The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1979, Volume 25, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor

Graduate Division Winner
San Diego Historical Society 1979 Institute of History

Images from the article

THE PRESENCE AND FINANCIAL IMPACT of the United States Navy upon the city and county of San Diego cannot be disputed. Responsible in large part for this impact was Congressman William Kettner, whose vision, foresight, and singleminded devotion to the city were legendary in his time. Little is known today of this outstanding citizen save a main thoroughfare, Kettner Boulevard, named in the congressman’s honor in 1921.1 Yet this man, among other accomplishments, brought to San Diego the United States Navy which today claims one out of every three county residents as either active duty, retired, a member of the reserve, a dependent, or civilian employee.2

William Kettner moved to San Diego from Visalia, in central California, in 1907 to establish his business as an insurance agent. Kettner’s first contact with the U.S. Navy occurred in April 1908 during the visit of the “Great White Fleet.” With only twenty-four hours’ notice he was asked to chair the reception committee.3 A combination of facts dawned on Kettner. Theodore Roosevelt strove to impress Japan with the naval might of the United States in the cruise of the fleet around the world.4 The growing importance of San Diego’s harbor as a possible naval base was apparent from the fact that Roosevelt ordered the fleet to anchor in San Diego rather than repairing directly to San Francisco en route to the Pacific. In addition, the fact that naval protection for a country the size of the United States existed only on the east coast seemed preposterous. Kettner’s fertile brain stored this information away for future reference.

In 1912 Kettner was elected to the United States Congress by what could only be a fluke of politics. In the first decades of the twentieth century, seven counties-San Diego, Imperial, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Inyo and Mono-comprised the 49,000 square miles of the Eleventh Congressional District of California. One Representative served this enormous district. Among those holding the opinion that San Diego had not received sufficient representation in the Congress were the directors of the Chamber of Commerce. San Diego’s harbor required immediate attention: dredging was urgently needed to enable large ships to enter. A logical sequence would then follow, goods, trade, employment, and the development of a respectable commercial center. The General Naval Board had recommended improvement of the harbor but support was lacking.5 Judging the trends developing for the election of the fall of 1912, the feeling grew that the next Representative should come from San Diego.

Dissension had split the Republican party in the United States into two factions, Progressives and Standpatters. In the contest for the Republican nomination for president in that election year, the California Progressives actively supported Theodore Roosevelt over incumbent president William Howard Taft, who was, in turn, supported by the conservative element of the party. Taft received the nomination. In protest the new Progressive party nominated Roosevelt as its candidate with California governor Hiram Johnson as his running mate.6 “. ..the split between Taft and Roosevelt gave the Democrats good reason to believe that with Wilson at the head of a united party, they would elect the next president of the United States.”7

In California two Republicans determined to run for the congressional seat vacated by the terminal illness of Congressman Sylvester C. Smith: Samuel C. Evans of Riverside, Progressive, and Lewis R. Kirby of San Diego, Standpatter. The Chamber’s Board of Directors, listing William Kettner as a vice president, felt sure that Samuel Evans would win the nomination on the Republican ticket. The challenge was thrown out to Kettner, lone Democrat on the Board, to enter the race on the Democratic ticket. Kettner agreed, ran unopposed, and when Kirby won the Republican nomination, the race was on.8

Within two days, a petition circulated to support Kettner received three to four hundred signatures. Prominent Republicans such as Louis J. Wilde and Ed Fletcher, Sr., mounted the bandwagon.9 The nomination of Evans had removed any possibility of a Republican from San Diego being elected. The cry began to be heard among Republicans of importance, “Why not Kettner?” President of the Chamber, Frank C. Spaulding, and Rufus Choate, secretary, as well as most of the Board members, Republicans all, left duties of promoting the city to campaign for their vice president.10

The “Women’s Kettner Club” was formed to advance the cause of San Diego’s candidate for Congress. Of the fifty charter members, forty-nine were Republicans, one a Democrat.11 The election of Woodrow Wilson to the presidency in November, 1912 helped greatly to sweep Kettner into office. Evans was defeated by a plurality of 3.400 votes, a formidable feat in a predominantly Republican sector.12

A few days after the election the City Council asked Kettner to go immediately to Washington with Rufus Choate to present the needs of San Diego’s harbor to the Board of Engineers. They found an appropriation was needed. Kettner returned to San Diego, then to Washington to present to the Senate Commerce Committee San Diego’s petition for funds to dredge the harbor. The request was disapproved.

