IOOF SONORA Lodge #10 and Cemetery

California Cemeteries, California Historic Places, IOOF

Stories From The Grave

Nellie May Kalloch

Row 3,  Plot 37

Nellie May Kalloch was born November 28, 1882, the daughter of Isaac and Minnie Bell (Street) Kalloch.  Nellie May’s father, Isaac Kalloch, was born in Rockland, Maine and was a "PK" or “preacher's kid.”   He was a rather wild youth, whose attempts to follow in his father’s steps were made difficult by his desire for bad ways and good times.  The younger Isaac Kalloch was considered a poor theological student, and was expelled from school, but was eventually reinstated out of respect to his aged father.  Kalloch eventually became known as a sensational pulpiteer, who packed congregation halls in every city.  He came to California to spread the Baptist faith, however, there are many accounts that he didn’t so much come to California, as much as he fled Maine and then Boston due to scandals involving women and whiskey.   Kalloch met his wife, Minnie Bell Street, when he came to her family’s church in Sonora, wowing everyone with his inspirational sermons.  Isaac and Minnie Bell married in 1877, and had two daughters, Annie Bell and Nellie May.  Nellie May died on July 08, 1888, at the tender age of only 6 years.  There is no record of the cause of her death, but it was not unusual for children to die during this era.

Isaac Kalloch continued to be a major hit as an orator, and eventually he attracted such large audiences that no one Baptist church could hold them all.  Kalloch made a trip to Los Angeles, where one of his sermons got the interest of a very wealthy land owner, Isaac Lankershim.   Lankershim was so inspired by Kalloch that he actually converted from Judaism and erected a whole temple for Kalloch in San Francisco on Fifth Street, near Market, called the Metropolitan Temple.  It was built of wood, and was one of the only auditoriums in the city at that time.  The Metropolitan had orchestra seating and a horsehoe-shaped balcony that allowed each audience member a prime viewing location of Kalloch’s sermons.  Kalloch and his family eventually relocated to the city so that so that he could continue to lecture and preach on this grand scale.  Instead of taking a collection, a dime was charged for entrance to his sermons, and pretty soon his speeches were offered on all days, not just Sundays, and as he realized his power, his sermons became less religious and more political in nature.  Eventually, Kalloch garnered the support of the Working Men’s Party, and with their help, began a campaign to run for the office of Mayor of San Francisco. 

During Kalloch's campaign, the Editor in Chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, Charles DeYoung, wrote a scathing editorial exposing all the scandals of the Kallochs, including some tales about the elder Isaac Kalloch, which were highly inflammatory and likely untrue.  DeYoung was backing another candidate and had hoped accusing Kalloch of an affair would cause his departure from the campaign.  Kalloch refuted the stories, and publically accused DeYoung’s mother of being a prostitute and running a brothel.  The smear campaign continued on both sides until DeYoung could take no more of Kalloch, and ambushed him in the streets, shooting him twice in the chest in broad daylight. Kalloch survived the shots, and now with the sympathy vote, won the election and served as the 18th Mayor of San Francisco from 1879 until 1881.

At the end of his term Kalloch moved to the Washington Territory, where he died of diabetes at age 55.  His daughter Annie Bell, would go on to graduate from Stanford University with a law degree, and married a fellow Stanford graduate, Francis Fox.  Annie Bell lived the remainder of her life in Oakland, California, where she is interred.  Sadly, the Metropolitan Temple was destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

Story Provided by Karen McGettigan


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