Collection: History of San Mateo County California

Biographical Sketch of Dr. Clarence Victor Thompson

The subject of this sketch was born in Eureka, Humboldt County, California, October 27, 1881. He received his education in the grammar and high schools; and attended business college until he decided to study medicine. He entered the Cooper Medical College, and after he graduated, immediately entered the City and County Hospital at San Francisco as house physician. He then removed to Eureka and became acting assistant surgeon and officer in command of the station. After two years he left for Alaska, practicing there for two years before locating in Pescadero, where he has been more than successful. Two years ago Dr. Thompson entered the political field and was elected supervisor from his district, which term he is now serving. Dr. Thompson is a member of the Masonic and Elk...

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Biographical Sketch of James Vincent Swift

James Vincent Swift, postmaster of Redwood City and editor and proprietor of the Redwood City Democrat, is one of the county’s best known and respected citizens. Born in January 1862 at West Union, a few miles from Redwood, Mr. Swift has lived and wrought his career in San Mateo County. After receiving his early education in the Redwood schools Mr. Swift entered the printing office of the Times-Gazette at the early age of seventeen. He soon mastered the mechanical and editorial ends of the paper and in 1898 he had advanced sufficiently to buy a half interest in the Democrat. In 1992 this paper became his sole property and has so remained. Mr. Swift has succeeded well in his ambition to make his paper one of the most progressive and enterprising in the county; and no move for civic betterment or the public good has failed to find a staunch supporter in Mr. Swift and his paper. Mr. Swift’s deep interest in Redwood’s progress has caused him to serve four terms as city assessor, three terms as city trustee and five terms as trustee of the Redwood school district. Although San Mateo was recognized as a strong republican county, Mr. Swift has worked untiringly and fearlessly for the democratic party. As a fitting tribute to his party loyalty came Mr. Swift’s appointment as postmaster this year. No appointment to...

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Biographical Sketch of Franklin Swart

Few if any officials of San Mateo county enjoy more public confidence than Franklin Swart who is serving his second term as district attorney. District Attorney Swart is a self made man. He was born at New Paris, Indiana, on June 25, 1878. He came to California eighteen years ago to attend college. By digging ditches during his vacations and doing odd jobs during the school term, Mr. Swart managed to work his way through Stanford University where he received A. B. and Juris Doctor degrees. Swart has practiced law in San Mateo County since his graduation. In 1910 he was elected district attorney. During his administration he has won, with a single exception, every civil case for San Mateo county; he has purged Colma of the hog and swill nuisance; he won $20,000 for the county in the disinterment cases, and, although not his official duty, he has prepared all legal proceedings in the different school bond elections. One of the most important services performed for San Mateo county by District Attorney Swart was conducting the legal work in connection with the $1,250,000 bond issue for good roads. Standing on a creditable record during his first term of office, the voters returned Mr. Swart in 1914 by a flattering majority. Mr. Swart is secretary of the District Attorney’s Association of California. Mr. Swart was married in San Francisco...

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Biographical Sketch of Richard Charles Stickle

The career of Mr. Richard Charles Stickle, particularly since he settled in San Mateo county, is well worth reading and points a moral. Nine years ago he came to San Bruno practically without a penny in his pocket, and went into business for himself carpentering and contracting. For quite a time he labored under considerable difficulty, as he was without capital. Being an exceptionally good carpenter and thoroughly conscientious, business came his way-and it was not so very long before he had plenty of money to swing his contracting operations. Perhaps Mr. Stickle’s success can better be portrayed by a plain statement of what he has accomplished. The houses he has built in San Bruno only this last year number fourteen; and in fact he has built more houses in this town than all his competitors combined. Mr. Stickle was born in Illinois on August 23, 1878, and only came to California twelve years ago. The first three years of this period was spent in Sonoma county where he was married at Santa Rosa the December of 1906. While in Santa Rosa he worked as a carpenter until he decided to come to San Francisco to try his luck. But he only remained in the city for a short time and made his final move to San Mateo county, which proved to be the best thing he could do....