Through the help and intervention of State Senator John D. Works, Kettner determined that a letter was needed from someone in a position of authority in the United States Navy to justify the need for deepening San Diego’s harbor. A new plea to the Admiral of the Navy, George Dewey, was denied. In the first of many such moves, Kettner approached the problem via the back door. Spending the evening at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, he discussed the subject with members of the General Board of the Navy Department. The recommendation came for Kettner to contact Dewey again the next morning. This time Dewey, in a letter dated December 19, 1912, set forth not only the feasibility of dredging San Diego’s harbor, but outlined the reasons why naval use of the harbor would no doubt increase.13 The Senate Commerce Committee came forth with an appropriation of $249,000 for San Diego.14 Thus, a major feat was accomplished by the fledgling, but as yet unofficial, congressman.

At the suggestion of Rufus Choate, Kettner, once installed in the House of Representatives, applied for a seat on the Rivers and Harbors committee.15Three vacancies existed for twenty-three applicants. Kettner not only won a seat, but achieved the distinction of being one of the first “first-termers” to be appointed to so important a committee.16

Among Kettner’s early accomplishments in Congress was to win a fight against the Army Corps of Engineers, persuading Congress to set aside $1,000,000 (later pared down to $280,000) for new fortifications on Point Loma.17 A house committee had been told by a member of the Army Corps of Engineers that Los Angeles had a superior harbor, only to be met by a barrage of facts-Kettner facts-which convinced the committee the funds belonged in San Diego.

Kettner’s first term in Congress was a whirlwind of activity, establishing early his reputation as the “gettinist” Congressman who ever went to Congress from California.18 Included in his first term’s achievements were recognition of the settlers’ rights on the Mount Whitney reservation in Inyo County, the recognition of bona fide settlers in Imperial County, concluding the business left unfinished by the late Congressman Sylvester Smith, pushing through meritorious pensions left hanging fire for years, and fighting to keep the half cent tariff on lemons.19

Kettner continued to pursue the cause of San Diego relentlessly, determined to make known the city whose name often appeared in Washington documents as “Santiago.”20 He early began a concerted effort to visit his outlying districts at least once a year. In October, 1913, Kettner travelled through Imperial Valley occasioning a large reception with a band in El Centro.21 His special interests extended also to Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Riverside Chamber of Commerce was grateful for his efforts to secure congressional recognition for the International Citrus Congress and the Navel Orange Anniversary celebration in 1914.22 Kettner’s assistance to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the attempt to obtain an appropriation to aid in the construction of a bridge across the Colorado River near Needles, California, was warmly regarded.23

Kettner’s enthusiasm and determination soon established him as a formidable fighter. He was also honest-a fact which made him a bit of a curiosity. Kettner made friends with his winning personality and warm, friendly manner. He addressed friends and colleagues as “brother,” earning him the nickname of “Brother Bill” in Washington as well as in San Diego.24 Kettner’s reputation for generosity with California products, in his zeal to promote the state, became legion: a can of ripe olives, a bottle of California wine, a box of oranges, a bag of lemons; no conversation was quite complete without his comment, “Wait a moment, I’ve got something here I want to give you.”25

Additional appropriations were obtained during Kettner’s first term to complete the Naval Coaling Station on Point Loma, begun in 1898, for the Chollas Heights Naval Radio Station, to map the offshore kelp beds and to strengthen coastal defenses at Fort Rosecrans.26 As a result of Kettner’s efforts the name of the United States armored cruiser California was changed to the U.S.S. San Diego and the vessel was rechristened in San Diego harbor on September 16, 1914.27

In 1909 the San Diego Panama-California Exposition was proposed. Work began in 1910, but it took the legislation of Congressman Kettner to obtain recognition of the federal government for the project. San Diego had raised $7,000,000 to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. San Francisco announced it would sponsor an exposition, to be called the Panama-Pacific Exposition, at the same time. San Francisco reported it would be economic suicide for San Diego to pursue its idea and recommended the southern city drop its plans. The federal government, in addition, seemed to favor San Francisco by formally inviting Latin American countries to participate in its exposition. With Kettner’s intervention, the situation was resolved. Both cities held their expositions and at the close of San Francisco’s event, Kettner introduced a bill, passed in Congress, to transfer $76,000 of unexpended funds, as well as most of the government’s exhibits, to San Diego.28 Theodore Roosevelt visited San Diego’s Exposition on July 29, 1915. Roosevelt, much impressed with San Diego, as well as its exposition, made the comment:

I hope that you of San Diego, whose city is just entering on its great period of development, will recognize what so many old communities have failed to recognize. That beauty is not only well worth while for its own sake, but that it is valuable commercially. Keep your waterfront and develop it so that it may add to the beauty of your city. Do not let a number of private individuals. . . make it hideous with buildings, and then force your children to pay them an exorbitant sum to get rid of the ugliness they have created.29

