Category: The First Piano in California

Annie Bidwell’s piano



At the Bidwell mansion

At the Bidwell mansion


History of American Music 1908 [1]

 By William Lines Hubbard

Hazleton brothers New York, established in 1849 by Henry and Frederick Hazleton. The firm is now controlled by Samuel Hazleton a nephew of the founder, and his son Mr Halsey Hazleton.Hazleton Bros. advertisement



President of Hazleton Bros. Succumbs to Heart Failure in His Seventy-fourth Year-One of the Old School Piano Makers. He is Mourned by a Host of friends in the Piano Industry

Samuel Hazleton, president of Hazleton Bros., one of the oldest piano manufacturing firms in the country, passed away suddenly of heart failure on Thursday night last wee, at the home of his sister, Miss Mary H. Hazleton, 30 West Seventy-Fifth Street, New York. Mr Hazleton who was in his 74th year, was one of the old school of piano makers who came from a family which has been interested in the manufacturing of pianos for practically three quarters of a century. He was the son of Henry Hazleton, who, with his brother Frederick, founded the firm of Hazleton Bros. and the Hazleton line in 1849. Under the instruction of his father and uncle, Samuel became a thoroughly practical piano man, and in 1875 became the head of the business,[2]Samuel Hazleton

Since 1869 the Hazleton factory has been located at 66 University Place, and Mr. Hazleton devoted his entire time to the greater development of this business. His ability as a manufacturer of pianos has been recognized by the industry throughout the country, and it was through his strict advocacy of the maintenance of the quality of the Hazleton product which was established by his father and uncle that the Hazleton piano was the chosen instrument of some of the most prominent artists, musicians and well known persons throughout the country.

He was a man of simple tastes and an indefatigable worker. He had many staunch friends in the industry who mourn his loss. He is survived by his son, Halsey Hazleton and his sister Miss Mary H. Hazleton.

The Funeral services were held at St. Matthew’s Episcopal church, west 84th street at 8.30 p.m last Sunday, the Episcopal services being read by Rev. Arthur M. Judge which were followed by the Masonic services by Kane Lodge of which Mr. Hazleton was a member. A great many friends of the deceased as well as members of the piano trade attended the services and included: Stephen Brambach, R.C Koch, William H. Koch, F. C. Decker, ben H. Owen, Ben H. Janssen, Francis Connor, and Louis P. Bach who is also a member of the Kern Lodge. The interment took place at Mt. Kensico.

From Music Trade MTR 1917 65-18.[3]

Piano, Organ & Musical Instrument Workers Official Journal, Volumes 10 – Chicago July 1908

The sympathy of the trade and the trade press goes out to the Hazleton family over the death of Mrs Samuel Hazleton, wife of the New York piano manufacturer and mother of Halsey Hazleton, who is associated with his father in the firm of Hazlton Bros. Mrs Hazleton was 56 years of age and she died of heart failure June 27th at the family residence, 325 West 56th street, New York city. [4] She has been in frail health for several years.[5]


In 1903 Annie Bidwell described the Christmas celebration at the Indian Rancheria on December 24th, and a party she hosted at Bidwell Mansion for friends and family on the 29th. Here are the entries from her diary:

Thurs., December 24, 1903

Indian Christmas festivities this evg.  Attended Indian Christmas celebration their Chapel this evening. Took Ida Bohlender & Eva with me. Indians conducted all the services except short address by myself at their request. Santa Wilson, Pablo Silvers, Wm. Conway, Jas. Nichols, Elmer Lafonso and Maggie sang exquisitely as a choir, such hymns! I was overcome completely by the grand surprise. Maggie sang solo – Jerusalem. Eva Kennedy accompanied her with piano. Elmer Lafonso sang solo -“Flee as a bird to Your Mountain,” Eva accompanying on piano. Elmer sang delightfully. Santa Wilson read Matthew’s and Luke’s account of birth of our Lord – & read it well. Lily recited, & Martha, Bernie. Indians distributed presents from the tree. Susunny (Johnny Stack) gave me beautiful little basket which held candy, oranges & cakes for Christmas dinner.


My visit to the Bidwell piano.

When Anna visited Chico I had it in my head to go up with her one weekend to see the Bidwell mansion and its famous piano but it never happened. So when I had the opportunity to drive through Chico on my Tour of the Northern mines in December 2014 I was delighted. I knew that the mansion would be closed that week, but at least I might be able to peek in through the window and see the piano. Chico was much smaller and quainter than I’d imagined and the 26 room mansion dominated the center. It’s hard to imagine that at the time it was built the nearest neighbor was 46 miles away. John Bidwell built the place after making money in the Gold Rush. He married Annie Kennedy in Washington D.C and purchased the piano during their honeymoon in New York in 1868. According to the Music Trade article Samuel Hazleton didn’t take over the business until 1879, so Henry and brother Frederick were responsible for building it. I peeked in the windows and could see two pianos and a harmonium. Interrupting the park rangers who were busy doing their end of year accounts in a porta-cabin I found them only too willing to take a break from their paper-work and give a me private guided tour of the downstairs of the home. It made the experience far more personal and I was invited to sit down and play it! It’s cared for by a technician and is situated in a bay where is only gets gentle morning sunshine which doesn’t seem to damage the cabinet. The top key, a B, doesn’t work but apart from that it’s in pretty good condition. A hymn book was open on the music stand at ‘Abide With Me’, one of my mom’s favorite hymns, so that’s what I played. I exchanged emails with the ranger and later followed up on the serial number and found out what research has been done on the piano provenance so far. [6]

The piano’s serial number is “3847”. I had checked online not too long ago, and if you are looking at the same websites that I found, their dates do not run that far back. However, I believe there is a publication that has a complete list of Hazelton serial numbers. Our records say that someone had checked and that our serial number dates to around March of 1868, which would be right before the Bidwell’s were married and sailed for California.” From email from Blair Pubols (Park Interpretive specialist).

Playing Annie Bidwell's piano

Playing Annie Bidwell’s piano

Who was Bidwell?

In 1841 at the age of 22, John Bidwell became one of the first pioneers to cross the Sierra Nevada to California.  Bidwell became deeply involved in the development of his adopted state, its agriculture and what is now the city of Chico.  By the 1850s, Bidwell had purchased more than 30,000 acres.  He then built a General Store, a Hotel, a Post Office, and a Flour Mill.  In 1860, Bidwell helped lay out the town of Chico, which he named. [7]





[1] P 324

[2] This would postdate the Bidwell piano

[3] The article carries his photo,



[5] very close to Central Park



Stephen Smith brings 3 pianos to California in 1843

Captain Stephen Smith

1757 ( 1752) or 1786 according to his obituary in the SF newspaper – 1855

Smith’s background

george henry photoSmith was born December 15th in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, the oldest son of 5 children born to Giles Smith and Ruth Howland. He seems to have married three times and also had native American housekeepers with whom he had children.

