Senator David C. Broderick (after whom the street was named) was an ambitious political climber who would eventually have a powerful hold on the city of San Francisco. Broderick was also on the anti-slavery side of the Democratic Party and was out spoken about it. His buddy, California Chief Justice David S. Terry (who was known for getting into fights and shanking people) was a staunch supporter of slavery and advocated for its extension into California. This lost him re-election and he angrily blamed Broderick for it.
Their public battle led to private letters which led to a secret duel on the edge of Lake Merced. Broderick’s pistol had a hair trigger and went off too soon. Terry took easy aim at Broderick and fired, hitting his lung. Broderick was taken back to the home of his friend Leonidas Haskell where he languished in pain for three days until he died.
This event became known is the “Last Duel in California” and Broderick would become a martyr for the anti-slavery movement. Since the Union army took over the surrounding area in 1863 many captains have lived in the Haskell House. The families of these captains have claimed to see bodiless shadows move across rooms, lights flashing, plants tipping over. And, one Colonel felt the presence of someone watching him whenever he took a shower. And, don’t make jokes about Broderick, otherwise your portrait might be ripped off the wall, nail and all... (This is a private residence tucked behind a gate, please don’t go creepin’ on them.)
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