(Contributed by Oakland Pioneers - No. 54)
FOURTEENTH AND BROADWAY IN EARLY DAYS
By Henry Maloon
WHEN I look at the fine building of the First National Bank, my mind goes our back to the very early days when there was a far different kind of a building there; and it did not remain there very long either after a number of men got to work on Its destruction. Not only that, but a female occupant, almost at the dead of night, was thrown bodily out of the place and told to find quarters elsewhere.
Those were days when choice pieces of property here had all kinds of titles, and, after you bought a piece of land, you had also to buy in some cases half a dozen titles, each owned by a different person, before you could really tell that the property was your own.
The woman I refer to had some experience with titles. On this site at the time there was a primitive little one-and-a-half story cottage and in it the woman made her home. She was under the impression that she owned the property, but she was dispossessed on the night in question.
She had expected trouble. She was very timid and sometimes my mother used to allow me - only a lad at the time - to sleep in the house because the woman felt more secure if there was someone in the house with her. Of course I could have done nothing to save her from any person who might attempt to deprive her of the property.
On the night to which I refer she retired to sleep about 10 o'clock. Her sleeping apartment was very plain, with little furnishing and no decoration. It was on the upper story and was reached by means of a ladder. After the woman had climbed up to the loft she pulled the ladder up after her. I slept on the ground floor. About 11 o'clock there was a knock on the door. I answered the knock by opening the door. Outside stood half a dozen men. They called the woman to appear immediately. She replied from above that she had retired for the night. The men said that that made no difference, she would have to clothe herself again and leave the premises.
The woman pleaded to be a allowed to remain in the house over night, but the men were obdurate and threatened violence if she did not come down immediately and leave.
The woman commenced to cry but at the same time dropped the ladder from above and with difficulty, because of fear, climbed to the first story. Then one of the men seized her and actually threw her out of the shack,
The same disposition was made of the scanty furniture and clothing they found on the premises and they warned the frightened woman to get away as soon as possible.
They then spanked me rather roundly and told me that it would be better for me to go to my own home as soon as possible. I ran as fast as I could, but before I got very far the little home was torn to pieces. This was done by the then sheriff.
The woman was given shelter for the night by some of the people who were in the neighborhood. Subsequently she was taken to the home of a friend and there, sometime later died.
This was about the year 1858, and at that time there was a vegetable garden on that gore, which was run by a man named George Lee. He had a tragic ending. He left on a trip to the old home in the East, but was lost on the steamer Central America, which foundered before she reached her destination. Lee was not married. When he failed to put in an appearance after his departure there was a dispute over his property, but there was no person with a valid claim to it, although several people sought to get hold of it. It was placed in the hands of the public administrator and at length fell into the hands of George Potter, who built what was then considered a fine mansion, and Lee's horne was moved to the corner of Ninth and Jefferson streets.