His ship was the George Henry[i] and he sailed out of Baltimore, Maryland for several years trading his cargo of sugar, syrup, tobacco and cloth for hides,horns and tallow. In 1841 he came to California for the first time, sailing around Cape Horn and stopping in Piura, a port in Peru[ii]. On board ship was Manuela Torres, a lady of ‘intelligence and refinement.’ She was traveling with her mother and brother. The fact that Smith was 61 and Manuela was only 16 seems to have been no impairment to their union and they were married. Since he took a wife with him to California this strongly indicates that he intended to give up his itinerant life of sailing the seas and settle down. On board he had a square piano situated in the cabin since Manuela was an accomplished pianist.

Smith and Abrego

His first port of call in California was Monterey where he visited Don Jose Abrego, a prominent merchant and former Mexican hatter who had come to Monterey in 1834 and who held many offices including the administrator of San Antonio Mission and custom house officer, eventually becoming treasurer of the province from 1839 to 1846. Born in Mexico City on March 3, 1813, Don Jose Abrego ran a billiards parlor in Monterey in 1848 and was president of an association which operated a quick silver mine. 

When California became a state in 1850, he was an official of both the Mexican and Yankee governments.  In 1862 he established a soap factory in Monterey and was active in local affairs until his death in April 1878.  His historic adobe is preserved there. Don Abrego was highly taken with the piano and asked Smith to bring a piano for him to purchase when he next came to visit, suggesting that a piano would better serve as a source of dance music than the violins and guitars then in use. Smith ventured north and saw the tall redwoods covering the coastal slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains and further north along the Sonoma coast. Up until this point lumber for building had been shipped to the mainland from as far away as the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and Smith was quick to recognize the potential of a source of redwood lumber less than 100 nautical miles from the new village of Yerba Buena (San Francisco) which seemed to promise much growth. The level land of the Sonoma coast appeared to offer prospects of wealth for Smith through the cultivation of arable land. Thus Smith envisaged trading for much more than tallow and hides. If he could grind wheat into flour, and cut redwood into serviceable planks for new construction his reputation as a land baron would be established. Of course all this would be dependent of his ability to obtain a land grant. From Sonoma County Historical Society :

Mexican Land Grants in Sonoma County
# Square leagues
granted by Mexico
confirmed by US
Grantee DateApproved
01 German 5 17,580 Ernesto Rufus 06/1846
02 Muniz 4 17,761 Manuel Torres 03/1846
03 Bodega 8 35,488 Esteban Smith 04/1846
04 Estero Americano 2 8,849 E. Manuel McIntosh 05/1840

In March 1843, Smith, keeping his promise to Don Jose, returned with three pianos and a disassembled saw mill and a grist mill from Boston. During the course of this journey around Cape Horn from the east coast he hand picked men to help him in his dream. From Baltimore, his port of departure, he employed Henry Hagler, a carpenter; at Valparaiso he picked up David D. Button, millwright; at Payta, Peru’s leading seaport, where he had found the future Mrs. Smith (Manuela Torres) he found William A. Streeter, an engineer. At other ports enroute he secured the services of Phillip Crawley and John Briggs, useful men for his colony.[iii] He arrived in Monterey in April, 1843, and delivered a piano to Don Jose Abrego at the price of $600. Abrego’s adobe house and gardens, built in the 1830’s are still extant in Monterey. I visited them in 2012.

Smith sets up operations in Bodega

At Santa Cruz he took on shipped lumber for the building of his mills. At San Francisco he shipped James Hudspeth, well known in this county, Nathaniel Coombs, now of Napa, John Daubenbiss, who later built a saw mill and a grist mill in Soquel, Santa Cruz county, and Alexander Copeland. By September Smith and his crew had reached Bodega, the goal of his venture. The land there, however, was owned by John Sutter. Sutter had been granted this land as part of his claim to the former Russian estate of Fort Ross. Sutter’s land agent, John Bidwell, notified Smith to ‘get himself, goods and chattels’ back to the ship and threatened him with the wrath of the Mexican government. But the government had never recognized the Russian claim and therefore was not interested in helping Sutter and Bidwell eject Smith. Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted Rancho Bodega, in part of the southern half of the former Russian claim, to Smith in 1844,[iv] and Governor Pio Pico granted Rancho Muniz (17,000 acres) including Ocean and Saltpoint townships in the northern half of the former Russian claim to Manuel Torres on Sept 14, 1844. Shortly after Smith was granted 8 leagues of land (35,000 acres) and Sutter left him in peace.

Smith lost no time in setting his men to work, assembling the steam flour and saw mills (the first steam engine of any sort in California, according to Bancroft) one mile north west of the village (called the Corners), on lmon Creek, strategically situated at the foot of a range of hills covered in dense redwood trees so that the logs could simply be rolled down the hill. To celebrate the completion of the newly constructed mills Smith organized a grand picnic, the first of Bodega’s celebrated picnics. Everyone in the vicinity was invited to witness the new wheat crop being sent between the steam powered grinding stones producing soft white flour which was quickly turned into newly baked bread in a big oven. As they were eating the bread and the beef barbequed in the fire pits the lumber mill was thrown into gear and the sash saw turned out the first boards which were then used as picnic tables. General Vallejo proposed a toast with a glass of fresh Sonoma wine. General Vallejo, then military commandant of California, was present, and says he predicted that before many years there would be more steam engines then soldiers in California. Captain Smith raised the American flag at Bodega in 1846 according to some sources just one day after it was raised in Sonoma, bringing to an end the short-lived Bear Flag Republic.

Captain Smith owned a small vessel called the Fayaway, which he sailed between the Port of Bodega and San Francisco; in 1849, fare was $14 from Bodega to San Francisco.

Soon Bodega Bay became famous as a port for the shipment of lumber, flour, grain and dairy products. The plant operated until 1850 drawing redwood from up to 6 miles away from Bodega bay supplying these goods to entire West coast and exporting them to Hawaii. In 1850 Smith leased the entire tract of land to Mr Hanks and Mr Mudge for the sum of $50,000. In 1854 the mill was destroyed by fire. In 1857 Smith was granted more land (22,000 acres) in exchange for lumber encompassing the Blucher Rancho in Analy township, making him one of the great land barons of California. In 1880 remains of the mill could still be found, overgrown by willows and there were still logs amidst the vegetation that had been collected but had never been dissected by the sash saw.

