Dinner in honor of Collis Huntington and Thomas Hubbard (1899)

by Nancy Armitage

Lovely invitation to honor Huntington and Hubbard. Document: HEH Coll. MS HEH Box 198

On April 27, 1899, the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA, hosted a elegant dinner party. It was for the successful train & steamship company, Southern Pacific Transportation Company (NYC & SF); a dinner to honor the President of the company & his corporate counsel. They were Pres. Collis P. Huntington & Thomas Hubbard.

The lovely Lounge at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Where people go to have tea in the afternoon & wine in the evening. Photo Credit: Marriot International

The Southern Pacific company had annual dinner banquets in May for their top executives usually at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA. This dinner was not their “annual banquet”, that event was going to be on May 8, 1899. The dinner guests for the annual banquet were 100 heads of departments. It is said that Collis Huntington had 50,000 employees at the Southern Pacific Co.

Mr. Collis P. Huntington, President of the Southern Pacific Co. Headquarters SF Ca and NYC, NY

Collis P. Huntington was one of” the Big Four”: These 4 men built the Transcontinental Railroad from one coast of the US to the other (San Francisco to Newport News, VA.) The “Big 4” were: Charles Crocker (founder of Central Pacific RR Co.), Leland Stanford (California Governor), & Mark Hopkins.

Mr. Collis P. Huntington’s Calling Card. It looks like this card went through a rain storm or someone spilled a bottle of purple ink. Document: HEH Coll. HEH MSS Box 198 Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. It is highly likely that Mrs. Collis Huntington (Arabella) used the same calling card.

Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco & partner of Collis Huntington’s in Huntington & Hopkins Hardware in Sacramento. Collis P. Huntington (President of Southern Pacific Co. & many other companies). In the Gold Rush Days, Huntington & Hopkins opened their hardware store, “Huntington & Hopkins” in Sacramento, CA. In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad linked all of America together forming 4,000 miles of continuous train tracks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.   

Southern Pacific Co. Timeline:

1885 Southern Pacific & Central Pacific railroad companies merge together.

1886 1st refrigerator cars Southern Pacific enter operation (loading oranges from Los Angeles, CA on Feb. 14 to the east coast of America) 

1898 Sunset Magazine began as an advertising tool for Southern Pacific Co. 

One of Mrs. Huntington numerous candelabras, in bronze & gold. Located at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA Photo credit: Nancy Armitage

This 1899 dinner was in honor of Collis P. Huntington, the President of the Southern Pacific Co. & his associate & the company’s lawyer, Thomas H. Hubbard. The event located at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco & a elegant 17-course dinner menu made in honor of these two men. The Hosts of this entertainment were: George Crocker, Wm. F. Herrin, Wm. Hood, T. H. Goodman, J. C. Stubbs, R. P. Schwerin, E. C. Wright, J. A. Fillmore, J. Kruttschnitt, N. T. Smith, W. M. Sproule, M. Gardner, W. H. Mills, Jerome Madden. 

Date of event: April 27, 1899 (Springtime)

Guests 150 dinner guests

Place: Palace Hotel, San Francisco, CA 

Theme: Menu was an Italian theme

Who was Thomas. Hubbard? also was called “General Hubbard “, the counsel for Southern Pacific Co.(ships, ferry boats, & railroads)

The Palace Hotel in 1899 used silverware made by Reed & Barton flatware for their guests. Photo Credit: Ebay

Who was invited? The merchants of San Francisco, & the top executives of the So. Pacific Railroad Co. lived all over the United States of America. They would have traveled to San Francisco by the train & probably stayed at the Palace Hotel where the fancy dinner was being held. 

What did they wear? It was fashionable at the time for a gentlemen to attire himself in a top hat & tails, which was a tux & white tie & tails, black shiny dress shoes.  

Where was the celebration? Palace Hotel, SF, CA In the 1890’s the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California was a world-class hotel.

What did they serve at the elegant dinner? Fancy Italian dinner menu

Formal Dinner Invitation card: size 4” x 5” beige colored cardstock to: Henry E. Huntington. Henry E. Huntington at the time was the “Secretary to the President” of Southern Pacific Co. – Collis P. Huntington HEH’s uncle. Henry E. Huntington possibly planned this whole dinner, he was Collis’ right hand man at that time.

