Welcome to the next post in our series about Palm Springs CA History ~1911. The highlight today is J. Smeaton Chase. Who? Joseph Smeaton Chase, a man I would call an explorer, adventurer and author of books about California life in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Born in London, he arrived with an inheritance that was lost in the Bank panic of 1890. Down on his luck, Chase moved to San Diego for a time then moved to Los Angeles where he became a social welfare worker. His first book was entitled Yosemite and was published in 1911. Then in 1915, he made his way to Palm Springs to take advantage of the healing powers of the local hot mineral springs.
His most famous books about Palm Springs, “Our Araby” and “Palm Springs And The Garden Of The Sun” are still in print.
He married Isabel White in 1917 then proceeded to write several books about California-based on his travels with Kaweah, is trusty horse.
From the Wiki article:
Chase was born in Islington, a neighbourhood in the London Borough of Islington, in April 1864. He arrived in Southern California in 1890, although information surrounding his motive for doing so is sparse. It is known however, that he lived on a mountainside and managed to obtain a job tutoring a wealthy rancher’s children in the San Gabriel Valley. Chase was drawn to the plants, animals, and Spanish-speaking individuals who resided in California. Subsequently, in 1911 he took a trip with local painter Carl Eytel, traveling on horseback from Los Angeles to Laguna and then down to San Diego.
Chase journeyed through the uncouth California land and detailed his escapades in his book California Desert Trails. He was passionate that the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains be preserved as a national park. Chase appeals to readers who appreciate the unspoiled west and California history.
Chase died March 29, 1923 in Banning, California, after several years of poor health. His wife (Isabel, née White, April 18, 1876 – September 30, 1962) continued to live in Palm Springs. They are buried in a graveyard at the foot of Mt. San Jacinto in Palm Springs. Also his name is engraved at his parents’ (Samuel and Jane) headstone in the St. Mary the Virgin Cemetery, London Borough of Bexley, England
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