buffalo, November 11, 1865. Com-
ing to Oakland in his youth, he attended

the public schools here, finishing his educa-
tion at the University of California, gradu-
ating with the degree of B. S. in 1887.

After his graduation he took up his first
work with the United States Engineers, en-
gaging in river and harbor work. With the
exception of one year, during which time
he lived on a ranch, he was with the gov-
ernment engineers as inspector, draftsman
and assistant engineer, until the time of the
Spanish-American War. Mr. Turner, after
a competitive examination, obtained a com-
mission as first lieutenant in the Second

Frederick Chester Turner


United States Volunteer Engineer Regi-
ment. His service covered a period of
nearly a year, during which time he was
engaged in the construction of a military
post at Honolulu and performed various
other engineering work under Major Lang-
titt, U. S. Engineer.

Upon receiving an honorable discharge
from the army he returned to America and
engaged in river and harbor work in San
Diego and San Pedro harbors, after which
he returned to Oakland.

Mr. Turner accepted the nomination on
the Republican ticket for City Engineer in
1901 and was elected in April of that year
by a flattering majority. The fact that he
has been re-elected five successive times
to the office is pretty conclusive evidence
that he has the confidence and endorsement
of the public.

During his tenure of office over a million
dollars have been expended on sewer work
alone. The work that has been carried for-
ward in the way of street improvements
and various other municipal work, such as
culverts, salt water fire protection, dredging
of Lake Merritt, etc., has amounted to mil-
lions of dollars. The immense amount of
detail work, estimates and figuring have
been done under the direct supervision of
Mr. Turner, and he has handled the intri-
cate problems of the department with rare
judgment and with such ability as only
long experience and careful training can

The City Engineer's office, during Mr.
Turner's tenure of office, was in the midst
of executing the work of constructing new
wharves involving the expenditure of $1,-
500,000. There were in force at that time
ninety contracts for public work and during
the past few years there have been an aver-
age of from seventy-five to one hundred of
such contracts in force at one time during
the working season. As an important fac-
tor and adviser in carrying forward a work
of this magnitude, in conjunction with the
performance of his duties as Police and
Fire Commissioner, the public can readily
appreciate the immense responsibilities of
the office.

Mr. Turner was nominated and elected
to his present office as Commissioner of
Public Health and Safety under the new
charter and should do excellent work in his
new office.

Mr. Turner married Miss Elsie B. Lee of
Oakland in January, 1898, and has two
daughters. He numbers among his close
friends many of Oakland's first citizens
and is a member of the Beta Theta Pi, the
college Greek letter fraternity.

Personally Mr. Turner is conservative
and retiring. H we were called upon for a
criticism we might state that he is almost
too modest about his public work. His
life and his professional and political record
will bear the closest scrutiny.


Greater Oakland, 1911

City Attorney

Ben F. Woollier

City Attorney

EN F. WOOLNER is a native
of Suisun, where he was born
in 1872. He came to this city
in 1888 and graduated from
the high school in 1890. Then
followed the study of Blackstone and
the other founders of his profession and
subsequently his becoming a member of the
firm with which he is now connected, the
only co-partnership in which he has entered
since his admission to the bar.

He was recently appointed to the office
of City Attorney, vice John W. Stetson, by
Mayor Mott, which appointment has met
with the approval of a large number of
friends and acquaintances.

With the engrossments of his office and
court business, Mr. Woolner finds ample
time for recreation and social work. He
is a member of Oakland Commandery No.

11, K. T. ; Aahmes Temple of the Mystic
Shrine of this city; was the first president
of the Athens Parlor N. S. G. W. ; Live
Oak Lodge No. 61, F. and A. M., and one
of the leading spirits among that coterie
of live wires known as the Nile Club, of
which latter organization he was a founder
and of which also he has been high in the

Mr. Woolner has literary as well as legal
and judicial qualifications, and this ability
and versatility he has exhibited in the writ-
ing of several historical and classically en-
tertaining plays and sketches which have
been produced in a most appreciated manner
by the members of the club. A number of
these have had special music composed for
them and the presentation and their success
are on the same plane with those weird
productions under the auspices of the Bo-
hemian Club, San Francisco.

