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Link to the Past: 1955

Link to the Past: 1955

1955, Larkspur, California. Our neighbor Mr. Cagwin at age 98. Born 1857 in Joliet, Illinois; as an infant came west via sailing vessel from New York and by litter across the Isthmus of Panama; selling newspapers in Hangtown, California, at age of five when the Civil War broke out; worked at Carson City Mint, then San Francisco Mint at the time of the earthquake; retired in 1922. My brother, doing occasional yard work for the Cagwins at the time, took this Ektachrome slide in their Arts & Crafts style home, which they had built after moving to Larkspur in 1905. View full size.

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Camera too close

Otherwise it would have revealed a glass of brandy in the "vicinity", too?

My father will be 95 in May. Unlike George he quit smoking in his late 60's.
Still maintains his "before the breakfast" grape, plum or pear brandy small shot.
The way I see he should be able to match this picture in three years.

Interesting life!

By coincidence, I was born in Joliet, Illinois, and lived 50 years on Cagwin Avenue. Very interesting.

What a birthday!

Below is a photo of Papa George's 99th birthday on New Year's Day 1956 with grandsons Tom Cagwin & John Costa, wife Mama Fannie and me (great-granddaughter). The color photo under that includes Papa George's daughter Marie and her granddaughter D'arcy. (Marie taught us how to bake great apple pies!)

My son calls my dad Papa Tom in memory of Papa George. My father, recently visiting, told us how he looked for Papa George's spare glass eye on his dresser when small, fascinated as boys are with such things.

Papa George's father, Hamden Aubrey, took a wagon train in the spring of 1850 with his brother from Joliet, Illinois, to Placerville in search of gold and wrote about the trip, archived at the California Historical Society by granddaughter Louisa.

After an arduous four-month journey of 2,557 wagon-train miles, he managed to extract enough gold from Hangtown Ravine ($7979.65 worth) to bring his family out to California six years later, away from cholera and the beginnings of the Civil War.

Papa George was an infant on that trip. 102 years later, the story was shared by Papa George! Thank you again for rekindling these memories.

Mr. Cagwin's 100th

Perhaps some of the Cagwin kin who've commented are in this Ektachrome slide, also taken by my brother; it's Mr. Cagwin's 100th birthday party in January 1957. Mr. Cagwin himself just managed to get in the shot; that's his wife behind him.

Papa George

Papa George was my great-great grandfather. I remember visiting him at the hospital with my father, Tom Cagwin, when I was about 4 years old. Dad was quite close to him and lived in the Larkspur house as a small boy.

He lost his eye one fourth of July due to an accident with a firecracker. He did not go to the hospital right away, but gave his Independence Day speech as planned. He was also the Mayor of Larkspur.

His wife, Fanny, lived to 98. They were definitely pioneer stock! Thank you for this wonderful photo.

Lori Alden Cagwin

Papa George Cagwin

This Mr. Cagwin is my great-grandfather George Wilder Cagwin (Papa George); his wife was Frances (Mama Fanny). They lived in Larkspur for many years. My grandmother grew up in the house right across from the Lark Creek Inn and it still looks very much like it did back at the turn of the century -- latticed windows, red house, green roof, front porch, all look the same. I have a photo of my grandfather Aubrey Cagwin standing in hip boots in thigh high water on Magnolia Avene. My grandmother was Alice deVeuve. I believe her father built the house on Magnolia Ave. A lot of history has been gathered about the Cagwins by the Cagwin family over the years, photos included. What a great photo you took! Thank you! I will direct my siblings and my Uncle, cousins, etc. to it.

Mr. Cagwin update

Mr. Cagwin died August 14, 1959, age 102 years, 8 months. The day before my own 13th birthday, as a matter of fact. His wife had died 13 months previously, aged 92.

Mr. Cagwin, Role Model

I talked with my insurance company the other day and they think I should give up smoking my pipe, which I have done for 40 years. I figure if I can get another 40 years or so out of pipe smoking I will outlive everyone else.

Ye Olde Larkspur

Back then Larkspur was semi-rural, despite its proximity to San Francisco.

What's great about this photo is how modern it looks. It could've been taken down the street, today.


very brilliant, this picture alone connects to so much and tells a thousand stories. thank you greatly for sharing it. 54 years ago, this man was nearing a century... it's break-taking.

[Coffee, anyone? - Dave]

And I would agree...

...with The Wingman! tterrace please keep them coming!

Looking into History

His eyes are wonderful, and I can't imagine all the change and history he's witnessed! If just for the contemplation of the passage of time this is an important photograph.

Long-lived Families

Mr. Mel's observation that Mr. Cagwin's grandparents might have been alive during the Revolution could easily be true. I was born in 1949. My father was born in 1909. My grandfather was born in 1867, and my great-grandfather was born in 1829, only four generations in 120 years. (In our family the trail ends there, almost. My great-grandfather's father-in-law was born in 1790.) So it's no stretch to suppose that Mr. Cagwin, born in 1857, could have had a grandfather who was born in 1775.


His grandparents could have been alive during the Revolution.


What a long and beautiful life. And in California, without the 10-below weather Joliet, Illinois, is having.

Stories aplenty

Fantastic shot, really well done.
You just know he had a rich history of stories.
I wonder if he shared them freely
or if they needed to be pried from him.

What A Great Face...

This is such a well done portrait. This gentleman's colorful history just adds that much more, but the photo stands on its own merits as a really well observed scene. His wrinkled visage, his rumpled yet style conscious attire, his hand holding the smoking pipe, the chair he is sitting in, the canes hanging there, the chair behind, the potted plant, the light on the windowsill in the background... absolutely wonderful. This is as good as Dorothea Lange photo. Pictures like this keep me coming back to this site day after day. I wish a rating system were in place here because I'd rate this gem 5 stars! tterrace, thank you for sharing your, and your brother's, vision.


Are you sure Cartier-Bresson didn't sneak into Larkspur? What an eloquent portrait! There's so much in that face and posture and surroundings.

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