Handwriting Expert Chauncey McGovern, The Artist’s Colony & A Famous Pescadero Murder Case: Part II

In his July 30th report, the handwriting expert Chauncey McGovern raised grave suspicions. He advised all parties that the signature was not that of Sarah Coburn. There were too many variations, he noted, between the signature on the will and the one on official records.

The “sâ€? and the subsequent “aâ€? on the official documents, for example, were not connected—but they were connected on the alleged forgery. On the official documents, the “aâ€? was executed with one stroke, while it took two strokes on the will. In the authentic signature, the final “hâ€? in the name, Sarah, “faded out in a flourishâ€?. In the will it looked like a drawn line.

Finally, Chauncey McGovern pointed out that the will was typed on a typewriter of “ancient vintageâ€?. Only Sarah’s signature was actually signed by hand. The letters and the alignment indicated that the will had not been typed by a stenographer – and, in his opinion, not in a lawyer’s office.


Did Sarah Coburn know how to type? No one knew for certain.

McGovern’s report did not speculate on who the alleged forger might have been.

In 1920 the will contest was dismissed when a financial agreement was reached between the beneficiaries of Sarah’s will and the East Coast relatives. By that time, the plaintiff’s attorney Charles Humphrey had acquired a desirable stretch of South Coast property. At the scenic Pescadero ranch he now owned, Humphrey entertained a steady stream of guests until his death in the 1940s.

A year after the case was dismissed, Chauncey McGovern’s ad seeking artists to rent the Von Suppe Poet and Peasant Cottage in Montara appeared in the Half Moon Bay Review.

In the early 1990s the cottage still stood in Montara, across the way from the old Montara Schoolhouse on Sixth Street. At that time, maintaining its tradition, the Von Suppe cottage was home to a music teacher.

Handwriting Expert Chauncey McGovern, The Artist’s Colony & A Famous Pescadero Murder Case: Part I

NOTE: While researching old newspapers for my book called “The Coburn Mysteryâ€?– a true story of murder [unsolved] and revenge set in 19th & early 20th century Pescadero– I ran into names of many prominent Bay Area attorneys because the main character, Loren Coburn, had earned the “overly litigiousâ€? moniker.

If Loren had a problem, he sued. He sued everybody. That’s why there’s so much information on his long, long life.

And being detailed oriented, I also happily found and pursued the “little storiesâ€? I found within the big one. Tangents.

Cottage For Rent In the Montara Artist’s Colony

“Cottage For Rent: The Von Suppe, Poet & Peasant Cottage of the Montara Fine Arts Colony Country Clubâ€?—that’s what the ad said that appeared in the summer 1921 issue of the Half Moon Bay Review.

(Von Suppe was a 19th century European theatrical conductor, the composer of 150 operettas. He became well known for composing the overture to “Poet and Peasantâ€?.)

The Review ad described the cottage as a “5-room, rustic camping out structure, rose vine covered, dozen 10-year-old Eucalyptus trees, on Bret Harte Hill near corner of Elbert Hubbard Road and Rudyard Kipling Ave.—within 200 feet of spacious schoolhouse and one block from Ocean Shore Auto Blvd.—tenants preferably artists, authors musicians. Weekly $5.00â€?.

Artists were directed to contact Chauncey McGovern, president of the Montara Fine Arts Club. Although we don’t know if he dabbled in painting, labored over romantic poetry or composed music, McGovern’s line of work as a well known San Francisco handwriting expert made his life from ordinary.

McGovern either rode the Ocean Shore Railroad (if it was still running) or drove to his San Francisco office in the Hearst Building. There is no doubt that he knew Harr Wagner, the educator, publisher and real estate developer whose dream was to turn Montara nto an artist’s colony. Harr and wife Madge Morris, a minor California poet, hosted many literary barbecues at their home, marked by stone pillars.

Chauncey McGovern’s introduction to the Coastside may or may not have originated at Wagner’s parties. His association with the fine arts club and cottage at Montara could also have come as a result of legal business that introduced him to Pescadero, south of Half Moon Bay.

In 1919, San Francisco attorney Charles F. Humphrey hired McGovern to verify the signature on Sarah S. Coburn’s last will. The elderly, wealthy widow had been clubbed to death in her Pescadero home in the summer of that year. The will–dated Feb. 19, 1919–was found by Half Moon Bay’s Dr. W. A. Brooke, then the county coroner, in a room adjacent to the one in which the body lay motionless.