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Biographical Sketch of Jesse O. Snyder

In charge of the great plant of the Western Meat Company at South San Francisco which employs hundreds of men and turns out thousands of dollars worth of products monthly, is Jesse O. Snyder, a resident of South San Francisco for the past twenty years or more and one of its leading boosters. Mr. Snyder is a native of Pennsylvania and it was in Chicago that he gained his fundamental knowledge of the packing business. Before coming west he was with Swift & Co. He worked himself up to a responsible position with these interests who sent him out to take charge of the plant of the Western Meat Co. As general Superintendent of the Western Meat Company Mr. Snyder holds one of the most important positions in the industrial life of San Mateo County. The great institution which he superintends on the bay front is the largest packing plant on the whole Pacific coast. Besides his work with the Western Meat Company Mr. Snyder is well known for his interest in the affairs of South San Francisco and his part in its development. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a director of the Bank of South San Francisco which has been the city’s most progressive influence. Jesse O. Snyder was born in Alexander, Pennsylvania, in the month of February, 1876. He spent nearly all...

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Biography of Dr. F. Holmes Smith

Dr. F. Holmes Smith is a comparatively young man, yet he has already passed through a most interesting career, one phase of which was a stirring trip up into the frozen north where he faithfully followed the call of medical duty in Alaska, upon the shores of the Behring Sea, as the company doctor for the North American Commercial Company. Upon his return to civilization he took up the less arduous duties of a practicing physician and surgeon at San Bruno in 1909. Dr. Smith was born at Lake City, Minnesota, on October 29, 1879, and received his college education at Stanford University, after which he received his doctor’s degree at Cooper Medical College. Thereupon he immediately entered into the practice of medicine, being interned at the French Hospital, where he secured much valuable practical experience. From here he went to Alaska. Upon his return from Alaska he was married in 1911 at San Jose and shortly afterwards decided to throw in his lot with San Mateo County. Following this wise decision he moved to San Bruno and nailed up his shingle. He entered into the life of this thriving town with enthusiasm, with the result that he soon had established a lucrative practice. In a short time he was elected health officer of San Bruno-another result of conscientious attention to his duty. Although deeply interested in his profession,...

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Biographical Sketch of Frank P. Simmen

Mayor Frank P. Simmen stands out as one of the most progressive and constructive executives San Mateo has ever had. Being a sound business man of the highest type, Mr. Simmen set out not to play to a political gallery but to give San Mateo a clean-cut businesslike administration. The condition of the city finances, the completion of the new city hall, the extensive street improvements, the proposed municipal baths and a dozen other matters bear out the success of Mayor Simmen’s policies. Mayor Simmen is a man of many responsibilities; and San Mateo is to be congratulated on securing a man of his type to administer its affairs. In (addition to diversified interests in San Francisco and San Mateo, Mr. Simmen is manager of Rudgear Merle Company, ornamental iron and metal works, of San Francisco, one of the largest institutions of its kind on the coast. The ornamental iron work in many peninsula estates and large buildings throughout the state was produced by this establishment. Mr. Simmen is prominent in fraternal circles. His pleasing personality and enthusiasm about anything he undertakes soon made him a dominant factor in the San Mateo lodge of Elks. After holding many positions his brethren conferred on him the honor of Exalted Ruler this year. Mr. Simmen is also Past Master of King Solomon’s lodge, No. 260, F. & A. M. Mr. Simmen...

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Biographical Sketch of Miss. Mercedes Silvia

Belonging to one of the oldest and most representative families of the county, Miss Mercedes Sylvia has much to remember and to be justly proud of in the part that her forbears took in the settlement and upbuilding of San Mateo County in the early years when there were hardly any settlers, inadequate transportation and no conveniences to speak of. She was born in San Bruno, July 23, 1887, educated in San Mateo county, and has continued to live here ever since. Provided with ample means that would enable her to live anywhere she chose, she has nevertheless elected to remain in the county of her birth – which speaks much for the charm that this beautiful section of country never fails to weave about all who live within its limits. Her father, Custodio Silvia, now deceased, lived a most useful life, and bequeathed to his daughter an estate of sixty-three acres of very valuable land in San Bruno which is constantly increasing in value. Miss Silvia is deeply interested in church work and devotes much of her time to furthering the cause of the Catholic faith in San Bruno. In 1909, shortly after San Bruno had been made a separate parish, the Silvia family bought a piece of ground 50×100 feet, where the church now stands and presented it to the church, while the San Bruno people collected...

