(Click on images to enlarge)
Frank Mead, ca. 1914. Courtesy San Diego History Center. (Author's note: Thanks to San Diego architectural historian Erik Hanson I was made aware of this only known image of Mead).
While researching for my last essay, "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, Part II, 1911-1916" I found the below January 1914 Craftsman article by Indian ethnomusicologist Natalie Curtis on Wheeler Bailey's "Hilero." Curtis and her brother George were close lifelong friends with architect Frank Mead and kindred spirits in improving the plight of the Indians. Mead first introduced the Curtises to Wheeler Bailey and "Hilero" in early December of 1907 shortly after the house was completed. Additional visits in 1913 resulted in the heartfelt six-page Craftsman spread. I found the article intriguing because it was deeply infused with Mead's design philosophy and informed by an extensive knowledge of his formative world travels which will be discussed later below. Also there was no mention at all of Irving Gill, Mead's partner when the house was designed in June of 1907.
Curtis, Natalie, "A New Type of Architecture in the Southwest," The Craftsman, January, 1914, p. 330.
Of Mead's design principles Curtis wrote,
"This house belonged here. It was simply man's conscious continuation of what nature, and the life of the past had already built. A first glance at "Hilero" recalled a saying by Mr. Mead, one of the architects: "A house should be an absolute expression of the soil. It should be an intrinsic part of the landscape, a harmonious note in the whole geographical song. It should never strike out from its environment, but should appear as simple and natural a product as the foliage. It should look as if it had grown where it is like a mushroom in a field, it should introduce itself without intrusion. ...
It is a part of Mr. Mead's architectural creed that the utilitarian elements of a house shall be carefully thought out to fit the requirements of the people who are to live there. He studies his clients and makes it his task to come into intimate touch with their practical necessities and wishes, and thus to build houses that shall be his patrons' expression as well as his own, meeting their physical wants at the outset so that the art side of the creation need not be broken in upon by late suggestions necessitating changes of plans." (Ibid).
Curtis, Natalie, "The Winning of an Indian Reservation: How Theodore Roosevelt and Frank Mead Restored the Mojave-Apaches to Their Own," The Outlook, June 25, 1919, pp. 327-330.
Digging a little deeper into Natalie's other writings I found the equally fascinating "The Winning of an Indian Reservation: How Theodore Roosevelt and Frank Mead Restored the Mojave-Apaches to Their Own" in the June 25, 1919 issue of The Outlook (see above). My curiosity sufficiently piqued I decided to jump in with both feet to learn more about the mysterious Mead. In so doing I also learned that Mead's friendship with the Curtises was greatly beneficial to his Southern California architectural career.
Natalie Curtis Burlin, inscribed to Charles Lummis, 1916. Braun Research Library, Lummis Collection.
The enigmatic and eccentric Frank E. Mead is one of the more under-recognized personas in the development of modern architecture in Southern California. Like most migrant Southland architects around the turn of the century, Mead's design education began East of the Rockies in the architectural stronghold of Main Line Philadelphia. Born in Camden, New Jersey in 1865, Mead's interest in architecture was inspired by his father William T. Mead, who was employed in the carpentry trade. The then 14-year old Frank was listed as "architect (apprentice)" in the Federal Census of 1880. The 1885 New Jersey State Census lists Mead as still residing in the family home in Camden.
By 1886 Mead was listed as an architect in Room 26 of the still existing Merchant's Exchange Building along with Daniel S. Beale. They were likely working for established architect T. Roney Williamson and his brother William who were also listed at the same address (see below). (Gopsill's Philadelphia Business Directory for 1887, p. 89).
Merchant's Exchange Building, Dock and Walnut Streets, William Strickland, architect, 1833. From Philly.com.
"Sketch for a Country House, Frank E. Mead, Architect," American Architect and Building News, February 27, 1886.
Early that same year Mead's first published work, a rendering for a country house, appeared in American Architect and Building News (see above). The influence of English architect, furniture and textile designer C. F. A. Voysey is clearly apparent in the drawing (see below). Many of the noted Philadelphia architects of the day, including Mead's soon-to-be employer Frank Miles Day who spent a two-year stint in England, either had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and/or had made the seemingly mandatory inspirational Grand Tour of notable European architectural sites. Thus whomever Mead's earliest employers were would have exposed him to the the English master's work either via their tour sketches and photographs or through the period British architecture and design journals where Voysey's work was by this time regularly featured. (See for example, Gebhard, David. “C. F. A. Voysey- to and from America,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, December, 1971, pp. 304-312). (For a quick introduction to Voysey's arts and crafts oeuvre I recommend Charles F. A. Voysey, Architect by David Gebhard, Hennessey and Ingalls, Los Angeles, 1975).
Artist's Cottage, 1885, C. F. Voysey, architect. From RIBA Drawings Collection.
Frank Miles Day ca. 1901.
Day was a notable Philadelphia architect who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1883. This was followed by three years of travel, education, and work abroad including attendance at London's South Kensington School of Art and the Royal Academy where won the 1885 prize from the Architectural Association of London before returning to practice in his hometown in 1886. Day's practice was just getting off the ground when he was named architect for the Art Club of Philadelphia. (See Tatman, Sandra L., "Frank Miles Day," Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Database).
Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, 1336 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia. (From Philadelphia University History).
During this period the eager Mead was also taking architecture-related classes at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. (Philadelphia Architects and Buildings, Frank Mead bio by William Whitaker and Sandra L. Tatman). The School was incorporated in 1876 for the purpose, as stated in its charter, of establishing
"...for the State of Pennsylvania, in the City of Philadelphia, a Museum of Art in all its branches and technical applications, and with a special view to the development of the Art Industries of the State; to provide instruction in Drawing, Painting, Modeling, Designing, etc., through practical schools, special libraries, lectures, and otherwise. The institution to be similar in its general features to the South Kensington Museum of London." (Philadelphia Museum of Art).
The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, Philadelphia, Circular of the Committee on Instruction, 1889-90.
Ibid frontispiece. Classroom Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, 1336 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia.
"Proposed Home Ranch Near York, PA., Frank E. Mead, architect. American Architect and Building News, August 31, 1889.
In Day's employ by the time the above rendering was published, Mead was still clearly strongly under the influence of the erstwhile John Pollard Seddon apprentice Voysey. The drawing was likely a T-Square Club exercise which the fledgling aspiring architects were encouraged to submit for publication. During his time in Day's office Mead continued to be an active member of the T-Square Club, serving as its vice-president in 1891. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA and served as Chapter librarian. (Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Database). Mead's personal drawings and renderings for various Day projects were exhibited at the first exhibition of the Boston Architectural Club at Horticultural Hall during May 1890. (Catalogue of the First Exhibition of the Boston Architectural Club, 1890, pp. 23-24).
While Mead was taking classes at the School of Industrial Art and beginning employment with Day, his future partner Charles Barton Keen was finishing his architectural course work at the University of Pennsylvania under the tutelage of Professor Thomas Webb Richards, founder of Penn's School of Architecture. Richards had designed four of the first buildings on the school's West Philadelphia campus during the 1870s (see below for example).
College Hall, University of Pennsylvania, 1871-2, Thomas Webb Richards, architect. William H. Rau photo, ca. 1890. From Penn University Archives.
Upon graduation from Penn Keen continued to take courses at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art from 1890-92. His well connected mother, Mrs. Charles Barton Keen, also served on the Associate Committee of Women to the Board of Trustees and the Committee on Instruction. Keen began working as a draftsman for T. P. Chandler in 1889 before joining Mead the following year in the office of Frank Miles Day where he was quickly promoted to head draftsman.
Art Club of Philadelphia, 220 S. Broad Street, 1890, Frank Miles Day, architect.
Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, 1893. Frank Miles Day, architect.
Typical projects on the boards during Keen and Mead's time with Day included the earlier-mentioned Art Club of Philadelphia and the Tenth Presbyterian Church (see above). Strongly encouraged by Day, Mead applied for his first passport on August 19, 1892 and began a lifetime of wanderlust. Keen accompanied him on this first year-long adventure (Keen and Mead Passport Applications, August 1892). The fledgling architects would also have been inspired by Day's 1884-85 and 1893-4 European and Moroccan travel sketches which provided the inspiration for their own travels. They also would have received a firm grounding in architectural practices as Day was later acclaimed by his peers not only for his designs, but also for his mastery of business practice, his expertise on design competitions, and his teaching, speaking, and writing skills. Day was elected president of the AIA in 1906 and 1907 and in 1916 began editing A Handbook for Architectural Practice finally published after his death by the AIA in 1920.
"Tangier: Part of the Kasbah," Frank Miles Day, architect, 12/19/1893, Frank Miles Day Collection, Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.
Spencer Borden Residence, "Interlachen," Fall River, Massachusetts. Keen and Mead, architects, 1893.
Mead and Keen left the Day atelier by 1893 and formed their own partnership. They were possibly emboldened by the firm's first project, the residence of prominent New England industrialist Spencer Borden in Fall River, Massachusetts (see above and below). The commission came about through the largess of Keen's pioneering brain surgeon uncle Dr. William W. Keen, Jr. whose wife Ellen was Spencer's sister. Spencer Borden was coincidentally also the uncle of the infamous Lizzie Borden who was at the time under trial for the ax murder of her parents Andrew and Abby Borden.
Spencer Borden Residence foyer, Keen and Mead, architects, 1893.
"The Borden Murder Trial," Frank Leslie's Illustrated, June 19, 1893.
The nationwide publicity (see above for example) would certainly have intrigued Keen and Mead as they traveled to Fall River to oversee construction progress. Through Keen's Borden family connections the firm was also asked to submit an ultimately unsuccessful entry for the new Fall River Y.M.C.A. design competition. The partners proudly displayed their Fall River work in the Ninth Annual Exhibition of the Architectural League of New York in December of 1893 (see below).
Catalogue of the Ninth Annual Exhibition of the Architectural League of New York, December 1893.
Mosque of the Aisssowieh, ca. 1896. Photo by Keen and Mead, architects. From Morocco: Its People and Places, Vol. I by Edmondo De Amacis, Hebry T. Coates and Co., Philadelphia, 1897, p. 53.
View from the Kasbah, ca 1896. Photo by Keen and Mead, architects. (Ibid, p. 40).
Shortly after forming their partnership Keen and Mead together and separately followed and expanded upon Day's footsteps exploring the architecture of England, Spain, Italy and Morocco, likely during the summer of 1895 indicated by Mead's passport application. Their photos were used to illustrate the 1897 edition of Morocco: Its People and Places by Edmondo De Amacis. Their above and below photos illustrate the profound influence this timeless vernacular architecture had on Mead. It is also quite clear that Mead's influence on his future partners Gill and later Requa was also manifested by these early travels. Earlier-mentioned close friend Natalie Curtis much later wrote of Mead's architectural wanderlust in her "Hilero" article in The Craftsman.
"Still later I learned somewhat of the life of the architect whose travels and studies in Spain, in the Orient and in Mexico, form so rich a background for his work in our own Southwest. Months were passed by Mr. Mead in examining and sketching the architecture of southern Italy, Spain, Mexico, Northern Africa and Asia Minor. After making measured drawings of the Alhambra, the flower of the architectural genius of the Moorish colony in Spain, Mr. Mead crossed to Morocco to study Moorish architecture at home. Fez was at that time practically a closed city to the stranger. Mr. Mead's reception by the Moors and his travels through Africa, where he wore the native dress [emphasis mine (see below)] and was fondly called by the Arabs "The Child of Allah," bear testimony to those rare qualities of human sympathy, comradeship and understanding which seem to lie at the heart of his work.
Ruffian from the Atlas Mountains, Photo by Keen and Mead. architects. (Ibid).
Studying as he traveled, the countries, the people and their houses, this architect made sketches throughout the desert cities of the East as far as Damascus. Everywhere he was treated by the natives as one of them and taken into their houses like a brother. He spent months in Dalmatia and in Italy and Sicily traveling slowly, drawing all the time; and he drove in a cart, with his drawing materials, over the fine roads of England, Wales and Scotland, putting up at the villages and studying the country architecture. Moreover, there is hardly a corner of the United States, or of Cuba and Mexico that he does not know, and because of this wide range of experience he sees so keenly the possibilities of our semi-tropical Southwestern States, which should produce an architecture of their own." (Curtis, Natalie, "A New Type of Architecture in the Southwest," The Craftsman, January, 1914, p. 335).
Sultan Coming Out of Kasbah. (Ibid, Vol. II, p. 42).
Spanish Style Duplex, 131-33 Phil Elena Ave., Pelham, Wendell and Smith, Builders, Keen and Mead, Architects, 1894. From "Double Dwelling in the Spanish Style at Pelham," Scientific American Building Edition, July 1896, pp. 12.
During the mid to late 1890s Keen and Mead came of age as architects designing standardized housing for developers Wendell and Smith in the Philadelphia suburbs of Overbrook Farms, Pelham, and other locations. One of their earliest models was for a Spanish style twin-house in Pelham completed in 1894 (see above). An 1896 issue of Scientific American described the houses as “true in style, entirely devoid of unnecessary ornamentation, being simple in treatment and reposeful in effect.” (Ibid). This ornament free Mission style design foreshadowed Mead's work with Gill by 13 years.
Torchiana House, 315 Elm St., Swarthmore, 1896. Keen and Mead, architects. From Swarthmore Borough by Susana K. Morikawa and Patricia C. O'Donnell, Arcadia, 2009, p. 37.
"A Residence at Overbrook Farms [Davis Pearson Residence]," Scientific American, February 1899, pp. 92, 96.
Many of Keen and Mead's residential designs for Wendell and Smith throughout the mid to late 1890s exhibited elements of the Prairie Style then coming into vogue in the Chicago area (see above for example). Keen and Mead could not have helped seeing and being influenced by Adler and Sullivan's (and Wright's) below Charnley House that was published in their journal of choice, American Architect and Building News, about the time they were forming their partnership. They seemingly would also have viewed it in person while visiting the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago during 1893.
"House of James Charnley, Esq., Astor Street, Chicago, Ill. Adler and Sullivan (and Frank Lloyd Wright), 1892. American Architect and Building News, December 24, 1892, p. 211.
Prairie-Style Residence at 6320 Drexel Rd., Overbrook Farms, Wendell and Smith, builders, Keen and Mead, architects, 1895. From Nomination of Overbrook Farms Historic District, Philadelphia Historical Commission, 2004, p. 62.
Albert C. Barnes Residence (1901-1905), 6374 Drexel Rd., Overbrook Farms, Keen and Mead Architects, Wendell and Smith, Builders. From Nomination of Overbrook Farms Historic District, Philadelphia Historical Commission, 2004, p. 47.
Renowned art collector Albert C. Barnes and his wife Laura leased the right half of the above Prairie-Stylesque Keen and Mead designed "double-dwelling" at 6374 Drexel Road in Overbrook Farms from developers Wendell and Smith upon returning from their European honeymoon in 1901. Mrs. Barnes commemorated the event by pasting photographs of the house into her scrapbook, which is preserved at the Barnes Foundation. Barnes made millions from the antiseptic, anti-blindness drug Argyrol and then assemble one of the world's greatest Modern art collections and establish the world-renowned Barnes Foundation. The Barneses lived here on Drexel Road until 1905, when he and his wife moved to Latch's Lane in Lower Merion. (Ibid, p. 46).
Barnes Family Scrapbook, Barnes Foundation. (Ibid).
Prairie-Style Residence at Pelham, PA, From Scientific American Buiding Edition, December 1898, p. 96.
"A Pair of Houses at Pelham, PA," Scientific American, January 1899, p. 11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_C._Barnes
There were numerous other examples of standardized, speculative houses Keen and Mead designed for Wendell and Smith in the late 1890s and early 1900s. At least 17 pairs of their ubiquitous model above were constructed in Overbrook Farms, Pelham and elsewhere. The above are two-and-one-half-story twin or double dwellings symmetrical about a central party wall. Their distinctive features are the large front porches, which sometimes wrap around the sides, small, finely detailed bay windows at the first story, Juliet balconies at the second story, and large dormers. These models could be clad in stone, brick, stucco, or combinations of the materials and could be finished in the Colonial Revival, English Cottage, and other eclectic revival styles. (Ibid).
Dr. William Williams Keen, Jr.
Again through the largess of Dr. Keen (see above), the firm landed the prestigious commission for the Children's Homoeopathic Hospital (see below) which was completed in 1899. Besides being Professor of Artistic Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Keen was the president of the Philadelphia School of Anatomy from 1875 until 1899 and the American Surgical Association in 1898. Likely at the behest of uncle William, Keen and Mead endowed three beds for the hospital's inaugural year. ("Children's Homoeopathic Hospital, Philadelpha," Hahnemannian Monthly, January 1900, p. 24).
Children's Homoeopathic Hospital, Franklin and Thompson Streets, Philadelphia, Keen and Mead, architects, 1899.
During 1895-97 the partners office was located at 13th and Walnut Streets. (Catalogue of the T-Square Club Architectural Exhibition Held at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1896-97, p. 31).
Keen and Mead, Germantown. (From Google Maps).
Mead lived in one of the firm's distinctive for the time duplex townhouses in Germantown during 1897.
Crozer Building, 1420 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Frank Miles Day, architect, 1898.
Keen and Mead moved their office to room 1104 of the prestigious Crozer Building after its completion by their erstwhile employer Frank Miles Day in 1898. The partners also resided together at 925 Pine St. that year (see below).
An Interior, ca. 1896. Photo by Keen and Mead, architects. From Morocco: Its People and Places, Vol. II by Edmondo De Amacis, Hebry T. Coates and Co., Philadelphia, 1897, p. 26.
Keen and Mead's 1898 commission to prepare preliminary drawings for a garden and dormitory expansion for the Union League of Philadelphia was inspired by a Moroccan interior that was clearly still fresh in their minds from their travels (see above). The project undoubtedly came about through Keen's Uncle William's Civil War surgeon connections. Dr. Keen first became a member of the prestigious Union League in 1868. Still one of Philadelphia's leading men's clubs, the Union League was founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln. The club laid the philosophical foundation for the formation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by civil war. (Chronicle of the Union League of Philadelphia, 1862-1902, p. 495).
Garden and Dormitories for the Union League Club, Philadelphia, Mead & Keen, Architects, Philadelphia, 1898. Rendering by Hughson Hawley. From Catalogue of the T-Square Exhibition and Architectural Annual for the Year 1898.
Catalogue of the Twelfth Annual Exhibition of the Chicago Architectural Club, 1899.
Hughson Haley, ca. 1901. Photographer unknown.
Mead published an article "The Tendency in Home Architecture" in the June 1900 issue of the trade journal Carpentry and Building and was reprinted in Scientific American Building Edition the following February. Mead described the firm's country home for Samuel Megargee, the Stratford Lodge near Bryn Mawr, to illustrate his points. He discussed at length the integration of the landscape with the overall design and made the statement, "The modern architect is no architect at all unless he is a landscape gardener as well." No illustrations were included in the piece.
Stratford Lodge, Bryn Mawr, Keen and Mead, Architects. House and Garden, June, 1901, pp. 1-8.
A feature article on the same Stratford Lodge and its Italian garden and integrated pergolas next appeared in the inaugural issue of the still extant magazine House and Garden (see above). The venerable publication was founded by Keen and Mead's former employer Frank Miles Day and his co-editors Wilson Eyre and Herbert C. Wise. Wise was then working in the Day office at 925 Chestnut Ave. while Eyre's equally well respected firm was adjacent to Day's at 927 Chestnut.
The magazine was essentially the organ for the Day and Eyre firms and their progeny such as Keen and Mead to market their country estate architecture and garden designs. Their editorial for the first issue stated that the magazine was designed to appeal to those interested in architecture and gardening. The publication's "point of view is that of the architect; but of the architect to whom the house and its garden seem so intimately related that the attempt to design one without duly considering the other is an attempt that cannot reach the highest level of success." (Editorial, House and Garden, June 1901, p. 16).
"Given a pair of young architects bubbling over with enthusiasm; turn them loose on the shores of the Mediterranean; let them see the pillared gardens of Southern Italy; take them about the bay of Naples, the Gulf of Salerno; let them walk under the pergola of the Capuchin Monastery at Amalfi; let the beauty of it all become a part of their very lives; let them think about it, dream about it, talk about it; then give them a fair chance to make a hillside garden, and see how like it will be to this garden."
A Garden in Morocco, ca. 1896. Photo by Keen and Mead, architects. From Morocco: Its People and Places, Vol. I by Edmondo De Amacis, Hebry T. Coates and Co., Philadelphia, 1897, p. 166.
The young architects had photographed numerous pergolas while retracing Day's Italian and Moroccan travels (see above for example). These clearly inspired the Stratford Lodge garden design as well as that of the Charles Mather estate Brandywine Meadows Farm in Lenape, Pennsylvania around the same time (see below). The pergola would continue to be a prominent design element Mead would incorporate into the Gill and Mead projects of 1907-08 and the Mead and Requa projects of 1911-20 discussed in Part II. The pergola would also remain one of Gill's favorite design elements after he dissolved his partnership with Mead. (See for example: "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, Part II, 1911-1916." Hereinafter (Gill-Laughlin, Part II).
Brandywine Meadows Farm, Residence for Charles Mather. Keen and Mead, architects, 1901. From T-Square Club Catalogue of the Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1903, p. 98.
Brandywine Meadows Farm Garden. From T-Square Club Catalogue of the Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1903.
Seemingly the last project Keen and Mead collaborated on before dissolving their partnership was the Saratoga Springs country house for renowned American stage actor, songwriter and singer Chauncey Olcott. After Mead's departure Keen continued to get much mileage out of his final iteration of the design. It was published widely to as late as 1917, taking advantage of Olcott's national fame. After returning to Southern California for good in 1910 Mead would have taken in Olcott's Los Angeles and San Diego performances whenever he was in town.
House for Chauncey Olcott, Saratoga Springs, New York. From T-Square Club Catalogue of the Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1903, p. 100.
T-Square Club Catalogue of the Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1903, p. 9.
T-Square Club Catalogue of the Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1903. Title page design by Paul Cret.
A serendipitous collaboration of Frank Lloyd Wright and Paul Philippe Cret with Keen and Mead came about in conjunction with the T-Square Cub of Philadelphia's 1903 exhibition at the Art Club of Philadelphia. Wright was chosen to be on the selection and hanging committee while Cret designed the catalogue's title page. Taking lucrative cues from the House and Garden editors Frank Miles Day and Wilson Eyre, the Keen and Mead partnership before its dissolution had evolved towards design of substantial country estates for wealthier and wealthier clients. This is evidenced by the photos of Keen and Mead's Brandywine Meadows Farm for Charles Mather and Residence for Chauncey Olcott in Saratoga Springs in the catalogue. Cret had just arrived from Paris to teach in the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture and begin his illustrious career.
Paul Philippe Cret ca. 1905.
Out West, April 1902
Possibly as a result of the breakup coupled with a renewed bout of wanderlust, for much of the next decade Mead became more passionate about Indian welfare than architecture. Relocating to New York ca. late 1901, Mead became involved in the creation of the New York Council of the Sequoya League, the brainchild of the indefatigable Indian rights activist and publisher of Out West Magazine Charles Fletcher Lummis. (Theodore Roosevelt and Six Friends of the Indians by William T. Hagan, University of Oklahoma Press, 1997, pp. 151-2).
Lummis, Charles F., "The Sequoya League," Out West, May 1902, p. 407.
During formulation of the League Lummis brainstormed its purpose, how "To Make Better Indians," with noted sympathetic eastern Indian rights advocates such as author Hamlin Garland, Mrs. F. N. Doubleday (wife of the publisher), Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Dr. George Bird Grinnell, Albert K. Smiley and others who were also well connected with Theodore Roosevelt. Lummis named these same supporters to the his League's Executive Committee and Advisory Board (see masthead above for example) while also encouraging them to form a New York chapter. Mrs. Doubleday hosted a series of meetings at her home at 111 E. 16th St. near Union Square to do just that. At an early 1902 meeting over 80 charter members, most likely including a very enthusiastic Mead, formally created the League's New York Council (see below). (Hagan, p. 148. Author's note: Likely inspired by the success of Philadelphia-based House and Garden, Doubleday, Page and Company began publishing Country Life in America in November 1901. The magazine featured the work of Keen and Mead in six articles between 1903 and 1908.).
"New York Council of The Sequoya League," The Papoose, April 1903, p. 14.
Upon receiving a congratulatory letter from Lummis after his swearing in as President following McKinley's September 14, 1901 assassination, Roosevelt invited him to Washington to bring him up to date on his Indian policy ideas. Lummis eagerly accepted Roosevelt's invitation arriving in Washington in early December. Lummis took the opportunity to brief Roosevelt on the formation of the Sequoya League and presented a formal request under the League's auspices to appoint a commission that would locate a new home for the Cupeño Indians living at Warner's Ranch northeast of San Diego. The Cupeños were facing imminent eviction after losing their long legal battle to remain on their ancestral homelands in a recent Supreme Court ruling. (American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis by Mark Thompson, Arcade, New York, 2001, p. 209 and We Are Not Savages: Native Americans in Southern California and the Pala Reservation, 1840-1920 by Joel R. Hyer, Michigan State University Press, 2001, p. 115.).
Lummis reported on the success of his Washington trip immediately upon his return to Los Angeles.
Frank Mead's architectural spheres of Philadelphia and New York were both hotbeds of wealthy activists intent upon improving the plight of the Indians. Philadelphia hosted the formation of the Women's National Indian Association in 1879 and the Indian Rights Association in 1883. The organization Friends of the Indian was formed by Arthur K. Smiley in New York in 1883. Smiley annually hosted a group of well-meaning philanthropists at his Mohonk Mountain House resort at Lake Mohonk in the Hudson Valley to formulate Indian assimilation policies with which to base their lobbying efforts in Washington. He also sat on Roosevelt's Bureau of Indian Affairs Advisory Board in the early 1900s."A California organization [soon to be named the Sequoya League] to forward and assist a more tolerable policy as toward the Indians of California has taken broader lines. Based upon, and given excuse by, the acute need of better conditions for the Mission Indians, it will open for business on lines of national width. President Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Hitchcock, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Jones, all found " horse sense" in its [the League's] plans as outlined to them, and all promised cooperation. The foremost men and women, East and West, of those who really know Indians, have consented to take official hand in the movement. Locally, in Southern California, where the crusade is born, there are no better and no more influential people than those already committed to it." (Lummis, Charles Fletcher, "Founding a National Movement," Out West, January 1902, p. 66).
