JOURNALISM IN CALIFORNIA
by John P. Young
Pacific Coast and Exposition Biographies
CHRONICLE PUBLISHING COMPANY
San Francisco, California, 1915
On the thought there seems to be slight connection
between the profession of electrical engineering and the commercial growing
of rice. But in the case of Charles F. Adams there is a close connection,
for the first led him to engage in the second. Today he is doing
electrical contracting under the firm name of the Power Equipment Company,
and he also is secretary and treasurer, and one of the principal owners
of the Rice Land and Products Company, whose ricegrowing project in Colusa
County bids fair to become the largest on the Pacific Coast.
Mr. Adams, let it be said at the outset, is perhaps the eldest electrical engineer on the coast in point of actual, continuous experience. When he entered the profession, electricity was doing its first work and its control was largely a mater of guesswork. Since 1883 he has been doing his part in harnessing it and compelling it to do man's service.
Born November 10, 1865, at North Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Mr. Adams is the son of J. S. Adams and Fannie E. (Smith) Adams. His father was a noted inventor. He served through the Civil War in Harper's Ferry arsenal and designed the first hand-grenades that had a definite time-limit for exploding - grenades that were used later in the Franco-Prussian war and even in the present great war in Europe - and one of the first models of breech loading carbine for cavalry use.
After the close of the war, the elder Mr. Adams became one of the pioneer inventors of the Elgin National Watch Company, and for about 16 years developed all the special machines for steel parts of the Elgin watch. The first commercial electric lights in the Middle West, at Aurora, Illinois, were placed on steel towers designed and constructed by J. S. Adams, and the present high-power electrical transmission tower is but a development of this original type. Even the present tower used for wireless telegraphy is the same type - carried about twice as high - as that invented and constructed by Adams for the lighting system of Detroit, Michigan, in the year 1884.
Charles F. Adams received his education at Elgin, Illinois, and in 1883 commenced work with his father on the development and building of electrical - lighting towers. Later he built the systems of towers in Detroit, Indianapolis and Alameda, California. The latter, costing $40,000, was completed just a month before he became of age.
In 1885 Mr. Adams went with the Jenney Electric Company of Indianapolis, where for two years he secured valuable practical experience. Later he was in charge of work for the Edison General Electric Company of Chicago, installing many lighting systems in the Middle West. For seven years, beginning with 1898, he was in charge of the outside construction and expert work of the Stanley Electric & Manufacturing Company of Pittsfield, Mass.
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company employed Mr. Adams in 1906 to take charge of the construction of new stations and substations following the San Francisco fire. He designed and constructed stations in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley and rebuilt stations and apparatus at Electra, Colgate, De Sabla and Centerville. By his work he assisted largely in bringing about the present high standard of station detail and performance.
He is widely known on the Pacific Coast as an expert in the investigation and correction of engineering "trouble." When a series of disastrous water wrecks almost crippled the hydro-electric service of one big company, the work of investigation and repair was placed in his charge. Out of a hopeless mass of scrap copper and steel, new dynamos were constructed and new water wheels were designed and built that are still standard. By a system of graphic analysis, never published, errors of the original design were corrected and no failures have occurred on these big units in the last five years of operation.
Leaving the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in 1911, Mr. Adams has since engaged in electrical engineering and contracting. One of his recent projects was the building, in 1915, of the municipal sewage-pumping plant, No. 2, for the City of Sacramento. He has one of the most complete electrical libraries on the Pacific Coast.
The Rice Land and Products Company, in which Mr. Adams is deeply interested, has 3000 acres of rice-covered land, seven miles north of Colusa.
The pumping plants for this enterprise were installed by his firm, and a careful study of this project resulted in his acquiring a permanent interest in rice culture. A rice mill and a large extension of the rice fields will result from his plans.
