|Photo: Thurlow Lodge, later renamed Sherwood Hall, Menlo Park, California. Credit: Stanford University, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.|
Mary Sherwood Hopkins, “America’s Richest Widow,” purchased the Menlo Park, California, estate “Thurlow Lodge,” owned by Milton Slocum Latham, in 1883. She renamed it Sherwood Hall.
|Photo: Isabella Cass. Credit: Stanford University, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.|
Isabella was visiting because her family had connections with Mary’s family in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She had attended Miss Kellogg’s School (the Rose Cottage Seminary), run by Mary’s aunts.
|Photo: Mrs. Timothy Hopkins, born Mary “May” Kellogg Crittenden. Credit: Stanford University, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.|
Visiting Sherwood Hall along with Isabella was Mary “May” Kellogg Crittenden, niece of Mary Hopkins. May was the future wife of Timothy Nolan Hopkins, Mary’s adopted son (whom she later disinherited in her will). There is a passage in Isabella’s diary where she catches Timothy stealing a kiss from May in the billiard room. (13 January 1885)
The grand lifestyle at Sherwood Hall was quite an experience for Isabella. It was one of the most elaborate estates in California, and she was awestruck by the lush gardens and landscape, which she was sure was “Eden.’
She wrote about her “frolics” about the grounds, and how she enjoyed the Moorish temple. She fed Mexican deer and watched the exotic birds. Her daily carriage rides and time in the studio are described in detail. She learned to play billiards and tennis. She spent leisure hours reading, with breaks for luncheons.
|Photo: entry from the diary of Isabella Cass. Credit: Stanford University, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.|
She truly was living the life of the rich and famous. The “very elaborate dinners” were spent “at the table for hours” with top-draw society. Jane and Leland Stanford, Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Burrage, and James C. Flood were among the distinguished guests. The Palace Hotel and other posh places were part of her social calendar.
Isabella must have made a good impression on Mary, because a news clip in the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Isabella received $25,000 from Mary Hopkins’ trust after she died in 1891, administered by her second husband, Edward Francis Searles.
|San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), 28 March 1892, page 1|