SIXTY YEARS OF CALIFORNIA SONG
M.B. ALVERSON 1913
[Transcriber's Note: Numerous typographical errors and misspellings (especially of non-English words and names) in the original text have been corrected in this e-text, where the correct spelling could be confirmed.]
Address all correspondence to
MRS. MARGARET BLAKE-ALVERSON 1429 SECOND AVENUE OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
Copyright 1913 by MARGARET BLAKE-ALVERSON All rights reserved
Man must reap and sow and sing; Trade and traffic and sing; Love and forgive and sing; Rear the young with tenderness and sing; Then silently step forth to meet whatever is—and sing.
TO MY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE I AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATE THIS BOOK.
IF AS A SINGER AND A TEACHER OF SINGING I HAVE BEEN A FACTOR IN THE BETTERMENT OF INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES, THEN HAS MY WORK BEEN WELL DONE AND I AM CONTENT.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA JANUARY, 1913
This book has been written for friends and musical associates of more than half a century.
The author's life has been a busy one, often with events of public import, and so it may be that this volume has value as history. Those who should know have so affirmed.
It is hoped that old-time Californians will find the book good reading. The later generations of students and musicians will be interested in the story of one who helped to prepare the way for them.
The narrative tells somewhat of the Christian ministry of a noble father, of the writer's career as a public singer and of reminiscences of many associated musicians, efficient factors in the development of music in California to the high place it holds today.
Some mention is made of distinguished divines and men of note in the professions and in business. The part taken by the author in political campaigns and in the activities of the Grand Army of the Republic will appeal to patriots.
Some chapters on the singing voice and its cultivation are the fruitage of a wide experience of many years. A list of pupils for three decades is added.
The illustrations have been at once a labor of love and an extravagance of money cost, but it is believed that the reader will find in that feature alone justification for the publication.
Antecedents and Childhood 1
Our Trip to California via the Isthmus and Early Days There. First Church Choir in Stockton 13
Stockton in the Fifties. Benicia Seminary. Genesis of Mills College. Distinguished Pioneers. Marriage 33
How I Made the First Bear Flag in California 43
Boston. Dedham Choir, 1858. The Civil War. Musicians. Return to California. Santa Cruz 48
Music in Santa Cruz in the Sixties. Return to San Francisco. How and Why I Became a Dressmaker. Opera. Music in San Francisco in the Seventies 59
Lady of Lyons Given for the Fire Engine Fund, Santa Cruz. Flag-Raising at Gilroy Hot Springs. Visalia Concerts 69
On the Road with Dick Kohler, Mr. Vivian, Walter Campbell, Mr. Wand and Charles Atkins 75
Early Music and Music Houses. Musical Instrument Makers. Old-Time Singers 83
As a Church Choir Singer in Cincinnati, Stockton, Benicia, Dedham, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Bernardino and Oakland. Rev. Starr King, Howard Dow, Henry Clay Barnabee, Carl Zerrahn, J.C.D. Parker, Carlotta and Adelina Patti, Jenny Lind, Joe Maguire, Georgiana Leach, Sam Mayer, Harry Gates 92
Golden Jubilee of Song Service, June 12, 1896 108
Camilla Urso's Festival, 1873. Madame Anna Bishop, The Loring Club, Alfred Wilkie, Frank Gilder, D.P. Hughes, Ben Clark 112
St. Patrick's, St. Mary's, St. Ignatius' Cathedrals. Episcopal and Jewish Music. J.H. Dohrmann. The Bianchis 123
Great Musical Festival in Aid of the Mercantile Library, 1878. At Gilroy Springs 130
Authors' Carnival, 1880, President Hayes and General Sherman Present 137
Vacation Episodes at Deer Park, July 4, 1893 145
In Oakland. Sad Accident. With Brush and Easel. Kind Friends 152
Party at Dr. J.M. Shannon's Home in 1907 157
Lee Tung Foo 161
What I Know of the Voice and of Teaching 167
More About the Voice 179
Political Campaigning. Work as a Patriot on National Holidays and with the Grand Army of the Republic. Flag Raising at Monterey 183
Repertoire and Other Data. Distinguished Musicians and Singers of the Last Century 203
Reminiscences of Early California Musicians and Singers 216
Reminiscences of Later California Musicians and Singers 227
With My Pupils 248
A List of My Pupils 262
Mrs. Margaret Blake-Alverson, 1912 faces Title
Heirloom Jewel faces page 4
Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kroh and Family, Stockton, 1852 faces page 12
Coat-of-Arms of the Blake Family faces page 16
Steamer "American Eagle," Sacramento River, 1852. Home of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kroh, Stockton, 1853 faces page 20
First Presbyterian Church, Stockton, Built in 1849, the First Protestant Church in California page 25
Pioneer Home of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kroh, Stockton, 1851 page 26
Associated Musicians and Singers, 1853 to 1879: Richard Condy, Mr. Schnable, Lizzie Fisher, Ellen Lloyd, Mary Jane Lloyd, Mrs. Anna Bowden Shattuck, Judge H.B. Underhill, Carrie Heinemann, Mrs. Taylor faces page 28
Business Men of Stockton, 1852: Austin Sperry, James Harrold, Wm. H. Knight, Geo. Henry Sanderson faces page 32
Reminiscent of Benicia in the Early Fifties: Benicia Young Ladies' Seminary, 1852; Benicia Courthouse, 1853; Prof. Jos. Trenkle, Prof. Schumacher, Prof. Beutler, Prof. Paul Pioda faces page 36
Masonic Sheepskin, London, England, 1811. Capt. Chas. Blake faces page 38
Major-General Benj. Lincoln, of the War of the Revolution page 39
Sacred to the Memory of Mrs. Mary Kroh-Trembly, Pioneer Organist, Stockton, 1852 page 42
First Graduating Class, Young Ladies' Seminary, Benicia, Founded 1852: Mary E. Woodbridge, Mary Ridell, Mary Hook, Mary E. Walsh; Principal, Mary Atkins; Teachers, Sallie Knox, Kate Sherman; Pupils, Mary O'Neill, Agnes Bell faces page 44
First California Bear Flag, Made by Mrs. Blake-Alverson in Stockton, 1852 page 45
Dedham, Mass., Church Choir, 1861, Men Singers faces page 48
Dedham, Mass., Church Choir, 1861, Women Singers faces page 52
Typical Concert Programme of the Early Sixties in San Francisco. Oratorio of Samson page 56
Santa Cruz Choir, 1867: F.A. Anthony, Belle Peterson, Chas. A. Metti faces page 60
Church of the Advent, San Francisco, 1880. Roman Catholic Church, San Bernardino, 1888. Calvary Episcopal Church, Santa Cruz, 1864. Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oakland, 1893 faces page 64
Associated Musicians and Singers of the Seventies and to Date: Sam'l D. Mayer, Mrs. Alfred Abbey, "Joe" Maguire, Frank Gilder, Walter C. Campbell, Mrs. Augusta Lowell-Garthwaite, H.S. Stedman, Mrs. Mollie Melvin-Dewing faces page 68
Ministers with Whom Mrs. Blake-Alverson Has Been Associated: Rev. Dr. J.K. McLean, Rev. P.Y. Cool, Rev. V.M. Law, Rev. "Father" Akerly, Rev. Giles A. Easton faces page 76
Wm. H. Keith, Baritone, Pupil of Mrs. Blake-Alverson, 1881 faces page 80
Music House of Kohler & Chase, 1851 and 1910. Andrew Kohler, Quincy A. Chase, S.J. Bruce faces page 84
Heads of Pioneer Music Houses, San Francisco: William G. Badger, Matthias Gray, Julius R. Weber, C.H. McCurrie faces page 86
Music House of Sherman, Clay & Co. C.C. Clay, Leander S. Sherman faces page 90
First Church Choir in California, Stockton, 1852: Margaret R. Kroh, Sarah R. Kroh, Emma J. Kroh, Ann L. Kroh, Mary M. Kroh, Sir Geo. Henry Blake, James Holmes, Wm. W. Trembly, Wm. H. Knight faces page 92
Henry Clay Barnabee, Opera Singer, Associate of Mrs. Blake-Alverson in Boston, Mass., in 1861 faces page 96
Organists of the Early Years in San Francisco: Richard T. Yarndley, Gustav A. Scott, Chas. H. Schultz, Frederick Katzenbach faces page 100
Floral Tributes Presented Mrs. Blake-Alverson on Her Fiftieth Anniversary of Song Service, June 12, 1896 faces page 108
Pen Sketch of Mrs. Blake-Alverson, Made by Richard Partington. Sixtieth Birthday, June 12, 1896 page 111
Mrs. Blake-Alverson on Her Fiftieth Anniversary as a Public Singer, Sixty Years of Age, Oakland, June 12, 1896 faces page 112
Mme. Anna Bishop, Prima Donna, Teacher and Associate of Mrs. Blake-Alverson page 115
Associated Musicians, 1860-1913: Hugo Mansfeldt, Sir Henry Heyman, J.H. Dohrmann, Alfred Wilkie faces page 116
Original Members Loring Club, San Francisco, 1873. French Horn Quartette, San Francisco, 1895: Geo. Fletcher, Wm. E. Blake, Nathaniel Page, Geo. Story faces page 118
Organ St. Patrick's Church, San Francisco, 1875. J.H. Dohrmann, Organist and Choir Director faces page 124
Eminent Divines for Whom Mrs. Blake-Alverson has sung: Rev. Dr. A.M. Anderson, Stockton, 1852; Rev. Dr. Eells, Rev. Dr. Scudder, Rev. Dr. A.L. Stone, the Right Rev. Ingraham Kip, Rev. John Hemphill, Rev. Dr. H.D. Lathrop faces page 128
Musical Directors, May Festival, San Francisco, 1878: John P. Morgan, Carl Zerrahn, Rudolf Herold faces page 132
Bouquet of Artists, May Festival, San Francisco, 1878 faces page 134