The success of Hubbard F. Alexander - president
of the Pacific Alaska Navigation Company (The Admiral Line) - like
that of many other transportation men, is the culmination of a life which
hustling methods, keen foresight and the power to execute have been
the contributory forces. But, unlike most of those in the same line,
or in other fields, he has arrived at the zenith of prosperity in
much shorter time despite the fact that he was seemingly handicapped by
a most humble beginning.
He started his battle with the world as a longshoreman when only fifteen years of age; but this is labor, instead of acting as deterrent, gave him an experience that was to be useful in after years and physically for a strenuous business life.
Mr. Alexander was born in Colorado Springs, August 14, 1879, the son of Edward S. and Emma (Foster) Alexander. His parents were of old New England stock, his father's birthplace being Stamford, Connecticut, while his mother was born at Lowell, Massachusetts. After marriage his parents moved to Colorado, where his father's business interests called them. Eleven years later they moved to Tacoma, Washington.
Mr. Alexander was educated in the public and private schools in Colorado Springs and Tacoma, Washington, but on account of severe financial reverses of his family, left before graduation to work on the docks at Tacoma.
After two years at this work he entered the employ of Dodwell, Carlill & Company, who were operating the Northern Pacific Steamship Company to the Orient, and the Washington and Alaska Steamship Company to Alaska. His position with this firm was check clerk and wharf agent, which he creditably filled until twenty years of age, when he reorganized the Commercial Dock Company, which conducted a general wharfage and shipping business, and of which he became president and manager. He continued in this position for seven years, at the same time acting as agent for many coastwise steamship lines.
The thorough knowledge gained in these various connections led to his election in 1906 as president of the Alaska Pacific Steamship Company, which operates a line between Puget Sound and California ports. He was then twenty-seven years of age and was probably the youngest man in a similar capacity in the country. In 1907 he became general manager of the Alaska Coast Company, which operates a line a distance of 2,000 miles along the Alaska coast, and was elected its president in 1912.
In 1912 the Pacific Alaska Navigation Company was organized, this company taking over both the Alaska Pacific Steamship Company and the Alaska Coast Company and becoming the operating as well as the holding company, with Mr. Alexander as president. The operation of the Pacific Alaska Navigation Company under this combination covers 3,000 miles of the Pacific coast, from California to Alaska, being the longest all-the-year-around American coastwise service.
The Pacific Alaska Navigation Company is known as "The Admiral Line," all of its vessels being named after admirals of the American Navy.
In addition to these interests Mr. Alexander retains the position of president of the Commercial Dock Company of Tacoma, which was his first business venture and the stepping-stone to his success.
Mr. Alexander is one of the most prominent men in the Northwestern country and is favorable known all over the Pacific slope. He is a member of the Union, Country and Gold and Commercial Clubs of Tacoma, the Rainier and Transportation Clubs of Seattle, the Transportation and Pacific Union Clubs of San Francisco, the California Club of Los Angeles, and of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
He married, in 1902, Miss Ruth Caldwell of Portland, Oregon, and they have one daughter.
The primary factor that makes for man's success
in life is his home training. Let that be as it should be and he
cannot go far wrong in carving out his independent career. In the
life story of many a man his advancement is explained by this one thing
- proper preparation at home for the world's battles.
This applies in every particular to William Ambrose Bissell, assistant traffic manager for the Santa Fe Railway system at San Francisco, and officer or director of a number of California corporations. His was a scholarly environment. Born in 1848 at Lyons, Wayne County, New York, he was the son of Right Reverend W. H. A. Bissell and Martha Cotton (Moulton) Bissell, the former Episcopal Bishop of Vermont from 1868 until his death in 1893. Good books were his and ideals were early imparted to him by his parents.
Following his common school education Mr. Bissell took a course at the Geneva Academy, Geneva, New York. The professions beckoned to him, but the broad field of business held out the stronger appeal and when 16 years old he accepted a minor position with the Michigan Central Railroad at Detroit. After three years there he came to California by way of Panama in March, 1868. At the time California's railway system was not on a very high plane. The Central Pacific was then operating over but ninety miles in the State and it was with this corporation, at Sacramento, that Mrs. Bissell associated himself.
