Jennie Lathrop



Jennie Stanford (Lathrop) Watson (1885-1934) was the second child of Charles Gardner Lathrop (1849-1914), younger brother of Jane Lathrop Stanford, and Charles' first wife, Elizabeth "Libbie" (Griswold) Lathrop (1852-1885). Jennie's mother died when Jennie was not yet six months old. Anna Maria Lathrop (1832-1892), sister of Charles and Jane, adopted the motherless baby Jennie, moving both Jennie and Charles to her home at the corner of Van Ness and Pacific Avenues in San Francisco. In 1889 Anna married recent widower David Hewes (1822-1915) so Charles and Jennie continued to live at what was now the Hewes house until 1892 when Anna died. When Mrs. Hewes died Jennie came to live with Leland and Jane Stanford. The Stanfords did not adopt Jennie, with Jane filing a memo that explicitly stated she had no intention of adopting Jennie, as California law at that time would have required an adopted child to inherit a large portion of the Stanford's estate, threatening to reduce the endowment of the university. Jennie's education was at convents including Sacred Heart Convent in Paris, now the site of the Rodin Museum. On March 7, 1908, three years after Jane Stanford's death, Jennie was secretly married in San Diego to Walter Charles Ringrose Watson (1873-1923), brother-in-law of Leland Stanford Lathrop (1870-1963), Jennie's older brother. They lived together secretly in Berkeley for three months before the news of their wedding was leaked. The couple moved to Los Angeles and had two children, Robert Lathrop Watson (1912-1929) and Mary Helen (Watson) (Morgan) Kirchner. After the death of Jennie's father, Charles, in 1914, Jennie and Leland, the two step-children of his widow, Annie (Schlageter) Lathrop (1868-1947), sued to dispute a claim against Charles's estate from Annie's brother, Dr. Herman Schlageter for unpaid medical services provided to Charles in the last years of his life. The result of the lawsuit was that the claim for $25,000 for services was reduced to $10,000. The Argonaut reported that a boy was born to the Watsons on August 17, 1918, in Los Angeles. After her husband died in 1923 Jennie divided her time between homes in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and was frequently in San Francisco where both she and her children were listed in the Society Blue Book.

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