Peter is an amusing character. He is very polite and devoted to me and willing to do anything for me but he has no exalted opinion of women as directors or managers. He listens to my directions and commands and goes and does what he pleases. The other day I wanted him to go to the lots in the north east corner of Hermosa about one quarter mile from here and dig up some large rose bushes Mrs. Alind owned up there and would sell me. I explained just where it was and he said “Yes, yes” he knew all about it. He was to go with the wheelbarrow as I wanted one moved with special care. I went up with the horse and buggy. I went up and I waited and waited and no Peter. It looked like rain and after a time, knowing there must be some mistake, I started for home. As I passed the Alind’s I saw Peter hurrying out with his wheelbarrow. (The Alinds joined us on the north and Mrs. A has a nursery of young roses.) I said “Peter why did you not come?” “Oh”, said he, looking rather foolish, “I supposed Mrs. Turner meant Mrs. Alind’s.”  So he had listened and said “yes” and thought all the time that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Well! I turned around and went back to the place and Peter followed. I pointed out the rose bushes and he dug and placed them in the buggy. Then I showed him my special pet explaining how I wanted it dug with great care, “balled” as they call it, and wrapped in burlap. “Yes. Yes.” He understood. It was beginning to rain and I drove home. When I took my large roses to the place where I had ordered Peter to dig exrta large holes, I found he had only made small places suitable for small rose cuttings. I smiled grimly. Peter soon came wheeling his barrow with my pet rose roots in the air branches down and not a bit of earth left on the roots. Too absurd! When I asked him why he had not dug large holes as I has told him, he said “I thought Mrs. Turner get roses at Alinds I knew they were all small etc.” He had thought I did not know what I was talking about.



Edith is the most ambitionless of children though it gives me no special anxiety as she excels in everything she undertakes. She does not want to learn anything. She has no desire to excel at her studies, sewing, or any possible accomplishment. She never wants to go to school. The other day she informed me she thought she would be a dentist. She has pulled out teeth for the children and Fred Wilding. I told her that even in that profession she must know how to read and write and have some knowledge of arithmetic. Later she came to me and said, “Mama, I have decided to be a barber, I shall have to learn nothing then.”

Brother Will’s Fiance

December 1st 1887

I’ve never written of a subject that interests me deeply. The approaching marriage of my brother Will. I suppose it is natural for fond and appreciative sisters to choose perfection for their brothers. I have hoped so earnestly that Will would marry well, and my ideal sister in law was always a woman of ripe intellect, great-hearted, benevolent, capable of appreciating the best of my beloved brother, and what was of most importance, with the power of drawing out and developing the real mobility of his character, and inciting him to ever aspire for the higher, better life. Beauty, talent, accomplishments, all secondary. Well his lady love is certainly not my ideal. She is a very sweet winning young girl with little education, simply because she has never desired it. The youngest daughter of a wealthy country gentleman, who has led the life of some young bird, as sweet, attractive, and innocent as they, but with none of the capability and evidence of inherent strength, as would often be found in young girls similarly situated. I this have gained from a long talk I had with Will before coming to California, from his and her letters, But of course she may be capable of developing into all that is desirable and in that case it is well. Will is old enough to be her father as he is 43 and she not 20, but he is so youthful in his feelings, so entertaining and charming, that he will make a delightful husband, if she is the right woman.

The First California Thanksgiving

November 24th 1887

Thanksgiving Day!

One does well at least once a year to pause and think over the many things they have to be thankful for. Somehow my life in California does not seem like living. It is sinfully existing, working, and worrying. Life to be satisfactory must be an advance of some sort. There is a great pleasure in feeling that your mind is growing, that you are learning something of value, that you are adding to your store of knowledge. It is even a greater happiness to feel that ones moral and spiritual nature is becoming stronger and richer. To feel nearer to God. To feel that the world is better for your being in it. That you are exerting an influence for good among those whom you meet in all social intercourse. It is a true joy to every mother to see her children growing in grace and improving in mind and manner. Surely none of these sources of happiness are mine.

There is no justice in judging women by one standard as regards their daily life. Some women love to cook, to care for the house, to sew, and plan, and keep house. If they are not overworked, a life full of such duties is a real satisfaction to them. It is no fault in another woman if these things are distasteful to her. If books and writing and intellectual society are her delights, and the monotonous daily round of housework taking all her time using all her energies, becomes utterly distasteful. To my first woman a season with nothing to do, and plenty of books, paper, and pens on hand would be as wearisome as the active exercise of hand and time is to the other.

We have health,a comfortable home, plenty of clothing. What ought we to desire more? We certainly ought to appreciate these blessings. I should, if I could, share them with others but what a selfish life ours is. Our comforts are not extended. We share with no one the goods that have fallen to our share. Hospitality is a beautiful virtue. Not only the inviting of congenial friends to ones home, but inviting also those who will find a day of rest, an excellent meal,and a bright cheerful companion a real pleasure, even though you receive more in return. It has someway been born in on my mind very strongly of late what a simple way of giving happiness the judicious exercise of hospitality might become. We had so much company in Geneva but so seldom invited with the thought of unselfishly giving others pleasure. Perhaps it was no fault to enjoy our friends so much that we felt we were receiving rather than granting favors, but there were some who came, and we entertained rather grudgingly, without thinking that we had an opportunity of giving pleasure even if we received none.

