(Mendocino County District Attorney History Series, Part II. Compiled by DA Dave Eyster)
UKIAH - At the end of the 19th century WILLIAM GUSTAVUS "W. G." POAGE (-1953) started his service as Mendocino County's 14th elected District Attorney.
The terms in office at that time were two years and Poage served two terms (1899-1900, and 1901-1902).
Poague’s biographical sketch is taken from the “HISTORY OF THE BENCH AND BAR OF CALIFORNIA: Being Biographies of Many Remarkable Men, a Store of Humorous and Pathetic Recollections, Accounts of Important Legislation and Extraordinary Cases, Comprehending the Judicial History of the State.” The book was edited by Oscar Tully Shuck. Los Angeles: The Commercial Printing House, 1152 pp. , page 1062:
“W. G. Poage, District Attorney of Mendocino County, was born in Bates County, Missouri, March 21, 1869.
His father, S. C. [Simeon Crow] Poage, who was also a lawyer, was a Confederate soldier, having enlisted as a boy of sixteen, and served during the four years of the Civil War. He was twice wounded and for some time a prisoner in a Northern prison during the latter part of the war.
When the great conflict was over [the father] returned to Missouri and commenced the study of law. In 1870 he was admitted to the bar and began practice in Butler, the capital of the county.
In 1876 [the father] came to California and practiced for several years in Fresno, and then in San Luis Obispo, then going to Idaho, where he remained three years. He was elected a member of the upper house of the Territorial legislature and went to Boise City and took a prominent part in the deliberations of that body.
[The father] returned to California to find better educational facilities for his children. In 1884 he located in Ukiah and there followed his profession until the time of his death in 1894. He was for several years city attorney of Ukiah and was regarded as one of the best-informed men at the bar.
His son, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the public schools of California, and by his own efforts in private, and at the age of nineteen became a teacher at a district school in Mendocino county. He taught in various places until in 1891, when he entered the State University with the class of ’95.
He remained here two years taking a course in History and Political Science, and after reading law in his father’s office, and a year’s study at Hastings College of Law, he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court in January 1894.
In February following he was appointed city attorney of Ukiah. From the start he enjoyed a lucrative practice.
In 1898 he was nominated by the Democratic party for district attorney, and after a warmly contested campaign during which he spoke from the stump in every precinct in the county, he was elected by a majority of 565 votes.
On March 21st, 1899, on his 30th birthday Mr. Poage was married to Miss Ella Laughlin, then one of the teachers at the Ukiah public school. He has a pleasant home in the suburbs of Ukiah. Mr. Poage is also interested in fruit culture and has one of the prettiest prune orchards in the valley situated near his home.”
[According to Mrs. Poage’s obituary, published in the Sacramento Bee on Monday, September 9, 1940, Mr., and Mrs. Poage were living by that late date in Princeton in Colusa County. Mrs. Poage's obituary refers to her husband as a “prune grower and a director of the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association.” Their three daughters were listed as: “Mrs. Frances Harding, Sacramento schoolteacher; Mrs. Russell Carter of Seattle and Mrs. Crede McArthur of Delano.”]
W. G. Poage and his wife [1872-1940] were laid to rest in the Colusa Community Cemetery in the town and county of Colusa. W. G. was born in Missouri and passed away in Sutter County on December 11, 1953.
Finally, W. G.'s parents, Simeon Crow Poage [1845-1894] and Amanda (Brockman) Poage [1845-1922], are both buried in the Russian River Cemetery in Ukiah.
Additional historical information regarding the Office of the Mendocino County District Attorney can be viewed at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/district-attorney/office-history.