May 13, 1915, was declared “Kettner Day” at the exposition. In Kettner’s eight years in Congress, this period was his only vacation at home. Overjoyed at the beauties of the display, he piloted Congressmen and Senators from all over the United States through the grounds.30 Kettner was responsible for requisitioning a cavalry band for duty at the exposition from Fort Sam Houston, Texas.31

Franklin D. Roosevelt, assistant secretary of the Navy, travelled to California, visiting both expositions at San Francisco and San Diego. Roosevelt gave Kettner the impression he felt Naval recruits would fare better, healthwise, in a more salubrious climate than Goat Island (Yerba Buena) in the Bay area.32 The exposition left several large buildings in the park. Kettner offered them to the Navy for temporary training facilities to be leased at $1.00 per year.33 The former Food and Beverage building, now Casa del Prado, was converted into a barracks. Soon there were 4,000 sailors quartered in the park.34 Meanwhile, different locations were being considered for a permanent training facility, False Bay, the lower end of the Silver Strand, and Point Loma. The Point Loma site was owned by the San Diego Securities Company. The Chamber of Commerce, upon Kettner’s suggestion that “[it] raise this money and I’ll assure you the finest harbor in the United States. . .,” solicited contributions which resulted in the sum of $280,000. One hundred thirty-five acres were purchased and the City Council donated seventy-nine acres of tide lands fronting the proposed training station in Loma Portal.35 The deeds to these sites were forwarded to Congressman Kettner who placed them in escrow with the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.36 In this manner the site of the present Naval Training Center was obtained at great financial loss to the San Diego Securities Company.37

On Kettner’s return to San Diego in 1915 to attend the Panama-California Exposition, he was introduced to Colonel Joseph Pendleton, commander of the Second Battalion of the Fourth Regiment of the United States Marines.38 Pendleton thought that San Diego, specifically North Island, would be an ideal location for a Marine Corps Advance Base.39 While Kettner agreed San Diego was the proper location, he felt a more appropriate site would be the area known as “Dutch Flats,” a swampy stretch of land bordering the bay, viewed from Kettner’s home on Horton’s Hill.40 Some time later the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General George Barnett, visited the exposition. Kettner caught Barnett’s attention and convinced him of his idea for the location of the Marine Base.41 Together Kettner and Barnett reached Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt, already enthusiastic about San Diego as the location for the Naval Training Center.42 On January 5, 1916, Kettner introduced H.R. 7629 to the House of Representatives providing for the purchase of these lands as a Marine Base.43 Again, an appropriation was obtained to buy two hundred thirty-two acres of land from the San Diego Securities Company. Additionally, the city donated five hundred acres of tide flats to the federal government.44 The architect who had designed the exposition buildings was retained to design the Marine Corps Advance Base buildings in the mission style advocated by Colonel Pendleton.45

William Kettner was deeply involved in the beginnings of the North Island Naval Air Station. He joined an “aero club” formed by Colonel D.C. Collier46 about 1910-11 as a charter member.47 Exhibition flights, held at Coronado, were followed by a national meet held at the San Dominguez field in Los Angeles. Famed aviator Glenn Curtiss numbered among the enthusiasts.48 Shortly after Curtiss selected a site on North Island for an aero school he first flew his hydroplane at this location.49 The U.S. Army Signal Corps Training School moved temporarily to North Island in 1913 and it became known as Rockwell Field in 1914.50 In a matter of controversy over control of North Island, the situation was complicated by the fact that Curtiss and the U.S. Army had been allowed use of the land free of charge. The Coronado Beach Company, during this period, had paid $50,000 in taxes alone. The company now felt it was time the property be upgraded and put on the market. The company advised Curtiss and the U.S. Army that the property should be vacated as soon as possible.51 The Armed Services Committee then asked Kettner to frame a bill to take over North Island from the Coronado Beach Company. The Chamber of Commerce authorized Kettner to invite representatives of the Armed Services Committee to visit North Island; no one accepted the invitation.52 On May 17, 1917, the Secretary of War wrote the President concerning acquisition of North Island for the joint use of the Army and Navy. On the recommendation of the President, Kettner pushed through an Act which authorized the Chief Executive to take possession, on behalf of the United States, of North Island for use as a site for permanent Army and Navy aviation schools.53 The act also appropriated the money necessary to pay the awards in favor of private claimants to be disbursed by the Secretary of War.54

Under Kettner’s sponsorship, the United States Navy later built a Naval Hospital in the Balboa Park area in 1919. The architectural style, again, would be “Mission.” The total bed capacity of the hospital was expected to be five hundred. The Navy Department, Bureau of Yards and Docks, promised to cooperate to keep the grounds as beautiful as the adjacent city park lands.55

