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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foremost lawyers, and under his able tui-
tion and with a strong natural aptitude for
legal study, the Judge passed a creditable
examination, being admitted to the bar
August 7, 1894.

As a general practitioner in his profes-
sion, he handled a number of important

Hon Mortimer Smith


cases with exceptional skill, and it was his
high rating as a rising young lawyer that
led to his being tendered the nomination
on the Republican ticket for Judge of the
Police Court in April. 1898, at the age of

In politics Judge Smith is an active Re-
publican. He is naturally keenly interested
in the affairs of the city and is ambitious
to see it rank among the first cities of the
country in good government and com-
mercial prosperity. He is an active mem-
ber of the Chamber of Commerce and a
strong advocate of any measure or move-
ment toward the progress and upbuilding
of Qakland.

He has given much study to criminal
law and to the forces and conditions which
foster crime. He fully appreciates that our
present social evils present a problem
which has not as yet be^n solved by the
biggest minds in the country, but in his
administration of justice and in his bench
decis'ons he has conscientiously sought to
give everj'one a "square deal" and abso-

lute justice according to law.

The Judge is a vigorous young man.
thoroughly alive, and transacts his busi-
ness with vim and dispatch.

He has as wide a circle of friends as
any man in Oakland. He is a well-known
figure in many fraternal and charitable or-
ganizations, being Past President of the
Eagles, Oakland Aerie, No. 7; member of
the Nile Club, Oak Leaf Lodge; A. O. U.
W., No. 35; Woodmen of the World, Oak-
land Camp No. 94; F. and A. M., Bay
View Lodge, No. 401, and Elks, Oakland
Lodge, No. 171.

Judge Smith married Miss Anna L. Wil-
liams, well known in social circles. The
family consists of one son, Mortimer, Jr.,
and one daughter, Lela M. Smith.

On August 16, 1910, the Judge was re-
nominated by direct primary vote as Re-
publican and Democratic nominee for Po-
lice Judge by a goodly majority, which
shows conclusively the people's attitude
concerning his public work. His election
is a foregone conclusion.


Greater Oakland, 1911

Ezra W. Decoto

Prosecuting Attorney

rARTICULARLV well equip-
ped attorney in the legal de-
partment of the city is Ezra
W. Decoto, Prosecuting At-
torney for the city of Oak-
land. Mr. Decoto is a native son, born in
the town of Decoto, Alameda County, on

the 6th day of February, 187(>. He comes
from Scotch-Canadian parentage, his father,
Ezra Decoto, Sr., having been born at
Three Rivers, near Montreal, Canada, and
his mother. Janet Lowrie, being a native
of Scotland, born in the town of Sterling.
Mr. Decoto enjoys a thorough and fin-
ished education. He went through all the
grades of the grammar school at Decoto
and the high school at Centerville. He
entered the University of California in

1896, graduating from that institution with
honors in 1900. While in the University
he won much popularity for his devotion
to his Alma Mater and his activity in ath-
letic affairs. He was manager of the Uni-
versity track team in 1900 and since 1901
was the graduate manager of all student
activities until 1906. While at the Univer-
sity he was a member of the Bachelordon
Club, the Psi Upsilon Greek letter frater-
nity and the Golden Bear Honor Society.

Early in his career Mr. Decoto decided
upon the legal profession as his particular
field of usefulness, and entered the Hast-
ings College of Law of San Francisco,
graduating in May, 1902.

After completing his law course, he be-
gan liis practice in the ofifice of J. B.
Richardson, one of Oakland's widely known
attorneys. In 1903 he was appointed as
first probation ofticer of Alameda County
and served in that capacitj- until his ap-
pointment by John Allen, then District At-
torney, to the office of Prosecuting Attor-
ney. The ability he has shown in handling
the cases coming under his jurisdiction,
his well-known habit of alwaj-s being on
hand, and his strict attention to his duties
generally, has insured his reappointment
to his present ofiice again and again, both
under the administration of Everett J.
Brown and William H. Donohue.

As a lawyer Mr. Decoto possesses a
keen insight into human nature, is a
shrewd questioner and has shown marked
ability in argument. As a man he is con-
genial and companionable and of unques-
tioned integrity. With all these assets,
coupled with perfect health and with su-
perior physical qualifications. Mr. Decoto
is bound to be heard from in the future.