Smiley wintered in, and later moved permanently to, Redlands, California where he was active in the Redlands Indian Association. He was also a patron of the Sherman Institute, an early Indian school founded at Perris in 1892 before relocating to a brand new campus in Riverside in 1903. Mead was certainly aware of the activities of these organizations and was also most likely a subscriber to Lummis's Land of Sunshine and Out West. It was during this period that Mead possibly crossed paths with, or certainly became aware of Lummis's East Coast Sequoya League advisors Smiley, Doubleday, Grinnell, Garland, C. Hart Merriam and others while helping them form the League's New York Council in early 1902.
Warner's Ranch Commission camp at Monserrate Ranch, June 19-21, 1902. Charles Fletcher Lummis (center), Charles Partridge, Russell C. Allen and photographer Edward H. Davis (far right). From Lummis, Charles, "Turning Over a New Leaf," Out West, May 1903, p. 592.
Upon his return from Washington Lummis quickly followed up with his plan to establish a Warner's Ranch Commission working with Roosevelt and California Senator Bard to finally get legislation passed on May 27, 1902. Bard's bill allocated $100,000 to secure a new home for the Cupeño and relocate them to it. Chairman Lummis selected as his fellow commissioners Charles Partridge and Harvard classmate and future Mead client Russel C. Allen. Partridge was an active member of the Redlands Indian Association with Smiley and Allen was a Harvard classmate of Roosevelt (Class of 1880) and Lummis (Class of 1881). Partridge was also perhaps chosen based on his April 1901 tour of much of the same territory under investigation for the Cupeños' new home. (The Women's National Indian Association: A History by Valerie Sherer Mathes, University of New Mexico Press, 2015, p. 200).
Warner's Ranch on moving day, May 1903. Photo by Edward H. Davis.
During June the Commission inspected 28 sites and settled upon Pala as the most advantageous for Cupeño relocation. Traveling with them were attorney William Collier, Judge Richard Egan, who was experienced in California land matters, Lummis's photographer friend Edward H. Davis and two representatives of the Cupeño, Ambrosio Ortega and Salvador Nolasquez. Through 1902-03 Lummis kept his Out West readers apprised of the activities surrounding the eviction of the Warner's Ranch Indians from their historical tribal lands as well as their coerced relocation to Pala. The controversy was a hot on-going topic in the local press and national Indian's rights organizations also covered the issue at length in their newsletters.
Pala Valley, June 1903. Photo by Charles Fletcher Lummis. From Lummis, Charles, "Turning a New Leaf," Out West, April 1903, p. 440.
Concurrent to Lummis's crusade to help the Warner's Ranch Cupeños, Frank Mead, who would have been well aware of Lummis's saga, was becoming involved in the similar plight of the Mohave-Apache [aka Yavapai] Indians who were trying to return to their tribal lands at Fort McDowell in the Verde Valley northeast of Phoenix. The tribe had been conquered in 1874 and forced to march 180 miles to join the similarly-fated Apache Indians at their recently created San Carlos Reservation. After 25 years the Yavapai were finally allowed to return to their native lands only to find American settlers squatting on their territory.
Possibly in answer to an impassioned plea for help from Fort McDowell missionary Reverend W. H. Gill to Amelia S. Quinton, President of the Women's National Indian Association and friend of Mrs. Doubleday, an eager Mead headed west in the spring of 1903. Through Mrs. Doubleday's largess, Mead had been introduced to Commissioner of Indian Affairs William A. Jones through whom he was authorized to investigate the Yavapai situation in Arizona. (William A. Jones to Roosevelt, September 5, 1903, Quinton, Amelia S., "Waste Places," Indian's Friend, July 1903, p. 2, and Hagan, pp. 148-9). (Author's note: On August 3, 1902 a well-placed member of the New York Sequoya League had the article "In Camp With Apaches: Interesting Account by a Member of the Sequoya League" published in the New York Tribune. I speculate it was likely written by Charles Lummis's Sequoya League colleague and Mead patron Mrs. Doubledaay and Amelia Stone Quinton, co-founder of the previously mentioned Woman's National Indian Association, who is known to have visited the Southwest around that time. Quinton likely mentored Mead on Indian Affairs and the Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache situation before his fateful departure.).
George and Natalie Curtis playing a hand game with High Chief, Oklahoma, December 1904. From NatalieCurtis.org. Courtesy of Al Bredenberg. Also in Poling-Kempes, p. 23.Sometime in late spring Mead crossed paths with and began a lifelong friendshipwith Natalie Curtis and her brother George (see above) somewhere in Arizona, most likely at the Hopi village of Oraibi at Third Mesa. Accomplished pianist and musicologist Natalie had recently spent the winter with George in Southern California for health reasons. During their four month stay the extremely talented Natalie performed and lectured on Chopin and Wagner at the Los Angeles Y.W.C.A. and other venues. ("Y.W.C.A.," Los Angeles Herald, January 24, 1903, p. 9 and "Social Notes," LAH, April 21, 1903, p. 6).
Exterior of Charles Fletcher Lummis Residence "El Alisal, ca. 1903. From Braun Research Library.
Interior of Charles Fletcher Lummis Residence "El Alisal." Photographer unknown. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
"Pasadena's Fourteenth Rose Tournament More Splendid Than Others," Los Angeles Herald, January 2, 1903, p. 1.
It was most likely through Lummis's largess that Natalie met a group of thirty Navajos that fellow Indian activist and former Mission Indians agent and arts and crafts collector Horatio Rust had brought to Pasadena to take part in the 1903 Rose Parade (see above). Lummis and his close "Photographer of the Southwest" friend A. C. Vroman, Natalie and George were included in Rust's group of "privileged palefaces" that showed the Navajos around Los Angeles on the electric railways for two days, exchanging "war-cries" with the residents and visiting tourist attractions such as the ostrich farm in South Pasadena and the ocean near the Los Angeles harbor (see below photos for example). (Curtis, Natalie, "Navajo Indians at Pasadena," New York Evening Post (Saturday supplement) November 28, 1903. I am grateful to Al Bredenberg, custodian of the Natalie Curtis Burlin Archive for sharing this article. Also cited in Natalie Curtis Burlin: A Life in Native and African American Music by Michelle Wick Patterson, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2010, p. 90)
Navajo tribe members on an outing in San Pedro after appearing in the 1903 Rose Parade in Pasadena. Photo likely by Horatio N. Rust or A. C. Vroman. Photo from Horatio N. Rust Photograph Collection: Album of Indians of Southern California and the Southwest, approximately 1886-approximately 1905, Huntington Digital Library.
Navajo tribe members on an outing in San Pedro after appearing in the 1903 Rose Parade in Pasadena. Photo likely by Horatio N. Rust or A. C. Vroman. From Horatio N. Rust Photograph Collection: Album of Indians of Southern California and the Southwest, approximately 1886-approximately 1905, Huntington Digital Library.
Navajo tribe members at Charles Lummis's "El Alisal," January 2, 1903, the day after they appeared in the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Lummis dressed in white at right with back to the camera. Photo by Natalie Curtis. Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum of the American West.
It was perhaps during the Navajo's brief stay at "El Alisal" the day after the Rose Parade that Natalie heard her first ever Indian recording (see above). She wrote of Lummis recording the Indian's voices after which they listened to the playback in utter amazement. That night at the group's Pasadena encampment Natalie mustered the courage to ask the group's interpreter, "If I sing for them will they sing for me?" Her excitement upon earlier viewing first hand Lummis's recording process and then hearing the Indian's "strange low nasal chant" that had the "monotony of Nature's music" undoubtedly planted the seeds which would transform her into an anthropologist and ethnomusicologist. (Curtis, Natalie, "Navajo Indians at Pasadena," New York Evening Post (Saturday supplement) November 28, 1903.).
Over the next few months Natalie took every opportunity to absorb as much as she could from Lummis's and friends' tales of their explorations in the Southwest and their Indian lore and collections. For example the Curtises almost certainly attended new friend A. C. Vroman's lecture on the Acoma and Hopi Indians of New Mexico and Arizona at the Ruskin Art Club the following month. ("Women's Clubs: Ruskin Art Club," Los Angeles Herald, February 10, 1903, p. 6).
Sherman Institute, Riverside, California, government architects, 1902-03.
The day after the Vroman lecture, Natalie and George almost certainly would have accompanied Lummis to the gala dedication ceremony and open house on the campus of new Sherman Institute, a boarding school for Indian youths, mostly from the scattered Mission Indian tribes of Southern California. The morning was dedicated to visiting the new buildings and classrooms to view how the children were cared for and taught. In the afternoon the school band and mandolin and guitar clubs performed and in the evening Indian Affairs Commission board member Arthur K. Smiley was master of ceremonies for another round of performances in the school's new Tonner Hall. The impressionable Natalie would have been duly impressed with the facilities and days's events but perhaps dismayed along with Lummis with the school's aim of total assimilation at the exclusion of the children's retention of their native tribal songs, dances and arts and crafts (see below article for example). ("Guests of the Indians: Many Visitors Attend the Reception at the Sherman Institute, Los Angeles Herald, February 11, 1903, p. 10).
"Barbarism to Civilation, Graduating Class of Sherman Institute at Riverside," LAH, June 22, 1904, p. 5).