Authors' Carnival, San Francisco, 1880: Mrs. Blake-Alverson as Charity Pecksniff; H.G. Sturtevant as Pecksniff; Alice Van Winkle as Mercy Pecksniff; Dolly Sroufe, Italian Booth; Henry Van Winkle, Cervantes Booth faces page 140
Mme. Bowers, Etelka Gerster, Julie Rive-King, Associates and Friends of Mrs. Blake-Alverson faces page 144
Deer Park Cabin, Lake Tahoe, Dedicated July 4, 1893. Col. Richard Parnell, Sole Survivor of the Battle of Balaklava faces page 148
Mrs. Blake-Alverson in 1852, 1864, 1874, 1880, 1905 faces page 156
A Group of Friends, Distinguished Singers in the Seventies and Eighties: Mrs. Margaret C. Pierce, Mrs. Sarah Watkins-Little, Mrs. Blake-Alverson, Mrs. Helen Wetherbee, Mrs. Marriner-Campbell faces page 160
Lee Tung Foo, Pupil in the Nineties faces pages 164 and 166
Mrs. Blake-Alverson and Her Two Sons, Wm. Ellery Blake, George Lincoln Blake faces page 172
Associated Musicians and Singers, 1854-1900: Frederick Zech, Henry Wetherbee, Adolph Klose, S. Arrillaga, William P. Melvin, John W. Metcalf, Wm. M'F. Greer faces page 176
Trophies and Tributes Presented Mrs. Blake-Alverson faces page 180
"Sam" Booth, Popular Political Poet and Campaign Singer in San Francisco in the Seventies page 184
Mechanics' Institute Fair, 1879. Mrs. Blake-Alverson in Costume faces page 188
Civil War Mailing Envelopes, 1861. Co. K, Seventh California Volunteers, Capt O.P. Sloat, from San Bernardino, 1898 faces page 192
Stephen W. Leach, Musical Director, Buffo Singer, Actor in San Francisco in the Seventies and Eighties faces page 228
Joran Quartette, 1883: Lulu, Pauline and Elsie Joran and Mrs. Blake-Alverson faces page 246
PORTRAITS OF PUPILS
Akerly, Mrs. 240 Allison, George 244 Ames, Lucille E. 268 Avan, Clara 224
Bassford, Mrs. Mayme 236 Beam, Edith 196 Beam, Mary R. 204 Beretta, Chelice 208 Bishop, Biddle 196 Bisquer, Marceline 272 Blake, Mrs. William E. 212 Bonske, Hazel 272 Bouton, Cloy 208 Bradley, Dolores 256 Brainard, Birdie 196 Brainard, Carrie 196 Brainard, Mrs. Hattie 196 Bruce, Florence 240 Bruce-Schmidt, Mrs. Winona 244 Bruce-Wold, Mrs. Ruth 240 Bullington, Marie 272
Caldwell, Mrs. O.B. 240 Case, Mrs. J.R. 220 Caswell, Mabel 208 Champion, Rose 236 Christofferson, Jennie 236 Cianciarolo, Lucia 268 Collins, Dr. Addison 208 Collins, Mrs. Minnie M. 208 Cooke, Grace 260 Crandall, Harry 236 Crew, Josie 212 Crossett, Louisa 212 Culver, Susan 220 Cushing, Lillian 224
Davies, Alice 256 Deetkin, Marjorie 268 Derby, Hattie 224 Dickey, Lorena 244 Dobbins-Ames, Mrs. Grace E. 220 Dowdle, Everett S. 212 Dowling, Gertrude 252 Dowling, Leo 260 Drake, Mabel L. 244
Faull, Rose 196 Faull, Sophia 196 Ferguson, Dolores D. 244 Flick, George 240 Foo, Lee Tung 164 and 166
Garcia, Louisa 240 Gerrior, Maud 256 Glass, Mrs. Louis 204 Graves, Bessie 196 Graves, Gussie 204 Greer, Yvonne 272 Griswold, Geneva 256
Harrold, Elizabeth 204 Harrold, Mary 204 Hermansen, Christine 260 Hitchcock, Ruth A. 260 Hunt, Elsie Mae 236
Jackson, Geo. 256 Jones, Ethel 212 Jones, Ilma 260 Jory, Lilian 208
Keith, William H. 80 Kiel, Stella 252 Kimball, Lorena 244 Koch, Ada 220 Kroh, Blanche 256 Kroh-Rodan, Mrs. Mary 252 Krueckle, Anna 252
Lahre, Freda 240 Lanktree, Elizabeth 236 Lanktree-Kenney, Mrs. Sue 240 La Rue, Grace 212 Lessig, Mrs. Chas. 212 Louderback, Mrs. Caroline 252 Louderback, Jean 244
McMahan, Bernard 244 McMaul, Juliet 244 Monnet-Swalley, Mrs. Emma D. 224 Mulgrew, Margaret 272 Munch, Mrs. Emma A. 268
Nagle-Pittman, Mrs. Ethel B. 240 Newell, Bessie G. 220 Noonan, Elsie 236
Oakes, Margaret 212 Osborn, Anita 260
Peterson, Geo. G. 220 Peterson, Minnie 224 Peterson, Pauline 224 Pollard, Daisy 208 Pollard, Etta 208
Ramsey, Peter 256 Rayburn, Mrs. Cora 236 Riley, Mrs. Edna 268 Riley, Ruth 268
Sanford, Alice M. 268 Sanford, Edw. H. 256 Shaw, Lauretta 220 Shultz, Sarah 272 Sroufe, Georgia 196 Sroufe, Susan 196 Sroufe-Tiffany, Mrs. Dollie 196 Starkey, Irma 268 Stewart-Jolly, Mrs. May 204 Stewart, Sue 208
Teague, Mrs. Walter E. 272 Thomas, Edward 224 Tregar, Mme. Annie 204
Valentine, Inza 252 Valentine, Stella 252 Van Winkle, Ada 196 Victory, Arthur 236
Whitney, Mae 204 Wood, Dr. J.B. 224 Woodworth, Leslie E. 256 Worden, Nettie 204
Zimmerman, Charlotte 224
ANTECEDENTS AND CHILDHOOD
As far back as I can remember my life was associated with music. Father and mother were both highly gifted. In our family were three boys and seven girls, and each possessed a voice of unusual excellence. The looked-for pleasure every day was the morning and evening worship at which the family gathered in the sitting room to hear the word of God explained by my father, Rev. Henry Kroh, D.D. The dear old German hymns, Lobe den Herren, O Meine Seele, Christie, du Lamm Gottes and others, were as familiar to me as the English hymns of today, such as Nearer my God to Thee and All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name. We were not blessed with children's songs, as are the children of today, but sang the same hymns as the older members of the congregation.
Father was descended from a royal Holland family. One of his ancestors was the favorite sister of Admiral Theobold Metzger, Baron of Brada, Major-General of all the Netherlands, who died of paralysis in the sixty-sixth year of his life, February 23, 1691, in the house of the Duke of Chamburg. He had gone with other lords and nobles of the land to Graven Hage to swear allegiance to William III., King of Great Britain, who had just come over from London as the regent of the Netherlands. Even the physician in ordinary, who was sent by the King, was unable to save him. By order of the King his body was placed in a vault in the church on High Street in Brada, March 19, 1691, with extraordinary honor and ceremonies. He had acquired large possessions and wealth, therefore the King ordered that the large estate of the deceased should be taken care of, and placed it under the care of William von Schuylenburg, council of the King. At the same time notice was sent to all princes and potentates in whose countries there was property of the deceased to support His Majesty in this undertaking. Three weeks before his death he had made his will and had given the name of his parents and his five brothers and two sisters.
His sister Barbara was my great-grandmother. After the death of my granduncle some of the family came to America. They were not aware of the death of their distinguished brother and the heirs did not claim the vast fortune, which amounted to 20,000,000 guilders at that time and now with compound interest should be to 200,000,000 to 300,000,000 guilders, and is still in the possession of the King and in the treasuries of the Netherlands. The heirs have been deprived of it all these years, although they have from one generation to another fought the case. At the same time the authorities of Holland are not a little in doubt and are embarrassed for reasons to justify keeping the Metzger von Weibnom estate for Holland.
But the reason of all their decisions, answers and refusals is the unmistakable intention to keep the estate for themselves, even at the cost of truth, justice and honor. The will has been suppressed. We have proof that General Rapp in 1794 at the occupation of Brada had taken the will, dated February 2, 1691, from the city magistrate to carry it to Strassburg for safety. The will has never been executed.
I purposely made this break in my narrative of my childhood in justice to my distinguished father who should have occupied the place that belonged to him by right and title, as he was one of the original heirs mentioned in my uncle's will—the grandson of his favorite sister, Barbara Metzger von Weibnom. My father was a minister. He was Christ-like with his people, and it was beautiful to behold with what reverence the people approached him. He had the mild blue eye the poets write about, his voice was soft in its tenderness when addressing any member of his flock. His bearing was dignified and reverent, and he was a delightful person to know. He was always hopeful, no matter what difficulties arose in regard to the finances of the church. In the true sense of the word he was a father to his people and his family. His elders were all devotion and with them his word was law. In all the years of his ministry I cannot recall any unhappy situation with his congregation. Sadness came only when parting, to be sent to work in another church. He was a great pioneer founder of churches, and the Synod sent him first in one direction, then another.
In consequence of these changes I traveled a great deal in childhood. No sooner had father succeeded in getting a church started and in good running order than he would be sent to some other section of the country. In Virginia, where he was born and bred, he was ordained at the age of twenty-five and soon had a promising charge in Berks county, Pa. From there he was sent to Evansville, Ind. It was while he was filling the pulpit at Womensdorf, Pa., that he met Miss Mary Stouch, to whom he was married in the year 1819. Six children were born to them while at this pastorate. The church in Evansville had been without a pastor for over two years and father was called to fill the position. The parting between the pastor and his people was particularly sad. My mother had to leave her girlhood home for the first time in her life.
