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            WHEN I take up my pen to write of the women of the West I think of an uncounted army of women, whose lives, largely unknown to history, have made possible the great commonwealths of our country, commonwealths which are marked by a better standard of individual living, a kindlier intercourse among all people, and a more general effort to standardize life than is found among any population of like size.  Women of the West, pioneer mothers who held the reins of the ox-carts that crossed the great American deserts and marked the first roadways over Rocky Mountains and Sierras; mothers of little children who in long months of travel must be parent and doctor, teacher and guardian, under strangely barbaric environment; women who were farmers of land untilled hitherto; women who taught the first schools in prairie, canyon or on the seashore where children were grouped at first without shelter of school buildings; women who organized the first churches and saved from scanty incomes that which would make possible a preacher of the gospel in mining camps or rapidly growing seaport; women, too, who had the gift of song or drama and gave hours of refreshment and joy to wearied miner or cattleman, driver of the Pony Express or sailor landed from a Pacific voyage.

            Space is surely potential and out of the opportunity which space gave, men were to build great industries and cities; they were to mine all metals, grow wool and leather and create fortunes which Croesus might envy.  But their women were to think in terms more human and their efforts would result concretely in homes for children; schools for growing youth; hospitals for the sick, churches for the worship of God, parks for leisure spent in sunshine; and later, those organizations manifold for civic betterment, cleaner politics and more intelligent standards of life, private and public.

            Through the generosity of women the University of California has built its Mining building, its Hall of Law, its Sather Tower which takes the spirit of the onlooker heavenward, its Sather Gate, its Women’s Gymnasium, its Hooper Foundation for Medical Research, and a multitude of other expressions of helpfulness to youth.  In the name of a woman was founded the only college for women on the Pacific Coast.  The life of Susan Tolman Mills and her devotion to the education of women through forty seven years of service in California is unique in the educational annals of our country.  Through the combined generosity of a woman and a man Leland Stanford Junior University was given to the youth of this country.  Few states can offer such a galaxy of women’s names as promoters


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of educational goods as Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Jane Lathrop Stanford and Susan Tolman Mills.

            To tell the history of the club movement in California is impossible in so brief a space, an organization which has brought forth women of ability in all phases of human activity and has given finally to the state in its larger problems such women as Katherine Philips Edson on the Commission of Minimum Wage, Mrs. Frank Gibson on the Commission of Immigration and Housing, Jessica Peixotto and Cornelia McKinne Stanwood in the Commission of Charities and Corrections, and others whose success in local organization has grown to authoritative importance.  In the state conferences of Social Agencies, and in Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis as well as in municipal, county and state health work the women of instructed opinion and unstinted generosity in the use of their time and effort have done signal service.  The history of the women of California in their organization for suffrage is a fascinating one and contains a long list of potent names.  Suffice it to remind our readers that a dozen years before the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was accepted by Congress women of California were voters in town, county and state.

            Western women whose writings have gladdened the hearts of Americans include Ina Coolbrith, exquisite lyrist; Juliet Wilbur Tompkins, writer of gay short stories; Eleanor Gates, dramatist and novelist; Kathleen Norris, loved of home women; and Gertrude Atherton, world citizen.

            As Bliss Carmen sang, so we salute the regiment of Western women as it passes us by, those known and those unknown, giving of their talents and energies to the building up of our state.


“Earth’s brightest and best

From the Golden West.”


Signed/ Aurelia Henry Reinhardt



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            Phoebe A. Hearst was the best loved woman in California.

            She was a staunch and loyal friend, a great and devoted patriot, and a broad-minded, tolerant, kindly woman of great understanding and amazing energy.

            The history of the growth of California could not even begin without her name, for she has been identified with every public-spirited and philanthropic movement on the Pacific Coast in the last forty years.

            She gave the free kindergartens to San Francisco, at a time when few here knew what a kindergarten was.

            It was she who formed the great plan for the building of a greater university.

            The Memorial Building Mrs. Hearst erected to the memory of her husband, Senator Hearst, at Berkeley, magnificent as it is, is merely an incident in the great plan which was formed and carried out through her initiative.

