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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William H. Early

Among the younger members of the bar of Sonoma county the name of William H. Early occupies a position of prominence. Not only has he been conspicuous as a practitioner in the law, but he has been honored on more than one occasion by election or appointment to posts of honor and trust. The first of these was his appointment as city attorney of Petaluma in 1906, and following the completion of his first term he was elected to the office without opposition. Other honors came to him in 1910, when he was selected as the Republican candidate for the office of district attorney, than whom it is generally conceded no one could have been chosen whose qualifications equalled those possessed by Mr. Early.

A native of California, William H. Early was born in Yuba county February 6, 1882, and spent his early life upon his father's ranch in that county. The free, outdoor life which was his during his boyhood gave him a good start in life physically and undoubtedly has been the secret of his great power of endurance. During his youth the family residence was transferred to San Francisco, and still later to Petaluma, and in both of these places he attended school, the greater part of his common school training, however, having been received in his home town of Petaluma. Naturally ambitious and eager to begin the practical work of life, as soon as his school days were over he secured a position as bank clerk in a bank at Petaluma, and during his incumbency of this position became an expert in accounting. It was while performing his duties as bank clerk that he determined to become a lawyer, and in taking up the study of law he made no mistake, as his career has unmistakably demonstrated. While still the incumbent of his position in the bank, he gave his evenings over entirely to the study of law, attending a night law school in San Francisco, and returning each morning to his work at the bank. After the completion of his law term and his admission to the bar of the state he resigned his position in the bank in order to go to New York city and finish his training in a law school of that easter metropolis. This latter course was not essentially a part of his legal training, but was undertaken entirely on his own behalf and demonstrates the thoroughness with which he handles ever subject to which he gives his thought and attention.

With this splendid training Mr. Early returned to Petaluma and opened law offices at No. 32 Washington street, and the splendid legal business that he has gathered about him in the meantime demonstrates beyond question his unusual ability as a legal practitioner. Possessing the power to penetrate deeply into whatever matter is brought to his attention for solution or adjustment, he never forms an opinion or renders a decision until he has penetrated to the bottom of the case, and when this has been done his findings are presented in clear, concise form. This same care and penetration is noticeable in the argument of a case, watching every turn, grappling with every point as it appears, and presenting his arguments in a manner that is convincing and emphatic. If one were allowed but one word in which to epitomize Mr. Early's qualities as a lawyer it would be the word thoroughness. Those who know him best declare that it is impossible to prepare and submit anything to him and expect him to approve it until he has read, re-read and analyzed it several times. In this day of rush and hurry and the slighting of essentials to the downfall of men and worthy enterprises, it is gratifying to make not of this exception in the case of Mr. Early, the keynote of whose success is directly traceable to this exception to the general rule. Fraternally he is prominently identified with a number of orders, besides which he is deputy grand president-at-large of the Native Sons of California. He is a young man of undoubted promise, and his career is being watched with interest by his contemporaries.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011