Who Am I? At Cypress Lawn



Answers at end of post


1. The lure of mineral wealth enticed me to California from  Massachusetts. I purchased a Santa Cruz limestone business in 1888. Ultimately, I came to own lime deposits in fifteen countries along with a shipping empire. I instructed my five children never to marry because any suitor would be after my money, not sincerely in love with them. Only one did and he divorced when I threatened to cut him from the will. I had no grandchildren to inherit my vast wealth, so my children established a charitable trust to distribute it after their deaths. As a result, that vast wealth was spread all over California, including a State Park.


2. Before I married the son the so-called Sugar King, I was considered a risque renegade when I posed as a model and was selected for the lady atop the statue in San Francisco’s Union Square commemorating the U.S victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898.


Along with my husband, we founded a world famous art museum in San Francisco.


3.  I made my fortune through the Alaska Commercial Company, which helped open the Alaska Territory by providing a critical link between that remote region and the U.S. By the late 1950s, I was the biggest fur trader in America. After retirement, I lived on a 1000 acre Napa Valley estate. My private winery eventually became one of the largest wine companies in the world.


4. I was known as one of the one of the most powerful and philanthropic women in California in the early 20th century. When our family home was destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, my husband and I donated the land to the Episcopal Diocese of California upon which Grace Cathedral was erected.



Images at Cypress Lawn








  1. Henry Cowell, who gave us Cowell Redwoods State Park.
  2. Alma de Brettville Spreckels, who gave us the Legion of Honor.
  3. Gustave Neibaum, who gave us Inglenook Winery.
  4. Phobe Apperson Hearst, who gave us the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, along with other treasures.


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