Concluding a Grand Tour William Springer Bartlett & Returning to Oakland

Throughout her two-year Grand Tour, one thing remained constant: Franklina's devotion to her fiancé, William Springer Bartlett. Indeed, we should thank William for saving all of the letters Franklina wrote to him – without these letters, this exhibit could not have been possible!

By the time the Hewes party was ready to make their way back to California, they had collected a significant amount of fine art, purchased clothing and jewelry from across Europe, and acquired a maid. They sailed aboard the Bothnia once more and on September 5, 1877 arrived on American soil.

On the evening of March 21, 1878, Franklina finally married her "dear Mr. Bartlett." As Franklina had planned, the wedding was a small affair. Witnessed by a dozen friends and family members, Franklina and William stood in the bay window of the mansion known today as Camron-Stanford House and were married.

Franklina in her wedding gown, Many pieces of her ensemble and bridal trousseau were purchased during her Grand Tour. 1878, Camron-Stanford House collection. Gift of Tracey Bartlett.

They were surrounded by the art Hewes collected on the Grand Tour, ensuring that the couple was "married in the midst of the reminders of the old world" that Franklina loved.

(Pictured: The wedding invitation of Franklina Gray and William S. Bartlett, 1878, Camron-Stanford House Collection, gift of Tracey Bartlett, 2018)

Left: William S. Bartlett as a young man. Center: Franklina C. Gray as a young woman. Right: David Hewes and Matilda Gray Hewes, circa 1875. All from the Camron-Stanford House Collection.

During the early years of their marriage, the Bartletts lived with the Heweses in their lakeside Victorian. Because of Matilda's declining health, it fell to Franklina to assume the role of hostess at David's social, political, and business gatherings.

Franklina had help, however, in the form of three domestic servants. Assunta, the young Italian woman picked up in France, continued on as Franklina's lady's maid. The Hewes household also employed Wan Ah, a Chinese immigrant (possibly the cook), and John Matthews, an Irishmen and their coachman.

The 1880 United States Census for the Hewes Residence (now Camron-Stanford House). From top: David Hews (Massachusetts), Matilda Hewes (Virginia), William Bartlett (Indiana), Franklina Bartlett (New York), Lanier Bartlett (California), Rosalie Brown (Virginia), Assunta Varuiki[?] (Italy), Wan Ah (China), John Matthews (Ireland). Ancestry.com. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

Determined as she was to do more than what was expected of women in her day, Franklina did not let marriage get in the way of her educational goals. While abroad she wrote to William:

I propose studying the history of art, not its technicalities. I do not intend teaching, I propose giving art lectures, say twice a week to a class of young ladies. It is a deplorable need in our country."

Letter, Sunday, May 27, 1877, Paris, France

Following her return to Oakland society, Franklina joined the Ebell Society for the Advancement of Women. The Ebell Society originated in Oakland in 1876 and was the country's first self-education club for women.

Excited to apply and expand her Grand Tour education, Franklina agreed to teach the group's Art Section. She also presented art lectures at nearby Mills College.

(Pictured: Franklina C. Gray at her writing desk, circa 1878, Camron-Stanford House Collection.)

Franklina was also approached about having her travel journal published as a book.

Mr. Hewes has been to see about having my diary published. They ask a thousand dollars for a thousand copies. The book will have to be re-written first, a charming work for this winter. I feel impatient to be at it."

Letter, Friday, October 5, 1877, Boston, MA

Though it was not accomplished in her lifetime, Franklina's Grand Tour era diary and letters were indeed published in 2019 by the Camron-Stanford House. One wonders how she may have felt about this – in 1876 she wrote:

The whole thing is so utterly personal, so much of me and mine that it would seem like putting myself quite before the public."

Letter, September 1876, Vienna, Austria.

(Pictured: Front page of Franklina C. Gray's Grand Tour journal, 1875, Camron-Stanford House Collection, gift of Tracey Bartlett, 2018. Inscription reads: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;" xxxxx "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.")

One of Franklina's greatest struggles was the battle between her own ambitions and her roles as a daughter and, later, as a wife. Hoping that a warmer climate would do something to ease Matilda's continuing bad health, the Heweses and the Bartletts moved to Orange County in 1881.

Franklina and William purchased the house pictured here, and named it "Fenton Knoll" in homage to Franklina's grandmother's estate in Virginia.

In her letters, Franklina often wrote to William of her desires for a "home, however humble." The once-poor banker clearly did well for himself and his wife, as Fenton Knoll was certainly grander than the "little cottage," Franklina claimed to have settled for.

(Pictured: Fenton Knoll, Los Angeles, CA, courtesy of the USC Digital Archive.)