In 1870, with the purchase of the San Jose Railroad, he was placed in charge of the traffic department at San Francisco. For thirteen years Mr. Bissell remained with the Central Pacific. In 1883, however, there came a flattering offer from the Texas Pacific Railway and he became that road's Coast agent, with offices in San Francisco. He accepted an even better place in December, 1884, as Coast agent for the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. This later on became a part of the Atchison Railroad system and Mr. Bissell was made its general freight and passenger agent. By this time he was a recognized leader in railroad circles. In 1894 the Atchison system was reorganized as the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. Mr. Bissell thereupon was transferred to Chicago, but following the purchase in 1900 of San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley railroads he was brought back to San Francisco as assistant traffic manager; and here he has since remained, in one of the railways most important executive positions.
When the affairs of the San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Railroads came to a crisis in 1913 the United Properties trustees chose Mr. Bissell as president of the railways, to put them back on a firm foundation. In this capacity he served with credit until September, 1914, when he resigned. During his years of railway service Mr. Bissell has been quietly making judicious investments until today he has large holdings in corporations of various kinds. He is president of the Livermore Water & Power Company, and a director of the Holland Sandstone Company, Lake Tahoe Railway & Transportation Company, Northwestern Pacific Railway Company, Richmond Land Company, Oakland & East Side Railway Company, Santa Fe Terminal Company of California and the Union Savings Bank of Oakland.
Mr. Bissell is in active sympathy with movements that tend to the betterment of the city, the State and the Nation, and does much work as a member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Of California he believes its future is more brilliant than that of any other State in the Union.
Socially Mr. Bissell is one of the founders of the Transportation Club of San Francisco and is past vice-president of the Pacific Union, as well as a member of the California Club of Los Angeles and of the Athenian Club and Claremont and Sequoia Country Clubs of Oakland. He was married January 7, 1870, to Miss Cora A. Messick and is the father of two grown children, William H. and Daniel R. Bissell. The family home is in Alameda and a part of each summer is spent at a cottage overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe. Mr. Bissell also owns a ranch near Livermore, where he occasionally spends a few days as a relaxation from his confining duties in the city.
The shaping of Mr. Bissell's career has vitally affected California. For as a railroader he has helped build up districts which, once practically uninhabited by man, have been transformed into prosperous countrysides, linked by the railways with the world's markets.
Colonel Daniel Cowan Jackling, whose business
career is well enough known not to need further exploitation, occupies
the unusual position in respect to San Francisco of putting something into
the city without taking anything out.
In other words Colonel Jackling, as the general public probably does not realize, has not a single business interest in San Francisco, despite the fact that he maintains headquarters here in order that his various mining and other properties maybe easily accessible to him. He spends annually great sums of money in San Francisco in maintaining his offices and his home but neither asks nor receives anything in the monetary line in return.
None of Colonel Jackling's interests is exploited to the general public, nor are his operations carried on by the public's aid. Yet he is one of the biggest and most influential business men in the West.
Among others, Colonel Jackling is interested in one way or another in the following corporations: Utah Copper Company, Ray Consolidated Copper Company, Alaska Gold Mines Company, Bingham & Garfield Railway, Ray & Gila Valley Railroad, Utah Power & Light Company, Nevada, Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, Nevada Northern Railroad, Chino Copper Company, Butte & Superior Copper Company, Utah State National Bank, McCornick Company of Salt Lake City, Garfield (Utah) Banking Company, Salt Lake Security & Trust Company, Utah Hotel Company and Utah Hotel Operating Company, Utah Fire Clay Company, Pacific-Alaska Navigation Company, First National Bank of Denver, Garden City Sugar & Land Company of Garden City, Kansas, United Iron Works of Oakland and Kansas City Structural Iron Company.