Captain Stephen Smith died on Nov 16, 1855, aged 68 years, and was buried in Lone Mountain cemetery, San Franciscoco.

What do we know about Smith as a person? He married three times and also fathered children with several young native American women who he took as housekeepers, one of whom was Tsupu who was born around 1830 in Petaluma. On March 5, 1843 he married Manuela Torres in Peru and they had three children, Manuela, born 1846, James, born 1847 and Stephen born 1848. If he married her in 1843 in Peru then it seems unlikely that she was on board the ship that Smith traveled to California on in 1841.

Smith at Rancho Bodega

I had discovered that Mark D. Selverston from Sonoma State University had done his Master’s degree research project on the Vasili Khlebnikov Ranch ‘situated closest to the port (Campbell Cove), north of a prominent waterway labeled on Duflot de Mofras’s map as the San Ignacio or Avatcha’. This ranch was the first to be developed by the Russian-American Company who had been exploring the North Pacific, supplying Alaskan Natives to hunt otter and Boston Traders supplied their ships[v]. In 1809 the company returned to Bodega Bay with plans to establish a permanent settlement. Three were set up, the closest to the port being Vasili Khlebnikov Ranch . ‘By 1839 there were 12 Russians, 3 Creoles, 2 Aleuts and 18 Native Californians (Miwok or Pomo) all residing at the ranch.’ The main house was an adobe measuring, according to Duflot de Mofras, 21 ft by 15 ft. There were other buildings made of wood. In August 1841 Helene de Rotchev (the wife of the commander of the Russian post at Fort Ross) celebrated her birthday in the pleasant meadows surrounding the ranch.[vi] By 1842 the Russian-American company had put up the entire California colony for sale and had left Alta California. John Sutter purchased the property and removed livestock and other merchandise but was instructed to leave the structure intact in case he defaulted on his payment. Although numerous people petitioned the Mexican government for the land and ranches left vacant by the Russians it was awarded to Captain Stephen Smith and named Bodega Rancho. [vii] Docking his ship in the new harbor at Bodega Smith most likely set up home in the building abandoned by the Russians, the only adobe constructed building known to have been built by Russians, obviously with the expertise of local Mexicans and Native peoples. However, when General William T. Sherman visited the site in 1848 he noted that Smith ‘employed a number of absolutely naked Indians in making adobes.’ [viii] Were they building an addition? Three years later Steven Fowler arrived in Bodega and was hired by Smith to do the fine carpentry on his newly built adobe that measured 70’ x 27.’[ix] So,

Selverston poses the question ‘How can Smith’s 70’ x 30’ adobe also be the Russian’s 21’ x 15’ adobe?

My visit to the site

climbing the adobe meltIn the Summer of 2012 Fort Ross was holding a bicentennial weekend and my daughters and I decided to go and also go to Bodega. Selverston put me in contact with the current owner of the property where the adobe is located and Michael Costello invited us to meet him and view the site. Michael turned out to have a wealth of knowledge. He had purchased the property in the 1960’s because of its historical connections: he was a great history buff. He owns artifacts that were discovered in Mark’s dig. Michael’s own house was built in 1906 in Santa Ana and was moved piece by piece up to Bodega. It took him 30 years to rebuild the two storey house. The archaeological dig was carried out around 2000. There was a bakery and a kitchen adjoined the adobe out back. When the adobe burned down in 1892 the fire worked like a kiln and so the ricks were intact and decipherable. Smith left the adobe for San Francisco 25 years before the fire, making it 1867. Many settlers came to Smith for supplies. Logs were hard to come by at that time. Outside the native American hogans, which bordered the adobe, were circles of oyster shells since the door openings rotated with the seasons. We spent over an hour chatting with Michael in the bright sun. He suggested that the old piano currently in the Potter schoolhouse in Bodega could have come from Smith’s adobe, though I have been unable to find information about this. The schoolhouse, famous for its role in Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, is privately owned, and Bodega historical society seem to be unreachable by phone though I did find 2 articles about Smith written by Robin Rudderow, the society’s archivist, giving some information, though without sources. The children Smith had with his Miwok wife remained in Bodega and Smith Brothers Road is named after them. There are two websites made by descendants of Smith who live in the area. Manuela, Smith’s Peruvian wife who he married on the voyage, gave $200 to start the Catholic church in Bodega. According to Robin Rudderow, the Rancho Bodega Historical Society archivist the Smiths ‘lived in the old church built by the Russians in Saint Helena until 1851 when their own large adobe home was built. He found that the conditions in the old Russian church were not good for the piano, so he sold it to General Mariano Vallejo.’[x] The Smiths left the adobe and moved to San Francisco. There is a diary in the Bancroft library of two brothers who did the woodworking at the adobe and also panned for gold. Presumably these are the Fowlers. Mark copied it  and Michael has been transcribing it for publication in the local Navigator newspaper. Honoria Tuomey was a key historical figure in the history of western Sonoma county and published two volumes of its history in 1926.

Honoria Tuomey,site of smiths sawmill a historian, fervently believed that the adobe melt on Michael’s property was Smith’s house and she placed a sign at the Tannery but there’s nothing left of it today. She also asked for Smith’s doorplate(which she had placed there) to be placed in her casket when she died at the Napa Asylum in 1938. Born in 1866 on the Buckhorn ranch on Coleman Valley road (now known as Franceschi ranch) she attended the Potter school in Bodega, taught art and vocal music in Sebastopol high school and retired through ill health devoting the rest of her life to the history surrounding her. In her book she writes of the Donner party survivors who settled on Spring Hill just west of Sebastopol. Sonoma County wasjust 75 years old when Tuomey was writing her history. She knew the daughters of General Vallejo personally, and was best remembered for her historical markers which included one on the adobe house of Captain Smith. Information about Tuomey was gleaned from an article in the Press Democrat, 1990 by Gaye LeBarron. I spoke with her and was told that Jenny Morgan of Tomales History Center has the two volume book and disc. LeBarron got some of her information from Ruth Burke, Bodega’s historian in 1990, and Tuomey’s student at Potter school, who died recently (2012). She was the daughter of the store keeper in Bodega (Howard McCally) and Burke’s notes were still in boxes there. The land on the other side of Salmon Creek was owned by a Scot.