In 1915 Kettner had resigned from the Rivers and Harbors committee to become a member of the Naval Affairs Committee, a very important step for San Diego.56 He seemed to be everywhere at once, from attempting to push through legislation for a military road through the Imperial Valley to correspondence with Senator James D. Phelan’s secretary concerning a stop for President Wilson, on a trip to the exposition in 1915, in Riverside.57 In 1916 Kettner was requested to attend a citizens’ testimonial dinner for Senator Phelan at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Kettner demurred with the explanation that there were 30,000 more Republicans in his district than Democrats, the Republicans and Progressives were again united, and he would need all his time to campaign through his large district.58

In 1918 a large contracting firm from Philadelphia approached Kettner with the idea of building a concrete ship yard in San Diego. Los Angeles interests also vied for the yard. Kettner succeeded in convincing business interests to the north that San Diego’s needs were greater. The Schofield Engineering Company then located its shipyard at the foot of Thirty-Second Street. The yard produced two concrete tankers of 7500 tons.59

Among Kettner’s special interest areas was the water problem in Imperial County. The county was created out of the eastern portion of San Diego County on August 15, 1907.60 Imperial Valley itself covered roughly 6,000 square miles and formed the delta of the Colorado River.61 The lower portion of the river lay in Mexico; a large area of the Imperial Valley lay below sea level. The silt-laden river, in the early part of the century, was wild, untamed, and continually breaking down its banks and forming new channels. The Valley was under constant threat of a break in the river which would flood the cultivated lands.62 To attempt to cope with the problem, the Imperial Irrigation District was organized in 1911 under the Bridgford Act.63 The members of the District then approved a bond to buy the Imperial Canal from the Southern Pacific Railroad. The members of the Irrigation District were much aware that the cost of maintenance of the levees was entirely born by the United States although Mexico was benefitting from the situation. Permission needed from Mexican officials to maintain the canal on the Mexican side proved to be time-consuming and annoying, as well as expensive.64

Agitation began among the settlers to build an “All-American” canal which would be independent of Mexico. In 1915 Kettner put through an appropriation allotting $100,000 for emergency work on the Colorado River.65 In March 1915 Kettner personally escorted Secretary Franklin K. Lane on a tour of the Imperial Valley to investigate levee improvements and the possibility of irrigating dry lands.66

Kettner secured a Government Land Office for the Valley in 1916 to facilitate the filing of land claims.67 In 1917 an Imperial Valley delegation proceeded to Washington under the leadership of attorney Phil D. Swing.68 The delegation left the capital with an agreement between the Reclamation Bureau and the Imperial Irrigation District that three representatives would journey to the Valley to investigate Imperial’s need for an All-American canal.69 In June 1919 Kettner introduced H.R. 6044 in Congress, calling for the construction of storage works on the Colorado River and for an All-American canal.70 The committee then visited Imperial Valley and made a twenty-three page report recommending denial of the bill as written, but acknowledging that the situation in the Imperial Irrigation District was critical and “relief should be afforded at as early a date as practicable. . . the urgency of the problem does not permit delay.”71 Kettner introduced a second bill, H.R. 11553, to the second session of the 66th Congress on January 7, 1920.72 A similar bill was later passed under the sponsorship of Congressman Phil D. Swing.

Anticipation of the U.S. entry into World War I brought great interest in the field of aeronautics. The Congress voted, just after the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, the sum of $640,000 to build new air fields. This was a substantial increase over the previous appropriation of only $300,000 just two years before.73 The Riverside Chamber of Commerce felt that its city had an ideal site for an air field on the Alessandro Plains near the city. Its advantages were numerous, “hardly a tree or a wire to interfere in the flights by planes southeast of Riverside,” as well as the preponderance of sunshine throughout the year.74 Negotiations were begun with the War Department to obtain legislation for this purpose. The Riverside Chamber was soon informed that three choices had been made in California: Tracy, Bakersfield, and lastly Riverside. Realizing that they were dealing with Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic administration, the Chamber found that there were no Democrats in their midst. In fact, the total of registered Democrats in the whole of Riverside County came to the grand sum of twenty. In desperation the Chamber telegraphed Congressman Kettner, who responded to their aid immediately. In a letter to Mayor Oscar Ford of Riverside Kettner cautioned that of the eleven Congressmen in the state only three were interested in the southern part of the state. Therefore he was fighting for Riverside as the site for the Aviation field. Kettner aranged for a delegation to visit the site and assured the mayor that he had given a “great many reasons” why the Riverside site was the best location.75 In one month a massive report was prepared by the Chamber members “… the most minute detail for the prospectus, preparing photographs, panoramic views, meteorological data, contour maps and securing data on health, . . .and water conditions.”76 In January 1918 Congressman Kettner telegraphed the Chamber that they could almost count on their goal being achieved.77 Official word was received on February 7, 1918, that the Alessandro site was accepted by the U.S. Army.78 Great jubilation and a parade ensued. The field was officially dedicated on March 20 and was named March Field in honor of 2nd Lt. Peyton C. March, Jr., who had been killed in an air crash just prior to this event.79

William Kettner served four terms in Congress, laboring faithfully and continuously on behalf of the city he loved. In 1921 he made the decision to step down due to ill health and financial reverses in his insurance business. He continued to serve his city after returning to San Diego.

