Helen Hunt Jackson 6-1-3 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 6, Ms 0353, Box 1, Folder 3, three papers
written by Rosemary Evans
I hate to type so I keep copies such as this just in case I find a place to place them - these are yours to do as you please. R.E.
Part I of three parts
About 1400 words
Helen Hunt Jackson lived in the days of Indian wars and white mans greed for gold and land. She thought of the Indians as pictursque people who possed a superior knowledge of living off natures provisions. She had no fear of them, but had no interest in any Indian reform until the winter of 1879. The tragic plight of a Ponca Cheif and his people angered her into action in the behalf of the Indian.
In Washington and Boston Cheif Standing Bear told the story of his people. It was this story that sparked the fire of Mrs. Jackson's book, Century of Dishonor. The book exposed the white man as a suppressor. The charges were all backed up with factual stories such as that of Standing Bear's.
"We live on our land as long as we can remember * * The land was owned by our tribe as far back as memory goes. We were lining quietly on our farms. All of a sudden one white man comes. * * This was the inspector. He came to our tribe with the Rev. Mr. Hinman. These two with the agent, James Lawrence, they made the trouble.
They said the president told us to pack up, that we must move to the
Indian Territory. * *
He said to us, I will take you to see the new land. * * I went and Bright Eyes' uncle went * * he said we must take one of the three pieces of land. * * after he took u down there he said, No pay for the land you left.
We said to him, You said we should have pay for our land, * * The man got very angry. * * He said to us, If you do not accept these I will leave you here alone. You are one thousand miles form home. You have no money. * *
We said to him, We do not like this land. We could not support ourselves. The water is bad. Now send u to Washington, to see the president. * *
He said to us, The president didnot tell me to take you to Washington, neither did he tell me to take you home. * *
Stand Bear and the other Cheifs were left there in the dead of winter, one thousand miles from their homes. After fifty days of journey with nothing to eat but raw corn left in the fields where they journeyed, they reached the agent of the Otoes.
This O toe agent said afterwards, that when the cheifs entered his room they left the prints of their feet in blood on the floor as they came in.
No help came for Standing Bears people, so they were force to move. Many died. All their cattle and horses died. The proud Standing Bear could XXXXX take no more. He and thirty of his people ran away. After three months of wandering the Omahas gave them some land. But before they were settled into their new homes, the soldiers came and arrested them.
News of their arrest and plight reached an Omaha editor. Through his efferts the Indians were brought into the District court of the U.S. for the District of Nebraska. Here Standing Bear was free to tell his side of the story to Judge Dundy, who ruled that the Indians arrested with Standing Bear and the Cheif were free to return to the new homes they had started.
Standing Bear was pleased with the judges dicision. When it was over he wearily placed his tomahawk on the floor, stood erect, folded his arms across his chest and said, I have no futher use for it. I can now seek the ways of peace."
There were many such plights as Standing Bears, and Mrs. Jackson revealed
them in her book Century of Dishonor. The book however did not accompolish
what she had hoped for. People even close friends were outraged at her
defence of the red man. Hurt, yet determined she continued to write about
the wrongs that were being done to the Indians. A series of articles written
for Century Magazine, by her, came to the attention of President Chester
Also in the company of Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Kinney, was Century Magazine artist Henry Sandham. In Anaheim California they hired a carriage driver, Mr. N.H. Mitchell. In Los Angeles Mrs. Jackson met her most vauable assistant, Don Antonio Francisco de Coronel. Don Antonio was a long time friend of the Indians. With his help Mrs. Jackson was able to establish a friendship with the Indians. Don Antonio and his wife Mariana became the authors dearest friends.
Mrs. Jackson, Mr. Kinney, Mr. Sandham and Mr. Mitchell made long wearsome trips from one Indian camp to another. Mrs. Jackson always in command was never complaining. She loved visiting with the Indians around their camp fires, and found their ways interesting. Her companions affectionately referred to her as the General. Many of her Indian friends also called her General.
While in Southern California Mrs. Jackson acted upon and prevented several
illegal seizures of Indian land. These acts won the trust and friendship
of the Indians, but many whites objected to what they refered to as "nosey"
interference. Thought this brave woman was attact over and over again,
with bitter words from land owners, and those in power, she remained outspoken
in her articles and reports. She exposed all whom she considered damaging
to the Indian welfare.
For awhile the man kept his word, but in 1883 he asked the court to evict the Indians from his land. It was at this time that Mrs. Jackson visited Soboba. She ask the Department of Indian Affairs to fight the case in behalf of the Indians. Her honest concern and action saved the land. Today Soboba is the only ancestral reservation. All other Indians in the United States have been relocated.
While Mrs. Jackson toured Southern California and gathered the facts
for her report to the goverment, a greater piece of writing was materializing
in her creative mind. A story that would stir the sympathies toward the
Indians as Mrs. Stow's Uncle Tom's Cabin had done toward the Negro. She
had remarked to the Colonel's, that people perfer to believe fiction rather
than the facts. This was the first tho ughts of the immortal Ramona.
Feb. 27, 1 905 the first dramatization of the novel was presented at the Mason Opera House in Los Angeles. It has been produced three times as a motion picture. Since 1923, the twin cities of Hemet and San Jacinto have presented the outdoor Ramona Pageant. Each year the play draws several thousands tourist to the land of Ramona.
The novel is true. The charactors of Ramona and Alessandro were actual in name and composities. With true events and a photographic memory of the California scene, Mrs. Jackson clearly awoke the public to the mistreatments of the Mission Indians. These wrongs as those of all all red Americans, had long been ignored by the good people of this free land. It was the killing of the Indian Juan Diego by a white man that really penetrated the public to awareness. As the hero Alessandro, Juan was seen as a human being. Until the book was written Juans death had been just another justifiable killing of a worthless Indian.
Mrs. Jackson wove every one she met into the novel. She absorbed every detail of Indian and Rancho life, every turn of the road from Camulos (the del Valle Rancho near Newhall) to San Diego. She visited all the Missions, attended sheep shearings and camped in all the Indian villages. Several nights she camped in desolate canyons with a hand full of exile Indians. She listened to their stories and remembered them all.
Many well known people were woven into the novel. One might recognize
Hugo Reed as Angus Phail, father of Ramona. Camulos at Piru near Newhall,
is in every sence the Moreno house, home of Ramona. At the time of Mrs.
Jackson's visit Camulos was owned by the del Valle family. The original
grant covered 48,815 square acres. The del Valle retained a large rancho
and Camulos until 1924. The hacienda, winery and chapel have changed very
little since Mrs. Jackson saw them. The road still runs to the back of
the house, and like the Senroa Moreno said, 'the old house at any rate
would always keep the attitude of contempt, its face turned away.'
Both California and Colorado claim the beloved author. She expressed a great love for both states, but Colorado was her choosen home. Above the Seven Falls near Colorado Springs, in a spot she favored is a marker where she was laid to rest. Because of disreputable tourist, the body had to be moved to a Colorado Springs graveyard.
Helen Hunt Jackson may not have won salvation for her beloved Indians, but her writtings played a prominent part in the Dawes Act. (1887) Today her senitive writtings still soften the hearts of everyone who reads the book Ramona, or sees the Outdoor Pagent at Hemet. You will close the book or leave the play compelled to extend a hand of compassion to all our brothers.
written in pencil onto envelope: documented, foot-noted, inaccurate
Part 3 of 3 parts
about 2500 words
Helen Hunt Jackson's RAMONA
Helen Hunt Jackson never claimed that there was a real Ramona. Yet, after the book was published, (1884) through out Southern California tourists were encouraged to believe that at a time a real Ramona had patronized all of the area from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The amount of baskets sold as having been made by this Ramona, and the places she supposedly visited would have been beyond the endurance of the strongest Indian woman.
Truth is, Mrs. Jackson deliberately fictionized charactors to fit the mood of her story, in a way that would shock the public into awareness that the Indians were a flesh and blood human. She relocated real landmarks where neccessary in order to weave true incidents into the characterized tale. Each incident was placed in a time suitable to give the story a realistic and dramatical effect.
In a letter to her friends Don Antonio Francisco de Coronel and his wife
Marina, of Los Angeles, Mrs. Jackson tells of her intentions. The letter
was dated Nov. 8, 1883, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Yours always cordially
The idea of useing Spanish and Indian names, in the novel, formed while she visited various ranches through out Southern California. At the Baldwin estate near Los Angeles, from the men who were shearing some sheep, she found the charactors Juan Canito and Luigo. Luigo tranquil mind, however was that of the Indian Juan Diego during one of his "spells"
While Mrs. Jackson jotted down the vibrating names and carefully applied every word and action into charactors, the artist Mr. Sandham sketched pictures of the occasions. The Baldwin estates histiry as well as other estates through out the country, was blended into the novel. The Baldwin estate history is most prominent through out the story.
Hugo Ried, (Angus Phail of the novel) married an Indian woman and took possession of land that had been given to her by a San Gabriel Mission Father. When Pio Pico became governor of Califprnnia, he sold the mission and all its land to Ried. (1846) At that time the mission Father was Father Francisco Sanchez, (Father Salvierderra of the novel) who retired to Santa Barbara after the sale.
In 1859 President Buchanan declared invalid the sale of the mission and it was returned to the church. Later "Lucky" Baldwin bought a large portion of the mission land which included the adobe house that belonged to Ried and his Indian wife. Today the Los Angeles Arboretum surrounds the preserved adobe.
Mrs. Jackson possessed the abolity to turn every story heard, and every scene wittnessed into a vivid detailed part of her novel. Mrs. Jordan, the Tripp family, the Soboba Indian school teacher Miss Sheriff, the Indians and other well known people of Riverside and San Diego counrys, have been credited with contributing true and interesting parts to the novel.
Some of the charactors were the skillful blending of two or more real
people. At the Guajome Rancho (Rancho of the Frog) near Vista, Mrs. Jackson
found its owner, the American Colonel Cave J. Couts was unsympathetic
toward the Indians. Their meeting was not one of congeniality. His feelings
toward the Indians is well represented in the charactor of Senora Morena.
Mrs. Jackson was impressed with every person she met in Calif. No detail of a meeting escaped her. Two brief meetings are written into the charactors of Carmena and Margareta.
Margareta was the sister of a famous Luiseno cheif. On the day the author
visited the San Luis Rey Mission a funeral was being held. She listened
to talk of the dead womans beauty and sweetness. She attended the funeral
and gazed upon the aged face of the woman Margareta.
The villan of the novel Jim Farrar, was in real life Sam Temple a resident of San Jacinto Valley. Sam Temple in cold blood shot down the Indian called Juan Diego. The killing of Alessandro is the true and detailed account of this murder. It wasn't until the book was published that the murder shocked the nation. Having this curel act inflicted upon Alessandro was the spark that gained human understanding for the Indians that Mrs. Jackson had long hoped for.
Sam Temple disgraced and alone, finely moved to Ariz. He died in 1909, still swearing that he killed the "thieving Indian in self defense."
It is hard to identify Alessandro with any tangible personality. Mrs. Jackson made him the son of Pablo Assis to fit the time era, about 1830. The Indian Pablo Assis was cheif at Pala Mission during Father Peyris time. Father Peyris left Pala in 1832.
At the Warner Ranch, then a stage stop, the author met a young chief called Alessandro. She liked the Indian pronunciation of the name and wrote it in her notes.
Alessandro bore none of Juan Diego's personality. Juan was however superior at tending sheep like the Alessandro of the novel. Juan was Cahuilla, and worked the ranches in the area from Cahulla Village to San Jacinto. His wife Ramona did washings and other house work where Juan worked.
They were honest hard working people and for this reason Juan could always find work. Juan was subject to spells of laughter and would sometimes day dream or wander away from his work. It is told that he stayed high on a drink made form Jimson weed. He never at any time was known to show violence. Some believe that he was under the influence of the "loco" weed when he took Temple's horse.
When Mrs. Jackson stopped at the San Fernando Mission, she met Rojerio Rocha. In spite of his advanced years, his body was stright and strong. The woman was awed with the stature and mental poise of the aged Indian. They became friends upon their first meeting, which was not the way of either. Trusting her sincerity, the old man told her of his life and his tragic encounter with the white man.
