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Samuel Heywood (1833-1903) was Zimri Brewer Heywood’s fourth son, the first Heywood to have settled in Berkeley, and the one most closely associated with the family’s West Berkeley lumber yard.
He first appeared here around 1868 to run his father’s lumber business with Captain James H. Jacobs, living with Jacobs and his large family in the wilds of Ocean View (the Oakland directory variously gave the address as “west of San Pablo Road,” “five miles north Broadway R.R. station,” and “five miles north City Hall”). Jacobs, who was born in Denmark, tended to hire Scandinavians as lumber-yard laborers, and some of them also lived with the family.
When Jacobs retired around 1876, Sam Heywood took over as sole manager. For a number of years he lived on the east side of Second Street between Delaware and Bristol, within the lumber yard property. His 1874 marriage to Emma Frances Dingley would produce five children, and in 1880, the U.S. census recorded Emma’s mother and two teenaged sisters in the household.
It was time to provide ampler quarters for the growing family. Samuel responded by building a large, two-story house on a double lot at 812 Delaware St. The Heywood lived here until 1897, when they moved to a turreted Queen Anne house at 1929 Grove Street (current location of KPFA). They continued to own the Delaware St. house until 1907, when it was purchased by Fritz A. Bruns, a young cigar merchant from Germany who kept a shop on the southwest corner of University and San Pablo Avenues.
The Delaware St. house survived until 1956, when it was demolished by its owner, a physician. In the 1980s, following the designation of the 800 block of Delaware as the city’s first historic district, the street was rehabilitated. To fill the gap left by the Samuel Heywood house, a very similar two-story structure was moved onto the site from 815 Hearst Ave.
While living on Delaware Street, Samuel Heywood had a respite from selling lumber. As long as the Heywoods’ lumber yard was leased to Henry W. Taylor, Samuel’s occupation was listed as “capitalist” in the city directories. During the 1880s, he served as director of the Berkeley Board of Education and as a member of the town’s Board of Trustees (the equivalent of today’s city council), being elected president of the latter in 1890. Four years later, he was plying the grocer’s trade with his eldest son, Frank Brewer Heywood (1875-1935), on the corner of Delaware and Fifth Street. This business was short lived; in 1896, Frank was listed as trimmer at the Berkeley Electric Lighting Co., and two years later he became one of Berkeley’s first letter carriers.
It wasn’t until Henry W. Taylor moved his lumber yard to the foot of Folger Avenue in 1900 that Sam Heywood reentered the lumber business. He incorporated as West Berkeley Lumber Company, acting as president, with Thomas Richardson as secretary and manager. Richardson’s wife, Mary Curtis, was a well-known impressionist painter often compared to Mary Cassatt. “In portraiture, the tender feeling, the warm coloring and free handling of mother and child pictures has won a circle of enthusiastic admirers for Mary Curtis Richardson,” wrote Charles Keeler in his 1902 book, San Francisco and Thereabout.
Sam’s younger son, Charles Dingley Heywood (1881-1957), had worked for Taylor during the latter’s final year at the West Berkeley Lumber Yard, and now he was promoted to foreman. His sister Amy (1876-1940) was the lumber company’s bookkeeper until she married Captain John Roscoe Oakley, master of the bay steamer Resolute and a widower.
In marrying Amy Heywood, Oakley made a match that enabled him to establish the Berkeley Transportation Company, which for several years would control the freight shipping between West Berkeley and San Francisco. Working as captains in this business were Oakley’s sons Harry and Alfred. In 1909, Harry would also marry into a lumber family when he wed Hannah Niehaus, daughter of the late Otto Niehaus, proprietor of the West Berkeley Planing Mill.
The Niehaus mill was no longer in existence by then. On Aug. 15, 1901, at 10 p.m., fire broke out in its engine room and spread quickly, wiping out three acres of buildings, lumber piles, machinery, and finished products, including 6,000 doors in the door-and-sash factory. The Niehaus mill had seven private hydrants for which it paid a regular fee to the Contra Costa Water Co., but during the fire the hydrants produced meager streams that reached no farther than ten feet. The mill’s loss amounted to $100,000, while its insurance covered a mere $16,500. Over 100 workers lost their jobs. The lawsuit of Niehaus Bros v. Contra Costa Water Co. made its lengthy voyage through the courts, and in 1911 the California Supreme Court found for the defendants, determining that the contract between Niehaus and the water company did not impose on the latter an obligation to supply water specifically for fire protection.
The Heywood lumber yard, located a block away, suffered a relatively minor loss of $1,000. By 1903, the Heywoods had taken over the name West Berkeley Planing Mill, previously used by Niehaus Bros.
Three years prior to Samuel’s death, the family left its 1929 Grove St. home and moved to a rented house at 1307 Shattuck Ave., current site of the Live Oak Park playground. They returned just as suddenly as they had left, for the newspapers reported that Samuel died at 1929 Grove. Charles D. Heywood succeeded his father as president and manager of the West Berkeley Lumber Company. Gertrude Heywood (1880-1927) followed her sister Amy as bookkeeper, and Frank returned to the fold as corporate secretary.
Frank, who had married Annie Turner in 1898, was the first to leave the parental home. The 1900 directory listed him at 1842 University Ave., next door to the lot where his uncle William would build a three-story apartment building in 1909. Charles married Ethel Voss Rose in 1905. The bride was a neighbor who resided at 1909 Grove Street. Her brother, Burton J. Rose, worked as a clerk at the West Berkeley Lumber Co. and had married Samuel’s middle daughter, Henrietta Mae Heywood (1879-1910), in 1903.
The Roses settled down at 1929 Grove with Emma and Gertrude. In 1909, Emma constructed a pair of Colonial Revival flats at 1917-19 Grove. This building, which sports an impressive arched Neoclassical canopy over the twin front doors, must have been quite elegant before it gained asbestos shingle cladding and lost its original windows for aluminum horrors. It still stands on the northeast corner of Berkeley Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, looking mysterious.
Emma and Gertrude moved to the new house, leaving 1929 Grove to the Roses and the Oakleys. For their part, Charles and Ethel moved from one rented domicile to another. After uncle William erected the apartments at 1846 University Ave., they moved into one of them. Charles was active in civic affairs, serving as president of the Berkeley Manufacturers’ Association and the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce before running for mayor in the spring of 1913. He defeated fellow Republican and neighbor Charles H. Spear, who lived at 1905 Grove St. At 32, Charles Heywood was the youngest mayor Berkeley had ever elected. Brother Frank was elected to the Board of Education.
Also in 1913, the Heywoods sold their lumber operations to the Tilden Lumber Company. Frank remained there as secretary for one year before joining the Berkeley Fire Department as an engineer, a position he kept for the rest of his life. Frank and his family lived at 1905 McGee Ave. from 1915 or so until the 1920s, when they moved north to 1703 San Lorenzo Ave. Charles built his home in 1913 at 2932 Linden Ave.
Once his two-year mayoral stint was over, Charles became a council member. During World War I, he acted as Berkeley’s food administrator under future President Herbert Hoover. As commissioner of public health and safety in 1922, he opposed the erection of Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon. In 1925, he was appointed as Berkeley’s postmaster by President Calvin Coolidge and served in this position for eight years. In 1934 he ran for Congress but was defeated. The same year, his wife, Ethel, committed suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom closet, there to be discovered by one of the couple’s two daughters. Charles remarried a year later and worked as a real estate broker until his retirement. He spent the last two years of his life in San Francisco.
This is the fourth in a series of articles on the Heywood family.
Daniella Thompson publishes berkeleyheritage.com for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA).