Finding aid of the John Whipple Dwinelle Papers C058835

Finding aid prepared by Alexandria Brown
Society of California Pioneers
300 Fourth Street
San Francisco, CA, 94107-1272
(415) 959-1849

Title: Dwinelle, John Whipple Papers
Identifier/Call Number: C058835
Contributing Institution: Society of California Pioneers
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 2.0 folder (11 items; 5 letters of correspondence)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1868-1877
Date (inclusive): 1849-1881
Abstract: These two folders contain letters of correspondence, notes, newspaper articles, and other papers written to/by/about Dwinelle covering his time on the San Francisco City Counsel and as Regent of the University of California. They also contain his diary (and transcripts) of his journey from New York to California by sea via Panama in 1849.
creator: Dwinelle, John Whipple, Hon., 1816-1881

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

There are no restrictions on access.

Preferred Citation note

John Whipple Dwinelle Papers. The Society of California Pioneers.


Certificate of appointment to Regent of the University of California; 01/23/1876 Oakland Daily Transcript article; Society of California Pioneers memorial; 1868 Dwinelle note on a resolution put to the San Francisco City Counsel; Agreement between San Francisco and Dwinelle; and diary donated by William F. Chipman, June 1931.
Donor and date of the rest of the acquisitions unknown.

Biographical/Historical note

Dwinelle was born in 1816 in Cazenovia, NY, and was descended by William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, on his mother’s side. His father, Hon. Justin Dwinelle, was in Congress from 1823-1845 and later the Judge of Common Pleas in his district. In 1834 John Dwinelle graduated from Hamilton College and took a position in the Supreme Court and Court of Chancery in New York. He left for Ann Arbor, MI, in 1838 to work in their Supreme Court but returned to Rochester after an illness. Dwinelle also edited several local newspapers. He was the city attorney of Rochester, NY from 1844-1845 and the Master of Chancery and Injunction Master from 1845-1849.
He sailed to California via Panama from August-October 1849. In 1850 he was elected to the San Francisco City Council, and was involved in the famous “Pueblo case” which won SF several leagues of land. From 1866-1867 he was the Mayor of Oakland. He authored the legislation AB 583 (1868) which established the University of California, and Dwinelle Hall and Dwinelle Annex at U.C. Berkeley are named for him after he served as its regent. He was also a Daily Evening Bulletin correspondent and a state legislator.
In 1877 he married Caroline McLean. He was known for his absent-mindedness, so severe that he supposedly would often walk past his intended destination and fail to recognize relatives on the street. Dwinelle died January 28, 1881 when he ran off the Port Costa (near Crockett, CA) ferry pier while trying to catch the Solano to Benicia, CA. Because of the rough waters off the Carquinez Straits, his body did not wash ashore for three weeks.

Scope and Contents note

These two folders contain six sub folders. The first folder contains: 1) “Agreement between San Francisco and Dwinelle, John W.” – an April 12, 1862 letter from the City and County of San Francisco to Dwinelle and E. W. F. Sloan (?) regarding their appointments to counselors at law. 2) “Notes from/by Dwinelle, John W.” – an undated document discussing the “Land of the Pops” (as of 2011 have not been able to establish who the “Pops” were or where they lived); an August 8, 1877 note on Dwinelle’s letterhead detailing the history of the Mission of San Carlos; and a note from 1868 by Dwinelle regarding a resolution put to the San Francisco City Counsel. 3) “Letters of Correspondence to/from Dwinelle, John W.” – December 4, 1868 from Joseph Le Coute to Dwinelle accepting a position as the Chair of the Geology Department for UC Berkeley; September 17, 1866 letter from Dwinelle to the City and County of San Francisco regarding payment for an 1863 case; February 14, 1881 letter from William Carey Jones regarding Dwinelle’s recent death; March 10, 1875 letter to Dwinelle from Robert E. B. Stearns (?) regarding a special honor bestowed on Dwinelle by the Board of Regents of the University of California; and May 15, 1877 letter to Dwinelle from J. S. Hemany (?) regarding access to historical materials on Mission Dolores. 4) “Misc. Papers re: Dwinelle, John W.” – February 4, 1876 article from the Daily Alta California on Dwinelle’s appointment to a court case; January 23, 1876 biography on Dwinelle from the Oakland Daily Transcript; certificate of appointment to Regent of the University of California, March 23, 1868; April 4, 1881 Society of California Pioneers memorial.
The second folder contains: 5) “Diary of Dwinelle, John W. Aug. - Oct. 1849” – his passage from New York to California via Panama. 6) “Diary of Dwinelle, John W. Aug. - Oct. 1849 Transcripts” – typewritten transcripts of the aforementioned diary; draft of pages 30-50.

Existence and Location of Originals note

The Society of California Pioneers, 300 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107

Subjects and Indexing Terms

City attorneys--California.
Court rules--California--Cases
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Geology