One bright day in the year 1867 the schooner
Bridgewater, after a long and hazardous voyage around the Horn from New
York City, passed in through the Golden Gate and dropped anchor inn the
Bay of San Francisco. Among the crew, which was impatient to rid
itself of memories of storms encountered and overcome and to stand once
more on terra firma, was a husky 18-year-old youth - William Matson.
That was nearly half a century ago, the day when William Matson first strode up Market street in San Francisco, eager for an inspection of the city whose fame already reached around the world. Today, after decades crammed full of activity, Captain William Matson stands as founder and head of the Matson Navigation Company, one of the greatest ocean transportation companies on the Pacific, as Consul for Sweden, as president or director of
several big corporations and as one of the most highly respected and most influential workers for commercial and civic betterment in the State of California.
Among the corporations in which Captain Matson is interested as officer or director are: Matson Navigation Co., Honolulu Consolidated Oil Co., Paauhau Sugar Plantation Co., Atlas Wonder Mining Co., Commercial Petroleum Co., Hawaiian Oil Co., Honolulu Oil Co., Honolulu Plantation Co., Parkside Realty Co., and Wonder Water Co. Captain Matson is a power in business circles. And he is a power because of upright dealing, a spirit of progressiveness, and a firm belief that California is to become, with its industries and its shipping, one of the foremost of these United States.
How inconsistent it is, says Stuart Chisholm,
for one who erects a magnificent house costing fifteen or twenty thousand
dollars to neglect to beautify the surrounding landscape, the home's setting.
For the outdoors, particularly in California, is as much our real homes
as the house itself.
Stuart Chisholm, landscape architect, went to Europe and for three years he delved into this and into general principles of art and composition, visiting dozens of famous gardens in France, Germany, Italy, England, and Scotland. In 1914 he again spent six months abroad, in England, in an intensive study of formal gardening. Since 1910 Mr. Chisholm has been practicing landscraping in California. The first two years were marked by his connection with the planting of the 800-acre estate of F. W. Sharon at Menlo Park. Subsequently he landscaped the estates of William Cranston and E. J. Thomas at Los Altos, that of Gale Carter in Marin County and that of Mortimer Fleishhacker at Woodside. He also laid out the grounds for the Illinois State Building at the Panama - Pacific Exposition.
Perhaps Mr. Chisholm's most distinctive work thus far has been on the beautiful Alexander Russell home bordering the sea along the Great Highway. Reclaimed from the wind-blown sand dunes, the garden has upset horticultural rules right and left.
Several months of the present year Mr. Chisholm spent in the East where he planned number of landscaped estates, including those of G. Brinton Roberts and Dr. Alfred Stengel of Philadelphia; El. Nelson Fell, "Creedmoor," Warrenton, VA; Lucien Keith, Colonel Dorst, and Fairfax Harrison, all of Warrenton, VA; John S. Barbour of Washington, D. C., and the 800 acres of G. Temple Gwathmey at Fauquier Springs, Va., along the Rappahannock River.
J. A. Elston, United States Congressman-elect
from the Sixth District of California, owes his being sent to Washington
as a representative of the people to the fact that he has constantly applied
himself to his work.
Congressman Elston was born at Woodland, California, February 10, 1875. The basis of his education he received in Hesperian College of Woodland, of which his father, A. M. Elston, for a quarter of a century was president. Following his graduation in 1892, Mr. Elston entered the University of California, which he left in 1897 with the degree of Ph. B. One year he was president of the Associated Student Body, another editor of the University of California Magazine, played baseball and belonged to the Delta Upsilon fraternity and the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity. For two years, 1911-13, he was president of the University Alumni Association.
For a year following his graduation Mr. Elston was Principal of the public schools of Watsonville. Then for a year and a half he was principal of the Intermediate High School of Berkeley and a member of the Alameda County Board of Education. In the fall of 1899 he was admitted to the bar, beginning his practice in San Francisco.
