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Fred H. Taft


Posted By: Karen AD (email)
Date: 4/26/2008 at 22:58:26

The following is a several part Biography of Fred Taft, son of the famous Stephen Taft of Humboldt, taken from the Uniterian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica newsletter.
July 2004
The Man Who Started It All:
Judge Taft Sold Us the Corner Lot; His Daughter Sold the Adjacent One

The following obituary, reprinted in its entirety, was published in the Santa Monica Evening Outlook on June 9, 1942. The subject was a significant person in our congregation's history for several reasons:

• Judge Fred H. Taft was one of seven names on a 1927 flyer addressed to the public seeking to organize a liberal religion in Santa Monica, along with his nephew, Thurlow T. Taft;
• Fred H. Taft sold the 18th and Arizona lot (1260 18th St.) to the Unitarian congregation;
• Fred H. Taft guaranteed the payment of outstanding street bonds on the 18th and Arizona lot;
• Fred H. Taft donated the last $500 of the funds required to be raised locally to qualify for a start-up loan from the American Unitarian Association;
• Although never on the church board, Fred H. Taft maintained membership in the congregation and frequently addressed annual meetings;
• Upon his death, Fred H. Taft bequeathed $500 to the Santa Monica Unitarian Church; and
• This year, 52 years after his death, Fred H. Taft’s daughter, Murial Shutt, turned down higher bids and sold her next-door property to the church (combining the contiguous lots of 1260 and 1248 18th Sreets).

—Rob Briner

June 9, 1942

Judge Taft Dies After Illness of Three Months

Judge Fred H. Taft, one of the best known citizens in Santa Monica, where he had lived for 48 years [age 37-85], and a member of the law firm of Tanner, Odell and Taft of Los Angeles and Santa Monica, died late yesterday afternoon in his home, 1004 Lincoln Boulevard [near the corner of Lincoln and Washington, now a part of St. Monica High School], after an illness of several months. He was 85 years old.

Judge Taft was city attorney in Santa Monica from 1902 to 1907 [age 45-51] and was judge in the Superior Court, Los Angeles County, from 1913 to 1920 [age 56-63]. He was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1892 and to the California bar in 1893, after which he became a partner in the law firm of Tanner and Taft, in Santa Monica, from 1894 to 1905. The Los Angeles office was established in 1898 with the firm becoming Tanner, Taft and Odell, the name being changed to Tanner, Odell and Taft while Judge Taft was serving on the Superior Court bench."

(Editor’s note: His involvement with the Unitarian Church of Santa Monica dates from 1927, when he was 70 years old and the congregation was organized, to his death in 1942 at age 85.)

Worked on Newspapers

Before entering the legal profession, Judge Taft was in newspaper work in the east. He published the Humbolt, Iowa, Kosmos from 1874 to 1882, founded the Hardin County Citizen, Iowa Falls, in 1883; edited the Fort Dodge, Iowa, Messenger, from 1884 to 1887, and was associated with the Sioux City Newspaper Union from 1887 to 1891.

Judge Taft was born in Pierrepont Manor, New York, the son of the Rev. Stephen H. Taft; notable pioneer churchman, educator and temperance worker. His mother was Mary A. Burnham Taft.

He was educated in Iowa, taking his college training at Humboldt College from which he was graduated in 1879. He came to California in 1893 and for about a year was associated with the Los Angeles Times, before coming to Santa Monica to establish his law office.

Interested in City

Judge Taft was interested in many movements for the civic betterment of Santa Monica. He was one of the founders of the organization now known as Santa Monica Welfare, Inc., and still was active on its board of directors. He was active in the Santa Monica Ocean Park Red Cross chapter for more than 25 years and was a director also in that organization. He was one of the most active members of All Souls Unitarian Church, with which he had been identified since its founding. He also was a member of the Santa Monica Bay district and Los Angles Bar associations, the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association.

Although the oldest lawyer in Santa Monica and one of the oldest in the state, he continued in active work until a few months ago when failing health necessitated his remaining in his home.

Judge Taft was married in 1881 to Miss Frances M. Welch with whom he spent more than 50 years of happy married life. He is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Muriel Shutt, and a son, Harris W. Taft, both of Santa Monica; two grandsons, Nado Shutt [legal owner of the 1248 lot as of 1964] and Roderick S. Taft; two granddaughters, Mrs. Jean Taft Wyckoff and Suzanne Taft, and two great grandchildren, Ann and Susan Wyckoff.

Funeral arrangements, which are in charge of Todd and Leslie, have not been completed.

UUCC Archives Website

Humboldt Biographies maintained by Karen De Groote.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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