            She opened a competition for architectural designs, sent a commission to Europe and kept the commission there for a year.  Brought the winner of the competition, Briand, the great French architect to America and kept him and his wife here for a year, in order that he might study conditions and moderate his plans to meet them.  Every detail of the whole idea, she originated – and not one stone can be laid in a single new building at the University of California, without proving itself a link in the great plan evolved in the tireless brain of Phoebe Hearst.

            She had the heart of a woman, the gaiety of a child and the brains of a man.

            No task was too hard, no vision too great for her to meet the requirements.

            Whenever anyone, anywhere on earth, had a big, fine idea and Phoebe Hearst heard of it, she never rested until she could help in some way to carry out the inspiration.

            She never wanted any credit for anything.  All she wanted was to see what she had begun finished – and finished in the right spirit.

            It was the easiest thing in the world to get help from her, and the hardest thing in the world to get her to listen to thanks, for it.  She regarded her greatest wealth and her high position as a sacred trust, and no sorrow ever appealed to her for help in vain.

            Rich and poor, clever and stupid, celebrated and humble, they all came trooping to her door.  Young men with pictures under their arms, girls with a manuscript of poetry, men with inventions, singers, violinists, playwrights, novelists, philanthropists – and never was one of them turned away.  She educated more girls not of her own blood, and gave more ambitious young men a start in life than any other man or woman in America.

            And all she wanted out of it was to see those she had tried to help happy and successful.

            Some of the most successful plays ever produced in America were written at the Hacienda, at Pleasanton. Some of the greatest pictures ever painted by American artists were painted under the stimulus of the encouragement and sympathy of Mrs. Hearst.

            She endowed thirty scholarships for women at Berkeley, and it is characteristic of her that when the high cost of living began to be a national problem, she increased the funds for these scholarships without having anyone say one word to her about it.

            Hospitals, orphan asylums, schools for the blind, schools for the deaf and the dumb, maternity homes, the Travelers Aid, the various activities of the Y.W.C.A. – these are only a few of the enterprises which could not have existed at all, if Mrs. Phoebe Hearst hadn’t been – Phoebe Hearst.

            Wise, full of humor, full of human nature, kindly, generous, gracious, gentle, courteous, noble hearted and clear headed – if ever there was a woman on earth of whom America should be proud, that woman was Phoebe Hearst of California.


Signed/ Anne Laurie


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1828 – 1905


            In one of her books Olive Schreiner spoke of “a great love and much serving.”  Could nobler phrase be framed to sketch the life of any one of countless women who have given their all of money, strength, or devotion?  Surely none can do more.  Nevertheless, to me Miss Schreiner’s words seem supremely to express Jane Lathrop Stanford’s contribution to the world.  Her privilege it was to glorify a great love for husband and child by much serving of others.

            Reared in a well-to-do home of Albany, New York, in her twenty-second year she married Leland Stanford, a fellow-townsman already settled as a struggling lawyer in Wisconsin.  Soon, however, a calamitous fire turned the young husband’s thoughts toward California where disaster might perhaps be magically retrieved.  By 1852, therefore, they were established in the mining town of Michigan Bluff and there, by means of a practical enterprise – a general merchandise store – modestly laid the foundations of princely wealth.

            Afterward, at Sacramento and then in San Francisco, Mrs. Stanford, as wife of a man of mark, occupied a conspicuous social position particularly in connection with her husband’s incumbency as “war governor” of California.  Later still at Washington during his several years’ service in the Senate, she came into touch with the varied life of our Capitol.

            Meanwhile these extensive relations combined with frequent trips abroad made her in a large sense a woman of the world.

            Yet in the birth of her only child, Leland Stanford Junior, in 1868, she felt the supreme reward of living. And it is easy to imagine with what tender satisfaction both parents viewed the future, confident in their ability to give their son every fair advantage heart could desire.

            Thus for sixteen years the cup of life brimmed over. Then, because neither love nor money can do the impossible young Leland died in Florence of malarial fever.  But even during the first days of grief a healing thought had come:  “The children of California shall be my children.”  Accordingly, within little more than a month new wills were made by the bereft parents devoting practically their entire fortune to an educational institution to be dedicated to the memory of the lost lad.