That said, the Bartletts seem to have gotten along with less help from domestic servants than the Hewes couple. In 1890, Franklina and William (who now had three children) employed only two "housekeepers" in their large home: Minni Blair (21 years old, German-American) and Susana Griset (20 years old, Italian). Oftentimes, census takers were not the most thorough when it came to servants. It is quite possible one of these women served as a nurse for the children while the other carried out chores like laundry, cleaning, and kitchen work.

The 1900 Census record for the Bartlett Household; including their two domestic housekeepers. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

But by 1910, the family had downsized their staff to only Anna Zakrisson, a Swedish-born cook. Indeed, Anna stayed under Matilda's employ until at least 1930 as the census records show.

The 1930 Federal Census record for the Bartlett Household. Top to bottom: Franklina Bartlett, Matilda Bartlett French (daughter), James H. French (son-in-law), Franklina G. French (granddaughter), James H. French (grandson), Anna Zakrisson (Swedish cook). Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

As William advanced his banking career, Franklina resumed writing for publication. Her articles and stories appeared in the Overland Monthly, among other publications.

Perhaps her acquaintance with Charles Stoddard while traveling in Egypt was the catalyst for her entry into Southern California journalism as it was Stoddard who co-founded the Overland Monthly in 1868.

Keeping to her dedication to women's education, Franklina interested her new friends in starting the Ebell Society of Sana Ana Valley. Franklina served as the club's director and president.

That said, Franklina managed to balance her homely duties with her career goals. She and William had three children together: Lanier, Matilda Franklina, and Gordon.

(Pictured: Franklina Bartlett with her son, Lanier, and daughter, Matilda Franklina, circa late 1880s, Camron Stanford House Collection.)

Franklina survived her mother, her youngest son (passed at only 17 years old), her husband (died of heart failure in 1914), and her much-admired step-father (Hewes lived to the age of 93!). Franklina remained at Fenton Knoll for another 20 years, surrounded by family and friends, enjoying life as a mother, grandmother, writer, and local civic and social leader. She was at home, what she had "longed for, after the constant worry and annoyance of this wandering life."

At the time of her death, on December 27, 1934, the young Victorian woman who had struggled to reconcile her personal ambitions with her familial responsibilities had succeeded, admirably.

(Pictured: Franklina C. Gray, age 21, in a Milanese Lace Mantilla, purchased in Milan during her Grand Tour. Camron-Stanford House Collection)

Franklina's story teaches us much about womanhood in the Victorian Era. Her writings offer an intimate view into the mind of a confident, opinionated, curious young lady grappling with her role in society. When so much of Victorian publications were written by men, Franklina offers a fresh perspective.

Moreover, her story allows us to read between the lines to examine how working class and upper class people interacted . Without the – often unseen and unappreciated – work of the laboring classes, Franklina's Grand Tour could not have happened.

Learn More About Franklina And Her Travels

Have you enjoyed this exhibit? Take a deep dive into Franklina's world and travels by reading her letters and journals, lovingly curated and published by the Camron-Stanford House in 2019. Franklina C. Gray: The Grand Tour is available in paperback and a limited edition hardcover with additional content to explore.

More to Explore

A Grand Tour Library: Learn more about Grand Tours and life in the 19th century by browsing our resources list.

Grand Tour Collection: Explore selected objects from the Camron-Stanford House collection related to Franklina and her Grand Tour, and traveling during the 19th century.

Grand Tour Playlist: A Spotify playlist of some of our favorite 19th century artists that Franklina may have enjoyed during her travels.

About the Camron-Stanford House

The Camron-Stanford House is the last of the beautiful Victorian mansions that once surrounded Lake Merritt, and was the home to five influential families before becoming the first museum in the City of Oakland.

The mission of the Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association is to preserve and protect this landmark Victorian home and garden for the public’s delight, and to promote an appreciation of local history through engaging exhibits and events.

Support the Camron-Stanford House

The Camron-Stanford House relies on the generous support of you, our community. Your contributions help support the development of in-person and online programs and exhibits, just like this one, as well as ensure we are able to continue the work of preserving and protecting this historic Oakland landmark.

Franklina C. Gray: The Grand Tour

An Online Exhibit Presented by Camron-Stanford House

Online Exhibit Curated By: Rowan Robertson-Smith

Based on the original Camron-Stanford House Exhibit, 2019.

Gratitude to Ann Swift (Research/Story Development and Curator)

Many thanks to the original Exhibit Committee: Iliana Morton (Objects Curator, Exhibit Coordinator), Jenny Heffernon (Preperator), Chris Read (Installation), Rebecca LeGates (Graphic Design), Chelsea Burton, Vicki Jacobs, Linda Nack, Katherine Purev, Alisa Thorp (Exhibit and Book Development)

This exhibit made possible by generous contributions from Tracey Ann Bartlett, Ann Swift, Jean and Jeff Wieler, The Grand Parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and the members of the Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association.

Created By
Camron-Stanford House


Camron Stanford House, 2021 www.cshouse.org