Week 6 of #AnniesDiary100 – San Francisco #OnThisDay 6 March 1924

100 years ago this week, Annie Hughes Griffiths as leader of the delegation for Wales’ Peace Tour of America, spent several days in San Francisco, California, followed by Los Angeles, meeting with American Welsh communities and exploring 1920s California. Here we follow Annie’s Diary as they continue their historic ‘Peace Tour’ of the United States, culminating with Annie’s address to the Welsh Church of San Francisco on 7th March 1924.

Many thanks to Dr Eirlys Barker and US colleagues in Heddwch Nain | Mamgu for their US research and contributions.

Press Clipping (from ‘Y Drych’ April 3 1924) with the statue of Rodin’s “The Thinker” in San Francisco; picturing Annie Hughes Griffiths, Gladys Melhuish Thomas and their host in San Francisco Mrs P L Roberts.

Annie’s Diary Entries from week of 7 March 1924: To San Francisco

Page 38, Page 39, Page 40, Page 41, Page 42, Page 43, Page 44

Monday March 3rd – by Pullman Car across the ‘Southern Pacific

Annie and her travel companion Gladys Thomas had left Salt Lake City on the evening of March 2nd and, after crossing the Great Salt Lake on a 30 mile viaduct boarded and had their first experience of a Pullman Sleeping car hitched at Ogden Junction to the Union Pacific transcontinental railroad train from Chicago to San Francisco, through the Rocky Mountains to the California Coast.

Page 38 “Got up after a poor night’s rest. 48 people sleeping in long deckers far too crowded…Found ourselves in California, the hills, the Nevada Range, covered with snow – a most beautiful sight, the white hill, the green fir trees rising in tier upon tier from the valleys up to the horizon. After breakfast at which we spoke to Mr Cheney [Sheldon Warren Cheney] and Miss Murdoch of Berkeley University – I went and sat in the observation car and had a talk with Miss Murdoch. The scenery changed rapidly, soon leaving the snow covered hills as we came down down to the valleys – soon I caught sight of an almond tree in blossom outside a tiny house called Cape Horn. Most gorgeous pink – then more and more blossom appeared – some prune and cherry and apple.”

“Miles and miles of orchards – adjoining the railway – but too early for the blossom. Very beautiful scenery. Soon we reached Sacramento, the capital of California and then on past Berkeley – where the State University stands, to Oakland, where we all got off the train and got on board the Santa Clara, the Southern Pacific boat which plies between the mainland and San Francisco. A delightfully sunny day, bay quite calm, got to San Fran safely and took taxi to Ramona Hotel – had double bedded room and bath – 4 dollars a night for two – and got our things out went out and had a good tea – Salmon steaks and tea excellent – then to call at Whitcomb Hotel to see if any letters had been sent there – phoned to David Hughes – on the San Fran Chronicle – who said he would call at Hotel about 8. Went to some movie show and back to hotel by 7.35.

At 8, Mr and Mrs D Hughes and Mr and Mrs PJ Roberts called and we had a [Page 39] very nice talk with them – going out about 10 pm for a walk through Chinatown – & walked through some of the Chinese shops & admired their goods. Back to Ellis Street, to a Café & had waffles & maple syrup all of us tout ensemble – Mr Hughes made us promise to stay in San Fran until the following Saturday March 8 (we had arranged to leave on Friday the 7th) as his Welsh Church wanted to give us a Reception – we agreed to do this. Back to hotel and had good night’s rest.

Tuesday March 4 1924 – California Sightseeing

Mr and Mrs Roberts called about 10 a.m. and we went to the San Francisco’s Chronicle office where I was interviewed by a young lady in brown – who was very superior.  However I talked to her, & finally she asked me to go up with her to the studio, so as to have my picture taken. This was done – I then re-joined the others downstairs and we went round some of the shops, back to the Robertses apartment where we had a nice lunch and a great ‘Croesaw‘ “[welcome]. 