Attorney Humphrey represented the disgruntled East Coast family members who had been omitted from the rich woman’s will. Aside from a few minor bequests to friends, the bulk of the estate was left to “strangers in bloodâ€?.

Feeling cheated out of their rightful inheritance, the East Coast relatives challenged the authenticity of Sarah Coburn’s signature.

The relatives wondered if that was even her signature—or if she knew what she was signing. After engaging Humphrey’s legal services, papers were filed to initiate a heated will contest.

Enter handwriting expert Chauncey McGovern, also president of the Montara Fine Arts Club.

Examples of Sarah’s handwriting were turned over to McGovern to examine. These included Sarah’s handwriting on official documents and the outside of folders, to be compared with a photo of the signature that appeared on the will.

…To be continued….

Montara: Home to Artist’s Colony & The Little Goat Farm (Part III)

cutehouse_2.jpgAt the foot of Montara Mountain, an artist’s colony, the dream of San Francisco publisher Harr Wagner and his poet wife Madge Morris, seemed to be unfolding in the most beautiful way.

A few quaint cottages were built and artists moved in with their musical instruments, pens and watercolors. The nearby streets were named in honor of authors Bret Harte, Elbert Hubbard and Rudyard Kipling. A bakery opened its doors and many in Montara viewed the new community as economically self-sustaining.

Harr constructed a family residence featuring stone pillars and a circular driveway. To establish a sense of tradition at Montara-by-the-Sea, he organized annual barbecues, attended by his artist friends.

Mussels were harvested from the nearby beaches and placed in steaming kettles while steaks sizzled on the open grills. Harr presided over the festivities, always the jovial host attired in chef’s hat and white apron.

Perhaps in anticipation of the flood of tourists attracted to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, Harr helped construct a lovely resort hotel framed by the warmth of Montara Mountain.


But Harr’s reputation for taking risks that generally failed was not about to change. The artist community at Montara was no exception.

The Ocean Shore Railroad—the artery that carried life to Montara and other Coastside beach towns—filed for bankruptcy and pulled up its rails. A fire swept away the resort hotel and a future conflagration would take the Wagner’s family residence, leaving only the stone pillars.

The Wagner family, which included daughter Morris, weathered the latest financial setback in typical fashion. Harr shrugged his shoulders and humorously labeled himself a “successful failureâ€?.

But despite Montara’s economic reverses, the tiny beach town still retained its identity and lure for artists. Real estate sales may have tumbled but the “Von Suppe Poet and Peasant Cottageâ€?, honoring a 19th century European composer, was still in demand at a rental fee of $85.00 weekly.

Meanwhile, daughter Morris was thriving. She had been named the postmistress of Montara, and with an initial investment of $350.00 , began raising those milk goats with good friend Irmagarde Richards.

Within a few years, Morris and Irmagarde’s work won acclaim as observers praised them for “controlling the goat industry in this part of the worldâ€?.

Their goats were not what Irmagarde labeled the “back alleyâ€? sort. She and Morris aimed much higher, raising gold medal winning, blue-blooded Toggenberg goats, the breed that were used in experimental gland transplantation in the elderly.

According to Irmagarde, their goats were attractive and highly efficient milk producers. A steady stream of physicians had made the trek to Montara for goat glands but the women were not interested in that phase of the business.

Their goats provided sweet milk only—no parts.

In 1922 goat milk was a valuable commodity because it wasn’t produced in large quantities by commercial dairies. This situation enabled Morris and Irmagarde to sign a contract with a tuberculosis hospital in San Mateo to provide 60 quarts of goat’s milk per day. The milk from their herd of 200 goats was earmarked for children with TB who were unable to digest other foods.

Tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the respiratory system, is usually acquired from contact with an infected person, an infected cow, or through drinking contaminated milk.

“Today, after nine years of hard work and fun,â€? Irmagarde Ricahrds said in 1922, “we have one of the best-equipped milk goat establishments in the world.â€?

But there years later, in 1925, the world of “the goat girlsâ€? was turned upside down. After a long illness, Morris’s mother died at Montara—and technology introduced new baby food formulas into the marketplace.

The demand for goat’s milk dwindled and the Las Cabritas (Little Goats) Farm at Montara quietly ceased production and closed its doors.

Note: I actually met Morris Wagner. She was elderly and lived in a very nice senior home in Los Gatos but what impressed me most was her face, filled with light and warmth and great love, her father’s daughter, I felt certain.