After Smith died Manuela married Tyler Curtis who wanted to eject all the settlers whom Smith hadmanuela torres as a widow welcomed creating the ‘Tyler Curtis war.’ Manuela died in San Francisco on February 25, 1871 at the age of 43.  The Petaluma newspaper carried the following article on May 2, 1873 that told the last chapter of Manuela and Tyler Curtis’ story: “Tyler Curtis, formerly a resident of Bodega and latterly a prominent capitalist and politician of San Francisco, left that city a day orStephen Smith gravetwo ago in a clandestine manner, leaving behind him unsettled debts and unexplained transactions of a much darker character.  He is charged with seducing a young lady under promise of marriage; forgeries for a considerable amount; and defrauding his stepchildren out of their inheritance. “Some 17 years ago, Mr. Curtis married a Peruvian lady.  When Mrs. Curtis died a few years ago, she left the whole of her property to Mr. Curtis by will, to the exclusion of her children.  One of her sons states that it is his intention to exhume the body of Mrs. Curtis and have it submitted to analytical chemists.”   According to Michael there used to be 2 grave sites on Salmon Creek road one of which was incorrectly marked. The land on the other side of Salmon Creek was owned by a Scot. I found a photo of this in Honoria’s book at the San Jose State library July 31st, 2012.caution squatters

Michael told us that the site of the saw mill was due north of his ranch and it was possible that we could find it. He’d been there once, but I’m not sure if he found it. We bravely set out through a field where the grass was waist deep, heading for the trees which showed the location of the creek. Undeterred bythe barbed wire I found an opening and, much to the girls’ concern, headed into the dense undergrowth. Eventually they followed me and we found that walking along the stream bed was easier than getting through the bushes. Although we saw a few large rocks which looked as if they could have been put there purposely and a thick tree trunk that had been sawn we didn’t find any remnants of the first steam powered sawmill in California, that had come on the ship with the three pianos  from the East coast in 1843. This photograph, taken in 1925 shows Charles Gallagher, Rolph Thompson, Honoria Tuomey and Herbert Slater presumably at the dedication of the plaque and reads ‘Site of the First Steam Plant,’ 1843.

One thing we did find, though, was an article in a travel magazine about Stephen Smith and there was a drawing of him. I contacted the magazine to find out where they got the photo from but they didn’t know. In Honoria’s book I found the same picture.

The one in the picture is the bark built in 1841, as confirmed by American Whaling Voyages (attached below)[xi]. However, as you can see from her attachment, she didn’t start whaling until 1855, which means in ’43 she could have been carting pianos around. I found the reference in Bancroft that says the piano carrying George Henry was of 344 tons. However, tonnage of ships do change slightly over time, so that means both of the ships in our 1858 register are still in the running. It also means that there is a George Henry of 344 tons which was wrecked or otherwise out of service by 1858.At this point, I think you might need to contact Mystic or Mariner’s as they might have archival records which could help clear up this mystery. What we need is a register from 1843 so we can see if there is a listing for a third George Henry of 344 tons. I’m sorry if I have only muddied the waters here! Thanks, Gina Bardi, Reference Librarian, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

[i] Though possibly the George and Henry. This engraving is the George Henry built 1841, Waldoboro, Maine, lost in the Hudson Bay 1863. Capt. James M. Buddington, 1855. Sidney O. Buddington in 1860. The engraving is signed Osborn ‘The bark ‘George Henry’ captain Sydney O. Buddington of New London which started for the Arctic regions on Tuesday May 28, 1860.’ (Info from Mystic Seaport)

[ii] Pasadena News Star, Nov 11, 1922

[iii] has him bringing Hoepner too

[iv] Wikipedia

[v] Annie Ogden 1941:45, The California Sea Otter Trade, 1784-1848, University of California Press, Berkeley.

[vi] Mofras1937:13.

[vii] Trussell 1960:25

[viii] Sherman 1945:36

[ix] Fowler and Fowler 1916:193

[x] Rancho Bodega Historical Society Newsletter, Oct 10, 2013


Don Jose Abrego’s piano

Don Jose Abrego’s piano

The Abrego adobe, Monterey

The Abrego adobe, Monterey

Don Abrego

Don Abrego

Jose Abrego's  grave, Monterey Don Jose Abrego, was born in Mexico city, on March 3, 1813, and came to Monterey in 1834 aboard the Natalia, as part of a scheme, unsupported by the Mexican government, to secularize the missions. Hijar and Padres had a plan to set up a colony. ‘The Pious Fund’ ( bequests and gifts to the Missions) had already been appropriated by the Mexican Government, with the proviso that the revenues would be used for the benefit of the Missions and ‘los Indios.’ But Padres had personal aspirations of wealth and after being banished to Mexico from Monterey by Governor Victoria he vowed to return and complete the secularization with little regard for the neophytes, the owners of the land and the missionaries themselves. With the financial backing of many wealthy adventurers the colonists left Mexico City in April, arriving at San Blas, July 23rd, 1833. They set sail for California at the beginning of August in 2 vessels. On board the Natalia was Don Jose Abrego. Abrego was a former Mexican hatter and he set up his business in Monterey. He went on to hold many offices including the administrator of San Antonio Mission and custom house officer, eventually becoming treasurer of the province from 1839 to 1846, and a prominent merchant. He married Doña Josefa Estrada de Abrego in 1836 and they had 18 children, all born in the adobe house. Urban legend had it that he had a portion of the timbers from the historic vessel built into his house after it had been shipwrecked in Monterey Bay. According to one account the shipwreck occurred during a storm while the passengers were celebrating the New Year, 1834. But during extensive renovations recently no such timbers were apparent. The adobe home, in Monterey, is now a women’s club and I was able to gain access to it in the Summer of 2012. When California became a state in 1850, Abrego found himself to be an official of both the Mexican and Yankee governments. In 1862 he established a soap factory in Monterey and was active in local affairs until his death in April 1878. Don Jose Abrego is buried in the once picketed-fence family plot in Monterey’s historic cemetery.

According to Dulce Bolado, who became Mrs Francis Davis of Tres Pinos, the adobe spanned a block and was enclosed by a high wall encompassing a patio where Dona Josefa received friends. She was an accomplished needle-worker and possessor of many fine French fans, which were available since ships from many countries landed at Monterey to trade their goods. The Abregos had in their home one of the first pianofortes ever brought to California. A paper attached to the inside of it, written by Mr. Abrego, stated: “In 1841, Captain Stephen Smith arrived with his vessel in Monterey, and I engaged him to bring me a piano on his next trip to this country. In March, 1843, he returned to this city in a brigantine; he had three pianos on board. I bought this one of him for $600. He then sailed to San Francisco, where General Vallejo purchased another of the pianos. The third one was afterward sold by Captain Smith to E. de Celis at Los Angeles.”

On one occasion this piano was borrowed by Larkin for the use at a ball given in Monterey to celebrate the visit of Commodore Jones, an American naval officer. According to H. H. Bancroft in California Pastoral, San Francisco, 1888, p. 428, ‘Abrego granted the request, but suggested that a piano would not be of much use, since no one knew how to play on it. But to the surprise of all, it was solemnly affirmed, the boy Pedro Estrada succeeded in playing the instrument, although he had never touched one before!’ The piano had brass pedals, two brass candle holders according to E. D. Holden. Don Jose not only had one of the first pianos n California but also the first full length mirror. In 1931 Don Jose’s granddaughter, Dulce Bolado Davis (née Julia Bolado) , had the piano at her home at Tres Pinos, April 14, 1931. Rachel and I visited Tres Pinos in October, 2011.

The Abrego piano was a six-octave, made by Breitkopt & Hartel, of Leipzig, Germany and imported by Brauns & Focke, general commission merchants of 20 German Street, Baltimore. I contact Breitkopf & Haertel and found that they began manufacturing upright and grand pianos in 1807. After a relatively short period of time these instruments developed a very good reputation. There are several documents in which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Clara and Robert Schumann as well as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner commended the good quality of the instruments manufactured by Breitkopf with regard to sound and workmanship. One of the Breitkopf pianos was a wedding gift for Clara Schumann from her husband. Breitkopf won golden prize medals for their instruments on important exhibitions for example on those taking place in Dresden and London. In the production department 20 people worked and manufactured on average 100 instruments per year i.e. they were more concerned with quality than with quantity. After approximately 5000 pianos had been manufactured Breitkopf stopped production in 1872 for lack of room and not at least for economic reasons .

Baynard Taylor attended a party at the Abrego adobe in 1849 and gives an account in his book El Dorado. ‘I attended an evening party at his house, which was as lively and agreeable as any occasion of the kind well could be. There was a tolerable piano in his little parlour, on which a lady from Sydney, Australia, played “Non piu mesta” with a good deal of taste.’ At the 1892 California State Fair, the Monterey County Exhibit listed fragments from the Natalie. The exhibit was organized by Charles Wolters (misspelled Walters in the artlcle) and Father Casanova. Jose Abrego apparently bought the vessel that had been wrecked on the rocks in Monterey Harbor [probably opposite the first train station site at Figueroa Ave.].

The beginnings of my search for the first piano to come to California

My search for the first pianos to come to California.

This research project came into being unexpectedly. My daughter, Rachel, had seen an advertisement in the AAA magazine about a Donner Party hiking weekend (October 2010) and suggested it would be a fun adventure. We had a wonderful time – guided walks, lectures, re-enactments – and we were so fascinated by the experience that we planned a weekend trip to Sacramento to visit the state archives and see for ourselves some of the actual documents written by members of the expedition. We were spurred on particularly since we had found out during the hiking weekend that there was one English member of the ill-fated 1846 journey and he was John Denton from Sheffield. Since my maiden name is Denton and I attended Sheffield University in England it seemed appropriate to find out more about my name-sake.


So during our rummaging through the boxes in the California Room of the state archives – polite rummaging, that is, in plastic gloves – we came across a bill of sale for a piano signed by James Frazier Reed in 1849. After the Donner Lake ordeal Reed had settled in San Jose and purchased a piano for his daughter, Patty. In the months following our discovery I was to find out that that piano made the journey through the Santa Cruz mountains not once but three times. Patty eventually married Frank Lewis and settled in Zayante (Felton). She also ran a hotel in Santa Cruz (now named the Edgewater Motel) and two hotels in Capitola. She claimed that the piano she had in Capitola was one of the first pianos to come to California and that got me thinking . . . is that true? Which WAS the first piano to arrive in the Golden State?

So began two years of research traveling the length and breadth of the state and emailing much further – to Mystic Seaport, to Germany, and – though I haven’t yet (August 2012) – Mexico and Russia. I found a few old newspaper clippings discussing the subject but the journalists were relying on previous accounts: no one was looking at primary source material. I decided to divide my research into two parts – one: following up my interest in the Donner party (‘party’ always seems rather inappropriate!) connection, and two: finding how, why and where the first pianos came to California.




The Donner Party connection

It soon became apparent that Martha Jane (aka Patty) Reed who claimed to have one of the first pianos that came to California had a lot of connections with my local area (the South San Francisco Bay) and Santa Cruz county in particular. This made the research very immediate since I live in Santa Cruz.

I found her marriage and death records at the county records office in Santa Cruz. She married Frank Lewis on December 25th, 1856. She died at home at Twin Lakes, July 2nd, 1923 from cerebral apoplexy and was buried at Oakhill Cemetery, San Jose. Soon afterwards I came upon a small, thin book on a shelf at San Jose State library (or was this Santa Cruz library?) as I just browsed through the shelves. It claimed to be an account of Frank and Patti’s wedding at Zayante and was called Hazeldell Charivari by Tom P. McHugh. Tom McHugh was a journalist in Santa Cruz and UCSC are supposed to hold his papers but I think they are not available. The book describes in detail the wedding ceremony. One of the attendees was Isaac Graham. In further research I found that he’s a very colorful character. In fact Peter Lassen, after whom one of my family’s favorite areas was named, sold his property in Zayante to Graham. Graham also took part in the Bear flag rebellion. Saw mills in Henry Cowell state park and Fall Creek belonged to Graham. In 1841, California’s first water-powered sawmill was built at the junction of Bean Creek and Zayante Creek by P. Lassen, Isaac Graham, J. Majors, and F. Hoeger.

Graham Hill road is named for him (and I always thought it was after the English Formula one racing driver!). Graham supplied lumber for the Brown House in San Francisco(not found on the national historic register). He was a gambler. His wife left for Hawaii. Bennett and Graham had a feud for 3 years. When Graham died his lawyer, Stanley inherited the Zayante ranch. He was ‘exiled’ from San Jose. Has map of Reed property 1862 named ‘Welch Farm’ on the river Zayante.