His first public office was his appointment as executive Secretary to Governor Pardee. He held the position for a little more than three years when he became private secretary, vice A. B. Nye, who became State Comptroller. For two years Mr. Elston was attorney for the State Board of Health, resigning to engage in private law practice, with offices in Berkeley and Oakland. In 1911 he was appointed by Governor Johnson to the board of trustees of the State Institution for the Deaf and Blind, resigning in 1914 upon his election to Congress by a plurality of nearly 6,000 votes.
Congressman Elston was married in May, 1911, to Miss Tallulah Le Conte, granddaughter of Professor John Le Conte, first president of the University of California. They have one child, a daughter, two years old.
The man who has a reputation for straight dealing
among his fellows has something whose monetary value to him is exceeded
only by its moral value. Such a reputation has Charles E. Piper,
attorney at law, of San Francisco. Now lawyer stands higher in this
respect than he.
A Judge on this Coast tells of a case tried a few years ago in Seattle in which the attorneys for the plaintiff, believing the case could not be won, abandoned it. The plaintiff had a just cause but the evidence available was overwhelmingly for the defendant. When the evidence was all in spectators and witnesses went home, taking for granted what the verdict would be. The defense attorney declined to argue the case, say there could be but one verdict and that for his client. The trail judge communicated to Mr. Piper that it would be a waste of time to argue the matter to the jury. The clerk and bailiff volunteered to tell him that he was fool for trying such a one-sided issue.
Mr. Piper made his argument, however, and the jury rendered a verdict in full for the plaintiff.
Mr. Piper was born in Illinois in 1872. He completed the courses prescribed in the public schools, business college, classical college, divinity school, college of law and schools of oratory. He attended Yale University in 1898-1899. He received that collegiate degree of A. B. in 1898 and the law degree of LL. B. in 1903. He does a general practice and from the beginning has had unusual success.
Mr. Piper is a member of the Greek letter fraternity A. T. O., a Knight Templar, member of the 32nd degree Scottish Rite and the Mystic Shrine.
Known throughout the West as the man who out
the “bucket-shops” out of business, John Albert Percy has been kept in
the public eye by a number of other matters of a legal nature that he has
carried through to a successful conclusion. Not the least of these
was his bill, passed at the 1915 session of the State Legislature of California,
settling the timeworn question of the negotiability of bonds.
Ever since the banking and brokerage firm of E. F. Hutton & CO. established its San Francisco offices in 1905, Mr. Percy has represented the concern as its general counsel. About 1911, when the illegal “bucket-shops” were giving Federal officials not a little concern, Mr. Percy was retained by the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade to drive those gambling institutions out of San Francisco. He prepared and secured the adoption of the necessary ordinance and launched a series of prosecutions, which spelled the “bucket-shops” doom. At the same time he had passed by the Legislature a statute covering the ground, but to this Governor Johnson refused to attach his signature. Since that time Mr. Percy has had the same law enacted in Oakland, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, and through his efforts every “bucket-shop” west of Denver has been forced to close.
John A. Percy was born February 4, 1871, on a farm in Illinois, the son of John A. Percy and Hannah M. (Miller) Percy. When four years old he came to California with his parents and settled in Monterey County about two miles from Salinas. He attended the Salinas public schools, riding back and forth on horseback, and in 1887 was the first graduate of the then new Salinas High School. He then attended the University of the Pacific at San Jose and was graduated in 1891 with the degree of A. B. He has since received from the University of the Pacific the honorary degree of A. M., and has, since 1895, been its attorney and one of its trustees.
Ever since his high schools days Mr. Percy had had his mind set on studying law. In 1891 he matriculated at Stanford University with the first class entered there, but changed his mind and took his law course at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was graduated with the degree of LL.B. in 1893. It was necessary for him, while at the university, largely to pay his own way,. This he did by selling books, earning $800 in three months.