Oh, what a sad journey it was for them. It was made by stage and boat and my parents had six young children. Many a time in my childhood I heard the sad tale repeated. And the reception at Evansville was still sadder as the church had been closed and the building almost destroyed by the vicious element and unconverted people who desired no religion to interfere with their ungodliness. Many attempts had been made to restore the building, but those who attempted it were stoned and driven away. When father arrived the people of the congregation who remained advised him not to do anything with the church, for he would meet the same fate as his predecessors. But father was not daunted. He visited the church and the sight of God's house in such a condition made him more determined to do the work for which he had come. After calling several members together he gave out the announcement that he would open the church on the following Sabbath at all hazards. He asked all of the faith to come to his home Saturday evening. About fifty responded, and during the business meeting of the evening seven elders were chosen. When all was satisfactorily adjusted, pastor and people spent the hours in prayer until midnight.
Next morning the faithful people gathered and father, with the Bible in hand, led them in procession until they arrived at the church. In the distance could be seen a line of men, women and boys on both sides of the steps. The elders tried to persuade father to give up the attempt and go no further. He turned to them and said, "I came to conquer for the Lord, and if you do not come with me I shall go alone." When the rabble saw them coming, they began to shout, "Here they come. Here come the saints." A boy approached—more bold than the rest—and as he came father took him by the hand and said, "Good morning, my little man. I am glad to see the young as well as the old to welcome me." Then he spoke to the people and said, "You make me very happy, my dear friends. I did not expect such a large congregation to meet me, a stranger," and took each by the hand. In one hand they held sticks, stones and staves. As he spoke kindly to them, they dropped their missiles and extended their hands. His bravery had awed them and his kindness and magnetism had won them. At last he gained the upper step in front of the church and, like Paul, he cried, "Hear ye the word of the Lord. For today shall peace and righteousness dwell among you. Hear what the Lord God speaketh to you. I came not to make war upon you, but bring you the message of peace. As this building is not in condition to enter, I will give you the divine message from the door of the temple." After a short sermon he told them his mission was to rebuild the church, and he was going to ask them all to help. A short prayer followed his remarks, and the benediction closed this remarkable epoch in the history of the church. Before the year was past the church had been restored. The membership increased, the Sabbath school grew and the church nourished beyond the expectations of the oldest members.
Two and a half years later we went to Mt. Carmel, a small town on the Wabash river. Conditions were more favorable, yet it was not to be stationary, for only two or three years. During that time I was born, June 12, 1836. I made the eighth child—six girls and two boys. When I was a little over three years old, father left Mt. Carmel to fill the vacancy of the church in Jonesborough, Union county, Ill., in an unsettled portion of the state, among good Christian people who had begun to settle on farms and stock farms. Acres of grain and corn fields stretched far and wide. Jonesborough was a very small town where these people got their supplies in exchange for their produce. The women wove their cloth and linen and spun their yarn and did the dairy work, while the men cleared and planted and built log houses, barns and cribs. We were heartily welcomed by these good, primitive people. They had waited so long for a shepherd to lead them that many of the congregation were in waiting and the elders and trustees were on hand to see to the conveyance of the household goods, which were quickly put in waiting wagons.
It was the Indian summer of the year. The foliage was bright and the air crisp and cool. Although a child, the impression made upon me was one that I have gone over in my mind many times, and I can see every inch of the road, the kind people, the beautiful scenery, birds of bright plumage, and rabbits darting across the road at the sound of our wheels. It was late when the journey was ended, but we were made welcome and comfortable by more pleasant faces and willing hands. The parsonage was a large, barnlike-looking place, built partly of logs and "shakes." There was one large room and two small ones adjoining and a shed that extended the length of the house. In the large room was a fine, spacious fireplace, into which had been rolled a large log and a bright fire was blazing which sent a glow of warmth and lit up the logs and rafters and the strips of white plaster, used to close up the cracks and keep the warmth within the room. The floors were made of oak and were white and clean. Several old-fashioned split-bottom chairs graced the room, a long table was placed in the center, upon which was spread a snow-white linen cloth of homespun, and woven by the women. While the wraps were being removed the women had placed upon the table the best that could be prepared for the pastor's welcome. I'll never forget the delicious roast chicken; baked sweet potatoes, baked in the ashes, for cook stoves were not known; the fine hot corn pone baked in the Dutch oven, hot coals heaped upon the lid to brown and crisp; fresh sweet butter, pickles, preserves. Generous loaves of bread, biscuit and cake filled the pantries.
When father entered the room and saw the preparation that had been made he was overcome with the tender hospitality of the women of his new charge. He could not restrain his tears. As they all surrounded the table, he raised his hands in prayer and besought God's blessing upon the people and the charge he had once more accepted. The congregation was scattered far and wide. Many miles separated the neighbors and once a week was the only time when gatherings were held. On the Sabbath the log church was filled with solemn, substantial people, men and women in their homespun garments, healthy and robust the men and rosy and buxom the women. Families came in their conveyances, wagons, carts and old-style buggies; some came on foot, others on horseback, when they did not own a wagon. Rain or shine, the faithful assembled for two services. After the morning service the families gathered and seated under the trees or in their wagons lunched of the food brought along. A fire was built and a huge caldron of coffee was made of parched wheat ground and boiled. Coffee in these days was only for the rich who lived in the cities. Delicious cream and milk was in abundance for all the younger people. After the noon repast the children gathered for the Sunday school. The second service began at 3 o'clock and closed at 4. This work continued for seven years. During that time the log church was replaced by a fine frame church large enough to accommodate six or seven hundred worshipers.
During the years of this pastorate my oldest brother, Rev. Phillip Henry Kroh, was graduated from the theological seminary in Ohio and had returned an ordained minister. He was at once made an assistant by my father, the field being too large for him.
In 1841 father returned from the eastern Synod with the sad tidings that he had been appointed to go to Cincinnati, Ohio. We had lived so long here, we expected it was to be our future home. We had a comfortable house, a maple forest, gardens and stock, and the news came as a severe blow to my poor mother. We had been so happy among the fruits, flowers and country freedom, we were loath to give it up for the city. It was with a sad heart that father parted from these good and faithful people. The only balm for this separation was to leave brother Phillip with them as his successor. He had become endeared to them and had done such good work among the young, they prayed father to leave him if the family must go.
After a journey of three weeks we arrived at the parsonage. The congregation had purchased the old Texas church in the western addition of the city, and the parsonage was attached to the church in the rear. It was a comfortable place of six large rooms. The furniture had preceded the family and everything looked homelike and comfortable, so mother had not the sadness of coming to a bare, cheerless, empty house. We were cordially greeted by the elders' wives and families, and when we arrived dinner was upon the table for us. This welcome was more homelike because of our own things having preceded us. And then we were such a busy family that we had little time to waste in repinings. We were all put in the harness—the Sabbath school and choir. We made visits with our parents to the sick and the poor. Because we spoke nothing but the German language, we were obliged to go to school. My oldest sister, Mary, was soon established in the German department of the public school. She was graduated from the Monticello Seminary, St. Louis, before coming there. She taught during the week in the public school and on Saturday taught English in the synagogue. On the Sabbath she played the melodeon in our church. It was there that, as a child, I learned the grand old German hymns of the church under her guidance and which helped to make me the singer I am today.
We had now been seven years in Cincinnati and the church had flourished so greatly that a second German Reformed church was the outcome of father's ministry. It was built on Webster street for the purpose of housing the overflow of the first church on Betts street. In all this prosperity California gold and missionary fields were opened and discovered in November, 1847. Father was chosen for California, and the only way to go was over the plains. What a sad family was ours while preparations were made which would take father and brother George, who was now 17 years old, away, as we thought, to the other end of the earth. At last the hour came and the tie that bound pastor and people, father, mother and children was severed. My brother George told me the story of the trip as follows:
"The party left Cincinnati down the river on the steamer Pontiac about May 10th, 1849, arrived in St. Louis four days after the fire, May 18th, and remained four days at Weston. We purchased a yoke of oxen. At St. Joseph, Mo., we purchased two more yokes. On the 28th we went up the river and crossed over on flatboats. Here we camped for the night. As far as the eye could see it was one level stretch of land. May 29th we started on the long journey across the plains to California. Our first mishap came in crossing over a bridge made of logs, called a corduroy bridge. In crossing over this bridge one of the oxen was crowded too near the edge. He was crowded off into the water below and was drowned before we could give aid. After traveling for seven days more, the first days in June, we came to Ash Hollow. At this place the party came in contact with a whole tribe of Sioux Indians. They were peaceful, and we traded with them and gave the squaws some necklaces of bright colored beads. After passing the Indian tribe, about five miles away, we camped for the night. We reached Fort Laramie by noon the next day. Here we purchased a fine cow to take the place of the drowned ox. She worked well. She supplied the party with fresh milk as well. Fort Laramie consisted of only the fort and a blacksmith shop. We continued next day and made several stops before we came to Fort Bridger, occupied by the man Bridger and his family. He had a squaw wife and six children. When he learned that father was a missionary, he brought his whole family to our camp and they were all baptized. This was father's first missionary work.
"After leaving here we traveled for days before we got to Salt Lake City, passing through Wyoming. At Salt Lake City father and Brigham Young had a long and heated argument. A number of men and women joined in. Among the women were several who did not believe as they were compelled to, and they were on the side of the missionary. We remained here a week, and we drove the cattle to feed and the Mormons stole them two different times and compelled the company to pay fifteen dollars each time as find money. Rather an expensive stay for one week. When the party left, the women who favored us came out with baskets filled with fresh vegetables, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squash. With tears in their eyes they said farewell. When we left we employed the services of a Mormon guide. He purposely led us on the wrong trail for sixty miles. It was necessary for us to return and get the right trail. When we started once more he misled us the second time and directed us into a deep canyon. In order to get out of this difficulty we were obliged to take the wagon to pieces and piece by piece we carried them out into safety. His object was to tire out our oxen and get us to desert them so he could appropriate them. At last we discovered his treachery and dismissed him at once. Then we continued our journey along the Santa Fe trail. This was Kit Carson's trail from Salt Lake to Lower California. We continued our travels until we reached Big Muddy river and camped there. The Indians yelled and whooped at us all night long. We could not sleep, for they were the troublesome Piutes. We did not know how to act as they kept concealed and were in great numbers. Two of them, more bold than the others, being also curious, crawled through the willows. We immediately shot at them. In the morning the oxen were rounded up and one was missing. He was driven away by the Indians and killed. We found him several miles further along, with seven arrows piercing his body. Our next camping place was at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The snow was eighteen inches deep and there was no food for the cattle. After going a mile further the cow gave out. That left us without any means to haul the wagons. Father left his wagon and we packed our goods on a horse, this being the only animal remaining in father's possession. We were compelled to leave many useful things behind. Father's feet were frozen at this place and we were obliged to cut off his boots to assist him out of his misery. Our sufferings were great and we nearly froze on the trail. We kept going at a slow pace and with great difficulty until we passed the snow belt, and when we came to the green fields or plains our joy knew no bounds. But misfortune overtook us here, for we turned our horse out with the cattle and that was the last we ever saw of him. We came at last to Cottonwood Springs and we camped there for two days to let the remaining cattle rest and eat of herbage.
