Craven P. Hester was one of the prominent early jurists of California, a distinguished member of the bar, and one of the finest contributions made to the new state through the great exodus from the East in 1849.

He was born at Shelbyville, Kentucky, May 17, 1796. He studied law under Judge Scott, one of the first judges of the Supreme Court of Indiana. He practiced law in Indiana for about seven years, removing to Bloomington, that state, in 1821. He carried on an extensive practice there until 1849, when he set out across the plains, leaving Indiana May 11, 1849. He located at San Jose, and was a resident of that city the rest of his life. He died in 1873. On August 25, 1819, he married Martha T. Leonard and they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in San Jose on August 25, 1869. She passed away in 1876.

Judge Hester came to California with a high reputation as a lawyer, and on October 7, 1850, was chosen district attorney for the Third Judicial District. Subsequently he was appointed by President Lincoln district judge, and served on the bench for a number of years.

Judge and Mrs. Hester were the parents of ten children, five of whom grew to maturity, and all but James came to California. James goes to distinction as a lawyer at Bloomington, Indiana. William Hester was the second child. Sarah married James K. Maddox. John also came to California.

Laura Hester, who is now Mrs. Phelps, resides at 1351 Sutter Street in San Francisco. She is the widow of John Phelps, who was born in New York about 1843 and as a young man came to California and for a number of years was on the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle. He died in 1880.  Mrs. Phelps’ first husband was Mr. Thompson. Mrs. Phelps by her first marriage has one child, Harry Thompson, and he is married as has two daughters, Ruth and Hester Thompson. 


Transcribed by Donna L. Becker 

Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region," by Bailey Millard, Vol. 3, page 215-216, The American Historical Society, Inc., 1924.


© 2004 Donna Becker.


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