Friday, March 20, 2015

Three Esperantist Lawyers in the Bay Area

Speak Esperanto and hang
with the fashionable crowd
On Sunday, March 20, 1910, the San Francisco Call devoted an entire page to San Francisco Esperantists, with a particular focus on three men: Frank C. Drew, R. B. Tappan, and the late W. B. Treadwell (who gets the posthumous indignity that they get his name wrong). The article doesn’t mention the other connection among the three men, in that they were all three of them lawyers (which I’ve thrown up there in the title), although Mr. Drew is identified as an attorney and Mr. Tappan as a judge. We get no real information for Mr. Treadwell, other than that he is deceased. A little sleuthing showed that he was the third lawyer in the group.

The article is too long for me to type, but it can be read online. It’s an interesting glimpse of the early Esperanto movement in the United States. The Call was mostly interested in the far-flung correspondence in which two of the men were engaged. While R. B. Tappan is described as “an enthusiastic Esperantist,” the focus of the article is on the correspondence of Messieurs Drew and Treadwell.

The Call noted that the two men promoted California in their correspondence with Esperantists “the term California as here used includes also San Francisco—and to tell the truth it is San Francisco that has received the greatest benefit of this advertising,” But also:
And the San Franciscans who carried out this voluminous correspondence benefited through learning things that could have been learned in no other way than through extraordinary lingual ability of the manners, customs and political conditions in other countries. One who did not know the language might spend many months in Turkey, for instance, and not gain political knowledge that has been conveyed in letters received in San Francisco through the correspondence system developed and carried on by Drew and Treadwell. Each day, during the recent troubles in Turkey, one or the other of these gentlemen received a letter from correspondents in that country. One Turk wrote fifteen letters in one month giving detailed accounts of all that was going on—impartial accounts, too, fully explaining the movements and principles of both parties. It was like receiving newspapers from that country, where papers and scarce, and would mean nothing to the man who could not read the language in which they were printed.
My guess is that the “recent troubles” cited in the text are the Adana massacre in Turkey in 1909. But little is said about the recipients of the correspondence. Since R. B. Tappan gets somewhat slighted in that while there’s a picture of him, there is no actual reference to him in the article, I’ll start with him.

Robert B. Tappan
Looks enthusiastic.
Robert B. Tappan was born in California on November 23, 1858. He seems to have spent pretty much his entire life in Bay area, living in Alameda, Okland, and San Francisco. He turned 52 in 1910, and in an article in the Oakland Tribune on the event, he is quoted as saying that he had never been out of the state (the same article gives his birthdate). Tappan was a justice of the peace, and in 1915 had a close call with one Baron Alfred Baroteau (who seems possibly not any sort of nobility). Baroteau slashed Tappan’s throat with a razor, however, the wound was not fatal. Robert Tappan died in 1935, but despite the description given by the Call as an “enthusiastic Esperantist,” I have have not found any information on him in the Esperanto press.

Frank C. Drew does show up in the Esperanto literature. He was member of the Esperanto Association of North America, and was listed as living in Alameda in the EANA’s Adresaro of April 1909. He also provided some financial assistance to the organization, with the February 1917 Amerika Esperantisto noting that he had provided half the cost of a new typewirter fo the office of the secretary and had guaranteed a large sum to their convention.
Frank C. Drew
Generous Esperantist
He was born May 31, 1861, the son of Irish immigrants. According to Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast, he was a member of the “Am. Esperanto Assn.,” but we know better. Not in 1913 he wasn’t, even if he had been a member before the AEA became the EANA. Frank C. Drew died on May 17, 1924.

William B. Treadwell gets mis-named by the Call as W. J. Treadwell, but the pages of Amerika Esperantisto cleared that up. In May 1909, the magazine ran a literary piece by Treadwell, “Antaŭ kaj Poste” (Before and After). And in March 1910, they ran an obituary for him, which made clear that I could stop looking for “W. J. Treadwell.”
La 10’an de Januaro, ĉe 460 Strato Lyon, San Francisco, mortis Sro. W. B. Treadwell, en la sesdek tria jaro de sia vivo. Li estis advokato, kaj dum multaj jaroj fervora Espernatisto, verkante, skribante kaj tradukante la lingvon. Neniu en tiu urbo laboris pli fidele por Esperanto, ĉar, kiel skribis lia vidvo, li mortis laborante por la lingvo.

The 10th of January, at 460 Lyon Street, San Francisco, died Mr. W. B. Treadwell, in the sixty-third year of his life. He was a lawyer, and for many years a fervent Esperantist, composing, writing, and translating the language. No one in this city worked more faithfully for Esperanto, because as his widow wrote, he died working for the language. [As pretty much always, translation mine.]
William Treadwell was born on 1848 in New York, possibly in New York City (he lived there at the age of two), although his family later moved to Flushing, New York. He married and moved to California (not clear in what order that happened) and worked as a lawyer in California. He was also jailed for embezzlement. The California prison records make clear that W. B. Treadwell, a lawyer born in New York, 5’ 6⅝” with light hair and blue eyes, was imprisoned on May 4, 1886, for a term of four years. He was pardoned by the governor on December 30, 1886, which meant that when the Unua Libro was published, William B. Treadwell was a free man.

It seems strange that the Call didn't mention that all three were attorneys.
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