"In the evening of the second day we started to cross the great desert. We succeeded in crossing by midnight and reached the mountains on the other side. I was so tired I fell asleep beside the trail. The team passed me as I slept. I did not awaken until 2 in the morning. I followed the trail and found the team, a distance of four or five miles ahead of where I took the nap. On reaching camp, father and the company were anxiously awaiting me. We rested for the night. Next morning we started through a deep canyon which eventually opened into a beautiful valley where we saw houses made of adobe. The fields were covered with cattle. This was the first civilization we saw since leaving Salt Lake. Starvation had almost overtaken us and we besought the owner to sell us an ox and we had a feast and appeased our hunger. We had lost all accounting of time until we came here. We camped for the night, and next morning we started for Los Angeles. We arrived there November 18, 1849. The Spaniards had taken a strong liking toward father and wanted to make him their Alcalde, but he refused the honor and told them he had come to preach the gospel and had to go further. On his going they presented him with a fine horse and saddle as a token of their esteem for him. At that time Los Angeles had only a few adobe houses and a Catholic mission. Commodore Stockton had dug trenches around the place as a means of defense. We slowly wended our way for another month when we met a man who had bought a thousand head of cattle. He told father he could earn his way up the coast by helping drive the cattle, but he was not able to do this spirited work, so father and son exchanged places. Father turned the horse over to me and he drove the supply wagon. For the first time in my life I was a real cowboy.
"We followed the coast through Santa Clara and Santa Cruz, crossing over to Livermore and San Joaquin valley, this being the end of the cattle drive. Here we were paid and dismissed and our employer said we were about forty miles from Stockton and about the same distance from the mines. We plodded slowly along, following up the Stanislaus river. The first place we reached having a name was Knight's Ferry. We were out of money and clothes when we arrived at this place. The ferryman took us across without pay and bade us remain all night. Up to this time we wore buckskin trousers. I went out hunting and the rain came down in torrents and my trousers got drenched. They stretched so long I cut them off so I could walk. When they dried they had shrunken above my knees. At this place we met Mr. Dent, a brother-in-law of General Grant. With him also was a Mr. Vantine. When these men saw the unfortunate condition we were in, they gave us each a pair of overalls and a hat. So we were once more a little more civilized and passable. On our way up the coast we encountered a heavy storm. We had prepared to camp under a fine tree, but a large dead limb hung directly over us. I told father that we had better move as there was danger. But he thought it safe to remain where we were. But I insisted that we move, and finally he listened to my pleadings and we each took an end of the bed and lifted it over to the other side of the tree, away from the dead limb. We had hardly gotten settled into the bed before the limb came down with a crash, immediately across the spot from where we took the bed. Had we remained, nothing could have saved us from instant death. The next day we left Knight's Ferry without a dollar and reached the mines that afternoon about 4 o'clock. One of the miners gave me a claim. The next morning I started my first gold mining. Father was obliged to rest after all this dreadful experience of nine or ten months. I bought myself a rocker and began to work my claim. The first day I had washed out $9.50. In eight days I had gotten out $650. After getting the gold father went to Stockton and bought a supply of groceries and started a grocery store at Scorpion Gulch. I took up another claim and in ten days' time I had taken out a collection of nuggets and small gold to the amount of $1,600."
This was sent home to the family in the East with the message for us to come to California as soon as we could get ready.
After father started for California we were obliged to vacate the parsonage for the family of his successor. So the church was raised and a fine story made under the church for our use while we remained there. We were all obliged to work and help mother in some way. The older ones were teaching and we who were but children sewed a certain amount each day before our play hour came. My sister Mary now played the organ in the Presbyterian church and Mr. Aiken was the director of the choir. I was about ten years old at this time, and with the new minister other changes came in our church and we left the choir to others who came after us. Shortly after this I remember going one Sabbath to the church to hear sister play the pipe organ. While in the choir loft Mr. Aiken came in. He came over and asked me how I came there. I told him I had come with my sister. "Who is your sister?" "Miss Kroh, who plays the organ." He looked surprised. Presently I saw them conversing. When sister came to her place she said to me, "When the choir arises to sing you go over and stand with the alto." I demurred and she said, "Go and sing as you have been singing in our choir. You know the music." After that Sunday I sang with the choir five years, until we came to California. I was then fifteen. That is how I became a choir singer when ten years of age. Mr. Aiken used to pick me out from among the children of the public schools and place me in the front row in every school I ever attended while he taught the music.
Mr. Aiken became musical instructor in the schools in 1848. It was then I was selected to join the choral class. There were fifty boys and girls picked from the different schools and we had a fine drilling each Saturday afternoon in the basement of the church. One of the boys had a high soprano voice and we all admired his singing to adoration. He was as courteous as his voice was beautiful—unspoiled by praise. We had one chorus we all loved, of which he was the soloist, and we were not satisfied with the rehearsal until we had sung, and the young master had so beautifully rendered the obbligato to the song, "Shepherd, from your sleep awake, Morning opes her golden eyes, etc." How well I remember the words of the song and the beautiful boy singer that left the impression of his voice in my life, and I can see the picture as plain as if it hung on the wall of my studio today. From that voice and the correct guidance of my sainted sister Mary I have been able to sing and please the many thousands of people who have listened to me in my years of song wherever I strayed—in the East or West.
In speaking of Professor Junkerman's work in the schools of Cincinnati, a coincidence happened in 1906 which recalled my childhood days with all the vivid coloring traced upon my mind fifty-two years ago. In the number of The Musician for May, 1906, I saw two pictures that were familiar and I looked without seeing the names printed beneath them. To my utter astonishment they were the likenesses of Mr. Aiken and Professor Junkerman, whom I had not seen for over fifty years and yet I knew them at sight—the moment my eyes beheld them. In reading the article and what it contained in regard to the music and its development, I was able to go over the whole ground of Mr. Aiken's teaching as if I were once more a school child. All three of these persons were in the schools—Professor Junkerman, in languages, organ and piano; my sister, Mary Kroh, his pupil on both organ and piano, also teacher of English and German, and Mr. Aiken, the teacher in the public schools for voice and the movable "do" system. Was ever such a windfall of good fortune as this proved to me? I had tried to recall the name of the dear old professor to use it in my narrative, but my memory was at fault. We all loved him so well. He was a thorough musician and thoroughly appreciated by all who had the advantage of his knowledge, either in languages or in instrumental music. The Musician contains a complete detail of these two men who were instrumental in promoting the best music in the early years of 1839 and later in 1842 and continued until 1879 for Mr. Aiken, and Professor Junkerman closed his public career in 1900.
OUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA VIA THE ISTHMUS, AND EARLY DAYS THERE. FIRST CHURCH CHOIR IN STOCKTON
At last the long-looked-for letter came that father and brother had arrived in the mines of California, and in the letter were several small flakes of gold wrapped in a bit of paper. We had so long hoped against hope that the sight of the familiar writing caused the greatest excitement. Poor mother could hardly hold out any longer and the news was too much for her weak body, for she was just convalescing from weeks of sickness brought on by hope deferred and waiting and watching each day for a word from the wanderers. We were obliged to refrain for her sake, but we were all like as if news came from the dead—ten long months and no word. After we were somewhat quieted sister Mary read the letter aloud. It was like reading the last will of the departed, we were all so unnerved. At the close of the letter we were informed to get in readiness and that the money was already on the way for us. It had taken over two months for this letter to come by steamer, and we counted the days for another with the gold to take us away to California. What a consternation this news made in the congregation! They had hoped that father might return if things were not favorable, but the letter and the gold in the letter and the money coming to take us away were too true. There was no hope now that he would return. The successor of father was a young minister, Rev. Henry Rust. He heard the news with a sad heart, for he and my sister Mary were betrothed. Father's message was for sister Mary to take his place as help to mother, who was not able to take the family alone over the two oceans with all the uncertainty of travel. The weeks of waiting were spent in preparation. Many busy fingers plied the needle (for sewing machines were not known at that time). Young as I was, I was no stranger to the use of the needle, for that is part of a German girl's education, with knitting and crocheting. I was born in the time of weaving, spinning and carding. Much brass and pewter household articles were to be kept bright and shiny. Children in those days were little housewives and took as much pride in having the family silver, copper and brass polished as the older ones. The oaken floors were made white with soft soap and sand, and the comfortable rugs of rag carpet were woven with special care. The high-posted bedsteads with the valance around the bottom of white linen, the canopy above draped with chintz of the daintiest tracings of figures and flowers, and oh, the feather bed well beaten and made high, and immaculate white quilt finished a bed fit for a king to rest his royal body upon. While we had not a grand home, it was a place of order, taste and refinement. Each one was taught to feel responsible for the good or bad impressions from strangers who visited us from time to time. Consequently we all took pride in keeping order, which was the law of the home, and as young as we were we felt justly proud of praise from strangers. After school we had so much to sew, mend or knit. When that was done, we were allowed to play until six. The evenings were spent in preparing the lessons for the next day. My early years were spent in work and play. Law and order was the rule, but none of us were unhappy by the restraint. It was an education that has made the men and women of our family what they are today. We were home keepers as well as entertainers.