            I knew Mrs. Stanford only during the last fourteen years of her life – the first fourteen in the long, long story of Leland Stanford Junior University.  Her husband died in June, 1893. During the six subsequent years a series of extraordinary complications (not to be here detailed) would have completely wrecked the institution save for the indomitable courage of the surviving founder.

            Upheld by a deep religious faith, comforted by an abiding sense of divine support, she seemed to live only to save the benefaction so gallantly launched in 1891.  But let herself speak in lines written in 1900:


            “I could lay down my life for the university.  Not for any pride its perpetuating the names of our dear son and ourselves, its founders, but for the sincere hope I cherish in its sending forth to the world grand men and women who will aid in developing the best there is to be found in human nature.”


Signed/ Jessie K. Jordan


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1826 - 1912



            In the long history of education in America, the inspiration for the founding of institutions and the building up of systems has always rested in individuals.  California is fortunate that the initial impulse in the education of women should have come from one of such character, idealism, and force as Susan Tolman Mills.


            Once more in her is the aphorism proved true that New England is the mother of American colleges.  At the foot of Mount Tom in Massachusetts, in that institution now a hundred years old, known as Mount Holyoke College, under the direct instruction of that far-sighted educator, Mary Lyon, Susan Tolman caught the inspiration and gained the belief that education was the first need of our land and to it the best lives should be devoted.  That faith took her, the bride of Cyrus Mills, recent graduate of Williams College, around the world to India, to the Hawaiian Islands, and finally to California in the second decade of its history.


            After the death of her husband in the early eighties, she bravely assumed the administrative and financial problems of the institution that bore the name of the founders and for twenty years gave unstintingly of her strength, her time and her fortune to the fostering of ideals, which are being realized today.  Her sincerity of purpose, her devotion to the cause of education, her optimistic faith and her sterling Puritan virtues have left an indelible impress on the thousands of young women who knew and loved her and have given to this state in its formative years a value not to be measured.  Susan Tolman Mills was always greater than her task.  She believed in progress and invested her life in the young womanhood of the land, knowing that the moral fibre of a nation depends upon the education of its women.


Signed/ Rosalind A. Keep.


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            THE publication of this book, devoted to the women of California, demonstrates the growing confidence of women in women which is so necessary for her success in her struggle for an appropriate share in the world’s work and the rewards thereof.

            Conviction, courage and co-operation should be our watchwords:  conviction in the justice of our cause, courage born of that conviction and a growing consciousness of our power, and, above all, co-operation in order that our combined forces may constitute an influence worthy to be reckoned with.  Do not misunderstand me to deprecate the idea that women should strive to work along with men; that is our ultimate aim; but until women have learned to work together as men, through their age-long experience have learned to do, they cannot hope to be taken into the inner counsels.  We cannot learn by working with men – we are still on the outside looking in; and we shall not be given the opportunity until we have demonstrated our power and our fitness, not alone as individuals but as a group.

            Conviction must be something more than a blind faith; it must be founded on knowledge and on common sense; our courage must be of the quality that endures and that can withstand ridicule and defeat; and our co-operation must be not only apparent, but real.

            Politicians have been wont to say, tossing off the remark lightly as if the contingency were amusing but impossible, that if women would stick together they could rule the world.  The experience that women have gained in their long fight for suffrage has convinced them of the truth of this assertion, and they propose to show that the contingency is no longer remote.

            Also women have found a new pleasure and interest in one another which increases as women come to share more and more in public affairs.  In the past we have been prone to discount the value of women’s opinions, assuming, though not always correctly, that they were but pale and perhaps inaccurate reflections of the opinions of their men.  But with the progress of women in education and matters of general public interest their opinions have become more valuable.  Opponents of equal suffrage used to argue that granting the suffrage to women would but double the vote without changing the result as women would vote as their husbands did; but we find so many differences of political opinion between


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husbands and wives that one sometimes wonders, where they do agree, if it is not perchance the husband who is voting as his wife does.

