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The Begonia in California, Part 2: The Begoniacs

Articles: The Begonia in California, Part 2: The Begoniacs

Theodosia Burr Shepherd. Photographer unknown; reproduced by permission, Bancroft Library, University of California

In the April ’09 issue of Pacific Horticulture, the author traced the rise and decline of California’s begonia industry. Here, she concludes the story with a series of brief biographical sketches of some incomparable people in the begonia world. The period in which they lived constituted a “Golden Age” for the begonia in California.

Mrs Theodosia Burr Shepherd

Theodosia Burr Hall (1845-1906) was the daughter of William Hall, later Chief Justice of Iowa. Judge Hall taught his daughter all the correct names of the flowers and plants they saw as he made his circuits on horseback. In spite of the great and enduring affection between father and daughter, she married William Shepherd impulsively to get away from a dreadful stepmother. The Shepherds moved to Ventura in 1876, while the town was still in its formative stages.

Mrs Shepherd’s husband was an uncertain provider. In her need to educate her four children, she swapped attractive dried flower arrangements for books and supplies through...

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