Curtis D. Wilbur

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Curtis Dwight Wilbur
Curtis Dwight Wilbur.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
May 2, 1929 – May 10, 1945
Appointed by Herbert Hoover
Preceded by new seat
Succeeded by William Edwin Orr
43rd United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 19, 1924 – March 4, 1929
President Calvin Coolidge
Preceded by Edwin Denby
Succeeded by Charles F. Adams III
Associate Justice, and 19th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court
In office
January 1, 1918 – March 19, 1924
Appointed by Governor William Stephens
Preceded by Lucien Shaw
Succeeded by Louis W. Myers
Personal details
Born May 10, 1867
Boonesboro, Iowa, U.S.
Died September 8, 1954(1954-09-08) (aged 87)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ella T. Chilson (m. 1893; death 1896)
Olive Doolittle (m. 1898)
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Judge

Curtis Dwight Wilbur (May 10, 1867 – September 8, 1954) was an American lawyer, state and federal judge, and 43rd United States Secretary of the Navy.

Biography[edit]

Wilbur was born May 10, 1867, in Boonesboro, Iowa, to Dwight Locke Wilbur and Edna M. Lyman.[1][2][3] His family moved to Jamestown, North Dakota, where he graduated high school; in 1884, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy.[4][5][6] Shortly after graduation, Curtis Wilbur resigned his commission, a common practice at the time, and moved to Riverside, California, he read law at night while teaching mathematics during the day, and was admitted to the California bar in 1890.[7][8]

Wilbur associated with the firm of Bruson, Wilson & Lamme, and engaged in private practice for eight years in Los Angeles.[9][10] He was active in Republican politics, and in 1898 was president of the Fourth Ward Republican club;[11] in 1898, he served as Los Angeles County Deputy Assistant District Attorney in the office of John C. Donnell,[12][13] and by 1899 he was the Chief Deputy under District Attorney James C. Rives.[14][15]

In September 1902, the Republican Party nominated Wilbur for the post of judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court to the take the seat of Lucien Shaw, who was running for Supreme Court.[16][17][18] Wilbur won the election and in November 1902 began to hear cases pro tempore,[19][20] he was especially interested in promoting children's welfare: on the Superior Court, he was presiding judge of the juvenile department;[21][22][23][24] in 1910, he was a founding director of the Juvenile Improvement Association;[25] in 1912, he was president of the Social Purity League, which offered religious lectures to the public;[26] in 1915, he helped organize the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles, and was named council president;[27] and he served as president of the state Sunday School Association, organizing evangelical gatherings for young people.[28][29][30]

In 1917, Governor William Stephens appointed Wilbur to the California Supreme Court,[31] where he served as an Associate Justice from January 1, 1918. In September 1922, Wilbur defeated William Lawlor in the primary election,[32][33] and in November was chosen as the 19th Chief Justice of California, holding the position from January 1923 to March 19, 1924.[34][35] When Wilbur resigned, Governor Friend Richardson appointed Louis Wescott Myers to take the post of Chief Justice.[36]

On March 19, 1924, Wilbur was sworn in as Secretary of the Navy,[37] the first appointee of President Calvin Coolidge, Wilbur came into the position with a reputation as a man of high intellect and a character of "unimpeachable integrity." However, one critic called Wilbur "a good Sunday school teacher who wants to make the Navy safe for boys."[38] In July 1925, he accompanied three battleships on a cruise of the Pacific coast, stopping in Marin County for a picnic of 600 midshipmen with a group of more than 100 society women on Mount Tamalpais;[39] in August 1928, he again accompanied a fleet to San Francisco on its way to Pacific training exercises.[40] By the end of his term, Wilbur had achieved success in enlarging and modernizing the fleet and established a naval air force, which would grow to become a potent component in the war with Japan during World War II.[41][42]

In 1929, in the last hours of his presidency, Coolidge nominated Wilbur to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.[43] However, when the 70th Congress ended that week, the Senate had not acted on the nomination, so it expired.[44][45] President Herbert Hoover then resubmitted the nomination to the Senate in the 71st Congress, which approved it.[46][47] Wilbur served as a judge in active service until 1945, when his senior status began.[48] Wilbur died in 1954.[49]

Legacy[edit]

The guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) is named for him.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Wilbur was married twice, on November 9, 1893, Wilbur married Ella T. Chilson,[51] she died on December 10, 1896.[52][53] Next, on January 13, 1898, he remarried to Olive Doolittle, they lived in a grand home completed in 1904 on Frederick Knob in San Francisco. Following retirement, Wilbur spent time with his wife and their three surviving children: Edna, Paul C. and Lyman Dwight.[54][55]

In the 1930s, one of his children, Dr. Leonard Wilbur, established a mission hospital in the province of northern China now known as Shanxi. Leonard, his wife, Jean Spaulding, and two children, Ruth and Lyman, survived invasions by Chinese communist insurgents and Japanese troops. However, on Easter Sunday 1940, Leonard died in Shanxi of typhus, his wife later gave birth to their third child, Bruce, before departing China for San Francisco.