Edwin Meese


Treasurer and Ex-Officio Tax Coi<lector

Courtesy of 'Bushnell Photo

Edwin Meese

City Treasurer

*■ ^ ?» ^HERE are few men in the mu-
nicipal government of Oakland
who are more deserving of
the encomiums of his fellow
officials and the respect and
confidence of the public than Mr." Edwin
Meese, the present City Treasurer. His
work as a city official covers a period of
twelve years or more, and he has been
known as one of Oakland's public spirited
and progressive citizens for the past thirty
years. He has been a member and director

of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce since
its organization, and was a director of the
old Board of Trade, before the existence of
the present Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Meese was born in San Francisco,
March 28, 1857. His father, Mr. Hermann
Meese, was one of the early pioneers of
California, coming to the coast in 1850, and
in the early days was a carpenter, and
later a contractor and builder. He also
enjoys the distinction of being one of the
first men to engage in the sugar business


Greater Oakland, 1911

in the West, being one of the promoters
of the Bay Sugar Refmery. The elder
Meese is still a resident of Oakland, and
although retired now, was actively engaged
in business in this city for thirty years or
more, and the City Treasui-er's brother, Mr.
Adolph Meese, is an active and popular
young business man of San Francisco, being
secretary and manager of E. C. Hughes
Company, of 151 Minna street, the printers
of this volume.

The present City Treasurer received his
education in the public schools of San Fran-
cisco and in the College of Fort Wayne,
Indiana, and as he had decided on a busi-
ness career, rounded out his education by
taking a course at Heald's Business College,
of which institution he is a graduate.

After finishing his education, Mr. Meese
accepted a position as Assistant Secretary
of the Bay Sugar Refinery, and later went
into the mercantile business in Sacramento,
in which he was entirely successful.

He took up his residence in Oakland in
1879, and almost immediately began to take
an active interest in public improvements
and civic afifairs. About twelve years ago,
in 1898, he accepted the nomination on the
Republican ticket for City Councilman and
was elected. Mr. Meese's work as Council-
man was so satisfactory to the public that
he was re-elected again and again. As
Councilman Mr. Meese has always stood
for progress and public betterments and has
always been a strong advocate for the con-
solidation of city and county ; as a member
of the Street Committee he has done much
toward the improvement of the public streets
and highways.

While a member of the Council, a va-

cancy was created by the resignation of the
City Treasurer and Mr. Meese was appoint-
ed to fill the vacancy. His appointment was
not one of political preferment, but because
of his unquestioned integrity and proven
ability. He has made an excellent Treasurer
and his record has proved conclusively that
he is a safe man to trust with public respon-

In the election of 1907 Mr. Meese re-
ceived the Republican nomination for City
Treasurer, being endorsed by all parties, and
had no opponent. This is in itself a higher
tribute to his popularity and efficiency than
anything that can be said here. His election,
of course, was a foregone conclusion. Under
his supervision the large amount of detail
work incident to the office is transacted with
promptness and accuracy, because of the per-
fect order and system that prevail therein.

In the direct primary election of 1911 Mr.
Meese was nominated directly by the people
as Commissioner, under the new Charter,
and it was a great surprise to learn that he
had been defeated by a narrow margin after
the subsequent election. He does not claim
to be an astute "politician," but relies rather
on his record for public support, and with
all due respect to his able and likable young
opponent, Mr. Harry Anderson, it was the
greatest compliment to the latter that he
succeeded in getting a majority at the polls.

In politics, Mr. Meese is a staunch Re-
publican and has been a worker for the
success of the party at all times. He is a
member of the Nile Club of Oakland, en-
joys excellent social connections and during
his long residence in this city has acquired
and retained the good will and confidence
of the community.