Rojerio and his wife had lived at the mission. They did many services for the benefit of their beloved mission. Rojerio had a fine voice for singing and he also played the violin. When the padres were driven away, General Pico gave Rojerio and his wife a small parcel of land near Pacoima Creek. One day without warning, a white man came and ordered all of Rojerio's belongings loaded into a wagon. The young Indian couple and their things were hauled to a country road and "dumped".
Rojerio's wife was heavy with her first child. The night was cold with a freezing rain. The couple sat in the road huddled together amid their humble belongings. When morning came, Rojerio sat holding the young woman in his arms. He rocked back and forth, a broken and bitter man. The ordeal and the bitter cold had been to much for his wife, she had died sometime during the night.
Convulsed with rage and hate for all whites, Rojerio went to the mission. He gathered up all the gold and silver pieces of great value, vowing the whites would not benifit from their worth, he hid the wealth near the creek in Pocoima Canyon. With one bag of precious metals he was washed into the creek. Unable to get out with the heavy bag, he placed the bag and its contents into the tangled roota of a washed out tree. Though the local Indians suffered burtal and sadistic punishment, induced by white soldiers, who occupied the mission, Rojerio remained silent. The treasures were never found. In this story Mrs. Jackson found the strength of Alessandro.
There were many Ramonas in Southern California, Ramona being a common name among the Indians and the Spanish speaking people. Mrs. Jackson first heard the name while visiting a home in Pasadena. Like the name Alessandro, it was lively and pleasing to hear. It appealed with lasting favor to the sensative author.
Senora Marian de Colonel told Helen Jackson the story of a ward at the del Valle hacienda. Blanca Yndart, a spanish girl of exceptional beauty was given to the care of Senor del Valle. The child's grandfather was a seafaring man. He had given to the childs mother a chest of silks and jewels, from all over the world. When his daughter became hopelessly ill, she ask the old man to go for Senora del Valle, her dearest friend. Her death bed wish was for Blanca to be raised by the Senora at Camulo. She asked that the chest and its contents be kept in trust, and given to her daughter upon her wedding day.
The secret of the chest was kept from everyone. It remained under the Senoras bed all the years of Blancas childhood. The chest was presented to the girl on her wedding day just as her mother had wished. Blanca married James Maguire, of Newhall about 1878.
Another ward at the del Valle rancho was an orphaned Indian girl, named
Guadalupe. She had been given to the serora by a Piru chief after the
death of the childs parents. Blancas spanish blood and the Indian child
Guadalupe, compose the half-breed Ramona of Mrs. Jackson's novel.
The most publisized Ramona was Ramona Lubo, wife of Juan Diego. After the book was published tourist traveled from afar just to look at her. Dishonest merchants sold thousands of baskets supposedly made by "Ramona." Ramona Lubo was a fine basket maker and did make and sell many. It took several days to make one basket, but it seems the buyers never questioned the fakers who sold the "Ramona" baskets.
Juan's wife was a complete opposite of Alessandro's Ramona. Ramona Lubo was shy, fat and lived in the poorest of Indian conditions. However the death of Juan and her sufferage from that loss, was as heartbreaking as the writer created for her Ramona.
Juan and Ramon's small adobe hut sat on a high chaparral near the Cahuilla Indian Village. (Known today as Juan Diego Flats) Ramona was aware of her husbands spells. On the day he arrived home riding a strange horse, it worried her. Juan was unable to explain and soon fell into a stupor on the floor of the small home.
Temple followed the trail from San Jacinto up Bautista Canyon, to the trail that led to the Indians hut. The dazed Juan stumbled into the yard, as his wife watched. Without warning Temple shot Juan killing him instantly. Not being satisfied the killer fired his pistol twice again into the face of the dead Indian. They tel in the Indian Villages that Ramona ran the long trail to Soboba, and that she never returned to the adobe hut.
At Soboba while the men talked of the dangers they might encounter if they went after Juan's body, a young girl of the Village with wagon and team brought the body down to the Cahuilla Village. When Justic Tripp and others went tot he scene of the murder, the only evidence left was a part of Juan's shirt and a blood stain where he was slain. It is said that even today the spot is bare of vegetation.
In those days, Indians were not permited to speak in court. Temple claimed that he had shot in self-defence. Only Ramona knew the real truth. Her story was repeted many times to news men and writers after Mrs. Jackson wrote her book.
