Benjamin Brundage was a celebrated jurist who made Bakersfield a political power center and helped draft a controversial new constitution for California in the 1870s. Born in Ohio in 1834, Brundage worked his way through law school as a teacher and practiced law at Sandusky, Ohio. He interrupted his career to enlist in the Civil War, serving as a private in a regiment of Ohio state militia.
In the spring of 1865, he came to California and worked for a few months in San Francisco as an agent for an insurance company. He then moved to Kern County and opened a law office at Havilah, then the county seat. Brundage was soon recognized as an accomplished attorney. He was retained by the citizens of Bakersfield to appear before the state legislature and lobby for the removal of the county seat to their town. He was successful in getting the legislation passed, and shortly afterward he moved his practice to Bakersfield, where he became a leading member of the local bar. As a school trustee in Havilah, Brundage had met Mary Lively, one of the town’s first schoolteachers. They married and had three children.
In 1878 Brundage was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention that drafted the new California constitution. Among the changes was the creation of the Superior Court, which replaced the office of district judge. Brundage was subsequently chosen as the first Superior Court judge in Kern County and filled the position for one term. Brundage then returned to the practice of law and was a prominent citizen until he died in 1911.
The city named a street, Brundage Lane, in his honor.
He rests in Union Cemetery space 62-15.