I did not travel to San Francisco to research Arthur Page. I had, rather, closed the book on the Page family several years ago when I had finished my research on the couple and their children. The news about Arthur's early, unlooked-for demise had left me feeling rather despondent and unlikely to approach the subject again. But, as you know, matters are rather connected within the family tree. In particular I went to The City to find out whether Margaret Morgan Richards, widow of Thomas the gold miner, had survived her residence in San Francisco in 1906, the year of the great quake. I knew that she and some of her grown children had moved to The City by 1900 -- the Federal Census of 1900 shows this. But did they survive the quake? In fact, Margaret, at least, did survive the quake. My travel and research assistant discovered this. Margaret appears in a number of the directory volumes which follow 1906. I was glad to discover this fact. (Thank goodness for the wonderful accessibility of hardcopy primary source volumes at the San Francisco Public Library! I know of at least one other library -- the State Library in Sacramento -- which, in order to microfilm the directories on its shelves, has in the past t o r n the books apart on the basement floor. The volumes would never be utilized again. The directory volumes which I sought at that time in the State Library were not respected as the useful historical tools that they are. Let's be honest: some of us would rather look at a real book than microfilm, wouldn't we? Microfilm has in fact a shorter shelf-life than a well-made book; the reels won't last forever. Then what? NO HISTORY? NO PRIMARY SOURCES?)
One of Margaret Richards' children was Daniel Bradford Richards. My research assistant began looking for his name among the many well-kept directory volumes at hand. What happened then was quite interesting. His name became the dominant feature of our research day. His name appeared in directory after directory. He had taken up residence in San Francisco while many of his family members were still in the old Butte County gold towns, as early as 1892. He was both notary and "atty-at-law." He took law rooms at various downtown addresses until the earthquake of 1906. Did he survive the quake? Yes he did. In fact he subsequently took up law rooms in what came to be known as the Monadnock Building. As of my writing this piece, the building sits right downtown on Market Street, not too far from the Westfield Shopping Mall, the multi-level showy space with a distinctive curvilinear gold escalator. The ten-floor Monadnock was only partly constructed by the time of the quake. Officials wanted to use it as a fire-break to protect the Plaza Hotel. But it came to be known as indestructible. Why wouldn't a fellow set his offices there? And so he did. The 1907 directory shows Daniel Bradford Richards, Margaret's son, my grandmother Ellen's first cousin, to be there, at 681 Market, on the sixth floor. By 1908 he was on the ninth floor. All of the directories we checked show his law rooms to have remained on the ninth floor: "969 Monadnock Building." He kept these rooms until his retirement (if one may extrapolate from the elliptical information offered in these directories). He is not listed at all in the 1955-1956 directories (Polk's Crocker Langley). In 1957, only his home residence is listed. His wife's name no longer appears next to his in the entries. Rather, in 1957 (the year of his death, according to Ancestry.com Library Edition records), 969 Monadnock is occupied by the Atlanta and Westpoint Railroad Co., the Georgia Railroad, and the Western Railway of Alabama. It was as if the wind blew in through one of the double-hung warp-glazed windows and at last change had come. When my assistant and I visited the Monadnock yesterday, August 12th, it was nearly evening. The tourist crowds were filling the Market Street sidewalks. German and French speakers filled the space around me with their different sound. You board with all the world when you board the old green railcar, Line F, on Market. We took this line down the long street to find the Monadnock for the first time. It is no surprise, given its initial reputation, that it still exists. The door-jambs are gold and the glass doors are framed in gold. The cross bar of the door is gold. I pushed in to enter. The young bald man in the stark black suit looked puzzled. I felt that I had trespassed somehow. The barrel vault ceiling, I quickly took note of, has large clear murals in lovely colors. I stood beneath these. I explained to the man that we had just been researching our family tree and that we would like to see the ninth floor. He couldn't let us do that, he said. What's up there, I soon asked? Macy's.com, he directly replied. These were private offices. He offered brightly that (however) it hasn't been too long since a law firm left the premises. There was, I observed, still a law establishment of sorts there. It is a beaux-arts building (this is its architectural category). But you have to look way up at the corniced edge of the building outside to notice enough decorative details to determine that. The man in the black suit suggested that the building had been remodeled. The floor was a brown and yellow mosaic of large triangular pieces set at patterned angles to one another. Trianges were featured in general. The richness of brown prevailed. And there were interesting designs on the narrow gold-finished elevator doors. The man offered to us as consolation that we might look at the courtyard. A small courtyard does exist. I don't know whether it is original, but probably it was part of the original plan. It is very easy to replicate the look of age, and these days the antique seems to be in style. One cannot make assumptions about these matters. Looking up, however, one could imagine our Daniel Bradford Richards, Esq., there, on the ninth floor. The window panes are warped-looking, suggesting original glass. There is a simplicity to be found here, looking upwards, trying to find the history of an early-twentieth century member of the family.
Perhaps this Daniel Bradford, first cousin once removed of young Arthur Lloyd Page, was an example to Arthur. I wonder if they met. Was there an apprentice relationship between the two, between Margaret and Thomas's son Daniel, and Annie and Daniel George Lawrence's son Arthur? Arthur, in short, would not, then, have been the first in the family to take on the Big City. I still don't know how Arthur Page died. It is however heartening to know that one of the children in the family succeeded there. Daniel lived to be 88 years old. We also found that Daniel's father, who died in 1897 and was only middle-aged at the time, may have died while living with or visiting Daniel Bradford. What a twist!! Who would have guessed it! I had surmised that Thomas, placer miner, son of the Welshman and brother to my great-grandfather Evan Richards Jr., died in the mining region that he claimed as his residence all those years of the latter nineteenth century along with his family, Margaret included. But no . . . . . .you just never know what the records will reveal. I do enjoy researching old library-bound directory volumes.
Between you and me, well . . . . here is the real revelation, as I hinted at, regarding Arthur Page. He died young, yes, though as I have stated I do not know the cause yet. But records which I found about Arthur while looking into Margaret's family show that he had been regarded as a good member of both his family and his community. Young as he was, he had people who regarded him highly. Moreover, I guess, there were (to put it plainly) good people in his midst, for they acted well, supportably, morally, and lovingly in his behalf. The father Daniel George Lawrence Page, whose name I had many times observed re-printed in the sequence of Oroville Directory volumes, along with his wife's name, signed his own name, this time: he avows his son's birth date, which is two years off the date offered in the census accounts. The local men of the WWI draft board concur. And the love of their life is saved, if only for a few short years. Signed researcher G. Claire.
Copyright 2011 by G. Claire. <> <> <> <>