The Arabella Letters

By Nancy Armitage

Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington- if the date of this photo was 1910, Arabella would have been 30 years old. She is dressed up to go to a fancy dress ball or party with 3 strands of pearls & pearl earrings & a tiara in her hair. This original photo is located at the Hispanic Society of American, NYC. I photographed this picture at the Huntington Library in the Visitors Center in San Marino,, CA. Photo credit : Nancy Armitage

So this is the collection I found of existing Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington Letters at the Huntington Library. I am coming up with about 12 letters. They are also more letters & journal entries of Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s son Archer M. Huntington. These are located at the Hispanic Society of America in NYC which Archer founded.

Arabella had several names: Belle Worsham, Mrs. B.D. Worsham, Mrs. Collis P. Huntington, Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington (that is the way she signed documents after 1900), Belle or Aunt Belle (the way she signed a letter to her niece), Mrs. Henry E. Huntington, Mrs. H.E. Huntington.

These newsy letters are rich in information about Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s Gilded Age life. We see that she owned several mansions across the USA. That her life at these mansions was seasonal with her Huntington Family. During the 1880’s-1890’s, Collis & Arabella Huntington were bi-coastal living in NYC & SF; they would visit San Francisco, CA in spring about April or May, then they would travel back to NYC. Their Throggs Neck, Westchester County estate called “Huntington ‘”Homestead” they used on weekends, summer, & autumn. In June, her birthday month, they often would be traveling aboard on a Cunard ship traveling to Europe (France, England, Italy, or Switzerland) for the summertime. The Huntington “Camp Pine Knot” on Racquette Lake in the Adirondack Mts. was used in August.

When Collis Huntington died in August of 1900, Arabella spent months & years in Paris. She often stayed at the Paris Ritz or the Hotel Continental. Later H.E. Huntington and her were treated like royalty at Hotel Bristol in Paris, often using the Imperial Room (Marie Antoinette’s) By 1907, Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington bought a Paris Hotel mansion one on Rue de la Gabriel & l’Elysee & in 1910 she bought another Paris mansion location on Rue de la Lubeck.

In the summer of 1913, Arabella married Henry “Edwards” Huntington (Collis’ nephew). He had built a his mansion in 1908-1910, it called San Marino Ranch which they visited in the wintertime/springtime; when Southern California is still usually sunny! Throggs Neck Huntington Estate was visited on weekends & in the Summertime and Autumn. No. 2 Huntington Mansion she especially enjoyed at the holidays: Thanksgiving & Christmas and New Years. Europe was a summer “European tour” with her Huntington family.

I have been told that it was Mrs. Huntington request to have her personal things [ephemera & correspondence, etc.] destroyed after she died. Which ended up being the task of her personal secretary & friend, Miss Caroline “Carrie” M. Campbell. I don’t think Mr. Henry E. Huntington knew about this request because he was very upset about it, per the Huntington’s Head butler, Alfonso Gomez. Miss Campbell was not invited to the final funeral of Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington in December of 1924. Which was located at Mr. & Mrs. H. E. Huntington (Arabella) California property on the San Marino Ranch. Famous architect Mr. Post created the dome, where she and later Mr. Huntington lay now.

There are also a number of “Arabella letters” that I have not seen located at the Hispanic Society of America in NYC. In the Book: Art of Wealth by Dr. Bennett quotes from some of these Arabella letters. Some humorous one from Archer Huntington to his mother Arabella; & Arabella to Archer. Archer worried she will be a poor woman after Arabella bought a portion the Kahn Collection in Paris (1907); Archer calling Duveen “a Pirate” which he was, must have made Arabella laugh. Document: HEH Collection HEH MS 19 /1-18 uncat (Alfonso Gomez interviews)

Sipping Southern Sweet Tea on the Veranda, Mrs. Arabella Huntington had 2 of these peacock chairs on the Loggia of the Huntington Mansion on the San Marino Ranch, CA Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

So these Arabella Letters give us more information about the life of the Huntingtons. Where they lived, where they traveled, & patterns in their yearly lives. On several of these letters, we see the Huntington Mansion’s stationary they used at each of the different mansions. The Huntington letter- writing stationary had the address of the Huntington mansions at the top; often written in Old English scrip writing very simple. I learned how Mrs. Huntington signed her name & things she cared about. In fact, these letters also helped me put together a whole Huntington Family timeline of their lives. Mrs. Huntington was a very generous woman often donating to the many churches, charities, kindergartens, schools, women’s facilities, & hospitals. She donated jewels for her step daughters marriage Princess Clara Huntington Hatzfeldt, she donated paintings to the Hispanic Society & to the Huntington Library. The list goes on & on she was so generous often quietly & not for show!

