Friday, June 17, 2011

Mary Austin's Home

Inyo County, August 30, 1993

After graduating from Blackburn College in 1891, Mary Hunter married Wallace Austin and they eventually moved to Independence before going their separate ways; Mary, to the coast and eventually New Mexico, and Wallace to Death Valley.

“Acknowledged during her lifetime as an important American nature-writer in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, as a leading feminist theorist, and as an expert on Native American cultures, but largely forgotten after her death in 1934, Mary Austin has received renewed interest over the past few decades due to a unique literary blending of feminism, environmental ethics, social critique, and interpretations and adaptations of Native American, Hispanic-American, and Euro-American mythological traditions.” – Mark Hoyer  - UC Davis

In other words, Mary was ahead of her time.

Photo - The 'A' listers from left: George Sterling, Mary Austin, Jack London, and James Hopper, on the beach in Carmel.

‘The Land of Little Rain’, probably her best known work has some editions going for high prices on eBay but the text is available for free online through the Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE.

It appears Tom and Tina Bowman are living in the house now, and doing a fine job keeping things up and the white picket fence painted.

Plaque inscription:  229 Mary Austin's Home 1868 - 1934
"But if ever you come beyond the borders as far as the town that lies in a hill dimple at the foot of Kearsarge, never leave it until you have knocked at the door of the brown house under the willow-tree at the end of the village street, and there you shall have such news of the land, of its trails and what is astir in them, as one lover of it can give to another..."
The Land of Little Rain
253 Market St, Independence.
Google: 36.801674,-118.20184

You know what? Stafford Wallace Austin deserves better than being a side note in Mary's life, and though he was no literary whiz, this 1926 account from is alma mater at Cal shows he had an interesting go around:

Born May 16, 1862, at Hilo, Hawaii, Sandwich Islands. Attended Punahoe Missionary School at Honolulu, 1874 to 1880. Came to Oakland, California, in 1880 and prepared for University in Oakland and San Francisco high schools. Attended University of California 1882 to 1886 and graduated with degree of Ph.B.
After leaving college, 1886, sold encyclopedias in San Luis Obispo County and succeeded in placing one in nearly every school district library. Taught school in the same County 1887 to 1888. Then went to current canning, where with many others he squatted on land claimed by Haggin & Carr interests. Lost out after legal battle and continue teaching in Kern County.
Moved to Inyo County, California, in 1891 to promote a new canal and land settlement project. Resume teaching in Inyo County and was elected County Superintendent of Schools in 1894, serving until 1898, when he was appointed by President McKinley to the position of Register of the United States Land Office at Independence, California. Reappointed by President Roosevelt in 1902 and served until 1906, when he resigned to accept nomination as assemblyman. Defeated at the general election that year. Moved to Oakland, and in 1907 was admitted to the California bar; also admitted to practice before the Federal Departments at Washington, D.C.
From 1907 to 1909 lived in Oakland and engaged in searching records, real estate, and practicing law. December, 1909, appointed by United States District Court of California as Receiver for the California Trona Company, a mining and manufacturing corporation. Moved to Searles Lake, San Bernardino County, California, and took charge of the company's property. After close of receivership and president and legal adviser of the company until 1918, when he was appointed manager of the Los Angeles office of American Trona Corporation, which position he is now holding.
Was married in Bakersfield, California, to Mary Hunter, May 23, 1890, and divorced in San Bernardino 1915. One child, Ruth, born October 31, 1891, is dead.
The subject of this sketch is in good health at the present date and takes an active interest in his work and in his public affairs.
819 Standard Oil Building, Los Angeles.

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