Returning in 1893 to San Jose, to which place his parents had removed, Mr. Percy entered the law offices of Morehouse & Tuttle. Early in 1894 he opened an office for himself. In December of that year ex-senator James G. Fair died in San Francisco, leaving an estate of $20,000,000. Through a friendship that began in his student days, Mr. Percy was retained to represent all the brothers and sisters of Fair, to whom had been bequeathed legacies aggregating $900,000 and also a contingent interest in Fair’s estate under the famous trust clause in Fair’s will. Thereupon, in January of 1895, Mr. Percy moved his office to San Francisco. The subsequent litigation over Fair’s estate was one of the most notable will contests San Francisco has ever known. But during the first year of the legal battle Mr. Percy compromised, on behalf of his clients, with the Fair children, who paid approximately $1,000,000 to settle the brothers’ and sisters’ claims.
Early in 1896, after this victory, Mr. Percy became a partner in the law firm of Pierson & Mitchell, attorneys for three of the executors of the Fair will. Robert Brent Mitchell withdrew from the firm in 1902 and Mr. Percy continued on with William M. Pierson until the latter’s death in 1904. Then, until the fire of 1906, he was associated with L. A. Redman, but since has practiced alone.
With Pierson & Mitchell, Mr. Percy helped organized the California Gas & Electric Corporation and represented it until its absorption by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
They also organized and represented the North Shore Railroad Company, consolidated later with the Northwestern Pacific, and the Sanitary Reduction Works, which is now owned by the City of San Francisco.
Mr. Percy’s practice is largely confined to corporation and probate matters. He represents the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for which he has obtained much legislation, and is a director in the corporation of McNab & Smith and a large number of other corporations.. He was married February 10, 1904, to Miss Adeline A. Smith of San Francisco and has two sons – John Albert, Jr., 10, and George Dowling, 3.
For thirteen consecutive years Benjamin L.
McKinley was in the United States District Attorney’s office at San Francisco.
During this period, starting in with the rank of assistant United States
attorney, he advanced himself to the position of chief assistant, and finally
to the United States attorneyship itself. Such a record can stand-alone.
Mr. McKinley was appointed to the United States Attorney’s office, Northern District of California, on July 26, 1901, by the late President McKinley. From the outset he was successful in prosecuting actions, both civil and criminal, and the records of the office disclose hundreds of instance in which he won signal victories at bar. He handled all legal matters pertaining to the Postoffice Department within his jurisdiction, most of the work of the United States Secret Service, the more important Customs cases and a great deal of miscellaneous actions. He served under three United States Attorney, Marshall B. Woodworth, Robert T. Devlin and John L. McNab. On January 1, 1911, he became chief assistant, by appointment; then on June 26, 1913, following the resignation of McNab from the office, Mr. McKinley was appointed McNab’s successor by United States District Judge William C. Van Fleet. Six months later, after filling the office with general satisfaction, he resigned and was succeeded in turn by John W. Preston, the present U. S. Attorney.
Mr. McKinley is a native of San Francisco. He was born July 26, 1874, the son of Benjamin F. McKinley, for many years connected with the Postoffice Department, and of Mary A. (Daly) McKinley. President William McKinley was his first cousin.
After receiving his preliminary education in San Francisco’s public schools Mr. McKinley was graduated from the Clement Grammar School with the class of 1888. He then entered St. Ignatius College and was graduated from that institution in 1893 with the degree of A. B. later on being awarded the degree of Master of Arts there also. Immediately after leaving St. Ignatius Mr. McKinley enrolled at Hastings College of Law the legal department of the University of California, secured his LL. B. and was admitted to practice law in California in 1896.
Five years Mr. McKinley practiced law independently in San Francisco, with consistent success, before he received his appointment as assistant United States District Attorney. Since his withdrawal from that office in 1914 he has resumed his private practice. His professional work at present is in all branches of the law.
He was given a distinct honor when, in 1913, he was appointed professor of Law at St. Ignatius College, his alma mater. He has held this position since, regardless of the fact that it takes up considerable time, which might be applied, to pursuits of greater pecuniary reward.