He is a member of Oakland Lodge No.
171. B. P. O. E.. Live Oak Lodge Xo.
61, F. & A. M.. and Gethsemane Chapter
of Rose Croix, No. 2. In politics he has
alwa3's been an active Republican.

AoKLiiF.KT Wilson


Chief of Police

Adalbert Wilson

Chief of Police

ELL worthy of prominent
mention in these pages is
the able official now at the
head of the Oakland Police
Department, Adelbert Wil-
son. His service on the police force and
in police duties covers a period of over
forty years, and during that long time he
has made a record for honesty, efficiency
and faithfulness of which he may well feel

Chief Wilson comes from a New Eng-

land family and is a native of the State of
Maine, born in Camden, January 8, 1844.
When he had secured a good practical
education in the public schools of his
home town, as a boy of nineteen, the
spirit of adventure and achievement was
strongly developed in him and he decided
to cut loose from home ties and seek his
fortune in the West. He arrived in Cali-
fornia in 1863, long before the railroad
was completed to the Coast.

He found his first work with Boswell &


Greater Oakland, 1911

o ^

Oakland Police Force


Geddes, the wholesalers, at Front and Com-
mercial Streets, San Francisco. In his
early youth he was perfectly willing to
turn his hand to any work that was honest
and profitable. After his first job he went
into the blacksmithing business, then the
express business, and, following this, had
charge of the newspaper routes of the
"News" and "Transcript" in Oakland.

On the 30th day of May, 1870, at the
age of twenty-six, he was appointed special

was promoted to captain and served in this
capacity for sixteen years, and finally as a
just reward for his long service and excel-
lent record was appointed Chief of Police
January 2, 1899. Notwithstanding the
changes in the city's political administra-
tion the class of work that the Chief has
done has kept him to the fore, and he
was appointed Chief on December 20, 1905.
Recently the title of his office has been
changed to Superintendent of Police.

||||^^*v"V*»iiiiiii';:;si)lir Ip'

New Pope-Hartford M.ichine — A Part of Police Kquipnieut

police ofticer, serving four years and four
months. On October .5. 1874, he received
his appointment to the regular police
force, being detailed as sergeant on Octo-
ber 15, 1877. At this time there was great
political excitement in the well remem-
bered "Kearney Workingmen's Movement"
and Officer Wilson and eighteen other of-
ficers were discharged and reinstated many
times, according to the rise and fall of the
political leaders. As an example, on Janu-
ary 17, 1881. he was reappointed and on
June 6th was removed again. He was not
reappointed after his removal on June 6,
1881, until August 20, 1883, and from this
time on his connection with the police de-
partment has been permanent and his ad-
vancement stead}-. On May 7. 1889, he

There are no frills about the Chief — he
cares little about brass buttons and gold
braid. He has worked his way to the top
entirely through the faithful and fearless
performance of his duty and by virtue of
his experience, his natural ability and his
familiarity with all branches of the police

Chief Wilson was in office when the
great fire in San Francisco occurred, and
the burden of handling the immense crowds
of homeless people who made straight for
Oakland, accompanied by the usual lawless
element, fell largely on his shoulders. The
magnitude of this task can be better appre-
ciated when it is known that over 200,000
people arrived in Oakland during three
days' time. By prompt action in formu-

408 Greater Oakland, 1911

lating strict rules and disciplinary meas- on December 19, 1872. Of his three chil-

ures, Chief Wilson, with a regular force of drcn only one is living, Florence. He

only seventy-one men, handled the situa- numbers among his personal friends many

tion in a manner that reflects the highest of the first citizens of Oakland. He is a

credit upon himself and his men. The thirty-second degree Mason, a Shriner, and

streets were closed after 6 o'clock at has been an Odd Fellow since February

night and no person was allowed to pass 13, 1872.

through the lines without a pass from the Tn the transaction of his liusincss the

Chief liimself. Chief is methodical and thorough. He is

During the recent celebration of the en- courteous and obliging to the public and

trance of the Western Pacific Railroad personally is cordial and open in his con-

into Oakland he distinguished himself by versation. Since he has been at the head

the manner in which he controlled a of the department he lias suppressed vice

crowd of over 100,000 visitors. Through and crime with vigor. He has always

his precautionary measures in advance of backed up his men in the discharge of

the occasion, the excellent work of the thej,. ^^^^y -j^^i i^j^ counsel and advice has

men under him, and his personal diligence j^,^^ „^^,^,,^ ^^^ ^,,^^,,^^^ ^,^^ standard, and

and inspection where his presence was re- -^ , , , i i , i ■

. r 1 • merit has always been rewarded by him.