After lunch we started sightseeing in their car, a beautiful 7 seater – and went through Golden Gate Park – where there are flowers, trees and shrubs from every clime in the world. We saw the Stadium and Bandstand where there is a natural awning over the seats of weeping willows, all kept beautifully pruned.

Page 40 “Aquarium – Japanese Tea Garden – Museum Art Gallery & many groups of Statuary – one “The Thinker” by Rodin – by which we were snapped [see image above] – we then drove along the Ocean Boulevard, from which we had a fine view of the Pacific Ocean. Driving on through the Presidio, the largest military Station in the USA including officers’ quarters, barracks hospitals, post office  – From there we went up to the top of Lincoln Park – the Western terminus of the Lincoln Highway with monument to announce the fact. Following on we went up to Twin Peaks – which stood 900 feet about the site – the trip to the peaks is made over the world by famous figures.”

“From there we drove down to the City, to call upon a Mrs Easton, a peace worker [Effie Easton of San Francisco was listed as a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1924] with whom I had an appointment at 5 pm – saw her. She works for President Coolidge’s return & does so as he is in favour of peace – had a nice talk with her, & met a Miss O’Hara afterwards. A breezy Irish woman who took down every word I said as quick as lightning on a type writer. Back to the hotel & about 7.30, we went with Mr and Mrs Roberts to call upon Mr and Mrs D. Hughes. Mr. Hughes is a brother of Mrs Shaubland and is very active with the Welsh ‘achos’ [cause] in San Fran. Got back here, tired and very weary and to bed.”

At the Museum we saw a kind of silver shield. Found – presented to the late King Edward who was Prince of Wales in 1888? [Annie questions this date] by the South Wales Counties – presented to the Museum by a Dr __ in San Fran who gave it on condition that the facts concerning his possession of it should not be made public; until one year after his death. That time has just expired and Hughes was going to get the information.”

Page 41

Wednesday March 5th – Santa Clara & Stanford University

Mr and Mrs Roberts met us outside out hotel soon after 9 & we started for a most wonderful drive – through the Park route, San Gregorio, passing acres of artichoke fields – on to Half Moon Bay – on the most wonderful scenic road imaginable – up & down, winding in & out the hills covered with growth – until we got almost to the highest point where we had a nice al fresco lunch prepared by Mrs Roberts. Then on to San Mateo and on to Palo Alto which is situated in the Santa Clara valley – famous for its enormous fruit production. Half the prunes grown in the world come from this fertile spot. Unfortunately, we were too early for the blossom, which is very beautiful long stems covered with thick white blossom. So closely packed together like one big mass of white flax. No other county in America produces so many cherries, or so many apricots.

We drove on to Stanford University which stands in its own grounds of 8000 acres. The buildings are of buff sandstone & they are grouped around open courts or quadrangles and are connected by continuous open arcades of arches & pillars. The no. of students at present is about 2500 – 2000 men and 500 women.

Page 42: “Called upon Mrs Tatlock [Marjorie Fenton Tatlock], wife of Prof. of English Philosophy [Prof JSP Tatlock] – sister of Mrs Bernard whom we met in Washington. She took us round & showed us different buildings – Drove back comfortably, a lovely drive & got a hotel between 5 & 6, had tea & took tickets for ‘The Covered Wagon’ film.

Soon after 7.30, was rung up by a Miss Gwendolen Evans – a Character – neurotic – hysterical, draws long bow regardless of everything and everybody –  very anxious to see me – knew Tom – from St Asaph – widow of Congregationalist Minister, first woman in Wales to be ordained for the Ministry, lost her husband in Los Angeles running a bench store on Geary 6134 – Arranged to see her next evening and dine with her. Went to see Covered Wagon – came out at half time – back to hotel and Gwilym Owen called. Talked to him for one hour. Very nice young man. Claudia Owen’s brother – an architect – friend of Garmon Jones – nephew of Dr Morris [from] Caersws.”