Photos: Quaint house in Montara & Montara landscape with Montara Inn perched on the hillside.

Montara: Home to Artist’s Colony & The Little Goat Farm (Part II)

scenic.jpg (Photo: Scenic Montara, with Devil’s Slide in the background).

Montara was the first in a string of charming beach towns encountered by Ocean Shore Railroad passengers as they left behind the breathtaking vistas of the spectacular ride across Devil’s Slide, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and the striking patterns of the fragile cliffs.

From the quaint Montara train station, fields stretched in all directions, with footpaths leading to a graceful 19th century lighthouse, a church with a small spire and virgin beaches thick with white sand.

The visual effect made some visitors imagine they stood on the stern of a ship far out in a foggy sea—but the gracious dominance of Montara Mountain in the background, hosting sprays of brilliant wildflowers, reminded everyone they remained on land.

Montara was the home of Vic Guerrero, heir to an original Spanish/Mexican land grant. In Guerrero’s less complicated Montara, the most famous resident was William Haavind, “Billy the Kid,â€? a colorful foot racer known for his daily sprint up to Devil’s Slide and back.

This, then, was Montara in the early part of the 20th century, the place Morris Wagner came to know and love.

Anyone acquainted with Morris soon learned that her father, Harr, had purchased one square mile of beautiful Montara, believing the property would rise in value along with the fortunes of the Ocean Shore Railroad.

He may have originally hoped to sell small lots to all comers but he quickly refined his plan, announcing that Montara would become the center of an artists’ community with a college as its beating heart.

The arts and crafts community made sense to all who knew Harr and Madge. They had countless artist friends including the famous, long-haired bohemian poet, Joaquin Miller. To assist Harr in promoting Montara, Miller rode the Ocean Shore Railroad to the Coastside town where he planted a special redwood tree to the delight of spectators—including the press.

While Morris’s mother penned books of poetry, her father named the streets of Montara in honor of the authors Bret Harte, Elbert Hubbard and Rudyard Kipling. A few tidy cottages were built and artists moved in with their musical instruments, pens and watercolors.

A bakery was opened and many began to view the community of Montara as economically self-sustaining.


(Photo: Montara artist & his dog outside their Montara cottage.)

….To be continued…

Montara: Artist’s Colony Home To The Little Goat Farm (Part I)

While many Coastsiders were involved in the business of illicit alcohol during prohibition, Miss Morris Wagner pursued a more temperate activity.She raised milk goats at “Las Cabritasâ€?, (little goats), her ranch in Montara.

goats.jpg (Photo: Morris Wagner & Irmagarde Richards with their goats at Montara).

Cases of childhood tuberculosis were on the rise—and goat’s milk was prescribed as a safe alternative to cow’s milk, which purportedly carried the germs of the contagious respiratory disease.

Combining the promise of monetary reward with a noble mission, Morris Wagner set out to provide the nourishing goat’s milk needed by the sick kids in San Mateo County where herds of grazing cows were still a common sight on the rolling green hillsides.

To outsiders unfamiliar with Morris Wagner’s background, raising goats might have seemed an unusual career choice for the athletic young woman.

Her father, Harr Wagner, a prominent educator and literary publisher, had risked his savings in real estate misadventures in California and rubber tree plantations in Mexico that failed miserably. Only the literary magazines he published paid the bills.

Morris’s mother, Madge, was a frustrated poet who fervently supported women’s suffrage and did not take her husband’s name upon their marriage in the 1880s.

Friends might have predicted a safe teaching career for Morris Wagner but she exhibited the rare qualities of both parents. While her milk goat business was not too secure financially, there were intangible rewards, the good feelings one gets from doing humanitarian work.

If Morris was puzzled by something about farm animals, she could draw on her father’s deep well of knowledge. He had grown up around barns and stables in Pennsylvania.

Whatever deficiencies Morris had in the field of animal husbandry, she solved by pooling talents with Irmagarde Richards, a close friend who also happened to be a goat expert.

Surely Irmagarde Richards was the inspiration if not the guiding spirit at “Las Cabritasâ€?. In the 1920s, Irmagarde became the president of the California Goat Breeders Association—and she had authored a well-received book about modern milk goats. She was a Stanford grad who had taught Greek and archaeology at the prestigious Mills College in Oakland, the first women’s college established west of the Rockies.

