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BENJAMIN SHURTLEFF, M.D.

Among the present representatives of the learned professions identified with Napa is the
gentleman whose name heads this sketch; yet so widely is he known, especially in the upper half of
the State, that a much more than passing notice of his career and of his antecedents becomes
valuable, and even essential, in a history of Northern California. From manuscript and published
records of undoubted authority, this genealogical and biographical sketch has been for the most past
compiled.

Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff was born on the ancestral estate in Carver, Plymouth County,
Massachusetts, September 7, 1821, a son of Charles and Hannah (Shaw) Shurtleff. On both sides he
is descended, without admixture, from old settlers of New England, members of the first successful
colony, that of Plymouth. The name of Shurtleff has been found in old records of the Plymouth
Colony, spelled in various forms and therefore at times incorrectly – something which often occurs

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when those doing clerical work write names from sound. The natural evolution of the language may
also have cut some figure. In some cases the name is quite distorted by the spelling, and it appears in
different places respectively as Chyrecliff, Shiercliff, Shirtley, Shurtlef and Shurtleff.

The founder of the family in this country was William Shurtleff, who was born in England
(probably in Yorkshire), about 1619. He landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, some time prior to
1635, a youth in his ‘teens. He is on record as having been enrolled for military duty there in 1643,
and also as having been married unto Elizabeth Lettice, October 18, 1655. While at Plymouth his
estate was at Strawberry Hill, near the Reed Pond, not far from the boundary line of Kingston. He
afterward moved to Marshfield, where his name is of record in 1664. He died there June 23, 1666,
being killed in a severe tempest by a stroke of lightning. In the marriage record referred to his name
is written Shirtley. He is said to have written it with one final “f” – Shurtlef, - and one of his
grandsons added an “f”, since which the name has been spelled, as now, Shurtleff. It is so spelled on
the tombstone, at Plymouth, of William Shurtleff, the eldest son of the above first settler, who died
in 1729.

William and Elizabeth (Lettice) Shurtleff had three sons, William, Thomas and Abiel. The
latter, born in June, 1666, at Marshfield, was married in January, 1693, to Lydia Barnes, a daughter
of Jonathan and Elizabeth Barnes, of Plymouth, who bore him seven sons and three daughters. Their
son Benjamin (first), who was born in 1710, was the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch.

To supplement this genealogical record it will be necessary at this point to turn back and refer
to other of the original families of the old colony. Isaac Allerton and his family came in the
Mayflower to Plymouth, in 1620, among whom was a daughter, Mary. She in due time was married
to Thomas Cushman, who, at the age of fourteen years, came in the ship Fortune, in 1621, with his
father, Robert Cushman. Among the children of Thomas and Mary (Allerton) Cushman was
Elkanah, who had a son names Josiah Cushman; and of the children of Josiah Cushman was a
daughter named Susannah Cushman, who was married to the aforesaid Benjamin Shurtleff (first),
and was the great-grand-mother of the subject of this sketch.

Thus it will be seen that by this union then veins of this branch of the Shurtleff family
received an affluent from a conspicuous source more remote in the past than the point to which the
family name can be traced. Isaac Allerton and Robert Cushman were leading and historic characters
in connection with the Puritans, not only as regards their settlement in the “old colony” of Plymouth,
but in their native England and in their chosen exile of Amsterdam and Leyden. They lived in the
Elizabethan age. Thomas Cushman, son of Robert, was born in 1607, the year in which, according
to Shakesperean commentators, “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Timon of Athens” were written, and
nine years before the death of Shakespeare. Hence his father, Robert Cushman, was strictly a
cotemporary with Shakespeare. Charlotte S. Cushman, mentioned because so widely known, and
who honored the stage more than any other woman America has produced, was a descendant of
these Cushmans.

To resume the original thread, Benjamin (first) and Susannah (Cushman) Shurtleff had a son,
Benjamin (second), who was born in 1748, and who, being an only son, inherited his father’s estate
in Carver, on which his life was spent. His son, Charles, the father of our subject, was born there,
October 29, 1790. He was reared on his father’s farm. Soon after his marriage to Hannah Shaw, he
removed to New Hampshire, and entered upon a mercantile career. Abandoning this, he returned to
Carver, Massachusetts, where he died at about the age of fifty, being an exception in the Shurtleff
family, most of whom have reached the Scriptural three-score years and ten, or more.

