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Theodore Salisbury Woolsey 1852 - 1929

THEODORE SALISBURY WOOLSEY (THEODORE DWIGHT, WILLIAM WALTON6, BENJAMIN4, GEORGE II3, GEORGE "JORIS"2, GEORGE SR1)was born October 22, 1852 in CT - New Haven, and died April 24, 1929 in CT - New Haven. He married ANNIE GARDNER SALISBURY October 22, 1877, daughter of STEPHEN SALISBURY and ELIZABETH CLARK. She was born Abt. 1855, and died Abt. 1892.

Theodore Salisbury Woolsey was a jurist, educator, and publicist, was born in New Haven, CT, son of Theodore Dwight Woolsey then president of Yale College. He entered Yale College at the age of fifteen. As a youth he was frail; perhaps it was this that caused him during his student days to live in the relative seclusion of his father's home rather than in the college dormitory, and it may have confirmed his disposition, so noticeable throughout life, to keep himself in the background, though his ability and personality perculiarly fitted him to occupy positions of prominence. Upon graduation in 1872, he immediately entered the Yale Law school, where he studied without interruption, save for the grand tour of Europe during the years 1873-75, until he received the degree of LL.B. in 1876, having won a prize for a dissertation on the civil law. He was married on Dec. 22, 1877, to Annie Gardner Salisbury of Boston, by whom he had two sons. In the same year he was appointed instructor in public law in Yale College, and in 1878, despite his extreme youth, he was called to be professor of international law in the Yale Law School. This position he occupied until his retirement in 1911, save for a four-year period (1886-90) of residence in California in the hope of bettering his wife's health. He served as acting dean of Yale Law School from 1901 to 1903.

Beginning his career at a time when in the United States international law had little interest even for lawyers, he worked persistently and effectively to bring the American public to an awareness of the deep significance of international relationships and the importance of international law. He prepared for publication J.N. Pomeroy's "Lectures on International Law in Time of Peace (1886), published a much enlarged edition of his father's famous "Introduction to the study of International Law (6th ed., 1891), and prepared a series of articles relating to international law for "Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia (8 vols., 1893-97). In 1912 he published in the "Yale Review" (Jan., Apr., July) the first two chapters of a life of his father, written with a vivid charm that fills the reader with regret that the biography was never completed. Other articles of general appeal appeared in popular magazines, but his chief activity lay in discussing in public addresses, and in articles published in professional and scientific journals, problems arising in connection with current events in international relations. In 1898 seventeen of these essays and addresses were collected in book form as 11Americats Foreign Policy". These essays, while often sharply critical of the foreign policies adopted by the American government, were yet characterized by ripe learning, and a rare breadth and sanity of vision. Woolsey's views now stand, almost without exception, justified by the events of the intervening forty years. In 1910, as a member of the American Bar Association's committee on international law, he prepared a luminous report on pending international questions. He was early associated with the activities of the American Society of International Law, made contributions to the pages of its "Journal", and for many years served upon its editorial board. In 1921 he was elected an associate of the Institut de Droit International at Paris.

Conquering the frailty of his youth, Woolsey became a keen sportsman and hunter of big game and was an extensive traveler. He became much interested in old silver and the iron work of colonial American smiths, and wrote charmingly of his collections (see "Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Sept. 1896).

He served on the New Haven board of common council (1880-81), and on the board of park commissioners (1914-28), securing legislation that provided for New Haven a system of public parks administration that is admirable for its efficiency and freedom from political interference. He was an active member of the board of directors of the New Haven Bank from 1899 to the time of his death. In his will he left to Yale University his books on international law, and also a handsome bequest to be used in maintaining and enlarging the collection of works on international law, diplomatic history, and kindred printed and written materials. He died in New Haven.

In March of 1885 Professor Woolsey and his family first visited the beautiful Ojai Valley with its clear dry air and mild climate.