On May 30. 1907, Chief Wilson was pre-

quired in many parts of the city on the
day of the celebration, the affair passed ofif

without a hitch and not a single accident ^^"^^^ ''''^^' '' handsome gold shield by the

was reported members of the Oakland police force as a

Chief Wilson's marriage to Miss Mary token of esteem and friendship. The Mayor

E. Poole, of Whitman, Massachusetts (now made a graceful presentation speech at the

called Abington), took place in Oakland, time.

Walter Joseph Petersen


Chief of Detectives

Walter Joseph Petersen

Chief of Detectives

f •*>

HE life story of Captain Wal-
ter Joseph Petersen, if he
could be induced to tell it,
would probably result in as
interesting and exciting a
tale as one could find anywhere. The pub-
lishers are going to get Joseph in a corner
some day and make him "give over," as
the cockneys say, because his story de-
serves a volume by itself.

Detective Petersen was a little shy about
giving the writer of this sketch the ma-
terial for an adequate biographj', but we
are going to give such facts as were
gleaned from him in the brief interview.

Walter Joseph Petersen was born in
Jersey City. N. J., on March 14, 1868.
Coming to California in his early youth,
he attended the public schools in various
parts of the State and later entered the
California Military Academy.

Mr. Petersen has the blood of the an-
cient Vikings of Norway in his veins and
can trace his ancestry back for a thousand
years. His antecedents, the Petersens of
hundreds of years ago, at one time owned
a vast estate on which the thriving city
of Porsgrund is now located. His for-
bears have all been followers of the sea,
and his father before him. Captain Henry

410 Greater Oakland, 1911

U. Petersen, was a sea captain. tlie workings of all branches of tlie depart-
So it is but natural that young Petersen, nient has made liini a very CDnipetent
as soon as he could finish his education, officer.

should give ear to the instincts and habits When Captain Petersen assumed his

of the generations before him. and, as the present duties he took hold of the office

eagle seeks the air or, more appropriately, with the firm resolution of keeping the

the duck goes to water. Captain Petersen detective bureau up to a high standard of

went to sea. efficiency. During his administration some

His first voyage was on the bark Alon- of the most important and intricate crimi-

tana where he shipped as cabin boy. Start- nal cases in the history of the country

ing at the verj' bottom, he soon became have come under his supervision. He has

familiar with the various workings of the l)een called upon to untangle some very

ship and was advanced to master of the knotty problems, and there are not many

schooner San Diego. During his life on instances wherein he has failed to do so.

the seas he has had many thrilling exper- His wide experience among all classes of

iences and made many voyages. His prog- people has given him an exceptional oppor-

ress was rapid, and before his retirement tunity to study human nature. He is not

he had filled everj- position from common often wrong in weighing people's motives,

seaman to master of the ship. He is now their weaknesses or their worth, and gen-

a past master in the art of navigation. erally has been able to extract the truth

Mr. Petersen is one of those men to from the evidence before him.

whom open air and exciting activity is a Captain Petersen married young in life,

necessity, and on December 26, 1895, he his wedding to Miss Florence V. Fisher,

accepted an ofifer of a position as officer of Marysville. California, taking place in

on the Oakland police force. For the Oakland on October 20, 1888. His eldest

faithful and fearless performance of his son, Ulrick K. Petersen, is an electrician

duty he was appointed sergeant on Janu- with the Oakland Traction Company; his

ary 12, 1898. and finally to Captain of De- second son, Cedrick W. Petersen, is study-

tectives on October 1, 1907. ing law, and his youngest son. Roderick

His appointment seemed to please every- Paul, is attending school in Oakland.

one at the time, and the subsequent years Mr. Petersen is widely known and well

have proven that his elevation to the office liked throughout the city. He is a Shriner,

was as wise and just as it was popular. has taken all the Masonic degrees. Grand

His service on the force covers a period Master Workman and a member of the

of fifteen vears. and his familiaritv with Woodmen of the World.

