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The Hon. Thomas Langley Carothers

The terms in office at that time were for two years and he served one term (1875-1876). He did not hold a California State Bar number because State Bar numbers had not yet been developed at that time.

The following biographical sketch is taken, in pertinent part, from Bench And Bar In California. History, Anecdotes, Reminiscences, by Oscar T. Shuck (“Scintilla Juris.”) of the San Francisco Bar. [1889], page 801:

 “Chapter XXXVI.

A Look Northward – Thomas L. Carothers of Mendocino, and Clay W. Taylor of Shasta – Men who Tower above their Fellows -- District Attorneys of their Counties – Boyhood on the Farm and in the Mines – Busy Lives at the Bar – Personal and Political Data – M.M. Estee’s Tribute to Mr. Carothers – Dr. Shorb’s Address in nominating Mr. Taylor for Governor.

“In referring to Mr. Carothers, in a recent conversation, Hon. M.M. Estee said to me: “I have known him ever since he had whiskers. He is an earnest, active, honest man; a good lawyer, has confined himself almost exclusively to his profession; has the confidence of all those who know him and he deserves that confidence. He studied law in my office and was an industrious and worthy a law student as he has since become conspicuous as an attorney. I cannot speak too kindly of him.”

“Mr. Carothers is one of that noble band of young men who went forth to fame and fortune from the old Sacramento High School, and whose successes have frequently challenged attention in this volume. I knew his manly character when it was forming. I saw him sowing, and although widely separated from him before he began to reap, I know he has a good title to his harvested stores. 

“Ambitious, generous, enthusiastic, he was yet a persevering student, and controlled always by strong common sense. It was by assiduous effort that he qualified himself for the enlarged sphere which he began to adorn now a good many years ago. It only excites gratification in the breasts of his old-time fellows to see him now first in the hearts of the people of his county and leading the local bar.

“Thomas Langley Carothers is the son of James H. and Margaret Barnes Carothers, and was born at Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, September 26, 1842. He “crossed the plains” with his father’s family in the spring of 1853. His father settled at Stony Point, Sonoma County, in the fall of that year, remaining there until 1857. Thomas in the meantime attended the neighborhood school and worked on his father’s farm. 

“In 1857 the family moved into Petaluma, where they resided until the spring of 1859, Thomas attending the public schools of that place. In the spring of 1859 the family moved to Sacramento City, where the son continued his studies in the public schools until the fall of 1861. 

“At the close of the regular term of the High School in Sacramento, in September of that year, the young man entered the law office of Harrison & Estee of that city. He studied law until January, 1862, when the family returned to Petaluma on account of the great flood then at Sacramento. 

“On arriving at Petaluma our law student entered the office of Hon. George Pearce, where he continued his studies until October 5, 1863. He was then admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of the State, having become of age only ten days before. 

“Mr. Carothers began the practice of law in Petaluma. He filled the position of deputy district attorney of Sonoma County, for two years, under Hon. William Ross. 

“In May, 1866, he removed to Ukiah City, Mendocino County, where he has practiced his profession ever since. 

“In December, 1866, he was married to Miss Lucy Pierson, daughter of the late Dr. E.M. and Harriet Pierson. 

“Since his admission to the Supreme Court he has been admitted as an attorney of the United States Court and District Courts at San Francisco. In 1867 he was appointed a notary public by Governor Low, which position he has held ever since. He has been district attorney of Mendocino County for two years, and has been for several years a United States Commissioner. 

“In 1884 Mr. Carothers was the nominee of the Republican party for congress in the 1st Congressional District of this State. The district had been giving about two thousand Democractic majority, and yet he came within one hundred and forty-five votes of election, his Democratic competitor being Hon. Barclay Henley. 

“In 1888 he was one of the Republican nominees for Presidential Elector for the State of California, and General Harrison carrying the State, Mr. Carothers was elected and discharged the duties of the position. 

“He was a trustee of Ukiah City for ten years, and during that time was president of the Board of Trustees. For several years he was the law partner of Hon. R. McGarvey, now Superior Judge. 

“He has acquired a large and lucrative practice; and, particularly as a criminal lawyer, he has won great reputation. 

“In 1880 he was employed by the county to assist in the prosecution of the famous “Mendocino Outlaws,” and he convicted every one of them. 

“The Honorable Superior Judge of Monterey County (who is noticed in Chapter XVII) in a pleasant conversation in March, 1889, informed me that when he held court for the Superior Judge of Mendocino several years before, he found Mr. Carothers even then employed on one side or the other of every case of any importance; that he was the legal adviser of the bank, the railroad company, and all the influential business men of his county and all the corporations. 

“In his prosperous practice,” says an editorial writer, “he has made a large connection, that extends beyond the county’s limits; his excellent reputation as a lawyer and an honorable citizen has gone farther. His splendid office contain as complete and as handsome a library as can be found in any town. 

“His pretty residence on Main street is a gem of cottage architecture. In his happy home, surrounded by loving family, Mr. Carothers finds the content and peace which are the reward of the honest and upright endeavors of his life.”

Added in a subsequent edition of Bench And Bar In California. History, Anecdotes, Reminiscences, was the follow:

“In the case of Albion River Railroad Company vs. William Heeser, reported in the 84th volume of our State Supreme Court Reports, at page 435, the court, following the argument of Mr. Carothers on his brief for respondent, decided (and it was then so held for the first time in this State), that a railroad company could first go on and take land for railroad purposes, and have the land condemned afterwards, with no other liability for damages than such as the company would have incurred if it had secured condemnation before taking possession.

“In January, 1896, Mr. Carothers lost his wife. He afterwards married Mrs. Lydia I. Reeves, a widow, a most estimable and intelligent lady, who had been one of his best clients. He remarked to his friends at the time that he had “lost a good client but gained an excellent wife.”

“Mr. Carothers is now referee in bankruptcy for Mendocino and Lake counties. He is also mayor of Ukiah, elected as a Republican in a strong Democratic town.”

DA Note: Thomas Langley Carothers was born September 26, 1842 in Illinois and passed away on November 30, 1915. The son of James Halliday and Margaret Anna (Barnes) Carothers, Mr. Carothers and his second wife, Lydia Isabelle (Church)(Reeves) [1845-1926] were laid to rest in the Russian River Cemetery in Ukiah. 

The reference above that Mr. Carothers provided legal assistance to the criminal prosecution of “The Mendocino Outlaws” gives rise to a long-forgotten but interesting piece of Mendocino County real crime history. The posting of a new biographical sketches of a former elected Mendocino County DA will be paused next Saturday (March 6th) in order to post that old West cops-and-robbers story.

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