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The above is a mere genealogical outline, necessary in introducing the sketch of a pioneer of
California, a descendant of some of the first settlers of the Atlantic coast, and of necessity brief,
though much interest could be written of members of the family, who have attained more than local
distinction in various walks of life, but especially in literary and professional pursuits. Rev. William
Shurtleff, a grandson of the first settler, was a graduate of Harvard, about 173 years ago (1717),
when such an education was alone a distinction. Roswell Shurtleff was a graduate in 1799 and also a
Professor of Dartmouth College, during the period when Daniel Webster and his brother, Ezekiel,
were students there; and his reminiscences of the college life of these famous alumni are published in
one of the biographies of the great statesmen. Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff, an eminent physician of
Boston, a brother of the father of our subject, was a founder of Shurtleff College, at Alton, Illinois, to
an extent which caused his surname to be given to the institution. His son, the late Dr. N.B.
Shurtleff, was Mayor of Boston two terms, and did much in aid of the progress of the city, but is
more distinguished for his exhaustive genealogical and antiquarian researches, and for the accuracy
and value of his writings on these topics.

Our subject has had two uncles, five cousins and a brother who were regular graduates in
medicine – the latter the well-known Dr. G. A. Shurtleff, of Stockton. This gentleman, who came to
California in 1849, was a member of the first and second city councils of Stockton, two years
Recorder of San Joaquin County, and became a Director of the State Insane Asylum at Stockton, in
1856, and its Medical Superintendent in 1865, holding the position with signal ability until
admonished by failing health, brought on by overwork, to resign in 1883. He was one of the
Commissioners who located the Napa State Insane Asylum, and was the author of the bill providing
for it. He has been President of the State Medical Society, and is Emeritus Professor of Mental
Diseases and Medical Jurisprudence in the University of California. He was for years a prominent
member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, and
attended the meetings of the Association at Madison, Wisconsin, in 1872, at Baltimore in 1873, at
Philadelphia in 1880, and the American Medical Association also in 1880, in New York city. He
was elected, in 1876, as the sole delegate for the State of California to the International Medical
Congress. He was also the first President of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. Though
now retired from practice, he stands to-day one of the most honored and representative of the
medical profession who ever lived in California, and is one of the most favorably known men in the
State, in or out of the profession.

Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff spent his boyhood days in Carver, Massachusetts, where he attended
the public schools to the age of fifteen years. He continued his education at Pierce Academy, and
when he was nineteen years old he began teaching school during the winter seasons, attending the
academy during the intervals until he had the completed the regular course. He first studied
medicine with his brother, Dr. G.A. Shurtleff, and afterward with the late Dr. Elisha Huntington, of
Lowell, Massachusetts. He also graduated at Harvard, in 1848, meantime attending Fremont
Medical School of Boston, and being in both a pupil of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.

While at Harvard, in 1846, he heard Rufus Choate’s celebrated speech in defense of Albert J.
Terrill, charged with the murder of Maria Bickford, and considers the great advocate’s address to the
jury on that occasion the most fascinating display of eloquence he ever witnessed. Reared in the
county where Daniel Webster resided, he occasionally heard him discuss the political issues of those
times. He often speaks of the great orator’s celebrated Marshfield speech, in the Taylor campaign of
1848, as one of rare eloquence and power.

His last year at school was the memorable one in which Marshall discovered gold in

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California, and the news at once turned his thoughts in that direction. When the early reports were
verified by President Polk’s message, he at once determined to try his fortune on the far-away shores
of the Pacific, and began making preparations with that idea in view. Late in December, 1848, he
secured passage on the schooner Boston, then fitting out in the New England metropolis for the trip
to San Francisco, and while waiting for the departure of the vessel he put in his time about the city.
Learning through the newspapers that Choate and Webster were to appear on opposite sides of the
patent case of Marcy vs. Sizer, he eagerly availed himself of the opportunity to witness these two
giants of the forensic arena arrayed against each other, and as a result enjoyed one of the greatest
treats of his life. Both were at their best, while every available particle of the space allowed for
spectators about the court-room was crowded with the representatives of the brain and the beauty of
Boston. The scene was an inspiring one, and the occasion worthy of its brilliant setting.

