Thursday, February 28, 2019

Franklina Gray Bartlett (1853-1934): Author; Founder of Women's Social Club

Grave of Franklina Gray Bartlett
Plot 30

Franklina Gray Bartlett was the founder of the Ebell Society in Santa Ana and President of the organization in Oakland, California. She was the wife of the prominent banker William S. Bartlett and stepdaughter of the wealthy businessman David Hewes.

The Ebell Club is a women’s social club that still operates in a number of cities. Established in 1897 as a substitute for the university education that women were largely denied, the club had 2,500 members in its heyday in the 1920s, and activities included Shakespeare, gardening and art appreciation. 

Franklina's mother Matilda Gray married David Hewes in 1875, taking her and her sister Rosa  on a two and a half year honeymoon. The group visited 22 different countries including England, France, Italy and Greece, collecting art and allowing David to explore his religious interests.

Franklina kept a journal chronicling her adventures and wrote hundreds of letters to William Springer Bartlett, her fiancé in Oakland, California. The Camron-Stanford House published a collection of her writings and letters, showing her to be an atypical Victorian woman. Franklina shows herself to be an opinionated, imperfect woman of wit, spirit, and determination. In her writings she discusses many of her grand adventures, including climbing the Alps and sailing the Nile.

Images from Camron-Stanford House book on Franklina Bartlett's writings
In 1878, Franklina married William Bartlett at the Camron-Stanford House in Oakland. In 1882, the couple moved to Tustin, California where they built a sprawling Victorian mansion and her husband became active in the development of the city. He was a shareholder in the Tustin Land & Improvement Company, a director for the Bank of Tustin and a member of the organizing committee for the Tustin Presbyterian Church, which his father-in-law financed.

While in Tustin, Franklina started the Ebell Society of Santa Ana Valley, modeling it on the Oakland society, where she was its first president.

Franklina was also a prolific writer, contributing many short stories to “The Overland Monthly and "The Out West” magazine, a San Francisco publication. Her stories appeared frequently along with submissions from well known authors such as Brete Harte, Willa Cather, Jack London and Mark Twain.

Sources: Find a Grave, Camron-Stanford House, Orange County Register, Old Homes of Los Angeles blog

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