Arabella “Belle” Letter (1871):

Letter: To: C. P. Huntington From: B. D. Worsham

Date: November 10, 1871 New York City, NY

Mr. Huntington, I am so worried that I don’t know what to do & I am going to ask your advice & assistance again. I have received another letter from home [in Texas] stating that my little boy [Archer] is still very sick, & mama [Mrs. Yarrington] thinks I had better come on as early as possible. I am ashamed to ask you but you have been so kind that I shall impose on your good nature again. I want you to give me a [Railroad] ticket to Texas & assist me i getting the family back here [NYC] in the Spring, for I know they will stare out there. You are the only friend I have in the world. If you will do this for me, I shall never be able to express my gratitude, but if you can think of anything that will be better for me to do, I am perfectly willing to agree to any proposition you may make. Respectfully, B. D. Worsham Document: H.E. Huntington Biography by Thorpe p. 308 Original C. P. Huntington papers: Sec 2 reel. 4 Nancy Note: Little Baby Archer Worsham was 1 year, 8 months old at the time.

Mrs. Arabella Worsham was partial to her garden with fresh produce and her Southern Gazebo, she had one at her 54th Street Mansion in New York City.

Arabella Letter: 1884

From: Mrs. Collis P. Huntington (Arabella)

To: Her niece, Caroline “Carrie” Huntington

Dated: November 12, 1884

Letterhead: engraved “The Homestead, Throgg’s Neck, Westchester Co. NY.”

“My dear Carrie,

I sent yesterday a box which I believe contains your mother [Harriet Huntington’s – Mrs. Solon Huntington] teal coat. I fear it has been at sixty-five [65 Park Ave, NYC ], some days but as I have not been in town [NYC] for 3 weeks. I did not know it until I went in on Friday. I can get out of my wheel [her horse-drawn carriage] occasionally but its best for papa [CPH] these dark shorts days. Did Mary [Mrs. H. E. Huntington] & the children come in- [?] I hear nothing new. What are your mothers plans for California – you know I want you at gloomy old sixty-five [65 Park Ave.NYC] as soon as possible. Do tear up this awful thing! with best, We love you both, Affectionally, Aunt Arabella” Document: HEH Collection Correspondence HEH 418 uncat Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: 65 Park Ave. was Collis & Arabella Huntington house before they built the Huntington Mansion at No 2. East 57th St, NYC. Note that Arabella asks to “tear up this awful thing”. Her handwriting was large & sometimes messy; sometimes with cross outs which was a big no-no in Victorian & Edwardian times. So she asked the receiver of her letters to rip them up.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Californa. Mrs. Huntington loved San Francisco very much.

Arabella Letter

Palace Hotel [San Francisco, CA] May 1, 1899

“My Dear Mrs. Copper: Since our pleasant interview I am convinced that the Kindergarten in which you are so greatly interested is a most worthy charity. I enclose, with pleasure, one thousand dollars ($1,000) which you can use as seems best to you. Very sincerely, Isabella D. Huntington [Arabella]”

“Mrs. Huntington Generous Gift to the Kindergarten: Mrs. Huntington has reason to be very proud of her little flock, at 1233 Pacific Street. Where the Huntington Kindergarten is located. There are no brighter, nor more interesting children in all the Free Kindergartens of San Francisco, then the children that daily flock to the Huntington Free Kindergarten…. Published Annual Report Vol. 7-13 by Golden Gate Kindergarten Assoc.

Nancy Note: Mr. & Mrs. Collis Huntington actually lived at the Palace Hotel before 1895. They lived bi-coastally & every year in the spring in April & May they were in San Francisco. In May every year, Collis needed to be in San Francisco for the annual dinner banquet for the Southern Pacific Co. which he was the President. She might have been having tea or attending a charity function & met Mrs. Copper maybe at the Palace Hotel Palm Court in San Francisco. By 1895, Collis & Arabella Huntington lived at 1020 California Street in San Francisco.

