May 1905 10

Bernard Charles ("B.C.") Cuvellier (1856 - May 8, 1905) served 4 terms on City Council: 1897, 1899, 1901 and 1903. He was a Republican. 1

Cuvellier2BC Cuvellier was born in New Orleans and graduated from Princeton University.

He worked with James de Fremery in the wholesale liquor business as well as the A Vignier & Co. Firm.8

In 1897, Cuvellier's seat was coveted for the first time. James "Old Pard" Bassett, an Independent, and Councilman Girard, a Democrat, apparently believed they could get Cuvellier's seat in a technicality when he repudiated the Republicans; Cuvellier had run as a Republican. The men cleared the air though, and for now, Cuvellier's seat was safe.9

In 1901, Cuvellier disappeared for a time and it was rumored that he had gone to Mexico. At the time, he was a minority on the Council, and his political opponents were eager to see him lose his seat which he would forfeit if he was gone for too long. His wife told questioners that Cuvellier was away on business with his bosses, the W. B. C. de Fremery & Co firm. 5 Things didn't get better for him when he got back: Just after the City Council meeting started on August 29th that same year, Cuvellier got into a fistfight with Councilman J. S. Wixon. Wixon accused Cuvellier of playing to the peanut gallery, Cuvellier denied it, and Wixon accused Cuvellier who did not like being called a liar. The large Council President, Louis Schaffer, got between them.5

Cuvellier lived at 1223 Union Street with his wife and four of his five children. 4 He was just over 5 feet tall.

In 1905 Cuvellier took his own life atop the Union Savings Bank building at 1300 Broadway. He is said to have been grieving over the death of his wife the year before and in failing health. His family had tried to prevent the suicide by dunking his bullets in the water so the gunpowder would be ineffective, but Cuvellier is believed to have purchased new bullets the morning of his death. The San Francisco Chronicle published a blow by blow of the day of his death.3 An article published after his death said that he was "temporarily deranged" and that a doctor had advised mental treatment. The majority of his estate, which was valued at about $10,000, was left to his two daughters.

Cuvellier was cremated and deposited in the Oakland Columbarium7

Links and References

  1. "MEN FAVORED BY THE REPUBLICANS." San Francisco Chronicle: Jan 20, 1897
  2. Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific. Tribune Publishing Co: 1898
  3. "B. C. CUVELLIER TAKES HIS LIFE: Prominent Oakland Citizen, Brooding Over Death of Wife, Fires Bullet Into Brain." San Francisco Chronicle: May 9, 1905
  5. "CUVELLIER MAY LOSE HIS OFFICE: The Councilman Is Reported to Have Gone to Mexico." San Francisco Chronicle: Aug 11, 1901
  6. "COUNCILMEN IN A FIST FIGHT: B. C. Cuvellier and Wixon Engage in a Combat." San Francisco Chronicle: Aug 30, 1901
  7. "TWO DAUGHTERS INHERIT ESTATE." San Francisco Chronicle: May 14, 1905

  9. "CUVELLIER'S ENEMIES BURY THEIR HATCHET." San Francisco Chronicle: May 28, 1897

  10. Former Councilman B. C. Cuvellier Commits Suicide Oakland Tribune May 8, 1905 (p2)