Friday March 6th 1924 – Berkeley University

“Started early for Berkeley Univ – crossed the ferry by key system & had electric train right up to the _! Went straight to Haviland Hall & found Mrs Cheney & Miss Murdoch. Both very kind – gave us lunch & took us round the splendid buildings up the tower of white granite called Jane Sather Campanile to the Greek Theatre & Library & all the buildings of interest. We then walked down to Berkeley town & back to San Fran: by train & boat. Did some shopping – changed & at 4.p.m.

Page 43 Mrs Gwendolen Evans & Mr Samuel Jones, a barrister – from Rhos – called for us & took us to the Cliff Hotel to dinner – a Mr Williams [Howard Williams] from Llangollen joined us & we had a nice dinner. We then went to the “Orpheum” Playhouse – a mixed performance!! A enjoyable evening – got home about 11.30, tired out.”

Saturday March 7th  1924 – Presenting the Peace Petition to San Francisco

Shopped in the morning; spent too much money. Back about 1:00 p.m. Tired, but found that Mrs. William Owen had called. Then a Mr. John reporter called and asked for an interview; and Miss Morgan from Brecon – a friend of Mrs. Evans – also called.

Rested for a time and then got dressed & a bath. Prepared address for evening meeting. Started for Mrs. Evans about 4:30. Had a meal there; also Miss Morgan there, and then to 610 Hyde street to Mrs. Roberts by 7:00 p.m. We drove from home in their car to call upon the Reverend Jones Minister of Welsh church. He was up and better but still far from well. We saw Rev Williams of Oaklands [Rev OR Williams, Pastor of Welsh Presbyterian Church 1918-1928], the brother of TH Williams, Wilton Sq [T Salisbury Williams, San Francisco Harbour Commission]

Page 44 “We then went on to the chapel to the reception and had a very nice gathering. Mr. Salisbury Williams ex harbour commission Presided, and there was singing and recitations and speeches.

I spoke for about 20 minutes and at close of meeting met Mr. And Mrs. Dunn. Mrs. Dunn is an old Aber student from Pontypool, knew me in Aber. Has been out in S F  Since August. Very homesick when I spoke to her. Met many people who knew Sara [Annie’s Sister] Got back to hotel midnight. Packed and went to bed by 1:00 a.m. Very tired.”

The San Francisco Welsh Presbyterian Church where Annie spoke 100 years ago on 7 March 2024, is still active and was photographed by Ninnau and Heddwch Nain supporter Susan Davies in 2024:

Short History of Welsh Presbyterian Church in San Francisco (from Heddwch Nain US):

Departure of so many parishioners from San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake led to the Welsh Presbyterian Church’s congregation declining from 76 members in 1908 to only 37 in 1918.  The next full-time pastor to serve the Welsh Presbyterian Church was the Reverend T. Lloyd Jones, who began preaching in San Francisco in June 1918. His arrival caused the congregation to grow again, reaching 78 by the time he retired in May 1922. The Reverend John D. Jones, who began his ministry in June 1922, succeeded him. He served for two years, dying on August 5, 1924. An interim pastor served the church for two years, until May 16, 1926, when the Reverend John R. Jones of Bangor, Maryland was appointed. Reverend Jones served for 23 years, longer than any other pastor did.

Despite its difficulties, the Welsh Presbyterian Church remained one of the cultural pillars of San Francisco’s tiny Welsh community. In addition to offering regular Sunday services and Sunday school, the church hosted lectures and concerts by prominent Welshmen and Welsh-Americans. The church also celebrated all important Welsh holidays and festivals, including Eisteddfod, an ancient Welsh festival of music, literature, and performance dating back to Druidic times; the festival of St. David, Wales’ patron saint; and Cymanfa Ganu, a Welsh festival of sacred hymns sung in four-part harmony.

Next Stop – Los Angeles

Our next post will explore their experience embarking on the transcontinental ‘Union Pacific’ Railroad journey across America..

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