George E. Gross


George E. Gross

Auditor and Assessor

MAX who is known through-
out the city for his sterling
worth, botli as a public official
and a private citizen, is Mr.
George E. Gross, x^uditor and
Assessor for the City of Oakland. Mr.
Gross was born in Oakland, March 14, 1872,
and has practically lived here all his life. It
is but natural that he should take particular
pride in the clean government and commer-
cial prosperity that the city of his birth en-
joys at the present time.

He attended the public schools of Oakland
as a boy, and after completing his educa-
tion, started his business career with his
father, who was engaged in the marble and
granite industry in this city.

On May 1, 1901, he accepted an appoint-
ment in the City Treasurer's office, as dep-
uty. During his three years' service in this
capacity he exhibited an unusual aptitude for
the work and mastered the details of the
office. It was solely because of his ability
and fitness for the office that he was ap-
pointed Chief Deputy Treasurer in 1904.

When Chief Deputy Treasurer he accepted
the nomination on the Republican ticket for
City Auditor and Assessor, receiving the en-
dorsement of the Democrats and Municipal
League. He was, of course, elected by an
overwhelming majority, as there was prac-
tically no opposition.

Mr. Gross assumed the duties of an active
Assessor at the time of the Charter election.

About two years ago the office was raised
from being a position in which the County
Auditor's figures were accepted as the basis
of the city assessment rolls, to a department
in which the entire work of the city was
handled carefully and justly.

The change was made by charter amend-
ment, but the work of bringing the office up
to the new standard has been undertaken
carefully and slowly, new men being em-
ployed from time to time as necessity re-

quired. These are now employed on a per-
manent basis instead of being appointed by
a blanket ordinance from time to time for
successive periods.

The handling of the auditing and assessing
by the city instead of accepting the county
figures raised the assessed valuation for the
city as a whole over $10,000,000 above what
it would have been under the county figures,
and resulted in a more equal distribution of
the burden of taxation in the city.

An ordinance was introduced and passed
to print under suspension of the rules of
the last council placing the Auditor's office
on a permanent basis. The ordinance pro-
vides for the following :

The fixing of the salaries of first and sec-
ond Deputy Auditors at $150 ; the appoint-
ment by the Auditor of one additional dep-
uty at a salary of $125 ; the fixing of the
salary of the Deputy Assessor in charge of
personal property at $175, and the appoint-
ment of three additional Deputy Assessors.

Auditor Gross is assisted by Deputy Audi-
tors A. V. B. Davus and H. C. Hencken. W.
H. Dwyer is also affected by the new ordi-
nance. He is appointed permanently with
the title of Deputy Assessor in charge of
personal property.

Mr. Gross proved his popularity in the
direct primary election of 1911, when he was
nominated by the people direct and elected
by an overwhelming majority. At this elec-
tion he had practically no opposition.

Mr. Gross married Miss Ethel Gage of
Oakland, September 3, 1901 ; his home and
social life has been particularly pleasant, and
during a life's residence in the city has made
a wide circle of friends. He is a member
of the Woodmen of the World and the
Native Sons.

In manner, Mr. Gross is frank, unassum-
ing and companionable; he has made an
efficient and courteous official and is in line
for higher honors.


Greater Oakland, 1911

Secretary Board of Pubi,ic Works

Courtesy of Bushnell Photo

J. W. Nelson

Secretary Board of Public Works

was born October 3, 1852, in
Crisfield, Md., of A. Nelson
and Mary C. Nelson. His
father, A. Nelson, was a far-
mer and a sailor, a native of England, and
related to Thomas Nelson, Yorktown, Va.,
first governor of Virginia.

