William Hook was a sterling pioneer of California, where he lived and wrought most worthily for many years, and a tribute to his memory properly finds place in this publication.
Mr. Hook and his twin brother, Elisha, were born at Salem, Virginia, in 1805, and were members of a family that was there founded in the Colonial days. At the age of nineteen years the twin brothers went to Missouri and became pioneer contractors and builders in that state. In 1827 they purchased a stock of merchandise and with the same joined an expedition setting forth for Santa Fe, New Mexico. En route this company of venturesome spirits encountered some Mexicans, and the latter informed them that hostile Indians were abroad and that a massacre was almost certain to occur. This prediction was fulfilled, and the Indians killed many white men who were in that frontier section at the time. William Hook transported the boxes of merchandise by pack mules over the mountain to Sonora, where he was joined by his twin brother. They disposed of most of their goods, and when about to return to Santa Fe they learned that Indians, were again causing trouble, and accordingly they made their way to Matamora, where the brothers parted company. Elisha taking passage for Philadelphia, he having placed in the safe of the vessel the $50,000 which he had in his possession and none other than himself and the captain of the boat having known that he had this large sum of money. After the vessel had been at sea a number of days a man on board tossed Elisha Hook overboard, and just as he was sinking for the last time he contrived to catch the rope by which he was pulled back to safety on the vessel. After the departure of his brother William Hook bought a drove of mules, and with them set forth for Northern Texas. He was ill while en route, but finally arrived at the mouth of the Red River where he sold his mules. Three months later he arrived at the old home in Virginia. Thereafter he and his twin brother were engaged for several years in the mercantile business, and they became also operators of a steamboat. They went on this vessel to New Orleans, and in an epidemic of cholera the entire crew of the vessel died, the two brothers escaping attack. On the second trip of the boat Elisha Hook died of yellow fever, in the year 1845. In that same year William Hook married Miss Miranda Brown, and in 1850 they started across the plains for California. They arrived at Placerville in 1851, just before California became a state, and their daughter Emma was the first white child born at Placerville. In the following spring the family removed to Sacramento, and in 1853 Mr. Hook engaged in the mercantile business at Martinez, Contra Costa County. In the following year Mr. Hook bought a tract of land in that county, where he eventually became the owner of a fine landed estate of over 3,000 acres. He was one of the most influential in the civic and industrial development of that county, and there he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives, he having been one of the venerable and honored pioneer citizens of California at the time of his death July24, 1882.
Walter Eugene Hook, M.D., the youngest of twelve children, a son of the pioneer whose life record has been briefly sketched in the foregoing paragraphs, was born in Contra Costa County, this state, September 29, 1856. He received the best of educational advantages, including those of the University of California, and in preparation for the work of his profession he attended the celebrated Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York City. The doctor became one of the representative physicians and surgeons in Contra Costa County and in Oakland, and here continued in the active practice of his profession until his death at the age of thirty-nine years.
Doctor Hook married Miss May Margaret Baldwin, and of this union were born two children: Beulah E., born June 21, 1884, who graduated from the University of California, College of Social Science, in May, 1905, with the degree of Bachelor of Letters; in December 21, 1905, she became the wife of attorney John J. Mazza and is living in San Francisco. She is the mother of three children: Mervyn Francis, born in San Francisco, September 2, 1907; Muriel May, born in Corte Madera, June 8, 1912, Geraldine Hook, born in Corte Madera, Aug. 25, 1914. Beverly Baldwin Hook, D. D. S., also a graduate of University of California, the second child, born March 2, 1886, is engaged in the practice of his profession in San Francisco. On the 8th of June, 1916, he married Miss Maya C. Hummell, and they became the parents of two children: Harvey Eugene, who was born March 3, 1918, and Dorothea Lucille, born March 12, 1921. After the death of Dr. Walter E. Hook his widow became the wife of E. C. Gilbert, on the 14th of October, 1896 and in San Francisco their home is at 782 Dolores Street.
Louise E. Shoemaker, Transcriber April 16, 2004
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 156-158. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Louise E. Shoemaker