It was in the classrooms and on the grounds of historic Mills College that the student Morris Wagner struck up a lifetime friendship with teacher Irmagarde Richards.

At the time the two women met, Morris had lived in different parts of California but her most recent address was a post office box in Montara.


photo San Mateo County History Museum. Visit the museum located in the historic courthouse, Redwood City.

…To be continued…

Murder in Montara: Babes in the Woods Case: THE END

When the trial of alleged murderer Vorhes Newton opened at the Redwood City courthouse in October 1946, the heinous crime had slipped from the front pages of the newspapers.

Short summaries of the Newton murders—Vorhes was accused of killing his two little daughters and for the attempted murder of his wife, Lorraine, all found in a remote Montara canyon– appeared on the same page as the trials of convicted abortionists and the closings of illegal “abortion millsâ€?. Was there a connection?

But before the prosecution and defense faced off in the Newton trial, 115 potential jurors were called to the Redwood City courthouse and after two-and-half days “nine housewives and three menâ€? were selected to sit in the jury box.

To the press, both legal adversaries exuded optimism. Fred M. Wycoff, the prosecutor, who had worked the Newton case since it broke over the summer, believed his detective, Frank Marlowe– a name worthy of a mystery novel– had handed him a “honey of a caseâ€?.

His star witness, Wycoff announced, was to be Newton’s 21-year-old wife, Lorraine.

Criminal Defense Attorney Leo R. Friedman, was just as famous for his ability to delay and delay as he was for changing his client’s venues. On the behalf of Newton, he was asking the court to move the case from Redwood City to San Jose– and he revealed to reporters that his strategy would include the controversial Jeckyll and Hyde theory of dual personalities, backed up with psychiatric testimony, to explain the horrific actions of Vorhes Newton.

Newton had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

In his opening statement, Fred Wycoff fascinated the jury by linking the case with the popular 1946 movie, “The Postman Always Ring Twiceâ€?, starring gorgeous Lana Turner. Wycoff said the Newtons saw the film the night before the murders and claimed that Vorhes was influenced by Lana Turner’s character, Cora Smith, who smashed a bottle over her husband’s head. Newton’s children were killed with a milk bottle found at the scene.

Wycoff also elaborated on what happened during the hours before the murders. He told the jury that Lorraine Newton had been pregnant when Vorhes drove her and the children to the Coastside where he suggested Lorraine have an abortion. When she balked, he beat his wife and threw her over a 12-foot embankment. Then he killed the children and attempted to bury them. Police caught up with Vorhes at Lake Tahoe where he claimed to have no memory of the crimes, adding that it wasn’t in his nature to kill anyone.

Called to the witness stand were Vorhes’s sister and brother-in-law. Newton had borrowed their car to take his wife and children on the death ride and returned it later the same day looking as if nothing had happened. To the Petermans them he had always seemed a loving father and caring husband. They drove Vorhes to the train believing he was going to San Francisco to join Lorraine and the kids.

Everyone in the courtroom anticipated Lorraine Newton’s damaging testimony. She had survived her husband’s brutal attacks, suffering a miscarriage afterwards. Although most folks sympathized with her, she had her detractors, too. She was criticized for sounding “strangely impersonalâ€? and for “not showing enough emotionâ€?.

But Lorraine Newton never took the witness stand.

The trial had barely gotten started when shocking news paralyzed the courtroom: Vorhes Newton had hung himself in his cell on the third floor of the Redwood City jail.

There ensued a discussion of what to do next with the Prosecutor Wycoff suggesting the case be dismissed. Before that happened, Newton’s counsel, Leo Friedman made a statement, saying that his client told him repeatedly he had no memory of the events of the day of the murders–and that he had turned up evidence pointing as much to Newton’s innocence as guilt.

Wycoff said, “Newton is now before a greater Judge. He has left this vale of tears.”

After the trial was dismissed a few hours later, Lorraine Newton walked into the District Attorney’s office and said, in what tone we are not told: “I am sorry justice was not permitted to run its course.”

As the case was dismissed, another rumor was making the rounds: Supposedly Newton had said, “If I ever become convinced I did it, I’ll hang myself.”

Owen Bryant: Our “Beetle Man” in Montara, Part II

At the California Academy of Sciences, amateur entomologist Owen Bryant met Dr. Blaisdell, a Stanford doctor and insect expert who named some of Bryant’s beetles. Owen also befriended Hugh B. Leech, the Associate Curator of Entomology, and the man who would write Bryant’s obituary in 1958.

