Biography of Charles N. Kirkbride

Charles N. Kirkbride, the City Attorney of San Mateo, came to the town in 1889 and started the San Mateo Leader, taking in R. H. Jury as an associate. He subsequently became editor of the Times-Gazette and moved to Redwood City, but in 1891 resumed the study of law, begun at the College of the Pacific in San Jose, under Justice John E. Richards, now of the Appellate Court. Mr. Kirkbride entered Northwestern University College of Law at Chicago, Ill., and had lectures under such eminent men as Justices Harlan and Brewer of the United States Supreme Court; Henry Wade Rogers, dean of Harvard Law School and Seymore D. Thompson, author of Commentaries on Corporations. He graduated in 1893 and obtained his diploma at the hands of Theodore Roosevelt, who addressed the students on the political duties of the college man.

Mr. Kirkbride opened a law office in San Mateo December 4, 1894, and has been here ever since. He has held the office of City Attorney since 1895. He continued to practice alone until 1912 when Joseph B. Gordon, who had almost grown up in the office was admitted to partnership. The firm title has since been Kirkbride & Gordon.

Eighteen years ago he was one of the founders of the League of California Municipalities, pronounced the most efficient state organization of city officials in the Union. He organized the San Mateo Mutual Building and Loan Association in 1896. He took an active part in the organization of the San Mateo Public Library and, through a friend, secured an option on the old Knights of Pythias Library in San Francisco at the nominal figure of $500. The library contained 5000 volumes. Geo. W. Dickie advanced the necessary funds to close the purchase. Later when the question of getting a lot became a problem, Mr. Kirkbride and J. H. Hatch advanced the $625 necessary to make a deposit to hold the present site until public officials could act in the matter. In 1902 he took up the matter of forcing the establishment of a high school and canvassed the town at night on a bicycle to secure signatures to the necessary petition, others having failed in the attempt. Opposition developed from those interested in a private school but an election was called and the school established. At that time the number of pupils attending high schools could be counted on the fingers of one’s hands. The school then started, has developed into an institution having an enrollment of near 400 and assents of near three hundred thousand. Mr. Kirkbride prepared all the legal papers incident to the issuance of bonds for the high school district, for the purchase of land and erection of buildings without charge. He has always taken an active part in organizations devoted to local improvement and is a member of the present Chamber of Commerce. In San Francisco he has been a member of the Commonwealth Club for years and serves ,on important committees.

He has been active in Militia circles and is a 1st Lieutenant on the Regimental Staff of Col. Geo. A. Schastey of the Coast Artillery Corps and holds high rank as to his qualifications as an artillery officer. He is also a trustee of the College of the Pacific in San Jose.


Alexander, Philip W.; Hamm, Charles P. History of San Mateo County from the Earliest Times: With a Description of Its Resources and Advantages: and the Biographies of Its Representative Men. San Mateo County, California: Press of Burlingame Publishing Company. 1916.

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