Because of his wife's tuberculosis he took a leave from Yale and they came to Ojai. In 1887 he bought seven acres of property for five hundred dollars in gold coins. He then helped to design and build a Connecticut style country home for his wife and two sons, Theodore Salisbury Woolsey Jr. and Heathcote Muirson Woolsey.

In 1890 the Pierponts, of the Pierpont Hotels, came to Ojai for health reasons and moved into the recently vacated Woolsey House. In 1891 the Woolsey house became the towns stagecoach stop Inn. In 1895 professor Woolsey sold the property and house for three thousand dollars in gold coins to the prominent Mr. Charles E. Bigelow.

The next prestigious family to live in the Woolsey house was the Sheriff of Ventura County, Robert Clark, his wife, a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee and their ten children. When Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office Bob Clark was appointed U.S. Marshal.

For years this house, even though lived in by several other families, was known as the Clark house until 1983 when Ana Cross purchased this Ojai landmark and restored the old house to its original ambiance and in 1987 opened this Bed and Breakfast named The Theodore Woolsey House of Ojai Califronia after the original owner Theodore Woolsey.

SOURCES IN INFORMATION: Who's Who in America, 1928-29; C.C. Hyde in Am. Jour. Jnternal. Law, July 1929; Obit. Record Grds. Yale Univ., 1928-29; Grads. Yale Law School 1911; N.G. Osborn, Men of Mark in Conn., vol. II (1906), pp276-80; Am. Law School Rev., Mar. 1930; obituary in NY Times, Apr. 25, 1929)

CORR: 2003 Sept 6 from Val Buchanan

A west coast cousin sent me this speech. I copying it as is and claim no responsibility for content, grammar, punctuation, etc. - Virginia Buchanan

"The Following is a Speech Given by the Ojai Valley Historical Society on May 19, 1991. The speech was given during the plaque presentation ceremony that made The Theodore Woolsey House, the second building in Ojai to be proclaimed a Historical Landmark.

"As I stand here today I am reminded of my father who was head of the united fund in our town in upstate New York. He always liked to present the fund's checks to the different organizations in person. So one day he went to deliver the check to the local home for unwed mothers. The gals were all assembled for a little ceremony where daddy officially handed over the check. One woman, who was appointed to do the honors, formally thanked my father and said, 'Why, Mr. Cunningham, if it weren't for you, many of us wouldn't be here today.'

"And if it weren't for Ojai's clear, dry air and mild climate of the 1880's, many settlers including Theodore Woolsey would not have been here then -- nor would we be able to celebrate Theodore Woolsey and his home.

"Our story actually begins in 1623 when the first Woolsey was gutsy enough to leave his comfort zone in England and come over the new world ... only three years after the Mayflower. Our Theodore Woolsey was named after his father -- Theodore Dwight Woolsey, great grand son of Jonathan Edwards, New England's famous hell fire and brimstone preacher. Theodore Dwight Woolsey was a smarty pants who graduated first in his class from Yale University in 1820. Then like his great Grandfather he had his sights set on the pulpit. But after graduating from Theological school he decided the last thing he wanted to be was a preacher. Back he went to his Alma Mater in 1823 to teach Greek. Yale and he must have agreed with each other. In 1846 at the age of 45, Theodore Dwight Woolsey became the president of Yale University and held that post for the next 25 years which included the troubled Civil War years. There are only 3 statues on the Yale campus .. one is the famous patriot Nathan Hale and one is Theodore Dwight Woolsey. All the Yalies in the audience know of Woolsey Hall, the spacious building which has housed large eli gatherings through the years. In many ways Theodore Dwight Woolsey left his mark on Yale.

"In those days men often had two wives -- not because of divorce, heaven forbid, but because the first wife was usually done in by spawning and caring for a whole slew of children. The bereaved and frantic husband would usually remarry immediately .. and Theodore Woolsey was no exception. Although he was very dignified and reserved with a strong moral sense, he obviously liked to snuggle. His first wife, Elizabeth Salisbury gave birth to 9 children. Soon after she died, he married again and fathered 4 more.

"Our Theodore Salisbury Woolsey was one of the batch of nine. Born in 1852 when his father was President of Yale, he was a sickly frail boy who spent allot of time indoors during New Haven's cold, damp winters. He was gentle, kind, bright, and dedicated to his studies. He attended Yale -- no surprises here -- and graduated in 1872 and then went on to Yale Law School. At the young age of 26, he became a professor of International Law at Yale ... where he became dean and served until 1911, with the exception of 4 years when he left his
haven in New Haven and lived in California.

"And that's where Ojai and it's clear, dry air and mild climate come in. It wasn't Theodore Salisbury Woolsey but his wife Annie Gardner Woolsey who suffered from TB and needed Ojai's healing ambiance. For her husband whose family lived and breathed Yale, it must have been a horrendous and very loving thing for him to have left the sanctuary of academia to come to this rough western town. Anson Thacher remembers when he was at Yale in the late 1920's sitting in the dining room of the Woolsey House and seeing a painting of Annie Woolsey, a lovely woman made even more beautiful by the heightened color which TB patients often show.

"In 1885 The Woolsey's [sic] first visited the Ojai Valley and stayed in the Gally Cottages for one winter. They bit the bullet, took leave from Yale and bought 7 acres of property across the way from the Gally Cottages. (I've heard say that land sold in those days anywhere from 45 cents to $6.25 an acre). He then helped design and build the house where we are today for his wife and two little boys. What was here for the Woolsey's [sic] when they puffed into town in 1885? Not much, aside from the beautiful valley. For a starter, there were no trains to Nordhoff in those days, so getting there meant taking the overland stage on a very bumpy, rutted road from Ventura. In the winter time that could mean making several precarious crossings of the raging San Antonio creek down on Creek Road. So right from the beginning it was an adventure!

"There were no telephones in the Ojai. The dirt roads were either full of dust in the summer or mud in the winter. (Gentlemen riders would stop and get off their horses when a lady walked by so as not to throw dust on her.)

"It was a wild, rugged country with the early settlers sharing the valley with the grizzly bears and puma lions. It was a fat city for the bears in Ojai because they liked to eat the acorns which fell from the many oak trees here. One season 12 bears were trapped at the Buckman Place where Jopa Jopa Ranch is today, only a Stone's throw from the Sagebrush Academy Schoolhouse.

"When the Woolsey's [sic] came to the Ojai, there was a handful of pioneer families in the valley. Among them were the Soules of Soule Park, the Smith's [sic] of the Smith-Hobson Building, the Montgomery's [sic], Pries, Carnes, Ayers .. all of whom have roads named after them .. the Dennisons of Dennison Grade, The Clarks whom you'll hear more about in a minute, and the Sopers whose kids rode to school on the back of a white mule.

"Most of the pioneer families were farmers who grew grain, almonds, and grapes. They dried apricots, prunes which found ready markets. Only a few grew oranges and there wasn't an avocado tree in sight. Most of the new comers in the 80's were like the Woolsey's [sic]. They came, not because of the farming, but because of the Nordhoff's well advertised healing climate.

"What buildings were in town? I'll tell you one thing ... there was no arcade. That was to come later when Edward Libbey puffed into town. Well, there was one general store (where Rain's is today) where a Nordhoffian could buy some Lydia Pinkham's, a good hammer and saw, the latest in high top boots, a corset, horehound drops and rock candy, and a wide brimmed hat to keep off the sun. You could also mail a letter at the general store. Since it was advertised in the newspapers (yes, there was a paper which came out every Saturday) 'produce of all kinds in taken is exchange,' you might be able to trade a pig or some prunes for any of the above.

"Theodore Woolsey could have taken his horse to be shod at the blacksmith's shop, bought property through the local Realtor, gone to either one of the two churches, stayed at either the hotel or the Gally Cottages, or sent his children to the local school house.

