Mrs. Mary Viola Lawrence. Drawn in 1896 from an old daguerreotype.

Mary Viola Tingley Lawrence.
Drawn in 1896 "from an old daguerreotype".
(The Call, San Francisco, April 19, 1896, p. 28)

Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome — Appendix:
Mary Tingley Lawrence's turbulent marriage.

Daily Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, June 27, 1870, p. 1

Wedding in Church.—The marriage of [State] Senator Lawrence, of Mariposa county, and Miss Viola Tingley, took place last evening at Calvary Church. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Mr. Hemphill at the close of the evening service, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. Miss Tingley is the daughter of Hon. George B. Tingley, now deceased, whose name is prominently identified with the early political history of the State. She, for several years, has been in the San Francisco correspondent of the Sacramento Union, but has been known to the public through her nom de plume "Ridinghood".

The same article is reprinted in the Mariposa Free Press, with the following editorial note attached:

Mariposa Free Press, July 1, 1870

Who would believed that James, our James, would have ever become a Benedict. Echo answers, "Who." We have known him for lo! these many years, and were the last to suspect that Cupid's arrow had pierced his heart, and once again caused him to assume the God-like of man. May joy forever be his and hers.

In the early 1890s, James Lawrence left his wife and young daughter. Mary was forced to take a job with the US Customs Office in San Francisco. A long article in the San Francisco Chronicle, of January 28, 1894, p. 20, describes her duties as Customs inspectress. She was paid $3 a day.

Many years later, her recollection of that job was printed in the article by Louise Scher, "Why do women smuggle", in the San Francisco Chronicle, on May 31, 1914, p. 6.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 1898, p. 14

Actions for divorce were begun yesterday by Mary V. Lawrence against James H. Lawrence on the ground of failure to provide.

The divorce was granted April 1, 1898.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 1901, p. 5

Elderly Couple are Married Again
James H. Lawrence Aged Seventy, and Wife Who Divorced Him are Reunited

Among the licenses to wed issued by "Cupid" Danforth of the County Clerk's office yesterday was one which attracted attention not only on account of the similarity of the names of the contracting parties, but also because of their mature years. Another rather unusual incident in connection with this license was that the lady in the case applied for it in person instead of the prospective groom.

The records of the marriage license department merely contained the announcement that James H. Lawrence, aged 70, and residing at 1220 Sutter Street, was licensed to wed Mary V. Lawrence, aged 50, residing at 1450 Leavenworth street This apparently simple statement of fact was the denouement of a story of a domestic tragedy.

The couple, who were reunited in matrimony at the McNutt Hospital last night by Rev. John Hemphill of the Calvary Presbiterian Church, were first married on June 26, 1870. For many years their married life was a happy one. Lawrence was a newspaper man and promised to make a name for himself. The temptations proved too strong for him to resist, however, and slowly but surely the happy days came to an end, and Lawrence finally failed to provide for his wife and child altogether. In April, 1898, Mrs. Lawrence secured a decree of divorce from her husband upon statutory ground after having supported herself and child as an inspectress in the Customes department of the Federal Government since 1892.

Mary V. Lawrence at the age of 54.

Mary V. Laurence[!] at the age of 54.
A photo from the book The Story of the Files,
by Ella Sterling Mighels, 1893, p. 93

For some time thereafter she heard nothing of her former husband, but a few weeks ago Lawrence was taken to a hospital in a state of mental collapse. He wandered away from that establishment, and while roaming aimlessly about the city encountered his former wife, who at once took charge of him and placed him in the McNutt Hospital. Since his admission to that institution she has been his constant attendant, and under her gentle ministrations he has gradually recovered his mental faculties. Physically, however, he is a wreck and no hope is entertained by his attendant physicians of his recovery. Under these circumstances Mrs. Lawrence determined to yield his request that they be reunited, and she therefore made and carried out the arrangements in person.

San Francisco Call, July 23, 1901, p. 7:

Divorced and Married Again

In a private sanatorium in this city yesterday, where the groom is lying upon what is supposed to be his deathbed, James H. Lawrence and May V. Lawrence were married yesterday. The couple, who have several grown children [actually, just a daughter], were divorced in 1898, when it became plain that the mother must support herself by her labors. Mrs. Lawrence obtained a position as inspector of customs shortly afterward, and since the man and wife separated because of the husband's habits, and lived their lives apart. Recently Lawrence has broken down completely, and his former wife, deeming that it was her duty to care for him in his last days, consented to be married again. Lawrence is 70 years of age and his wife 50.

