Judge Elija Carson Hart, now serving for the second term as judge of the superior court of Sacramento county, is one of the strong and honored representatives of the California bar. It is a well attested maxim tha the greatness of a state lies not in its machinery of government, nor even in its institutions, but in the sterling qualities of its individual citizens, in their capacity for high and unselfish effort and their devotion to the public good. The record of Judge Hart is one which confers honor and dignity upon society, because it has been characterized by excellent use of his native talents and powers and by straightforward relations between himself and his fellow men. Starting out for himself at the early age of twelve years, he has steadily advanced in those walks of life demanding close application and strong mentality, and he now stands as the conservator of justice between his fellow men, and in his official career manifests the deepest regard for the dignity of the office.

Judge Hart is a native of Nevada, his birth having occurred September 9, 1857. His father, James Hart, was a native of Ireland and married Sarah Cavins. He was left an orphan at the age of nine years and shortly afterward came to America, sailing as a cabin boy. He followed the sea in that way for several years and then located in Greene county, Indiana. There he learned the cabinet-maker's trade, which he followed until his twentieth year, after which he engaged in teaching for a number of years, and while thus engaged he devoted his leisure time, outside of the schoolroom, to the study of law. Thus prompted by a laudable ambition, he prepared for a profession in which he was destined to become a prominent member. He was admitted to the bar in Indiana and afterward came to California with his brother-in-law, Judge A. L. Rhodes, now of San Jose. Mr. Hart located first in Sutter county and afterward in Colusa, where he entered upon the practice of law, and also served for one term as district attorney of Colusa county. He then resumed the private practice of law, in which he continued up to the time of his death, in 1875. He left a large family of children: Mrs. Richard Jones, of San Francisco; Mrs. Stephen Addington, of Colusa; A. L. Hart, who was attorney general of California but is now deceased; Hon. T. J. Hart, who has also passes away; George and James, both deceased; Samuel R., an attorny of Sacramento; Dr. A. C. Hart, a practicing physician of the capital city and a member of the state board of health; Royal R.; and William Curran.

Judge Elija C. Hart, also of this family, received but limited training in the schools, for conditions made itnecessary, when he was twelve years of age, that he should earn his own living, and he entered the office of the Colusa Sun in order to learn the printing business. He ws there employed until his twentieth year. When twenty-one years of age, so favorable was the regard which he had won from his fellow townsmen, he was elected city clerk of Colusa, but after occupying that position for several months he resigned in order to take editorial control of the Oroville Mercury, at Oroville, California. Six months later he purchased the Willous Journal, of Colusa county, which he conducted as publisher and editor until June, 1884, when he sold the paper and came to Sacramento.

Here Judge Hart entered upon the study of law under the direction of his brother, A. L. Hart, who was then practicing in Sacramento, and in August, 1885, he was admitted to the bar, passing an examination before the supreme court. he entered upon his professional career in the capital, and in April, 1886, was elected city attorney for a term of two years. In April, 1888, together with the other candidates on the Republican municipal ticket, he was defeated, although he polled a larger vote than many of the members of his party. At the general election in the fall of the same year, however, he was elected to represent the nineteenth assembly district in the state legislature, and at the minicipal election of 1890 was again chosen city attorney and served for two years, while in the spring of 1892 he was re-elected. In the fall of the same year he was chosen to represent Sacramento county in the state senate for a term of four years, and in 1896 was elected judge of the suprior court of Sacramento county, being the only Republican elected to office in the county that year. This was certainly a tribute to his personal popularity and indicated the confidence reposed in his professional ability by his fellow citizens. That his course justified this favorable opinion is manifest by the fact that he was re-elected in 1902 for another six-year term, so that he will remain upon the superior bench of the county until 1909.

In 1878 Judge Hart was married to Miss Addie Vivian, a native of Missouri, and a daughter of H. J. and Nancy B. (Cooper) vivian. Her father died in her early girlhood, and her mother afterward came to California, about 1873, with her family, her death occurring in Sacramento in 1887. Four children have been born to the Judge and his wife: Thea Vivian, James Vivian, Elija Carson and Hendley Rhodes.

Judge Hart is identified with seveal fraternal organizations, including the Knights of Pythias, the Elks and the Red Men. In his political allegiance he is a Republican, and for two years was the secretary of the Republican state central committee, while for many years he was a member of the executive committee and for two years was its vice chairman. His public service has ever been actuated by high and honorable principles, whether in the law-making or law-enforcing departments of the municipal and state government. He was the advocate and champion of many legislative measures which have redounded to the public good, and in the discharge of his duties on the bench his rulings are characterized by strong impartiality, equity and a correct application of legal principles to the points in litigation. The world instinctively pays deference to the man whose success has been worthily achieved, and such deference and respect are accorded Judge Hart.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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