Welles Whitmore, of Oakland, is the nestor of the bar of Alameda county, being its oldest lawyer in point of years
of continuous professional labor, having practiced here almost a half century, and he is regarded as a dependable
member of the Alameda county bar.
Mr. Whitmore was born on his father's farm near Ann Arbor, Michigan, August 24, 1849, and is a son of Ezra W. and
Caroline A. (Sanford) Whitmore. The Whitmore family was established in Massachusetts in 1628, and later some of
its representatives removed to Ontario county, New York, and still later to Washtenaw county, Michigan, locating
there in 1822 and taking up government land. Luke H. Whitmore, grandfather of Welles Whitmore, served on the commission
which located the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor on land which he had taken up from the United States government,
but had sold some years previously. Both the Whitmore and Sanford families came to America from England and were
pilgrim Puritans. The Sanfords settled in Massachusetts in 1626, two years prior to the location of the Whitmore
family. Ezra W. Whitmore followed farming for many years, served as county superintendent of schools of Washtenaw
county, Michigan, for four years and was a recruiting officer during the Civil war. He spent the last eleven years
of his life with his son Welles in California.
Welles Whitmore attended the public schools of his native state and later entered the University of Michigan, from
which he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1875. He then entered a law office in Ohio, where
he pursued the study of Blackstone and Kent. In 1877 he came to California, setting foot upon the soil of this
state for the first time on July 8th. He continued his law study in an office in San Francisco and was duly admitted
to the bar of the district court in that city in 1878 and to the district court and county court of Alameda county
in 1879, at which time he established his residence in Oakland, where he has since resided. He was admitted to
practice before the supreme court of this state in 1882. He served four years as deputy district attorney under
Judge E. M. Gibson, who was then district attorney of Alameda county. He has always been distinguished for his
learning in the law and his clear headed judgment, having during his long career at the bar handled successfully
many important cases, while as an office counselor he is regarded as sound and reliable. By working nights from
seven to twelve, while serving as deputy district attorney, from 1878 to 1880, Mr. Whitmore compiled an index giving
all the decided points of law digesting all the reported cases decided by the supreme court of the state of California
and reported in the California Supreme Court Reports from Volume I to LIII inclusive. No reliable digest of the
judicial decisions of the said court was then in existence. This work was published by Bancroft-Whitney Company
of San Francisco, law book publishers, and leading lawyers in California were quick to see the value of this work,
which had a large sale for the next eight or ten years, going through several editions. This reflects greatly on
Mr. Whitmore's tireless energy and his profound knowledge of the law.
Mr. Whitmore was united in marriage to Miss Bertha Nusbaumer, a daughter of Louis Nusbaumer, who was a pioneer
of this state. Mr. Nusbaumer came to California by way of the southern route which led through Death Valley. With
a party of eight men he started west from Salt Lake in the fall of 1848, with two large freight wagons heavily
laden with provisions. This trip was fraught with severe hardships and only Mr. Nusbaumer and one companion arrived
at San Luis Obispo in January, 1849, each carrying a satchel. The others had died from exposure and sickness, being
buried along the way, while the eight yoke of oxen, wagons and provisions had gone. Mr. Nusbaumer located in San
Francisco in 1849, and in 1851 became a member of the historical Viligance committee. He entered heartily into
the upbuilding of the city and later became a member of the California Pioneer Society.
Mr. and Mrs. Whitmore have three children: Carl, who is general manager for the Western Electric Company in New
York city; Walter, who is engaged in the radio business in Los Angeles; and Welles, Jr., who is in the automobile
business in Alameda, and has the, sales agency for the Oakland and Pontiac automobiles. There are also eight grandchildren.
Mr. Whitmore has always given his political support to the republican party; has long been a member of the Masonic
order, in which he has received the degrees of both the York and Scottish Rites, and is also a Noble of the Mystic
Shrine. No member of the Alameda county bar has received or merited in greater degree the confidence of the people,
for he is a splendid example of American manhood and citizenship, and throughout the community has many warm friends.
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928
Alameda County, CA
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