London, England

Arabella Letter: dated October 20. 1889 Brown Hotel, London.

To: Carrie Huntington Holliday in Oneonta, NY From: Mrs. Collis P. Huntington (“Aunt Arabella”) at Brown’s Hotel, London, England

“My dear Carrie, I have only time to send you a few lines in answer to your welcome and unexpected letters, but I must tell you something that I am sure will interest you. After changing her mind many times Clara [Huntington – Collis and Arabella’s adopted daughter but really a niece] has at last decided to take the Prince and will be married here next Monday the [Oct] 28th by Bishop Patterson. She becomes a Catholic as his family have been for generations and I think will be much happier than if she married Mr. Tales/Talis. [a former suitor]. Hatzfield or Francis as he insists upon being called is pleasant looking with charming manners & very bright. We all like him immensely. His family are very much pleased with the match as well they might be…. His Father & Mother with other members of the family come over for the wedding [from Germany]. Count Hatzfield the German Ambassador here [in England] with his daughters have already arrived. You can imagine that all this is slightly tiring. I never want to marry off another girl. Thank Fortune Archer is a boy. We sail on the “Teutonic” [ship] Oct. 30th & glad I shall be to get home again… I am Affectionately, Your Aunt Arabella” Document: HEH Collection HEH 419 Correspondences (Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)

Arabella Letter: October 5, 1895 Engraved : “1020 California Street.” Location: San Francisco Huntington Mansion (address in printed in Old English ornate scrip on the top of booklet style stationary)

“My dear Mrs. Huntington , Mrs. Huntington [Arabella] requested me today mis? [must] reply to your letter that you may use her house as well as Mr. Huntingtons [Collis} for Members of the Advisory Committee of the Fall Festival in aid of the Children’s Hospital [S.F.]. Mrs. Huntington [Arabella] will take one tix [ticket] for which she will give you two hundred & fifty dollars. Will you please select a good one and send the tickets to this address. Mrs. Huntington will also subscribe two hundred &and fifty dollars towards the quarantee fund___? as will see from the paper I return. Yours truly, C.M. Campbell October 5, 1895” Document: HEH Coll. HEH 2896 (Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)

Nancy Note: A Arabella Letter written on Huntington Mansion -San Francisco stationery at 1020 California Street. It is written for Mrs. Collis P. Huntington (Arabella) by Caroline M. Campbell (Arabella personal correspondence secretary). The letter is to: Mrs. Henry E. Huntington (HEH “Edwards” 1st wife, Mary Alice who also lived on Jackson in San Francisco, CA) BTW, Mrs. Arabella Huntington was a very generous person; this letter proves that to the tune of $500.00 in her donations to the Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.

Arabella Letter: ? no date possibly written between 1890-1900

Letterhead: “2 East Fifty-seventh Street.” [old English font lettering]

Friday, July 20th

“My Dearest Caroline, We are in town [NYC] for Helen and Archer [Huntington] who arrive tonight or Early tomorrow morning. The heat is so intense that we are all feeling under the weather. I have never seen anything like it. Sleep is impossible. Last night a little breeze cajoled us for a while, but it went away early & now it is an hot – as before- I envy you , the San Francisco climate. You are such a Salamander this would just suit you. I hope you are coming very soon. – to get warmed up. Clara [Princess Clara Huntington von Hatzfeldt] has just cabled that she will sail [London to NYC] August 1st- we will remain at the “Homestead” [Huntington estate in Throggs Neck, NY] until she arrives and then go to the Camp [Camp Pine Knot on Racquette Lake in the Adirondack Mts.] Where I hope to see you & Burke, a letter later –Edward [HEH] I don’t believe wants to come. You remember the Indian Hindoo philosophy – well there is something in it– you can obtain such self-control that no loss no disappointment can make you suffer -you can give up anything- & it makes you considerate, unselfish & forgiving – I need all this & so I am going on with it. Will tell you about it when you come – Write soon- Affectionately, Belle” Document: HEH Collection HEH 421 Correspondence at the Huntington Library San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: The date, I am thinking 1890-1900 because by 1900 Mrs. Collis Huntington was using black-bordered “mourning stationary” because Collis died in August 1900. Hindoo philosophy of the Indian man, a Swami that she heard lecture & was very impressed with the India Hindu philosophy.