Ramona lived out her life doing odd jobs and getting a fair price for her baskets, and letting the tourist snap pictures of her. Late in life she gave birth to a boy. In adulthood he took the name of Hopkins. He married in 1907, and it is reported that two of his daughters now reside at the Morongo Reservation.
Ramona died in 1922 and was buried beside Juan in the Cahulla Indian cemetery. Helen Hunt Jackson's Alessandro and Ramona were fiction, but they have won the hearts of Americans, and immortalized two real Americans, Juan Diego and Ramona Lubo, INDIANS.
Oh, write of me, not "Died in bitter pains,"
Though William S. Jackson had been quiet busy with some new business ventures, he had missed his wife very much. He was delighted to have her home again and hoped her Indian work was finished. He would like for her to write some stories for children and enjoy her home as she had before the Indian crusade had dominated her so completely.
Helen Banfield had enjoyed helping uncle Will while aunt Helen was away, but now she would return to her home in New England, and once again Mrs, Jackson became misstress of the house on Kiowa Street.
Helen and Will revisited old haunts and he gave her the royal tour of his favorite feat, the grand Antlers Hotel.
Will was concerned about Helen's lack os vitality. It was not like the Helen he knew. He blamed the cause on her work in California. Helen explained that it was the "Unholy altitude," of Colorado Springs.
Helen tried to write but a sore throat and tiredness lead to bouts of nervous exhaustion. Also, the killing of Juan Diego seemed to penetrate her every thought, Will was downhearted, but he knew that she was compelled with a new idea to help the Indians. He also suspected that, inspite of ill health she would again be leaving Colorado to pursue this new plan.
On November the eighth, 1883, Helen wrote, to the Coronel's.
"I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people's hearts. ..."
She of asking for information from Father Ubach and Mr. Morse of San Diego.
"You and they are the only persons to whom I have spoken of my purpose of writing a novel, and I do not wish anything said about it; I shall keep it a secret until the book is about done."
"...I wish I had had this plan in my mind last year when I was in Los Angeles. ...But it is only recently, since writing out our report the full accounts of different bands of Indians there, that I felt that I dared undertake the writing of a long story.
Many tales are told about where the book Ramona was written. It was most likely started in Colorado Springs, but Mrs. Jackson tells the Coronel's:
"I am going to New York in a few days, and shall be busy at work there all winter on my story. My address will be, 'The Berkeley,' corner Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street."
This letter and others written from the 'Berkeley' in New York, gives conclusive proff that Ramona was written in New York.
Mrs. Jackson's apartment at the Berkeley Hotel was decorated with her favorite traps. Most were of Indian decor, collected while in California. There were blankets, rugs, pottery and baskets from different California bands. A picture of her beloved Rennie was placed on her writing table.
As though possessed, the author seldom left the apartment and received very few visitors. Her health was getting worse. She wrote with unnatural speed as though afraid she would be forced to lay down her work before the book was finished.
Noted writer Charles Dudley Warner of Connecticut and his wife Susan
knew Mrs. Jackson as friends for many years. When Mr. Warner checked into
the Berkeley and heard how compleatly absorbed Mrs. Jackson was with her
writing, he became concerned and called upon her. A quote from the San
Diego Union, March 18, 1889, Mr. Warner said of that visit; "She
wrote as she would a letter. ...She wrote a chapter of this book a day.
She was on fire with her subject. ..."
In Febuary of that year she wrote again, telling him that she was still writing Ramona but, "sighing for San Gabriel sunshine."
By the end of Febuary twenty chapters of Ramona were finished. Mrs Jackson began to think about returning to California. Perhaps there her health would improve. She had a dread of California hotels, so wrote letters asking about accommodations at boarding houses in San Diego and Los Angeles.
The book was finished in March of '84'. Helen could not bare to wait for publication in book form, so the story of Ramona and Alessandro appeared first in the April issue of the Christian Union Magazine.
