by Dr. Nicholas C. Polos
Professor of History, La Verne College
“No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.”— Thos. Carlyle
Heroes and Hero Worship, (1841)
When California asked for men to match her mountains, she gathered within herself not only the outcast, the reckless and abandoned, but also many of the most vigorous, enterprising, and progressive among the unsettled spirits of the West, South, Midwest, and from the states of New England. George White Marston was one of these men. The history of California is largely the story of the development of the men who have been its leaders.1 Horace Mann once insisted that: “When anything is growing, one former is worth a thousand re-formers.” There have been two significant theories of history current in the present age—Carlyle’s theory of the great man as the maker of history, and Buckle’s theory of the determination of history by the factors of environment. The truth would seem to lie between these extremes. The leader is influenced by the environment and the events of the times, but to a large degree he is able to bring to his work a wisdom that is based upon the essential traditions of his culture and at the same time he is farsighted enough to see beyond the proximate and immediate results. This is the story of such a man—George White Marston.
In regard to the “man of history” Oscar Handlin wrote:
The man of history is a character in a drama that began before his birth, that will go on long after his death. He enters for a brief turn on the scene already set, a stage already crowded, and with the action already in progress. He confronts a situation which already exists, the product of long preparation.2
In general this is true; however, in George White Marston’s case the action was not in progress, and the frontier situation had not as yet become frozen with old affiliations. Both in his early life on the Wisconsin frontier and on the California frontier G.W. Marston was free to explore alternate solutions, and he was quick to do so. Always a modest man, George Marston confessed when he was near ninety years of age that: “The education of George Marston has been mainly that of living in the thick of things.”3
His education began in the wooded township of Koshkonong in southern Wisconsin. He was born in 1850 and was a true son of the Middle Border.4 His parents, who traced their long lineage back to England, had moved in 1840 from Newburyport, Massachusetts. He spent most of his childhood in the village of Fort Atkinson, on the Rock River; an ideal playground for an active young man who loved to fish, swim, and to skate in the winter. He attended the village school, but like most country lads had much of his early education at home, especially from his mother who was “stern in theory but gentle in practice.”5 When he was fourteen he went to Beloit College Academy to study Greek and Latin. Eighty years later he commented on this by observing that: “it was a great service to me in the dry goods business.” He never lost his wry sense of humor. After his Academy experience he worked in a grist mill for six months; later he learned double entry bookkeeping in a clerking position in a bank, and then went to the University of Michigan for one year. These early years were very important to G.W. Marston; and he often talked about these experiences later in his life.
For example, in his later years while he was tolerant regarding the consumption of alcohol he recalled, however, that as a boy he had written a prize composition on evils of drinking, and in it he claimed that: “Ten drops placed on the tongue of a cat will produce instant death.”6 Living in a wilderness area like Fort Atkinson provided a great opportunity for a young lad’s physical education. Here on the Rock River he learned to swim, went boating, fishing, and skating. A French Canadian named Dargaval taught him the foundations of figure skating and even at age ninety-one in San Diego he was quite a sensation as the oldest skater in California!
He was twenty years old when October 20, 1870 found him in San Francisco, the “City by the Golden Gate,” with his father preparing to board the side-wheeler steamer Senator, for San Diego. In a speech he made many years later George W. Marston said:
Let me turn now to what is frequently termed self education . . . On the steamer coming to San Diego I had a volume of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which I read so steadily even when the boat was pitching to and fro that I attracted the attention of a gentleman on the deck, who asked me what I was reading. He thought it was pretty stiff literature for an ocean voyage.7
George White Marston arrived in San Diego on October 23, 1870, to begin a business life that was to last over seventy-three years. Over the many years he was a merchant prince, civic leader, park builder, museum founder, city statesman, creator of great schools, and a true former and builder of the City of San Diego, and the State of California. These were only some of the varied lives packed into the many exuberant years of George W. Marston. Indeed, the life of such a unique person when it is written, should be titled “the dozen lives of one man,” for he had more active lives than an elegant Cheshire cat.8 He was San Diego’s “Renaissance Man,” and in the light of his lasting and distinguished contributions to his city and state one could say that “he was a man for all seasons.”9
It would be impossible to tell in sharp minute detail, in such a short space, the entire George White Marston story. He labored long and hard in a dozen areas of human activity to improve the human conditions and environment in which he lived. In essence, therefore, this is a character study of a most unusual man brought up on a frontier, who moved to another frontier, and helped to build the foundation of the “City by the Silver Gate.”10
In order to be able to share the excitement of the “Marston Adventure,” of the Christian Gentleman from San Diego one must have insight into the two main worlds that he lived in, that is: the world of early San Diego, and the academic world of the Associated Colleges of Claremont, California, since he labored equally for many years in both vineyards.11
Young George started his business life as a clerk at the Horton House. In his spare time he joined the Free Reading Room, and the Excelsior Skating Club; both activities became life-long activities.12 For several years he then worked in the drygoods business, and then went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Charles Hamilton. Later on, in 1878, Marston opened his own store. He bought, clerked, kept the books, and after hours he would cut the carpets that had been ordered during the day. He was proud of his ability to sell goods over the counter, and he once said:
I could cut silks and velvets on the bias, talk glibly of the warp and woof of textiles and give instructions in the art of dressmaking . . . but I take special pride in remembering how I could wrap up a hoop skirt. By slapping it down on the counter with a quick turn of the wrists the balloon of wires was changed into a neat little wheel two inches thick and eight inches in diameter.13
Marston once jokingly claimed that his long association with “one wife, four daughters, unnumbered nieces, and cousins, hundreds of employees and thousands of women customers,” gave him expertise in women’s wear.14 When the boom of the 1880s broke, Marston worked part-time as a teller in the Consolidated National Bank to supplement his meager income. His daughter, Mary Gilman Marston wrote that he even thought of moving to Santee and going into farming!15 As times improved so did the Marston fortunes. He moved his store four times due to expansion, worked diligently, and finally in 1912 settled in new large quarters with a bronze plaque out front that read: “The Marston Company.” The company prospered so that by 1928 over 500 employees worked in the Marston Company. Marston believed that business was more than making money; that it was really an art. The Marston Store which Mr. Marston once described as “a little wooden shop in the wild west style” (his first store way uptown at Fifth and Broadway) was primitive compared to the large and spacious store built at Fifth and C in 1912.16 Marston’s policy of service to his public, and first-rate treatment of the employees by the management paid off in time. In a short time “Marston’s,” as it was usually called, became such a popular and well-loved institution in San Diego that, although the store itself is no longer in existence, a group of former employees, the “Marstonites,” still hold celebration meetings. Marie K. Jordan, who had been Mr. Marston’s secretary for twenty-three years, and with the company for thirty-four years, remembered that “Every Christmas Eve he remained at the store, standing at the door to greet and wish every employee a Merry Christmas. Not until the last one left would he leave for his home.”17 In 1928, the Golden Anniversary of the department store, G.W. Marston explained his business philosophy in a few words. He explained that a good store was a “kind of institution,” not just a shop, that would serve the community in civic affairs. Then he concluded by observing that employees should have more than a living wage, and “opportunities for a great measure of health, comfort and beauty.”18 G.W. Marston had many other business interests besides the store. He was a bank vice-president, and was for a short time president of the San Diego and Eastern Railroad Company which attempted to secure a direct connection with the east for San Diego until in 1906 John D. Spreckels secured control of the line. As his business affairs prospered he happily turned over most of his major business affairs to his son, Arthur so he could concentrate on the civic interests he had developed since 1872 when he and Charles Hamilton started the free reading room which in time became the first public library.
