George C. Pardee Citizens' Municipal League candidate 9 Pardee 8

Dr. George Cooper Pardee (July 25, 1857 – September 1, 1941) was a medical doctor, the 29th mayor of Oakland from March 13, 1893 to March 10, 1895, and the governor of California from 1903 to 1907.


Pardee was the only son of Mary Elizabeth and Enoch Pardee, who was the 18th mayor of Oakland. Although born in San Francisco, George Pardee was raised in Oakland. Pardee married Helen Newhall Penniman (Pardee). Both George and Helen were graduates of Oakland High School, class of 1875. George and Helen had 4 daughters: Florence, Madeline, Helen, and Carol. There may have been a 5th daughter, Alice, who died in infancy. 11 Madeline and Helen lived in the family house their entire lives.

He joined Enoch's medical practice after receiving his MD in Germany in 1885. Like his father Enoch, Pardee was an "oculist", i.e., an eye doctor. Pardee has been called "Oakland's First Citizen" as well as the "Earthquake Governor" (as he was governor during the 1906 earthquake).1 Pardee was very concerned with conservation and education issues, and is remembered as a very progressive governor, which may have cost him a second nomination.5

Pardee was influential in the creation of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The EBMUD and Pardee's unwillingness to incorporate the Wildcat Creek watershed was in turn responsible for the creation of the East Bay Park Association, which became the East Bay Regional Park District. 6

In 1904, a black man was lynched in Southern California and Pardee did not use the Governor's office to condemn this. The Afro-American Council (AAC) called him out on this, and perhaps in response he released a black prisoner after the AAC petitioned him, saying he had been arrested on false charges.7

Pardee, a Republican, was the first Governor of California to be born in California after becoming a state, and the first Governor to reside in the Governor's mansion in Sacramento. 3 A vast collection of information in 124 boxes is available about Pardee at the University of California, Berkeley in the Bancroft Library, mainly from the time he was governor. 4

A book was written by George's relative, Aaron that is available for free online: "Genealogy of one line of the Pardee family, and some memoirs," dated 1896.

Helen, George and their daughters (1902) 10

Death and Legacy

George, Helen, and many of the Pardee family members are buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Little Alice is in the unendowed section.

The Pardee family home is now a museum. Helen was a prodigious collector of items from all over the world, and the house still contains many of them. The Pardee Dam and Pardee Reservoir (the primary water source for EBMUD and hence Oakland) were named for him.

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Positions Held

  • 1889-1891: Board of Health, Oakland (appointed)
  • 1889-1903: Regent, University of California
  • 1891-1893: City Council, Oakland, 7th Ward
  • 1893-1895: Mayor, Oakland
  • 1903-1907, Governor of California
  • 1924-1941 President of East Bay Municipal Utilities District (Governor site lists 1907 as start date)
  • 1927-1941 Port Commissioner
  • 1912- Co-founder of the Progressive Party in California 2

Links and References

  1. "The Governors' Gallery: George Pardee."
  2. "George C Pardee." Join California: Election History for the State of California.
  3. "George C Pardee." Join California.
  4. "The George Cooper Pardee Papers."
  5. "California Governor George Cooper Pardee." National Governor's Association.
  6. Wollenberg, Charles. Berkeley: A City in History. University of California Press, 2008.
  7. Flamming, Douglas. Bound for Freedom: Los Angeles in Jim Crow America. University of California Press, 2006.
  8. Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific. Tribune Publishing Co: 1898.
  9. "OAKLAND NEWS: Candidates for Office Are Busy." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 5, 1893
  10. George Pardee on Wikipedia
  11. "Tracing the Mystery of Alice Pardee" Oakland Heritage Alliance News Spring 2021