Court House



Greater Oakland, 1911

District Attorney

Courtesy of Bushnell Photo

William H. Donahue

Di^rid Attorney, Alameda County, California

F the interviewer liad not the
bump of continuity strongly
developed, the reader would
no doubt have been deprived
of the pleasure of perusing
this little sketch of District Attorney Don-
ahue, because, if we remember correctly,
it was not until after the sixth attempt
had been made that the aforesaid inter-
viewer was able to storm the outer de-
fenses of the enemy.

Some men are fussily busy and others
try to appear busier than it is possible for
anyone to be, but we will have to admit
that Mr. Donahue is really, honestly and
sincerely a busy man. There is probably
no other county official who shoulders so
many and varied, responsibilities as does
the District Attorney.

Mr. Donahue is a native son, born in
Mission San Jose on February 13, 1870.

William H. Donahue


He attended the various public schools of
Alameda County as a boy and then entered
Washington College, graduating in the
class of 1891. He followed teaching for a
time, part of which period he taught at
Hopkins Academy, Oakland, and later was
principal of the Pleasanton schools, which
position he resigned to take up the prac-
tice of law.

Early in life Mr. Donahue decided upon
the legal profession as his field of useful-
ness and took up the study of law under
private tuition, Superior Judge Harris and
himself pursuing their studies together. In
1900 the well remembered law firm of
Harris & Donahue was established and the
partnership proved a success in every par-
ticular, ♦the two building up a lucrative
practice while associated together.

^Ir. Donahue was first appointed District
Attorney of Alameda County on Septem-
ber 29, 1908, by the Board of Supervisors.
His work in the office for the first two
j-cars was of such a satisfactory sort that
in the election of 1910 no one in the
county wanted to run against him. He
was nominated by the Democrats as well
as the Republicans and elected w-ithout
opposition, polling over 25.000 votes clear

As District Attorney he has handled a
great many important criminal and civil
cases with exceptional skill and ability
wherein there has been required a pro-
found knowledge of the law. The able
manner in which he conducted the widely
known Delancy case won for him a State-
wide reputation.

The crime with which he connected De-
lanc}' was committed while the latter was
acting as attorney for Public Administrator
Gray. It consisted of the embezzlement
of $10,000 from the Hite Cook Estate,
which, together with other irregularities,
was unearthed by ]\Ir. Donahue after the
discovery of the forgery- of the name of
Undertaker E. J. Finney to a claim against
the estate of the late A. L. Pounstone, a
G. A. R. veteran who died in the County
Infirmary and whose body was interred in
the potter's field. There were eight indict-
ments against Delancy for alleged crimes
committed as attorney for the Public Ad-

This case was fought in the courts for
weeks, and Donahue, after a skillful exami-
nation of all witnesses, bringing out the
most damaging evidence, finished the case
with a masterly address to the jury, which,
though convincing to the last degree, was
free from malice or vindictiveness, and he
secured a conviction for the people.

In meeting Mr. Donahue one is first im-
pressed by his alertness, his direct and ag-
gressive methods of getting right down to
the facts of a case and, what is more un-
usual, the genuine and hearty good humor
with which he transacts his business. His
actions bespeak the man who is "glad to
l)e alive" and ready and even eager for all
the work that i"t is incumbent upon him
to do.

He has gathered about him an able and
energetic corps of assistants, and the busi-
ness of the department is transacted in
perfect harmony, without friction or con-

The able manner in which Mr. Donahue
conducted the recent Dalton bribery case
is known by everyone in this part of the
country. Judge Brown established a prece-
dent in Alameda County by commending
the District Attorney from the bench, as
well as Assistant District Attorney Hynes
and the members of the Grand Jury.
Judge Brown said, "I understand that offi-
cials should do their duty without com-
mendation, yet as a public official I would
feel remiss in my duty if I let pass unno-
ticed the splendid work accomplished in
the Dalton case. The people of the county
are to be congratulated upon having men
in office like District Attorney Donahue,
and Mr. Donahue is to be congratulated
in liaving an assistant like Mr. Hynes."

There is no office in the count}- upon
which rests a greater responsibility and
which calls for greater legal and executive
ability than that of the District Attorney.
The record of Mr. Donahue's administra-
tion may well stand as a new standard of
efficiency for all future district attorneys
to follow.

Mr. Donahue's marriage to Aliss Anna
Green, daughter of Ex-Supervisor John
Green of Alameda County, took place in
San Francisco on February ^5, 1806.