J. W. Nelson received his education in
Baltimore, Md., and his first business expe-
rience was in the capacity of a salesman
with Tillmann & Bendel of San Francisco;
afterwards was general manager of the Oak-

land Preserving Company, Oakland, for ten
years, then operated an asparagus factory
at Antioch, Cal. ; was president of Oakland
City Council from 1892 to 1894 ; chairman
of Republican conventions ; president of
Oakland Exposition, and secretary of the
Municipal League. Mr. Nelson was married
in Oakland in 1878 to Lizzie Cook and is
the father of three girls, Helen, Alice and
Margaret. He has resided in Oakland since
1878, is a member of the Masonic frater-
nity and is secretary of the Board of Pub-
lic Works at the present time.

Geo. R. Babcock


Superintendent Electrical Dept.

Courtesy of BushneU Photo

George R. Babcock

Superintendent of Electrical Department

R. BABCOCK, at the head of
the Department of Electricity
in the City of Oakland, de-
serves the highest commenda-
tion for the able manner in which he has
conducted the work of the department. His
duties require a thorough and technical
knowledge of his profession, and he has
acquired such knowledge both through close
study and long practical experience.

Mr. Babcock is a native son, born in
Oakland on the 10th day of July, 1871, and
received his early education in the Lincoln
School of this city.

In 1891, at the age of twenty, he entered
the employ of the Thompson-Houston Elec-

trical Company, at that time one of the
leading electrical concerns in the countr}-.
He remained with this company and its con-
solidated interests until 1896, attending to
street railway installations and other import-
ant work. He then attached himself to the
laboratory of the San Francisco Gas & Elec-
tric Company, remaining with them for a
period of two years, later joining the Stan-
dard Electric Company and was engaged in
the installation of their electrical lines and
sub-station at Stockton, California. He re-
mained with the latter company and its al-
lied interests until his appointment to the
office of Superintendent of the Electrical
Department of Oakland.

Since he has been in charge o^ the depart-


Greater Oakland. 1911

ment, \vc liave seen vast improvements and
an excellent system installed. Mr. Babcock
has introduced a new and modern system
to take the place of the antiquated gravity
battery method formerly in vogue in the
fire alarm equipment during his first year
in office, and through improvements here
and there has saved the city something like
;$],000 per year ever since. In his consist-
ent aim to run his department economically
lie has introduced the manufacture of a
large part of the equipment required in the
department. In the city's electrical shops
many instruments, such as automatic
switches, gongs, relays, fire boxes, etc.,
which cannot be purchased in Oakland, are
manufactured at the present time by the
city under Mr. Babcock's supervision. Also
some twenty-five or thirty miles of old iron
wire was removed and new copper wire
placed in its stead, again saving the city
$3,000 or $4,000 per year in repairs and se-
curing for the city much more efificient
service. It was also under his direction
that all of the municipal wires in the center
of the city were placed underground.

In accordance with his plans there has
been constructed a modern fireproof build-
ing at Thirteenth and Oak Streets, which,
with the police and fire lines leading into
it underground, makes the injury to service
by earthquake practically impossible. The
condition of the equipment immediately
after the earthquake of 1906, and the useless
condition of the San Francisco fire alarm
system at that time, has caused Mr. Bab-
cock to take every possible precaution to
protect these important wires should a sim-
ilar catastrophe occur in the future. The

plans include, besides this building, the lay-
ing of fifteen miles of underground cable
which will mean, when completed, that the
municipal wires for the main trunk line
will be underground from Twenty-third
Avenue on the east to Peralta Street on the
west, and as far north as Fifty-sixth Street.

He spent two months last year visiting
modern plants in the large Eastern cities,
and the present building in its equipment
will be a compilation of the best and most
up-to-date that could be found. In connec-
tion with the cable there will be fire box
pedestals erected of handsome design, the
parts of which will be interchangeable.
Equipment for testing gas for its heat and
light giving units will be part of the new
plant. There will also be established in the
new structure colorimeter and photometer
rooms for the further and more complete
testing of the gas.