In Mr. Henry E. Huntington personal papers is the beautiful invitation to this grand dinner at the Palace Hotel on Thursday evening on April 27, 1899. HEH probably planned the entire beautiful dinner. Mostly likely a cocktail hour and passed hors d’oeuvres at 7:00pm & Dinner at 8:00. Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio Papers Box 198 ( Huntington Library San Marino, CA),

The Banquet Invitation – Dinner at 7:00 PM

A lovely engraved invitation (above) was sent to Mr. Henry Huntington states: “The undersigned request the pleasure of Mr. H. E. Huntington company at dinner on Thursday evening, April the twenty seventh at seven o’clock at the Palace Hotel to meet Mr. C. P. Huntington & Mr. Thomas H. Hubbard. List of names: George Crocker, Wm. F. Herrin, Wm. Hood, T. H. Goodman, J. C. Stubbs, R. P. Schwerin, E. C. Wright, J. A. Fillmore, J. Kruittschnitt, N. T. Smith, Wm. Sproule, Mr. Gardner, W. H. Mills, &  Jerome Madder”. Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio file papers Box 198 File invitation table diagram ) [several of these hosts were the President of the Southern Pacific Transportation Co. at one time or another]. Located at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

The handsome engraved dinner menu for this special event. Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio Papers Box 198 Huntington Library San Marino, CA

Fancy Dinner Banquet Menu  (17-course dinner) In honor of Collis P. Huntington & Thomas H. Hubbard  The Dining Room of the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, CA April 27, 1899

Fresh Oysters were always the 1st course of these fancy formal Gilded age dinners on very fancy oyster plates. . This is a hand- painted French Limoges oyster plate serving 5 oysters on the half shell with a sauce & wedges of lemon.

Dinner Menu:

1.  Oyster Cocktail [likely served with a mignonette sauce]

2.  Chicken Consommé Luculus

3.  [Relish] Medallions of Anchovies, Celery, Queen Olives, Salted  Almonds, Cheese Matches

4.  Frogs, Colbert Style with Minced Cucumber served with New Potatoes

5.  Saddle of Spring Lamb, Havanise

6.  Supreme of Chicken Marechale

7.  Champagne Punch Surprise [a break in the dinner, restroom & chat]

8.  Snipes on Toast Metternich (a bird) 

9.   Mixed Salads & Tomato Mayonnaise (Italian Caprese Salad with crab and dollop of mayonnaise on top

10. Asparagus, Polonaise Style

11. Stuffed Bottoms of Artichokes, Victoria [looks like a stuffed mushroom]

12. Ice Cream on Leaves

13. Assorted Fruits [California Fruits: Oranges & Grapes, Pears, – California Almonds & Nuts like California Almonds or Sugared Almonds, dried fruits like Apricots)

14. Fancy Cakes [French cakes, Petit fours, a choice of many fancy cakes]

15. Chestnut Glaces [fancy ice cream in shapes]

16. [Cheese course] Assorted Imported French Cheese  [Roquetfort cheese, Camembert, Eastern Cheese, New York Cheddar, Cream crackers or Water crackers]

17. Black coffee [Brandy, and after dinner liqueurs, usually served with chocolate French bonbons, & confections like a chocolate mint as a digestive.]

Nancy Note: Mixed Salad with Tomato Mayonnaise could have been Crabmeat Salad (a San Francisco specialty), Shrimp Salad, Lobster Salad, Mixed Seafood Salad with crabmeat, shrimp, lobster & scallops in it.

At Gilded Age dinners, Champagne on the menus was usually paired with the Main Entrée Course or Game Entrée Course.

Wines & Champagne

The wines for this elegant dinner in San Francisco are not mentioned. The Palace Hotel would have had 1st class or “top shelf” wine & French champagne for this dinner. They would have had a California sherry with the oysters, white wine with the fish or crab , frog Legs, & chicken, red wine (Bordeaux, Claret, or Burgundy) or Champagne for the lamb, “Champagne Punch Surprise” in the middle of the 2 hour meal, & Brandy with coffee & after-dinner liqueurs like Grand Marnier or Crème de Menthe, also.