From her death certificate I found that she lived in the twin Lakes area of Santa Cruz, and I eventually discovered her address and one chilly December day I went over there to take photographs. After she died the house was lived in by her son Frazier Lewis, who was a candy maker – rather a telling business for the son of a woman whose fame rested on her fellow travelers dying from starvation and their resort to cannibalism  made them notorious. After Frazier died the house was occupied by an art gallery and then James Houston and his wife, Jeanne Wakasuti, moved in. She still lives there (Aug 2012). I wrote to her and her daughter who is volley ball coach at Cabrillo College answered. There used to be an old piano at the house but it wasn’t Patty’s she told me. James was a notable historian and author and his wife was interned at Manzanar and wrote the book about it ‘Farewell to Manzanar’ from which a documentary film was subsequently made. My family had visited this Japanese internment camp about 15 years ago and it made a big impression on us. In July 2012 Sarah and I returned to the camp which has a new visitors’ center and many of the building are being restored. It’s fascinating. I couldn’t get Sarah away even after 4 hours of exploring in the temperatures in the upper 90’s. When James moved in there was all sorts of Donner memorabilia still in the house and he subsequently wrote a book about the Donner party from Patty’s point of view.

In the Santa Cruz Sentinel June 27th, 1946 there appeared the following article (I got this from the Capitola Museum lady – Carolyn Swift) ‘Lewis Piano of 1849 Sent To Museum In Sutter Fort. A piano which came around the Horn in the gold rush was sent last week, from Santa Cruz to the Sutter Fort museum of California at Sacramento.

The piano for years has been at the home of Frazier and Martha Lewis at Twin Lakes. Its history is well authenticated; it was the second piano[1] to come around the Horn to California.

It was made in Albany, N.Y., by E. P. Burns[2]. It made its trip with a Captain Wilson (of the schooner) who played it during the voyage.[3] In San Francisco[4] he sold it to James Frazier Reed of the Donner party who took it to San Jose in November, 1849.

In 1855 squatters took possession of Reed’s land in San Jose and he and his wife moved to Felton where Isaac Graham gave them use of a cabin which they named Hazel Dell, until they moved to Ocean View Avenue in 1860[5] Reed took it back to San Jose but it 1882 Mrs. Martha Jane Lewis Lewis (sic) brought it back to Santa Cruz.

The death of Mrs. Lewis at Twin Lakes in 1944 and of her brother, Frazier Lewis[6] last year, left it with other relics to the Sacramento museum.

Other relics which went to Sutter’s Fort with the piano were a circular table on which the seal of the State of California was designed, a doll prized by Mrs. Lewis when, as little Patty Reed of the Donner party, she carried it across the plains and through the hardships in the Sierras, and Mrs. Lewis’ wedding dress.’[7]

I contacted the Sutter’s Fort museum and eventually was granted access to the warehouse of the state museums. On our way to Donner Lake for our second annual hike, October 2011, were we allowed to visit the piano.


Another article in the Santa Cruz Surf (which I think I forgot to date) called ‘A Pioneer Piano’ with no author:

‘In the parlour of the Sea Side Home stands a piano which is supposed to be the first one that came to this state. It was made in Albany, NY by E P Burns and brought around cape Horn in the fall of 1849 by Capt Wilson, and was put together on the schooner where its delightful strains helped to vary the monotony of the long voyage. It was regarded as a great curiosity when it arrived in San Francisco and crowds flocked to see the instrument and listen to its melody. Cpt Wilson was seized with the gold fever and sold it to Mr J F Reed (the father of Mrs Lewis) for $1000. This gentleman brought it to San Jose on Nov 4th, 1849 where it remained a number of years. When Mr Lewis removed to this city (SC) in 1856 he had it conveyed here in a vehicle drown by oxen by way of San Juan and Watsonville.

This ‘pioneer’ piano enlivened the surroundings with its music for several years when Mr Reed, returning again to the ‘garden City’ it crossed the mountains in 1860, remained there until 2 years ago, when in charge of Mrs Lewis it returned to this city (SC) and has since occupied its present position at the home.

In style it is what is known in the parlance of the piano trade as a square, rather plain in finish, unostentatious in appearance and made of rosewood. It has not lost its pristine sweetness of tone through age as was evidence yesterday afternoon when a SURF representative listened to some of the old time airs that Mrs Lewis kindly reproduced. So highly was this piano respected for its early associations that for the last 5 years it was in San Jose it was omitted from the assessor’s roll, that official facetiously remarking that as old men are exempt from paying poll tax, why should not this instrument be free from taxation on account of its age and valuable services.’

From Nancy Jenner curator of California state parks: The information that you have is correct—the piano is made of rosewood, it’s a square pianoforte, manufactured by Burns.  Although our early cataloguing information incorrectly states that the inscription says “F. P. Burns” it has been corrected to “E. P. Burns.”

Patty Reed’s collection was donated to the Fort in 1946—this was her wish, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of her family’s ordeal by donating her collection to Sutter’s Fort. This piano came to the Fort at that time.

Because Patty had already passed away, the curator was not able to confirm all details with her, but it has always been asserted that this is the piano mentioned in the bill of sale that is currently held at the State Library, dated 1849.

Our information lists the dimensions of the piano as  92.5cm x 82.5cm x 185cm (36 7/16in. x 32 1/2in. x 72).  The earlier square pianos were smaller than the more common ones from 1870s and 1880s, so the size is appropriate for piano of the era.  The legs are also diagnostic—most of the later pianos had the rococo, cabriole

I’m attaching a photo of Patty’s piano, a clipping from our file regarding the donation, and a scan of a sketch in the accession file (I would ask that you do not publish or otherwise reproduce or distribute the images without our permission, they’re just for the purpose of your research).

Unfortunately, I have no knowledge of any available images of the interior of Hock Farm, or of the interior Fort from the period when it was occupied by Sutter

And finally—because of where the piano is stored, I have no authority to grant you access.   The curators of that section have said that the piano is inaccessible, and that the project they’re working on is going to go on for some time.  I have a meeting with them next week—I’ll ask for an update.’

Well, the curators might have been telling us that the piano was inaccessible but persistence paid off as the photo shows: Rachel and I in the warehouse with Patty’s piano!

In a Santa Cruz newspaper dated Sep 19, 1921, I found more information about the piano – It was moved to Felton via S Juan and Watsonville Road and then down to Ocean View in Santa Cruz near where the E O McCormick house stands near the golf links. (McCormick was the manager of the South Pacific Coast Railroad). In 1860 they used Mr Jim Simpson to take it to San Jose via the Mt Charley Road. In 1882 it was taken by rail to Capitola. It was later moved by auto truck to Twin Lakes.’ I haven’t had much luck trying to find Jim Simpson. There is a John Samsann aged 33 from FR in the 1850 Santa Cruz census, and a James Simpson from England in the 1860 census (a woodman).