            Dear sister workers, our feet are set upon the path but until we shall have disabused the world of the presumption that still abides, that the work of the mind and the hand of woman is inferior because of the incident of sex alone, and have shifted the burden of proof from the sex to the individual, we shall not have arrived.


Signed/ Annette Abbott Adams


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            HONORARY titles are frequently like the empty sound of cymbals, or of wind blowing across waste places. “The First Lady of the Land,” however, is an honorary title carrying a deep significance within its courteous phrasing.  For aside from its more obvious meaning – that of the wife of the President of the Nation – it must mean that the one to whom it is given is not only first in the social and diplomatic world here in America, but first in influence and in the opportunity for service along many and diverse lines of vast importance to the welfare of the race.

            So, also, the “First Ladies of California” are such by virtue of the recognized places which they hold, whether honorary, through the official positions of their husbands, or through the high offices which they personally fill, and first also because of the opportunities which are theirs.

            There comes naturally to mind as the “First Lady of California” the wife of the Governor, Mrs. William Dennison Stephens, a woman well fitted to grace the position.  Home-loving and sympathetic, as well as actively interested in all that makes for the welfare of the State, she fills with unaffected charm the high places to which she has been called.

            As the wife of the Mayor of San Francisco, Mrs. James Rolph, Jr. wields an influence widely felt.  During the many years of her husband’s mayoralty, she has not only shared in the duties and pleasures that come with public life, but she has been the heart and inspiration of a real home in which music, for she is an accomplished musician, has played its part, and children and their many animal friends have enriched.  Those who know her well speak of her as “kindly, generous, and dependable” – truly great qualities in either man or woman, and undoubtedly the secret of her continued simplicity and modesty.

            Mrs. George E. Cryer, wife of the Mayor of Los Angeles, is a woman whose idea of happiness is “Home and children.”  Mrs. Cryer has a genial smile which warms the natural tendency of visitors to the Southern city to a certainty of hospitality.  She prefers Los Angeles to any other city.  Her favorite prose author is Victor Hugo and her favorite poet, Longfellow.  Perhaps a mental glimpse into the characteristics of this gracious “First Lady of Los Angeles” may best be expressed in her own favorite quotation:  “Count that day lost whose low descending sun views no worthy action by the hand done.”

            The limits of the page forbid the personal mention of the many important women who stand with their husbands at the head of the city government throughout California, but the two whose names are here recorded truly represent them.

            Mrs. Ray Lyman Wilbur is a San Francisco woman and actively interested in all that pertains to the welfare of the State, giving much of her time to civic and patriotic matters.  She also finds time, aside from the duties connected with her


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family of five children and along the lines just mentioned, to take a very real part in the social life of Stanford University, in this way being of great service to her husband, the President, and an inspiration to all those connected with the institution.

            Mrs. David Prescott Barrows, the wife of President Barrows of the University of California, holds an important place in the life of the State, because of her influence upon the lives of the thousands of young men and women who yearly pass through the University gates.  She is a woman of many and varied interests, and one who takes a personal part in the activities with which she is connected – musical, literary, patriotic, and civic.  Her position as wife of the President of the University of California brings her in touch, yearly, with thousands of young men and women and the value of her influence cannot be estimated.  As with other mentioned as among the first ladies of California, her home life enriches all of her other duties and, in turn, her outside interests enrich the life of the home.

            One who holds an active, rather than an honorary position in connection with a great educational institution, is Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, who combines, in a marvelous manner, enthusiasm for her work in its many and varied phases, with the executive ability necessary to the carrying out of her high ideals.

            As the President of Mills College her opportunities for service are great opportunities, which she meets with joy, and knowledge, and wisdom, coming from a wide experience of life and the needs of youth.  To her two small sons she brings the understanding love and companionship of a true mother.

            Dr. Reinhardt is a forceful and magnetic speaker, and her appearance on the lecture platform never fails to arouse the enthusiasm of her audience, whether it be an audience of educators, club women, or business men.

            Honored by the State Legislature in an unique manner is Ina Coolbrith, created Poet Laureate of California by that body.  It is a title which attests the loving appreciation of a great State for one who, from the early days of the Overland Monthly when she was associated with such writers as Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, and the others of that noted coterie of writers, to the present time has embodied in her songs much of the beauty of the State in which inspired them.

