The Johnstown Daily Republican, March 9, 1905, Fulton County, NY

Characteristic Stories of San Fransisco Philanthropist


Wife of Founder of Leland Stanford University Gave Two a Luxuriously Furnished House For a Year. Her Kindness to an Old Priest. Italian Admirer’s Tribute.

Portrait of Jane Stanford, before 1905.

Portrait of Jane Stanford, before 1905.

When she lived in her residence on the Leland Stanford University grounds the late Mrs. Jane Lathrop Stanford of San Francisco, widow of Senator Leland Stanford, founder of the university, attended all the college functions, says the the New York Globe. Mrs. Stanford encouraged students to visit her in her home and to the less fortunate she was the more ready with her advice and help. She is said never to have refused aid to a poor student…

Hearing of two chums in straitened circumstances, Mrs. Stanford sent for them and offered them […] villa, one of her great unoccupied mansions on the university estate, furnished luxuriously throughout. Besides give this mansion over to them for a year, she gave them each $10 a month.

Mrs. Stanford was regarded as a business woman of exceptional ability, and after her husband’s death she assumed the responsibility of the management of a ranch of 62, 950 acres, says the New York Tribune. In 1902 a church in memory of her husband was dedicated at the university, costing $500,000 of which Dr. Heber Newson of New York city became rector.

“A characteristic of Mrs. Stanford,” said one who knew her several years ago, “was that she did not give her money and then close her eyes and ears and try to shut out sights and sounds of the world while she brooded over her own sorrows. Instead she contributed with her money, her own wise thought, and strong personality.”

Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford, 1850.

Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford, 1850.

…It was her happiness to see others happy, so the presence of the humble stranger was never questioned and they were as welcome as the titled guests. I remember once hearing a fashionable matron ask Mrs. Stanford how she tolerated the mob of common people that came to her “Thursdays.”

Mrs. Stanford simply said, “My house is free to the public on Thursday, and any stranger, no matter how poor, is welcome, and if from my table she can get something to stay her hunger I give it joyfully , and if at home some little mouth would relish a sweet she can have some from my table, put it in her pocket and take it home.”

During one of her trips abroad some friend told her of an aged priest who was in need of pecuniary assistance, and to et it he would like to dispose of some lace that was an heirloom in his family. Mrs. Stanford called, the lace was shown to her, and charmed by its delicate beauty she purchased it, and the price paid was so generous that the old priest’s last days were spent in peace and plenty.

Source: New York State Historic Newspapers

NOTE: Mrs. Jane Stanford was born on August 25, 1828, in Albany, NY, daughter of shopkeeper Dyer Lathrop and Jane Anne (Shields) Lathrop. She died from strychnine poisoning on February 28, 1905, under suspicious circumstances. This column, published on March 9, 1905, in the Johnstown Daily Republican, was a tribute to her life and work. These are excerpts from the column which can be read in its entirety here.