Preparations being completed, the vessel made ready to depart with her passengers on January
25, 1849, though on account of adverse weather the start was not effected until two days later.
Those who sailed with Dr. Shurtleff were for the most part fine specimens of bright young manhood
of New England, men of nerve, adventurous and of more than ordinary capacity, as indeed were the
great majority of the pioneers who came to California before the proofs of California’s golden wealth
were actually laid down before their eyes. Instead of rounding Cape Horn, the vessel route of 1849,
the schooner passed through the Straits of Magellan, and without any unusually noteworthy incident,
proceeding on her way, casting anchor in the harbor of San Francisco July 6, 1849. That was quite a
noted day in the history of arrivals, as no less than five other vessels of note also appeared in the
harbor, namely, the ships Edward Everett and Atilla, and the brig Forest of Boston, and the ships
Mary Stewart and Taralinto of New York. The Boston made the voyage in 160 days, which was
more than an average trip, as the California-bound fleet of 1849 could boast of only a few fast
sailers. The ship Gray Eagle, a Baltimore clipper, made the best record of all the vessels of that year,
having arrived in San Francisco from Philadelphia on May 18, in 117 days. But the discovery of
gold in California quickened the spirit of commercial enterprise and created a demand for the fleetest
ships that mechanical skill and invention could devise. The Flying Cloud, built at East Boston, in
1850, by Donald McKay, made the voyage in 1851 from New York to San Francisco, a distance of
13, 610 miles, in eighty-nine days and twenty-one hours. In 1854 she made the same trip in eighty-
nine days and eight hours, and on one occasion making 374 miles in twenty-four hours. No other
sailing vessel has ever made the voyage from any Atlantic domestic port to San Francisco in less
than ninety days.

Of course all on board had become more or less acquainted during the long voyage, and Dr.
Shurtleff recalls, among his fellow-passengers O.M. Craig, the well-known Sonoma viticulturist and
the late William Wallace, who was a member of the San Francisco firm of Sisson & Wallace in after
years. He and others debarked from a boat at Clark’s Point, and proceeded to town by a path which
followed an undulating course, sometimes twenty or thirty feet above the water, and again only a
foot or two over. Many of the passengers, however, landed from boats about where Montgomery
street now is, and spent a week looking about the city, and becoming acquainted with prospects in
mining districts. He was struck with the novel appearance of San Francisco, which yet wore the old
Mexican air, and like everyone else he little thought that the place would grow back into the hills,
which it has, or that Knob Hill and similar sites would be crowded with the places that stand there to-
day; yet he felt that the city must be an important commercial center, and a large one, too, - good
places for investment in reality but for the general uncertainty that hung about land tittles in those
days. The schooner Olivia, which had been with them in the passage through the Straits of
Magellan, arrived in San Francisco a few days before the Boston; and as she was to proceed on up
the river to Sacramento, our subject, who had been on shore a week, took passage on her for the trip.
This required about three days’ time, and the first night the vessel anchored at the junction of the San
Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, where some ambitious person soon afterward endeavored to start a
settlement, which he encumbered with the high-sounding title “New York of the Pacific.” The

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Doctor will always remember that night, when the mosquitoes made it so hot for him that he thought
there was certainly not more than one place warmer! On July 16, he landed at Sacramento, where he
saw a busy village of tents, among which he recollects seeing only two or three wooden buildings.

As soon as convenient, he proceeded to Beal’s Bar, which in now in Placer County, near the
El Dorado line, and commenced mining, meeting with fair success. Among those in the vicinity was
a man from Oregon, who had come down in 1848, and had secured a claim of unusual richness. His
location was then such a fortunate one that he could take out two or three hundred dollars’ worth of
gold in a few hours, and he thought the metal would soon become so plentiful that it would not be
worth scarcely anything. As a result, he had sold much of his dust for coin at the rate of eight dollars
an ounce, half what it was worth, and had gambled his wealth away or otherwise disposed of it with
a lavish hand, thinking he would have a good time while it was worth something, anyway. Now,
things had begun to change. His claim was not so good, new arrivals appeared every day, and he
saw that gold was not going to decline. He was terribly despondent, and when asked by Dr.
Shurtleff the reason of his downheartedness, he related the facts above mentioned, saying he had
thrown his gold away when he could get plenty of it, and now, when he realized its value he could
not take out more than $50 to $100 worth a day! He was truly an unfortunate man.

After mining on his account for a time the Doctor went to work for a company, who were
engaged at a point near the confluence of the American River and its south fork, in digging a canal
between those two streams. The dirt was taken out in constructing this canal, and which was used in
damming the river, was the richest he ever saw, and fairly shined with the yellow metal. He received
$16 a day for his work, and while a few shovelfuls of the dirt taken out would have paid his wages,
the result of his enterprise when finished proved disappointing to the promoter of the scheme, who
had supposed that the bed of the river would be almost lined with gold. Another party, above them,
imbued with the same idea, had made great preparation for celebrating the turning of the river, which
they had also undertaken at that point. Among the festivities planned was an elaborate banquet, for
which they procured all the delicacies known to the mining camp, including even a supply of
champaign purchased at great expense in San Francisco. When the work was completed, and the
water commenced to flow through the new channel, they had their banquet and drank their
champaign, but an inspection of the river bottom in the morning showed only the barren rock as the
result of all their work, and the end of their dreams of wealth.