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Biographical Sketch of John J. Shields

San Mateo county is to be congratulated that the office of auditor, one of the most important functions in the county government is in the hands of such a competent person as John J. Shields who was elected by a handsome majority. When Mr. Shields began his duties he revolutionized the auditor’s office. The latest and most up-to-date systems of bookkeeping were installed and sweeping changes and improvements made, with the result that Mr. Shield’s office has been paid many flattering compliments by expert accountants. Before being elected county auditor, Mr. Shields was under sheriff for Sheriff J. H. Mansfield. He was one of the most thorough and efficient deputy sheriffs that the county has had. Besides being one of the best known figures in the political life of the county, Mr. Shields has been one of its staunchest citizens. He is a member of the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce and is one of the enterprising citizens of that community that stands behind every movement for the general good. Mr. Shields has property interests in Redwood City and San Francisco. John Joseph Shields was born in Colfax on March 24, 1866. He has lived in California forty-nine years, fifteen of which he has spent in this county. He was married in San Francisco on October 24, 1893. Mr. Shields belongs to the Knights of Columbus, the Fraternal Order...

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Biographical Sketch of Michael Sheehan

Few police officers in California can boast of the record of Michael Sheehan, sheriff of San Mateo county. A list of the important captures made by Sheriff Sheehan in the sixteen years he has been a peace officer, would include some of the most desperate men who are in the State Prisons today serving for daring crimes not only committed in this county but in every county of the state. Sheriff Sheehan was constable of the Second Township for twelve years and refused to again become a candidate although urged by the residents to enter the race for Sheriff. In these years the Second Township was the terror of criminals who seldom stepped over the border before they were apprehended by this alert constable. As sheriff, Mr. Sheehan has built up one of the strongest organizations in that office in the history of the county. He has secured a cooperation between the constables, the police departments of the different municipalities and the Sheriff’s office that has been the dream of all sheriffs. Perhaps Sheriff Sheehan’s greatest service for the county has been as a probation officer. He handled probation matters for eight years so efficiently that he was again appointed after being elected sheriff; but the press of his duties forced him to resign. Michael Sheehan was born in Ireland on February 2, 1861. Of the thirty-two years he...

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Biographical Sketch of George E. Seely

George E. Seely, justice of the peace in the third township was elected to office two years ago. This was his first experience in public life and since first taking his oath of office he has by fairness, thoroughness and soundness of his decisions, attracted county-wide attention as a magistrate. Mr. Seely is a machinist by trade and has worked at his profession in Redwood City for nine years. Being an able mechanic and of an inventive turn of mind, Mr. Seely has several patents which in time bid to make him famous. Justice Seely’s modesty has made these almost unknown to his friends but they are of such merit that big manufacturers have examined them. Some which are now in Justice Seely’s hands for minor improvements will soon be on the market. Mr. Seely is a collector of autographs and he has the genuine signatures of many of the famous men of the world. He is also known as a great reader and a deep thinker. His knowledge of law was obtained by night study while following his ‘vocation. George Everett Seely was born in New York City and is a comparatively young man. He was married on April 14, 1896. He has lived in San Mateo county for the past nine years living all this time in Redwood where he has property interests. Justice Seely is a...

