Frances Matilda Stevenson

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Frances Matilda Stevenson (Van De Grift)

Also Known As: "Osbourne", "vandergrift"
Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, USA
Death: February 14, 1914 (73)
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, USA
Place of Burial: Vailima, Tuamasaga, Samoa
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Jacob Leendertsen Van De Grift and Esther Thomas Van De Grift
Wife of Samuel C. Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson
Mother of Isobel 'Belle' Stewart Field (Osbourne); Samuel Lloyd Osbourne; Hervey Stewart Osbourne and Lloyd Osbourne
Sister of Joseph Knodle Van De Grift; Elizabeth Ellen Van De Grift; Jacob Van De Grift; Cora Van De Grift and Nellie Foster Van De Grift

Managed by: Private User
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About Frances Matilda Stevenson

Fannie was daughter of Esther Thomas Keen and Jacob Leendertsen Van De Grift. On Christmas Eve 1857, at the age of 16, she married the Kentuckian Sam Osbourne in Indianapolis, Marion Co., IN. At that time, her husband was Secretary to the Governor of IN., Gov. Willard (he was from New Albany, IN.; died in office Oct 1860). Then her husband was deputy clerk of the state Supreme Court of IN. Fannie had their 1st child, Isobel, in 1858. Fannie was left with a small child while her husband went off to the Civil War. In 1863, Sam decided to accompany a friend to CA., and in May 1864, Fanny set out to join him, taking six-year old ‘Belle' with her.

They shipped out of NY. and crossed the isthmus of Panama together, arrived in San Francisco, and caught up with Sam in Virginia City, NV. Fanny spent the next few years discovering that she could rise to the challenge of the new, nearly lawless life of mining. They left NV. to settle in Oakland, CA., and Sam took a job in San Francisco as court reporter. Fanny, now the mother of three children, began to paint. She developed an ambition to study abroad and convinced her husband to let her take the children to France, where she and her daughter Belle studied at the Julian Academy in Paris. In the summer, the town of Grez on the Loing River near the forest of Fountainbleu served as a retreat. It was here that Fanny met the young Robert Louis Stevenson, eleven years her junior. Fanny lived in France for three years.

Her youngest son, Hervey, died there. In her poverty, Fanny could not afford better care for Hervey who developed a progressive, wasting illness and had to be buried in a common grave. In the second year, she renewed her painting lessons; by the third year she was Stevenson's lover and had cared for him during an illness of his own, even going with him to England for medical consultation and meeting his writing friends there. Fanny was bound emotionally to one man, but legally to another - a conflict that could not last forever. She returned in 1878 to try to reconcile their differences. In 1879 Stevenson booked passage on the ship that was to bring him to CA. He was not yet the famous creator of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. He was a young man with a law degree, the son of an engineer, who had published one or two travel pieces. Physically frail and nearly broke, he arrived in Monterey only to collapse at Fanny's feet. She was nursing him back to health when her attorney advised her to return to her husband's house if she was to retain custody of their son Lloyd. Fannie and Sam were divorced in Jan 1880, and Fannie then married Louis on May 19, 1880 in San Francisco.
The couple left for their honeymoon in Napa County near the Silverado Mine. The honeymoon trip provided material for his book, The Silverado Squatters. "Treasure Island" was written to amuse his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne. Louis and step-son, Lloyd wrote a lot of pieces (and novels) in collaboration with each other, such as "The Wrong Box" (1889). Stevenson and his wife sailed from San Francisco to the islands of the South Pacific in 1888; he was able to overcome his illness while in the tropics.: Marquesas Islands, Honolulu, and Samoa. The latter is where the family took up residence and also where Louis died in 1894. Fannie returned to CA. after his death. She died in Santa Barbara, CA. 1914 and was cremated. Her ashes were returned to Samoa and buried beside her husband. 
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Frances Matilda Stevenson's Timeline

March 10, 1840
Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, USA
September 18, 1858
Age 18
Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, USA
Age 27
Age 30
Oakland Alameda County California
February 14, 1914
Age 73
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, USA
Age 73
Vailima, Tuamasaga, Samoa