Having traveled so much during our lifetime, changing from one city to another, we were not afraid to take this last long journey. The difficulty was what to take, especially of many of the heirlooms that mother still retained from her girlhood home. After inquiry and instructions from the steamship company, we found to our dismay that no furniture could go, as there was no way of getting it over the Isthmus. All our long-cherished household furniture must remain behind. Only things that could be taken up in small boats were allowed. Kind friends of the congregation made their choice and took them as keepsakes in remembrance of us when we were far away. This act of kindness was much appreciated by mother, who suffered much anguish of mind to see the familiar things of her girlhood scattered here and there and her claim to them forever gone. She had heretofore been able to go willingly to different places because the familiar things made it homelike when settled in new surroundings, but this time all must be left behind. California was too far—she was going out to the great unknown world, far from civilization, not knowing what was before her. If everything else had to be left, she still retained the affection of her children, and we were as watchful of her happiness and comfort as if we were her keeper. Her hopes of meeting father and son, and her children with her, gave her the courage to begin the long journey.
It was now the year 1851. Mary had been teaching in the public schools and synagogue; sister Emma was sewing. They kept the finances from running low, as father's salary had to go to his successor and we had no other means of support. With good management and many friends we all came safely through the ordeal. After the first letter we had received no other word and the second year was passing, although we had been ready for months with the disposal of our household goods. The sisters kept their positions, so all went on as usual. In the latter part of May a rap was heard at the front door and sister Mary answered the summons and before her stood the express man of Adams Express Company, and he handed her a canvas sack filled with gold and a letter addressed to mother from California. Father had sent us $1,600 and orders to come as soon as possible. He would be awaiting us in Stockton, California. After our surprise was over, what was to be done with all this money—we could not keep it here safely. So sister Sarah was dispatched to one of the trustees of the church who had a safe in his office. The money was placed in a covered basket and she was sent with all haste to get to the office before closing time, but fate was against her and Mr. Butler had closed the office and gone. So she was obliged to bring it home once more. It was dark before she came back and there were two men who followed her at a distance all the way going and coming. What to do to protect this great amount of money was a vital question. We occupied the first story under the church and the front rooms faced on Betts street, as did the entrance of the church. The original parsonage had not been occupied since we vacated it because the new minister had no family. We still retained the key. After our plans were made, myself and sister Sarah were sent out on the sidewalk as if we were playing, to see if any strangers were lurking around. Mother stood in the front door and talked with us while sister Mary, accompanied by my small brother, took the money and went up to the other parsonage and let herself in, then into the church. It was still daylight. So as not to use a light, she quietly slipped into the church, removed one side of the pulpit steps and let my brother crawl over to the other side and put the gold beneath the steps there. After depositing it, she quietly put everything in place and returned to the house. Then we retired for the evening.
None of the neighbors knew of the money being received. It came at an hour when no one was coming home or happened to be on the sidewalk. The shutters on the first floor were solid wood so no one could molest us. We had been clearing the house and packing things away. We were all tired and slept well. Mary and Emma occupied the front room and for some unknown reason left the wooden bar off that made the door secure, and these two men came in so quietly that no one heard them. They had unlocked the doors to escape in case they were discovered. Mother was awakened during the night and said, "Mary, are you up?" No answer. After a short silence she heard another sound and she called, "Are you ill, Mary? If you are, I'll get up and help." Receiving no answer, she reached out to light the candle, but hearing nothing more she thought she had been mistaken and went to sleep. She arose early and found the shutters unlocked and the side door ajar. Then she went into the parlor and all the chairs had been taken from the front door where they had been piled. She immediately realized that there had been robbers in the house searching for the gold. She awoke the girls and told them of what had happened, and you can imagine our consternation. As long as we remained in the house we lived in fear of a second attempt. The next morning sister Sarah was sent with the gold to our friend, Mr. Butler, who was surprised and simply amazed at the amount sister gave him to keep. He immediately put it into safer hands at the mint where the gold was weighed and the value given in money and placed in the bank subject to mother's order. When Mr. Butler was told of the attempted robbery he immediately arranged to have the house watched each night until our departure, which came the first week in June, 1851. We left Cincinnati for New York and were welcomed on our arrival by friends with whom we remained for a week. On the following Monday we secured passage for California on the steamer Ohio bound for Aspinwall. I was too young and also too ill to know just the route taken, but after a month we arrived at Aspinwall, and when our belongings were properly taken care of we started on our journey across the Isthmus of Panama.
We were nine days going up the Chagres river in flatboats. This trip, girl as I was, I can recall perfectly and it was an experience which has served in after years as an education which I have used in many ways. We, as children, had access to father's great library and magazines from which we learned so much of foreign countries and people. I had artistic tastes and I used to find the tropical pictures and scenes much to my liking and asked many questions in regard to the different people among whom the missionaries worked. I had never thought ever to see or realize such a picture in the tropics as this. We had a large boat assigned to our family alone. Our belongings were deposited and two great, black natives were placed at each end of the boat or scow. They were without clothing, save for a short, full skirt of white cloth fastened around their waists on a band. Each used a long pole to propel the scow. We were the only family of women on board the steamer. There was Mr. Biggar and his wife and a bride and her husband, besides several colored women and their husbands coming out to take positions on the Pacific steamers. All the other passengers were men, coming to hunt their fortunes and go back rich. There were about eight or nine of these scows. The railroad was not finished, but it was being built at that time. The surveying was being done and small cabins were built for the surveyors' use at the different stations where we camped for the night. The captain had provided us with food in cans and packages, toasted bread and other things for our comfort and utensils for cooking, and we had a jolly picnic for nine long days before we came to the place where we mounted the burros to take us the rest of the way to Panama.
To describe this journey needs a more romantic pen than mine, but I'll endeavor to tell you of some of the features and things that we saw which were so strange and wonderful to me. After we had said our good-byes to the captain and officers who were so gallant to us and did all they could for us during the long month on the rough Atlantic, we climbed into our boat and these natives took charge of it, one at each end, with a guttural grunt from both. They lightly took their places and we began our journey up the Chagres river. It was a warm, bright morning, and a light haze in the atmosphere made it appear like spring. At first we felt afraid of our boatmen, but soon we were drinking in all of the panoramic effects of the changing scenes of trailing vines, tropical flowers and other splendors. The chattering of monkeys and parrots, the alligators lying upon the opposite shore like great gray logs, some sleeping, some with their great mouths wide open to allow the insects to gather on their tongues, were things never to be forgotten. I observed that when a large number of flies had gathered the alligators would close their capacious jaws, satisfied with the sweet morsel, and roll their eyes with apparent enjoyment. Then they once more slowly opened their ponderous jaws and quietly waited for another meal. We had gone on our way several hours without speaking, there was so much to see and it was all so new. The quaint song of the natives amused us. They never seemed to weary of the same "Yenze, yenze, ah yenze." At the third "Yenze" the boat would shoot up the stream twice its length. It was nearing noon and the sun was getting torrid and the air close and stifling. Without any warning the rain showered upon us and we were obliged to remain in our places and let it come down upon us, regardless of results to our clothing. The rain was of short duration, however, and we rather enjoyed the cooling effect. Presently the sun shone in all its glory and in an hour we were once more with dry clothing. This mixed weather continued the whole ten days of our journey.
At noon of each day we disembarked and prepared our meal, generally stopping at one of the stations of the railroad. We found quite a number of white men and Mexicans at each place. They gladly received us and offered us some of their fare. In exchange we gave them soup, made in a large kettle, and had several things they were strangers to in their life in the forest of vines, flowers and fruit of the tropics where they subsisted on rations of pork, bacon, hardtack, etc. They gladly accepted our fare and we partook of theirs. Before we started again the men came to the boat with baskets of fresh cut oranges and bananas and plantains. They were for us to take on the steamer and we could enjoy them as they ripened on the way. We received marked attention from the men at every station. Women coming to California were a novelty, and when they learned we were all of one family of the American Padre, they were still more gracious. So we journeyed for ten days, each day bringing forth some new feature. At night we left the boats and slept in the bungalows perched high in the air, and to reach them we climbed steps cut out in a large log placed at the opening. There was only one large room and we all slept on the floor, rolled in our blankets. We got but little sleep because of the noise from below made by Americans and Spaniards playing cards and smoking cigarettes and Spanish girls dancing as the men thrummed on the guitars. The Spaniards carried long knives at their sides and pistols in their belts, wore wide straw hats and red sashes, black trousers slashed down the side and trimmed with rows of bright buttons. High-heeled boots and spurs finished the unique garb. The women wore a white chemise and white petticoat and slippers. Their black hair, plaited in two braids, and a silk shawl thrown gracefully over their heads and a fan, which is an indispensable article to a Spanish lady, completed the toilet. Nothing but troubled sleep came to our relief during these days. Fear of the Spaniards and the movements of the lizards on the rafters and walls, with now and then a tarantula, made rest almost impossible. At last we had only one day more, the tenth day. We had gotten familiar with the different scenes, the waving palms, the trailing vines where the monkeys climbed or hung by their tails and chattered in their own way. The scarlet lingawacha, or tongue plant, hung in graceful lengths and brightened the varied colored green in the background. Innumerable families of parrots talked and screamed from the branches. Bananas and orange trees everywhere interspersed with tall cocoanut palms, the large and small alligators basking in the sun on the sand were pictures never to be forgotten. The natives in their peculiar dress, the fandango at night, the graceful twirl of the Spanish waltz put the life touch to the picture that comes to me today at the age of seventy-five as it was in those days when I experienced, a girl of fifteen, all the discomforts of travel from Cincinnati to California.
