I called my blog Rebecca's Collections because I thought I might show some of my other collections here too. I have shown one of my scrap albums, and My Realitty's posts this month about her 1890s San Francisco Italianate style house have inspired me to show some of my great-grandmother Florence Mason Palmer 's first album. This album was started by her mother and continued by Florence, who went on creating scrap books and keeping newspaper cuttings during her later life. It's no wonder I'm a collector, really!
Somehow, I seem not to have photographed the cover of the scrap album, so that is something to do on my next visit to my mother. It's a couple of inches thick, and the pages are thick, good quality paper, as you may be able to see from the scans.
My great-grandmother, Florence Elizabeth Mason, was born at the Grand Hotel, San Francisco, in November 1877. Here she is in the mid-1880s:
And here are her parents, John Elliott Mason and Nellie Chapman Mason:
J. E. Mason was a civil engineer. He was born in New York, and arrived in California in the early 1870s. He and his father, and W. S. Chapman, Nellie's father, were involved in real estate and installing water supplies and irrigation in the new colonies.
With her father and mother, Florence sailed to Europe in 1889 and again in 1891.
She visited the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889.
Florence attended Alameda High School, from which she graduated in 1894. In the same year, she visited the California Exposition,
and was accepted into the University of California, Berkeley (you can see a photo of UC Berkeley at the turn of the century on My Realitty's blog).
Her album documents her social life more than her academic work:
Here she is with the other members of her sorority:
I don't have with me her graduation photo, but I did take photos of some of the items in her scrap book showing the graduation celebrations. I don't know if this photo of Florence was taken at that time, but it looks to me as if she's wearing a ball dress here.
After graduation, Florence and her parents sailed around the world, visiting Japan, China, the Phillipines, India, and Europe again.
During part of this voyage, Florence met and fell in love with her future husband, an English civil engineer who was then working in India, in Calcutta:
They kept their love affair and engagement secret for several years. J.E. Mason did not approve of his only daughter marrying an Englishman, so after travelling to Paris to buy her wedding gown and trousseau, Florence married Frederick Palmer in Calcutta with only her mother present.
However, with the birth of their first child, a son named after J. E. Mason, father and daughter were reconciled, and the Palmers visited the Masons in San Francisco during 1905.
Compare their clothes with those worn by mother and daughter in My Realitty's scene one afternoon in San Francisco in 1906:
For some reason, J. E. Mason travelled to Mexico over Christmas 1905. He died there on December 26, 1905. Florence and her baby were staying with her mother when this tragedy occurred.
Florence was again, or still, staying with her mother when the great earthquake struck San Francisco in April 1906. Their house on Washington Street, built only four years earlier in 1902, was not damaged by the quake or the fire which followed. A couple of years ago, I was surfing the internet and came across a diary of the earthquake - written by someone else - which mentioned the Mason house. Of course, right now I can neither find my printout, nor the website again! If I do, I'll add details.
Florence's mother, Nellie Chapman Mason, died in San Francisco in September 1916.
None of the newspaper clippings I've included here is completely accurate, with J. E. Mason's death notice stating that Florence's husband was an army surgeon (he was a civil engineer), and Nellie Chapman Mason's funeral notice giving her father's name as her husband's. Still, I wish all my ancestors had left such rich records of their lives!
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