Rudolph Spreckels

At Rest at Cypress Lawn: Rudolph Spreckels (1872-1958)

The youngest son of “Sugar King” Claus Spreckels, Rudolph built a fortune in sugar, banking and finance in competition with his father, and independent of his three brothers.

He is perhaps best remembered for his role in helping bring criminal charges against Mayor Eugene Schmitz and political boss Abraham Ruef for corruption, which has gone down in history as “The San Francisco Graft Trials” of 1906 to 1909.

The investigation was financed by Spreckels, who teamed up with the editor of the San Francisco Bulletin and former Mayor James Phelan to enlist the support of a United States District Attorney to prosecute the cases.

Mayor Schmitz was found guilty, jailed during his appeal, released when the courts nullified his conviction, retried, and declared not guilty. All of the business owners and supervisors who were implicated received immunity. “Boss” Ruef spent four years in San Quentin.

Cartoon depicting Spreckels as an honest man fighting corruption
Cartoon depicting Spreckels as an honest man fighting corruption

Spreckels would be shunned by many wealthy San Franciscans for what was regarded as an overzealous anti-corruption campaign, along with his support of some California Progressive policies in the 1920s. He went bankrupt during the early years of the Great Depression. His First National Bank of San Francisco, was taken over by William Crocker.

Spreckels was living in a humble San Mateo apartment at the time of his death, but he still managed to build an impressive mausoleum.

Want to visit the family’s final resting place? Click here to view an interactive map of our Memorial Park.