Solano County

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Though a native of the old Buckeye state, W. L. Crooks, veteran mayor of the flourishing and attractive little city of Benicia, formerly and for years engaged in the banking business there and in many ways one of the most influential figures in the labors of promoting the interests of his home town, has been a resident of California since the days of his young manhood, a period of forty-five years, and was thus long ago thoroughly "sold" on the manifest and manifold advantages and attractions of the favored section of the state in which he elected to make his home upon coming here in 1880. Mr. Crooks was born on May 18, 1863, in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, and was there reared, becoming a skilled telegraph operator. In 1880 he came to California and was located at Benicia as operator for the Southern Pacific Railway Company. Not long afterward he was promoted in service and was made relief agent at stations on this road through the Sacramento valley and on the mountain division and was thus engaged until in 1890, when he became employed in the Peoples Bank at Benicia.

For thirty years Mr. Crooks continued engaged in the banking business at Benicia, by gradual progress rising to the position of president of the Peoples Bank, and then, in 1920, sold the bank to the Central Commercial and Savings Bank of Vallejo and retired, since which time he has been giving his particular attention to the development of his extensive realty interests and to the promotion of other interests with which he has become connected during his long residence at Benicia. He is the manager of the Smelter Land Company, which has put on the market a tract of seven thousand two hundred acres of land, subdivided into ranches of four hundred acres, and the operations of which com-pany have attracted much favorable attention among home seekers. In 1920, following his retirement from the bank, Mr. Crooks erected the Majestic theater at Benicia, a house of popular entertainment that has become recognized as one of the finest and best equipped theaters in the state. This theater was erected at a cost exceeding sixty-five thousand dollars and has one of the finest pipe organs on the coast.

It was in 1898 that W. L. Crooks first was elected mayor of Benicia. By successive reelections he was retained in this administrative office until in 1918, during that long period of executive service doing much to extend the interests of his home town and to promote its general development. When it is recalled that it was during this period that Benicia came into possession of what may be regarded as most of its "modern" improvements, including street paving, the construction of a comprehensive sewer system, the building of the waterworks, the erection of the fine new city library, and the proper development of the park system, all of which improvements were earnestly fostered by Mayor Crooks, the value of his executive services may be appreciated. In 1924 he was again elected mayor, for a four-year term, and is thus now (1926) serving his fifth term in that important office, one of the real veteran city executives in the state and widely known in municipal circles throughout the state.

In 1889, at San Francisco, W. L. Crooks was united in marriage to Miss Fannie Buckley, who was born at Martinez in Contra Costa county, this state, daughter of William Buckley, and they have three children, two daughters, Miss Alice Crooks and Mrs. Mabel C. Thompson, and a son, W. B. Crooks. Mrs. Crooks is a graduate of Mills Seminary and is an able and accomplished helpmate of her husband along the social side of his duties as chief executive of the city. Mayor Crooks is a Mason, is a charter member of Vallejo Lodge No. 559, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and is also affiliated with the local camp of the Woodmen of the World at Benicia.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 07 Oct 2007

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