The author was exhausted but wanted to visit Cambridge before going home
to Colorado. Her visit was cut short. She suffered a nervous breakdown
and was ordered to stay in bed for several weeks. Helen felt home was
the best place to get well and back on her feet. Will made the long lonely
journey to Massachusetts and took his afflicted wife back to their home
Over night Ramona was a success. The hard-nosed citizens of Colorado Springs were finely showing some respect for the author's work. For the first time since she began her crusade Helen was joyous and satified with the results of her work. But it seemed that there must be more that she could do, the thought made her restless. She drove herself, keeping busy from dawn til' the wee hours of the morning.
Helen took a new interest in her home and for three weeks worked like a Trojan, cleaning and renewing. She bought new window shades, curtains and rugs. She had new furniture covers made and rearranged her traps.
She received word that the boardinghouse where she had hoped to stay in San Diego, was no longer in business. "I do like the San Diego climate best," she said to Effie. "The mud in Los Angeles is so bad - but we can have the comforts of the Kimball Mansion there. I'm afraid all of San Diego will soon be hotels. I cannot accept their lack of warmth."
Mrs. Jackson was in good spirits as she prepared for the trip to California. She had gained an excessive amount of weight in the last year, which intensified her weakened conditions. "I don't know what I would do with you." she told Effie. "I think I might be helpless without you."
"Oh, no Ma'am, you are never helpless. It is my oatmeal gruel and gem cakes that you need me for, " laughed Effie. Oatmeal, gem cakes and coffee was the authors favorite breakfast.
On Saturday eveing, June 28, 1884, Helen was doing her last minute packing, leaving her bedroom she hurried to go down the stairs. Tripping on the top step she fell all the way down the stairs. Unable to move, a doctor was summoned. "A broken left leg," was the verdict. There were two breaks only one and a half inches apart and one break was badly shattered.
Will had a bed put into the dining room and hired two women to help Effie with the care. It bothered Mrs. Jackson to be such a burden, but she received the best of care while she lay in bed for three months with her leg in plaster. The ordeal strained her nerves badly.
"At fifty-three bones don't heal quickly," said her doctor. "And your weight being what it is, I'm afraid it will be a long time before you have full use of that leg."
He took the cast off the latter part of September and warned her to "put as little weight as possible," on the leg.
The chill of the on-coming winter made Helen feel worse. In October she sent for her niece Helen Banfield, and once again she and Effie made plans to go to California. She wrote her good friend John Muir, that perhaps he would find her a place in one of his big trees, where she could be rocked back to health.
Mr. Muir answered; "...go to the mountains ...God's sky will bend down about you ... and the pines will spread their healing arms about you ..."
Mrs. Jackson and Effie arrived in Los Angeles in November and took rooms at the Kimball Mansion. A trained nurse was hired as was suggested by her doctor in Colorado. The authors leg and hip had become swellen and sensitive to movement. Dr. DeS... of Los Angeles dianosed the swelling as an "inflamatory condition," and suggested the nurse give the affected area daily massages.
Helen wrote a cheerful letter to her friend Emily, and told her that the bloom of winter flowers never looked so lovely and how she enjoyed the singing of the larks. She wrote, "I can still do everything I did do except to walk."
Helen had seen Mr. Kinney several times from her window, as he passed
by. She sent Effie to inquire of the landlady if Mr. Kenney knew that
she was staying at the boardinghouse. Mr. Kinney was told, "Mrs.
Jackson is quiet upset that you have not stopped in to see her."
She stayed in Los Angeles until March. She was told about a European taught homopathy, a Dr. Boericke, who resided in San Francisco. On March 13, 1885, the ailing author left Los Angeles and went to San Francisco.
They took rooms at 801 Levenworth Street and the author collasped at once. The misery of her hip had worsened; Her stomach was of a condition that she was unable to take food, except for small amounts of clear soup and very thin oatmeal. Each day she grew thinner and weaker. She could barely sit up long enough for her bed to be made. The gloom of her tawny looks utterly upset her. She knew she would never be well again. "San Francisco is the worse place to die." she said to Effie.
It was Mrs. Jackson's wishes that the public not know the details of her illness, nor the horror of the pain suffered. Out of respect to this brave woman, most authors, (as here) have omitted elaorations upon the illness.
Helen asked that Will not be told of her condition until she was near the end. Even after she knew that she was definitely dying of cancer, she still did not want her husband to know the graveness of her illness.
