William Wallace Barbour Sheldon (May 15, 1836 – March 17, 1915), commonly known as Wallace, was an architectural engineer and pioneer of California, a leading figure of the engineering history of the California coast.
Wallace began his career with the Central Pacific Railroad and was present at the laying of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869. In 1875 began work with the Pacific Improvement Company. His most famous work was in the personal home of Mark Hopkins, which was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, the original Santa Monica Pier, and the Del Monte Hotel in Del Monte, California. He also had control of the construction of several railroad terminals, including those in Sacramento, California, Los Angeles, California (Santa Fe Station) and Redlands, California.
William Sheldon was born on May 15, 1836 to Gideon Sheldon and Sarah Ann Stafford in Westport, New York. His father was a basic farmer of Quaker ancestry and his mother a housewife and descendant Thomas Stafford, an early settler of Warwick, Rhode Island and the first man to build a grist mill in the new world. His mother died when he was ten years old in 1846. The death of his father is unknown, but by the 1850 Census he is living as a student with his maternal aunts step-son, Henry Cole, in Westport.
At a young age he took on a trade as carpenter and moved to Brooklyn, New York to make a living for himself. There he met Mary Campbell, daughter of Scottish immigrants Jonathan Campbell and Euphemia Pitbladdo (of the Pitbladdo Monumental Company of Brooklyn). They married on January 31, 1856 in Brooklyn.
Wallace and Mary had their first child, William Wallace Sheldon, on June 20, 1857 in New York. They would have an additional five children while living in Brooklyn. They were Euphemia, born January 1860; Sarah A., born 1862; George Lincoln, born 1864; Frank Gideon, born September 1865 and John A., born 1869. The couple had two more children born in Nevada – Mary Elvira born 1872 and Grace born in 1873. Their last child, Josephine, was born in San Francisco, California in 1875.
The family was well known and liked in the society circles of San Francisco and Oakland, California where they moved in 1880. They were often mentioned in the society columns of the Oakland Tribune. On February 4, 1908 – the couple celebrated their 52 wedding anniversary with a large lavish party. The article in the Tribune is as follows:
- FRIENDS SURPRISE COUPLE AT HOME
- Gather About Happy Pair and Make Merry Over Occasion for Celebration
- Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Sheldon celebrated their fifty second wedding anniversary at the family home, 1372 Seventh Street where the couple were given a surprise party. About fifty friends and relatives extended felicitations to Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon. About thirty-two years ago Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon emigrated from Booklyn to this city. They are pioneer settlers of Oakland and are well known. Mr. Sheldon has been connected with the Southern Pacific Railroad company for the past thirty years.
- Among those who extende greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon were Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Noe, Miss Emily Noe, Miss Freda Noe, Otto Crossfield, Mr. and Mrs. v. Ritschy, Mr. and Mrs. F. Neuraher, Mr. and Mrs. Capt. Moe, Dr. and Mrs. W. G. Mobley, Mr. and Mrs. J. Burnham, Mr. and Mrs. Dr. W. K. Sanborn, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Patterson, Miss Annie Peterson, Miss Carrie Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Duncan, Mr. and Mrs. George Sheldon, Mr. and Mrs. L. Sullivan, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cannes, Mrs. Euphemia Monck, Miss Elva Monk, Miss Fannie Monk, Mr. and Mrs. C. O. Noe, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Peacock, Miss Lessie Johnson, Miss Crevia Johnson, Will Crossman, Edward Crossman, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Sheldon, Miss Laura Bronson, Miss Nellie Bronson, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wilkinson, Misses Nople. The grandchildren present were Mrs. Ida May Duncan, Miss Leila Sheldon, Miss Euphemia Monck, Miss Elsa Monck, Miss Grace Sheldon, Miss Hazel Sheldon, Wallace Sheldon, Miss Flossie Sheldon. The sons and daughters who assisted in making the affair a success were Mrs. Euphemia Monck, Mrs. Chas Moe, Miss Josephine Sheldon, W. W. Sheldon, George Sheldon.