Robert Gardner (1871-75)

Photo of Robert Gardner

Robert Gardner, perhaps the most controversial of all the Surveyors General of California, was born March 17, 1841 in Fall River, Massachusetts.Following his arrival in San Francisco in 1858, he settled in Knight's Landing, where he maintained his permanent residence until his election to the Surveyor Generalship in 1872.

Gardner's background and education are unknown. Whatever his background, however, it is practically certain that Gardner, unlike any of his predecessors, had little - if any - knowledge of or experience in the fields of surveying or civil engineering.

In December, 1876, following a more careful auditing of those records of Gardner's office which could be located, the Attorney General of California brought suit against Gardner on behalf of the State for recovery of $42,215 in missing fees.

Following his term of office, Gardner and his family moved to Oakland, where he lived for the remainder of his life. During these years Gardner worked in the field of real estate and may have practiced land law before the Department of the Interior. Despite the adverse notoriety he suffered following his term of office as Surveyor General, Gardner maintained some political ambition. It is interesting to note that he again ran for Surveyor General in 1886, but lost to Theodore Reichert. Gardner died in Oakland on April 22, 1907.

Annual Reports

Surveyors General

The following include a short biography, photo of, and the annual reports from each Surveyor General, documenting some of the activities and observations of the Surveyors General, and record the early geographical development of the new state.