While mining on the American, Dr. Shurtlefff did not entirely neglect his profession, which he
practiced when occasion demanded. In the fall of 1849, hearing the reports of rich discoveries in
what is now Shasta County, he went up to Reading Springs, (now called Shasta), where he arrived on
the 21st of October, and there resumed mining on Middle Creek, and he took up a good claim in the
bed of the creek. Among the miners on Rock Creek were two ministers of the gospel from Oregon,
who worked every day in the creek, including Sundays. For this some of the miners called them to
task, but in reply the preachers said they had families at home to which they were anxious to return
as soon as possible, so that the ministers had the best of the argument, especially as most of those
who lay off on Sunday put in their weekly holiday at the gaming tables.

The Doctor continued working in his claim, with an occasional bit of practice until the
November 2, 1849; but as the rains then commenced and the high water drove him from his claim,
he gave up mining. The rains caused quite an exodus from the camps. Some of the emigrants, on
their way up there, had laid in heavy supplies of provisions, with a view of selling them after
reaching their destination; but when the weather changed in the fall, they wanted to get away, and
offered their supplies very cheap. The late R. J. Walsh, afterward widely known as the extensive
Colusa farmer and stock-raiser, who was at one time President of the State Agricultural Society, was

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then a merchant at Reading Springs; and while he was a far-seeing business man, he was the
fortunate possessor of considerable money as well, and he bought in the greater portion of the staples
offered. Flour, for instance, which was always of Chilean manufacture, packed in hundred-pound
sacks, was purchased by him at 20 to 25 cents per pound, while freights were 40 to 50 cents. When
communication between that point and Sacramento were shut off by the high waters of winter, prices
began to rise on all the necessaries of life, and it was not long until Walsh was selling flour from $2
to $2.25. Miners would come in and buy a sack, and Walsh would take $2.25 from their sack of
dust, the transaction being treated on both sides with as great nonchalance as would be the buying of
a fifty-pound sack of flour now. Other things sold proportionately high.

One of the noteworthy features not to be forgotten about many of these early California
mining camps was the large proportion of men of marked ability, from the different pursuits in life,
some being representatives even of the learned professions, but all on the same level as miners,
store-keepers, etc., with no distinction to be recognized by dress or the other usual signs. Perhaps at
a meeting held to discuss the rights in a disputed mining claim or other matter of that nature, some
quiet man who had never made any pretensions or given to his associates any evidence of being
more than the ordinary run of a miner, would rise and address the assembly in a speech that would be
a credit to the United States Senate. To illustrate this characteristic it may here be related that
Harrison J. Shurtleff, a cousin of our subject, who had come out with him on the Boston, came to the
tent in which he and the Doctor lived, and announced to the latter that there were some fellows in the
lower part of the town, near the creek, who made splendid peach pies. After that they occasionally
visited the pie camp, and patronized the proprietors, who found a ready sale for their pies at $1.50
each. Years afterward the Doctor learned that the men who composed that pie firm were the late
Colonel Benjamin F. Washington, an influential Democratic leader and editor of California, and
Collector of the port of San Francisco during Buchanan’s administration; Vincent E. Geiger, another
prominent editor, and Indian agent at the Nomelachie reservation; and the late Colonel William S.
Long, subsequently one of the foremost leaders at the Sacramento bar. Geiger cut the wood and
packed it into camp; Long was salesman and washed the dishes, while Washington made the pies.
These men were Virginians, and could have known nothing of such work previously, but they
adapted themselves to circumstances, and their pies were excellent, the only criticism of the Doctor,
who had been accustomed to the splendid cookery of New England, being that their upper and lower
crusts were a little too close together, - a fact explainable by the high price of the dried Chili peaches
used in making them.