During this period Natalie would have been heavily indoctrinated with Lummis's positions on Indian rights and assimilation. In the process she would she would have learned of his relationship with his Harvard classmate President Theodore Roosevelt and his impressive East Coast Indian rights activist connections. Lummis most likely would have also given the Curtises his perspectival account of the then impending Cupeño relocation to Pala and possibly have introduced them to fellow Warner's Ranch Commissioner and future Frank Mead client Russell Allen during his late January visit to Los Angeles. (Letter from Russell Allen to Lummis, January 13, 1903, Braun Research Library).
Rosendo Uruchurtu playing guitar and using a wax cylinder recorder at El Alisal, Los Angeles, California, June 5, 1904, Photo by Charles F. Lummis; courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum of the American West.
Natalie also learned from Lummis his field techniques for recording Indian songs and she likely obtained her first recording equipment through his largess (see above for example). It was through these connections coupled with Lummis's boundless encouragement that Natalie decided to spend the next stage of her life studying and preserving the songs and music of the Indians. She also joined the New York Council of Lummis's Sequoya League. (Patterson, p. 194). In late April the Los Angeles Herald published Natalie's itinerary for her trip back home to New York which would take her and George through the Indian territory of Arizona and New Mexico where she was planning to visit various tribes and begin recording their songs. ("Social Notes," LAH, April 21, 1903, p. 6).
Coincidentally, on the same page of the same issue the Herald ran a piece on the controversy over the relocation of the Cupeño Mission Indians from Warner's Ranch to their new home at Pala. The article ended with,
"There is no better authority on the Mission Indians than Mr. Lummis, and there is none who has their best interests more sincerely at heart. He and his fellow commissioners [Russell C. Allen and Charles Partridge] spent much time and devoted much thought to the difficult problem before them. Mr. Lummis, while deprecating the unfortunate fate that makes removal necessary, is firmly convinced that the best possible solution of the problem has been reached, and he should have the moral support of the people of Southern California in carrying out the onerous task that lies before him." ("Warner Ranch Removal," LAH, April 21, 1903, p. 6).
Natalie Curtis recording a Hopi on her wax cylinder recording machine, likely at the Hopi Pueblo at Oraibi ca. June 1903. From Natalie Curtis Burlin Center for American Culture Studies.
Full-page article on the Hopi Pueblo of Oraibi at Third Mesa. Benton, F. Weber, "A Palace in the Desert," Los Angeles Herald, October 11, 1903, p.
As stated earlier Natalie and George likely first crossed paths with Frank Mead during their May stopover at Oraibi, the Hopi pueblo settlement on Third Mesa in Arizona (see above) under the superintendency of Charles E. Burton. Lummis certainly would have indoctrinated the Curtises (and in a few months Frank Mead as discussed later below) regarding his newly formed Sequoya League's on-going feud with Charles Burton's harsh policies on mandatory off-site school attendance for Indian children to force their assimilation and the Indian's hair length. He undoubtedly would have told them to keep him apprised of any additional findings he and the League could use as fuel to get Roosevelt to oust Burton. (See for example "Sequoya League," Out West, April, 1924, pp. 477-484).
Mead had also recently arrived in the Southwest to investigate ways of helping the Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Indians. Either just before or just after meeting the Curtises, a shocked Mead found the tribe northeast of Phoenix in dire straits struggling to survive with the meager aid of missionaries Reverend W. H. Gill and his wife.
Oraibi Pueblo at Third Mesa.
The Curtises and the eccentric Mead hit it off right from the start, bonding over Natalie's new found passion for Indian music and art and George's love of architecture and literature. After graduating from Harvard in 1893 George studied architecture at Columbia and design at the Beaux-Artes in Paris as had Mead's erstwhile employer Day. (Harvard Class of 1893 Report).
An envious Mead likely couldn't contain himself when the Curtises excitedly shared with him their recent experiences with Lummis and his Sequoya League friends in Los Angeles. At his insistence Natalie wrote Lummis a letter of introduction touting Mead's kindred artistic and idealistic concerns and that he was a rare person who exemplified Polonius's dictum "to thine own self be true." As Natalie and George were preparing to return home to New York, Mead set off for Los Angeles to meet and pick the brain of his Indian activist idol. (Natalie Curtis to Lummis, June 5, 1903, Lummis Collection, Braun Research Library. Cited in Poling-Kempes, p. 41 and note 11, p. 327).
Mead certainly received an earful from Lummis at "El Alisal" on his League activities and connections with Roosevelt and the President's Indian rights "kitchen cabinet." Mead and Lummis would have also compared notes on the similarities between the Warner's Ranch Commission work in establishing the Pala Reservation with what Mead was facing to similarly help the Yavapai at Fort McDowell. Perhaps Mead would have made a trip to Warner Springs and Pala to witness firsthand the logistics of creating a new reservation. Lummis would certainly have imparted to Mead any knowledge he may have possessed on the Mohave-Apaches and Fort McDowell and possibly provided him with letters of introduction to Garland, Grinnell, Merriam and Smiley if needed. Lummis also likely advised Mead on how he thought he should proceed with the Fort McDowell situation.
Yavapai Chief Yuma Frank, ca. 1910. From Oral History of the Yavapai.
Emboldened by his fortuitous meeting with Lummis, Mead returned to Arizona in August where he consulted with unofficial Fort McDowell missionary Reverend W. H. Gill. Together they gathered facts and maps to formulate a well-thought out plan for buying out the settlers and squatters who had infiltrated the area and creating a reservation for the Yavapai. ("Personal," Arizona Republican, August 15, 1903, p. 5).
Possibly at Lummis's suggestion Mead knew he needed to present this plan to a supportive President Roosevelt in a fashion that had a chance of succeeding. Under threats from Fort McDowell settlers against doing so, Mead decided to smuggle the persuasive Chief Yuma Frank out of the Verde Valley and take him to New York to try to meet the President at his summer White House at his Sagamore Hill home on Oyster Bay, Long Island. (Curtis, Natalie, "The Winning of an Indian Reservation," The Outlook, June 25, 1919, p. 327).
Looking for a likely entree for a meeting with Roosevelt, in late August Mead took Yuma Frank to the home of prominent Indian rights activist and philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason, whom he likely met through his Sequoya League activities. Mason was the recent widow of renowned pioneering parapsychologist Rufus Osgood Mason. Unbeknownst to Mead, Natalie Curtis had recently been seeking her patronage to continue her Indian ethnomusicology research. Knowing of her recent success in gaining Roosevelt's carte blanche imprimatur to continue her research wherever she chose, Mason summoned Natalie from her family home on Long Island to come to New York and hopefully arrange for a meeting with the President for Mead and Yuma Frank. Imagine Mead's pleasant surprise when Natalie's friendly face arrived at Mason's Manhattan townhouse. (Poling-Kempes, p. 40 and Curtis, Natalie, "The Winning of an Indian Reservation," The Outlook, June 25, 1919, p. 327). (Author's note: The townhouse where Mason resided was actually owned by Cornelia G. Chapin who would commission Mead to design for her the 18-unit Palomar Apartments in San Diego in late 1913. For much more on this remarkable coincidence see Part II).
Natalie had written to Roosevelt in late June requesting a meeting and a permit to visit the reservations of her choice in order to continue her quest of capturing the Indian's songs and music and learn more of their culture. The President responded that he would be pleased to write Commissioner Jones to arrange the permit but he was reluctant to meet with her as he was supposedly on vacation. (Roosevelt to Curtis, July 2, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center hereinafter TRC).
Natalie did convince Roosevelt to meet with her sometime in mid-July around the time Frank Mead was in Los Angeles comparing notes with Lummis. Her enthusiasm and passion for preserving the Indian's artistic and ethnological culture was apparently contagious. On July 22nd, Roosevelt granted Natalie a personal research permit and dashed off a series of letters to Secretary of the Interior Hitchcock and his Indian Affairs kitchen cabinet members Hamlin Garland and George Bird Grinnell. Roosevelt strongly urged them all to meet with Miss Curtis to hear her enthusiasm for, and thoughts on, preserving the "exceptionally interesting artistic side of the life of these Indians, and to see their artistic efforts efforts, both musical and manual, developed instead of suppressed." (Roosevelt to Natalie Curtis, Interior Secretary E. A. Hitchcock, Hamlin Garland, and George Bird Grinnell, July 22, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).
After Mead arrived on Mason's New York doorstep with Yuma Frank in late August Natalie wrote again to Roosevelt in hope of arranging a meeting for them. She also took the opportunity to reinforce her new found crusade to preserve Indian culture. In her missive Natalie reported that she had several long talks with Mead and made an impassioned plea for Roosevelt to not only name him head of the proposed Fort McDowell Agency but over the entire region as a replacement for the much hated Burton.
"...which of all has perhaps the greatest ethnological, historic and artistic value. Also it is one very rich in industrial possibilities. If the arts of the Indians of the southwest are fostered intelligently who knows but what, in time, Arizona may become distinctively famed for her pottery and silverware, in much the same way that Venice is for her glass and Dresden for her porcelain. I suggest that in addition to the [Fort McDowell] agency Mr. Mead be made supervisor of all pueblo Indians, supervisor also of the agencies in Arizona, including Yuma, which is very much in need of an industrial leader." (Natalie Curtis to Roosevelt, August, 31, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).