It is my guess for this beautiful Italian dinner feast, that they might have picked Italian wines. Italian wines would have fit with the Italian theme of the night. On Biblio.com they listed a “Palace Hotel Wine List” from the late 1920’s. Which gives us clues what they might have drank: The Imported champagnes were Clicquot, Henriot, Mumms, Pommery & Greno, Moet & Chandon, Chas. Heidsieck, A Valdivieso (Chile) & De Marsat. The California Champagnes were Paul Masson, Golden State, & Korbel sec. I have never heard of Golden State – interesting. California Wines are in abundance Burgundy: Paul Masson, Beringer Bros., Italian Swiss, Asti, Garratti, Almaden Vineyards. Saint Julien: Cresta Blanca, Concannon Vineyards. Zinfandels: G. Guidotti (12 yrs. old) Italian Swiss, Astin Garratti. Claret red wine: Beringer Bros, California Wines Incorporated, S & J Table d’Hote: Cresta Blanca. Cabernet red wine: BV, Beringer Bros., Calif Wines Inc., Paul Masson, Tipo Wine: Italian Swiss Colony.

Asparagus Polonaise Sauce

This is a simple recipe, steam 2 bunches asparagus stems in a long steamer for 8-10 mins. In a frypan, take a 1-2 t. little butter & olive oil. Add crumbled bread crumbs (3 slices bread or ciabatta bread) & toast. At the last minute add: Make a mixture of 2-3 hard boiled large eggs. Chop these parsley, sweet basil, & baby chives minced with white pepper. Mix together. Place the asparagus on a long platter & pour the bread crumb mixture across the asparagus sticks. Serve hot. Recipe: Nancy Armitage (crispy bacon or Italian pancetta crumbled on top would be delicious).

Mayonnaise (1922) with the essence of French Tarragon (for the Mixed Salads and Tomato Mayonnaise)

Mayonnaise was the rage in the 1920’s, they used it as a dip, a sauce and to moisten tea sandwiches with.

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 t. English mustard (or French Dijon mustard)

2 T. French Tarragon vinegar

juice of 2 lemons

1 t. salt

1 pink pepper crushed [or white pepper]

1 pt. olive oil

….whip until very smooth. [With a whisk whip the eggs for 1 min. or more. Add all ingredients & adding the olive oil last in a slow steady stream. Recipe from the Van Nuys Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, CA from Cookbook: Castelar Creche Cookbook Los Angeles, 1922

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms (Italian style)

I couldn’t find the recipe for “Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms, Victoria”. But this Italian-style recipe is amazing. They look like stuffed mushrooms.

20 artichoke bottoms , canned

10 more artichoke bottoms, minced up

2 c. Italian sausage, sauteed & minced up

1 c. toasted bread crumbs

handful pine nuts,

2 t. parsley, minced

1 garlic cloves crushed

drizzle of olive oil

handful Parmesen cheese

Sauté Italian sausage with fennel seed, add garlic & minced artichoke, add bread crumb & remove from heat. Bind with a drizzle of olive oil. With a spoon, add a large mold of stuffing to the artichoke bottoms & mold it like a mound on top. Dust the top with parmesan too. Place them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. Recipe: Nancy Armitage Presentation: Place cooked stuffed artichoke bottom in the center of a gold & white plate, add sprig of parsley & sprinkle baby chives around the artichoke.

The Hosts of the fine event at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, CA. Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio Papers Box 198 ( Huntington Library San Marino, CA),

Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio Papers Box 198 ( Huntington Library San Marino, CA), en.m.wikipedia.org History of Southern Pacific; Britannica Collis P. Huntington American Railroad Magnate; San Francisco Call Newspaper: April 27, 1899 Volume 85 Number 148 Huntington’s Big Banquet;

The entire clever dinner menu was quite large/ With beautiful graphics of an eagle, California orange poppies and sunshine and Lady Liberty holding the world. Document: HEH Coll. HEH Bio Papers Box 198 ( Huntington Library San Marino, CA),

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