Soon after his arrival at Reading Springs, Dr. Shurtleff was elected to the office of Alcalde,
which, as Americanized, was one of almost unlimited power, the incumbent being competent to try
any kind of a case as Judge. An Orgonian named Bowles, charged with murder, had a jury trial
before him, the hearing lasting two days. The counsel for the prosecution was Royal T. Sprague, late
Chief Justice of California, while the defense presented as its attorney W. R. Harrison, a distant
relative of the President, who later became the first County Judge of Shasta County, and
subsequently District Attorney in Tehama and also in Lassen counties. The trial, despite the
seriousness of the charge, was an amusing one in some respects. Sprague, who had practiced in New
York State and afterward in Ohio, quoted from the statutes of those States in support of his position,
while Harrison relied upon the inspiration to be drawn from the codes and reports of Indiana and
Iowa, in which commonwealths he had in former time resided. Judge Shurtleff, who could not have
been supposed to be posted on the laws and practice of those States, said that in order to arrive at
correct conclusions he wanted the statutes of Massachusetts. However, he was compelled to rely
upon his own judgment. Bowles was acquitted. He filled the post of Alcalde satisfactorily to the
residents of the district, until the summer of 1850, when he resigned. The records of the office were
destroyed in the conflagration of June 14, 1853, which laid Shasta in ashes.

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During the spring and summer of 1850, the Doctor was associated in mercantile business with
A. C. Brown, afterward County Judge of Amador County. From that time until the latter part of
1851 he continued merchandising, in partnership with Dr. Jesse R. Robinson, who was the first
County Clerk of Shasta County, and both meanwhile practiced their profession, to which our subject,
after the last mentioned date, devoted his entire attention. When Shasta County was organized he
was elected its first Treasurer, and later as a member of the Board of School Trustees. With the late
Chief Justice Sprague and the late Governor Isaac Roop, of Susanville, he established the first public
school in Northern California. For ten years, by successive annual appointment from the Board of
Supervisors, he held the place of County Physician. He took a prominent part in the Whig party
organization, of the principles of which he had been since his early manhood a warm supporter and
an earnest advocate. He was a great admirer of Henry Clay, and has always looked upon his first
Presidential vote for that immortal leader in 1844 as the proudest of his life. As long as the grand
old party held together as an organization, he remained under its banners, but when the end came he
united with the Democracy.

In 1857 he was tendered the office of County Judge of Shasta County, by Governor J. Neely
Johnson, to fill the unexpired term, but declined the appointment. In 1860 he supported Douglas for
Presidency, and in the following year was elected to the State Senate from the district comprising
Shasta and Trinity counties, serving with credit in the two sessions of his term, and adding largely to
his already considerable prominence and popularity. In 1863 as a war Democrat he received the
opposition vote for the United States Senate against John Conness. Shortly thereafter he severed his
connection with the Democracy, and in 1864 he supported Abraham Lincoln, in his second
presidential campaign. Since that time he has been an active and ardent worker in the ranks and
councils of the Republican party, and in 1872 was nominated by the State Convention of that party
for alternate Elector at Large.

In 1874, after a residence of a quarter of a century in Shasta County, he removed to Napa,


where he has since been an honored resident. In May, 1876, he was elected a member of the Board
of City Trustees, and was re-elected in 1878, serving both terms as president of that body. In 1878
also he was elected from the Third Congressional District as one of the Delegates at Large to the
State Constitutional Convention, and in the sessions of that important body, which sat from
September 28, 1878, until March 3, 1879, he was one of the most prominent figures and earnest
workers. He took a leading part in the debates of the convention, especially where he led the forces
opposed to the incorporation in the constitution of an age limit under which candidates should be
ineligible for office. His closing speech on that measure was a masterly and convincing effort, and is
her incorporated with an outline of the circumstances of its deliver:

Previous sections having been disposed of, section 24 was taken up, which read as follows:
“No one shall be eligible to the office of the Justice of the Supreme Court unless he be at least
thirty-five years of age, and shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the
State; and no one shall be eligible to the office of the Supreme Court unless he be at least thirty years
of age, and shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the State.” Dr.
Shurtleff offered as a substitute the following: “No one shall be eligible to the office of the Supreme
Court, or of the office of Judge of the Supreme Court, unless he shall have been admitted to practice
in the Supreme Court.” He then addressed the convention in these words:

“Mr. Chairman: That leaves it right where it is in the present constitution, and requires no
qualification as to age. I hope that the substitute will at least have a fair support from the Committee
on the Judiciary itself. I see nothing in the history of this State that requires that there should be a