These were the experts who attracted the beetleman Owen Bryant and the reason he moved into the old Montara schoolhouse—so he could live close to the Academy located in Golden Gate Park.

When Owen and Lucy Bryant moved to Montara, lthey also purchased two building lots in the El Granada Highlands. Owen believed they might have oil beneath them as he had seen oil operations nearby. At any rate he had a special understanding of the petroleum business.

Dr. Ross suggested that oil was the source of Owen’s income. He was the president of the Calgary, Alberta-based Bryant Oil Company, and, while not rich, income from the venture sustained his lifestyle, enabling him to pursue his bug interests.

“He had a dictatorial father,â€? Ross told me four years ago. “I believe his father wanted to send poor Owen—who was basically a bug collector—to school to become a doctor.â€?

Owen Bryant, who was born in Brookline, Mass. In 1882, attended Harvard, but according to his correspondence stored at the Academy, he did poorly in English courses, failing four times. He repeated the class until the sympathetic instructor passed him so that he could enter medical school as his father wished. He graduated from Harved in 1904 and spent three unhappy years attending medical school.

As soon as summer break came, the naturalist in Owen prevailed, and he was off to the Bahamas, Newfoundland, Labrador and Java collecting birds, mammals, reptiles, seashells—and his beloved insects.

Then, in 1908, Owen’s father died and he was free, and that meant the end of his medical career.

Clearly Owen had enough income to become a gentleman collector. But he was scarred by the frustration of being forced into the medical education he did not want and the trauma of the failed English classes.

In 1939, in response to an “anniversary surveyâ€? from Harvard College, an angry Owen responded:

“I have made it my business to avoid business and professional relations of each and every sort,â€? he wrote, “but have had the misfortune to be n ot quite able to keep out of the clutches of the legal and medical professions.â€?

In discussing his lifelong commitment to observing insects, he sarcastically wrote: “My hobby is the same one I have been engaged in most of my time for the last sixteen years, the puerile one of catching bugs, presumably begun then because I entered my ‘second childhood’ at that time.â€?

When reporting public service activities, Owen ridiculed the question by snipping that he had “trapped one pack rat and four mice.â€?

These were the words of an embittered man.

But the years smoothed Owen’s rough edges. In 1954, now living in Montara, he was again asked to respond to another Harvard College survey. This time Owen’s anger was gone. He matter-of-factly cataloged his affiliations and accomplishments, dryly observing that he was “still at itâ€?, that is collecting his insects.

The passage of time and Owen’s pleasant relationship with the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco were surely responsible for his mellowing—but he never recovered from the trauma of flunking English classes at Harvard. That horrid experience blocked Owen from ever becoming a bona fide scientist. He believed he could not write well enough to author the all-important papers that were required.

For his entire life as a collector, he never could do the writing himself. It was always up to others. Someone had to correct his grammar and someone had to do the typing and someone had to address the letters to the appropriate person. The problem was solved when he married Lucy McBride in 1932. She was a competent secretary who helped her husband deal with all of his deficiencies.

Owen and Lucy were a good match.

Photo: Lucy McBride Bryant, Special Collections/California Academy of Sciences

In his correspondence, Owen recounted that wife Lucy was a scrapper. He told of one incident when she faced up to water officials in Montara, claiming that the Bryants were not getting their proper amount of water. In spite of the bureaucracy, she prevailed.

In 1957, Lucy McBride died. Her death hit Owen very hard and he became morose. He gave a treasured insect storage case to Paul Arnaud, an acquaintance from Redwood City. The old Owen would never have parted with his equipment but it was clear that even his precious bugs could no longer hold his interest.

On October 26, 1958, the 76-year-old amateur entomologist Owen Bryant passed on. He left his entire estate to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The estate included the Montara Grammar School, the El Granada Highlands building lots, boxes of correspondence, photos—and, of course, his beloved insect collection.

(The property was sold but the correspondence, photos and insects remain as part of the California Academy of Science’s collection).

Dr. Ross recalls revisiting the Montara schoolhouse shortly after Owen Bryant’s death. He was very moved when he saw Owen’s family photographs strewn across the cover of the king-size bed in the bedroom/classroom.

Perhaps Owen Bryant had been studying those photos, reviewing his own life.

