Judge Edwin B. Crocker (1818-1875)
Edwin Bryant Crocker was the eldest of five children born to Isaac and Elizabeth Clark Crocker. He grew up in Troy, New York, and attended the Rensselaer Institute (now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) where he earned a degree in civil engineering. He later studied law in South Bend, Indiana, where he established an impressive practice and a reputation as a staunch abolitionist.
His first wife, Mary Norton, died in the late 1840s, leaving him with a young daughter. He married his second wife, Margaret Rhodes, on July 8, 1852 in New York. The ceremony was performed by Henry Ward Beecher and took place only a few days before the newlyweds booked passage to California, via the Isthmus of Panama. They arrived in San Francisco and made their way to Sacramento.
Once established in their new home, Edwin resumed his legal career. In 1854, he became the chair of the newly formed Republican Party, which was committed to promoting national unity, opposing the spread of slavery, and encouraging a transcontinental railroad. Party victory came with Lincoln 's election as President and Stanford's election as California governor in 1861. Because of his expertise in common law and his prominence in party politics, Edwin was appointed a State Supreme Court Justice in 1863. During the seven months of his service, he handed down a record number of opinions.
In 1864, Crocker accepted an offer to serve as legal counsel for the Central Pacific Railroad Company, a company organized by Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington and Edwin's brother, Charles Crocker.
In June of 1869, Edwin suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. He retired from the railroad business and pursued other interests. These interests included renovation of the family's new home, commissioning an art gallery building, and embarking on a Grand Tour to Europe with his family from 1869 to 1871. The family moved into the new home in 1872, and installation of the galleries was completed in late 1873. Unfortunately, Edwin was not able to enjoy his collection or magnificent gallery for long, as he died on June 24, 1875.