Kettner was honored in two singular ways by the city of San Diego. The San Diego Fire Department built a fire boat entirely by hand in 1919, christening it the Bill Kettner.80 In July, 1921, a second tribute was paid to Kettner when the San Diego City Council agreed to change the name of Arctic Street, for its entire length, to Kettner Boulevard.81 Kettner was approached in 1927 to run for the office of mayor but declined.82

Kettner was active in every major club and organization in the city. His interest in the armed services continued unabated and culminated in joining a steering committee organized to establish a permanent Army and Navy YMCA building in the downtown district.83 Kettner remained on the Committee of Management for the Armed Forces YMCA until his death.84

During the final years of his life, Kettner’s health seriously deteriorated. He died at Mercy Hospital in 1930 at the age of sixty-six.85 Tributes poured in from Theodore Roosevelt, William and Eleanor Wilson McAdoo, Congressman Phil D. Swing who announced Kettner’s death on the floor of the Congress, and uncounted military.86

In a solemn Masonic burial service Kettner was laid to rest beside his mother in Greenwood Memorial Park. Despite his outstanding accomplishments, the plain stone recorded simply: “William Kettner, November 20, 1864-November 11, 1930.”87

Recounting his congressional career in Why It Was Done and How, William Kettner summed up his life as follows:

I firmly believe that most people have a longing to do something for their fellowman, in order that it may be said when they have passed on that their lives have not been spent in vain. . .88


1. San Diego City Council Ordinance Number 8421. Microfilm San Diego City Council office, San Diego, California.

2. “The Navy’s Economic Impact in California.” Pamphlet published by the Eleventh Naval District, San Diego, California, p. 4. In addition, combined payrolls and Naval disbursements in the San Diego area exceed two billion dollars annually.

3. Joan M. Jensen, “The Politics and History of William Kettner.” Times Gone By: The Journal of San Diego History, June 1965, p. 26.

4. Ibid.

5. San Diego Union, June 4, 1912, p. 4.

6. Bernard L. Hyink, etc., Politics and Government in California. 2nd ed. Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York: 1959. p. 58. Joseph P, Harris, California Politics, 3rd ed. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 1961. p. 7-8.

7. Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., Progresswism in Ameríca. New Viewpoints. New York. 1974. p. 167.

8. The day of the primary the Union ran an editorial stressing the urgency of electing a San Diegan to this congressional seat: that, with the opening of the Panama Canal and the San Diego and Arizona Eastern railroad, the importance of San Diego to the balance of the Eleventh Congressional District was crucial. San Diego Union, September 13, 1912, sec. 2, p. 13. The primary was notable only for its light vote. “San Diego appears to have made the record for apathy. . .” San Diego Union, September 4, 1912, p. 4. Kettner stated, “Mrs. Kettner and myself. . .are willing to work twenty-four hours out of the twenty-four to give San Diego a congressman, but if the people won’t support him what’s the use of making the effort. . .” Ibid., p. 1.

9. Ed Fletcher, Memoirs of Ed Fletcher. Pioneer Printers. San Diego. 1952. p. 179. “. . .I was always actively interested in politics, voted the Republican ticket excepting when I supported our old friend Bill Kettner, a Democrat, and one of the most representative congressmen San Diego county ever had”.

10. San Diego Union, September 6, 1912, sec. 2, p. 7. Outside of the mayor, James E. Wadham, and two other Democrats, the signatures were those of men prominent in the Republican party. William Kettner, Why It Was Done and How. San Diego: Frye and Smith, 1923, p. 9.

11. San Diego Examiner, September 13, 1912. The “Women’s Kettner Club” was the first women’s political group ever organized in San Diego. William Kettner addressed the first meeting.

12. “History of San Diego County,” Carl Heilbron, ed. San Diego Press Club. San Diego. 1936. p. 107. Official Congressional Directory, 63rd Congress, 2nd session, December 1, 1913. Second edition, February 1914, p. 12. Noteworthy was the fact that the Prohibitionist candidate was a woman, Helen M. Stoddard, who garnered 4,842 votes.

13. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 12-14. Admiral Dewey cited the geographical location of San Diego, nearest port of call for the Navy when the Panama Canal was in operation, the Navy’s coaling wharf in San Diego and “… the harbor is used as a base for a part of the drills of the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla…” Additionally, “… there is room in the inner harbor for at least sixteen capital ships in quiet, perfectly protected water, and there is now a limited coast defense.”

14. Ibid., p. 15.

15. “Early Recollections” by Rufus Choate. San Diego History Center, Library and Manuscripts Collection. p. 2.

16. San Diego Union, October 29, 1913. “He is the only Democrat [Kettner] to represent the Committee west of the Rocky Mountains…”

17. San Diego Evening Tribune, November 2, 1963.

18. Hemet, California News, December 2, 1927. Riverside Enterprise,November 23, 1927.

19. San Diego Union, October 29, 1913. Kettner continuously advocated a tariff on lemons, walnuts, oranges, etc. Citrus growers conceded that, but for Kettner, lemons would have “. . .gone on the free list.” “. . .and hope that you will be able to hold the situation where it seems to be today, for that will mean much for us in helping along in competition with the foreigner.” Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 27. “. . .He is the man who saved our oranges and lemons from the free list and if any man can secure a higher tariff than we now have it is he [Kettner]…” “The Citrus Club,” pamphlet published by the fruit growers of Redlands, Rialto, California, urging a vote for Kettner for Congress. William Kettner file, SDHC Library.

20. San Diego Union,August 6, 1967, sec. G, p. 1. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 36. “William Kettner is the busiest, liveliest, and best Democrat from the west on the Rivers and Harbors committee. . . we like Kettner because he is a worker.” The Evening Index, San Bernardino, California, May 26, 1914. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 135.

21. Otis B. Tout, The First Thirty Years: An Account of the Principal Events in the History of Imperial County, Southern California, U.S.A.” San Diego: Arts & Crafts Press. 1931, p. 195.

22. Letter from the Riverside Chamber of Commerce to Kettner, October 28, 1914. Unfortunately, in spite of Kettner’s “. . .extraordinary lengths to secure endorsement for the project…” the plans had to be cancelled due to “. . . unhappy conditions abroad.” Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 125.

23. Letter to Kettner from the Committe on Indian Affairs, U.S. Congress, September 8, 1914. “…you measured up well as a Representative of dignity, character, industry, and capability.” Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 134.

24. Key West, Florida Advertiser, March 25, 1916.

25. Ibid.

26. Richard F. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, The History of San Diego, Vol. 5. Union-Tribune Publishing Company. 1965. p. 174. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 21. Kettner secured an appropriation of $45,000 for completion of the coal wharf and another for $50,000 for a fuel oil station. Ibid., 46-48. The station would become the largest Naval radio station in the world at that time.

27. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 32-33. Commander of the North Island U.S. Army base, Captain Arthur S. Cowan, arrived in the lone seaplane to participate in the ceremony. The ship departed for Mexico but returned to take part in the opening of the San Diego Exposition, January 1, 1915.

28. Florence Christman. The Romance of Balboa Park. 2nd ed. Neyenesch Printers, Inc. San Diego: 1973, p. 41. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 36.

29. “Makers of San Diego Panama-California Exposition, 1915” Leather bound promotion album, n.d., n.p. SDHC Library, San Diego Exposition.

30. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 38-9. Visiting also on Kettner Day were Admiral Baron Sotokichi Uriu, retired Japanese naval officer and his staff, unofficial ambassadors of good will from Japan. The Chamber of Commerce hosted the congressmen and the Baron and his party at a luncheon in the Cafe Cristobal. Later in the evening the women’s official board gave a reception for both groups of dignitaries.

31. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 38.

32. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 60. Roosevelt was concerned at an inordinate amount of illness among sailors stationed on Yerba Buena Island and almost assured Kettner of his support in removing the base to San Diego.

33. Ibid.

34. San Diego Evening Tribune, March 10, 1976, p. Bl. Union Title and Trust Topics, Vol. VII, No. 2, March-April 1953, p. 6.

35. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 60. Individual donations in large amounts were made by John D. Spreckels, $15,000, and George W. Marston, $10,000. Ibid,, p. 61. The site joined the Marine lands on the north. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, p. 232.

36. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 61.

37. Ibid.

38. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, p. 195. Joseph Henry Pendleton was born June 2, 1860 in Rochester, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. Continuous service of forty-two years with service in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Santo Domingo brought him eventually to San Diego. Pendleton worked incessantly for a Marine Base in San Diego. After retirement he served as mayor of Coronado, California, 1928-30 and died in San Diego in 1942. “Joseph Henry Pendleton, 1860-1942: A Register of His Personal Papers” compiled by Martin K. Gordon. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. 1975.

39. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 52. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, p. 195. Pendleton was advocating a Marine Base in San Diego as early as 1914 when he delivered a speech entitled “San Diego as a Marine Advance Base” at the ceremony rechristening the U.S.S. California as the U.S.S. San Diego. Pendleton spoke at a banquet at the U.S. Grant Hotel on September 16, 1914. Gordon, “Pendleton Letters,” p.46. On March 17, 1915 Pendleton received a letter from Colonel Charles H. Lauchheimer, HQ, USMC, saying that the Department (at that time) had no intention of establishing a permanent Marine barracks in San Diego. Gordon, “Pendleton Letters,” p. 51.

40. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 52.

41. January 8, 1916. Letter from MajGenCmdt George Barnett, HQ, USMC, to Col. Joseph H. Pendleton, Commanding 4th Regiment, U.S.S. Buffalo. This communique contained the official orders from the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and General Barnett permanently establishing a Marine Barracks at San Diego. Gordon, “Pendleton Letters,” p. 55.

42. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, p. 195.

43. Letter dated January 25, 1916. MajGenCmdt George Barnett, HQ, USMC, to Col. Joseph Pendleton, Commanding 4th Regiment, USMC, U.S.S. Buffalo, Guaymas, stating Kettner would push the bill as hard as he could. Gordon, “Pendleton Letters,” p 56.

44. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 53-54. Local legislation was passed with overwhelming approval by the voters, the count 40,288 to 305 in favor of the measure. Pourade, Gold in the Sun, p. 222.

45. Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, a New York architect and master of Spanish Colonial architectural design. Mary Gilman Marston, George White Marston, a Family Chronicle, Vol II. Ward Ritchie Press. San Diego: 1965, p. 35, 36, 86. Letter dated August 22, 1917, BGen Joseph H. Pendleton, Coronado, California, to BGen Charles McCawley, Quartermaster’s Department, HQ, USMC. Pendleton urged the adoption of the Spanish Mission style of architecture and the housing of each company in separate quarters with a separate mess. On June 12, 1920, much later, Kettner received a glowing letter from MajGen Barnett complimenting him on his efforts in obtaining “… the finest Marine Corps post in the United States… I attribute almost wholly to the great interest you took in getting a Marine Corps post in Southern California.” Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 59.

46. David Charles Collier was born in Central City, Colorado in 1871. He arrived in San Diego at age 12 on the old steamer Orizaba. Collier became a lawyer whose pay was in “worthless” lots in East San Diego, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Normal Heights, and North Park. He subdivided these properties and became wealthy. Collier was a great promoter of San Diego. He was Director-General of the Exposition, sinking $500,000 of his own funds in the project. Collier owned and operated a railroad from San Diego to Ocean Beach. Collier died on November 14, 1934. San Diego Union, November 14, 1934.

47. Congressional Record, 65th Congress, First Session, speech of Hon. William Kettner, D. California, June 9, 1917.

48. Glenn Hammond Curtiss was a native of Hammondsport, N.Y. He was a champion motorcycle racer with light motors built by himself. In 1906 he established a world’s record of 127 mph. In 1905 he was commissioned to build an engine for the U.S. Dirigible No. 1 and assisted in trial tests. His goal was to achieve “an aeroplane that would be available for starting or landing on the water”. “San Diego: First In Air” by Owen F. Clarke. Brand Book Number 5, San Diego Corral of the Westerners. San Diego: 1978, p. 191-2.

49. Congressional Record, Kettner speech, June 9, 1917.

50. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 77.

51. Ibid., p. 85-87. Despite this order the Army continued to erect temporary buildings along the north end of North Island. By June 1, 1916 there were twenty-two Army buildings. Elretta Sudsbury, Jackrabbits to Jets. Hall & Ojena Publications. San Diego: 1967, p. 35.

52. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 89.

53. Sudsbury, Jackrabbits, p. 38. On August 1 the following executive order was issued: “Pursuant to the authority vested in me by an Act of Congress approved July 27, 1917, it is hereby ordered that possession be taken forthwith on behalf of the United States, for use for national defense, and in connection therewith as sites for permanent aviation school purposes of the whole of North Island in the harbor of San Diego.”

54. Ibid., p. 38.

55. Letter to Kettner from R.E. Bakenhus, May 22, 1920. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 104.

56. American Biography, A New Cyclopedia. American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1932. p. 82.

57. William Kettner to Hon. James D. Phelan, New York. January 8, 1915. William Kettner to John F. Carraway, secretary to Senator Phelan. Kettner was arranging for a congressional party to leave for the San Diego Exposition and hoped to attach the president’s car to his train. February 19, 1915. Other unusual legislation was the Indian appropriation bill increasing beds at the Sherman Institute, Riverside. San Diego Union, February 18, 1914.

