Biography of Frank Orra
Alameda County, CA Biographies





FRANK ORRA
Among the pioneers of the Melrose district of Oakland, who were actively interested in the development of their community, contributing through their individual efforts to its improvement and progress, the late Frank Orra is deserving of specific mention. For a number of years he conducted a successful nursery business and held a prominent and influential place among his fellow men, being recognized as a progressive and public spirited citizen, well worthy the confidence and respect which were accorded him. Mr. Orra was born in France July 7, 1847, and received a good education in the schools of that country. When eighteen years of age, he emigrated to the United States, coming to California by way of the isthmus of Panama. In San Francisco he met Miss Marianne Bernamayou, who was a schoolmate of his in France and who had come to this country when a girl of twelve years, and they were married there in 1871. Mr. Orra came to Oakland soon afterwards and opened a grocery store at East Fourteenth street and Twenty fourth avenue, where the Grant Miller funeral parlors are now located. He was successful in that enterprise but later sold the property to J. R. Talcott and bought a lot, one hundred and sixty by three hundred and sixty feet, at Central avenue (now Fifty fifth avenue) and East Fourteenth street, and there engaged in the nursery business, under the name of the Central Nursery. He prospered in this venture, building up a large business, and was long the leader in his line in this part of the city. He conducted the business until 1905, when, because of poor health, he retired, and was not thereafter actively engaged in business pursuits, his death occurring March 24, 1920. His wife died October 20, 1926.

Mr. Orra took an active interest in the welfare of the community from the time he took up his residence here and was a leader in various movements for the bettermen of the locality, being particularly solicitous as to the schools, advocating the best educational facilities. When he moved to Fifty fifth avenue he took an active part in organizing the Melrose sanitary district and in securing transportation for for the people of East Oakland. He was a man of clear headed judgment, progressive views and energetic methods, did well whatever he undertook, and was held in high esteem by everyone who knew him, for he was unselfish and indefatigable in his efforts for the general good.

To Mr. and Mrs. Orra were born two children, Marie Rosalie and Camille Frank Marie Rosalie became the wife of Alfred Seyden, who has been a member of the police department of Oakland for the past eighteen years and is now serving as sergeant at arms of the city council. He was born in San Francisco and is a son of John Henry Seyden, who came across the plains to this state in 1848. He took an active part in the early affairs of the state, having been a member of the Vigilantes. For a number of years he was in the mines of Calaveras county, but later engaged in the grocery business in what is now known as Chinatown, in San Francisco. He became a member of the police department of that city and was prominent in political affairs, frequently having been a delegate to state conventions. In his later years he made his home in Hays Valley, where his death occurred at the age of eighty years. Alfred Seyden has been a resident of Oakland since 1902 and his excellent record in the public safety service has won for him a high place in public regard. Mr. Orra was a stanch republican in his political views, and was a member of the Ancient United Order of Druids and the Improved Order of Red Men. Kindly and affable in manner, he was widely known throughout his section of the city and no resident of this community had more warm and loyal friends than did he.

From:
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928


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