"And that's exactly what happened. The two boys -- Hethcut and Salisbury -- went to the local schoolhouse. There is a picture here today which says it all -- a line up of the school with a rag tag bunch of children and Salisbury Woolsey, looking like a stranger in the strange land. There he is in his broad brimmed buster brown hat, starched white collar and short pants, looking for all the world like a gentleman's son who'd feel more at home in a Connecticut parlor than in a valley filled with sage brush and rocks.

"Perhaps his father felt the same way ... because after his wife passed on, in 1890, he immediately swooped up the boys and returned to the Connecticut parlors and Yale's hallowed halls, leaving behind Theodore Woolsey House so many have enjoyed through the years.

"Woolsey also left his mark in other ways .. back in New Haven he had a good friend named Edward Thacher, whose grandfather had been president of Yale before Theodore's father had ruled the Eli Roost. They were both 'faculty brats', who shared very similar backgrounds.

"Edward Thacher had been commissioned by Krutz and Leighton, a New England company, to buy land to raise oranges. So he was traveling up and down the coast of California giving oranges everywhere the good ole taste test. The story goes that he chomped down on an Ojai orange and eureka! He'd found the very best. He immediately bought the old Buckland Place of the grizzly bear fame which had produced that delicious orange and became an orange rancher.

" 'But,' says Anson Thacher, 'That's really not the whole story.' One of the other reasons why he chose Ojai was because his buddy, Theodore Woolsey, was here. It would be like having his cake and eating it too to have the tasty oranges as well a the tasteful company of this highly educated, very congenial and good ole friend, the latter may have made the former seem even more delicious.

"Here's where the good old climate comes in again. Edward's half brother George Thacher, was a sickly boy who desperately needed to be in a dry, mild, climate. Sherman Thacher, another half brother, who was a Yale graduate, was at loose ends and had no idea what to do with the rest of his life. He was, therefore, commandeered to take his little brother out to the Ojai to stay with Edward. George, unfortunately, died but Sherman was caught up in the magic of Ojai -- and never left.

"Sherman bought 160 acres of sage brush and rocks next to his brother's ranch. Then with every intention of being an orange rancher, he cleared and planted 7 acres in orange trees -- and while waiting for the spindly orange trees, without much water to grow, he started to tutor a couple of frail boys sent out here from New Haven for -- hey -- what else, the wonderful Ojai milieu. Soon he was doing more tutoring than oranging. Hence the Thacher School -- one of the finest boarding schools in the country -- is here in Ojai, partly because Theodore Woolsey came to Ojai first.

"In 1890, for health reasons, the Pierponts moved to Nordhoff where they lived in the recently vacated Woolsey House until they found their own place. The Woolsey House gave them a good introduction to the valley where 101 years later, the Pierpont family still owns 40 acres of raw brush in the east end which Ernest bought, cleared, planted, and where he built a lovely big old house with the first bath tub in the valley.

"The bad news is that Ernest had put all his money in a bank which went under. He lost everything. His good friend up the hill was Sherman Thacher who'd started his school the year before the Pierponts came to the Ojai valley. Sherman knew of Ernest's troubles and graciously asked Ernest if he and his wife wouldn't do him a favor and take in parents who were visitng their sons at his school. So in 1892 the Pierpont guest house began to fill up with Thacher visitors whose names perked up the guest book: William Howard Taft, Mrs. James Garfield, and Wendell Wilkie. And that's the way the Pierponts were launched into the hotel business.

"The Pierponts had the first car in town. Austen and Phil, the Pierpont boys, took the train to L.A. to buy the automobile. Since neither one knew how to drive, the salesman drove them aback to Ojai in their new contraption, giving them lessons along the way. He then rose early in the morning and took the train back to L.A., leaving the Pierponts on their own. The boys decided to take a little spin through Ojai. When diriving past Gridley Rd. there was Howard Bald watering his horse. The horse took one look at the car and started to carry on. Bald was furious with the boys, so once he calmed his horse down he hopped on and went after the car. After they lost Howard, Phil couldn't
remember how to stop the car. Coming home he saw a haystack and drove right into it and that stopped the tin lizzie alright.