The children are attending school. Of course I am thankful for that, but they take such a long walk over such a lonely way that I do not like that.. Millie usually takes them in the buggy, but LeBaron comes home at noon, and Edie should come home at two but has to wait till four for May. There is not one house between ours and the schoolhouse.

We had a very different Thanksgiving dinner from our Illinois ones. Walter came home from a little trip bringing a leg of mutton. Peter had bought one in Cucamunga. When we sat down to dinner Edie asked “Is this Papa’s leg or Peter’s leg” Our laugh was our sauce.

After dinner Carrie Ray called with Howard James. He is very pleasant. A nice looking man, cordial and cousinly. I’ve never spoken of cousin Frank, Howard’s brother, who has bought the other Frank’s property here, and is living in a little shanty by himself and is overseeing his land. He is not at all well, is very silent and not at all cousinly, but is a very well read, brainy man, fond of always taking the opposite side. A man for whom I have the truest sympathy as he is one of the many who with bright minds and capability for success, has, from the force of circumstances, been obliged to live an isolated uncongenial life on a ranch way up in the mountains, where not even pecuniary gain compensated for limited and uncongenial surroundings. And at last his fine health and remarkable strength have gone leaving him feeble and much changed. How can such trials be endured uncomplainingly? Such lives appeal to my very heart. “Disappointed” might be their epitaph.

We Begin to Feel Quite Furnished

November 1st 1887

We begin to feel quite furnished. After long delay our furniture has come, our carpets are down and some curtains up. When the inside blinds are in and Mr. Frey sends the mantles and parquet flooring, we will be through. The parlor looks very pretty with a soft bordered rug and the piano and furniture looks so good and homelike. The bookcases and Walter’s desk make the library cozy and we have our plush sofa there. We have a pretty oak chamberset for the girls room and have yet to buy our best set.

The weather is charming now, though we have had some pretty cold days. Peter is planting potatoes  and also digging some very nice ones. Our tomato vines are full of fruit and so nice, but as we have been treated to exceptional weather ever since we came I presume an exceptional frost will nip the hope we entertain of enjoying ripe tomatoes all winter.

Pioneering in a Very Beautiful House

October 1887

Everything is rather hard and awkward now. We have so little furniture and only a few dishes. We are pioneering though living in a very beautiful house, and we clean every spare moment. Every inch of our woodwork has to be cleaned because the plasterer did such dreadful work that after the woodwork was finished a man had to come from Los Angeles and put on a hard finish, and that spattered the hard finished redwood and it all has to be cleaned off. Then there are ONLY 40 windows to be cleaned and kept clean.

I think this record will be interesting in the sweet by and by to recall just how we are contriving now that our furniture has gone on the rampage, and we have only our cottage belongings to get along with. Our dining table is a large drygoods box, bottom upwards, with four strong posts for legs. This elegant piece of furniture was manufactured by W.D. Turner who is happy in the full exercise of his inventive facility. We have a few chairs but the majority of the family sit upon small wooden boxes standing on end. We have two cheap red table cloths. Our dishes are the heavy white delf the carpenters used and our cooking utensils are comically limited but we manage to get along and there is not as much work to do as if we had our usual abundance of glass, silver, china, and cooking conveniences. We use a small oil stove which also limits our bill of fare, but we are as healthy and happy with limited simplicity as if we had every variety of food, indeed I think it a desirable experience.

Transcriber’s note

Maria did not capitalize words in her journal, she did however underline. As I cannot figure out how to underline on my computer I chose to capitalize her underlined words

Maria Describes Her New House at Hermosa

October 1st 1887

Here we all are in our new home in Hermosa. May we be happy here and may we make others happier. We all spent the night here September 7th but we had to clean house and arrange things after we came. Everyday we wonder what we shall do without Millie. Always willing and helpful and cheerful. She so completely identifies herself with us that I do not know how we can ever give her up. At the same time I would not want her to stay a day if thereby she missed anything possible to her by returning. She evidently wants to stay, and I am thankful to have her.