It was about 4 o'clock on the tenth day when we arrived at the small village where we were to remain for the night and next morning, then ho! for Panama. We had better accommodations here, a large adobe house, kept by a Spaniard and wife and daughters, under the supervision of the steamship company, which also controlled the scows that we used on the river Chagres. Our goods were transferred from the scows to the pack mule train. After everything had been safely lashed upon their backs, our burros were brought and we all mounted astride. It was well for us we were no strangers to riding. My youngest brother was too small to ride, so a large native bamboo chair was brought and strapped upon the back of a large native and in the chair, safely tied in, sat the brother, as contented as a lord. He was such a handsome child, mother did not want to have the native take him for fear he would steal him, so she had the slave start first and she came behind and rode with him in sight all the way, but she was unnecessarily alarmed, for he was most faithful. The day before we left for the steamer he came with an offering of fruit and nuts for the boy and the madre and senoritas. Mother gave him an extra dollar and he was greatly surprised and smilingly picked up brother and carried him to the steamer and assisted us in every way until we were safely transferred to the steamship Tennessee, Captain Totten, commander. The ride on the burros over mountains, hills and dales was an experience never to be forgotten. Slowly, step by step we wound around the mountain trail. These burros had gone the road so many years that their tiny hoofs had worn places in the rocks. All we had to do was to sit tight in the saddle as we ascended or descended the steep places. The pummel of the saddle was high and we held on to that, and enjoyed the novelty of the situation. Once or twice we merged into a plain of a mile or so, then began the rocky ascent. We refreshed ourselves from time to time at cooling springs that dripped out from the rocks into a rustic stone basin. The scenery was very attractive, but it became monotonous as we sat in our saddles while the burros, step by step, ascended or descended the path they had traversed so often. Toward night the mountains became more like rolling hills and there was more open space and sky to be seen. By the time darkness overtook us we were near the outskirts of Panama and hoped soon to see the lights of the city. About nine o'clock we stopped before an adobe building, long and wide, two stories high, with a large enclosed place for the burros. This was also under the steamship company's control. This time the proprietor was a white man and we were able to obtain desirable beds and comfortable fare. He gave us the best rooms, large and clean, more homelike than anything we had seen since leaving home. We were so weary it was with difficulty we got off the burros, having ridden all day long. I could hardly feel the earth under me and I staggered many times before we were comfortable in our rooms. After resting for an hour we were summoned to supper. It was now ten o'clock. Late as it was, we found the supper so appetizing we forgot the hour and really enjoyed the first good meal in the ten days we were on the way. The host and his good wife saw that everybody was made comfortable during the time we remained there. The steamer Tennessee had arrived two days before and had all the cargo in and fruits and fresh vegetables on board, so we were able to sail the next afternoon at three o'clock.
It was almost five when the signal was given for "all ashore," and in an hour we were steaming along the coast and out of sight of Panama. The sea was calm and the steamer was steady and I supposed I would fare better than I had during the first part of the trip. But as soon as I smelled the smoke from the stacks and the odor of the cooking food, I was as miserable as before. The rest of the family fared better and were able to go to the table when the sea was calm. There were about fifty cabin passengers, and during this voyage we made several lifelong friends of some of the most prominent men who came here to make their fortunes. We received the most courteous treatment from every one. It was like one large family. Captain Totten and First Officer A.J. Clifton were like fathers to us. Mr. Clifton claimed me, as I was the age of his daughter left at home, and I used to sing for him and then I was his "Nightingale." We had learned a song to sing for our father when we expected him home, and as he did not come we related the incident to the captain and Mr. Clifton and our friends on board, and nothing must do until we sang it for all on board. It was on a moonlight night and we were going smoothly, consequently I was not ill, and Captain Totten proposed that we should sing the song. Everybody was on deck enjoying the delightful evening. Everything was still; only the puffing of the smokestack and the plash of the wheel were heard. We all clustered around mother and began our song.
"Home again, home again from a foreign shore, And O! it fills my soul with joy to meet my friends once more. Here we dropped the parting tear to cross the ocean's foam, But now we're once again with those who kindly greet me home. Home again, home again," etc.
Mother, Emma and Sarah sang the soprano; Mary, Margaret and Lauretta sang the alto. Mary's voice being a deep contralto, she improvised the third part. The plaintive song, with the sentiment of home surroundings, touched the hearts of all the passengers and turned their thoughts homewards, and many an eye glistened with tears.
After the first night of song there never was an evening that there was not singing of some kind. Sister found some good voices among the men and we formed a chorus. In a short time we were without an audience, for everybody gradually found he had a note or two to use, and whenever it was good sailing we sang. We had two severe storms when I, for one, was not visible on any occasion. I must confess the sea and I are not at all friends. We had one storm passing the bay of Tehuantepec. The steamer rolled and the sea dashed high for two days, but the boat was faithful to her trust and we safely steamed into the beautiful bay at Acapulco the last of the week. I had been ill all the way, going without food, and when we arrived Captain Totten said I should have one fine dinner. After the passengers had gone ashore we were taken off in the captain's boat and had our dinner at the hotel where the captain had ordered it in advance. We remained on shore all day visiting this Spanish town while the steamer was loading food and coal. We visited some Spanish homes where the captain had friends, and we were entertained by these Castilian ladies, who sang their songs to us. In return we sang for them and they appreciated our music. About three o'clock we said good-bye and they gave us beautiful mementos of shell flowers, nuts and fruits and accompanied us to the boat with their servants to carry our gifts for us. Such a beautiful day of happenings and surprises for us who had never seen people of this kind before left lasting impressions in my heart of courtesy and kindness.
By nine in the evening we had left the bay and our newly made friends far behind and we were steaming toward California as fast as the steamer could carry us. We had come nearly half the way and were nearing Lower California when we encountered rough weather off Cape Lucas. Oh, how the ship tossed and rolled. I thought morning never would dawn. The wind was against us. The masts strained and creaked. I really feared we would not reach California. The sea was rough nearly all the time until we passed Santa Barbara, when it became calm and we could once more feel that we might reach our destination. We had been now three weeks on the way and we were longing for sight of land. We strained our eyes daily, hoping to see the hills, but not until we had come within two days of the Golden Gate did we see any sign of land. Fog and distance prevented our distinguishing anything but an outline of the shore, but as the fog lifted we saw more distinctly the hills, and each hour brought us nearer to the long-looked-for harbor within the Golden Gate. And yet we saw no city, only sand hills. We steamed past Telegraph Hill, then we began to see here and there low wooden buildings and tents and shacks. Was this then San Francisco? Oh, how disappointed we were; there was no place to go. We remained on board until the Stockton steamer arrived. There was no accommodation for women anywhere. The steamer, American Eagle, came in about 1 o'clock, and our things were transferred on board, and Captain Totten cared for us as though we were his family and had everything arranged as far as possible for our comfort. He explained to the river captain that we were to be met in Stockton by father. But the captain also had instructions from Rev. J.H. Woods not to expect father, who had been ill in the mines, but we were to go to his home until father could arrive from Scorpion Gulch, where he and brother had a store, and it was slow travel with the six-mule "schooner," over hills and dusty roads to Stockton.
It was quite a change from the great steamer Tennessee to the little stern-wheel boat as it slowly puffed across the bay through Carquinez straits and up the slough, turning and winding along, sometimes being caught by a sharp turn in the stream and one or two stops on the sand bars if the water was too low. We did not sleep much because everything was so strange and small. We were always in fear of some accident. The hours dragged slowly until morning, when the boat came to a stop about seven o'clock. At eight o'clock the small cannon was fired, informing the people that the steamer had arrived. The captain came about nine o'clock for us and we breakfasted with him and the officers. We were the only female passengers, as we had parted with the other friends at San Francisco, they having gone to Sacramento and Marysville, with their husbands, to the mines. It was like the parting of a large family. We had been together two long months, sharing the changes and rough traveling and the happy evenings on board where the genial officers did all they could to make the voyage comfortable with the means they possessed. Before we came only men traveled and they put up with any inconvenience to get to the gold fields. About ten o'clock our friend, Rev. Mr. Woods, met us and gave us the message sent by father, so it was arranged we should go to the reverend gentleman's home and await his and brother George's coming. Mrs. Woods was a Southern lady, from Alabama, and met us with warm hospitality. She was glad to see us, being the only white woman in Stockton at the time. And we were glad to meet another woman. These good people had several boys but no girls. We were seven girls and one boy. As ministers' families, we had much in common. The Woods' cottage was pretty well crowded, but we managed well, as every one was able to be a help instead of a burden. A tent was put up in the lot and bunks were soon made, and we put the men in the tents and the women and children indoors. We were not yet acclimated and suffered with colds for several weeks.
We patiently awaited father's return, but three whole weeks passed before the meeting was granted us. We were sitting in front of the cottage, chatting and sewing, when about four o'clock in the afternoon we saw several men approaching and, as we observed them, my quick eye recognized father. With one spring from the porch I cried, "Father," and as fleet as a rabbit I was off before any one realized what was the cause of my sudden exit. They watched my flying feet and by the time they realized what I was doing I was in the arms of the dear old daddy, coming slowly with Mr. Woods, brother George and two friends. It was our habit, as children, to always meet father when he came home at night, and when we all ran to meet him the youngest always received the first attention, being taken in his arms, and the others clung to his coat and skipped alongside, chatting as fast as we could until we entered the house. Words cannot express the joy of the meeting after more than two years' separation. When mother realized that father had come at last she was like one dazed and could not move. The children in their happiness were surrounding the long lost wanderers. At last father spoke, with tears of gladness in his eyes, "Where is Mary, your mother, my children?" We had monopolized his attention and poor mother was neglected for the moment. As soon as we had realized the oversight sister Mary beckoned us all away and we gradually disappeared and left the two to enjoy their happy reunion. After a half hour had passed, and while they were softly conversing, we gathered in the main room and, clustering around sister Mary, we began the song—
"Home again, home again from a foreign shore, And oh it fills my soul with joy to meet my friends once more."
Rev. Mr. Woods and family were more than surprised to find such voices among us, and their appreciation was so genuine we gave them one of our dear old German hymns, a favorite of father's also.
