Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Beverly Lacy Hodghead (1865-1928)

Portrait from Pacific Municipalities, 1910.

 Featured on this site's Facebook page in September 2017, Beverly Lacy Hodghead is one of those male political figures unfortunately saddled with a truly girly sounding name. Despite his receiving not one, but two, female names, Hodghead didn't let his unusual name curb his ambitions, as he went on to be a distinguished Berkeley, California attorney and member of that city's board of freeholders. Hodghead's service on that board saw him aid in the development of a city charter for Berkeley, and, following its adoption, was elected as the first mayor of that city in 1909.
  A native of Rockbridge County, Virginia, Beverly Lacy Hodghead was born on March 21, 1865, the son of Alexander and Mary (Moore) Hodghead. His early education was obtained in the state of his birth and at age seventeen relocated to California. In the late 1880s he enrolled at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, and in 1891 graduated with his law degree. Soon after he established his first law practice in that city, and in June 1894 married Nellie Eckles (born 1866). The couple had two children, Evelyn Elizabeth and Beverly Eckles (1913-1997).
  Elected to the Berkeley, California Board of Freeholders in the mid-1900s, Hodghead later served as vice-president of that board, and as such was a leading figure in the development of a city charter for Berkeley, which had been incorporated as a town in 1878. Despite its thirty-year existence, the town lacked a mayor, and with the adoption of the 1908 charter, Berkeley officially became a city. Amongst the charter's new tenets were:
  • The election of a mayor for the city.
  • A primary election where all nominations were made by non-partisan petition, rather than offices being handed out as patronage.
  • A city council with councilmen elected at large. These councilmen would also head various city departments.
  • "Ultimate veto power to the people." 
  In March 1909 Hodghead's name was put forward as a candidate for mayor of Berkeley on the "good government ticket" and after accepting the nomination spoke at a rally for the New Charter club, where he intoned the positive attributes of the new charter, noting:
"One advantage 0f the new charter is the fact that it gives the people the right to elect their own officials, a right that is unique and has not long been enjoyed. It re-enfranchises the people. The old method was simply a clearing house for programmers. The charter abolishes the patronage system. It induces good men to run for office instead of deterring them. They are not bound and shackled by outside political interests as of old."
From the San Francisco Call, March 27, 1909.

  On May 2, 1909Beverly Lacy Hodghead was elected as Berkeley's first mayor under its new city charter, polling 2, 521 votes. Officially taking office on July 1, 1909 (when the charter went into effect), Hodghead's term also saw him serve as President of the League of Pacific Municipalities from 1910-11 and would lose in his bid for a second term as mayor in 1911, being defeated by Socialist candidate J. Stitt Wilson. Following this loss he continued prominence in Alameda County, serving as president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1919-20 and in 1922 was master of ceremonies at a Commonwealth Club banquet that honored ex-President (and then Chief Justice) William Howard Taft and Scottish judge Thomas Shaw (Lord Shaw).
  Late in his life, further honors were accorded to Hodghead when he held the post of president of the San Francisco Bar Association (1924-26), and in 1924 was the representative of the California Bar Association at the American Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He would also hold the presidency of the Berkley Music Association from its inception in 1910 until his death on October 16, 1928, aged 63. A burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at this time.

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