Stories From The Grave
TERESA MEYER MALLARD
Row 2 Plot 160
It can be extremely challenging to write bios of women from our early days, due to the fact that very little of their lives are documented. As I set out to explore the life of Teresa, I didn't expect to find much information, and so as a last futile attempt to track down any facts about her life, I posted on Billie Lyons new Facebook site-Motherlode Memories-to ask for photos, memories, random info or any help in putting together a brief synopsis of her life. Once in a while we hit the jackpot and I was floored when Teresa's great grandson texted me and willingly shared a 4" thick binder, full of photos and stories and biographical data on the Mallard family. It was a treasure trove and I spent the next several days completely and happily immersed in their lives. What a great resource they have put together! It was extremely difficult to write a "brief" bio as there were just so many fun and interesting memories Teresa put down on paper. With the families permission I will do my best to give an overview of her life, but I am thinking of putting some of her memories in future newsletters, as they are a rare glimpse into the Tuolumne county of old. Thanks to Billie for hosting such a great site. If you haven't visited, you're missing out!
While visiting the Tuolumne County Genealogical Societies location, I met with Pat Perry and found that she was the person that put together this amazing binder of family history. Thank you, Pat, for your amazing dedication to this family’s history. It’s just an incredible journey into the past.
Most of this bio was written by either Pat Perry or family members. I was given permission by the family to share all the information included. I have only edited and re-arranged the information to try and condense this exhaustive compilation to our format of a short bio. It was a grueling job to try to make a succinct history and I ‘m sure I have left out many tidbits that would have added to the overall experience. Please check future newsletters for additional information and memories that Teresa shared.
Nine children were born to Bernhard and Ellen Meyer, five boys and four girls. The first-born daughter died as an infant, another passed away at the age of three years. The last, twin boys, lived only a few days.
"Teresa Agnes Meyer, was born on October 18, 1876, at their family home on Shepard Street. She was the third child and second daughter born to Bern and Ellen Meyer. Except for a couple of years, she lived in Sonora her entire life, always very close to downtown.
“Teasy” started school in 1882, at the little red brick schoolhouse on the hill where the Sonora dome is today. When she was about 13, after a day in the classroom, Teresa would go to her father's store and do the bookkeeping. She continued to do this until she married Frank Mallard.
Like most girls in the late 1800s, Teresa helped her mother around the house. She would stay home from school on wash days to pump water from their deep well for tubs sitting on a bench on the back porch as her mother scrubbed their dirty clothes on the washboard. Before electricity, it was Teresa's job to fill the lamps with kerosene and trim the wicks and polish chimneys. How she hated that job."
“One of Teresa's favorite people, was her Aunt Mary Garner. Teresa said everything special that came to her came from her aunt Mary. It seemed that her aunt had moved to Stockton and Teresa would often visit. As fate would have it the Garners lived next-door to the family of John Jacob Mallard, who had a very charming son by the name of Frank.
Teresa and Frank fell in love. They were married in 1900 and settled in Lincoln, California, where Frank worked for Gladding, McBean, a manufacturer of clay tile, sewer pipe and terra-cotta building tiles. They lived in a little one room house near the pottery factory.
The young couple was happy in Lincoln and Frank enjoyed working in the pottery plant, but had frequent spells of asthma, due to breathing the pottery dust. It became evident that his health would not permit continuing this type of work. He reluctantly gave it up, but all his life he retained the love for all kinds of dishes.
When Frank and Teresa explained to her parents that Frank was going to have to give up his job, her father offered him a job in his grocery store. He received $30 a month salary and whatever groceries they needed. Frank clerked in the store and was the delivery man on the grocery wagon. At that time they hauled big loads of supplies to the surrounding mines in the large grocery wagon with two horses.
In June 1903, Teresa's father purchased a home for Frank and Teresa, at the northeast corner of Gold Street and Wright's Lane in Sonora, for $1000. They lived in that house for many years before they built a new home on Lyon's Street.
Their first child, a daughter, Audria Lorraine, was born on March 18, 1901. Frank's sister, Jodie, was also Teresa's best friend, and as she shared the same birthday as their little girl, she was given the honor of naming the baby. On September 21, 1909, the Mallard’s second daughter, Frances Josephine was born.
In 1912, Frank successfully ran for the office of City Clerk of Sonora. The position paid $30 a month and he was successfully reelected for several terms until he chose not to run again.
In 1920, the Mallards purchased property to build a new home, which was located at 243 E. Lyons St., in a new development in Sonora, known as Simpson Terrace. The year before, Teresa's father retired from the grocery business and turned the store over to his sons-in-law. The partnership did not work out and after a short time Frank bought out the interest of his brother-in-law Jim Reed. The store prospered and outgrew its small quarters and on October, 1920, the business had moved across the street to the Hotel Victoria Annex, under the name of Mallard's. Frank increased the store's stock and added a delicatessen department. In 1938 ,they moved uptown, next to the Mundorf Mercantile company. Neither the Meyers nor Frank and Teresa ever owned the properties that housed the grocery stores.
For a few years, Frank and Teresa were the Sonora reporters for the Stockton Mail, predecessor to the Stockton Record. They were paid for news at so-much- an inch and apparently the agreement was that part of the amount due them was to be taken out in trade in Stockton stores.
The Mallards, like other merchants, made charge accounts available to their customers. When Teresa died, the family found boxes of unpaid bills and others that had never been sent. No one went hungry if the Mallards could help it. Fred Fletcher, who later worked for Teresa in the store, felt that if it hadn't been for the Mallards, his family would not have survived the depression. It was only because of their kindness, that Fred and his family had enough to eat.
Frank and Teresa's daughter Audria married Lawrence Lavagnino around 1927. The prior July the couple was visiting Santa Cruz with other family members when they decided to get married. They were going to tell their parents of the news, but somehow their courage failed them and they postponed telling their secret until the next day. They weren't any braver the next day and waited almost a year before making the announcement. They were married for 51 years and had two daughters, Lorraine and Lavergne and one son Lawrence Lavagnino. Audria died on October 7, 1978 and Lawrence died on April 17, 2000.
In 1931, Frances, married Charles Russell Millard. Francis and Russell had a son David, and a daughter , Terry, who is named after Teresa. They were married for 59 years. Russell died on December 6 and Frances died on September 24, 1998.
Frances and Russell met when he was working at Western Electric, installing the dial telephone system. At the time, Frances was engaged to Louis Queirolo, who worked at Mallards, and they were supposed to elope to Reno and get married on May 31, 1931. About 3 weeks prior, Russell and his crew came to town. On the evening of May 6th, Frances, and her good friend, Elsie Blackburne, were cruising up and down Washington Street before going to the movies. As luck would have it, Russell noticed them, whistled and Fran pulled over.
On May 28th, Russell proposed to Frances. They eloped over Sonora Pass. They were married in Reno the next morning and Frances sent a telegram to her parents with the news. They didn't even know her new husband. Obviously, it was tense at home, for a short time. Frances immediately went to Stockton to stay with her aunt and Russell transferred out of Sonora as quickly as he could. His job required much moving around and he was laid off during the Depression. Things at home in Sonora, improved, as Teresa and Frank grew to admire their daughter’s choice of a husband. At this point they came back to Sonora and Russell set up a trucking business with financial support from his in-laws. He hauled produce to Sonora and adjacent communities .
Eventually, Frances and Russell went into the nursery business in Sonora and ran this successful venture for many years. Many of us still remember Millard’s Nursery off of Fir Drive.
In 1939, Frank had an operation. He recovered from the surgery, but his heart was weakened and his activities were much curtailed . He was no longer able to manage the store. Even his love of gardening was affected. This was something he took much pride in and their home on Lyons Street was a showcase for roses and cactus gardens ,as well as a koi pond.
On the morning of April 11, 1940, while starting to shave, Frank suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 59 years old. It was an almost instantaneous death, from a ruptured aorta. He called to Teresa, "T, I'm dying" and was gone.
Teresa was devastated by Frank's death. Shortly after his death, Audria and her family moved in with Teresa. In the early 1940s, Teresa was diagnosed with cancer and had a hysterectomy. She continue to operate the grocery store after Frank's death. She had the help of Dewey Cocchi and Louis Quierolo, who had worked for them for several years. She also continued the practice of hiring young men to help with stocking and deliveries. People would call in their grocery list and the groceries were usually delivered within a few hours.
During World War II, Teresa displayed the Mallard’s honor roll on the wall of the store, which honored her boys who were serving in World War II. It was a wooden plaque that listed the men who went into the service directly from working at Mallard's. There were 14 stars including two gold stars for those that had died during the war. The honor roll is now proudly displayed at Sonora City Hall.
In 1953, Teresa retired from business and closed the grocery store. Teresa had long been active in the Native Daughters of the Golden West. She was first initiated into the organization in 1894, at the age of 18. In 1900, she became president of Dardanelles Parlor No. 66. In January, 1953, for the second time and 53 years after her first term, she was again installed as president. She was also active in Tuolumne County Historical Society, Aronos Research Club, Soroptimist Club and Native Daughters of the Golden West. In 1964, Teresa was named Tuolumne county’s “Senior Citizen of the Year”.
Teresa was always known for her thoughtfulness. Teresa was the one person you went to when you needed assistance.
Teresa died from a stroke, at the age of 87, on July 11, 1964 at 6:30 PM. Her grandson, Larry, had gone into her part of the house and found her lying on the sofa. When her son-in-law Lawrence, came in she was alert enough to say, "T &W Lawrence, meaning the Terzich Wilson funeral home, so she seemed to know she was dying. On the way to the hospital in the ambulance she lost consciousness. She was at Sierra Hospital ,for only a short time. Her death certificate states that she had been in the hospital just two days before her death. She was buried in the family plot at the Odd fellow cemetery in Sonora.”
Teresa and Frank made “Random Acts of Kindness” their lifestyle. So many people have come forward to share the kind gestures of the Mallards. There were so many, that it was just too much to include them all in this bio. I hope to share some of these memories in future newsletters along with Teresa’s memories of growing up in Sonora. She was definitely a woman demonstrating a life to be admired and emulated by all of us. It was an honor to meet her through the writing of her life. I would like to thank her family for sharing her with us!
Shared by Pat Dambacher