The singing seemed to give new life to his long struggle in the ministry. His was the only church in Stockton at that time, besides a Catholic church, and it was uphill work to get the men to come to service. A new thought came to him that perhaps music in the church might be an incentive for men to forsake one day thinking of gold. So the choir was established and a large melodeon was secured from San Francisco from one of the music stores which had been established. Joseph Atwill began the music business on Washington street in 1850, just one year before we arrived in November, 1851. It was soon noised about that the family of Rev. H. Kroh were singers and that by the first of the month there would be a choir in the Presbyterian church. A melodeon was to be purchased. Miss M. Kroh was to play the organ and direct the music and the sisters were to sing. During the time the melodeon was on the way we had become acquainted with William Trembly, a fine tenor; James Holmes, bass; William Cobb, tenor; Will Belding, bass; Samuel Grove, tenor; and William H. Knight, bass.
Father had returned to take charge of his store and we had moved into the only house to be found, a story and a half high with eight rooms and a canvas kitchen. We would call it a barn today, but we thought it a palace. It was originally built for a small hotel, cloth and paper on the walls and ceiling, roughened wood floors, everything of the most primitive make. The rent of it was $80 a month and it cost $1,100 to furnish it. We had matting for carpets, the most common kitchen chairs in the best room, kitchen table for a center table, and our dining table was made of two long redwood boards joined together and placed on four saw horses. Having had so much to do in making the best out of nothing in the many places before, we had not lost the art of arranging the furnishings of this house. Fortunately we did not sacrifice all of our bedding, linens and quilts. We were allowed them in the freight. The stores kept nothing but the brightest colored prints and some bright damasks for the use of the Indians who came down from the mountains and traded for such things. We could get white cotton cloth, so we were able to have curtains at the windows combined with red damask. We covered boxes with the same damask, and with castors screwed on the corners we had some very comfortable stools. Then a square of damask was properly finished off and made a table cover for the center table. When all was done we began to feel we were once more at home. There was yet something lacking. We had no piano and we were lost without the usual music that made our home so happy. Dear sister Mary, how we all pitied her. We knew she was suffering daily from homesickness, the separation from her sweetheart, the loss of her organ and piano and no companionship with musical people. Although she never murmured, we could see that her mind was where her heart was. But her duty was here. She was bravely battling day by day. We all saw it and hoped against hope to change the condition.
Finally the choir had been formed and the melodeon came. That was soon compensation for her loss. So the rehearsals began, and on the first Sunday of the month we gave the first service. We had anthems from the old Carmina Sacra and familiar hymns and our new found friends all joined the choir. It was a great service. It seemed that everybody from the pastor to the choir was inspired. Such an outpouring of men! Mother and Mrs. Woods in the congregation and five of us in the choir composed all the female portion of the congregation. The rest consisted of men of mature years and young men away from home and entering a church for the first time perhaps in this new country. When the hour arrived for service the church could hold no more. Those who could not enter stood outside the door during the whole service. The evening service was a repetition, and those who could not get into the church obtained boxes and laid boards upon them and kneeled before the windows which were opened so they could hear the sermon and the singing. It was a strange sight for the men to see women and especially young girls. The miners would come to Stockton on Saturday to frequent the resorts. Drinking and card playing formed their diversions. Many a young man turned away from the gaming table to listen to the music and hear the sermon.
We arrived in Stockton the latter part of November. 1851, and remained with Rev. James Woods until we obtained this house, where we remained two years. During that time we had formed the acquaintance of the foremost merchants, bankers and professional men. The first Thanksgiving we invited the following gentlemen to dinner: William H. Knight, Samuel Grove, William Belding, William Gray, Austin Sperry, Frederick Lux, C.V. Payton, James Harrold, William Trembly, David Trembly, James Holmes, Thomas Mosely, Charles Deering, Gilbert Claiborne, Mr. Shoenewasser, Mr. Thompson, B.W. Bours, Charles Woodman, William Cobb and Charles Greenly. Brother George still had his team of mules and the large schooner and made his regular trips from Scorpion Gulch with his friend, Fred Lux, who also was engaged in the same business. On their way down for this occasion they killed enough wild game to serve bountifully the needs for this first Thanksgiving dinner, as the usual turkey was not to be obtained. Wild geese, rabbits and squirrels were plentiful and our hearts were gladdened to see such a display. How we worked and baked and planned! By many willing hands the dinner was prepared and the guests began to arrive. Including our family, there were thirty in all. Our home had but two rooms on the first floor. A large parlor, hall and stairway faced upon the main street, and the dining room led out from the hall and was large enough to seat many guests. The kitchen was made of canvas and led into the dining room. There were three fine windows in the dining room, so it made a pleasant and cheerful place. Although everything was of the plainest sort, the long table with the white cloth and greens from the pine trees the boys had cut as they came along, and the wild flowers we had gathered and placed in bowls to grace the tables with the greens which were arranged tastefully in wreaths and festoons, gave a homelike welcome to these men who for months had not eaten a home dinner or enjoyed the society of women. As the darkness came on, we lit up the room with candles, having no other lights. We had not forgotten to bring our brass candlesticks among our household effects. Mother could not part with them, so they were carefully packed among our clothing in the trunks and served us beautifully on this occasion. They got an extra polish of whiting from sister and me, who were the decorators on this occasion, and we had to attend to the tables while mother and the older sisters made the cakes, pies and prepared the roasts and meat pies and other necessary additions for a dinner of this kind. Father, mother and the older sisters sat with the guests, and sister Sarah and I waited upon the table. As young as I was, the impression was a lasting one. Some of the gentlemen looked sad, some dignified, others joked and others related stories of home and their experiences in different places in California until the dinner was over and we adjourned to the parlor.
The dinner made such an impression that before the guests departed they had it all arranged that we were to take them all as boarders. After such a feast of things they had longed for so many months, they were not willing to go back to the old way of batching it, as they termed it. We were young and used to housework and we wanted a home of our own some day. Father consulted us and we agreed that on the following Monday they might begin to come. We were assigned our parts, and for two years we worked until we were able to secure our own house, which stands today in Stockton as one of the earlier homes and our homestead. While in this house there were times when we still longed for home and the old surroundings. Sister Mary wanted her instrument which she supposed she would never have again. Our friends, knowing this, quietly consulted father in regard to securing a piano as a birthday offering. But as Christmas Day was the date of her birth, it was too late for the year 1851. We had already entered upon the year 1852, and it would take almost a year to get a piano here, as Mr. Atwill had not imported any instruments as yet. Our friends were good business men and they immediately set about to learn if a piano could not be obtained. All this was unknown to any of us but father. William Trembly and James Harrold, while in San Francisco, inquired at the different musical stores as to arrangements to obtain a piano. Kohler & Chase did not import at that time. They dealt in notions, fancy goods and toys. They were not wholly in the music business until later in the sixties. Mr. Atwill was at the time on Washington street. He did not import largely, and when Messrs. Trembly and Harrold came to him he gladly entered into the plan to get a fine Chickering here by December 25th of 1852. The cost was to be $1,200, delivered in good order. The piano order was given, and how it came to California, whether by steamer or around the Horn, I am not able to say.
All through the year we worked early and late, and our boarders had increased until they numbered thirty-five. We could not accommodate any more. There were no amusements of any kind. We occasionally had a moonlight ride as far as I.D. Staple's ranch, where we were entertained for an hour or so, then we returned. Our rehearsals went on each week. New people were coming all the time. Mr. Grove's sisters arrived, which was another addition to our society. Mrs. George Sanderson and Mrs. John Millar came to join their husbands, who were the prominent men in business. Father had secured a lot and our home was being built, at which we rejoiced greatly, for it was difficult to work for so many people, and the lack of necessary household conveniences and of proper kitchen utensils were a great detriment. Nothing especially transpired during these months. We kept busily at our work until the season for rain was approaching. Several rough houses were built opposite, on the corner a saloon, which was an eyesore to us for it was a busy place where men drank and sometimes fought with knives. Next to our house was a one-story cottage where the family of Louis Millar lived, and a fandango house next door where they danced and played their guitars. We lived on the corner and fortunately had a sidewalk on two sides of the house, but the streets were not made and the mud and slush was dreadful. Men crossed the streets in high rubber leggings. We never pretended to go in the street at this time, everything being brought to us. We were almost as closely confined as prisoners. There was no drainage, consequently the mud remained in the streets for weeks while the rains lasted.
December was approaching and of course our thoughts turned towards Christmas and preparations for its festivities. Everybody was busy. We had much to do, for all these men were still with us. There was mince meat to make, raisins to seed, cakes and pies to bake. Everything we used came in bottles and cans. There were no fresh vegetables of any kind, excepting onions and potatoes. It was wonderful how we managed during all this time under the most trying difficulties, and yet prepared meals in such a way that our large family was always thoroughly satisfied. Sometimes we could get bananas from Mexico, cocoanuts and oranges, but not very often. Christmas eve came at last and such a busy place, no idle hands these days. Brother George and Mr. Lux brought with them two large sacks of the finest English walnuts. They were a windfall to us. We never had seen so many before. We were used to black walnuts, filberts and other nuts at home. This was the beginning of all that came to us this Christmas. It seemed that each one tried to get something we had not had before. Christmas came clear and bright, but mud was everywhere. Rubber boots were indispensable this Christmas. Dinner was served about 1:30 o'clock and everybody seemed to be in the happiest mood. It was sister Mary's birthday and we were especially attentive to her.
The dinner was over and the dessert was almost finished when a rap on the front door sounded loud and rough. Father asked Mary to go to the door as she was nearest. She obeyed and, when she had answered the knock, a teamster handed her a letter and asked if Miss Mary Kroh lived here. She replied in the affirmative, and taking the letter she glanced out of the door and saw a heavy truck with an immense box or case on it. She said, "You must be mistaken." He said, "Are you not Miss Kroh? This is for her." By this time we were getting excited and with one accord the guests arose to see the result. Father became uneasy at her long silence and came out in time to see her reel against the railing of the stairs. She had read the note and realized that her great desire had at last become a reality and her birthday had brought her the long-wished-for piano. This is what she read in the note:
"A merry Christmas and a happy birthday for Miss Mary Matilda Kroh, from her father and many friends who have appreciated her noble sacrifice of the musical environment of her Eastern home. This instrument is given as a partial compensation for her cheerful and noble performance of her duty to her parents and as full appreciation. James Harrold, C.V. Payton, Charles Greenly, David Trembly, William Cobb, Charles Deering, Gilbert Claiborne, William H. Knight, Samuel Grove, A.M. Thompson, William Gray, Thomas Mosely, William A. Trembly, Henry Kroh, James Holmes, Henry Noel, Austin Sperry, George H. Blake."
