What’s in a Name? Mastick Court, Wood Street
A court and a nearby street off Lincoln Avenue recall one of Alameda’s pioneer families. Edwin Baird Mastick was born in Burton, Ohio, on March 22, 1824, to Benjamin and Elizabeth “Eliza” Tomlinson Mastick, the second of nine children. When Edwin was still an infant, his parents moved to Rockport, Ohio. Edwin attended law school in Cleveland and began to practice law there.
In 1848, Edwin married Lucretia Mary Wood. She was born in Henderson, N.Y., on Feb. 28, 1824, the last of 12 children. Mastick Court and Wood Street bear the married couple’s surnames.
At first, Edwin and Lucretia settled in Rockport, Ohio, where their children Joseph and Edwin, Jr. were born. Three years into their marriage, they set off for California. Soon after they arrived, Edwin found work as a clerk at the California Supreme Court. He went on to create three successful law firms: Mastick & Mastick; Mastick, Belcher & Mastick; and Mastick, Van Fleet & Mastick. He sat as a senior partner in each.
Edwin and Lucretia had more children in California: sons George, Charles and Reuben and daughters Lucretia and Eliza. They also had an adopted son, their nephew Seabury. Lucretia, known affectionately as “Lulu,” married one of Edwin’s law partners, Frank Otis — the man for whom Otis Drive and Otis Elementary School are named.
The senior Masticks lived in Alameda for 37 years from 1864 until their deaths in 1901. They raised their family on a large estate bordered on the north and south by Pacific and Railroad avenues and on the east and west by Wood and Prospect streets. The city renamed Railroad Avenue to Lincoln Avenue in 1909. Prospect Street is Eighth Street today.
Edwin sat on the board of directors of Alfred A. Cohen’s San Francisco & Alameda (SF&A) Railroad, which ran right by the Mastick’s estate. Cohen named the railroad’s first locomotive E. B. Mastick for Edwin and placed one of SF&A’s stations at Edwin and Lucretia’s doorstep.
Edwin also served as a member of Alameda’s board of trustees (an entity comparable to the modern-day city council) from 1878 to 1893. He served as the board’s president (the equivalent of today’s mayor) from 1883 to 1893.
We often read that Edwin was Alameda’s first mayor. That honor goes Henry Haight, who had already served as California’s governor. He and his wife, Anna, lived on a large estate on the West End. The city of Alameda was incorporated in 1872 and was governed by a board of trustees. Haight served as the first president of that board.
Alameda didn’t have mayors as we know them today until it changed its charter to a mayor-city council form of government in 1916. The first mayor under the new charter was Edwin’s son-in-law Frank Otis.
Edwin died on Feb. 17, 1901. His funeral took place at Mountain View Cemetery. “Sacred music appropriate to the occasion was furnished by the Knickerbocker Quartet,” the Oakland Tribune reported. “The floral tributes were both numerous and beautiful.”
The Tribune also informed its readers that Lucretia had been lying at death’s door, her illness the result of the great strain due to her husband’s illness. Lucretia followed Edwin in death just nine days later on Feb. 26, two days shy of her 77th birthday.
“The city of Alameda owes a great deal of its prosperity to Mr. Mastick’s public-spiritedness,” the Tribune went on to report. “A large estate at the western end of the city was his and Mastick Station, on the broad-gauge line, was named for him.”