58. William Kettner to Roy N. Bishop, Chairman, Phelan Banquet Committee, San Francisco, September 16, 1916.

59. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 63-65. Pourade, Cold in the Sun, p. 228. Arnold Klaus, History of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Book 3, Part III, 1967. p. 504.

60. “The Struggle for Boulder Dam and Other Reminiscences of Phil D. Swing”. Collection 537, Phil D. Swing Papers, Box 35. UCLA Special Collections Department. p. 33.

61. Tout, The First Thirty Years, p. 17.

62. In 1905 a serious flood occurred which lasted almost two years and created the Salton Sea. The area was below sea level, the whole valley was under threat of inundation. Southern Pacific railroad crews finally managed to stem the tide.

63. Tout, The First Thirty Years, p. 25.

64. Report of the Committee of Representatives of State, Treasury, War and Interior Departments on H.R. 6044, August 21, 1919.

65. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 120.

66. Tout, The First Thirty Years, p. 198. “The party. . . were properly entertained by the Imperial Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Irrigation District.” Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 121.

67. Tout, The First Thirty Years, p. 201. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 122.

68. Born in San Bernardino, Swing settled in Imperial County in 1907 to begin his first law practice in El Centro. He was a dynamic and forceful young man whose flair for showmanship early made him a leader in local affairs. He became chief counsel for the Imperial Irrigation District, later a judge. Swing and Kettner were closely allied, Swing succeeded Kettner as congressman for the Eleventh Congressional District in 1921. Both men retired unopposed. Swing co-authored the Swing-Johnson bill in Congress (with Senator Hiram Johnson), finally approved, after a long and bitter struggle in the Houses, as the Boulder Canyon Project Act. Swing was also a member of the San Diego law firm of Stearns, Forward, Luce and Swing. Remi A. Nadeau, The Water Seekers. Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. 1950, p. 172. Swing, The Struggle, p. 104.

69. Nadeau, The Water Seekers, p. 173. In its report it not only recommended an All-American canal, but also a storage reservoir on the upper reaches of the Colorado River for flood control and water conservation. Swing, The Struggle, p. 62.

70. H.R. 6044 introduced in the House of Representatives by Kettner, 66th Congress, First Session, June 17, 1919. “Though Kettner’s measure failed to win approval, it marked the most important step up to that time in the events leading to the Boulder Canyon Project…” “The Politics of Reclamation: California, the Federal Government, and the Origins of the Boulder Canyon Act-A Second Look” by Norris Hundley. California Historical Quarterly, Winter 1973, p. 293.

71. Report of Committee, August 21, 1919.

72. H.R. 11553, introduced in the House of Representatives by Kettner, 66th Congress, Second Session, January 7, 1920. This bill called for the construction of the aqueduct only. Hundley, “The Politics,” p. 312.

73. “The Beginnings of March Field, 1917-1918” by R. Bruce Harley. Southern California Quarterly, June 1971, Vol LIII, No. 2, p. 147.

74. Harley, “The Beginnings”, p. 153.

75. William Kettner to Oscar Ford, mayor of Riverside, January 2, 1918.

76. Harley, “The Beginnings”, p. 152.

77.Ibid., p. 154.

78. Ibid., p. 155.

79.Ibid., p. 156.

80. Personal interview by author with Captain William H. Gibb, San Diego Fire Department, February 6, 1976. The Bill Kettner was commissioned June 30, 1919. It was the first use of a gas powered fireboat in California and in the history of the fire service. It was built at a cost of $8,500. The boat was sold and the pier destroyed in 1956. Captain C.R. Davis and Lt. C.A. Causey, Fifty Years of Progress, San Diego Fire Department. San Diego Fire Department. San Diego: 1956.

81. San Diego City Council Ordinance Number 8421. Microfilm San Diego City Council Office, San Diego, California.

82. San Diego Union, January 23, 1927. p. 25. The Union stated that “. . . he finds sufficient avenues for his energies in private business life. However, he is never so busy that he is unable to get out and do a lot of hard work for ‘the old home town’. . ..”

83. Fahy Johnson. 500 West Broadway: The Story of a Building. San Diego Armed Services YMCA. San Diego: June 1952, p. 1.

84. Official Minutes of the Committee of Management of the Armed Services YMCA, San Diego, California, 1921-28.

85. San Diego Evening Tribune, November 11, 1930, Sec A, p. 1.

86. Telegrams contained in Kettner file received at the time of his death by Marion Kettner. SDHC Library. Wrote Judge Irving R. Lenroot, U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, on December 19, 1930, “. . .you and Billy exemplified the highest ideals of married life…”

87. Personal observation by author, November 13, 1977. San Diego Sun, November 11, 1930, p. 1.

88. Kettner, Why It Was Done, p. 183.