Article from North Marin Advance, September 6, 1961, about the John Lucas Family, by Charlotte Larson.
Lucas’ Imprint on Land of North Marin
Although very little can be gleaned from the annals of Marin County history regarding John Lucas, there live in San Rafael two charming ladies who recall happy days spent on the Lucas Ranch in Terra Linda (now referred to as the Freitas home ranch.)
They are Mrs. Mary Langdale, 83 years young, and her sister, Mrs. Carmelita Graves, grandchildren of John Lucas. Their mother, Alice Mary, was the first of nine children born to the John Lucas’s and the only one to marry. In 1877, when she was 21, Alice married Patrick Cadogan, a native of Ireland.
Besides Mrs. Langford and Mrs. Graves, their children included two sons, one of whom, Anthony Cadogan, died last November at the San Rafael home. The other son, John Lucas Cadogan, died in 1941, just a few years after the death of his mother.
The sisters have preserved some of the antique charm with old silver, cut glass, Dresdenware, and other heirloom pieces in their home. They still have a solid walnut buffet, carved with fruit and grapes, and matching oval dining table which furnished the early Lucas home.
An Aunt, Maria L. Lucas, named for her mother, lived in the family home and was active in Marin County affairs until her death at the age of 97 last September. She was preceded three years earlier by her brother, John Edmund Lucas. Thus the Lucas name disappeared from history.
To get to the beginning of our story, Don Timoteo Murphy, who migrated from Ireland to California (via Peru) in 1828, received the original three league land grant covering the Santa Margarita, Las Gallinas, and San Pedro Rancho, from Manuel Micheltorena, Mexican governor of California, in 1844.
Not having married and lonely for a family of his own, the big hearted Don Timoteo sent to Ireland for his nephew, John Lucas, from his native county of Wexford.
Returns for Sweetheart
Lucas first came to Marin County in 1852 as a bachelor, at the age of 26. He liked Marin so much that he returned to Ireland for his childhood sweetheart, Maria Sweetman.
During his absence, Don Timoteo became suddenly ill and, just before he died, willed one-half of his vast holdings of 22,000 acres to Lucas, who returned with his bride in 1855 and boarded for a time with Mrs. Clark on “G” and 4th Street.
Mrs. Langford recalls her grandfather telling of the long journey by sailboat, through the Isthmus of Panama, and how each morning several missing from breakfast had died during the night from cholera and had been thrown overboard.
After a few months in San Rafael Lucase moved to a ranch on the property adjoining St. Vincent’s, with the house located just a few yards north of the present Silveira home.
One day in 1863, upon returning from a trip to San Francisco, Mrs. Lucas found the house burned to the ground.
The Lucas’ then built a temporary home on the Santa Margarita Ranch in the center of Terra Linda. Shortly thereafter the mansion, which was later razed for the erection of St. Isabella’s church and school, was built.
Mrs. Langford remembers the home as having “wide hallways, with two drawing rooms on the left, a large sitting room on the right, a large kitchen and servants’ dining room to the rear, six bedrooms on the second floor, and four bedrooms on the third floor.”
She described her grandmother as “a dream of a woman, with beautiful hair—never a cross word.”
Not only had John Lucas transferred the title to the property to Mrs. Lucas; he placed her in charge of the ranch as well. Brought up to be a gentleman, he found it difficult to manage the business of the ranch.
Maria Lucas bore her husband nine children, three of whom died in infancy. The other six were Alice Mary, Catherine Frances, Henry, Mary Lucas, John Edmund, and Elizabeth.
The home ranch, according to Mrs. Langdale, consisted of 1400 acres. The entire Santa Margarita Ranch, she said, extended from Puerto Suello Hill, included Los Ranchitos, Terra Linda and Lucas Valley, and was bounded on the west by the rim of the hills, separating them from what is now Fairfax and Sleepy Hollow. It was divided into several ranches, including Big Rock, Butcher, Bull Trail, Tallan Ranch, Harry Evens’ Ranch, Loma Alta, and the Cat Ranch.
Rents were high, and taxes were low even in those days, she recalled. “The only thing Terra Linda was good for,” she said, “was calf pasture.” “Some of the happiest days of our lives were spent on the ranch,” said Mrs. Langford, whose time was divided between Santa Margarita Ranch and Oakland.
She recalled that they had the privilege of stopping the train, which ran through their property, at a point where the Terra Linda interchange is located, then known as Lucas Crossing. The train met the ferry at Tiburon, and later at Sausalito, for passengers going on to San Francisco.
Largely because of Mrs. Langford’s frail health as a child, the Lucas’ acquired a summer home at Bolinas. They used to set out by buckboard and travel many hours over the winding dusty road that led to the old Pacific town. To protect their clothing the women wore linen dusters and veils over their hats.
“We used different types of horses depending on the mode of travel,” said Langford. “When we rode the carriage, we used the ‘prancy’ horses. Our coachman did other work besides taking care of the horses.”
Lucas died on his birthday, March 7, 1897. Many Marinites have joined John Lucas and members of his family in their final resting place at Mount Olivet Cemetery, which was given to St. Raphael’s by Lucas.
We are now entering a new era in the Santa Margarita- Las Gallinas Valley, where new generations of pioneers are building what they feel is a better and more progressive way of life for their families.