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limitation upon the age of those who are to eligible to judicial office. One of the members of the
Judiciary Committee, who, I am sorry to see, is now absent, held the office of Chief Justice when he
was only twenty-nine years of age, at least of Justice, and he was made Chief Justice when thirty
years old. Another distinguished jurist of this State, long since passed away, Hugh Murray, was
called to the Supreme Bench at the early age of twenty-seven. Every lawyer concedes that Hugh
Murray was one of the most brilliant jurists of the State, young as he was. Then, if we look further
back and examine the history of other States, and even the nation itself, we find that many of the best
legal minds have been promoted to important judicial positions when young. Levi Woodbury, of
New Hampshire, was Chief Justice of that State at the age of twenty-seven, and was afterward made
a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was a man of signal ability, as evidenced in
the various positions which he subsequently held. His experience while on the bench of the Supreme
Court of New Hampshire was of much benefit to him and the people. James Iredell, of the State of
North Carolina, was called to the bench at the age of twenty-six. Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, was
made a Justice of the Supreme Court at the age of twenty-eight. Stephen A. Douglas was a Judge of
the Supreme Court of Illinois at the age of twenty-eight. Young men, comparatively, have been
promoted to the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Story was appointed there
by President Madison when only thirty-two years of age.

“Therefore I think it unwise to make this limitation. Nobody claims that young men have
been raised to exalted judicial positions to the detriment of public interest. I believe in giving the
young men a chance. Martin Van Buren, when a little boy playing marbles and flying his kite in the
streets of Kinderhook, told his comrades he was going to be President of the United States. The fire
of his youthful ambition never quenched. His education completed, he rose quickly to the position
of State Senator, then became Attorney General of the State of New York; then Senator in Congress.
He was then appointed Secretary of State by President Jackson, and then Minister to England. He
was then elected Vice-president, and finally reached the goal of his ambition and became President
of the United States. Though opposed to his school of politics, I glory – what American does not
glory? – in the success of the ambitious boy of Kinderhook. It is due to the boys, the young and
rising men of California, that the paths of honor shall be left open to them, and I shall not consent,
for one, to placing anything in their way.”

This pithy, brilliant and logical speech won the applause of the convention, and carried the
cause of that speaker, who thus gained and important point of advantage for the young men of
California.

Another debate in which Dr. Shurtleff took a prominent part in this convention, was that of
representation in the Legislature. In opposition to those who favored a large increase in the number
of legislators, he took the ground that a small and compact body would be the more effective one,
instancing the well-governed State of New York, where State Senators represent constituencies
larger than Congressional districts. This view prevailed, and the provisions of the old constitution in
regard thereto remained in force.

In March, 1880, Dr. Shurtleff was appointed by Governor Perkins, as one of the trustees of the
State Asylum for the Insane at Napa, and has been ever since president of the board, and a hearty
advocate of the policy which has already given the institution wide prestige. The incumbency of this
position caused his declension of the nomination of the Presidential Elector tendered him by the
Republican State Convention of 1884, as he feared his State office might interfere with his
eligibility, and an elector then be lost to his party.

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Dr. Shurtleff’s career in this State proves him to have been possessed of much more than the
ordinary capacity and public spirit as from the first he has taken a leading part in the affairs of his
adopted State, and been one of her prominent figures since the pioneer days. As a professional man
he has ranked with the ablest, and as a politician he has moved upon the highest plane, always
actuated by the purest and broadest of motives. As a citizen he is honored and respected far and
wide, and loved and esteemed by those who know him best. Having conserved his strength and
physical resources in his young manhood, when the temptations of the gaming tables caused so many
of his comrades to fritter away their youth and health by the light of the midnight candle, he is yet, at
this writing, in the full possession of his strength and faculties, reaping the dividends on his early
investments of self-denial. Thus it is that he has been in active practice of his profession constantly
since 1849, besides attending to his manifold public duties, and he stands to-day as one of the half-
dozen pioneer practitioners yet engaged in their profession. He is a life member of the Society of
California Pioneers.

In his domestic relations he has been happy, and is the head of an interesting family. On a
visit to New England, he was married February 21, 1853, to Miss Ann M. Griffith, a native of
Wareham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. They have three children, all born in Shasta, viz.:
George C., who was born April 7, 1854, educated at Oakland High School, and is now with the great
hardware firm of Baker & Hamilton, San Francisco; Charles A., born April 4, 1857, a graduate of
Hastings Law School, and now a member of the legal firm of Whitworth & Shurtleff, No. 120 Sutter
street, San Francisco; and Benjamin E., born April 21, 1867, a student in the Medical Department,
University of California.

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler, July 2004.


SOURCE: Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1891. pg. 289-
297.

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