Hon. Frank McGowan, a valued member of the state legislature of California, now practicing law at the bar of San Francisco, has spent his entire life upon the Pacific coast, and the enterprise and the progressive spirit which are the dominant qualities in the development of this section of the country are manifest in his professional career. He was born on the 4th of September, 1860, in Steilacoom, Washington. His father, Terrance McGowan, was a native of Ireland, and became one of the pioneer settlers of the territory of Washington. He was a merchant tailor by trade, following that business for many years in order to provide for his family. At the time of the Civil war, however, he put aside all business and personal considerations in response to the call of the president for men to aid in the defense of the Union. He joined the army, serving from 1861 until 1865. He married Miss Ann Rigney, also a native of the Emerald Isle. Coming to America she settled in Maine, and it was in the Pine Tree state that Mr. and Mrs. McGowan were married. Their union was blessed with a family of seven sons and two daughters.
Frank McGowan pursued his education in the public schools of San Francisco, coming to this city in early boyhood days. He was also a student in the public schools of Humboldt county, California, and when sixteen years of age put aside his text books to enter upon a business career. His father had died the year previous, and it was necessary that Mr. McGowan provide for his own support. He continued his studies, however, for some time under private instructors, for it was his desire to enter upon the practice of law and he wished to make thorough preparation before beginning his professional career. When he had broadened his literary knowledge in this way he entered upon the reading of law in 1881 under the direction of J. D. H. Chamberlin, who remained as his preceptor until he was admitted to the bar before the supreme court in 1883.
Mr. McGowan entered upon his professional career in Humboldt county, California, where he opened a law office and continued in active practice until 1886. In the meantime he had become a recognized leader in political circles in his locality, and his fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, nominated him for the office of a representative in 1886. At the election it was shown that he was the choice of the public for the position and he became a member of the assembly of California. In 1888 he was elected to the state senate and was re-elected in 1892 and again in 1896. He proved a capable member of the law-making body of the commonwealth, giving to each question which came up for settlement his earnest consideration and supporting strenously every act which he believed would contribute to the general good. He held the office of chairman of the judiciary committee during six years of his service. He was the author of the county high school law, also the law giving preference in appointments to ex-soldiers of the war of the rebellion, and the author of the pure butter law, designed for the protection of the dairy interests of the state. He was also identified with the passage of bills in behalf of the labor classes, and his service in the house and senate awakened high commendation throughout California. He is a recognized leader in the ranks of the Republican party in this state, and has taken an active part in campaign work since 1882. Throughout these years he has served as a delegate to local and state conventions, and was an elector on the Republican presidential ticket in 1900. Mr. McGowan took up his abode in San Francisco in 1896 and entered upon the practice of law at that time, since which he has been an active representative of the legal interests of this portion of the state. He is now actively connected with the profession which has important bearing upon the progress and stable prosperity of any section or community and one which has long been considered as conserving the public welfare by furthering the ends of justice and maintaining individual rights. He was identified with the defense in the celebrated criminal case of Cordelia Bodkins, and has been connected with other important litigation of both the criminal and civil courts. He has been attorney for public administrator John Farnham.
In September, 1889, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. McGowan and Miss Lena Blum, a native of Humboldt county, California. Her parents were pioneer settlers of this state, having located here when the work of progress and improvement along modern lines had scarcely been begun. To Mr. and Mrs. McGowan have been born two children: Blaine, who is now eleven years of age; and Gertrude C., a maiden of eight summers, both being pupils in the public schools of San Francisco. Mr. McGowan belongs wo the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, to the Sons of Veterans, to the Improved Order of Red Men and to the Masonic fraternity. The favorable judgment which the world passed upon him in his early years has never been set aside nor in any degree modified. It has on the contrary been emphasized by his careful conduct of important litigation, his ability and fairness in the presentation of a case, his zeal as an advocate and the generous commendation he has received from his contemporaries who united in bearing testimony to his high character and superior mind.
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