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Frances Matilda Vandegrift
Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson



Frances Matilda VANDEGRIFT was born on 10 Mar 1840, to Jacob & Esther Thomas Keen Vandegrift, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Frances "Fannie" Vandegrift lived near Indianapolis until 1864, when she decided to join her husband, Samuel Osborne, who had already moved near Carson City, NV (prospecting). She and her children, Samuel Lloyd and Isobel Stuart Osborne, went by train to New York, then boarded a steamship to Panama, walked across the isthmus, by steamship to San Francisco, and finally stage coach to Carson City and Austin, Nevada, where she supported the family as a laundress. In 1869, the fa mily moved to Oakland, CA, where Fannie studied painting. In 1875, she left Osborne and took the children to France and Belgium to pursue her art studies, and it was there she met Robert Louis Stevenson and the couple was living together by 1877. In 1878, she returned to San Francisco and Monterey, CA. After a reconciliation with Osborne failed, she divorced him.

Stevenson joined her after an arduous journey, described in "Across the Plains". They were married in 1880 and lived in Great Britain in 1880-1888. In 1889, searching for relief from RLS's health condition, which may have been genetic in nature. The Stevenson family (including his mother) went by s hip to Tahiti, Hawaii, Gilbert Islands, and ultimately Western Samoa (see footnote).

The year following the family's arrival in Western Samoa, they began building their estate, Vailima, on 400 acres of lushly forested land behind Apia, and lived there until Stevenson's death, from a massive brain hemorrhage, in 1894. The last four years of his life were spent with his wife, her son Lloyd, and his adopted family of Samoans. Fannie continued living in Samoa until 1897, at which time she sold the land and returned to San Francisco until shortly before her death on 19 Feb 1914 in Santa Barbara, CA. She was buried in Jun 1915, at the summit of Mount Vaea, next to her husband.

Her daughter Isobel was amanuensis for RLS, and was, herself, and author, writing "This Life I've Loved", and other works. Fannie's son, Lloyd, served as Vice-Consul of Western Samoa, and was also an author, publishing several books of his own, including "An Intimate Portrait of RLS", and collaborated on several works with his famous step-father.These works included: "The Wrong Box" (1889) *"The Wrecker" (1892) "The Ebb Tide" (1894) 




Ancestors of Frances Matilda Vandegrift

First Generation

1. Frances Matilda VANDERGRIFF was born on 10 Mar 1840. She died on 18 Feb 1914.
Samuel OSBORNE and Frances Matilda VANDERGRIFF had the following children:
i. Isobel Stuart OSBORNE was born on 18 Sep 1858 in Indianapolis, In.. She died on 26 Jun 1953 in Hotel El Mirasol, Santa Barbara, Ca. She was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, Ca.

2 ii. Samuel Lloyd OSBORNE.


Second Generation

2. Jacob VANDERGRIFF was born on 9 Sep 1816. He was married to Esther Thomas KEEN in 1838.
3. Esther Thomas KEEN.
Jacob VANDERGRIFF and Esther Thomas KEEN had the following children:
i. Henry VANDERGRIFF was born on 8 Mar 1839. He died in infancy..
1 ii. Frances Matilda VANDERGRIFF.
iii. Josephine Knodle VANDERGRIFF was born on 21 Nov 1842. She died on 1 Sep 1915.
iv. Elizabeth Ellen VANDERGRIFF was born on 23 Jan 1846. She died on 9 Oct 1917.
v. Jacob VANDERGRIFF was born on 9 Nov 1848. He died on 14 Feb 1923.
vi. Cora VANDERGRIFF was born on 12 Nov 1852. She died on 15 Sep 1925.
vii. Nellie Foster VANDERGRIFF was born on 24 Nov 1855. She died on 4 Jan 1935.

Third Generation

5. Jacob VANDERGRIFF was born on 10 Jun 1785. He died on 12 Oct 1821 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was married to Elizabeth MILLER on 28 May 1807.

6. Elizabeth MILLER was born on 1 May 1792 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She died in 1862 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jacob VANDERGRIFF and Elizabeth MILLER had the following
children: i. John Miller VANDERGRIFF was born on 15 May 1808.
ii. Matilda VANDERGRIFF was born on 4 Mar 1810.
iii. Susanna VANDERGRIFF was born on 9 Jun 1812.
iv. Mary Ann U. VANDERGRIFF was born on 5 Aug 1814.
2 v. Jacob VANDERGRIFF.
vi. Henry VANDERGRIFF was born on 23 Dec 1818.
vii. Elizabeth VANDERGRIFF was born on 13 Jan 1822.

7. John Cooke KEEN.
8. Catherine WEAVER (WEBER).
John Cooke KEEN and Catherine WEAVER (WEBER) had the following children:
3 i. Esther Thomas KEEN.

Bibliography:
"Life of Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson". Josephine Vandegrift, Charles Scribner, NY 1920;
"Fanny Stevenson, A Romance of Destiny". Alexandra Lapierre, Carroll & Graf, NY 1995.
"This Life I've Loved", Longman Green, 1937.
Island Magazine. Article by Lawrence Millman. May/June 1995 Issue.

Basic information contributed by: Kathleen M. Smith, Paul Vandergrift, and John Carter.
Thank you~

* The Wrecker An electronic edition of this book is now on the Internet. To find the URL, go to a search engine, then type in "Lloyd Osbourne".


Footnote: Western Samoa is not to be confused with American Samoa, and is located in the Pacific, off the coast of South America