Our house is very pretty. It is pretty outside, with it’s octagonal tower, three stories high, it’s piazza and pretty furnishing about the bay windows. The color is grey with darker trimmings lined with black. Inside the rooms are all very pleasant.The parlor is a good sized room with its southeast octagonal window, and one other in (the) front south. The corner grate looks much better than seemed possible when the chimney was underway. Large sliding doors between parlor and hall, and parlor and dining room. The paper decorations are beautiful. The hall is very pretty, the decorations odd and handsome. The stairway is very pretty we are to have parquet flooring. The little alcove where is our washstand etc is very convenient and will be pretty when the portieres are hung. The library is a very nice room. A bay window at the west. A half glass door opening onto the piazza. The decorations light and remarkably pretty and the room a good size. When furnished, and with the parquet border and rug, it will be a lovely room. The dining room is large, light, and very pretty. The decorations are especially rich and handsome. A bay window at the east with colored glass in the center window. A half glass door opening on a little balcony. A grate etc. An arched door leading into the hall. Our kitchen is small but good enough and the pantry large and convenient. A large china closet opens into both dining room and pantry. We have a good sized cellar under kitchen, pantry etc. and a basement room under the rest of the house. As we go upstairs from the front hall we notice the two pretty colored windows one near the foot and the other at the top of the stairs. Beautiful red and white fancy glass forming a cross. The parlor’s octagonal window has colored glass but I do not fancy it. Upstairs the front room is our room and is very large, light, and pretty. Over the hall is a square alcove with arch from our room, for dressing room, and sewing room, to have portieres. A very symmetrical corner grate. The paper is pink and grey. Our room open into the girls room – VERY pleasant – Blue decorations – Bay window east – half glass door opening on a balcony. A lovely place where it is cool on the warmest afternoons and from which there are beautiful views. The grand mountains to the north with Mr. Alurind’s orange orchard at the base. East the lovely snow covered mountains of San Jacinto and San Bernardino, allway beautiful, often tinted with lovely color. And towards the south an extensive view of plain with occasional ranches. In the far distance some twenty miles the range of Temescal Mountains with the soft grey and blue tints, and near Mr. Petsch’s luxuriant home with its cultivated beauty. We all love to take our chairs and sewing out on this balcony and spend the afternoon. Then our guest chamber or Millie’s room, is very pretty. The papers are grey and the woodwork painted the same tints. A bay window towards the west which also takes in the lovely southern and grand northern scenery – Then a nice back chamber where for the present Millie and LeBaron sleep till the other room is furnished. The woodwork in our room, the hall, parlor, and library is redwood and is very beautiful. The dining room is to be grained, and the children’s room is painted blue. We have a small bath room opening from the children’s room and from the hall where is also a stationary washstand. We thoroughly enjoy this. Over the entire house is a large attic where the octagonal windows forms its third story. This is Walter’s special pride and is a grand playroom when not too hot or cold. There are two half glass doors opening onto  cute little outlooks over the bay windows. The views from these outlooks and from the tower windows are very fine


Transcribers notes

Portieres are curtains

The cellar is used for food storage

Mr. Alurind. Could not accurately read nor verify this name


August 1887

I have been thinking how we might be called quite rich now. I think Walter feels very truly pleased over his financial outlook. He counted up his property the other day and, without estimating the windmill stock at all, he has property valued at over 100,000. 00.

Now to me this has a very questionable look. Certainly at present it is very unsatisfactory. From all this valuable California and Kansas City property we receive no cent of income and all calls for more or less outlay. Just at present our windmill property has a heavy load to carry so many acres added to such a good sized family. There are many other Californians just at present who are rich just as we are. Last year their property was worth from one to three hundred per acre. This year it is valued at at 500 to 1500 per acre. What a comfortable sensation to realize such an increase in the estimation at which ones land is held, but I cannot help feeling that this latter value is very unstable. It is in most cases founded upon climate alone, and with that as the sole basis, I certainly think there is too much of it.  The only class of people who want land at this advanced price are the wealthy who may desire to live in a milder climate. But a small percentage of people care to leave comfortable homes and congenial surroundings even for a better climate. And a still smaller number of people who come care to buy uncultivated land, and yet all over the southern part of the state are thousands of acres cut up into lots where there is not a tree or shrub, a neighbor or anything but climate to induce them to buy from 10 to 100 dollars front foot for climate. It is impossible that 1000th part of all this land will be sold. Fortunate then are those who can sell at a fair advance but these men who own real estate do not look at it as I do. “NEXT year the boom will be grander, bigger, and boomier than ever, and therefore NOW is the time to buy more and more.” I am glad that Walter belongs to that class of individuals who buy no more than they can pay for and his property is all well chosen. As Ed Wright said when someone mentioned that Walter owned 20 acres of the Marengo Tract, “Why boys he is rich isn’t he?” He may be rich but I hope the Marengo Tract will fulfill half his expectations.

Transcriber’s Note

Walter had extensive interest in a windmill manufacturing company in Geneva, Illinois.

One of Walter’s Absurdities

I must write of one of Walter’s absurdities.

I had taken a long ride in the wind and my face was burned scarlet; so at night I put cream on my face and sprinkled it liberally with flour, then I lay down and peacefully slept. In the night Walter awoke and came down to see all was right. He knew nothing of my being powdered and entering the room saw me stretched on the bed with a ghastly deathlike countenance. For an instant his heart stood still. Then he thought what was the matter and I spoke. When he was telling me of the shock he had received I said “What did you think Walter when you thought I was dead?” He replied “Who shall I marry now?”

Transcriber’s note

When we visited my grandparents as children, the boys always slept on the top floor. They called it “The Bullpen”. I think that must have been a Turner tradition.