            Mrs. Edwin Markham, California writer, now of New York, is secretary of the Poetry Society of America which has on its enrollment scrolls many famous western poets.  Ruth Comfort Mitchell (Mrs. Sanborn Young of Los Gatos), one of California’s youngest poets and novelists, playwright, and short story writer is acclaimed among the “first” California writers.  Mrs. W. A. Fitzgerald, the honored and deeply loved President of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs, stands in the forefront of the First Ladies of California, wielding an incalculable influence along lines that make not only for the advancement of womankind, but for the enrichment of the race.  It may truly be said of her, “She goes about doing good.”


Signed/ Grace Hyde Trine


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            THE University of California fosters originality of thought and power of literary expression through many of the courses which are offered in English composition by the Department of English.  Every effort is made in the classroom by discussion and constructive criticism to stimulate individuality and at the same time to distinguish between eccentricity and real originality.  Men and women alike have profited by this method of instruction and have developed considerable ability. They have found, too, vehicles for their talents in the many student publications of the University.  The Daily Californian, with its two staffs for men and for women; the Pelican with its search for wit and humor; the Occident with its aspiration for literary worth, together with publications of minor importance welcome the contributions and support of both men and women.  Acceptable verse, good narrative and well phrased criticism may be credited to the women’s account in this general sum of campus literature.

            During the last ten years, a woman has twice been the editor of the Occident; Hazel Havermale in 1915-16 and Genevieve Taggard in 1917-18 and 1918-19.  The women’s staff of the Daily Californian is presided over by a women’s editor whose work is assuming an increasing importance.  At least one issue of the Californian each term is entirely in the hands of the women’s staff.  This issue has been uniformly good and occasionally it has excelled in good journalistic quality and form.

            A chapter of Theta Sigma Pi, the national journalistic honor society for women has just been installed at the University of California.  This organization was founded about thirteen years ago, and has chapters in the leading universities and colleges of the country.  It includes in its roll of honorary members, women of distinction in the American world of letters.  This new affiliation sets the stamp of approval upon the journalistic efforts of the women of the University and puts them in touch with the world of women journalists.

            In addition to the educational and journalistic opportunities there are offered at the University two prizes for literary productions; the Emily Chamberlain Cook prize in poetry and the Irving prize for the best comic story, sketch, anecdote or parody.  During the last ten years the Emily Chamberlain Cook prize has been awarded several times to a woman.  Lorraine Andrews received it in 1912, Mary Carolyn Davies in 1913, Helen Davis in 1917, Eda Lou Walton in 1918 and Ruth Harwood in 1920.  Genevieve Taggard and Hazel Havermale received honorable mention for this award.

            The most distinctive contribution to campus literature which the women have made is the annual Partheneia.  This is a spring festival which was initiated in 1912 when Mrs. Lucy Sprague Mitchell who was then Dean of Women, urged the women of the University to express their ideals in a way which would give scope to their dramatic and artistic gifts.  Nan Reardon wrote “The Partheneia; A Masque of Maidenhood,” and since then each year with the exception of the war year, 1918, a Partheneia has been produced.  Each year has brought a new rendering of the theme of the transition from maidenhood to womanhood.  Sometimes the transition has come through sorrow and suffering; at other times through joy of life and again through service and work.  Each Partheneia has had literary value and each one has been capable of development in a pageant full of color, movement and grace.

            The women of the University have undertaken the Partheneia not as the achievement of an individual, but as the expression of the women as a whole.  This community spirit has given strength both to the book itself and to the production of the pageant.  The author, the composer of music, the manager, the designers of costumes and the participants unite without self-glorification to give complete expression to the spirit of the festival.  It is through the Partheneia that the women of the University are undoubtedly forming a tradition for fine literary and artistic achievement and for community work in the interest of high ideals.


Signed/ Lucy Ward Stebbens [?]

