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Alameda County








       FRANK COLTON, President of the People’s Water Company and Capitalist, Oakland, California, was born at Sag Harbor, N. Y., Nov. 21, 1848, the son of Wickham Sayre Havens and Sarah (Darling) Havens.  His paternal ancestors were among the early settlers of Long Island, and for several generation were engaged in the whaling industry, making their home among the hardy habitants of Sag Harbor.  Members of the family fought in the American Revolutionary War and otherwise proved their patriotism. 

    Mr. F. C. Havens reached California February 8, 1866, settling first in San Francisco, but ultimately in Oakland. In February, 1873, he was married in Virginia City to Miss Sadie Bell, deceased; and in May, 1892, to Miss Lila Rand.  His children are Wickham, Harold, Seyd and Paul Havens.

    Until he was fifteen years old Mr. Havens attended the village school of Sag Harbor, and on April 16 1864, left New York for China, on the S. S. Oriflamme, to begin the active business life in which he has since achieved so notable a success.

    For about a year and a half he was assistant purser on the steamer Kinshaw, running on the Canton river.  Leaving China in December, 1865, he crossed the Pacific on the Oriflamme, which was the first steamship to traverse this ocean on the eastward trip.

    His first employment in San Francisco was that of office boy and clerk in the Savings and Loan Society’s Bank on Clay street.  At the end of ten years, realizing that he could get no higher than his position of teller, he “got out,” and formed a partnership with Mr. Van Dyke Hubbard in the stock brokerage business.  From 1880 to 1884 he was a member of the S. F. Stock Exchange, during which period he established the Home Benefit Life Association, which went out of business in 1892.  In 1889 he organized the American Investment Union of New York, and in 1892 the Mutual Investment Union.  This latter was absorbed by the Realty Syndicate in 1895, which Mr. Havens organized in that year.

    The vast operations of this corporation, of which until recently Mr. Havens was the moving spirit, are little understood by those unfamiliar with the facts.  Before its consolidation with the Oakland Traction Company and the Key Route it had accumulated, under his management, fully 13,000 acres of valuable land, making a sky line from Mills college, near Leona Heights, to North Berkeley, as well as large holdings in central Oakland.  On its six per cent certificates, which were made convertible into real estate, more than $12,000,000 were raised, all of which went into the development of Oakland and vicinity.  Mr. Havens originated the idea of consolidating the street railways of Oakland into the Oakland Traction Company and of amalgamating this with the Key Route, which was also his conception, and with the Realty Syndicate, the parent company.  In this he was associated with Mr. F. M. Smith, but his was the brain that conceived the original idea of consolidating traction interests with real estate.

    After seeing the company through the trying period following the disaster of 1906, Mr. Havens resigned from the active management of the Realty Syndicate and organized the People’s Water Company of Oakland.  Of this he assumed the management in June, 1910, and at the annual meeting of the same year took the presidency of the corporation.  He is now devoting his best energies to this concern and to the Mahogany, Eucalyptus Land Co., of which he is also the president.  In this last, which has for its chief object, the forestration of the bare hills behind Oakland and Berkeley, his unbounded enthusiasm is working a miracle of benefit to that country.  The company has already planted hundreds of thousands of trees, which before long will immeasurably enhance the beauty of the east side of the bay. Beyond these activities and his marked interest in the artistic side of life, among the notable expressions of which are his contributions to the beautiful Piedmont Park and the Art Gallery therein, he allows himself little time from his exacting business affairs.   Like many of our other notable performers he is extremely reticent touching his own achievements and good works, preferring to labor as far as possible from the pale of publicity.

    He is a member of various clubs, among which are the Pacific-Union, of San Francisco; Athenian, of Oakland; Rocky Mountain, of New York; New York Yacht Club and other yacht clubs of the East.



Transcribed 4-14-10 Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 392, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta.  1913.

© 2010 Marilyn R. Pankey.