Wilbur's brother, Ray Lyman Wilbur, was United States Secretary of the Interior under Herbert Hoover, and a president of Stanford University.[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ State of Iowa ... Official Register, Volume 39 (1941). Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "Judge Wilbur to Preside at Dinner". Los Angeles Herald (49). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 28 December 1914. p. 9. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Mrs. Wilbur Buried Today; Superior Court Adjourns". Los Angeles Herald (71). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 18 December 1911. p. 15. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Notable Graduates: Curtis Dwight Wilbur". U.S. Naval Academy. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  5. ^ "College Men Jubilate". Los Angeles Herald (25 (290)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 17 July 1898. p. 11. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Music and Drama Notes". Los Angeles Herald (41 (155)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 25 March 1894. p. 16. Retrieved September 14, 2017. Curtis D. Wilbur, a graduate of the United States naval academy. 
  7. ^ "Judge Sees Old Neighborhood". Los Angeles Herald. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 12 April 1921. p. A7. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Briefs". Los Angeles Herald (34 (182)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 14 October 1890. p. 8. Retrieved September 14, 2017. The following applicants were examined yesterday for admission to practice before the state supreme court:...Curtis D. Wilbur 
  9. ^ "Keeping Him From Church". Los Angeles Herald (45 (71)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 21 December 1895. p. 3. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  10. ^ "An Odd Case". Los Angeles Herald (25 (107)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 15 January 1898. p. 10. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Candidates Galore". Los Angeles Herald (25 (330)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 26 August 1898. p. 8. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Deposit of Funds". Los Angeles Herald (239). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 27 May 1899. p. 8. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Duty, Not Courtesy, The Coroner Asked for Advice and Got It Frankly". Los Angeles Herald (32). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 November 1899. p. 8. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Citizens' Opinions, All Sorts and Conditions of Men Discuss the Propositions". Los Angeles Herald (250). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 7 June 1899. p. 5. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Not Affected by Code Decision". Los Angeles Herald (22). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 23 October 1901. p. 14. Retrieved September 14, 2017. The opinion was prepared by Chief Deputy Curtis D. Wilbur and was concurred in by District Attorney Rives 
  16. ^ "Nominated to Succeed Shaw". San Francisco Call (87 (111)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 19 September 1902. p. 5. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Wilbur is the Man". Los Angeles Herald (351). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 19 September 1902. p. 9. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Politics and Politicians". Los Angeles Herald (349). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 17 September 1902. p. 7. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  19. ^ "New Superior Judge, Curtis D. Wilbur Will Take His Seat Pro Tempore Today". Los Angeles Herald (41). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 12 November 1902. p. 9. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  20. ^ "The Dustless Roads Case". Evening Transcript (9 (105)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 3 December 1902. p. 4. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Judge Names Two for Probation Committee". Los Angeles Herald (309). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 6 August 1911. p. 7. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Wilbur Has the Best of it in Juvenile Court Probe". Los Angeles Herald (124). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 22 February 1913. p. 3. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Japanese Jurist Is Juvenile Court Guest". Los Angeles Herald (222). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 11 June 1912. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  24. ^ Gaines, Thomas F. (17 October 1963). "Boy in Trouble Finds a Home". Highland Park News-Herald & Journal. California Digital Newspaper Collection. p. 15. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Children's Protectors Incorporate Society". Los Angeles Herald (37 (114)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 23 January 1910. p. 10. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Purity League Lectures". Los Angeles Herald (297). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 7 September 1912. p. 16. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  27. ^ "County Council of Boy Scouts is Organized". Los Angeles Herald (101). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 26 February 1915. p. 3. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Sunday School Meet Opens Tuesday". Sacramento Union (26). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 26 May 1919. p. 7. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Judge Wilbur to Address Long Beach Young Men". Los Angeles Herald (238). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 29 June 1912. p. 14. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  30. ^ "State Convention of Sunday Schools in Two Sections". Red Bluff Daily News (158). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 6 May 1920. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. Justice Curtis D. Wilbur of the slate supreme court, who is president of the association. 