Greater Oakland, 1911

Hon. Everett J. Brown

Judge of the Superior Court

of the Superior Court of Ala-
meda County, enjoys the dis-
tinction of being the young-
est judge on the bench, and,
what is more to the point, his administra-
tion of the law has been of a character

tliat has won for Iiim a high place as a
jurist and as a man among his colleagues
rind the public at large.

He attended the grammar schools of
Oakland as a boy and graduated from the
high school in 1894. He completed his
education at the University of California
wliere he made an excellent record, gradu-
ating with the degree of Ph. B. in 1898, at
the age of twenty-one.

There was no hesitation or argument
with himself in the choosing of a profes-
sion. He had made up his mind to become a

lawyer before hi.s graduation, and promptly
enrolled himself as a student in the Hast-
ings College of Law, affiliated with the
University of California. He supplemented
his studies at college by practical exper-
ience in the offices of Hon. Victor H. Met-
calf. where he remained until the latter'.s
appointment to Ex-President Roosevelt's
cabinet. He was unusually well equipped
for his future career.

Admitted to the bar in 1901, he immedi-
ately began practice in Oakland and skil-
fully conducted several important cases.
Having attracted considerable attention as
a rising young attorney, he received the
appointment as Deputy District Attorney
of Alameda County in 1903. After serving
out his appointment as deputy, where his
record had secured for him the nomination
on the Republican ticket for District At-
torney, he was elected to that office by a
good majority. About two years of his
term had expired when he was elected to
the Superior bench of Alameda County,
which office he now occupies.

Judge Brown is an alert, active and vig-
orous young man who is never willing to
compromise in a matter involving a prin-
ciple, but withal he is courteous and sym-
pathetic in his relations with his associate -
and the public, and outside of court con-
ducts himself like the cheerful, unselfish
and altogether likeable young man that he
is. He seems to have learned by precept
and example what most men have to learn
by experience, and that is probably one of
the reasons why he finds himself in his
present high office at the age of thirty

Judge Brown's marriage to Miss Wini-
fred L. Osborne took place in Oakland
in 1905, and he is the father of one little
girl. His mother, Matilda Brown, has
been known for many years for her va-
rious charitable and philanthropic enter-
prises in Oakland.

Hon. John Ellsworth


Hon. John Ellsworth

Judge of the Superior Court

ELLSWORTH may well be
termed the dean of the legal
fraternity of Alameda County.
His residence in this county
cover.s a period of nearly forty-five years,
and he has been prominent as a lawyer
and jurist for a quarter of a century. He
has established a record that few public
men can equal, not only for continued pub-
lic service, but for the able and faithful
manner in which he has performed the
duties entrusted to him.

Judge Ellsworth was born in East Win-
sor, Connecticut, on January 7, 1842. His
father before him, A. M. Ellsworth, who
died when the Judge was about four years
old, was a native of the same town. Judge
Ellsworth worked on a farm as a boy at-
tending the public schools when he could
and living the same rugged life, full of
hard work, but accompanied by the health-
ful influences that have been the environ-
ment of so many of America's successful

When the Judge was little more than a


Greatek Oakland, 191]

boy the country was stricken by the mem-
orable Civil War and he showed his pa-
triotism by enlisting in the Twenty-fifth
Connecticut Regiment. He was in service
in Louisiana under General Hanks and was
present at the surrender of Fort Hudson,
after a siege of six weeks.

After an honorable discharge* from the
army. Judge Ellsworth took up his studies
at Phillips Academy, at Andover, Massa-
chusetts. With the view of a legal career
in mind, he entered Williams College, elim-
inating the first three years' course and
taking the final course, which permitted
Iiim to lake up the studies which would
aid him in his future work.

He took up the study of law at Hart-
ford, Connecticut, and was admitted to the
bar in that city in October, 1867. With the
pioneer spirit strongly developed and be-
lieving that a new country offered better
opportunities for a young man, he de-
cided to cast his fortunes with the West, and
left Hartford in November, 18(57, for Cali-

He began his practice of law in Alameda
County soon after his arrival and has re-
sided here ever since. He gradually built
up a good private practice. He became

Online LibraryEvarts I. BlakeGreater Oakland, 1911, a volume dealing with the big metropolis on the shores of San Francisco Bay .. → online text (page 26 of 30)