HON. HENRY C. GESFORD.
Standing out prominently as one of the familiar figures of the judiciary of California, is the name of the Hon.
Henry C. Gesford, of Napa, who for eighteen years ably and impartially discharged the duties of judge of the superior
court of Napa county. Distinguished in legal circles and equally so in public matters beyond the confines of his
own community, with a reputation in one of the most exacting of professions, he has won for himself a name for
valuable service in the state which he has so long honored by his citizenship.
Henry C. Gesford was born in 1856 near St. Helena, Napa county, California, and is the son of Preston G. and Louisa
J. (Williams) Gesford, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Indiana. He comes of Scotch-Irish lineage,
his ancestors, both paternal and maternal, having settled in Virginia prior to the war of the Revolution. Preston
G. Gesford crossed the plains, by ox team, in 1849, starting from St. Joseph, Missouri, and settling near Calistoga,
Napa county, and in 1851 his wife made the journey from Illinois to California by way of the isthmus of Panama.
Both are now deceased.
Judge Gesford attended the public schools and Napa College and in 1874 began teaching school, later entering the
State Normal School at San Jose, where he was graduated in 1876. In the following year he was elected superintendent
of schools of Napa county and followed the pedagogical profession until entering the law department of the University
of Michigan, where he was graduated (LL. B.) in 1882. Soon afterward he was admitted to the bar of the supreme
court of California and began the active practice of his profession at Napa. In 1890 he was elected district attorney
of Napa county and discharged the duties of his office in an able and fearless manner. In 1902 he was elected judge
of the superior court of Napa county and discharged the duties of the position so satisfactorily that he was twice
reelected, holding the office for eighteen successive years. Since retiring from the bench the Judge has resumed
the practice of law in Napa, where he is enjoying a large and remunerative practice. In Judge Gesford are found
combined many of the rare qualities which go to make up the successful lawyer and jurist. Being a hard student
and possessing a comprehensive grasp of the philosophy of jurisprudence, with a high regard for the ethics of his
profession and a familiarity with the underlying principles which form the basis of all human rights and privileges,
he ever has been an honor to his profession and a leader among men distinguished for the high order of their legal
learning, and his eminent attainments and ripe judgment have given him enviable standing at the bar.
Politically, Judge Gesford has been a lifelong supporter and exponent of the principles of the democratic party
and has always taken a keen interest in public affairs and an active part in political questions. In 1886 the Judge
was elected to the state senate, then representing the district composed of Napa and Yolo counties, and in 1892
was again sent to the senate, representing Napa and Lake counties. In this legislative body he took a leading place,
serving ably on some of the more important committees and conserving to the best of his ability the interests of
his constituents. Fraternally, the Judge is a Knight Templar and Royal Arch Mason, a Shriner and a member of the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Improved
Order of Red Men and the Native Sons of the Golden West. He served as great sachem of the state of California,
Independent Order of Red Men, and was also grand president of the California Native Sons.
In 1882 Judge Gesford was married to Mollie C. Bullock, the daughter of William and Betty Bullock, whose forebears
were also Virginians and whose parents crossed the plains by ox team in 1850, settling in Solano county. Judge
and Mrs. Gesford have a daughter, Mrs. Maidie Louise Jones, who has a daughter, Barbara Maidie Jones. Personally,
the Judge is essentially a man among men and as a citizen he ranks with the most influential of his compeers in
affairs looking toward the betterment of his community. The Judge is a lover of books, possessing a well selected
law library and a library of the classics and miscellaneous literature, as well as of the best current works. Genial
and friendly in his social relations and honest and frank in his opinions and convictions, he enjoys the confidence
and esteem of all who have his personal friendship or acquaintance.
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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