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Biographical Sketch of P. G. Schneider

P. G. Schneider, vice president and general manager of the Pacific Car & Equipment Co., which has one of the largest plants of the South San Francisco Industrial district, is a native of California, having been born in San Francisco forty-five years ago. He was educated in the San Francisco schools and started the business career which launched him into his present position of prominence in South San Francisco. As general manager of the Pacific Car & Equipment Company, Mr. Schneider has built up one of the largest and best equipped industrial plants in the county. The big orders and ever-increasing volume of business is only commensurate with improvements, alterations and additions that have been made to this plant in the last few years. Mr. Schneider is another captain of industry who is loud in his praise of South San Francisco as an industrial center. His generous praise of the place has fallen on the ears of his many friends in industrial Life, with the result that their eyes have been turned to South San Francisco and away from other places for suitable locations for mills and factories. Mr. Schneider has an interest in the Pacific Car & Equipment Co., as well as other business enterprises. Although his company is running to full capacity and its business exceeds the anticipations of the most hopeful, Mr. Schneider does not deny...

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Biographical Sketch of Mark E. Ryan

Mark E. Ryan, electrical contractor and proprietor of Ryan’s Electrical Store in the Sequoia Hotel Bldg., Redwood City, arrived in that city seven years ago, after lie had traveled in all parts of the United States. The climatic advantages and business opportunities quickly appealed to Mr. Ryan, and lie decided to establish himself in business in Redwood City and make it his home. Mr. Ryan has had a wide and varied experience in electrical work which he has followed since boyhood. After completing his education in -New York City, he worked as a lineman in New York and large cities of the east. Since then he has been in charge of important work for large companies in all parts of the United States. Mr. Ryan’s electrical store is one of the thriving businesses of Redwood City and one of the most complete and best equipped shops of its kind on the peninsula. This firm has taken many large contracts for the electrical work in public buildings, industrial plants and country mansions; and the character of its work is known in all parts of the county. Mark E. Ryan was born in New York City on February 15, 1884. He was married in San Mateo in 1909 to Miss Mary Britt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. Britt, pioneer residents of San Mateo. He has three children, Mark E. Jr.,...

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Biographical Sketch of Horace E. H. Ruggles

The task of educating children of one of the peninsula’s most flourishing cities is the responsibility that falls on Horace E. H. Ruggles, supervising principal of the Burlingame schools. It was not long ago that Burlingame although destined to become one of the county’s leading cities, did not have a single school house within its boundaries. It was shortly after that Mr. Ruggles accepted his present position. With 217 children the Burlingame system was founded. In only three years the number of pupils increased to nearly 500. Burlingame has two handsome, modern, up-to-date school houses of which any community would be justly proud. A recognized feature of the Burlingame school system is the perfect co-operation between the teachers. To bring this about was one of Mr. Ruggles’ first undertakings; and succeeding in that he is now encouraging a closer relationship between the schoolroom and the home through the mutual efforts of the parents and teachers. Mr. Ruggles came to Burlingame well prepared for the responsibilities of his position. After a splendid primary and preparatory school education he attended the Potsdam Normal School in New York. After holding several teaching positions he became principal of the high school at Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Ruggles is a native of Vermont. He has lived in California for five...

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Biography of Mrs. George C. Ross

There is not a resident of San Mateo County whose life history is more closely woven into the fabric of the chronology of this county than Mrs. George C. Ross. Having lived here the best part of her life, she has the added distinction of being the second white child born in San Mateo – Mrs. Frank Miller, now a resident of Berkeley, being the first. Possessed of sufficient wealth to live in any part of the world, San Mateo County has nevertheless always been her first choice. When married, on December 24, 1877, in San Mateo, she went with her husband to Redwood City to live, but remained there only a short time. The Rosses next took up their residence upon a 60-acre park in Belmont, where a beautiful home was erected. They remained there for twenty years; but during all this time Mrs. Ross cherished a desire to set up a permanent residence in San Mateo. This wish was fulfilled when the Rosses came to San’Mateo in 1913 and built the home which they now occupy at 9th and Laurel Avenue. This in only a quarter of a mile from the place where Mrs. Ross was born. It was at St. Matthews Church that Mrs. Ross was baptized when a child as were her children and grand children in later years. Here also she was confirmed and...

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