Washington Jacob Oglesby (1859 – July 6, 1902) was the first African American to run for office in Oakland and probably Alameda County 1. In 1894 he ran for justice of the peace (judge) 4 and lost. In 1896, he was the first African American to be admitted to the California Bar Association.

Oglesby was born and raised in Virginia (or maybe Kentucky), worked as a schoolteacher in Arkansas, then came to California about 1890. In Oakland he began by selling real estate.

"After passing the California Bar, one of Oglesby’s first divorce cases he handled was for a white woman named Elise Burkart. Her husband in the East had abandoned the woman and her two children. Oglesby not only won the case but also won Burkert as his bride and raised the children as his own." 1

Oglesby lived several places in Oakland: 779 - 7th Street (1894–1895), 832 Linden Street, 1165 - 7th Street (1902). His office while he was an attorney was at 861 Broadway. He was a Mason with Acacia Lodge #22, F&AM.

Elise (or Elisa or Eliza) (Burkart) Oglesby was listed as a dressmaker in the 1903 and 1904 directories, living at 832 Linden street.

Death and Burial

Sadly, Oglesby died in the middle of the night at age 43 of a "weak heart." 2,3 His funeral was at Beth Eden Baptist Church, and is buried in the unendowed section of Mountain View Cemetery.

Links and References

  1. Oglesby by Michael Colbruno on Ancestry.com
  2. Colored Attorney Dies Suddenly San Francisco Call July 7, 1902
  3. His Heart Was Weak Oakland Tribune July 8, 1902
  4. Justice of the Peace, Oakland Oakland Tribune November 20, 1894