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A book of flowers…an artist and her cousin Shirley Amy Turner and Stephen T. Mather

On the top shelf of a bookcase at the end of the Keeping Room is a small book with a label: “S.T.M. from S. Turner Sigma Chi Kamp July 4, 1912.” This was the summer that Stephen Mather led his first Kern Canyon Expedition and included both his wife and daughter. (See Ahh, Wilderness blog). July 4th was Stephen’s birthday.


The contents of the book? Watercolors of flowers. And S. Turner?


Shirley Amy Turner was Stephen Mather’s cousin, the daughter of Elizabeth and Samuel Turner. Elizabeth was Stephen’s mother’s sister. In the 1910 Census, Shirley identified her occupation as “Artist” and her Industry as “Flowers.” By 1920 Shirley was living in Berkeley, California.


But the Homestead has much more to tell us about Shirley Amy Turner. In the attic, in an album embossed “Bertha March 31, 1864” is a photograph of a young “Amy Turner.”


In a Guest book below the bookcase in the Keeping Room are entries from visitors in the early 20th century. On an early page is “Shirley Turner New York Merrick” and later “Shirley Turner Berkeley California.”


And finally, in a bedroom on the second floor of the Homestead above the porch can be found a copy of Stephen T. Mather’s will. In it reads:


FIFTH…5(a) To my cousin, SHIRLEY AMY TURNER, of the CITY of BERKELEY, in the STATE OF CALIFORNIA, the sum of FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.”


In 1930 Shirley Amy Turner was living with her sister Hope in Manhattan Beach California. By 1940 Hope was living by herself in Oakland. Although we have no further information on Shirley, her work and artistic vision will continue to be a small, enriching part of the history of the Homestead.


Images below:

3. Undated Photograph of Amy Turner

4. From the Guest Book. Name below Shirley Turner is an older sister, Martha Turner Morris.



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