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24 June 2017

The Essence of One Man's Life

Evelyn Johnson Hardin

By Georgia Lupinsky

 “…She has become the essence of my life and I plead with you for her hand as for life and all that makes life dear.”

So wrote Frederick Sterling Sherman (1853-1935) in a beautifully worded letter dated December 17, 1893 to Lemuel S. Hardin, father of Evelyn Johnson Hardin, the woman he hoped to marry.  Mr. Hardin did, indeed, give his consent!

The letter is part of a treasure trove of Sherman material in our Manuscript Collection, much of which was the basis for Frederick S. “Rick” Sherman’s The Ancestry of Samuel Sterling Sherman and Mary Ware Allen, the latest book published by the California Genealogical Society (CGS).

Writing of his grandparents, Mr. Sherman states that it is believed they met at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, “where Evelyn’s Aunt Nellie (Ellen Hardin Walworth), gave an address that was influential in launching the National Archives of the United States.” She was a favorite niece of her Aunt Nellie who was also one of the founders of the DAR.

Evelyn’s father on one occasion wrote of his daughter, “her peculiar weakness is to be a belle, as her mother was before her, and she is mistress of the feminine arts that make men adore her.” Seventeen years older than his bride-to-be, Fred was “obviously smitten by her charm and beauty” and the two wed some six months after Fred Sherman’s letter, on May 13, 1894 in Fort Hamilton, Long Island, New York, where the Hardin family lived.

Ellen Hardin Walworth
The couple later established roots in California, first moving to La Jolla, and then settling permanently in Coronado. Later generations of the family have also lived in California and have made contributions to their communities. This is exemplified by Frederick “Rick” Sherman’s valuable work for CGS as a Past President, a Chief Researcher and Benefactor as well as a highly respected member of the University of California, Berkeley’s faculty.

Rick’s lasting contribution, his book, illustrates how we as family historians might approach the telling of our family story. Letters, diaries, journals and newspaper articles can unveil previously unknown stories or take us into the thoughts and emotions of a real human being, not just an ancestor listed on a pedigree chart.

Looking for different ways to crack your own family’s genealogy mysteries? Get Rick’s book and discover avenues you might not have explored.  Reading like a great novel, it chronicles one American family’s amazing story. Copies may be purchased on our website and if you’re a CGS member you will receive a 25% discount.



Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

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