  31. ^ "Wilbur Succeeds Henshaw on Supreme Bench". Los Angeles Herald (34). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 11 December 1917. p. 3. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Justice Shaw is not to Ask for Reeelection, Wilbur Will Be Candidate". Sacramento Union (25900). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 15 February 1922. p. 2. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Justice Lawlor Will Be Candidate For Chief Justice of State Supreme Court". Sacramento Union (26029). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 21 June 1922. p. 2. Retrieved September 14, 2017. Supreme Justice Curtis D. Wilbur having stated several weeks ago that he would seek the same position. 
  34. ^ Johnson, J. Edward (1966). History of Supreme Court, Vol 2, Justices, 1900-1950 (PDF). San Francisco, CA: Bancroft-Whitney Co. pp. 41–44. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Political Arena is Center of Spotlight". Sacramento Union (26166). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 6 November 1922. p. 2. Retrieved September 14, 2017. In the judicial offices Judge Curtis D. Wilbur Is unopposed for chief justice of the supreme court, having eliminated William P. Lawlor in the primaries. 
  36. ^ "Chief Justice Has Resigned". Madera Tribune (11). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 14 November 1925. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  37. ^ "Wilbur May Be Navy Secretary". Madera Mercury (302). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 14 March 1924. p. 4. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  38. ^ "Navy Day Speaker Criticizes Wilbur". Healdsburg Tribune. California Digital Newspaper Collection. Tribune Service. 28 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  39. ^ "Middies Visited Marin Co. and Mt. Tamalpais". Sausalito News (29). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 18 July 1925. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Fleet Arrives In San Francisco; Will Remain One Week". Healdsburg Tribune (243). California Digital Newspaper Collection. United Press. 24 August 1928. p. 2. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Giant Plane Tender Navy is Launched". Madera Tribune (128). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 7 April 1925. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  42. ^ "President Honored By Cruiser Nam". Coronado Eagle and Journal (49). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 5 December 1928. p. 12. Retrieved September 14, 2017. The cruiser...is the third of the ten that were approved by the navy general board in 1924. 
  43. ^ "Wilbur Nominated for Judge Post," Woodland Daily Democrat, 1929-03-01 at p. 1 (noting, as the Coolidge Administration ended, that Coolidge nominated Wilbur for the new judgeship).
  44. ^ "Sentence Cut Out by Hoover," Oakland Tribune, 1929-03-04, Section D, p. 1 (noting that the Wilbur nomination was not acted upon before the 70th Congress ended).
  45. ^ "Wilbur's Nomination Before Subcommittee". Madera Tribune (143). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 22 April 1929. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Hoover Renominates 8 out of 10 Judicial Selections of Coolidge Caught in March Jam". San Bernardino Sun (64 (50)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. Associated Press. 19 April 1929. p. 2. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Wilbur, Lenroot Nominations Approved by Senate Body". San Bernardino Sun (64 (61)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 30 April 1929. p. 17. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  48. ^ Frederick, David C. (1994). Rugged Justice: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the American West, 1891-1941. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 220. ISBN 0520083814. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  49. ^ Davies, Ross E. (September 6, 2017). "A Generous Judicial Parabolist: Curtis D. Wilbur". Green Bag 2d. 20: 381. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  50. ^ "USS Curtis Wilbur, Named for Curtis D. Wilbur, former Secretary of the Navy". U.S. Navy. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  51. ^ Harper, Franklin (1913). Who's who on the Pacific Coast. Harper Publishing Company. pp. 607–608. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  52. ^ "Deaths-Wilbur". Los Angeles Herald (26 (73)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 12 December 1896. p. 10. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  53. ^ "New Suits Filed". Los Angeles Herald (26 (95)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 3 January 1897. p. 12. Retrieved September 14, 2017. The estate of Ella C. Wilbur, deceased —The petition of Curtis D. Wilbur and Henry G. Chilson for probate of will, the estate is valued at $7600. 
  54. ^ "Births". Los Angeles Herald (171). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 21 March 1902. p. 10. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  55. ^ "Obituary: Paul C. Wilbur". San Jose Mercury News. MercuryNews.com. June 10, 2003. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  56. ^ "Wilbur Keeping Silence on Possible Cabinet Job". San Bernardino Sun (63 (153)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. United Press. 31 January 1929. p. 1. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 

Photographs[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Lucien Shaw
Chief Justice of California
1923 – 1924
Succeeded by
Louis W. Myers
Preceded by
New seat
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
1929 – 1945
Succeeded by
William E. Orr
Government offices
Preceded by
Edwin Denby
United States Secretary of the Navy
1924 – 1929
Succeeded by
Charles F. Adams III