MISS VICTORIA’S IN LOVE On Friday, June 13, 1856, Maurice Franklin invited Victoria Jacobs to join him for a picnic. Even though 17-year-old Victoria suffered a severe toothache, she was thrilled to have “the pleasure of going with the person I love mentally.”
As the buggy jounced the rutted trail from Old Town to Gustav Fisher’s ranch in Rose Canyon, their thoughts turned to love’s guises. When they talked of the “sacred” kind, “holy and thrilling,” 38-year-old Maurice confessed his affection for Victoria and proposed marriage. He gave her a leather-bound diary, 3 3/4 by 2 1/4 inches. Her first entry is her response:
FRIDAY, June 13, 1856: “Oh the words then thrilled me. You said you loved me a long time…asked if I would be your wife.”
Her “cool but cheering” answer: “Yes, my love, yours forever, till death separates us.”
SATURDAY, June 14, 1856: Maurice went to the Jacobses’ home in Old Town. Since Victoria’s father Mark, a San Diego merchant, was out of town, Maurice asked her mother Hannah for her daughter’s hand. Hannah said the decision was Victoria’s.
“I gave my answer willingly. It was sealed with a token of pure love — a kiss.”
They walked to Maurice’s nearby home and sat on the sofa “to commune with our own hearts there. Oh, I felt the arm encircling my waist, which will protect me through life. I will guard my dear Maurice like a little angel, ministering to all his wants. We spoke a little while afterwards, then took dinner and walked home.”
Born in Manchester, England, Victoria Jacobs came to San Diego in 1851. Like Franklin’s, her Polish-Jewish family was deeply religious. Franklin, from Liverpool, bought his brother Lewis’s general merchandise store, Tienda California, on the west side of Old Town Plaza. He sold dry goods, foodstuffs, liquor, crockery, glassware, and iron works.
Seen from Point Loma, San Diego in 1856 was a cluster of tile-roofed, sun-bleached adobe structures at the foot of a treeless, straw-covered hill. The town was the site of fiestas and public hangings. Less than five years earlier, bands of natives led by Antonio Garra attempted a blanket assault on the region. In 1852, as foreman of the county grand jury, Lewis Franklin wrote a report on local conditions: no public sanitation, “rampant vice and crime,” a “slipshod” city jail — and mayor.
But Jacobs, whose nine-month-long diary describes daily life 150 years ago, rarely writes about dangers, or even anti-Semitism. Miss Victoria’s in love.
SATURDAY, June 28, 1856: Her birthday. “Received the congratulations of my brothers and sisters. But the congratulations of my betrothed was sweeter than any. The heart that uttered these words beat in unison with my own.”
TUESDAY, July 8, 1856: Maurice “was talking about going to Los Angeles and asking me if I would forget him and asking me also if I would think of him at night. Gives me a kiss and bids us all goodbye till morning. Oh, the words thrilled me. Did he doubt me for a moment — that as soon as he goes away I will forget him?”
SUNDAY, July 13, 1856: A month after Maurice proposed, they rode again to Fisher’s ranch. Along the way, “[D]ear Maurice talked to me of things which I will have to know sooner or later.”
THURSDAY, September 11, 1856: Maurice, who went to New Town (present-day San Diego) on business the day before, “has not been here at all today. I do not consider it right when a gentleman is courting a lady — he is duty bound either to state the reason beforehand or to send an excuse for not coming. I do not know the reason. He ought to have come up first to say good morning, but did not even send a messenger to ask how I am.”
Two days later, Maurice bought two muskmelons for Victoria. “After, we walked to my future home, cut the melons, and tasted thereof, and walked home to tea.”
On September 15, Maurice drove a herd of cattle to Los Angeles in the rain.
SUNDAY, September 28, 1856: “This week has been one…of anxiety to me because I am expecting Maurice here every day and he has not come because of business.”
SUNDAY, October 5, 1856: “Arrival of my dear Maurice after an absence of three weeks today, from me. I was glad to see him again, to look at him and ask him two or three questions.”
They dined that night at her “future home.”
SUNDAY, November 30, 1856: “Maurice has gone to Santa Ysabel to try and sell his cattle. He came up here for to bid me goodbye, but did not bid any of the members of the family. When he comes back I am going to ask why.”
MONDAY, December 1, 1856: “I am busy sewing and thinking of you, dear Maurice.”
One of the biggest events in mid-19th-century San Diego was “steamer day.” Side-wheel steamers brought visitors, goods, letters, and news. To announce his arrival, the captain fired a cannon. Often the entire town greeted steamers at the wharf. On January 7, as part of a bitter lawsuit against his brother, Maurice took the black-hulled Senator to San Francisco.
SUNDAY, January 25, 1857: “Oh, dear Maurice, the steamer not coming Friday when it was expected made me feel more restless and anxious than I have felt for a long time. But never mind, I must get used to being disappointed as well as anybody else. Ah Maurice, I have only to wait patiently till you come.”
MONDAY, January 26, 1857: “I am troubled now and then with toothache. Maurice [who also practiced pharmacy], love, when you come, you will please fill it for me the same as the other?
“The arrival of you, my dear Maurice, and looking well and hearty.”
FRIDAY, February 20, 1857: in her final entry, Jacobs wrote, “Yesterday afternoon, I and Maurice went out riding to get a little fresh air and change of scene.”