Study of Theodore Roosevelt, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, Long Island.
"Mr. Mead...has impressed me very favorably and I am really touched by the old Apache Chief Yuma Frank who was with him. Can't Mead be given some field work in Arizona and New Mexico? I think he could do good work for those strange, semi-civilized tribes, not a few of whose manners and customs are well worth preserving. In fact I believe it would be a distinct addition to our national life to develop and make our own something of the art, industry and music of those tribes, and I think Mead could help us in more ways than one." (Roosevelt to Interior Secretary E. A. Hitchcock, September 3, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).Hitchcock quickly replied,
"I met with Mr. Mead in New York sometime last spring, and at that time he impressed me as being somewhat of an enthusiast in relation to Indian matters...The impression I received was that he was somewhat impractical, but after visiting with him for several hours on the second of this month in my office I have completely changed my opinion upon this matter. Suggestions that he made and facts he had gained while on a visit to old Fort McDowell military reservation were so pertinent that I am now fully convinced that he can be of great service to the Indian Bureau in the field. I have decided to give him, and he has expressed his willingness to accept, a position, if only temporary, at Fort McDowell, in order that he might straighten out the tangle that seems to exist in connection with the titles to the land comprised within that reservation." (Hitchcock to Roosevelt, September 5, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).After his meeting with Roosevelt, likely at Natalie's or Mason's suggestion, the enterprising Mead also met with Grinnell. The two had met earlier, perhaps at a Sequoya League meeting at Mrs. Doubleday's home. Grinnell wrote Roosevelt of the meeting at which Mead shared his analysis of the shortcomings of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and his recommendations for improving same. He made a strong impression on Grinnell who suggested to Roosevelt that a second Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs with the title of Field Assistant Commissioner be established whose duties,
"...with sufficient power, the right man [Mead] in such a place could make such a stir among the Indians and Indian agencies as has never yet been made, and the results would show at once. I believe that in four or five years, the right man with the right backing at Washington, would do more to transform the Indians into working, earning, people, than anything else that could be devised. There is a vast field for effective work - a field now absolutely unfilled. Such an appointment need not in any respect trench on the prerogatives of the Commissioner; the man's authority in certain directions could be limited, yet he would carry the weight of the office." (Grinnell to Roosevelt, September 14, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).Mead's formal McDowell report was submitted on September 12th and Roosevelt took immediate action requesting Hitchcock to prepare an executive order outlining the creation of the new reservation. The order was prepared after a joint meeting with Mead and Indian Affairs Commissioner Jones and was issued on the 15th. (Hitchcock to Roosevelt's secretary William Loeb September 14, 1903, Theoore Roosevelt Center and Annual Reports of the Department of the Interior, for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1905, Indian Affairs, Part I, Camp McDowell Reservation, Ariz., Washington, Government Printing Office, pp. 98-103).
Frank Mead letter to President Roosevelt, September 17, 1903. From Theodore Roosevelt Center.
The above letter indicates Mead and Yuma Frank were staying with George at the Curtis family Manhattan townhouse awaiting instructions from Roosevelt and Hitchcock regarding the status of Fort McDowell (see above). Roosevelt requested that Hitchcock send Mead a copy of his executive order. (Roosevelt to Hitchcock, Saptember 21, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center). Coincidentally, Natalie's first article resulting from her recent field work at Oraibi had just been published in Harper's Monthly. (Curtis, Natalie, "An American-Indian Composer," Harper's Monthly, September, 1903, pp. 626-621).
With only a temporary appointment for the specific task of clearing reservation land titles, removing the squatters and getting the Yavapai peaceably settled, Mead and Yuma Frank excitedly returned to Arizona as soon as they received final instructions from Commissioner Jones. Mead wasted no time, immediately holding five "councils" with surrounding Indian encampments to gather their input. By the end of September saw to it that Reverend Gill was appointed to be "farmer-in-charge" of the new reservation with instructions to get the Indians peaceably settled on the lands that were withdrawn for their use. (Annual Report of the Department of the Interior, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1905 "Camp McDowell," p. 98 and also excerpted below).
After meeting with Arizona Territorial Governor Brodie and Sheriff Cook of Maricopa County Mead instructed Gill to keep the Yavapai and settlers separated until the land issues were settled. Mead secured peaceable occupation of the reservation by October 20th and opened a land office the following week. On October 26th Reverend Gill happily wrote of the news to renowned Yavapai alum Carlos Montezuma in a letter date-lined Mohave-Apache Indian Reservation, "...there is great joy here in our Indian camps." (Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of American Indians by Peter Iverson, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1982, p. 44).
As Mead began the sticky negotiations with squatters and settlers with legitimate claims he also successfully mediated unanticipated disputes over water rights from the McDowell irrigation "ditch." ("The McDowell Ditch: Amicable Adjustment of Rights of Various Settlers," Arizona Republican, October 31, 1903, p. 5). During November and December Mead was deeply involved in cleaning up land titles, processing quitclaim deeds and arranging for final payments for the displaced settlers while awaiting approval of the enabling Congressional appropriation bill. He was also constructing home and school classroom improvements for Reverend Gill and his teacher wife on the reservation. (Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Interior for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1904: Miscellaneous Reports, Part II: Governor of Arizona, "Phoenix Indian School," Washington, Government Printing Office, pp. 35-37).
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1905: Camp McDowell Reservation, Arizona, Native American, March 17, 1906, p. 1.
All of the negotiations for the settlers' land and improvements were completed sometime in December at which time Mead reported on his success to Commissioner Jones and the East Coast Indian rights groups. The Philadelphia-based Indian Rights Association's annual report trumpeted,
"Much praise is due Mr. Frank Mead, an architect of New York City, who interested himself in these Indians for the latter's good, and who, together with missionary Gill, encountered what seemed to be Herculean difficulties. The Indians will now be enabled to support themselves by reason of this self-sacrificing work." ("The Settlement of the Mohave-Apaches," Twenty-First Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Indian Rights Association for the Year Ending December 15, 1903, Philadelphia, pp. 56-57).
By this time Natalie had successfully secured Mrs. Mason's patronage to continue her research. Mason was so deeply interested in what Natalie was proposing that she decided to accompany her on her next trip. (Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography by Robert E. Hemenway, University of Illinois Press, 1980, p. 104). Natalie made arrangements with Mead to bring Mason to Phoenix to kick off a new round of exploration. The trio were met at the station by Mead and Reverend Gill on December 20th, in time for a big Christmas reunion celebration saluting their collaboration in the formation of the new Fort McDowell reservation. ("Personal," Arizona Republican, December 20, 1903, p. 5).
Phoenix Indian School, ca. 1908. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Mead and Reverend Gill hosted a tour for Mrs. Mason and the Curtises of the local sites and the Phoenix Indian School (see above) where Natalie spent some introductory time demonstrating to Mason how they would be conducting the research. Yuma Frank and his wife picked up the group on Christmas eve and drove them by wagon back to the new reservation. ("The McDowell Settlement: Inspector Mead Will Visit the Reservation Today," Arizona Republican, December 24, 1903, p. 3).
The Outlook, June 25, 1919, p. 327.
Natalie later fondly recollected of the day in a piece in The Outlook (see above),
"That afternoon Mr. Mead rode with Pelia [Yuma Frank] to each farm now turned over to the Indians by the settlers. The Mojave Apaches could still hardly believe that the white men were really going. The Indians took the land in communal tribal ownership, and the portions were allotted to the different families by the chief. ...As the Indians moved across the reservation with Mr. Mead, looking over each abandoned farm, it seemed as though a miracle had indeed been wrought. It was the miracle of personality. Two dominant wills had turned the despair of the Indians into a great hope.
That night the Mojave-Apaches gathered for a great dance in honor of their "savior," as they called Mr. Mead. Indians of neighboring tribes had ridden over to rejoice with them. It was a ceremony of thanksgiving for their land. A huge bonfire burned on the open desert; its flames seemed to lick the deep blue-purple of the sky. Brilliant moonlight— such moonlight as Easterners have never seen—touched cactus and mesquite and lit the horizon line of hills. Around the fire the Indians moved with rhythmic step, a great circle of singing humanity silhouetted against the blaze. The song beat on the desert stillness with the pound of the drum till it seemed as though the heart of the "earth-mother" herself were throbbing in gladness for her children. Every now and then the rhythm changed, and men and women in groups of three moved backward and forward into the flare of the firelight and out into the peace of the moonlight in the social "walking-dance" of the Apaches. All night they danced and for three days they rejoiced. "We have our land," they said; "we are men again." (Ibid. See also The Indians' Book by Natalie Curtis, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1907, p. 327).
Mrs. Charlotte Osgood Mason and the wife of Yuma Frank at Fort McDowell, Christmas Day, 1903. From Curtis, Natalie, "The Winning of an Indian Reservation," The Outlook, June 25, 1919, p. 327.
The author at the corner of Yuma Frank Road and Fort McDowell Rd., Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, Arizona, May 23, 2016. Photo by Beth Crosse.