Dean of Women


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            MILLS College belongs to that essentially American type of educational institution, founded by individuals to make possible the best development of individuals.  Its history parallels the history of California.  Gold was discovered in California in 1848. Four years later the earliest foundations of Mills were laid in Benicia.  Developed by the strong personality of Mary Atkins until 1865, the foundation was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus T. Mills, educators of long and varied experience.

            In 1871 the opening of the spacious building now known as Mills Hall was an event of interest in the chronicles of the day.  In 1877 the founders deeded the school to a Board of Trustees in order that it might become a permanent institution of the highest order for the education of young women.

            As the public school system developed and took over secondary education, the founders realized that their best service for women lay in higher education, and in 1885 a College Charter was granted by the State of California.

            Thus for more than half a century has Mills College grown as California has grown, meeting changing educational demands, leading stride by stride in the intellectual development of the Pacific Coast, training wives and mothers of the West, sending forth teachers and professional workers into every field.

            Today Mills stands unique as the only accredited college for women west of the Mississippi River, and, with students from a score of states and half a dozen countries, exercises a wide influence educationally.

            In the years, the campus of sixty acres has grown to a beautiful stretch of wood, lawn, and field, covering a hundred and fifty acres.  Among the College buildings are a library, an auditorium, an gymnasium, Alumnae Hall, two science buildings, four residence halls, and half a dozen buildings devoted to various uses, including Art, Music, Home Economics, Physiology and Zoology.  A Science Annex was added in the Fall of 1918 to Science Hall.

            Lisser Hall, named after Dr. Louis Lisser, for thirty years Dean of the Music Department, is built in Grecian style.

            Alumnae Hall, built in 1916, was given by members of the Mills Alumnae Association to be used as a center for the social life of the College. El Campanile is a picturesque bell-tower, Spanish in style, erected by Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Smith of Oakland.  The Chimes of Bells, ten in number, was the gift of David Hewes.

            Mills Hall, the main building, was erected in 1871, and was the first building on the grounds.  College Hall is a dormitory containing accommodations for sixty students and faculty members.  Warren Olney Hall, built in 1917 at a cost of $120,000 is arranged to accommodate one hundred and three students under most attractive conditions.

            Orchard House, costing $65,000 accommodates fifty students.  Kapiolani Society, the College Infirmary, was named for the Kapiolani Society, and organization of students from the Hawaiian Islands.

            Mills College is now building by contributions, a Memorial Hall, suitable for the accommodation of one hundred women, in the name of Ethel Moore, who was for a number of years, a trustee of Mills.



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AS THE seasons come and go, successive winters find me in California.  I have traveled many times over its length and breadth, wonder and delight marking the paths for happy memories.  But it is not the superb climate, nor the marvelous scenery, nor yet the bloom and fruitage that Nature flings with lavish hand of enchantment over this Golden State of the Pacific, that make the heart and mind to leap with joy.  It is the spirit of the women of California that is its real treasure.

From the upspringing of the new growth out of the primitive life of the Spanish settler, the vision of the Padre has clarified, to shine upon the face of the pioneer.  To him – the pioneer, was foretold the American home that would have its setting in this New Eden.  The early struggle for that home brought womanhood up to peaks of endeavor and glorious fulfillment, marking with originality and symmetry the characteristics that were to blend with those of the sturdy fold foregathering from the Atlantic Coast.  Out of, and above all, this California life, has evolved the steady growth of forces that persistently rise superior to any sharp onslaughts that Fate might threaten.

The California woman runs true to her type, and creates an atmosphere all her own.  It has in it a freshness, a glow like that of early dawn, a vigorous vitality, a sweet and wholesome spirit of kindliness and sympathy.  In this atmosphere one feels at home.  She is, this fine California product of womanhood, all that is best in the home, in her club, and in other organizations alert for philanthropy and for the public welfare, always forging along toward the solution of the problems of life.  Into civic improvement she throws herself heart and soul, and all the tremendous questions of this, our day, command all her powers.

I find her very lovable.  She has drawn my heart closely in the enduring bond of a true affection and a profound admiration.


Signed/ Mrs. Daniel Lothrop



Transcribed by: Kathy Sedler

Proofed by: Betty Vickroy



© 2005 Nancy Pratt Melton

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