Politically, Mr. McKinley has never been active as an office seeker, although he has worked consistently for his party’s success. He is a stanch Republican and on one occasion, in 1909, at the earnest solicitations of his friends, made the race for City Attorney with the endorsement of the Business Men’s Committee, but was defeated.
For many years Mr. McKinley has been an earnest worker on behalf of the Young Men’s Institute and has held various offices in the organization. He was elected Grand President of the Y. M. I. In 1915, during which time he was head of the jurisdiction in which the order has 7,000 or 8,000 members. He was also for a long time Colonel of the First Regiment, League of the Cross Cadets, resigning in 1913, after having brought the regiment up to a high state of efficiency. He is an active member of the Knights of Columbus, belongs to San Francisco loge No. 3, B. P. O. Elks, and is past president of Precita Parlor No. 187, Native Sons of the Golden West.
Because of his long connection with the United States Attorney’s office, and the large number of cases he tried in the United States courts, Mr. McKinley is today considered one of California’s leading authorities on Federal law.
The day of the longwinded law orator, whose
aim in the conduct of a case in court is to lead the salient points of
his argument and presents them to the jurors in compact, concrete form.
He is the man, in short, who employs facts instead of vain expounding to
win; who brings forth the principles of law and the cases bearing clearly
on the issue, and concerns himself with these alone.
This is the opinion, as often expressed to his friends and associates, of John Ralph Wilson, San Francisco attorney, whose own legal record proves his contention. There are few legal practitioners in California who, in the past few years, have so consistently won what they set out for and have added such a number of favorable court rulings and jury verdicts to their credit.
Mr. Wilson's record has been made possible by his careful preparation of cases. He works on his theory of isolating one or more points that form the crux of the case, then driving those points home to the jury without attempt at blandishment. The jury, unhampered by complexities, does the rest. Being the son of a Methodist Episcopal minister, whose pastorate was changed at regular intervals, John Ralph Wilson's early schooling was somewhat intermittent and was obtained in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and New York. He was born at Wilmington, Delaware, April 13, 1878, to Rev. John A. B. Wilson and Mary E. (Jefferson) Wilson, and is descended from original Cavalier stock.
After receiving all but one year's preparation for college Mr. Wilson moved to Los Angeles with his parents in 1894. There, under a private tutor, he crowded the final preparatory year into three months and entered the University of Southern California in 1895. Here he did nearly three year's work in two, then entered the law offices of Wells, Works & Lee and for two years more studied under the personal direction of Colonel G. Wiley Wells. In December, 1899, he was admitted to the bar and set up a private practice in San Francisco.
Mr. Wilson today is counsel for a number of casualty companies. For five years he has been trial attorney for the Pennsylvania Casualty Company and since 1912 has represented the liability department of the Massachusetts Bonding and Insurance Company. Since the automobile business became a great industry he has been counsel for several large Eastern automobile concerns, as well as for a number Eastern manufacturers. Several of his clients, wealthy landowners, leave to Mr. Wilson the handling of their property. He has put on a number of subdivision projects and for along time has operated the business of one of the large companies dealing in farm lands, with holdings in various parts of the State. He is a director of the Vanitia Company and also its general counsel in its new subdivision near San Rafael, Marin County.
In 1904, in litigation involving the estate of the late Thomas J. Clunie, he represented the widow. The estate was valued at $1,100,000. Before the case came to a final hearing Mr. Wilson obtained for his client one of the most satisfying settlements in the history of local probate matters. Another interesting bit of litigation in which Mr. Wilson has figured is the case of alleged fraud against the promoters of the Dabney Oil Company. About $750,000 is involved. The case, after going once to the Supreme Court, is now in shape fro the trial in the lower court. Still another notable case was is was his successful defense of certain suits in eminent domain instituted by the Central Pacific Railroad when it was about to build the
In addition to his corporation and probate work, which is heavy, Mr. Wilson has a general civil practice that takes him all over the State. He is active in civic matters and at one time was prominent in Republican politics. In 1907, at the Republican convention of San Francisco, he was chairman of the minority that made the fight for Taylor for mayor. On another occasion he ran for the State Senate from the Forty-sixth district and lost in a hot, three-cornered campaign by only about 150 votes. Mr. Wilson was married April 15, 1903, at Alameda, to Miss Emilie Duryea Mason, of an early American family of Mayflower stock and a descendant of the Colonial Governors. The couple have one daughter, Emilie Mason Wilson, aged eight.