Arabella Letter: Monday, December 17, 1900

To: Caroline Huntington Holladay From: Belle Huntington

“My Dearest Caroline, I am sending you this by Edward who leaves in a day or so– we were surprised but very glad to see him- Have been in town [NYC] just two (2) weeks and I find it very hard to realize that I shall never see or hear that dear face & voice again [Collis]. Time as yet has helped me very little, but I get through the days one by one. I am not well, as I can not go out. I am sending you a check also one for Harriet with which get something to please yourselves – Write to me sometimes and tell me what you are doing. A letter from you is a great pleasure – with best love to you, Burke, the babies, & your mother. I am always, Affectionately, Belle – Kiss Harriet for me, I am very fond of her” Document: HEH Collection HEH 418-426 Correspondence at Huntington Library San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: Mrs. Collis P. Huntington (Arabella) is mourning the loss of her husband, Collis P. Huntington. He died in August of 1900 ; its Christmas time in 1900 & Arabella is probably really missing him. It sounds by the letter that she is at “Homestead” the Huntington Estate (400-800 acres of land) on the shore in Throgg’s Neck by the East River in Westchester Co. , NY.

Arabella Letter: November 15, 1893

Address To: Mip [Miss] C. D. Huntington From: Aunt Arabella [Mrs. Collis P. Huntington] at the Fifth Ave. Hotel NYC

“Wed. November 15, 1893 My Dear Caroline, Will you come down for a little visit. We are at the Fifth Ave. Hotel [NYC] and can make your family comfortable – come at once – don’t dare send me no – for a answer- I have been ill for several days no allowed to eat anything but hope soon to be well. As an indifferent. You might work in – some lesson with Madam Rodriquez-. With Best love to you all, Your affectionate, Aunt Arabella”

Document: HEH Coll. HEH 420Correspondence 1893 No. 15, New York at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: Caroline Huntington later Holladay – Collis’ niece was a single girl, living in Oneonta, NY with her parents. These short trips to NYC she probably traveled with her mother or her parents, because she needed a chaperone. Collis & Arabella were at the Fifth Ave. Hotel in 1893 because they were building their new Huntington Mansion at No. 2 East 57th St. (& 5th Ave.) New York City; it was finished by 1895. Caroline often join the Huntington Family for cross-country train trips (NYC to SF, CA) She also went on trips abroad with the Huntington to London, Paris,& Italy in the summertime. Madame Rodriquez is probably a music teacher or voice coach, Caroline offer entertained the Huntington family with her marvelous piano playing. On one of the Cunard ships, Caroline was actually in the talent show and played piano for the audience in the 1890’s. The musical program was stored in Mr. H.E. Huntington personal papers at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA .

Arabella Letter: abt. 1900-1901 (written on Mourning Stationary)

To: Caroline Huntington Holliday From: Aunt Arabella Huntington

Huntington stationary with address only on top: 2 East Fifty Seventh Street. (in old English scrip)

“Dear Caroline, Helen [Huntington – Arabella’s daughter in law] is going up to see your babies & as I can’t go – you had better bring them down with you as I would like very much to see them both – I am writing very hurriedly so forgive blots [< C-] come down soon – I have plenty of room for the children will cheer me up. with best love to you all especially your mother [Harriet Huntington]. As ever, Your affectionate, Aunt Arabella -“

Document: HEH Collection HEH 418-426 Collection at Huntington Library in San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: The date on this letter is not documented, the black bordered stationary is in respect of the death of a family member. I predict the date of the letter is between 1900-1901, because Collis P. Huntington died in August of 1900. In the Gilded Age, it was tradition to wear black for one year, and use this mourning stationary for that year. Arabella is respect for Collis supposedly wore black in public for the rest of her life.

Arabella Letter date ? April 1, 1901? it was stapled to another letter dated April 1, 1901 Letter to Caroline Huntington Holladay in San Francisco or Oneonta from Belle [Arabella Huntington] from No. 2 or SF or Throggs Neck estate? location?

