John Wallace, a California ‘49er, was a brother of one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century, Alfred Russell Wallace. The latter was born in England in 1823, and early began the voyages and travels in scientific research and was a comparatively young man when he arrived independently of Charles Darwin, at a theory of natural selection, since known as Darwin’s theory. The latter theory was arrived at by both from different parts of the world at the same time. Alfred R. Wallace will remain for all time as one of the men foremost in advancing the boundary of scientific knowledge. In 1855 Doctor Wallace wrote his theory on the “Survival of the Fittest,”—even using Wallace’s terms as heads of his chapters—and due credit is always given to Wallace.

--See Encyclopedia Britannica on Alfred Russell Wallace. 

John Wallace’s brother came around the Horn to San Francisco in 1849, the voyage lasting eight months. On reaching San Francisco he stopped at the Albion Hotel. The beds in this hostelry were arranged as bunks, and in each room slept fifty-one people. John Wallace came of a family of practical mechanics. His brother, Alfred R., studied architecture and John Wallace was familiar with the building business, which he followed on reaching San Francisco. In March, 1850, however, went to the mines at Sonora and then became assistant engineer of the Columbia Water Company and still later engineer of that corporation. 

In 1855 he returned to England, where he married Mary Webster, and brought his bride to California and continued his duties as engineer of the water company. During the latter part of his life he was county surveyor at Stockton, where he died in 1896. He became a member of the Society of California Pioneers at Stockton, was a stanch republican in politics and a member of the Episcopal Church. He and his wife had six children: J. H. Wallace, now in China; W. G. Wallace; Mary Wallace; Alfred A. Wallace; Percival Russell Wallace, and Arthur H. Wallace. A granddaughter of Hon Wallace is Mrs. C. M. Fickert, wife of Charles Fickert, who was formally district attorney of San Francisco. 

Charles Marron Fickert was born in Kern County, California, February 23, 1874. Father, Fred Fickert, deceased, a native of Prussia, came to California in 1847 or 1848, prior to the gold rush. His life was passed in Kern County, where he had a big cattle ranch. Mother, Mary Fickert, of Ireland, lives in Kern County and is still looking after the ranch interests. 

Charles was educated in the public schools of Kern County and Stanford University, class ’99, degree Bachelor of Arts. He was admitted to the bar in 1901 and has handled many large cases. Republican and active in politics. In February 1904, he was appointed first assistant United States attorney under Marshall Woodworth. This appointment was by President Roosevelt upon the personal appeal of David Starr Jordan, then president of Stanford University. He served one year and then returned to private practice. In 1909 he defeated Francis J. Heaney by a big majority for the position of district attorney of San Francisco and held that position for ten years, retiring in 1919, to private practice. During that period he became nationally known in the Mooney case, convicting two against tremendous odds, and many other notable cases. He was a big man mentally, morally and physically, with an extraordinary wide circle of friends who looked up to him as one of the most capable attorneys in the city. He stood 6 feet 4 inches. Until the time he went to college he was a cowboy on his father’s ranch and was a noted rider. He made the football team and played for five years as left guard on the Stanford team, serving as captain in 1898. He was a member of Stanford Parlor, Native Sons of the Golden West, also was a member of the Benevolent and Protective order of Elks, Olympic Club, Bohemian Club, National Guards (California). He was married March 1, 1905, in San Francisco to Miss Ethel Wallace, daughter of J.H. Wallace, who was a Southern Pacific engineer on the Maintenance of Way Department and who is now engaged in putting in radio stations in china for the Federal Telegraph Company. 

Mrs. Fickert’s mother was Minnie (Clark) Wallace, a native of Placer County, now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Fickert are the parents of three children: Marshall Marron, Ruth and Ethel Louise, all attending school.


Louise E. Shoemaker, Transcriber April 7, 2004

Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 151-152. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.

© 2004 Louise E. Shoemaker


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