Posted in Early Montclair, Estates, Homes

A Hermits Companion

Updated July 25, 2020

Oakland Tribune

“One month before his death, Charles Kruse was leaving for the county hospital, which he never expected to return.” Kruse gave G.W. Brusseau a package with a few in intimate belongings, the key to his house, and the note.

Oakland, March 15 (?)

“This is my gift of Deed all is in my possession to Mr. G.W. Brusseau after my daet”

“Chas. Kruse”

Only Man He Trusted

Kruse only had one friend whom he trusted, according to Brusseau’s attorney. Kruse helped care for the hermit for 13 years, he never had the money to pay Brusseau for his labor but intended to see that he ultimately receive the his property.

Brusseau saved the 10-acre plot from being sold for taxes and the paid off the mortgage. It was claimed.

In March of 1923, Kruse applied for admission to the county infirmary on the grounds he was penniless. He had cancer.

Oakland Tribune 1923


Following Kruse’s death at the county hospital, preparations were being made to bury him in the potter’s field. Brusseau stepped in and said he would pay for his funeral.

Mountain View Cemetery – plot 48 Photo by REHM – Find A Grave

Brusseau purchase plot in Mountain View cemetery with bordered on his property.

He could see the grave from his porch.

Oakland Tribune 1923

Fight for Estate

The case was brought to the attention of Judge George Samuels when Brusseau filed a petition for probate of the paper as the last will Kruse.

 Because of the omission of the completed date, Judge Samuels refused probate and granted administration letters to Albert E. Hill, a Public Administrator.

Thrown Out As A Will Upheld As Deed

In June 1923, a petition was submitted to the Almeda superior to record the scrap of paper as a gift deed. In this claim, Judge James G. Quinn decided that Kruse never intended the piece of paper as a will but intended to constitute an immediate conveyance of land as a deed.

In the meantime, Brusseau had lost a third suit filed against the estate for reimbursement for his unpaid labor.

The Recorder 1927

The public administrator appealed to the California Supreme court for a decision on the title to the property.

Dying Hermit’s Note Valid

In May of 1927 the Supreme court affirmed the decision of Judge JG Quinn that the note given to Brusseau from Kruse constituted a deed to the 10-acres of land.

Oakland Tribune 1926

A Bit of History

Hays Canyon

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection -William J. Dingee’s Map of Oakland and vicinity. Compiled from Official Surveys and Records 1899 https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~275209~90048562

Charles Kruse owned and lived on 10-acres of land in Hayes Canyon since 1888.s.

Oakland Tribune 1888

 The property bordered on William J. Dingee’s land, and in 1888 Dingee sued Kruse for $93 to cover the cost of a fence.  

Kruse, for many years, peddled flowers to florists’ shops in the Eastbay.

After his death, it was discovered that he was the owner of one of the largest nurseries in Alameda county. Hidden behind a high fence and tall cypress hedges were the nursery and the tiny shack he lived.

Oakland Tribune Apr 10, 1923

The 10-acres was valued at more than $10,000 in 1923.

In about 1898, George Washington Brusseau purchases a 2-acre lot at 3200 Edith Street (now 4901 Harbord Drive).

Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1896
1910 Directory

In 1926 Brusseau lived in a cottage known as the “Bat House” because of the number of animal skins tanned and nailed to the outside walls.

Oakland Tribune 1926

He farmed the land with the help of Jimmy, his faithful plow horse. He also had many dogs.

He intended to restore the rose gardens, which brought fame to his friend Charles Kruse and Oakland.

Oakland Tribune 1940

Brusseau lived there until his death in 1953

Oakland Tribune Apr 1953
1953 Directory

And now this…

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

This changes the whole story or it is just wrong?

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

Please Note: The dates and addresses vary from article to article. I tried my best to get it right. Oh well…

More Info:

The End

Author:

I grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland, CA. I attended Thornhill Elementary School, Montera Junior High, Skyline High School, and spent some time at Merritt College.

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