When the secret was out, all was excitement. Sister made her exit upstairs and the men took off their coats and helped with a will. Soon the beautiful instrument was out of the box and placed in the parlor. What a rejoicing there was! Father gave orders that Mary must play the first air, and we awaited her coming, but she had not been able to control herself to meet the friends and see the most magnificent gift she ever received. Sister Sarah was dispatched to bring her down stairs. She found her in the attitude of prayer. After much persuasion she came down and father met her and led her to the instrument. She stood for a moment unable to proceed. Seating herself upon the stool, she began to play the Doxology, but her head sank upon the piano. Then the tears gushed forth, the spell was broken and after a short time she was able to proceed. It was now about the hour of seven, darkness had crept on and the curtains were closed and the lights lit. We all became more composed, music was brought out, songs were sung and it was like a new world to us, such unexpected happiness in a far-off city of the Golden West. Father had occasion to answer a call at the front door and before closing he accidentally looked out, and to his surprise the sidewalks and porch were filled with old and young men. Along the side of the house stood scores of men in the street as far as the eye could see and some were sobbing. On entering the room he said, "We have an immense congregation outside. Get out your familiar tunes—'Home, sweet home,' etc." He then drew aside the curtains and raised the windows, "Now, my children and friends, give these homesick sons and fathers a few songs more before we assemble for the evening worship." We sang until the hour of nine and closed with the Doxology. Once more father went on the porch and thanked the people for their appreciation of the music and dismissed them with the benediction. We closed the windows and curtains and remained with our friends a short time, when they departed fully assured that they had brought happiness to many souls by their magnificent gift to one who was worthy to receive it, my sainted sister, Mary Matilda Kroh.
This is the story of the first piano in Stockton, given to sister, December 25, 1852. This night was not the only night when men assembled on our porch to hear the music. Later on a number of men accosted father and told him that the music on the first night we received the piano had so vividly brought back home surroundings and memories of father and mother, that it was the turning point in the path from which they had strayed and caused them to see the error of their ways and to come back. Such is the influence of song upon the young and the old. Anyone who has no appreciation of music in his soul is an unhappy man or woman indeed. Music is one of the most refining factors among young men and women. They are always the happiest where there is music, no matter what other entertainment has been enjoyed.
STOCKTON IN THE FIFTIES. BENICIA SEMINARY. GENESIS OF MILLS COLLEGE. DISTINGUISHED PIONEERS. MARRIAGE
After this memorable Christmas our home was the center of musical gatherings and the new arrivals to Stockton came into our large family of young ladies. We were universally sought, and our musical entertainments charmed young and old. Into our neighborhood there came a Castilian family from Mexico, the Ainsa family, four or five young ladies and a son. These young ladies had a musical education of the highest order. Opera music was their chief delight. Mass music and all classics were also included in their repertoire. A mutual friendship was formed. They could not speak English and we could not speak Spanish. Their voices had been thoroughly trained and we spent many hours in their society. Very soon we learned to speak Spanish and their visits were still more pleasant. They were devout Catholics and in the mother's room was a sanctuary. She was helpless and unable to walk. She sat in her bed and ordered everything pertaining to the household. An altar was arranged in the room and they had worship every morning and evening. Sometimes we would join them and sing the songs of their church. It was beautiful to see the devotion of these girls to their parents. We soon learned the vespers and masses and often sang together for the mother when it was devotion hour and the priest would say mass. After we moved from the neighborhood we did not meet as often. After several years they married wealthy white men. Senator Crabb married one. Afterwards he was killed in Mexico. Mr. Bevan married one. Mr. Eisen, the flour man of San Francisco, another. Anita died and Leonora married a wealthy Frenchman; later the family moved to San Francisco. Miss Lola and Miss Belana sang in the Catholic churches there. Another addition to the musical family was Miss Louisa Falkenberg, a most excellent pianist. She afterwards became Mrs. B. Walker Bours. Her son is also a fine pianist. He is director of the choir of the Church of the Advent, East Oakland, at the present time.
In the month of March, 1853, we moved into our own home on San Joaquin street, and most of our large family went with us. Cupid had been playing pranks in the meantime and, June 18th, my sister Jane became Mrs. Wm. H. Knight and the first break came in our family circle. During the year of 1853 it was decided that I should have an opportunity to finish my education, having left school at fifteen. The Young Ladies' Seminary at Benicia was chosen, it being the only school in California where I could complete my studies. I was one of thirty-five pupils of the second term of the school's existence. Mary Atkins was the principal, one of the best educators in California. There was also a Catholic school in Benicia at the time, St. Catherine's Convent for Young Ladies, and an Episcopal school for boys. The public school of Stockton was for the lower grades, and I had had these grades in the Cincinnati schools and had had one term with my sister, Sarah, at Walnut Hill Seminary. Henry Ward Beecher's father, Rev. Lyman Beecher, was at the head of the seminary and Harriet Beecher was one of the teachers. My father and Lyman Beecher and the members of the Longworth family, who lived opposite the seminary and were members of the same church and congregation, were old friends. When father started for California we were obliged to leave school, consequently my education was not completed.
During my vacation in the year 1854, October 5th, sister Sarah became the wife of James Harrold, one of the firm of Harrold, Randall & Co., of Stockton, and moved to San Francisco. The first class at Benicia, of which I was a member, graduated. Near the close of the term, November 7, 1855, my sister Mary married David W. Trembly in San Francisco. They had been married but a few months when sister became afflicted with bronchitis, the climate being too severe in San Francisco for her. They came home, and on November 8th she passed away. I was sent for, but was too late to see her in life. She died while I was on the steamer, American Eagle, hastening to her. This was my first great sorrow. I loved her to adoration and I could not realize she had passed out of life. To her I owe my proper placement of voice and art in singing. She was ever watchful of my progress from the earliest years of my life until the end came. While I have had several other teachers in voice, no one ever changed my method of placement.
My first Italian teacher was Prof. Paul Pioda at Benicia Seminary. He always predicted my success as a singer and told Mrs. Atkins that out of all the sixty pupils there was but one singer, which was proven to her in after years when I had attained my reputation. She was glad to engage my services each yearly reunion until the end of her life. While I was not her favorite pupil, strange to relate, I officiated as a singer on four special occasions of great importance in her life and death. The Sabbath she was baptized into the faith of the Episcopal Church, Rev. Ingraham Kip, D.D., officiating, I sang for her a special song in the church at Benicia. When she was married to Judge Lynch I sang for her reception. The song was Call Me Thine Own. When she passed out of life I was called to sing in the same church where she had become a member, and one year after, when we had her monument placed over her grave, I stood on the platform in the Octagon schoolroom, where I could look out of the window and see the monument, and sang the memorial song by G.A. Scott, There is a pale bright star in the heavens tonight. After this memorial I never went back to the old seminary but once and that was to visit the old spot where so many memories clustered. To illustrate this visit I will here insert a paper that I read before the commencement exercises at Mills College in the year May 4, 1901.
Mills Seminary is the daughter of the Alma Mater at Benicia. At the invitation of Mrs. Susan B. Mills the alumnae of Mrs. Atkins-Lynch Seminary attended the commencement exercises of Mills College of May 4, 1901.
The paper was as follows:
"My Dear Schoolmates: We who are still left of the pupils and graduates of the old Benicia Female Seminary are assembled here today at the request of our gracious hostess, Mrs. Susan B. Mills, to join with her in the celebration of Founder's Day. As the children of the pioneer of schools of California, it is a befitting testimonial for us to meet in this magnificent institution which is the honored offspring of the Alma Mater established in the year 1852. We are grateful for the privilege she has extended us to meet again as school girls and exchange greetings and talk over past reunions held yearly at the old school in Benicia. I have been requested to say a few words in regard to the school in my time. As I have only my memory to aid me, my remarks will consist of a short historical sketch of the early years of the seminary which I entered the second term of its existence, early in the year 1853. Miss Mary Atkins was the principal and teacher of all the classes of the school. The number of boarders were 35 or 40, the attendance being increased to 60 by the day pupils of Benicia. The four years I spent at the seminary were years of struggle for Miss Atkins, but her labors brought her the reward of seeing the institution raised to the highest standard of excellence. The unequaled reputation was firmly established for thorough training and solid education. Before I left there were 75 boarders and a total of 150 pupils. More room was needed to meet the demand for admission, and during the vacation the old buildings were enlarged and new ones built.
"It was a special day of rejoicing, January 1, 1855, when Miss Atkins assumed the sole management of the school. As I was the oldest pupil, she often asked me to come to her room to discuss private matters with her. Although I was only seventeen years old, I fully understood the great task of establishing an institution of learning in those rough days. The needs of all kinds were so great and the only way of getting ahead was to work and wait. Later she had her reward in sending out into California some of the best educated women to be found in any land. It is with sincere pride I look back and see those splendid girls who were, with but a very few exceptions, an honor and credit to the school, to society and their homes, as wives of some of our most distinguished statesmen, lawyers and merchants. In my graduating year I was called home by the death of my oldest sister and was requested to take up her labors in a private school of sixty pupils, consequently my diploma was never received. However, at the last reunion of the graduates, held in the year 1883, I, being the first of her early pupils to gain a public reputation as a teacher and vocalist, was unanimously voted honorary member of the Alumnae, having attended all of the meetings except those that took place during my residence in Boston, Mass., from 1857 until the spring of 1862, during which time I perfected my musical education. On my return I attended each reunion until the end. I think we all felt at the time that it was the last. Consequently it cast a gloom over the pleasures of our last meeting, May 30, 1883. On the 14th of September, 1882, Mary Atkins-Lynch passed away. I received a letter from Judge Lynch, requesting my presence at the funeral to sing the last song for her.