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Waterhouse, Lavinia Goodyear, 1809-1890

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Mary S Taylor

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 28069
Location: Fresno, CA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:02 am    Post subject: Waterhouse, Lavinia Goodyear, 1809-1890 Reply with quote

Pacific Grove Heritage Society
1889 Lavinia Goodyear Waterhouse of 13th Street became the first person buried in El Carmelo Cemetery after she died at age 81. A 7 day old baby was buried on the site in 1889 before it was the cemetery.
Pacific Grove Hometown Bulletin, CA July 6, 05 p12
BOARD & BATTEN February/March 1989 Newsletter of the Pacific Grove Heritage Society.
LAVINIA GOODYEAR WATERHOUSE - One of the most active California women workers in the fight for Equal Rights (as it was called in the 19th century) is buried in Pacific Grove’s El Carmelo cemetery. When she died at 81 on 13th street in 1890 she became the first to be buried there. It is said she had a funeral procession of carriages half a mile long. The headstone is gone and probably lies under Crespi pond on the golf course, dragged by a new young man with a bulldozer who inexpertly attempted to remove some ice-plant and dragged half a dozen tombstones away by force. Doris King of Applegate, great-great granddaughter, plans to replace the marker. This was the headstone of Lavinia Goodyear (Bradley) Waterhouse, whose husband died in 1854. In a day when women had no professional opportunities she succeeded in making for herself a very good living as a hydropathic physician at a succession of addresses in Sacramento. Today hydropathy is known as hydrotherapy. She was a constant summer visitor to old Pacific Grove and made investments in Grove property beginning in 1882. At the time of her death she owned 57 pieces of land on the Peninsula. At least two of the buildings she owned still stand, although the house in which she lived at the time of her death has been demolished. (Ed. Note: 169 13th Street, which is still there, was built for her in 1884 and she sold it in 1887.) Seven of the ten children born to Lavinia Waterhouse failed to survive. Two were buried in Sacramento before she had them re-interred in the Grove. It must have been these sorrows and the loss of her husband that caused her to turn to old-fashioned Spiritualism, with its promise of immediate contact with the dead. A year after her husband’s death she is known to have conducted séances. In 1881 she was vice president of the California State Spiritualists’ Association. The Spiritualists flourished in California but was a nationwide movement as well. Spiritualism was her platform in the crusade she led in Sacramento for Equal Rights, a full-fledged movement in the 1870’s. It called for equal protection under the law and the vote for women. The part played by Spiritualism was considerable. To improve her spirit for the hereafter women were told to strive for ethical development. More to the point, politically speaking, women were told to strive to avoid the passivity and state of perpetual childhood forced upon them by the patriarchal system. Equal rights meant equal responsibility. Mrs. Dr. Waterhouse, as she was called, was known all over California. She was a regular delegate to the state suffrage conventions in San Francisco for twenty years. In 1879, when a suffrage plank barely missed inclusion in the revised State Constitution she arose at an ad hoc meeting in Sacramento and called for renewed courage and a determination to have the next annual convention in the State Senate Chambers. In 1876 she was California’s delegate to the Woman’s Protest Convention in Philadelphia. At the same time she and a few other Sacramento women who paid taxes on their own property made a petition to Sacramento County in protest, stating on it that TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION IS TYRANNY. This was part of a national program of similar tax protest urged by Susan B. Anthony from her headquarters on the East coast. This led to much head-shaking about “strong-minded” women. Lavinia Waterhouse had other talents. She wrote verse for the OVERLAND MONTHLY, one of which was called”a Woman’s Right to Propose.” In 1880 she painted an eleven by thirteen foot canvas (now in storage at the California State Library), portraying a SLEEPING GIANTESS. Women, Lavinia Waterhouse said, had great power for good, if they would only use it. From the artistic point of view, the work is primitive, but the content is of great interest. The SLEEPING GIANTESS rests with her head on Half Dome at Yosemite Valley. The Goddess of Liberty stands at her head. Abraham Lincoln is a ghostly visage in the clouds. A procession of people is marching up the cliffs to awaken her, and another procession winds its way to the swamp below to rescue the “fallen.” At the time of her death, the Monterey ARGUS spoke of her plan to turn eight lots in Pacific Grove with a frontage of 240 feet into a retirement home for women, such as a home she had already established in Sacramento. Unfortunately she died before her plan could be put into effect. Wherever Lavinia Waterhouse’s ghost wanders today, with its fully cultivated ethical quality, surely nobody need fear it. Perhaps it hovers near her last resting place at El Carmelo in the shade of the giant cypress near the shore. Her story isn’t a cheerful one, successful though she was in her occupation. The final comment is related by her grand-daughter: “I never saw her smile,” she said. “Not ever.” THANKS! - To E. C. Davis for sending in the article on Lavinia Waterhouse and Down the Piney Path. - To Mrs. Pendleton for her kind words and special donations.
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