Jessey C. Wilson letter: Berkeley, to Mrs. Wallis

Finding aid created by San Francisco History Center staff using RecordEXPRESS
San Francisco Public Library. San Francisco History Center
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Descriptive Summary

Title: Jessey C. Wilson letter: Berkeley, to Mrs. Wallis
Dates: July 19, 1906
Collection Number: SFH 704
Creator/Collector: Wilson, Jessey C., 1860-1927
Extent: 1 folder
Repository: San Francisco Public Library. San Francisco History Center
San Francisco, California 94102
Abstract: Account of a woman leaving her home in San Francisco following the earthquake and fire of April 1906
Language of Material: English


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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Jessey C. Wilson letter: Berkeley, to Mrs. Wallis. Collection Number: SFH 704. San Francisco Public Library. San Francisco History Center

Acquisition Information

Gift, 2022-41

Biography/Administrative History

Jessey C. Wilson was born Josefina Carolina de Jesus Montealegre Joy in 1860 in San Jose, Costa Rica, to Jose Maria Montealegre Fernandez and Sophia Matilda Joy. Jessey's father, a physician, involved himself in Costa Rican politics. In 1858 he married Sophia, and in 1859, after a military coup, was installed as fourth President of Costa Rica. He was elected President in 1860 and served until 1863. Ten years later, he and his wife and three daughters came to San Francisco, settling at 1114 Bush Street. Jose died in 1887. Jessey married William A. Wilson, cashier for Welch & Co., and with Sophia they continued to live in her home on Bush St. until the 1906 earthquake and fire, when they moved to Berkeley. William died there in 1907; Sophia died there in 1908; and Jessey died in San Francisco in 1927.

Scope and Content of Collection

This handwritten letter of 32 leaves addressed to Mrs. (Violet) Wallis details Wilson's abandoning her home at 1114 Bush Street, San Francisco with her mother, Sophia Montealegre, after the April 18, 1906 earthquake and ahead of the approaching fire. Sophia suffers from dementia. Jessey's husband Willie Wilson makes several attempts to secure a wagon to carry his family and a few belongings across the city; structures are being dynamited behind them. The trio finds shelter for a week at Jessey's niece's home, then later at Willie's aunt's home in Ross Valley, and finally moves to Dr. Harry Beal Torrey's unoccupied home at 2523 Aetna Street in Berkeley. Folder includes typewritten transcription of letter (8 p.)

Indexing Terms

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906--Personal narratives
Wilson family
Montealegre family
San Francisco (Calif.)
Berkeley (Calif.)