William S. Kingsbury (1906-28)

Photo of William S. Kingsbury

William Stephen Kingsbury was born August 3, 1870, in Oakland, California. At the age of 10, his family moved to Los Angeles, and Kingsbury received his early education there. Apparently his father was a man of some means, for Kingsbury was trained as a surveyor and civil engineer under a private tutor, rather than by attending a college or university.

Upon completion of his education, Kingsbury went into private practice for six months as a consulting engineer, but soon thereafter was appointed Deputy City Engineer for the City of Los Angeles. Kingsbury remained in that office for 12 years, and gradually progressed to the position of Chief Deputy City Engineer. In 1905, he was appointed Acting City Engineer, a position he held at the time of his first election to the office of Surveyor General of California.

Kingsbury served as California's Surveyor General from 1906-1929, and was re-elected to that office 11 consecutive terms. In 1929, the Office of the Surveyor General and the State Lands Office were consolidated under the title of the Bureau of State Lands within the organization of the Department of Finance. A. R. Heron, State Director of Finance at that time, requested Kingsbury remain as Chief of the newly-created Bureau, despite Kingsbury's public announcement of retirement. Kingsbury acceded to Heron's request, and remained with the Bureau of State Lands until 1934.

On February 20, 1943, Kingsbury drowned in his bathtub. Because of the unknown cause of death, an autopsy was performed. This circumstance apparently muzzled all publication of his death, for no obituary or other notice has been located in any newspaper in the State, despite Kingsbury's many years of political and social prominence.

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.