InMore Tales from the MinesJames Houstonwho lived in Patty’s house, wrote the following account of the piano: ‘In the transient and shifting social terrain of mid-century California, Reed was one of those who had come to stay. In Illinois he had been an aggressive community leader and devoted family man, and his habits had not changed. By the time the state entered the Union, the Reeds already had an established look. In her Diary of a Pioneer Girl, 14-year-old Sallie Hester recorded her family’s journey from Bloomington, Indiana, to San Jose, and made this entry on June 3, 1850:

We have pitched our tent near the house of Rev. Owens. Have met Mrs. Reed’s family. They crossed the Plains in 1846. They were of the Donner Party. . . . Mattie Reed is a lovely girl with big brown eyes. She is near my own age. She has a piano, and Mrs. Reed has kindly asked me to come there and practice.”

She referred to a famous square piano Reed purchased from a Boston sea captain soon after they moved into the ranch house. It had recently come around Cape Horn. Eager to head for the gold fields, the captain sold it to Reed for a thousand dollars. When it appeared on the dock in San Francisco a large crowd gathered to ponder its elegant rosewood lines. One of the first to reach these shores from the faraway eastern seaboard, it was known as “The Pioneer Piano,” a feature of the Reed family parlor for decades to come.

Reed’s home in San Jose

Reed’s home in San Jose stood at the junction of 3rd Street and Margaret for 30 years and was demolished to make way for the 280 freeway in December 1972.[8] A photograph of the home with seven members of the Reed family in front of it can be found in ‘A Donner Miscellany” edited by Carroll D Hall. Many of the street names in San Jose are named after members of the Reed and his wife Margaret’s families. See ‘signposts’ by Patricia Loomis. Also ‘Santa Clara County Ranchos’ by Clyde Arbuckle, 1968. When Rachel and I went to see Patty’s grave at Oakhill cemetery in San Jose close by was the grave of Clyde Arbuckle and though at that time we had never heard of him I took a photo of his gravestone. On further inquiry he was San Jose’s leading historian for many many, years. There’s a map of the 1860’s showing Reed’s ‘reservation’ at the corner of Reed street and First Street. His residence address in 1870 was 675 Third Street.[9] In the first municipal election Nov 29, 1847 Reed was one of 6 men elected to the town council. ‘In 1849 a 12 man police force was organized to maintain law and order, Reed was its chief.’[10] Reed’s account book (1848-1850) covering the expenses for the building of his home are held by the California state library. I wonder if there’s any mention of the piano in them since he bought the piano in 1849. By 1856 the Reeds were well established but it would see that Reed was always eager for adventure. On May 30th he and his 2 sons, James Jr and Thomas crossed the Santa Cruz mountains, writing a letter to his wife. It was hand carried to her in San Jose with the ‘politeness (of) Captn Isaac Graham.” Known as the Golf Gulch letters they were in the possession of Robert O Lincoln of Santa Cruz in the 1950’s according to Margaret Koch’s piece in the Issue 2. Where are they now? See Sentinel jan 10th 1965 p4 for interview and photo with Lincoln. Got it on Aug 22. The letters tell of his plans to settle on the banks of the San Lorenzo river for 3 years to see if the gold digging by hydraulic method would be profitable, and he even asks Margaret to send him $200 to cover the cost of ‘removing and getting provisions until we see whether there can be anything made.’[11] However, nothing came of the scheme, (according to Koch) though we don’t know why.

In the daily Surf May 2, 1890, 3:1 ‘Mrs Lewis of Capitola was agreeably surprised yesterday by a souvenir gift from her daughters, in honor of the day (ed Mayday). A fine nugget, of symmetrical shape, found by Mrs Lewis’ father, James Reed in 1848, had been made into a pin, from which was pendant a bear, made of rough gold attached to a bar of polished gold on which was inscribed simply the two dates, ‘1846-1890.’ James Reed returned from prospecting to San Jose. Could his decision to move to Felton have been sparked by the squatters taking possession of Reed’s lands in San Jose in June 1855[12]? Did he infact move to Felton at that time? Patti married IN FELTON on Christmas Day, 1856 in a cabin that belonged to Isaac Graham. I thought it was a double cabin and James lived in one half and Patty and Frank in the other – or did they just use the cabin for the wedding ceremony?


The piano itself.

The Pioneer piano was made at the workshop of Francis Putnam Burns. He was born in Galway, New York, Feb 6, 1807. He learned cabinet making and studied piano making with John Osborn and in 1835 he opened his own business. According to Alfred Dodge, he went to great pains to impress upon his workmen ‘ that a piano is a work of art, requiring the most painstaking efforts, without regard to time consumed in its construction. While producing most elegant and durable pianos, Burns did not accumulate wealth.’ His business passed on to his son, Edward M. Burns[13]. This all indicates that the piano that Reed purchased was a well made instrument. This diagram is from Nancy Jenner at the state park archives.

According to Houston:From a Californio land-grant family Reed had purchased a square mile of open acreage south and east of the market plaza. He planted some wheat and built a large adobe ranch house, completed in November 1849.- the document of sale of the piano that we obtained from the state library is dated November 16th 1849! However, the confusion remains: was Allen T Willson a sea captain, and did Reed purchase it in San Francisco?

I found early censuses of San Jose.

The first, dated June 30th, 1860 lists Frank Lewis of Massachusetts, aged 31, with wife Martha J, 21 of Illinois, and Kate L, 2 years and Mary one month.

The second, dated August 1st, 1870 has James F Reed, aged 69, farmer from Ireland, value of his real estate $120,000 and value of personal estate $3,000. He is living with son Charles, 22, b Cal and Thomas K, 27 b Illinois. Also listed at the same dwelling is Frank Lewis, 41, farmer, Martha J (keeping house), 32, Margaret, 10, Frank K, 8, Mattie,6, and Frazier, 4. They have a housekeeper, Eliza Gorden (56) from Canada East, John Meade, 39 Irish farm laborer, Hoe Ah, 58 laborer from China and Kate Lewis (12) b California. I presume this was misplaced in the list.

1880 First Street, San Jose shows Martha is now a widow, aged 42, keeping house with daughters kate and Margaret, 22 and 20 working as seamstresses, son Frank is 18 and lives off his own means, daughter Mattie 16 works in a glove factory, Franzier 14, Carrie E, 9and Susan A 6. Presumably the boarder William Patterson , 49 who works in the mines does the ‘man’s work’ in the household. Both his parents were born in Ireland. He himself was born in Pennsylvania. There are 3 other boarders and 2 Chinese, one a cook and one working outdoors. Thomas Reed (36) is a teamster from Ireland. Next door lives Charles Reed and his family.

