William Forster Clawson (December 28, 1849 – December 3, 1882) was a teacher and the principal of Tompkins School. Following his death at age 32, the new Clawson School was named in his memory; Clawson in turn became the name of the neighborhood.

William Clawson was born in 1849 in Wayne County, Indiana to Josiah Clawson and Sarah Nixon Fletcher (Clawson), the oldest of 9 children. He graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana in 1874. By 1875 he had come to California, first to Santa Clara County then to Alvarado in Alameda County. In 1879, he was promoted to the principal of Tompkins School, effective January 1, 1880. 3

Clawson also had an interest in business. He was secretary of the Business Men's Association, 5 and taught a "commercial and scientific" course in the school, designed to give some additional training to those who would normally stop their education after grammar school. 6

He was stricken with "malarial typhoid," and died December 3, 1882, in Hayward. 4 His estate consisted of $250 worth of stock in Judson Manufacturing Company, some furniture and other effects, and a $2,500 life insurance policy with the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. When it was settled, it came to about $2,300, which was sent to his parents, then living in Tennessee.

Several articles stated the stagnant pools near Tompkins School might be to blame for Clawson's death, 2,7 but 15 years later the pools were still there and people were still complaining about them.

Marietta Cobb

Clawson never married, but was engaged to Marietta S. Cobb, a teacher at Prescott School, at the time of his death. She nursed him during his fatal illness. Following his death, she was named principal of the new Clawson School in 1883. After some time, she decided in 1885 to step down as principal and returned to her former position at Prescott. Julia Colby was named the new principal.

But in 1886, Cobb's mental state took a turn for the worse. She circulated a petition stating that Colby had spoken of her in a derogatory manner, and asking the school board to return her as principal of Clawson. On a Saturday night she was found running along Broadway, her eyes wild and her clothing drenched. It took 3 men to transport her to the jail.

She eventually quieted down, then began to imagine herself a spiritual medium, communicating with the dead. Judge Greene and 2 physicians judged her "insane." She was to be taken to the asylum in Stockton, as the one in Napa was overcrowded. 1,2

Links and References

  1. Clawson School, Founded 1883, Named For Principal Who Died in Service Oakland Tribune February 8, 1942
  2. Love's Aftermath Oakland Tribune March 4, 1886
  3. Board of Education Oakland Tribune December 11, 1879
  4. Death of W.F. Clawson Oakland Tribune December 4, 1882
  5. Resolutions of Respect Oakland Tribune December 7, 1882
  6. The Commercial Students Oakland Tribune September 14, 1881
  7. Alameda and Vicinity Alameda Argus December 9, 1882