“The Bryants were gypsies of a sort,â€? Dr. Ross reflected. “Both liked that life and they would not have lived long in that schoolhouse. One day they would have gotten itchy feet, and said, “Let’s go to Costa Rica. The insects are good down there.â€?

Owen Bryant: Our “Beetle Man” in Montara, Part I

At left: Owen Bryant (Special Collections/California Academy of Sciences)

In an earlier post I wrote a tribute to Richard Schellen, the wonderful Redwood City librarian, now gone, not only makes researching Coastside history fun –- sometimes he turns it into one of those special “Eureka!â€? moments.

A while back, I had one of those lucky experiences.

While flipping through the Schellen Collection, I was zeroing in on Montara, when I became fascinated with a 1958 obituary. The subject was Owen Bryant, an amateur entomologist, who resided with wife, Lucy, and their collection of 200,000 mounted insects in Montara’s historic two-story schoolhouse.

Wow! A bug collector in the old grammar school? I had to know more.

This is how it worked: The Schellen Collection steered me to the original newspaper article with the complete obit– and the Eureka! I needed to further my research: Owen Bryant had nurtured a close relationship with the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

A phone call later, I learned that the Academy of Sciences had it all.

Four years ago, on a rainy winter afternoon, I sat in the curator’s offices, looking through several boxes of Owen Bryant biographical info. I also met Dr. Edward S. Ross, then the 86-year-old curator-emeritus of entomology. He had been with the Academy since 1939, an expert in 300,000 species of insects, but he was even more famous as a “close-upâ€? photographer. The walls of his office were covered with the extraordinary pictures of people, places and wildlife that had been published in college textbooks and National Geographic.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Ross visited the Bryants at Montara, followed by dinner “at the restaurant (Frank’s) on the nearby beachâ€?. Ross clearly remembered seeing the bell towers of the two-story Montara Grammar School from Highway 1.

Ross remarked that the 60-x90-foot former schoolhouse had been converted into an unusual residence. On the first floor Owen and Lucy used a classroom as a bedroom—pushing their king-size bed up against the blackboard. One of the few things that brightened the surroundings was a museum quality of Mt. Resplendent in the Canadian Rockies. There were many boxes yet to be unpacked, including some containing Lucy’s inherited silver.

None of Owen’s prized insects could be seen on the first floor—although upstairs there was a “bug roomâ€?, office and library shelves overflowing with naturalist’s books bounds in fine Moroccan leather and gold tooling.

Photo at left: During the 1950s Montara Schoolhouse was home to the Bryants.

Did the reclusive Owen and his vivacious wife, Lucy, find Montara dull—insect-wise? They had just come from a favorite bug-hunting area on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. Insect collecting was outstanding there at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains—especially during Arizona’s rainy “monsoonâ€? season when there was a great burst of life in the desert at night. The wind was soft, the flowers were fragrant and it was “gangbustersâ€? for beetle hunters. Owen, wearing bug-collecting gear, and armed with a stick, beat the bushes, overturning stones to unearth his prized insects.

“Owen had a great time in Arizona,â€? Dr. Ross told me. “From moment to moment he didn’t know what kind of beetle was going to bounce in. It was like manna from heaven. Most people would say, ‘Ugh!’ Owen Bryant said, “Ahh!â€?

Before settling down in Montara, Owen hadn’t stayed put for very long. He and Lucy were rootless, always moving from one place to the next: Alaska, Banff, Canada, Steamboat Springs, If anyone wanted to locate the Bryants, all they had to do was find out where the beetles were flourishing and Owen and Lucy would be there.

Dr. Ross said that Owen Bryant had moved to Montara “to be near the Academy. He came up here once a week with boxes of things.â€?

Owen needed the experts at the Academy of Sciences to identify his insect specimens. Sometimes he brought in a beetle that had never been seen before and the scientists named it.

Beetles were Owen’s greatest interest and by 1950 he had donated 38, 530 specimens. Ross pointed out that many accomplished people were amateur collectors of insects. Charles Darwin, for example, was fascinated with beetles because of their tremendous diversity.

At the Academy Owen Bryant found more than expert entomologists; he forged enduring relationships with the scientists and the institution.

Dr. Edward Van Dyke, who had been there since the early 1900s “was a famous beetle person,â€? Ross said, “an M.D. who practiced medicine but his real passion was the bug collection he kept in the back office. Whenever the patients weren’t around, Van Dyke was in the back room.â€?

…To Be Continued