1890 Haven’t found her

1900 She’s in Soquel

1910 She a boarding house keeper in Soquel, aged 72, living with children Martha, Margaret, James, (farmer and poultryman)Caroline and Susan and her brother Thomas aged 67, and a Chinese cook.

In 1920, she’s 81 and living in Branciforte with children Martha, James, Caroline and Susan and a Chinese cook. At the far left of this photograph, taken about 1890, is the Lewis
House, a hotel operated by Donner party survivor Patty Reed Lewis. James owns a candy store.











From The surf, 02-27-1884 3:3 – A pioneer piano. In the parlor of the Sea Side Home stands a piano which is supposed to be the first on e that came to this state. It was made in Albany, New York, by E. P. Burns, and brought around Cape Horn in the fall of 1849 by Capt. Wilson, and was put together on the schooner where its delightful strains helped to vary the monotony of the long voyage. It was regarded as a great curiosity when it arrived in San Francisco and crowds flocked to see the instrument and listen to its melody. Captain Wilson was seized by gold fever and sold the piano to Mr J. F Reed (the father of Mrs Lewis) for $1000. This gentleman brought it to San Jose on Nov 4th, 1849, where it remained a number of years. When Mrs Lewis removed to this city in ’56, he had it conveyed here in a vehicle drawn by oxen by way of San Juan and Watsonville.

This “pioneer” piano enlivened the surroundings with its music for several years when Mr Reed returning again to the “Garden City” it crossed the mountains in 1860, remained there until t years ago (ed 1882), when in charge of Mrs Lewis it returned to this city and has since occupied its present position at the Home

In style it is what is known in the parlance of the piano trade as a square, rather plain in finish, unostentatious in appearance, and made of rosewood. It has not lost its pristine sweetness of tone through age as was evidenced yesterday when a SURF representative listened to some of the old time airs that Mrs Lewis so kindly reproduced. So highly was this piano respected for its early associations that for the last 5 years that it was in San Jose it was omitted from the Assessor’s roll, that official facetiously remarking that as old men are exempt from paying poll tax, why should not this instrument be free from taxation on account of its age and valuable services.’

The Sea Side Home

Surf Jan 15, 1884, 2:2

‘No place was ever more fittingly named this, which combines the pleasures of a resort, the quiet of a retreat, and the comforts of a home. With a broad balcony facing the bathing beach, and an ambuscade of flowers protecting every window and shedding fragrance into every room; the street cars and both railroads within one minutes walk, and an elevation that secures exemption from dust and annoyances, there is nothing to be desired by way of location. The year ’83 was the first full season of the proprietorship of Mrs Frank Lewis, who is making the place not only a lovely spot, but an attractive home has secured an unprecedented patronage. New cottages were built and a considerable sum of money expended in improvements within the year. During the summer the ‘Home’ was thronged with guests, many of whom tarried twice their expected time. It is altogether probable that ‘all engaged’ will be announced at an early date the coming season and that those who wish to secure rooms at this most homelike of homes, will be compelled to apply early.’ On the same page as the Sea Side house advert in the Hotel and Boarding House directory is the Travelers Guide to the South Pacific Coast Railroad. Trains took 4 hours to reach San Francisco, and 1 ¾ to reach San Jose. Or you could go on the Southern Pacific Railroad via Watsonville(1 hour), again reaching San Francisco in 4 hours.

In the Surf or Sentinel July 6, 1888 – Charming Summer Resort

‘Mrs Frank Lewis, late of the Sea Side Home, Santa Cruz, takes this method of informing her friends and the public, that she has taken the commodious hotel at Camp Capitola, together with the cottages, grounds, skating rink etc., etc., which will be put in first class condition for the entertainment of guests, summer and winter, with all the comforts of home, and those who have been her guests heretofore know what this means. For terms, (which will be moderate) address the proprietoress at Soquel, Camp Capitola, Santa Cruz Co.’

From the book, The Grand Hotel, Capitola by Gordon van Zuiden and Carolyn Swift, ‘Hotel Capitola faces the sunrise and the Bay of Monterey. Its broad verandah is floored with concrete, because sometimes, in a storm, the breakers dash their spray over the steps, and up to the windows. The lobby is a spacious room where, by a crackling wood fire in a broad-throated fireplace, you can sit and watch the ebb and flow of the tide, the path of steamers, the spouting of whales, the sporting of the sea lions, and the restful vista of the mountains beyond. Every seat in the dining room has a view of the bay and the garden. Three sides of the bowling alley are glass. Every guest chamber gives a glimpse of romantic scenery, either mountain or marine.’

‘For many years the annual re-union of Mr Hihn and his pioneer friends took the form of a barbeque and basket picnic. Latterly as pioneers diminished in number the date has been shifted to a celebration of his own birthday by a dinner at the Hotel Capitola. During the eating hour the Capitola orchestra, composed of Mr Geo B franz, violin and musical director; Mr S J Tully, clarinet, Mr M Solano cello, Mr J L Becker, piano, rendered a musical program which included Polonaise Militaire by Chopin, a secection form Bizet’s Carmen, the Jolly Brothers Waltz by Vollstedt and Anona Intermezzo by Vivian Grey. Mr Hihn was presented with a box of home-made candy from Mrs Frank Lewis. ‘ rom F Ahihn and his Santa Cruz County Pioneers compiled by Stanley D Stevens. Aug 17, 1903 – source Santa Cruz Surf, 1903-08-17 2:1-3

Patty’s timeline

1846-7 overland and stranded at Donner Lake

1849 James Reed purchases a piano

1850 She has a piano in San Jose

1860 San Jose census

1870 San Jose census

1880 First street, San Jose census

1883 proprietor of the Sea Side home

1888 Proprietor of Capitola hotel

1890 haven’t found her on the census but article about the celebration of Mayday at the Capitola hotel


1910 boarding house keeper in Soquel

1920 Branciforte census

1923 Death at Twin Lakes


[1] Where is the first?

[2] This should be F.P. Burns

[3] Nowhere else can I find a reference to him being a captain

[4] The transaction was done in San Jose. The original document say Allen T Willson of Puelbo San Joe

[5] Punctuation missing so could mean 2 different things

[6] I thought he was her son

[7] No name on the article



[8] San Jose and its Cathedral, p 37 by Marjorie Pierce, 1990

[9] Editors’ note p 30, Santa Cruz county history journal ed by Stanley D. Stevens, Issue 2, 1995

[10] ditto

[11] Ditto p 28

[12] Surf or Sentinel, Sept 9, 1921

[13] p287 Pianos and their Makers, Alfred Dolge, 1911