After returning to Phoenix Natalie, George and Mason most likely set up shop at the Phoenix Indian School and began their research in earnest. The school was formed in 1891 in the West End Hotel and transferred the following year to its permanent 160 acre site three miles north of Phoenix at what is now the northeast corner of Central Ave. and Indian School Rd. By the time Mason and the Curtises arrived the school was home to 872 students from 20 different tribes providing Natalie a veritable trove of material to choose from.
From their base at the Phoenix Indian School the Curtises and Mason seemingly struck out for Yuma and Navajo and Hopi country. Later on their way back to New York they visited sites in New Mexico including the Laguna Pueblo and Albuquerque Indian School. They returned to New York sometime in the spring where Natalie began digesting and processing her voluminous material, planning the format for her book and writing articles for numerous publications.(See for example Curtis, Natalie, "A Bit of American Folk Music: Two Pueblo Indian Corn Grinding Songs," The Craftsman, October 1904, pp. 35-410). Shortly after her return Roosevelt invited Natalie to a luncheon at the White House where he surprised her with a request to perform some of her Indian songs to the luminaries in attendance. It seems plausible that her recent interactions with Mead might have been discussed at some point in this visit. (Curtis, Natalie, "Mr. Roosevelt and Indian Music: A Personal Remembrance," The Outlook, March 5, p. 119, cited in Poling-Kempes, p. 47).
The rapidity with which Mead was able to forge a peaceful solution to the Mohave Apache problem quickly raised his stock in the opinion of Indian Affairs Commissioner Jones. This was evidenced by his late December reply to Roosevelt's request to find a qualified man to investigate the feasibility of Sequoya League executive committee member C. Hart Merriam's recommendation to devise possible means of distributing indigent California Indians among the State's forest preserves.
"As to obtaining a first rate man, as suggested by you, to investigate the matter, I do not know of anyone I can name who would entirely fill the bill. Mr. Frank Mead, whom you know, who by the way has done excellent work at old Fort McDowell reservation in Arizona, would be about as good a man as I could name, but you know he is not connected officially with the government in any manner and I question whether or not he would be willing to undertake this work without being assured that at least his expenses would be paid. This, I am told, we are not authorized to do under present legislation. I intend to ask Congress to place an item in the Indian bill giving you the right to appoint Mr. Mead as a Special Agent and fixing the salary and other matters connected with the office. He has been an agreeable surprise to me, as I formed rather an unfavorable impression of his abilities when I first met him, but his record is among the very best in the service, and in conversation with Gov. Brodie, who was here a few days ago, he stated to me that he did not think there was a man in the service who could have brought about conditions at Fort McDowell that Mr. Mead succeeded in doing." (Jones to Roosevelt, December 29, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).Grinnell was still trying to lobby for a permanent appointment for Mead and enlisted C. Hart Merriam's help. Learning of Mead's June visit to Lummis, Merriam wrote to him enquiring of the architect's "mental ballast." (Merriam to Lummis, December 10, 1903, Lummis Papers, Braun Research Library, cited in Hagan, p. 151). Lummis replied with a reference to the eccentric Mead's "Oscar Wilde estheticism" and that Mead was "a good deal saner than he looks, and I am inclined to trust him; but still would hardly vouch for his balance." (Lummis to Merriam, December 17, 1903, Lummis Papers, Braun Research Library, cited in Hagan, p. 151).
After likely consulting with the Curtises and Mason on their upcoming research itinerary Mead left for the East Coast right after the holidays to proudly spread the good news of his accomplishments.("Personal," Arizona Republican, January 3, 1904, p. 6). On his way back to New York Mead stopped off in Chicago where he met for the second time with Hamlin Garland. Garland immediately forwarded his "deepening good impressions" to Roosevelt after their January 22, 1904 meeting and of his "sense of relief to know [Mead's] so earnest and capable a man in the field." He finished with that he would do his utmost to support him as would Grinnell. (Hamlin Garland to Theodore Roosevelt, January 22, 1904, TRC).
A new assignment immediately presented itself to Mead after he was summoned to the White House for a January 27, 1904 meeting regarding a dispute between cattle ranchers and the Navajos over grazing rights on the Navajo Extension, a 25 square mile addition granted to the Navajo reservation below the Little Colorado River just two years earlier. The Navajos were upset that surrounding cattle ranchers were allowing their herds to trespass and the ranchers were asking that the land be returned to public domain. In attendance, besides Mead, Roosevelt and Indian Affairs Commissioner Jones, were W. R. Johnston, a missionary among the Navajos, and three prominent tribe members representing tribal interests and Mr. A. T. Cornish, a local County Commissioner, representing the cattle ranchers. Roosevelt and Jones dispatched Mead to investigate and recommend a solution. ("May Restore Portion of Indian Lands: Disputes Between Cattlemen and Navajo Tribe Causes Government to Investigate," San Francisco Call, January 28, 1904, p. 5).
Mead arrived in Arizona, seemingly with a position of Supervisor of Indian Reservations in hand, to begin his investigation in early February. He conducted an exhaustive information gathering public hearing on February 8th in the Coconino County Courthouse in Flagstaff. In attendance and giving testimony were Territorial Governor Brodie, Coconino County officials and at least 25 local ranchers. On the 10th and 11th Mead rode the range with key representatives from both sides and on the 13th conducted another all day hearing at the Canyon Diablo Navajo Sub-Agency where all interested Indians testified. Mead submitted his final report to Jones, Hitchcock and Roosevelt on February 17th. His recommendations were that the land in question would remain part of the Navajo Reservation but approved local ranchers could graze their herds there from December 1st to May 1st. Coconino County officials would be tasked with protecting the Indian's rights. Any violations could cause a revocation of cattle rancher's winter grazing privileges. By the end of April his report was approved without amendment. ("Navajo Extension: Privilege of Grazing Granted, but Lines Remain the Same," Coconino Sun, April 23, 1904, p. 1).
After submitting his Navajo Extension report Mead made Phoenix his base of operations. He possibly reconnected with the Curtises and Mason if they were still in reasonable proximity. His duties were somewhat nebulous but he had apparently had been tasked with making periodic visits to all of the Arizona reservations and making recommendations for, and implementing improvements to the Indian's self-sufficiency and industrial welfare. The Phoenix Indian School newspaper, The Native American welcomed Mead to Phoenix in mid-March.
"Frank Mead, Supervisor of Indian Reservations, who is making Phoenix his headquarters for a time, visited the school this week. It was Mr. Mead who has settled most amicably the differences between the Indians and the white settlers at Camp McDowell and has done much by his whole-souled endeavor and the inspiration of his strong personality to awaken in these Indians the hope of better things and the courage to work for them." ("General School News," Native American," March 19, 1904, p. 93).
Mead's Navajo Extension recommendations were soon approved in Washington and the decision was disseminated by late April. The gratifying news of Mead's triumph at Fort McDowell and his appointment to Supervisor of Indian Reservations made its way to Lummis in time for the below Sequoya League report in the April 1904 issue of Out West. (Author's note: After his work relocating the Cupeños from Warner's Ranch to Pala, Lummis had requested a similar unpaid position to continue finding resting places for homeless Indians of Southern California. See for example Jones to Loeb, June 23, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt Center).
"What may prove quite as important a gain as any of these other betterments of the notoriously bad condition of the Indian service, is the President's appointment of a Supervisor of Indian Reservations. This is one of the most practical devices yet invented to bring Washington into rather more actual knowledge of, and sympathy with, the remote reservations. Hitherto, inter-communication has been merely routine and official; and "official" from the field end has meant mostly the office-holder alone. A reliable man with official authority, and still not a place hunter; one who can win the confidence of the Indians, do business with agents, and get along with the American neighbors of the Indians, and who is known and trusted by the Washington authorities, can do more, probably, to make the actual conditions known to the government than has ever yet been the case. Such a man seems to have been found in Mr. Frank Mead, the first incumbent of this new office. He was recommended by the New York Council of the Sequoya League to the President, and has the acquaintance and confidence of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He is an architect of high standing, who has given up his business for the sake of doing a citizen's part in helping to a solution of the "Indian Problem." There is every indication that he is the very man for the place. He has already accomplished much by enabling the Department to assist the Yuma Indians and to put the Mojave Apaches in a comfortable home. And, by the way, the President turned over to these Mojave Apaches the abandoned military reservation of Ft. McDowell." ("Sequoya League," Out West, April 1904, pp. 380-384).
Lummis's positive assessment of Mead in Out West was repeated verbatim in Amelia S. Quinton's Women's National Indian Association organ, The Indian's Friend, two months later. ([Mead Appointment], The Indian's Friend, June 1904, p. 1).
Based upon Mead's successes to date and ongoing lobbying by Mrs. Doubleday and Grinnell, sometime around July Roosevelt requested that Hitchcock give Mead a position with more responsibilities that would enable his work in the Southwest to be "more effective."