San Francisco Bulletin, July 23, 1901:

Forgave Her Husband

A rather romantic story surrounds a marriage license issued yesterday to James H. Lawrence, aged 70, residing at 1220 Sutter Street, and Mary V. Lawrence, aged 50, residing at 1450 Leavenworth street. It is the second marriage of the couple. They were first united in June, 1870. Lawrence was a newspaper man and at one time had bright prospects, but he became dissipated and finally deserted his wife and child. Mrs. Lawrence secured a divorce in 1898, after for many years supported herself and child as an inspectress in the customs department of the United States government. From that time on she heard nothing of her husband, until a few weeks ago Lawrence was taken to a hospital in a state of mental collapse. His wife heard of it and, women-like, forgave the past instantly. She had her husband removed to the McNutt hospital and he now is there, completely prostrated, but happy in the knowledge of his wife's forgiveness. Mrs. Lawrence has constituted herself his nurse, and yesterday she yielded to his urgent request that the marriage ceremony of thirty-one years ago be repeated. The Rev. John Hemphill of Calvary Church re-untited the couple at the hospital last evening. There is no hope of Lawrence's recovery, but he will have loving care and attention during the few days he has left on earth.

The same article was reprinted in the Mariposa Gazette, with an additional editorial note:

Mariposa Gazette,July 27, 1901

Hon. James H. Lawrence, the subject of the above piece, was for many years a citizen of Mariposa county. At one time he represented this county in the Senate at Sacramento. For a number of years he owned and edited the Mariposa Gazette. He is known to all old time settlers personally and to a number of the younger generations. To those who know the good qualities of Hon. James H. Lawrence the bridging over of his family estrangement is a satisfaction.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 1901, p. 9

Death Summons J. H. Lawrence
[with Lawrence's picture]

James H. Lawrence, who a week ago while on his dying bed, remarried his former wife, passed away Monday night at the McNutt Hospital. The marriage license gave his age as 70 and that of the bride, Mary V. Lawrence as 50.

Lawrence came from the distinguished Massachusetts family of that name. As a boy he served in the Mexican war. In 1849 he came to California, tried his hand at both law journalism and soon gained a reputation. For years as editor of the Mariposa Free Press he was a power in eight counties. No gathering of representative Democrats of his district was complete without him. From 1867 to 1871 he served as State Senator from the district comprising Mariposa, Stanislaus and Merced counties. Afterward he held appointments under Governor Irwin. He also held positions of trust while in the service of the Southern Pacific Company. He contributed much historical, mining and scientific matter to various publications.

In 1870 he married a daughter of Judge Tingley of this city. They live happily for many years, but finally became estranged and in 1898 were divorced. Recently a reconciliation took place and on July 23d last she obtained a marriage license, and that evening they were remarried at the hospital, where he lay dying. Besides a wife, he leaves a daughter, Constance Lawrence.

San Francisco Bulletin, July 30, 1901:

James H. Lawrence is Dead

Ex-Senator James Henry Lawrence, a pioneer newspaperman and Democratic party leader, passed away at the McNutt hospital last night. Mr. Lawrence came of old Massachusetts Revolutionary stock. When a boy he served in the Mexican war, afterwards coming to California in 1849. He earned an enviable reputation as a lawyer and journalist in the capacity of editor and proprietor of the Mariposa Free Press, which for years held power in eight counties. Always a leader in the Democratic party, he ably represented the Senatorial district of Mariposa, Stanislaus and Merced from 1867 to 1871, numbering among his associates there such men as Senator Perkins, Farley and Rose; Governors Pacheco and Irwin; Judge Hagar, William Gwin, Jr., Judge N. Greene Curtis, and Judge Thompson. Senator Lawrence held appointment under Governor Irwin and Johnson, and for a long time had a position of trust in the Southern Pacific Company. For years he was chairman of his Congressional District and was highly appreciated by the State Central Committee as an able and firm organizer. He married a daughter of the late Judge Tingley of San Francisco bar, and she and one daughter, Constance Violet, survive him.

The Bulletin article was also reprinted in the Mariposa Gazette on August 3, 1901.

San Francisco Call, August 2, 1901, p. 7:

Rests in a Soldier's Grave

The funeral of the late ex-Senator James Henry Lawrence was held yesterday afternoon from St. John's Presbyterian Church. Rev. Dr. Hemphill, pastor of the church, conducted the burial service. The interment took place at the National Cemetery, Presidio, At the grave Captain H. A. Duncan, marshal of the California Pioneers, read the Pioneer service. Many of Senator Lawrence's old friends followed the body to its last resting place. The following pioneers officiated as pall bearers: General L. H. Foote, Judge W. C. Burnett, Captain William Duncan, James Denman, Charles Bogan and Colonel Stewart, U. S. A.

Mary Tingley Lawrence, who died in 1931, and James Henry Lawrence are interred in the same tomb at the the beautiful San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, overlooking the Golden Gate.

Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome