I am a middle aged man living in the Galway NY area. I have done extensive research (and am continuing to do so) on Horace Walpole Carpentier. He seems to be held a little more highly regarded in the East than the West! Doing the research has also got me very interested in the Oakland area in which I hope to visit in the near future.
Hello! Perhaps you might already know of the link, there is a great deal of information on the life of Horace Walpole Carpentier on the website A History of Berkeley, From the Ground Up JL. And BTW, I agree about Carpentier. Although he was an unethical person on many levels, without his wheeling and dealing Oakland never would have developed into the city it is today.
July 18, 2013: Hello Again! Mary Jane Canning (nee McCann, nee Morgan) appears to have been a wonderful, interesting woman and the relationship between her and Horace Carpentier must have been fascinating. At a time when it was mainly men who made fortunes in real estate investments, she not only obtained enough coaching from Carpentier to become quite wealthy in her own right, but also may have shared that information with her husband James Canning (and perhaps, by extension, assisted others as well?).
The couple was able to have a lovely home, the Holland-Canning House, and contribute to the construction of one of our local churches. An extremely generous supporter of the Oakland community, Mary Canning was St. Francis de Sales Church’s largest single donor, having given $142,000 (about $3.7M in 2012 dollars) by the time of her death. She also made large contributions for the establishment of Providence Hospital in Oakland.
And there is the same question which keeps me wondering, why? Why would Horace Carpentier hire, much less take the time to educate Mary Canning in the complexities of real estate investment at a time when it was difficult for uneducated Irish famine emigrants to obtain prestigious employment in a wealthy person home? And even if hired by a rich family, think how incredibly rare it would have been for that rich gentleman to take an interest in that servant's life, much less take the time and energy in tutoring the servant in the purchase of properties. Also, it would appear that Carpentier either paid her extremely well for a cook so that she would have the capital to make the purchases, or he fronted her the money. But again, the question is why? He could have just bought the properties for himself and amassed an even greater fortune. Why was he so kind to Mary? One can suppose that she was very smart and clever, even if perhaps lacking in higher education, as was the case of most servants. But was she a great conversationalist? It would seem so if Horace spent a great deal of time chatting with her about real estate. Was she beautiful? Mary was six years younger than Horace so they were close in age. Was she a form of substitute family for Horace, who didn't seem to have any family in the area. Perhaps she filled some maternal figure in his life, the pleasant cook fixing up delicious meals to a lonely bachelor?
Accounts say James Canning was wealthy, but was it information indirectly from Horace that assisted him? Were James and Mary married while she was still Horaces' cook? Was James Canning a rich friend of Horace Carpentier, or did Mary become wealthy and then marry James who already had money, or did James become rich from the knowledge shared by his wife Mary working for Horace?
If you find out the answers to this intriguing puzzle, I would love to know!
Here are the sources I used when creating the Mary Canning page on Oakland Wiki: The main source of information was on page 26 of St. Francis de Sales Church (Oakland Cathedral) HABS No. CA ..., along with some information from Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales (Oakland, California), and also read Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League I will look for more later ... ~ JL
Hi Ralph! Do you have the link to the San Francisco article on Mary Canning that you could send me? Or a PDF would be even better ... I'd like to include more information on her life. ~ JL
July 22, 2013: Hi Ralph, here is a link to additional Horace Carpentier information on History of Alameda County, California: Including Its Geology, Topography, Soil, and Productions, Volume 2 (1883). Although you probably already have it, just wanted to share in case you didn't. Also, were you able to find the link to the Mary Canning article you mentioned? JL
Welcome! We look forward to your insights on Carpentier and others and hope you get the chance to visit us in Oakland sometime soon! - mk30
Hello and welcome! My name is Vicky, and I am a volunteer who does a lot of outreachy things for Oakland Wiki. I'm quite curious: How did you discover Oakland Wiki? ~eekiv
Thank You all.. Yes I actually have gotten to know the authour of A History of Berkeley...Alan Cohen. Fascinating man and very knowledgable about all things Oakland (Berkeley)