"Please allow him a financial clerk to accompany him in the field with a salary of a thousand dollars a year and traveling expenses. Direct the Indian Agents and bonded superintendents in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado to report to Mead on the first of every month as to the industrial condition of the Indians, send their proposed industrial plans for the coming summer..." (Roosevelt to Hitchcock, ca. July 25, 1904. The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. IV by Elting Morison, p. 864).Over the summer of 1904 Samuel Brosius, Washington lobbyist of the Indian Rights Association, tried everything to block Mead's appointment. The extremely straitlaced Brosius had apparently gotten word via an article in the North American [Review?] that Mead had had an affair with a woman which purportedly wrecked her marriage. Brosius brought the matter to Secretary Hitchcock's attention. Hitchcock decided to put a hold on Mead's new appointment pending an investigation.
The debate over Mead's new, more powerful position was ended once and for all with Roosevelt's exasperated October letter to Hitchcock.
"Inasmuch as the article in the North American relates to incidents that occurred two years before Mr. Mead was put into the service, and in view of the very emphatic backing given him by Mr. George Bird Grinnell and Mrs. Doubleday, I direct that my request be carried out, and suitable papers prepared. As Mr. Mead is now in the service, I do not see why there must be an exception made to appoint him to his new position. I wish you would have the matter taken up with the Civil Service Commission, and if necessary I will of course approve an exception to the rules on the ground that Mr. George Bird Grinnell, Mrs. Doubleday, and the people most interested in Indian management, think he has exceptional and peculiar qualifications. I may add that if he has not got them, I certainly do not know anyone who has. I have sent a copy of the North American to Mrs. Doubleday, and asked her what she knows about the matter. Meanwhile, I wish to ask if there has been any accusation made against Mr. Mead since he has been in the service. If so, please have it investigated. But as three months have passed since I made the request for his appointment, I do not wish his appointment held up pending the examination." (Roosevelt to Hitchcock, October 18, 1904. Theodore Roosevelt Center).In the spring of 1905 Mead hired John R. Eddy to be his field secretary. (American Indians in World War I: At Home and at War by Thomas A. Britten, University of New Mexico Press, 1997, p. 109). The territorial newspapers regularly reported on the pair's comings and goings as they made their monthly reservation rounds. (See for example "Local and Personal," Coconino Sun, June 3, 1905, p. 2). While all of this controversy was going on Natalie had found a new patron to sponsor her next round of research in philanthropist George Foster Peabody who was also a longtime fellow trustee of Hampton Institute with Charlotte Osgood Mason. (Patterson, p. 104).
Moki [Hopi] Corn Festival, St. Louis World's Fair, 1904. Photo by Howard Rau.
Armed with a $1,000 donation from Peabody Natalie and George embarked in the fall of 1904 for St. Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. They spent much time absorbing all of the Indian exhibits and displays and interacted with Geronimo. Natalie persuaded the aging Apache leader to share his medicine song for her ever-growing collection. (Patterson, p. 111). Mead also likely visited the Fair which closed December 1st, as he was reported to have returned to Arizona from Washington in December. ("Indians Contented," Arizona Republican, December 10, 1904, p. 5).
George and Natalie Curtis playing a hand game with High Chief, Oklahoma, December 1904. From NatalieCurtisBurlin.org. Courtesy of Al Bredenberg.
Contents, The Indians' Book by Natalie Curtis, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1907.
Harvey Hotel, Winslow, Arizona ca. 1908. From Library of Congress.
Fort Defiance, ca. 1919. Library of Congress.
Charles Day Trading Post, Chinle near Canyon De Chelly, ca. 1900. From Brundige-Baker, Joan, "Trading Days in Canyon De Chelly," Arizona Capitol Times, August 21, 2015.
The next day they met Field Matron Mrs. Coles at the Chinle Trading Post (see above) where Mead was attracted to the Chief's Robe she was wearing. Immediately upon returning to Fort Defiance Mead requested that Superintendent Perry commission a Chief's Blanket from Chinle Trading Post operator Charles Day "like the one Mrs. Cole has" at a recommended price of $12 to $15. Day selected renowned local weaver Tall Woman to do the job. (Letter from Supt. Reuben Perry to Charles L. Day, January 31, 1905, referenced in Tall Woman: The Life Story of Rose Mitchell: a Navajo Woman, c. 1874-1977, p. 400).
Ford Hotel (bottom center), Phoenix, ca. 1908. From Library of Congress.
In early February George helped Natalie organize her Navajo material and helped Mead prepare his field report for the Fort Defiance-Chinle inspection trip. By February 9th they were all back in the Ford Hotel in Phoenix (see above). Natalie and George spent the next three weeks in the Phoenix area. Natalie entertained Indian children from various tribes in her room and taught drawing and painting classes at the Phoenix Indian School. George worked on her book manuscripts and did some typing for Mead. (GDC Diaries).
Phoenix Indian School classroom. "Annual Report of the Bureau of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," Native American, January 27, 1906, p. 20.
The February 11th issue of the Phoenix Indian School newspaper Native American reported "Miss Natalie Curtis and Mr. G. DeC. Curtis of New York are making a pleasant visit at the school and pursuing their studies of Indian art." ("Phoenix and Elsewhere," Native American, February 11, p. 49, 1905, p. 67). The next day Mead and the Curtises visited the Pima settlement and on the 13th Mead left on an inspection trip to the Yuma Reservation. The following day Natalie and George reconnected with old friend Reverend Gill from the Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Reservation and recorded songs from a Mohave-Apache which were included in her book. (GDC Diaries).
The Curtises followed Mead to Yuma on the 23rd. Their departure was reported,
"Mr. Geo. DeC. Curtis and Miss Natalie Curtis of New York, left for Yuma via the Santa Fe Tuesday morning. They intended to start Sunday via the Southern Pacific but on that day the Gila bridge went out again. Miss Curtis made the acquaintance of many of our boys and girls, several of whom rendered valuable assistance in her interesting work." ("Phoenix and Elsewhere," Native American, February 25, 1905, p. 67).
"Miss Curtis and her brother left Phoenix Monday evening. They were here visiting the school. We all missed them, and we hope that someday we will meet them again.—L. M. S. ("Classroom Notes: Notes by the Pupils," Native American, February 25, 1905, p. 68).The Curtises were shown around Yuma and taken to the reservation by Mead. They spent a few days interviewing and recording before packing up for the long trip back to New York. Mead likely accompanied them back to Phoenix and saw them off to New York around the first of March. (GDC Diaries).
Albuquerque Indian School, ca. 1910. From Bringing History Home.
Mead spent the rest of 1905 making routine rounds between the region's reservations with his new secretary J. R. Eddy. Their comings and goings were routinely reported in the Arizona Republican in Phoenix and Coconino Sun in Flagstaff. At some point in 1905 Mead worked in the office of the Superintendent for the Department of the Interior's Indian School Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico (see above). This is evidenced by correspondence he received there from mutual Lummis friend Mrs. P. G. Gates of regarding the trading post concession at Oraibi.
Possibly disenchanted by the controversial policies of Commissioner of Indian Affairs Jones replacement Francis Leupp and likely tiring of the nomadic lifestyle, the then forty-year old Mead resigned from the Indian Service as of January 1, 1906. ("Phoenix and Elsewhere," Native American, January 6, 1906, p. 494). Mead left Arizona on January 18th and spent a couple months in of Southern California. He possibly reconnected with Lon Megargee in Los Angeles and seemingly would have checked out the architectural scene for possible future employment. (Native American, January 20, 1906, p. 14). This may be when Mead first met the similarly eccentric Irving Gill either in San Diego or Los Angeles where Gill was beginning to spend more time. (See "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of ModernArchitecture in Los Angeles, Part I: 1893-1911").
"Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1905: Camp McDowell Reservation, Arizona," Native American, March 17, 1906, p. 1.
Mead returned to Arizona in March for a few days to settle his affairs before heading off to New York. (Ibid, March 24, 1906, p. 24). Upon his brief return to Phoenix to pack his by then considerable collections of Indian textiles, pottery, baskets and silver Mead would have been delighted to see the latest issue of Native American (see above) which was in essence a farewell tribute to his work at Camp McDowell. This six-page excerpt from the Commissioner of Indian Affair's 1905 annual report to Congress spelled out in detail the history of the Mohave-Apache's quest for the right to live on their historical tribal lands and the collaboration between Mead and Roosevelt to achieve the considerable accomplishment of creating the new reservation. While back East Mead certainly would have reconnected with George and/or Natalie who was then nearing completion of her magnum opus The Indians' Book. (Poling-Kempes, p. 54).
It is not yet known when or why Mead returned to Southern California from New York. He may have spent much of 1906 and early 1907 assuaging his lifelong wanderlust. The construction boom following the San Francisco earthquake could have been a factor in Mead's return to California. The first evidence I have found to date placing Mead in San Diego is in May of 1907 when the Gill & Mead firm name first appears on the plans for the Melville Klauber House. The particulars of the split between Hebbard and Gill are also unclear but Mead's presence could very well have played a role in the breakup. (For more speculation on the Gill-Hebbard breakup see Kamerling, p. 44).
I will end Part I here. The following link will take you to "Frank Mead: 'A New Kind of Architecture in the Southwest,' Part II, 1907-1920."