When Helen saw tears in Effie's eyes she smiled. "Dear Effie," she said, "I don't mind death, I'm truly looking forward to the end. It's the dying part, it's such a terrible bother."
"If only we could go home." said Effie.
Helen signed, "San Francisco is such an awesome place to die."
Though she had accepted her fate, Mrs. Jackson spoke of writing another
book. Effie kept an Indian basket within the authors reach, filled with
pencils and paper. Mrs. Jackson wrote everyday, sometimes poems, but mostly
letters. In one of her last letters she wrote a friend:
The sales from Ramona startled her, and to the end she swore that every
word of the book was true. Fifteen thousand copies had sold and the book
was still in big demand.
She wished to see John Muir, who lived only twenty miles away. She wondered if he had received her letter asking him to visit her; he had'nt answered.
Her niece had written that she was enjoying the get-togethers at the Palmer mansion in Queen's Canyon. She liked most the picnics and horse back riding. Helen was glad for Will that young Helen was there to look after him and the house on Kiowa Street.
Late in July, 1885, everyone knew the end was near. Dr. Boericke thought that Will should be told. "Not yet," begged Mrs. Jackson."
"My heart and soul is in Ramona," she told Effie. "It will bear fruit, but oh! How I wish I could do more."
"Its hard to give up, so much I wanted to do."
She wrote another letter:
"I feel my work is done, and I am ... ready to go. In fact, I am
glad to go. ... My 'Century of Dishonor' and 'Ramona' are the only things
I have done of which I am glad now. ... They will live and bear fruit
... Every word of the Indian history in 'Ramona' is literally true. ..."
A Rose-leaf on the snowy deck,
"The Queen has walked here! hoarse he cried.
Kings' wives die quick, when Kings go mad;
And men die quick when Kings have said;
Mrs. Jackson wrote one last letter, it was to the president of the United
States, Grover Cleavland;
Effie put away the pencils and paper; Mrs. Jackson arrived in San Francisco on August 2, 1885; He asked the doctor to deaden his wifes pain with morphine. Before she slipped into unconsiousness, she gave him a letter to be read after she had passed. Helen placed her hand in Will's, he whispered to her the pet name he had given her; "Peggy." Mrs. Jackson lingered between death and semicoma for ten days. Mr. Jackson never left her bedside.
On August 12, 1885, Helen Hunt Jackson succumb to the horrid cancer that had emboiled the valiant woman for nearly a year.
At the moment of death a knock was heard at her door. A few minutes later when Effie opened the door, her tears told the visitor that he had arrived too late. Mr. John Muir stood earnestly ashamed that he had not come sooner to see his friend. He bowed his head intribute with the grief stricken few who stood in silence beside the bed of the dead author.
The words of the following poem, written by H.H. about 1873, perhaps expresses the last thoughts of the author.
A Last Prayer
"Father, I scarely dare to pray,
"In outskirts of thy Kingdom vast,
A temporary interment was held in San Francisco. The Rev. Horation Stebbins read the words of one of her own poems; titled Last Words.
"And when remembering me, you could some day
In her letter to Will, Helen requested that she be buried in silence
with as little fanfare as possible. Will followed the instructions of
the letter and on the last day of October laid her to rest beneath a cairn
of stones, on Cheyenne Mountain in her private place above the Seven Falls.
A toll gate was installed at the entrance of South Cheyenne Canyon and the Hull family charged tourist ten cents to see the falls and Mrs. Jackson's grave. One shrewd tour wagon guide, contributed some allure to the site by making up stories such as a tale of how ten Indian cheifs carried the authors body to the resting place on Cheyenne Mountain and buried her with dramatic rituals.
Actually, there were only a couple of wagons with a hand-ful of people who followed the rough old Gold Camp Road up Cheyenne Mountain. The men who had been hired to dig the grave carried the casket from the road to the private place of burial. There was no "fanfare" as Mrs. Jackson had requested. Even October's Bright Blue Weather, obliged with a mist.
One gentleman,, who as a child use to play near the grave said that for years there had been a sign near the grave and he recalls the words written there to be:
"And has she not
Emily Dickenson wrote a letter of condolence to Will Jackson with this
And so it is; in the hearts of all who know the name Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson is immortal.
The End of Chapter VI
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 10-02, jr