"Austen survived the haystack to become a prominent Ojai architect who designed the Art Center, The Libbey Bowl, and the George Thacher Library. Phil Pierpont was busy running the ranch and the Pierpont guest cottages.

"The next prestigious family to have hung their hats in the Woolsey House was the Robert Clark Family.

"Bob Clark was a 5 year old little nipper in 1881 when his parents moved from Fairplay, Wisconsin to the Ojai. A graduate of the local one room school house, Bob got a job working for his uncle Tom Clark as a stage driver. He got pretty good at maneuvering a big lumbering '6 in hand' when taking the run from Ojai to Ventura and Santa Barbara.

"Howard Bald once described how peaceful it would be in down town Ojai until the approaching train would let out a loud whistle to announce its arrival then all hell would break loose. The noise would frighten the horses who would rear up, back up, and generally act up. Dogs would bark; children would be careening around as everyone dropped what they were doing to run over the the depot to see who was arriving in town. Bob Clark would be there at the station to load the guests for Matilija and Wheelers Hot Springs onto the big overland
stage and then would take off at a dead run through town .. with dust flying .. just to get out of towners off on an exiting foot. Then life would settle back down until the next train puffed in.

"Bob discovered that timing was everything on the Santa Barbara trip. When the high tide came in, it completely covered the roadway so any traveling came to a halt until the tide receded. Since there were no bridges, whenever he had to ford the Ventura river during the rainy season, passengers had to heist their feet up or get them soaking wet.

"There were definite perks on this job. Bob Clark got first dibs on all the pretty girls coming to the Ojai Valley. One of his passengers on the stage to catch his eye was Alice Burnett who came to Ojai for her health. In 1905 Bob married this young lady who was a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee.

"Bob then tried his hand at being a forest ranger, a hard riding job which meant tracking down law breakers in the wild eastern section of the county. From there he went on to try the cattle ranching buisness. But a couple of bad years and a bad accident put a damper on this work. He then decided to run for Sheriff of Ventura County in 1922 -- a job he held for the next 12 years.

"Pat Clark recalls that her grandfather didn't make a lot of money as a sheriff. When the Woolsey House came up for sale at a public auction, her grandfather decided he'd really like to live in that house to raise his children (they eventually had 10, 5 boys and 5 girsls). When Bob was a young boy, they lived in the house next to the present day Ojai Lumber. When Mr. Woolsey was out riding his horse he'd often come across young Bob Clark reading a dime store novel. He'd lean down from his horse and say 'Bob, how would you like to trade books? If you'll lend me your book I'll lend you this book I have right here. I think you'll like it.' So Theodore Woolsey would ride off with a western and would leave Great Expectations or Ivanhoe with Bob. In some ways Theodore Woolsey was responsible for educating my Grandfather, said Pat, and he had very fond memories of the gentleman. Bob felt it would be an honor to live in the Woolsey House.

"Apparently E. J. Lagomarsino, the auctioneer, wanted Bob and Alice to have the Woolsey place, too. Knowing they didn't have a lot of money on a sheriff's salary, he closed the bidding after Bob Clark bid -- going once, going twice, going three times .. sold for $7000. So in the early 20's the Clarks moved into the Woolsey House to raise their 10 children.

"Anyone who was in Ojai in 1969 and in 1978 can remember how precariously close the flood waters came to this house. Stories are told of how Alice Clark sprinkled Holy Water on the flood waters to keep them away from her house .. and it worked.

"This house was a perfect place to raise ten children .. 5 girls slept in the bed rooms on one side of the house, and 5 boys slept in the bedrooms on the other side of the house. It was a wonderful place for annual Easter egg hunts and croquet tournaments. It was also a great place for kids to be kids.

"While their father was sheriff during the prohibition, one of the boys got a recipe for making orange wine. For weeks -- on the sly -- they had been squeezing orange juice which they carefully hid in containers in a crawl space between the two basements. Soon it began to work -- and became quite pungent. It was only a matter of time before their father followed his nose, confiscated the whole lot and poured all that spirited juice into the creek .. and the kids got in big trouble with the sheriff.