The length and breath of the Pacific Coast
have made up the field of James Edward Fenton in the practice of his profession
– the law. He has appeared before the bar in Alaska, Oregon, Washington
and California, and finally has chosen San Francisco as the scene of his
James Edward Fenton was born in Clark County, Missouri, on the farm of his father, James Davis Fenton. His mother was Margaret (Pinkerton) Fenton. In 1865, when he was but an eight-year-old boy, he accompanied his parents on a grilling trip across the plains behind a plodding team of oxen. Six months after the family left Missouri they reached Oregon, where they settled.
Following his early education in the common schools of Oregon, Mr. Fenton entered Christian College of Monmouth, from which he was graduated in 1877 with the degree of Master of Arts. The following year he entered the educational field himself when he was elected professor of mathematics at Christian College. He was for two years in this position, and then for two years more taught in various academies in Oregon, being principal of these at Bethel and Eugene.
Under the tutorship of William M. Ransey, now Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon, Mr. Fenton entered upon the study of law in Ramsey’s offices at Salem. In 1882 he was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of the State, and in 1884 began the active pursuit of his profession at Eugene.
Six years later, in 1890, Mr. Fenton gave up his practice at Eugene and removed to Spokane, Washington, where he formed a law partnership with hid brother, Charles R. Fenton, under the firm style of Fenton & Fenton. Possessed of a strong taste for politics, Mr. Fenton was early led to take an active part in public affairs, aligning himself with the Democratic party. He was a candidate in 1880 on the Democratic ticket of Polk County, Oregon, for the State Legislature, but his party being in the minority he failed of election. In 1888 he announced his candidacy for county judge of Lane County, Oregon, and was defeated by only two votes. At the fall election of 1892, however, he was nominated and elected prosecuting attorney of Spokane County, Washington, and held that office for two years. He was a delegate in 1896 from the Sate of Washington to the National Democratic convention at Chicago, which nominated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. In 1898 he was tendered the nomination for Congress in the State of Washington but declined to accept the honor.
Mr. Fenton continued the practice of his profession in the State of Washington until the fall of 1898, when he removed to Nome, Alaska. This was the year of the world-wide rush to the Alaskan gold fields, when hundreds and thousands of fortune-seekers from all quarters o the glove penetrated into the North.
In Alaska Mr. Fenton divided his time for the ensuing six years between mining and the practice of law. His legal work was largely in mining and criminal law and while he was in the northern territory he took an active part in the most important mining litigation before the courts. One of the suits was to establish title to the placer property known as No. 1 on Daniels Creek in the Topkok mining district, in which was involved some $1, 000,000. In another, the Glacier Bench mining litigation was involved $500,000.
In 1903, leaving Alaska behind him, Mr. Fenton came southward as far as California and gained admittance to the bar in this State. In 1904 he located in San Francisco, practicing here until June, 1906, just after the big fire, when he returned to Seattle. In 1908 he went to Portland and became assistant counsel for the Southern Pacific Company in association with his brother, W. D. Fenton, Chief counsel for the corporation. In this capacity Mr. Fenton took an active part in the litigation between the United States and the Oregon & California Railroad Company, wherein the Government sought to forfeit the Oregon Land Grant. In 1911 he resigned from this position and returned to San Francisco, where he continues alone in the practice of his profession.
Fraternally, Mr. Fenton is a member of the Spokane lodge of the Scottish Rite and of El Katif Temple of the Mystic Shrine, of Spokane. He also belongs to the B. P. O. Elks.