Marston’s Department Store in San Diego was a high quality fashionable department store, and to keep up with the latest fashions in clothing style, house furnishings, etc., George Marston travelled often to San Francisco, and to Boston and New York. It was through these experiences while away from San Diego that he began to take interest in parks and in urban planning and city development.
G.W. Marston brought to his civic interests the same leadership style that he had used in business. Marston preferred stability and order in his life. He lived during a long period in California history that was transitional, and which brought many quick changes into the lives of many Americans. He valued and placed great importance on the “acceptance and approval” from his family and his friends. For example, he went into the merchandising business in San Diego because he knew that this was what his father wanted him to do.19 He made friends easily, friends like Charles Hamilton, and kept them for many years. He believed in hard work, self-discipline, and the Protestant ethic, and his early religious background influenced his drive for success. At the same time he had a spirit of independence, and liked to have complete control over his business affairs. Except for his early and short-lived partnership with Charles Hamilton he always owned and ran his own business. This independent spirit was reflected in a speech made by Dr. Charles C. Haines, who knew him well, in an address on October 17, 1946:
His was an open and tolerant mind. Intellectually he was a liberal, but on what he considered matters of principle, Mr. Marston was adamant. Conservative as were his own tastes and his conduct, he was highly sensitive to anything that savored of coercion or repression, especially in any interference with free expression of opinion upon political or economic subjects.20
Mr. Marston was by nature a creative person who enjoyed the excitement and challenges of life. This may be due to his early frontier environment where there were unique challenges every day. In 1873, Marston rescued a Chinese woman from a gang of Chinese kidnappers who insisted that she was their personal property. Marston’s father gleefully reported the incident in a letter to one of the family:
The whole city was in excitement and Los Angeles partook of it. George was the hero of the hour—the Don Quixote who rushed to Los Angeles and rescued the fair celestial from a fate worse than death, if the Chinese captors had got possession of her.21
He also had an artist’s appreciation of beauty and creativity. He was a musician (played the piano), and also an actor who liked to imitate the leading stage figures of the day. His daughter delighted in telling about her father’s renditions of Harry Lauder’s songs (“Roamin’ in the Gloamin’,” “Breakfast in Bed on Sunday Morn,” “When I was Twenty-One,” and a “Wee Deoch an’ Doris”), done with complete Lauder mannerisms.22 He was a poet, and worked hard in his stores to bring about creative advertising display. His feeling for beauty found expression in his efforts to improve his environment in such projects as the development of Balboa Park, Presidio Park, Borrego Desert Park, Torrey Pines Park Project, the Panama-California Exposition of 1915, and his efforts to create waterfront beautification projects in spite of strong opposition. Probably some of the reasons why Marston was successful in his efforts to improve the San Diego environment were because he placed great stress on organization and efficient and systematic business administration. He had been influenced by John Wanamaker’s “sixty-clocks” theory which emphasized the use of careful planning, and delegation of authority and resources.23 George White Marston was a practical businessman who had learned from long experience. In a speech he made in 1943 he admitted this when he said: “The education of George Marston has been mainly that of living in the thick of things . . . My education has been practical. . . I have been trying to show you how I mainly got what education I have by the daily work of living, by its duties and difficulties, its joys and sorrows.”24
Marston was a confirmed believer of slow, planned and controlled growth in both civic affairs and in business. He felt that this could be achieved via the personal touch, working with others, and creating a feeling of shared purpose. In short, what Marston did in his civic adventures was to transfer his small town values into civic action. Marston’s main objective always was a large concern for the future of San Diego. He does not need a large statue in the park because his monuments are all around the city of San Diego. His range of activities was enormous, moving all the way from the founding of the San Diego Historical Society to such monumental work as the creation of Balboa Park.
Marston did not wait until his later years to become a civic leader. He had the Periclean concept that service to his city was one of the highest goals a citizen could obtain. He expressed this ideal—of public service—when he said:
I say to you young men here that it should be your ideal to serve the city in which you live, to make the administration of her affairs as efficient, as accurate and as wholly business-like as those of your own private interests. Your city is a representation of what you are and what you mean to do for yourselves. Why not labor to make it truly express your aims and ideals?25
As early as 1873 he had been secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. Note that although San Diego was in a sense a frontier town it was not of the western plains type. Marston served as president of the Chamber as the city’s business community expanded. He was active in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church (an “elder” at twenty-five), and helped to organize the Congregational Church, in 1886. Prior to that time he and a group of young ‘ men organized the Young Men’s Christian Association, and he served as president of the board for twenty-four years, and remained on the board until his death.26 Always working in concert with other prominent members of the community Marston helped form the Benevolent Society of San Diego, the first social agency in the city. He served on the City Council (1887 and 1888), was a member of the San Francisco Relief Committee (1906), and later worked on the Rural Relief Association (1916). At some time or another he had served as a Fire Commissioner, and many times as Parks Commissioner. In 1933 he was Chairman of the Civic Center Committee to improve the water-front, and he also dabbled in politics. This deserves a microscopic review of its own since it involves the clash between Marston’s civic philosophy and the commercial interests of San Diego.
Marston had an exuberant love of the out-of-doors, probably derived from his early boyhood on the Rock River. He never lost this and the benevolent climate of San Diego only sharpened his interest in preserving the green areas of a growing city. He had, in 1905, bought a large section of acreage on the edge of the city where he was able to indulge his horticultural interests. This factor also increased his interest in providing “room to breathe” for San Diego. He could see on the horizon the possibility of an upcoming urban sprawl, and once predicted in a letter to a friend: “Here in Southern California there is bound to be great population. The land will be so well covered . . . that there will be very little wild woods left for future generations.”27 When in 1902 the Chamber of Commerce established a Park Improvement Committee to develop plans for San Diego’s 1400-acre City Park (Balboa Park), G.W. Marston put up the funds to hire Samuel Parsons, a famous landscape architect from the City of New York to prepare a comprehensive plan.28 Later on he contributed liberally to the fund to implement the plan, which called for laying out the major roads in the park, and providing the basic landscaping along Sixth Street. The landscape architect was George Cooke who worked very closely with G.W. Marston. Ed Fletcher, a land owner and real estate man, recalled Marston’s enthusiasm for the Balboa Park project; he wrote:
Mr. Marston was always an inspiration to me. As a civic leader he must have given a third of his time for public service, and he made me work too . . . I am satisfied he spent $50,000 at least of his own money in paying for the Nolen plan (sic), (city landscape plan inclusive of Balboa Park), building roads, and planting shrubs and trees.29
Mr. Marston, as Park Commissioner, was very pleased that by the completion of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition the park had become a “fairy city of palaces and playgrounds.”30
Another favorite area of San Diego that reflected his great love of nature was Presidio Hill. The latter area also embodied his great affection for history. This was the site of Father Junípero Serra’s Mission San Diego de Alcalá (July, 1769), and it had long been neglected. Early in 1907 Marston and three like-minded friends started buying up the sites in Old Town (the original Spanish settlement). When his associates passed away Marston took over the project, and bought the privately-owned sections of land on Presidio Hill. He then began laying out gardens, lawns, planting trees, and building a museum called “The Junípero Serra Museum,” designed by Templeton Johnson, in the Spanish mission tradition. In 1930 Mr. Marston turned over the entire area including the museum to the city of San Diego as his free gift.31
G.W. Marston and his family always enjoyed visiting the natural scenic wonders in the San Diego County area, and the desert area just outside of the County. He had bought some large acreage in Borrego Canyon, and would visit this area often. Always mindful of the future needs of the citizens of San Diego and California he and some nature-loving friends were able to convince the State to create Borrego State Park, and he made a gift of his land to the state. Today this splendid Park (De Anza-Borrego) is visited by thousands of people each year.32
Marston had always favored controlled growth of the city, but was very anxious to avoid what we call today “urban sprawl.” This concept was the cornerstone of “his particular progressivism.” For many years he had advocated the development of a Civic Center—with an enlarged Horton Plaza surrounded by public and semi-public buildings. He was instrumental in bringing John Nolen, one of the nation’s best city planners, to San Diego. Here again we see Marston’s careful concept of planning in action. In 1908 Nolen developed what we would call an urban master plan—the city’s waterfront, the creation of a large and beautiful centralized civic center, and a new system of parks throughout the city. Perhaps John Nolen was ahead of his time, since his Plan was not adopted. However, he was invited in 1926 to make a new comprehensive plan to meet the future needs of San Diego—which he did—and this new plan was formally adopted to serve as the guide to the city’s development.33
John Nolen’s ideas on urban development stirred up many of the citizens of the city. An especially vital area which had been neglected was the waterfront of San Diego. Marston and Nolen wanted to make the waterfront a part of the civic center, but some of the well-intentioned and more commercial minded citizens opposed this. John Nolen, who was not shy about ex pressing his support for his creative ideas argued strongly: “Let us make the bay shore our front yard instead of our back yard. The bay is the real portal of the city. The Silver Gate is the gateway of the world’s ships. They deserve a front door welcome.”33 Marston was so enthused about this project that in a letter (October 30, 1930) he pointed out that he had worked for the Nolen Plans for almost twenty years, and that the Civic Center on the waterfront would greatly improve the city’s image. In this same letter he concluded:
Therefore, as a mark of my gratitude for the good fortune and happiness of living in sunny San Diego for sixty years, I offer, if the bonds carry, to make a contribution of twenty-five thousand dollars for the improvement of the grounds of the Civic Center and general landscape work along the water front.
I have made my money here and like to spend it where it affords employment to our home people and adds to the beauty and worth of the city.34
In a comparative short time the Civic Center was built and it stands as a beautiful monument to a man of vision and foresight who saw the City of San Diego as the “queen city” of the Golden West.
It was inevitable that a civic leader of George Marston’s ability and position in the city would have to enter politics to achieve some of his goals. Marston did not hold a very high opinion of politicians; and he was over sixty in 1913 when he was drafted by a well-meaning committee of friends to run for Mayor of San Diego. If elected he would have been the city’s official host during the Panama-California Exposition. Marston had worked hard on the Panama-California Exposition Committee, and was keenly aware that this would do much to boost the image of the City. In a letter to Col. D.C. Collier, Marston wrote:
I did not care to the personal ambition of the office, but it seemed to me a public duty under the circumstances . . . The members of my family and my intimate friends are also strongly opposed to my taking any office that will keep me constantly at home during the next two years and interfere with other important work.35
In a letter to Mr. A.G. Spaulding, Marston frankly admitted that he was not a good mixer, and that public life was really distasteful to him.36 His daughter Mary Gilman Marston observed that her father called himself an “Independent,” and that as a young man influenced by his father George W. Marston was a Republican although in 1884 he had voted for Cleveland. Like many alert intellectuals of his time Marston had been influenced by the writings of Henry George; and in state politics he had worked with the Progressive Party that elected Gov. Hiram Johnson. Marston was the first president of the San Diego Lincoln-Roosevelt Club, and in a speech at the weekly meeting of the Progressive Forum, a non-partisan organization, on February 6, 1914, Marston said: “The Progressive Party in the state stands for the betterment of the social order.”37 There is a similarity here between G.W. Marston and Marquand’s George Apley in that neither man was fit for the rough-and-tumble of municipal politics. In a sense Marston was a dreamer or a visionary if you will. However, he had a practical streak which colored his dreams. For example, he once prophesied that San Diego would in time become a great naval station, and he lived long enough to see his dream come true.
In the 1913 Mayoralty election in San Diego it was inevitable that George White Marston’s style of progressivism would run counter to the expansionary plans of San Diegans anxious to industrialize. Between the years of 1912 and 1920 the city fathers sought ways to increase the population, attract more industry to the city, and to build the city into a large metropolis through boosterism and uncontrolled changes. They were anxious to emulate the rapid expansion of other metropolitan areas without realizing that many of the cities were contending with the resulting evils of this uncontrolled burgeoning expansion. When one reads the election sheet titled “George W. Marston – The Candidate,” it is difficult to understand why the citizens of San Diego did not elect such an “ideal man.”38 Running on a platform that gave priority to parks, careful civic planning, and the beautification of the city did not give Marston a large enough platform to garner the votes he needed to win the election. Writing to Marston from the Southwest Museum, Charles F. Lummis said:
I think that wonderful young city has made a mistake – but of course that is its privilege. Cities make mistakes, and always pay for them – just as youth does.
But the vital thing that remains with me is your unselfish and high-minded self-sacrifice. The result of the election detracts nothing from the quality of your patriotism.39
In the light of the unpleasant experiences that Marston had in the political arena it is remarkable that four years later, in 1917, he was induced to run again for Mayor. In this campaign Marston was overtly supporting enforced pollution control and energy conservation. To us these themes seem familiar, but he lived in an era when many people were rather shortsighted and interested only in commercial development without concern about the ultimate consequences. The campaign slogan “Smokestacks versus Geraniums,” was used to make Marston appear as an ineffective citizen in love with innocuous flowers, and not concerned about the city’s welfare.40 His opponent, Louis Wilde, an energetic supporter of rapid urban expansion, was a financier and banker who claimed that Marston was an obstacle to the city’s progress. The campaign was a wild one. Julius Wangenheim excoriated Louis Wilde, and described him as a man who “started a bank, launched a telephone company, engineered the Grant Hotel, and messed up everything he touched.”41 The Labor Leader, a pro-Wilde paper labelled the campaign as the “silkies against the woolen socks,” and implied that Marston had the support of the big financial interests. This seems a bit absurd since Wilde himself was a bank president and financier.42 Wilde called his opponents the “Pro-Geranium and Amalgamated Society of Ancient Quietus.” He later left the city of San Diego for Los Angeles which he claimed was the metropolis of the future.43 Marston lost the election to Wilde, the “glamorous go-getter,” but the false epithet, “Geranium George,” soon disappeared over the urban horizon leaving the real George to consummate his many civic projects.
In an early address honoring George White Marston, James A. Blaisdell, who had been President of Pomona College, and whose father had been a friend of the Marston family in Wisconsin, provided the key to unlock the door to the other world of George White Marston – the world of education. He said:
He was interested not only in San Diego, but also in all roads which led out of San Diego and in all the varied places in which they terminated.44
One road terminated at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and the other road terminated at Pomona College, in Claremont, California. His long and continuous service to both schools attests to his strong belief that education was an important part of life, and that it was a lifetime process. For twenty years Marston served on the Board of Directors of the Pacific School of Religion; he made many generous gifts to the School, and made every effort to assist this institution to achieve its objective—train ministers for the Pacific Coast.
The other road which led to Pomona College was Marston’s favorite road. He gaily trod this road singing his happy song from the day the College – Blue and White – opened its doors (1887), until the year of his death (1946). It was always a mutually happy relationship—Marston gave more than money to this unique institution—he gave of himself, the best of them all; and he was fully appreciated and always honored. It is strange how the listing in the directory gives only the bare bones without an inkling of the importance of the man or his contributions. The Pomona College, Who’s Who, 1894-1930 showed this listing:
Marston, George W., (sic), 3525 7th St., San Diego Trustee 88-, Pres. BD. 16-
Merchant, The Marston Company
Beloit Academy 64-68, Michigan Univ. 69-70.45
Perhaps Emerson was right that many institutions are only the lengthened shadow of a certain man; however, one would not know this from the skeleton-like listing above. G.W. Marston was a member of the first board of trustees (1888), and when he died (May 31, 1946) he was still a member (honorary president).46 While it would be almost impossible to tell the entire story of Marston’s role on the Pomona College (founded as a Congregational college) stage, still some of the facts regarding his relationship are amazing. It was not just the long periods of time on the board that were so important, but the constant efforts made by men like G.W. Marston that built institutions such as Pomona College.
During the twenty years or the “founding time” (1888-1908), the college struggled with budget deficits. This is a familiar theme for privately endowed colleges even today. In the early days the Pomona College Board consisted of seven clergymen, and seven business, and as Marston observed “one judge, to act as umpire…there was always a cleavage between the ministers and the businessmen.”47 In 1909 George W. Marston was made president of the board. He held this position for over twenty-five years rain or shine, and he always performed actively. He made hundreds of trips to Los Angeles and to Claremont, attended countless meetings, formal and informal affairs, presiding at dinners, making speeches, attending anniversaries, and attending functions with the college president. He must have been a man of great stamina, and yet his letters and speeches show that he enjoyed meeting new people and old friends, and in spite of the fact that meetings are places where they keep minutes and waste hours he seemed to find satisfaction in these too. He was most modest about his contributions to the councils. Once he said publicly: “When I go up to the educational councils of Pomona College and Claremont College I listen well and say nothing about education. When it comes to budgeting the expense account I have something to say.”48
G.W. Marston was respected as a quiet, tolerant, and thoughtful man. He formed many deep friendships during his long and eventful lifetime. One of these was with James A. Blaisdell who was president of Pomona College for almost eighteen years. Their warm friendship and high regard for each other led in a short time to the establishment of Claremont College (1925) and Scripps College (1927). Marston approved of Blaisdell’s concept of independent colleges cooperating with other colleges in the same complex on the style of the Oxford Colleges. Dr. J.A. Blaisdell considered G.W. Marston to be the “perfect trustee,” and the latter in turn in 1921, at the tenth anniversary of Dr. Blaisdell’s coming to the College concluded that: “. . . we regard him (Dr. J.A. Blaisdell) as the most perfect college president in the United States.”49
Marston had a searching and inquiring mind given to looking into very small details. He would often walk the college campus examining the trees and flora and fauna of the surrounding environment. He was a complex man who was merchant, useful citizen, lover of family and people and nature, and builder of learning institutions—all in one lifetime. When one reads through the thick pile of letters, papers, newspapers, historical documents about G.W. Marston slowly the true figure of the man begins to emerge. Mr. H. Herring, in his excellent and revealing study of G.W. Marston observed that Marston was “a great ‘catholic’ in his tastes and interests;” that he was a leader of men, “George Marston belonged to the blessed order of the ‘generous’, because he gave so much of himself with exuberance; and he had the gift of ‘play’, Marston was a free man—a liberal—who could not be chained.”50 We need to examine these kaleidoscopic facets of Marston’s character in detail to really know G.W. Marston. For example, in 1924 the college conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws on Marston; but, like John Swett, the “Horace Mann of California,” Marston was not impressed with degrees.51 On October 20, 1934, a dinner was given in Marston’s honor to celebrate the twenty-five years of his presidency on the board of trustees. It was held at the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego, with President Edmunds of Pomona College presiding. The dinner was very well attended and the verbal bouquets honoring G.W. Marston almost embarrassed this modest man.52
Most philanthropists are rather shy about their contributions to their worthy causes, and George W. Marston was no exception. When one reads the mass of papers, letters and documents there is no trace or indication of the financial support given by him to his favorite institutions or causes. From the very beginning of service on the Board the veteran trustee of Pomona College often pledged sums of money during the so-called “lean years” (1890-1897), and 1912-1913, and in later financial crises of the 1930s.53 Charles Burt Sumner wrote of G.W. Marston: “In his gifts from time to time Mr. Marston seems oblivious of name and fame and personal preference, and always ready to help where the help will tell most in the interests of the College.”54 There is little doubt that the development of Pomona College, one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the United States is an epic saga in college building. It was, and still is, an adventure in learning over the years. On the inside gates of Pomona College (Sixth & College) are carved the words: “THEY ARE ONLY LOYAL TO THIS COLLEGE WHO DEPARTING BEAR THEIR ADDED RICHES IN TRUST FOR MANKIND.” It is not difficult to see why G.W. Marston was one of the major benefactors to the College; he had faith in its future and that faith was justified in time.55
G.W. Marston gave not only of his resources but he was magnanimous with his time—the most precious gift of them all. He was not an outspoken man, and in his quiet way—indeed, he was often called “the quiet man” – was highly regarded for his perceptiveness, balanced judgement, and practical planning skills. It takes more than money to make an educational institution that serves the community very well. Three events can serve as sound examples of Marston “Marvels,” that blossomed in the future, and created monuments for him. During the late twenties when Pomona College undertook a construction expansion program, one of the key factors in this program was the great central dining hall, Frary Refectory. Prof. Brackett wrote of this event: “The latter was made possible by a gift of one hundred thousand dollars from the one man to whom Pomona owes so much for its present beauty and effectiveness – Mr. George Marston. The building was named in honor of the Rev. Lucien H. Frary, an early trustee and long time friend of the College.”56 Note that not one building on the Campus honors Mr. G.W. Marston; however there is something more unique and much better than a building that perpetuates the name of George White Marston – the Marston Quadrangle! Marston had a great love of flowers, and he had made a study of the many colorful varieties California had to offer. It was his high hope that greenery, flowers and trees could and should be used to improve man’s environment. He had done much in this regard for his city; he could do no less for Pomona College.57
Marston Quadrangle is the heart of Pomona College. Situated in the center of the Campus it is surrounded by splendid buildings of monumental design—magnificent Big Bridges Auditorium is on the east, shady Stover Walk on the North, Little Bridges Hall of Music and the Thatcher Hall of Music are located on the southern border, and on the west border is stately Carnegie Hall, and the President’s House now occupied by Dr. and Mrs. John David Alexander who ably carry on the Marstonian traditions of the liberal arts. Marston Quadrangle is always resplendent with its large and magnificent trees and colorful flowers that bloom all year round. It is more than just a place to loiter and admire. It is an integral part of the life of the College. Also, it is really a romantic student refuge, and many a “love hath pledged his troth there.” Countless generations of students did not know the Marston Department Store in San Diego because it was absorbed into the conglomerate world, and also because many of them came from other far away places, but everyone knows the name Marston.58
George W. Marston often conferred with his friend and colleague, Dr. James A. Blaisdell, regarding his concept of the Oxford Plan for the Associated Colleges, and worked closely with him to bring this dream into reality. In 1925, George W. Marston, as one of the incorporators, signed the Articles of Incorporation of the Claremont Colleges, and Claremont College; thus giving birth to a new institution that became a part of the Claremont Colleges. He also was active in helping to select the color purple, as school colors, for the new Claremont College.59 Robert J. Bernard, Director of Claremont College, wrote:
Purple was adopted as the official college color, to be selected as to shade by George W. Marston, founding trustee and department store owner, with a sample for the archive (shade #974 on the color chart shown as ‘royal purple’). On Jan. 29, 1939 ‘Skinner’s satin’ was selected.60
Thus Marston was instrumental in helping to found a new educational institution, which today has taken its place among the leading universities of the United States. The debt that Pomona College and Claremont College (now the Claremont Graduate School) owe to G.W. Marston is a huge one. He provided generous resources, vision, perceptiveness, and sound advice during the early “founding years.” For almost fifty years he took an active part in the academic adventures of the Associated Colleges. W.W. Lyon, the able President of Pomona College for many years, and a capable historian in his own right, considered it a rare privilege to have worked with Mr. G.W. Marston, and he wrote:
On May 31, 1946 the long and wonderful life of George W. Marston came to a close. Mr. Marston was the embodiment of Pomona’s highest ideals, and he left an incomparable legacy to the college he loved so deeply.61
George W. Marston was an enigma of his age, not because he was successful in business and made money, because many men did this, but because like the “juggler of magic” he was able to juggle many careers all at one time, and be highly successful in all of them! He had a charisma that was woven into his character, and this showed up in his day-to-day relationships with his fellow men.
George W. Marston possessed a cluster of virtues whose interplay in the daily activities of a busy life in the “business whirl,” and the “world of academe” revealed a man of rare quality. Like all of us he possessed some small faults and some shortcomings, but judicious biographers in an effort to be objective searched diligently but failed to find any major shortcomings in his character. Marston was never vindictive by nature, he was quick to forgive and hardly ever held a grudge of any kind, and had a sense of humor about our human foibles. Most of this can be verified by carefully sifting through the mass of papers and documents of the world of “Marstonia.” This scholarly effort revealed that Marston had few if any really harsh critics, and no overt enemies of note. It is hard to believe that a man could move through so many worlds, make hundreds of friends who openly admired him, and hardly any enemies. Perhaps this was due to those rare qualities in his character which made him a “Christian Gentleman.”
It is not easy to avoid falling into the foolish pitfall of biographical “synthetic praise.” But as Al Smith, former Governor of New York, once said: “let’s look at the record.”62 Besides the virtues so ably described by Dr. Hubert Herring, Marston was a “man of manners,”; he was basically a kindly person who was always courteous to people regardless of their position in life. He had a high regard for human dignity and would go out of his way to avoid embarrassing anyone. He was a gracious gentleman at all times. When Mrs. Susanna Bixby Bryant was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Pomona College she was unfortunately detained and arrived at the first Board Meeting forty minutes late. She was much embarrassed by her tardiness, but G.W. Marston greeted her in a kindly fashion, and said: “Mrs. Bryant, we have been waiting forty years for a Woman and forty minutes more cuts no figure. We give you our grandest welcome.”63
G.W. Marston did not approve of military training at Pomona College because he distrusted militarism. In 1935 he opposed the continuance of R.O.T.C. in the college program in spite of opposition from the majority on the Board. He was outvoted twenty to two, and in a jocular fashion he said: “I surrender. I am not much of a reformer. I don’t enjoy a defeat but I positively object to martydom of any kind.”64 This broke the tension and everyone laughed with him.
Marie K. Jordan, Marston’s long time secretary, in her “Memories of George W. Marston,” wrote that: “He was a most compassionate and loveable (sic) gentleman, which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. No one was ever turned away from an audience with him. Many elderly women of various stations in life were helped financially and otherwise, showing his generosity and sincere concern for their well-being.”65 She pictured him as a man who hated false ideas, who was a lover of music and sports. Marston loved his golf games and ice skating and reluctantly gave up the latter on the advice of his physician after he reached his ninetieth birthday. She commented often on his sense of humor, and the stories about that “twinkle in his eye,” are legion. Julius Wangenheim, who knew Marston for many years wrote: “He is the only person I have known who hasn’t remotely been spoiled by the accumulation of money; the latter he regards as a public trust. All these graces he crowns with a splendid sense of humor.”66 This was reflected in the many speeches that he gave. In one solemn address he began his talk by saying: “I admire and envy the colored minister who began his sermon in a clear and forceful style, although his use of pronouns and adverbs might be criticized. He said ‘Brothrin (sic) and sistern, my subject is the devil in three parts. First, who the devil he is. Second, where the devil he is. Third, what the devil is he doing?’.”67 He then went on to give an excellent analysis of the role of the college trustee.
Marston was a man of high principle. During his many years of service to Pomona College he held the faculty in high regard. Dr. Raymond F. Iredell, Dean of the Faculty at Pomona College, said at the Founders’ Day Convocation, on October 11, 1934: “He (Marston) has shown, too, an unwillingness, even though the pressure may have been great to permit the faculty of this college to be subjected to political or religious coercion and interference from without.”68 Marston understood the meaning of academic freedom and he was quick to let people know that he believed in them and had faith in their objectives and goals. He was the kind of man California needed at that time; he saw the future and he made it work. In a poem that he wrote at eighty-five he concluded: “No fear to face another year. It may be smooth, it may be rough; ’twill be enough—To take my pleasures ere they fly—And not get nervous—Over what may happen—Bye Bye.”69
There is a bronze plaque at the Junípero Serra Museum which reads in part: “George White Marston 1850-1946, FRIEND OF HIS FELLOW MEN—LOVER OF ALL GROWING THINGS.” This memorial plaque is a splendid way for San Diego to honor and pay tribute to its Number One citizen; however, in a broad sense the story of George W. Marston is really the story of San Diego, just as the development and growth of Pomona College was but the image of George White Marston. It seemed that nothing was impossible for a man who first joined the Sierra Club, and then went on to climb Mt. Hood. Climbing mountains was an integral part of Marston’s life, and he was willing to see obstacles as challenges. He saw San Diego grow from a small dusty village into a large and thriving city. He did not regard this growth as a menace as long as it was controlled, but as an opportunity.70 As a result G.W. Marston was showered with many honors late in his life. One of the best descriptions of his many contributions was written by Dr. E. Wilson Lyon, who said:
America can show no finer example of what one man can accomplish for his city than in the career of our late beloved trustee, Mr. George W. Marston of San Diego. Builder of parks, leader of education, his beneficent and enlightened influence will ever live in the city he loved.71
California’s history is in reality not a long period of time, but the state was fortunate in acquiring the kind of men and women during its developmental stage who could put California on the path toward a unique future. We owe men like George White Marston a heavy debt because we are the beneficiaries of this new way of life.
1. I wish to acknowledge the special assistance of Sylvia Arden and Jane Booth of the San Diego History Center; Jean Becker and Miss Rizzo of the Honnold Special Collections Div., the Claremont Colleges, Claremont, California, and the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California.
On California leaders see Nicholas C. Polos, John Swett: A California Frontier Schoolmaster (Washington, D.C., 1978); Carey McWilliams, California The Great Exception (New York, 1949); Ray Pickett, The Theme of the Hero (Dubuque, Iowa, 1969); Harold Lubin, Heroes and Anti-Heroes San Francisco, California, 1968), and Sidney Hook, The Hero in History (New York, 1958), pp. 24-35.
2. Oscar Handlin, “The History of Men’s Lives,” The Virginia Quarterly Review, XXX (Autumn, 1954), 540; see also Bliss Perry, ed., The Heart of Emerson’s Journals (Boston, 1909), p. 331, who described Emerson’s concept of the obsessions of great men as an “inflamed expectation.”
3. Hubert Herring, The Education of George W. Marston (Claremont, Calif., 1946), p. 3. See also Wilmer Shields, “A Young Man Comes to Town,” The Journal of San Diego History, XV (Summer, 1969), 6-8; Don Shannon, Mission to Metropolis – A History of San Diego (San Diego, 1980), and George White Marston, Over the Years (Claremont, California, October 1937).
4. See Hamlin Garland, Son of the Middle Border (New York, 1929).
5. Hubert Herring, Education, p. 4.
6. In a speech to the Wednesday Club (October 20, 1943) titled “The Education of George Marston,” Marston acknowledged the stern influence of his mother, including his temperance ideas. See Mary Gilman Marston, George White Marston: A Family Chronicle (Los Angeles, 1956), II, pp. 274-288.
7. Ibid, In that same talk Marston pointed out that: “The father of Dr. Blaisdell of Pomona College was my teacher of English . . . I think that Beloit Academy gave me good training in habits of study, in selection of reading, in morals and conduct.” He also pointed out that his family knew Alonzo Horton, founder of San Diego, prior to coming to San Diego. See George Marston, “My First Ten Years in San Diego,” in the San Diego Union, January 21, 1938.
8. A.H. Marston, Jr., “Insight of An Uncommon Man,” San Diego Magazine (October, 1970), 60-65, 84-87, 90, 94; and George W. Marston, “My Personal Business History,” reprint from San Diego Union, on 60th Anniversary of the Marston Store, August 8, 1938, found in Marston File, San Diego State University Main Library, #82.
9. In an Address (October 17, 1946) honoring George W. Marston, Chas. C. Haines stated: “. . . And if five hundred years from now someone shall wish to know of George Marston he will only need to go to San Diego and look about him.” Pomona College Bulletin (October 17, 1946), Claremont, California. See also Clare B. Crane, Resource Guide to “Twelve Who Shaped San Diego,” 1-hr. Radio Program, (KPBS-FM), Marston File, SDSU Main Library, 1978.
10. See James Mills, “San Diego, Where California Began,” The Journal of San Diego History (1969); William E. Smythe, The History of San Diego, 1542-1907 (San Diego, 1907); Larry Booth, Portrait of a Boom Town: San Diego in the 1880’s (San Diego, 1971); E. Davidson and E. Orcutt, San Diego, A Brief History, 1542-1888 (San Diego, 1939); Carl H. Heilbron, ed., History of San Diego (San Diego, 1936), and Clarence Alan McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County (New York, 1922).
11. On George White Marston’s role in the academic world, especially his fifty-six years with Pomona College see: The Marston File, Special Collections, The Honnold Library, Claremont Colleges, Claremont, California, and also Frank Brackett, Granite and Sagebrush: Reminiscences of the First Fifty Years of Pomona College (Los Angeles, 1944), 122-123; E. Wilson Lyon, The History of Pomona College, 1887-1969 (Claremont, California, 1977); also Chas. Burt Sumner, The Story of Pomona College (Boston, 1914); and Wm. W. Clary, The Claremont Colleges, A History of the Group Plan (Claremont, 1970).
12. See Clare B. Crane, “Twelve Who Shaped San Diego.” G.W. Marston skated most of his life, until he was almost 90 years old, and he was an avid golfer who could shoot below his age level! See Marston’s “Over the Years; Recollections of George White Marston,” Pomona College, October 14, 1937, found in the Special Collections, Marston File, Honnold Library.
13. Speech given October 20, 1943 to the Wednesday Club as described by Mary Gilman Marston, Family Chronicle, and repeated in H. Herring, Education, pp. 7-8. Note that Marston belonged to many clubs, one of which was the Tuesday Club. One of the members of the club wrote: “Among the members were Frederick Meskin, George Marston, Charles Hamilton (the last two were brothers-in-law, and lively spirits) . . . The Tuesday Club was a credit to San Diego, and an institution in itself.” Julius Wangenheim, “An Autobiography,” California Historical Quarterly, XXXV (December 1956), 354.
14. Wednesday Club Speech (October 20, 1943). While this statement may seem exaggerated see Hamilton Marston’s “A Tribute to George Marston,” The Journal of San Diego History, XV, (Fall, 1969), 33-44. Marston’s four daughters were Mary, Elizabeth, Harriet, Helen, and one son Arthur. Marston had married Anna Lee Gunn.
15. Mary Gilman Marston, Family Chronicle, I, p. 237.
16. “Marston worked diligently, so that by 1917 he was a respected, independent businessman, an owner of a retail business that employed 247 people. In addition to merchandising, he was extremely civic minded, having served as Fire Commissioner, Park Commissioner, city Councilman, and as an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in 1913 and 1917.” Carl Heilbron, ed. History of San Diego (San Diego, 1936), p. 130. See also The Marston News, Marston Company, September 1945, pp. 1-4; and August 1956, 3 (7), 1-8 found in the Marston Company Papers, San Diego History Center Research Archives.
17. Marie K. Jordan, “Memories of George W. Marston.” This is an excellent source of Marstonian humor. Found in Box #6, Folder #13, Item #3 dated February 15, 1979, San Diego History Center.
18. “A San Diego Firm Can Remember, 1878-1928,” on the Golden Anniversary of the Marston Department Store, San Diego Union, Supple. August 8, 1928, A-14. See also the San Diego Evening Tribune, Supple., August 8, 1928, and the San Diego Union, Supple. August 8, 1953 for the 75th Anniversary of the Dept. Store. On the 60th Anniversary, Marston had written in “My Personal Business History,” in his modest way: “You give me altogether too much praise for the store and this celebration . . . It is my happy lot, as the ‘old man’ of the house, to be given credit for a thousand things that I don’t do (sic.). My only claim for credit is that I have stuck to the job for fifty years.”
19. Marston borrowed money from his father to go into business, $5,000 at 12 per cent interest. Sixty years later he wrote: “It’s nice to have a father even at 12 per cent.” H. Herring, Education, p.6. See also Anne Marilyn Wigdahl, “A Proposed Model to Define the Influence of Personal Leadership Style on the Development of Organizational Strategy and Structure,” MBA Thesis, San Diego State University, Main Library, 1978. See Chapter #4 on the Marston Company.
20. See Mary G. Marston, Family Chronicle, II, p. 297; and San Diego Union Supple., August 8, 1938, G.W. Marston, “My Personal Business History.”
21. See “Brought Back,” San Diego Union, July 11, 1873, 3; also Mary Gilman Marston, Family Chronicle, I, p. 182. It is strange that Mr. Marston never mentioned this incident in any of his speeches.
22. Mary Gilman Marston, Family Chronicle, II, p. 254.
23. Anna M. Wigdahl, “A Proposed Model,” p. 68, and M.G. Marston, Family Chronicle.
24. Geo. W. Marston, “Over the Years,” Marston File, Special Col., Honnold Library (Claremont, California).
25. Note the similarity between Marston’s views on the “polis” or city, and Pericles’ “Funeral Oration Over The Dead,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; see also Mary G. Marston, Family Chronicle II, pp. 57-58. Marston’s views on civic service are also expressed in Uldes Allen Portis, “George W. Marston and the San Diego Progressives, 1913-1917,” MA Thesis, 1976, San Diego, State University, San Diego. See also Samuel P. Hayes, “The Politics of Reform in Municipal Government in the Progressive Era,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, LV (October 1964), 157-69.
26. See the Geo. W. Marston File on the social ideas of Marston, and his YMCA Papers, Folder #15 and #12, San Diego History Center, San Diego, California and, Ed Fletcher, Memoirs of Ed Fletcher (San Diego, 1952), also Majorie N. Breitenbach, “The Development of the Role of the Community Welfare of San Diego County, 1914-1963,” MA Thesis, 1964, San Diego State University, Main Library.
27 H. Herring, Education, p. 12. “To be able to preserve the unique quality of this area (San Diego) I think George W. Marston may have set the tempo for the entire region.” Tim McBride, “Twelve Who Shaped San Diego” Series Program #12, KPBS-TV, April 1982, found in the San Diego State University Research Collection, Marston File, Main Library. Note that one critic of Geo. W. Marston wrote: “Does he really expect San Diego to become as large as Paris or London? Or was he merely absent-minded when he wrote his communication. If he was in earnest he is wilder than the rabbits and coyotes that ranged over his ‘beautiful’ parks.” Bryand Howard, “The Park Tract,” Box #2 Folder #1, San Diego Historical Society Marston Collection. Note that Marston’s answer to this charge is included in the collection. Note that we may be coming close to Marston’s prediction today. See Wilbur S. Kelley, “Industrial Development of San Diego County,” in Carl H. Heilbron, ed., History of San Diego County (San Diego, 1936).
28. See The San Diego Evening Tribune, February 22, 1964, Sec. 7, p. 6-8, titled “George Marston’s Best Gift to San Diego – Balboa Park,” and for his love of flowers see Ann Burnett, “Tossing Bouquets,” California Garden, (Spring, 1951), 3-4, on the great floral displays in the Marston Department Store. In later years Marston fought the same fight – on the Comprehensive Plan on the Torrey Pines Non-Spoliation Project. See the G.W. Marston letter to the Traffic Control Committee, April 22, 1930, The Marston File, San Diego Historical Society.
29. Ed Fletcher, Memoirs, p.136. See also Box #2 Marston File, #1 San Diego Historical Society, document dated 1868 which stated that Isabelle Caruthers bought 40 acres (for $175.00) out of the 1440 acres set aside for the park (February 15, 1868). See also Statutes of California, 1869-1870, Chap. XLII, p. 49, passed February 1870, in that the Park was to be used for burial purposes. On the Park itself see the San Diego Union, February 16, 1889.
30. In the Park today there is a bust by Cartiano Scarpitta of George White Marston. Even in the early days (1885-1890) Marston had strongly protested the parcelling of grants at the expense of the park land. In 1889 he wrote to the San Diego Union on this issue: “Instead of arguing from the smallness of these (other United States) cities’ parks, that we do not require a large one, let us consider it their misfortune, and congratulate ourselves upon our rich heritance.” San Diego Union, February 6, 1889. For more on the Park, see Clarence Alan McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County (New York, 1922), I., p. 309.
31. Marston did not win all his battles. He and other American major landscape architects wanted to keep Balboa Park purely a Park, so they fought, but lost their battle to keep the Panama-California Exposition out of the Park (on the edge of the Park). See Gregory Montes, Balboa Park, 1909-1911, The Rise and Fall of the Olmstead Plan, The Journal of San Diego History, XXVIII (Winter, 1982), 46-67; and Gregory Montes, San Diego’s City Park, 1868-1902: An Early Debate on Environment and Profit, The Journal of San Diego History, XXIII (Spring, 1977), 48, 54; and Gregory Montes, San Diego’s City Park, 1902-1910, from Parsons to Balboa The Journal of San Diego History, XXV (Winter, 1979), 9-14. On the Exposition itself see D.C. Collier, “What An Exposition is For,” Sunset Magazine, XXXI (July, 1913), 145; and G. Aubrey Davidson, “History, of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 . . .” in History of San Diego County by Carl Heilbron, ed., pp. 401-02, and the Panama-California Exposition News, December 1911, No. 1 in the 1915 Exposition Box File (15 Expo BF), San Diego History Center Files. On the Junípero Serra Museum and Presidio Park see “The Origins of Presidio Park and Junípero Serra Museum,” The Journal of San Diego History, XV (Summer, 1969), 9-12.
32. See U. Alan Portis, “San Diego Progressives,” pp. 11-12.
33. On the Marston-Nolen File see the Marston File, Box #8, #1 (1926), San Diego Historical Society. See also John Nolen, San Diego, A Comprehensive Plan for Its Improvement (Boston, 1908), and in contrast to Nolen’s ideas see Donald Appleyard and Kevin Lynch, Temporary Paradise? A Look at the Special Landscape of the San Diego Region (San Diego, September 1974).
34. This statement is to be found in a document by G.W. Marston on the Civic Center site in the San Diego History Center Collection, Box #8, File #1, dated 1926; see also the San Diego Union, Oct. 1, 1913, article titled “Civic Center Site,” Box #2, File #19, San Diego History Center Marston File, and Marston’s letter to the San Diego Union, dated October 30, 1930, Box #2, File #8, found in the San Diego History Center Marston Files.
35. Letter, George White Marston to Col. D.C. Collier, April 22, 1913, Marston Col., Folder #12, Item #10, San Diego History Center. On Marston and politics see the G.C. Pardee Papers, C-B #400, Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, in which Marston accepted appointment to the Board of Trustees of the Normal School, and pledged his political support to Governor Pardee. See also George Mott, San Diego Politically Speaking (San Diego, 1932).
36. Letter, G.W. Marston to A.G. Spaulding, March 13, 1913, Box 3, Folder #12, Item 1, Marston Collection, San Diego History Center.
37. On Marston as a Progressive see U.A. Portis, “San Diego Progressives,” pp. 53-57; and, Mary G. Marston, Family Chronicle, I, p. 327; and the Hiram Johnson Papers, C-B #581, Part II on the Marston-Hiram Johnson Correspondence, Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, California. Note that in 1926 in search for a more liberal press, Marston in concert with several of his liberal friends launched the San Diego Independent newspaper, but it lost money, and within two years the supporters gave up. H. Herring, Education, p. 10.
38. See the “1913 Mayoralty Election Sheet – George W. Marston – The Candidate.” Box #3, Folder #13, Item 2, San Diego History Center.
39. Letter, from Chas. Lummis (Southwest Museum) to G.W. Marston, April 12, 1913, Box #3, Folder #12, Item 9, San Diego History Center. In the same Collection, Folder #12, Item 8, is Henry D. Porter’s Letter to G.W. Marston, dated April 10, 1913 from La Mesa, California. Porter wrote: My Dear Marston (sic): You deserved to have been the coming Mayor (sic.). We dared to hope it would be the desire of the populace. Now they must be condoned for their choice. I heard a man say yesterday; Mr. Marston was too good a man to be elected …”
40. Uldis Allen Portis, Geraniums vs. Smokestacks, the Mayoralty Campaign of 1917 The Journal of San Diego History, XXI (Summer, 1975), 50, and see U.A. Portis, MA Thesis, pp. 71-72.
41. Julius Wangenheim, “An Autobiography,” California Historical Society Quarterly, XXXVI (June, 1957), 55.
42. The Labor Leader, March 30, 1917; see also the San Diego Union, March 1917, and The Daily Smokestack, 1 April 1917. The Daily Smokestack, April 2, 1917 even printed a booster song for Louis Wilde in two stanzas. Stanza II began: “Yes, we, too, enjoy the flowers in this climate without par, But a steady job that pays us well we need that more by far.” On Marston and the support of John D. Spreckels see E. Swenson, “John D. Spreckels and San Diego,” MA Thesis, University of California, Main Library, Berkeley, California.
43. San Diego Sun, May 1, 1918, Note: “In his bid for the mayoralty, Marston did have the support of John D. Sprecke!s, a name that stood above others in terms of money and influence.” U.A. Portis, M.A. Thesis, p. 43.
44. Charles C. Haines and James A. Blaisdell, “Addresses Honoring George W. Marston,” Pomona College Bulletin, October 17, 1946.
45. Pomona College, Who’s Who, 1894-1930 (Claremont, California, May, 1930), p. 205.
46. H. Herring, Education, p. 16; and, the Marston File, Honnold Special Collections, George W. Marston, “Over the Years”
47. H. Herring, Education, p. 16; and also Frank Brackett, Granite and Sagebrush, and Chas. B. Sumner, The Story of Pomona College. For a thorough description of G.W. Marston’s role at Pomona College see E.W. Lyon, The History of Pomona College, 1887-1969 (Claremont, California 1977).
48. See “The Education of George W. Marston,” Speech to the Wednesday Club, Mary G. Marston, Family Chronicle II, pp. 274-288.
49. H. Herring, Education, p. 19; see also Wm. Clary, The Claremont Colleges: A History of the Group Plan, sections on the role of James A. Blaisdell.
50. H. Herring, Education, pp. 20-26.
51. Like John Swett, the “Horace Mann of California,” G.W. Marston was not impressed with degrees; they were but ornaments, but both men had a high regard for learning. See “A Yankee Patriot: John Swett, the Horace Mann of the Pacific,” History of Education Quarterly, IV (March, 1964), 17-32; and, “John Swett: A Stranger in the Southland,” The California Historical Society Quarterly, XLII (June, 1963), 145-153, both by Nicholas C. Polos.
52. Pomona College Bulletin, #7, XXXI, December 1954 on the 25th Anniversary of Marston’s Presidency of the Board of Trustees of Pomona College. President C.K. Edmunds called G.W. Marston: “this matchless Christian gentleman.” See also the Pomona College Letter, April 1928, IX, No. 5, in the Marston Col., Honnold Library, Claremont, California, which honors G.W. Marston’s forty years as a Member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees.
53. Frank P. Brackett, Granite and Sagebrush, p. 87. This author also wrote: “The years from 1890-1897 were lean years indeed. In 1895 G.W. Marston proposed a New Plan to raise $10,000, and he offered $2,000 toward it.” He also stated later: “On Oct. 13. 1912, Mr. George W. Marston pledged $50,000 to be used ‘as the trustees may see it’.” Ibid., p. 123.
54. Chas. P. Sumner, The Story of Pomona College, p. 59. See also Edwin Clarence Norton, The Dean Speaks Again (Claremont, California, 1955), p. 15, in which he wrote: “In the early days of Pomona College we all had to depend on the Lord. We hadn’t anyone or anything else to depend on!”
55. See Natalie Joy S. Ward, “James Arnold Blaisdell: A Study of His Professional Career,” Unpub., Ph.D., disser. UCLA, 1960; and E. Wilson Lyon, “Higher Education for the West, 1924-1974,” in Addresses & Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Meeting of the Western College Assoc., Claremont, California, 1974, and Robert J. Bernard, (Managing Dir. of Claremont College), Address at the Claremont California Club, November 15, 1944 (Claremont, California 1945), in which he praises Marston as “sturdy and corageous company.” Found in the Marston File, Special Collection, Honnold Library, Associated Colleges.
56. See E.W. Lyon, The History of Pomona College, p. 328; and, Frank P. Brackett, Granite and Sagebrush, p. 222. Marston found out that at age eighty he was contributing to about one hundred and thirty-one causes, and the list seemed to get longer each year. H. Herring, Education, p. 26.
57. One of the most fascinating stories about G.W. Marston is how he and N. Blanchard joined forces and created Blanchard Park out of a scrubby wash, and incorporated it into the Pomona College Campus. Very little has been written about this adventure. See E.W. Lyon, “Higher Education,” pp. 83-84.
58. “the provision of this central campus (Marston Quadrangle) was very dear to the heart of Mr. Marston, and in the summer of 1919 he told Dr. Blaisdell that he planned to give $100,000 for the formation and endowment of a central quadrangle . . . Some work on the quadrangle began in the autumn of 1919 . . .” E.W. Lyon, “Higher Education,” p. 199.
59. See E.W. Lyon, “English Precedents in the Associated Colleges at Claremont,” The American Oxonian (April, 1948), 76-80, which explains the “Oxford Idea” of the Associated Colleges Plan. See also Robert J. Bernard, An Unfinished Dream: A Chronicle of the Group Plan of the Claremont Colleges (Claremont, California, 1982), p. 23.
60. Robert J. Bernard, “Unfinished Dream,” p. 77 ff. Note that Marston once offered Pomona College $20,000 to move the ugly College heating plant with its tall steel smokestacks to another area of the college! Mr. R.J. Bernard pointed out that Marston in concert with D.L. Davenport and Mr. and Mrs. Chas. D. Stearns gave the land for Harper Hall, on the Claremont College campus, named for Jacob C. Harper. Robert J. Bernard, “Unfinished Dream,” p. 96, and p. 105. See also E.W. Lyon on this, “English Precedents,” p. 281 (History of Pomona College).
61. See E.W. Lyon, History of Pomona College, p. 427, and the issues of the San Diego Union (obituary sections), May 31, 1946, and June 1, 1946.
62. Oscar Handlin, Al Smith and His America (Boston, 1956), pp. 39-66.
63. See George W. Marston, “Some Recollections of George W. Marston,” Marston File, Special Collections Honnold Library.
64. H. Herring, Education, pp. 28-29.
65. Marie K. Jordan, “Memories of George W. Marston,” p. 3.
66. Julius Wangenheim, “Autobiography,” p. 357. Alice Parker said of G.W. Marston: “His genius as a raconteur and as an entertainer with a special flair for impersonation is a source of amazement and delight to his friends.” Pomona College Bulletin, XXXI (December 1934), p. 4.
67. “Address of Geo. W. Marston, Joint Meeting of the Trustees of Colleges and Universities of the Pacific Southwest, University Club (Los Angeles, February 13, 1934),” found in the Marston File, Special Collection, The Honnold Library, Associated Colleges, Claremont, California.
68. Dr. Raymond F. Iredell, Founders’ Day Convocation Day, October 11, 1934, see the Pomona College Bulletin, #7, p. 15; and G.W. Marston, “Over the Years,” pp. 23-24 in which he wrote: “Our teachers are very sensible men and women (a few exceptions!) and they are seekers for (sic) the truth. Let us give them a wide berth. We can trust them.”
69. From George W. Marston’s “Some Recollections of George W. Marston,” Marston File, Special Collections, Honnold Library.
70. Etta F. Adair, June 6, 1940 called George W. Marston our “First Citizen of San Diego.” See Box #7, folder 13, item #1, Special Marston Col., San Diego Historical Society Collection. See also the Union Title and Trust Topics titled “George W. Marston, Pioneer Civic Leader, 1850-1946,” (San Diego, 1950), p. 11, which listed Marston as: “Friend of his fellow men,” and “Lover of all growing things.” The Pomona College Bulletin #6 Newsletter quotes the San Diego Union which describes G.W. Marston as the image of San Diego. Many letters are to be found in the Marston Collection File, San Diego Historical Society, which praise G.W. Marston for his contributions to San Diego. See, for example: W. Clayton to G. Marston, Esq. #178, dated September 26, 1912, and Geo. Richler to James D. Forward, Ltr. #149, dated October 1, 1950 in which he wrote: “Mr. Marston was universally recognized during his lifetime, as the City’s foremost citizen. He was at the forefront in the auguration and development of practically every one of our cultural activities.”
71. See E. Wilson Lyon, “The New California: An Address at the Opening Convocation of Pomona College,” Claremont, California, September 25, 1947, p.11.