Messerve family correspondence  1849-1861
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Biography

William Messerve married Mary Sparkman in 1817, and raised three children -- William J., Hannahette, and Theodore -- in New York City in the early half of the 20th century. Both William and Theodore were employed in the printing trade. On February 3, 1849, afflicted with "gold fever," they both traveled to California to pursue new opportunities for prosperity. Theodore remained in the San Francisco area, but, shortly after their arrival, William became ill and he returned home early in 1850. After spending several years working at Harper's Monthly Magazine, and the Evening Post, William, Jr., went back to California sometime late in 1854 or early 1855 to try his luck again.

Apparently, both brothers spent the rest of their lives in California. Theodore married Lola Ruiz in 1865, in spite of warnings from his sister Hannahette: "I have no fear of your ever thinking of marrying a Spanish girl I hear they are all very bold and have very little delicacy & that makes me sure you could not love them," (Hannahette Messerve to Theodore Messerve, 10 December 1850). He worked as a pressman and compositor for the Daily Alta California, a San Francisco newspaper, and was on the staff of compositors for the San Francisco Morning Call in 1878, when he died. William J. Messerve remained in the printing business in the San Francisco area and died in California in 1899 at the age of 74.

When they relocated to California, the brothers left behind their sister, Hannahette, who was a young single woman in 1849. She lived with her father, maintained a circle of female friends, and spent time with the extended Messerve family in New York and Bergen, New Jersey. She took care of their father through his illness and was with him when he died in 1857. The Messerve family rented their lodgings, and after her father's death, Hannahette found it necessary to live with relatives, using income from the rental of her father's market stall and from her sewing, to pay her board.