"When FDR came into office, Bob Clark was appointed U.S. Marshall, a post he held for 15 years.

"For years this house, even though it was lived in by several other families, was known as the Clark house until Ana Cross purchased it in 1984. Ana did her homework, tried to restore the house to its original state, and opened this B&B named after its original owner, Theodore Woolsey -- the gentle, erudite man from Connecticut who, in the brief 4 years he lived in Ojai, left his mark -- and a landmark -- on the valley. This house has been home to two prominent old time families, and we like the unwed mothers, can say that if it hadn't
been for Theodore Woolsey, we wouldn't be here today."

Woolsey, Theodore Salisbury. Professor of international law, Yale, 1878-1911. Graduated from Yale, 1872 (A. M., 1877); Yale Law School, 1876; LL. D., Brown University, 1903. Instructor of public law, Yale, 1877. Editor: "Woolsey's International Law," "Pomeroy's International Law." Author: "America's Foreign Policy." Also many articles in magazines and journals.

Golf as an organized game in the United States dates from its introduction in 1888 by a transplanted Scotsman, John Reid. He laid out a course in an apple orchard in Westchester, New York, in 1889 and formed a club that was known as the "Apple Tree Gang." Five years later the U.S. Golf Association was born, and national championships were inaugurated in 1895.

Reid, the "father of American golf," had a son, and in 1895, John Reid Jr. enrolled in Yale College as a member of the Class of 1899. The same year, law professor Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, Class of 1872, and his friend, Justus S. Hotchkiss, who received his law degree in 1877, saw the game played for the first time, and decided to bring golf to New Haven.

Woolsey and Hotchkiss rented a large piece of land between Prospect Street and Winchester Avenue, presently partially occupied by Albertus Magnus College, and hired a local Scottish immigrant to lay out a nine-hole course. It was ready for use by the time John Reid Jr., who, according to his Class book, had "escaped a Lawrenceville bunker by a long drive and landed well up on the Yale green," arrived in New Haven.


  1. HEATHCOTE MUIRSON WOOLSEY, b. 1884; d. 1957.

  2. THEODORE SALISBURY JR WOOLSEY, b. October 02, 1879, CT - New Haven; d. 1933, CT - New Haven; m. RUBY H PICKETT, March 15, 1908.


    Guide to the Theodore S. Woolsey, Jr., Auxiliary Photograph Collection, ca. 1900s - 1910s.

  3. GEORGE WOOLSEY was born May 02, 1861 in CT - New Haven. He married JEAN PAUL ELLINWOOD May 12, 1892, daughter of FRANK FIELD ELLINWOOD. She was born February 18, 1863 in NY - Rochester.

    George Woolsey received BA Yale 1881; Yale-S 1 yr; MD Coil P and S Columbia 1885; post-grad work Roosevelt Hosp. 1885-86, Germany and France 1887-88. Prof anatomy and clin surgery, New York U Med School 1890-98, Cornell U Med School New York 1898-1909; prof clin surgery same 1910-26, prof emeritus 1926; surgeon to Bellevue Hosp., 1890-1921. Presbyn Hosp., 1900-14; now consulting surgeon Bellevue and Memorial hosps., New York Infirmary for Women and Children (New York) St. John's Riverside Hosp. (Yonkers). Peekskill Hosp Author. Maj. Med ORC 1917 Fellow ACS Am Surg Assn New York Acad Medicine, Elder Brick Presbyn Ch., NY City 1913, Republican Clubs: Century, University, Ardsley. Summner place. Cornwall, CN, residence: 117 E 36th St., New York City, NY

    Children of GEORGE WOOLSEY and JEAN ELLINWOOD are:

    1. MARJORIE ELLINWOOD WOOLSEY, b. July 13, 1894, NY - New York City; m. JOHN JASPER, May 08, 1924.

    2. GEORGE WOOLSEY, b. May 15, 1897; d. December 14, 1902.

    3. LAURA HURD WOOLSEY, b. January 20, 1904.

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