HARDACRE, Emma Chamberlain

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HARDACRE, Emma Chamberlain (1843-1930) was born in Jacksonville, Illinois to Timothy Chamberlain, Jr. (1812-1896) and Amanda Turner Buckley (1891-1877). She was a writer for the Louisville Courier Journal, and visited Santa Barbara in 1876 during a time when the 1853 story of the rescue of Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island was still fresh in the memories of many local residents. Encouraged by Dr. Dimmick, Henry Chapman Ford and James W. Calkins, Emma Hardacre interviewed those involved in the 1853 rescue of “Juana María,” and wrote of her discoveries. She penned additional notes about Juana Maria after her article was published in Scribner's Monthly in 1880.

Her niece, Elizabeth Mason, penned a foreword to her article on Juana Maria in a later reprint edition of the story:

“In the year 1876, my aunt, Mrs. Emma Hardacre, came to Santa Barbara. The story of the Indian woman who had been brought to this quiet pueblo in 1853 from the island of San Nicholas, where she had been alone for eighteen years, was still fresh in the minds of many residents, who were eager to relate their recollections of the exciting event to a much interested newcomer. All that was gathered by her was eventually shifted and winnowed down to the very human and appealing story of the reduced woman, who after so many years of solitude, lived such a short time to enjoy her new and sympathetic friends in what to her was a wonderful village.”

Hardacre visited Santa Barbara several times before moving there for the last 35 years of her life. She died a widow at age 86 in her home at 313 West Pedregosa Street. Cause of death was cerebral apoplexy and atherosclerosis.

Timothy Chamberlain, Jr. (1812-1896) = [1839] Amanda Turner Buckley (1891-1877)

1. Amanda Anna Chamberlain (1840-1930)
2. Emma P. Chamberlain (1843-1930) = G. W. Hardacre (d. before 1930)
1. Winnie Hardacre = [c. 1890] Frank J. McGuire
3. May Aurelia Chamberlin (1845-1924) = [1873] Florentine Leslie Kellog
1. Winnie Kellog (c. 1863- )
1. Frank J. McGuire
4. Juliaette Jeanette Chamberlain (1849-1929) = [1875] William L. Mason
1. Elizabeth Mason (1880-1953)
5. Dennis B. Chamberlain (1852-1930)
6. Frances "Fannie" Lauriat Chamberlain = [1887] Winfield Bradbury Metcalf (1862-1938)
1. Stanley Chamberlain Metcalf (1898-1979)

Hardacre is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery in an unmarked grave next to her younger sister Frances "Fannie" Lauriat Chamberlain Metcalf (1859–1949) and other members of the Metcalf family.

» Hardacre, Emma Eighteen Years Alone in Scribners Monthly 20:(657-664), 1880.

In the News~

November 26, 1878 [Star-Democrat, Easton, MD]: “The Cliff Dwellers, by Emma Chamberlain Hardacre, embodies the latest discoveries regarding the ruins of the San Juan region (some of which are situated in the rock at a height of 700 feet), and is written under the sanction of Professor Hayden. Graphic drawings by Thomas Moran supplement the text.”

March 20, 1930 [SBMP]: “Death claims Mrs. Hardacre. Had lived here 35 years; Funeral arrangements not decided upon. Mrs. Emma Chamberlain Hardacre died yesterday afternoon in the home of her daughter, Mrs. Frank McGuire, 313 West Pedregosa Street. A native of Illinios, Mrs. Hardacre made her home in Santa Barbara for the last 35 years. She had been an invalid for five years. In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Hardacre is survived by a sister, Mrs. Winfield B. Metcalf, a niece, Miss Elizabeth Mason of Santa Barbara, and a grandson, Francis McGuire of Los Angeles.”


The story briefly is this. Each fact corroborated personally by a research covering thirty years.

A woman living alone on one of the Santa Barbara Islands, for over eighteen years, was found by a party of seal hunters, and brought to Santa Barbara in 1853. She died shortly after, and her identity has never been established. It has been supposed that she was an Indian from the fact that thirty Indians, comprising the total population, had been removed from the Island in 1835 and brought to San Gabriel to be instructed by the Mission fathers. A woman jumped overboard during the confusion of embarking and returned to the island. The storm necessitated her captain at that time, and the boat (this only one on the coast) was wrecked after landing the Indians (on the next trip to San Francisco), thereby preventing the intended search for the missing woman.

For fifteen years no boat could be secured to take the rescue journey of seventy miles. The "gold" excitement brought sailors and craft to California, and in 1851, a mission father of Santa Barbara, by payment of $250 succeeded in securing a craft to search the island. The father had never ceased his prayers that the abandoned one might be preserved until help reached her, but as year after year passed the probability of her death was accepted by all those who knew the circumstances. The Captain reported that he found no trace of occupation on San Nicholas [sic] and thus the matter was settled. His reports of five otter fishing in the vicinity of this distant and mostly unknown Island, ___ one Captain Nidever of Santa Barbara to go with his own boat and a crew of ___ mariners the following year on an otter hunt. Their camp was made on the beach, and they worked briefly for six weeks, secured a couple of pelts, and at the approach of a storm, they made haste to shelter in the lee of San [Nicolas]. The sailors reported that a woman ran along the edge of a cliff in the pelting storm and beckoned as they left anchorage — the sheets of rain hid her from plain view. It was supposed to be the ghost of the woman who perished there.

The following year the boat went again to the otter grounds — camped in the same spot. Having no occasion to explore the precipitous heights of the island, they remained close to shore, and as they were about ready to deaprt, the work being well in hand, Captain Nidever and Carl Dittman, who was in the venture with Nidever, walked a long distance from camp, the tide being very low, and the moon bright. They continued their stroll to the other side of the island they had never seen before. In the moonlight they found a distinct ~ they saw plainly a small footprint in the wet sand. They tracked the steps until lost in the mossy covering of the cliffs. It was plain that there was some hidden inhabitant of the island. The almost forgotten story of the deserted woman __ "My God. She is alive!"