Peter J. Shields

Peter J. Shields1862-1962

Charter Day on April 5, 1962, was an especially memorable event, for the ninty-fourth anniversary of the establishment of the University of California coincided with the one hundredth anniversary of the Morrill Land-Grant College Act signed by Abraham Lincoln and the celebration of the one hundredth birthday anniversary of Judge Peter J. Shields.

Peter J. Shields has been acknowledged as the moving force behind the Act of California Legislature establishing the Davis Campus. He helped fight for funds and even selected the site. At that 1962 Charter Day celebration, an oak grove in the arboretum was dedicated to him.

He was born on the family homestead at Hangtown Crossing. His boyhood on the farm kindled a life-long interest in agriculture. At the age of seventeen he graduated from Christian Brothers College in Sacramento and studied law, reading in the office of Judge Amos Catlin. He was successively private secretary to Governor James H. Budd, secretary of the State Agricultural Society, and a law partner to Hiram W. Johnson. At thirty-eight he was elected to the superior bench in Sacramento and served longer in that capacity than any other superior judge in California.

Judge Shields developed a fine and well known herd of Jersey cattle which were widely exhibited and won many prizes. Up until several years before his death, well into his ninties, he could be found at the State Fair judging ring on Jersey Day.

As one of the founders of the Davis Campus, he maintained a life-long interest in it and in youth. In 1939 a Peter J. Shields scholarship fund was established and in 1955 he was the recipient of an LLD degree from the University. The main library is known as Shields Library and the street running along its north side is Peter J. Shields Avenue.

Judge Peter J. Shields, especially endowed and blessed by his lord, passed away September 28, 1962, at the age of one hundred years. His philosophies will remain with us forever.