H. J. CHINN.
One of the most conspicuous figures in the recent history of St. Helena is H. J. Chinn, the present mayor of that
city and a man whose record has gained for him the unbounded respect and admiration of his fellow citizens. Mr.
Chinn was born in the city of San Francisco on the 21st of February, 1866, and is a son of James W. and Eliza (Jessup)
Chinn, the former of whom was a native of Virginia and the latter of New York state. Both are now deceased, the
father having died in 1899, at the age of seventy seven years, while the mother passed away at the age of eighty
nine years. James W. Chinn was a real pioneer of the Golden state, having crossed the plains with ox teams in 1850.
He opened a general store at Auburn Plain, which he conducted for a time, and he then was in the same line of business
at Nevada City, Nevada county. He resided in San Francisco for a number of years and for twenty five years was
engaged in hydraulic mining at Iowa Hill, Placer county.
H. J. Chinn attended the public schools of San Francisco and then entered St. Matthew's Episcopal School, at San
Mateo, California, from which he was graduated. In 1883, at the age of seventeen years, he entered the employ of
the Wells Fargo Express Company in San Francisco and was thereafter continuously identified with the express business
until his retirement on January 22, 1925, after a service of forty one years, a remarkable record, indicating faithful
and satisfactory performance of duty. Thirty two years of this period were passed in St. Helena. Prior to coming
here he had been stationed at Hayward, Suisun and Stockton, his transfer to St. Helena having been in 1893.
Mr. Chinn is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Native Sons of the
Golden West. He served as justice of the peace at St. Helena from 1894 to 1906, and in 1920 he was elected mayor
of the city, being reelected in 1924. His administration of municipal affairs has been characterized by a progressive
and business like spirit and has resulted in the effecting of a number of much needed and greatly appreciated improvements.
A stone bridge was constructed across Napa creek, Main street was repaved and the waterworks were purchased, rebuilt
and improved and a new concrete reservoir built. St. Helena's water supply is now sufficient for a city of twenty
thousand people and is of an excellent quality, the water coming by gravity flow from the hills under a one hundred
foot pressure. Many feet of new four inch water mains also have been laid, and the cost of all these improvements
to the water system has been met out of the earnings of the plant. In effecting these improvements a sound, safe
and reasonably conservative business policy has been pursued, so that the citizens have not been oppressed by the
expense, while the value of property has been raised and the fire hazards of the city reduced.
Mr. Chinn has shown himself a man of sound convictions, with the courage to back them by his deeds, and in his
program for the betterment of the city he has had the support and approval of the representative men of the community.
He is a man of marked force of character, though kindly and generous in his attitude toward all with whom he comes
in contact, and he has won a high place in the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens, who recognize and
appreciate his public spirit and unselfish desire to serve the city to the best of his ability.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Napa County, CA
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