Great credit is due Mr. Babcock for his
painstaking efforts and the strict business
principles he has followed in conducting his
ofifice. He is constantly studying how he
can improve his department in such ways
as are consistent with economy. His broad
experience in general electrical work before
he assumed his present duties has been of
highest value to him, and his uniform cour-
tesy and attention to those with whom he
comes in contact in business matters have
made him popular with the citizens of Oak-

Mr. Babcock is well known socially and
married Miss Eleanor Olney in Oakland in
October, 1903. He is a well-liked member
of the Nile and other clubs in the city and
in politics is an active Republican.

Frank L. Thompson


Frank L. Thompson

City Clerk

HEN the interviewer called
upon City Clerk Frank L.
Thompson for the informa-
tion necessary for this sketch,
the task was somewhat simi-
lar to the pulling of rivets out of a battle-
ship. Mr. Thompson has really done some
excellent work for the city during the past
seven years, but he failed to see why any-
thing concerning his career should interest
the public. Indeed, he even went so far as
to doubt the value of the entire work of the
publishers in getting out this volume. After
repeated calls, however, and by dint of
close questioning, the reporter was enabled
to get something that faintly resembled a

Mr. Thompson is a native of the Key-
stone State, born in Danville, Pennsylvania,
January 19, 1857. His father, S. B. Thomp-
son, was one of the early settlers of Cali-
fornia, coming to the Coast in 1859. He
was a prominent Californian in the early
days and was one of the framers of the
Constitution of the State.

City Clerk Thompson was introduced to

California when but four years of age, so
we need not quibble about the statement
that he has lived in the State all his life,
practically. As a boy he attended the pub-
lic schools of San Francisco, and after
finishing his education was engaged in
building construction in San Francisco.

Mr. Thompson assumed the duties of his
present office in April, 1903. As City Clerk,
and Clerk of the Board of Councilmen, his
work has been of the most satisfactory sort.
The duties of the office require perfect sys-
tem, careful attention to detail, and absolute
accuracy. He has more than sufficient ex-
perience and ability to meet the requirements
of the office.

Mr. Thompson married Miss Mary J.
Garness, a native daughter of San Francisco,
on June 30, 1886. He has three children, a
daughter attending the grammar school, a
daughter in high school, and a son in the
University of California. Mr. Thompson is
Past Master of Live Oak Lodge, No. 61, of
the Masonic Order.


Greater Oakland, 1911

President Board of Education

Calvin M. Orr

President of the Board of Education

HE energetic young President of
the Board of Education, Mr.
Calvin M. Orr, is decidedly the
right man in the right place.
Four years ago, in 1907, he was
persuaded by his friends to accept the nomina-
tion on the Republican ticket for School Di-
rector, and was elected by a large majority,
defeating the former President of the Board.
He was re-elected for a second term, when he
was nominated on five tickets — the Republi-
can, Municipal League, Union Labor, Prohibi-
tion, and Democratic. In the last Direct

Primary election, he was nominated and sub-
sequently elected as School Director, and has
since been chosen President of the Board.

Mr. Orr has made an ideal School Director,
because he is deeply interested in educational
matters, and has given considerable time to the
study of advanced and progressive educational
methods. He inaugurated the Keokuk School
Savings System in the Oakland schools, by
which the children are taught the valuable
principles of thrift and economy. This is
really a banking system for the school children,
whereby, instead of an over-indulgence in

Calvin M. Orr


candy and sodas, it is suggested that they de-
posit a portion of their spending money in a
fund, which is deposited in a bank to their ac-
count. The effect of this suggestion is ap-
parent, when we find that there were 3,274
accounts, and about $27,000 deposited during
the term ending December 9th, 1910. The
value of this innovation in creating the saving
habit among children, and the business knowl-
edge acquired through each child supervising
his own bank account, makes this system a
most important adjunct to public school

Online LibraryEvarts I. BlakeGreater Oakland, 1911, a volume dealing with the big metropolis on the shores of San Francisco Bay .. → online text (page 21 of 30)