Thursday, May 8, 2014

Oops and a Buried Treasure ~ May 20, 2014

The Big Reveal: The Research Queen must confess a Big Oops. I need to clear something up before my work is identified as being from the "Ready, Fire, Aim Academy of Research". 

In my April 29th post I stated that the Summit Avenue property was purchased for $1,600 in 1894 from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company (error since corrected on that post). My initial information came from a conveyance document (these days it would be called the deed of trust) transferring property to the owners when the loan was paid off. There were two of the two page documents. What I didn't catch the first time around is that the documents were for two different lots. My great grandparents purchased Lot 134 for $2,000 (roughly $51,200 in 2014 dollars) in 1892. Lot 135 was purchased by a George Scott Henry for $1,600. I checked with my Aunt Betty and she doesn't know of a second piece of property or a Mr. George Scott Henry who was, coincidentally, the Secretary of the Tamalpais Water Company at the time. I'm working with the Marin Municipal Water District to see if we can locate a copy of the original plot map. 

The Buried Treasure: I just found the following receipt folded up in an unmarked envelope. Charles and Flora Beals (my great grandmother and her second husband) purchased Lot 134 in August 1892. They were buying it on time and this receipt outlined the special agreement. I can almost decipher all of the handwriting: 

"Interest is to commence as soon as lot is connected with main pipes of water system" and "Special agreement ~ $50 every month from October 8th, 1892 until $500 is paid up .... of capital, then a deed to be given and mortgage for balance for 1, 2 and 3 years at 7% interest with ..... to pay $50 every month or more".

What I find fascinating is provision (1) in the Terms of Sale: "No spirituous or malt intoxicating liquors, wine or cider to be manufactured, sold, exchanged, bartered delivered or given away on said premises prior to May 31st, 1915, under penalty of forfeiture of the right of possession until said 31st May, 1915, except as authorized by such conveyance." On page two of the document it states: "Provided however, that the party of the second part his heirs or assigns, may in good faith, on said premises, himself use and supply his own family with such liquors, wine or ciders."

California was not a dry state at the time, but there appear to be at least a couple of trains of thought on the subject. The liquor industry may have gotten some legislation passed to control perceived competition from private parties and the Women's Christian Temperance Union was starting to gain popularity in the 1,800's. Inquiring minds want to know the significance of May 31, 1915. Further research is called for, but that's for another day. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Trunk Series ~ On Generations ~ May 2014

Three generations of women, free spirits one and all. From left to right: Grandma Olive, Mom Barbara, Grandma Hazel and wee me. It's 1947 and we're in Grandma Hazel's back yard in Mill Valley. Check out my wheels!

Grandma Olive was born in 1885 and grew up in San Francisco. She married the love of her life, Billy Macdonald, in 1909 and had three sons. Some of their early years were spent in Coronado where this photo of her with the boys was taken circa 1920. 

Free as the wind

Billy died unexpectedly in 1934 and she never remarried. She lived in San Francisco, visited her five grandchildren often and traveled the world by herself for three plus decades. 

Grandma Hazel was born in 1880 and met my grandfather John Sherman Bagg at UC Berkeley. She graduated in 1906 with a degree in Botany, he attended the School of Mines. They spent much of the first few years of their marriage exploring the Sierras with a mule. 


And in long skirts to boot

They divorced in the early 1920's. He was drawn to the vagabond life of a mining engineer and miner in California, Nevada and Arizona and she had two daughters to raise. She later married Walter Polland and ran a successful insurance agency in San Francisco. They lived on the Mill Valley property, purchased by her mother in 1892, until the fire of 1929 burned off the middle ridge of Mt. Tamalpais. Aunt Betty and her grandparents, Charles and Flora Beals, moved to a house up the street that survived the fire while the compound was being rebuilt. My Mom was sent to live with her grandmother Charlotte Winchester Bagg in Santa Barbara. I'm sure it was a traumatic experience for her, but it must have also been an adventure.

The Old Adobe

She lived at the historic Trussell-Winchester Adobe at 412 Montecito St. which was then Charlotte's home and went to Santa Barbara HS. Had she not moved to Santa Barbara and attended UCLA she would never had met my dad. Here they are on vacation. As irreverent as always she stuck her tongue out at the camera. Here she was 22 he was 28.

Summer 1938

Colorado River 1970

So now you've met the delightful trio of free spirited women who influenced my collective soul by sharing their joie de vivre and wisdom over the years. I remain ever the tomboy and occasionally a lady.

Mt. Robson 1970

MacMurray Ranch 2007

Generations are the threads that bind us to our history and where we came from. The women of my family were pioneers, travelers, and free spirits long before it was acceptable behavior. They could do a man's work, climb a mountain, or run a business. Spend some time talking to your elders, taking notes and researching your history. It's a fun, rewarding and a sometimes surprising adventure.