“My dearest Caroline, I have only time at the last moment to my goodbye & to tell you how very sorry goodbye and to tell you how very sorry I am not to see you this summer but I am going away perhaps it is for the best although it is like death itself to leave. I am not well & everyone thinks this trip will help me. Do write to me Carrie dear, let me [have] all the news, you will be the only one who will take the trouble to write. I am sure everything will come out all right and I [will] tell Edward [Henry Edwards Huntington] not to mind the present state of affairs for the word judges one about right in the end. I am sorry for Edward simply because the others have been so disagreeable; fortunately he is a man & can stand hard treatment. He will give you a package for your son, Collis [Holladay] and so goodbye good bye with love to you all. Affectionally, Belle”

Document: HEH Collection HEH 418-426 Correspondence (at Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)

Arabella Letter: Spring of 1901? No. 2 NYC or Paris or Europe? on “Mourning stationary”

Thursday, My Dearest Caroline, It seems ages since I wrote or heard from you – and I fully expected by this time to have been or the other side of the world – but I was very seriously ill for several days had to give up our rooms – [in Paris or Europe Spring 1901]. Now it is most difficult to get anything comfortable but will certainly go a little later. I heard from someone of the family that you were all leaving San Francisco about the 15th fifteenth of this month but this was not verified by Edward [HEH when I asked him. Edward expects to leave here very soon for S.F.] I will tell all the news – some of which will be new & interesting. I suppose you have heard that Clara [Huntington Collis adopted daughter] & Francis [von Hatsfeldt Prince & Princess] are here. They are at the Holland [Hotel] she was lunching with us yesterday & looks young & pretty as ever. I will tell you all details & will also give you for Collis a little remembrance from me. Do write soon & tell me all the current gossip. Give my best love to Harriet [Caroline’s & HEH’s mom] Your Aunt Susan has been staying here several days = she was quite sick at the hotel so I asked her to come– to ho? of__?, where Dora has been looking after her. The weather has been fearful – raining – almost daily & when not = most threatening. I shall be glad to get away to some spot that I have never seen. Did I tell you about Lathrop’s portrait of your uncle [Collis P. Huntington]. It is very wonderful so life like, with so much dignity — How are the children & you Carrie dear. I hope you are quite well by this time. With best love & a kiss to you (all including Burke) As ever, Affectionately, Belle”

Nancy Note: The above letter is not dated but it was written in Arabella Huntington own hand & on “Mourning stationary”. Mourning stationary in respect to her decease husband:Collis Huntington had died in August 1900. So the letter is probably written in Spring of 1901 when Arabella & her family & entourage would travel each year on their European tour. Arabella got sick & had to cancel trip; losing reservations of hotel rooms, ships & plans. She usually stayed at the Paris Ritz and traveled on Cunard ships or French ship lines.

Arabella Letter: Oct. 13, 1903 Paris, France

Technically, Arabella Huntington didn’t write the letter, it was written by her private secretary, Miss Caroline M. Campbell (for Mrs. Huntington).

Hotel Bristol Paris Logo Date Oct. 13, 1903 “My dear Mr. Tweed, Mrs. Huntington [Arabella] received your letter and would have replied sooner to your kind inquiry but she has been very ill again. She is much better now & as soon as Archer [Huntington] & Helen [ Archer’s 1st wife] arrive from Madeira [Portugal] where they have stopped on the way from South America, she expects to join them in Spain. Mrs. Huntington says she notes what you say of the Kneeland [law] suit & she sincerely trusts that it will terminate– successfully as she thinks it ought to. Mrs. Huntington hopes the suit against the underground R.R. is being pushed. As to the Hubbard matter, Mrs. Huntington says you are the only person that she knows who can attend to it. With kind regards from Mrs. Huntington, Believe me Sincerely yours, Caroline M. Campbell”

Document: HEH Collection HEH 2898 Dated Oct 13, 1903 From Hotel Bristol, Paris, France written by ADH’s social secretary, Miss Caroline M. Campbell (located at Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Nancy Note: Kneeland suit was a dispute about a large tract of land in Voukers, Fordham & Greouburg.

Luxury liner ship, the Huntingtons often traveled abroad Cunard ships.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: