A Sad Day in L.A.

3-month-old Ursula and her parents

Alfred D. and Clara Cheshire pose with daughter, Ursula, on September 14, 1902, when she was age 3 months, 5 days

Paging through the photo album a while back, I found a newspaper clipping that reported on an upsetting, life altering change for Ursula and her mother, Clara. The timing wasn’t right to share it on Mystery Dancer then, but our story calls for it now.

June 19, 1913 was a sad day for Ursula and Clara. Ursula’s father, Alfred Dudley Cheshire, had been ill for several months and died on that day, just 10 days after Ursula’s 11th birthday. Even though Ursula lived more than a hundred years ago, and I didn’t know her (duh!), I feel so sad for her losing her father at such a tender age.

According to the article that appeared in The Morning Union (a daily newspaper covering Grass Valley and Nevada City, California between 1908 and 1945), Alfred was born in Hamilton, Canada, and emigrated to the United States “when a mere youth.” I know from census records that he was born around 1853 and would have been about 60 years old at the time of his death.

Alfred Dudley Cheshire, husband to Clara Uphoff Cheshire and father to Ursula Cheshire

Alfred Dudley Cheshire, husband to Clara Uphoff Cheshire and father to Ursula Cheshire

Alfred first settled in Michigan and became an expert cabinet maker before relocating to San Francisco in 1830. There, he began a career in undertaking and eventually came to own the California Undertaking Co., which he sold “in splendid advantage” around 1903. Alfred and Clara married in 1899.

The newspaper reports that:

“Everyone who knew Alfred Cheshire esteemed him as a man of the strictest integrity and honorable in every sense of the word. He made friends readily and always retained them.”

The full article appears below. Rest in peace, dear Alfred.


10 Replies to “A Sad Day in L.A.”

  1. That was sad! The photos make the story especially moving – and thanks for telling it, Lizaboo. love , gin

    • You’re welcome! The photos do make the story–and the people–come alive. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found this album. (I feel sorry for people a hundred years from now looking for old photos in an antique shop–they’ll be few and far between now that people hardly ever print them!)

  2. This is sooo sad. I am curious as to what was his cause of death? Did you know for genealogy purposes you can contact the California State office of Vital statistics and for a fee get a copy of his death certificate and the whole family for that matters to see the cause of death. I learned this in my genealogy work. Keep the blog coming I feel like Ursula is a long lost relative.

    • Thanks for the genealogy tip, Connie! I didn’t know that, and will definitely check it out. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  3. It is very sad, 11 years old is very young to loose ones father and for her mother to be on her own too.
    As a cabinet maker he would have been exposed to all sorts of varnishes and laquers so it might possibly have been a form of parkinsons-having said that there are sadly any number of long illnesses in the world-do you have access to his death certificate at all?
    Poor man.
    I feel a bit of a voyeur to find this quite so fascinating.I do appologise

    • I find it fascinating, too — no need to apologize! Your comment about the cabinet making makes me even more curious about cause of death. I’m going to see if I can get a copy of his death certificate from the State of California, as it is not available on Ancestry.com. I’ll report what I find.

  4. our piano tuner suffered from parkinsons as a result of varnishes from piano maintenance in the days before it was recognised, which is what made me think about it-it would be interesting to know –
    having said that the chance of it being non occupational are much greater

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