Dr. Harriett was frantic. Was she to lose her grandchildren to a corporation? Arthur C. Pillsbury was not a man who gave up or hesitated in the face of threats to those he loved.
The children's personal possessions were packed up and consigned to the baggage shipping on the train. AC knew there would be no second trip down to Los Angeles to claim the multiple personal items his brother and sister-in-law had left behind. But what mattered was the children.
Dr. Harriett and her youngest son boarded the train which carried the family's most precious possessions. Included was the rug little Arthur kept on the floor of his bedroom and his teddy bear, given to him by his Uncle Arthur, now to be his father. Dad did not even remember a time when Teddy did not sit on his bed, waiting to be hugged. His 'Uncle Arthur" had given it to him the first time he visited to stand up in church and become his Godfather.
Dad told me his new father sat down with him, explaining what was happening and asked if he wanted him to be his father. His answer was Yes! Yes! Yes!
A picture of Dad's mother stood on his dresser all of his life. I remember it from my youngest days. But Dad had a living father who would open up new worlds for him. Dr. Ernest was never mentioned when we talked, but his mother always was. After her death Dad viewed his sister, Grace as his mother. As soon as he was working he took out a life insurance policy on himself to her benefit, maintaining it until her death, just a few years before his own.
The Problem Posed by Aetheline and her Son
Each of the three children faced different challenges. Dad was smallest and so did not have to cope as often with the ugly attentions of their Aunt Aetheline's 'son', also named Arthur for her late husband, Dr. Arthur Deuel, who died in 1900 when he was only 49 leaving the much younger AEtheline a widow with a young child.
I decided I needed a time line, always useful for ascertaining lies. See that The interesting complication here is that Aetheline's son was born about 8 months after the wedding. An early birth or something else? Was Dr. S. A. Deuel really the father - or, there are alternative explanations here, 1) Was he helping a woman who was in difficulties, or 2) Did the good doctor believe he was the father, never pausing to wonder until the baby arrived before time?
The timeline provided some fascinating insights.
When AC rescued Aetheline from San Francisco on the first day of the Earthquake in 1906 she had with her a son, attributed to her late husband. Aetheline's own family questions if this is the case as her son supposedly died before the Earthquake.
Did the Deuels, apparently a respectable clan, keep in touch with this late sprig on the family tree? Or did they know this was an off shoot of a different kind? AC remembered Aetheline from when he was living in Auburn, years before. He had barely exchanged words with her but, and this is important to remember, AC was a romantic who had lost the love of his life, who left him after just a few months of marriage. This had resulted in AC selling his two shops in Palo Alto and his interest in his studio, recently acquired with Julius Boysen as a partner in Yosemite. AC left for the Yukon to photograph the opening of the mining fields in his need to cope with his loss.
Perhaps someone like Aetheline seemed less likely to put him through that again.
Did Aetheline love AC? I concluded she never did - but she needed a husband. Evidence for this is present at every point in their relationship.
Aetheline presented some challenges as I began researching her. The divergence between her bland statements to her relatives and reality was one of these as I made contact with them. It was fascinating to see how Aetheline's calculations for her own life played out. Many issues were just dropped and never again mentioned. Others hidden under piles of lies and half truths. But, as it always the case, the real Sadie Banfield emerged.
What was most telling was the rapidity with which Aetheline sold off a life-times work AC had left so Father could preserve his legacy and her continued lie her husband's children had not been his adopted children.