Publication 216, The First 100 Years


Second District

Moses M. Drew


Moses M. Drew was born in Grafton County, New Hampshire March 15, 1830. In 1851 he moved to California’s EI Dorado County to engage in mining, then went into business in Sacramento. In 1875, he was elected Sheriff of Sacramento County, and he served two terms. Drew was elected to the Board of Equalization in 1879 but resigned after two years to accept appointment as a United States Marshal. After four years as Marshal, he resigned and returned to Sacramento where he served three more terms as Sheriff of Sacramento County. He died in October, 1911 at age 81.

William Johnston


William Johnston was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania June 2, 1829. He crossed the plains with a party of 300 in 1849 and engaged in mining in EI Dorado County for one year. Johnston moved to the Sacramento Valley and bought a squatters title to land near Richland. He became a successful farmer and was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1871. He was elected to the State Senate in 1879. On April 1, 1882, he was appointed to succeed Moses M. Drew as a Member of the Board of Equalization. Johnston died November 14, 1905.

L. C. Morehouse


Lewis Cass Morehouse was born December 29, 1833 in Onondaga County, New York. He settled in San Leandro and was elected Constable in 1866. He operated a collection agency for several years, until he was elected to the Board of Equalization. He served four terms. Morehouse went into banking and served four terms as director of the Central Bank of Oakland. Morehouse was president of the Bank of San Leandro and organized the First National Bank of San Leandro. He died June 8, 1915 at age 81.

Alexander Brown


Alexander Brown, was born August 28, 1853 in Vergennes, Addison County, Vermont. He came to California in 1883 and settled in Calaveras County, where he was a merchant for many years. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1890 and to the Board of Equalization in 1898. He retired from the Board after three terms and returned to private business. He retired in 1913, and settled in Berkeley. He died November 2, 1938 at age 85.

John Mitchell


John Mitchell, was born in Montreal, Canada January 1, 1862. While he was still a young boy his family moved to New England, where he was educated in the schools of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He came to California in 1876 and went into the grocery business in Oakland. In 1896, Mitchell was elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County, a position he held for many years. Mitchell was one of the organizers of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. He served almost 14 years as a Member of the Board of Equalization, and died in office on October 1, 1924.

Joseph M. Kelley


Born in Chicago, Joseph M. Kelley began his career in Oakland, where he served as a member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for 20 years prior to his assignment as Alameda County Assessor. He served two sessions in the State Assembly (1899 and 1901) as Oakland’s representative and was appointed to the Board of Equalization October 25, 1924. Kelley was Superintendent of the State Industrial Home for the Adult Blind in Oakland prior to his retirement. He died April 22, 1942 at age 70.

Fred E. Stewart


Fred E. Stewart moved to Richmond, California from his native Illinois in 1906. After a lengthy career in railroad work, he was appointed Superintendent of the State Belt Railroad in 1917 by the State Board Harbor Commission. Stewart began his tenure with the Board of Equalization in 1927 and during his four terms of office, he was extremely influential with the Legislature. His ideas were incorporated with those of Controller Ray Riley in the Riley-Stewart Amendment which significantly altered the state’s tax structure and resulted in extensive tax legislation during the 1930s. To this day, the provisions of that landmark legislation comprise California’s revenue system. Stewart was one of the founders of the National Association of Tax Administrators. He was twice elected its president. Stewart died in office April 17, 1942 at age 60.

Ivan C. Sperbeck


Born in Marysville in 1908, Ivan Sperbeck was the son of a pioneer California family. A noted Oakland criminal lawyer, he graduated from U. C. Berkeley in 1930 and was later a Deputy District attorney of Yuba County. In 1939, Sperbeck was named Secretary of the State Personnel Board and became a member of that board two years later. In 1942, Sperbeck was appointed to a brief term on the Board of Equalization. He died in Berkeley November 21 , 1970.

James H. Quinn


James H. Quinn was born in Methuen, Massachusetts August 25, 1902. A steamfitter by trade, Quinn moved to Oakland in 1923. He served as President of the Building Trades Council of Alameda County from 1929 to 1943. During most of this period he was editor of the East Bay Labor Journal Quinn was elected to the Oakland City Council in 1933, 1937, and 1941. He served two terms as Vice-Mayor of Oakland. Quinn served four terms with the Board of Equalization from 1943 through 1958.

John W. Lynch


John Lynch was born in Athens, Ohio and was graduated from Cambridge College, Ohio with a major in accounting. He served in World War I and was decorated for bravery on the field at the Battle of Arras. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Cambrai. Before he was elected to the Board of Equalization in 1958, Lynch worked 25 years with major oil companies, three years in his own tax consulting business, and 11 years with the Bureau of Internal Revenue as deputy collector, revenue agent, and member of the racket squad. Lynch died in office December 4, 1975, after serving on the Board for 17 years.

Iris Sankey


Born in Oak Park, Illinois October 13, 1928, Iris Sankey became the second woman to serve on the Board in its 100-year history. She graduated from Palomar College and San Diego State College with a B.A. degree in Social Science. Sankey served as Chairwoman of the San Diego County Energy Committee and as President of the Palomar College Development Foundation. She served for eight years on the Escondido Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission and was a member of the State Health Manpower Policy Commission. She was also a member of the San Diego Ecology Center, the Escondido Underground Utility Committee and the San Diego Gas and Electric Company Site Selection Committee. Appointed to the Board of Equalization on May 27, 1976, Sankey became the first woman ever to serve as Vice-Chairwoman.

Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr.jpg


Born in Washington, D.C., Dronenburg moved to California at age two when his parents relocated to San Diego in 1945. He attended school in San Diego and graduated from San Diego State University in 1966 with a B. S. in business administration. He worked for five years as an industrial engineer for the Rohr Corporation and N.C.R., Inc., before joining the Board of Equalization as a tax auditor. After seven years with the agency, he was elected to the Board, the first employee ever to attain this position. Prior to his election, Dronenburg was a businessman in his own right. He founded and operated three sporting goods manufacturing and distributing companies.