Click on a First Lady's name to read more about her at the California State Library website.
- Helen Pardee
While in her twenties, Helen Penniman was part of an informal club group of nature-loving friends known as the "Merry Tramps of Oakland." Helen was known as "Helen Blazes" by her Merry Tramp friends, both for her beautiful red hair and fiery personality. She was referred to as an individualist and free-thinker who loved nature, art, and collectibles. The Pardees were the first family to live in the Governor's Mansion located on the corner of 16th and H Streets in downtown Sacramento. The mansion still contains the 1902 Steinway piano that the Pardees brought with them. Collecting objects was her lifelong passion and her collections are on display at the Pardee Home Museum.
Francisca "Fannie" Rains' life began in tragedy. Nine months before her birth, her father, John Rains, was murdered while traveling to Los Angeles. Fannie and her four siblings were raised by their mother, Maria Rains. To ensure a proper education for her children, Maria reportedly helped start the first school in Rancho Cucamonga in 1870. Fannie married Henry T. Gage on July 15, 1880, and they had six children, all of whom were born on the family ranch in Downey, California. Little else is known about Fannie's activities as First Lady or her life after Henry Gage left office.
Inez met James Budd while both attended the same high school in Stockton. They married in 1873 and had no children. The only mention of Inez’s role as First Lady is a Sacramento Union article, which described her dress for the Governor’s Inaugural Ball in captivating detail. After James Budd left office, he and Inez moved back to Stockton where she remained until her death on May 15, 1911.
Henry Markham, often in ill health, made the decision to move his family to Pasadena, California, for the favorable climate in 1879. Mary tirelessly devoted herself to the Congregational Church (now known as the Neighborhood Church) and its causes. Henry was elected governor in 1891 and the family moved to Sacramento. Tragically, six months after relocating to the Capitol the Markham’s daughter Genevieve contracted typhoid fever and died. After Genevieve’s death, Mary and her four daughters moved back to Pasadena where they lived for the rest of Henry’s term in office.
Although no official date can be found of when Jane Gardner moved from Canada to the United States, records show that she was sent to boarding school in Chicago. While living in Chicago, Jane married Robert Waterman on September 29, 1847, and had six children. As First Lady Jane was active in various charities. In 1891 after Robert left office, the family moved to San Diego and purchased the Long Mansion. Known as the Long-Waterman Mansion today, the home is seen as one of the best models of Queen Anne Victorian architecture.
Mary Hardisty grew up in a socially prominent family in Baltimore. She married George Stoneman, an officer in the Union Army, on November 22, 1861. As First Lady, Mary became socially active in both Sacramento and San Francisco society. She was known for speaking her mind and for being a good dancer. In 1885, while George was Governor, the Stoneman’s ranch house burned down and all their family possessions were destroyed. Unknown to Mary, George had not insured the ranch house, thus leaving the family financially unable to rebuild their home. The couple eventually separated and Mary moved to Massachusetts to live with one of the Stoneman’s daughters.