“Why don’t you get a haircut?”
—Easy Rider

Peter Weaver Fonda (May 1822-January 8, 1910) served on the City Council in 1877 and 1878 as a Democrat. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Fonda worked for the Central Pacific Railroad and their influence helped get him elected to the First Ward, in turn meaning he was beholden to their interests. They further report that he was absent from the council for several weeks "ostensibly on railroad business."3 (Insert snarky comment about how he probably didn't play with his smartphone while City Council meetings went on here.) By trade he was in the printing/publishing/stationery business.1


On May 5th, 1896 Fonda was charged with battery on A. D. Spearman, but was released the next day on his own recognizance.4 Unwilling to drop the issue, he went back to court and was found guilty, even though the prosecution didn't want to charge him. Fonda said "he never intended to do harm and just wanted to run his little hardware store in peace." The judge suspended his sentence, but told him to stay away from the courts. This didn't last long.5

 [Oakland Tribune - Monday, May 04, 1896 - Oakland, California - Forcible Arguments - P. W. Fonda Places His Fist Over A. D. Spearman's Optics. The Wrangle Arose During a Row Over Some Attached Goods - P. W. Fonda of 1728 and 1732 Seventh street was in fighting humor this morning, and, according to the story told by Chief Deputy District Attorney Church, left the impress of his knuckles above the left eye of a salesman named A. D. Spearman. The informant was Spearman himself, Who stated that Fonda was about to cover him with a shotgun when the later's son interfered and perhaps averted bloodshed. The cause of this trouble was an attachment which was issued in San Francisco against some goods which were sold to Joseph Feld by tho Provo Cotton Mills, which Spearman represents. The goods are valued at over $200 and have not been paid for. They are now in one of Fonda's stores on Seventh street, and, despite the attachment, Fonda declares they belong to him. He says he traded some property for them with Feld in a certain part of the State. The attachment, therefore, was decidedly displeasing to Fonda. When Spearman appeared on the scene this morning, he found that the store in which the goods were stored was closed, while the other one was opened. Some words panned between Spearman and Fonda, and, according to Spearman's story, without provocation, Fonda struck Spearman over fhe left temple with his fist. He then seized a shotgun. It Is alleged, for the purpose of using it on the salesman, but Fonda's son interfered. The angry man attempted to push his son aside, stating at the same time that he knew how to use the gun. The weapon, however, was taken away before he could do any harm, whereupon Spearman hastened to the District Attorney's office, where he lodged a complaint against Fonda. Joseph Feld, who, Spearman says, owns the goods in controversy, formerly resides in Alameda and more recently in this city. He is now in jail In San Francisco, having been committed for contempt of court for neglecting to pay alimony to his wife. It Is said that he owes $400 in this way, and that at the expiration of a five days sentence he is liable to be again arrested on refusal to satisfy his wife's claims.] 

In 1898 Fonda, then 70 and living in Alameda, charged his third wife, age 40 and living in "East Oakland" with grand larceny after she moved across the water with a lot of their furniture.2



1. "The Eastern Shore." Daily Alta California: July 18, 1889, The American Stationer, Vol 22. Howard Lockwood: 1887.

2. "Husband Against Wife." The San Francisco Call: March 15, 1898.

3. "TWEEDISM IN OAKLAND: The Influence of the Recent Scandal on Politics." San Francisco Chronicle: March 1, 1879.

4. "Battle Among Politicians." San Francisco Chronicle: May 6, 1896.

5. "BETH JACOB IS TO HAVE A RABBI." San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 1896.