First Ladies of California

This section is dedicated to the women who acted as First Lady from the birth of the State of California in 1849 to the present.

Although the role of First Lady has changed and become increasingly more active, a glance back into history proves that First Ladies have always played an important role in the service of California citizens. From the beginning of California's statehood to present day, they have balanced the demanding responsibilities of their prestigious position while enduring hardships, tragedies, and the daily difficulties of life and a family.

This section contains pictures of the First Ladies along with passages excerpted from "The First Ladies of California" which provide a small glimpse into the lives of these courageous women. These women not only played an important role in the history and success of California, but made history of their own.

This site is constantly being updated as more information about the First Ladies is found. Please check back often to learn more fascinating tidbits about California’s First Ladies.

Harriet Burnett

Harriet Burnett (1849-1851)

Born: 1811 in Wilson County, Tennessee
Died: September 19, 1879
Married: Peter Burnett on August 20, 1828
Children: Dwight, Martha, Romeetta, Armstead and Sallie

Jane McDougal

Jane Palmer McDougal (1851-1852)

Born: May 16, 1824 in Indiana
Died: May 26, 1862 in San Francisco, CA
Married: John McDougal on July 13, 1841
Children: Sue, Caroline, Latham, William and Lillie

Elizabeth Bigler

Elizabeth Graham Bigler (1852-1856)

Born: around 1809 in New York
Died: November 15, 1873
Married: John Bigler in Mt. Sterling, IL around 1847
Children: Virginia

Mary Johnson

Mary Zabriskie Johnson (1856-1858)

Born: around 1830 in New Jersey
Died: November 23, 1887
Married: Colonel J. Neely Johnson on June 26, 1851
Children: William and Bessie

Lizzie Brockelbank Weller

Lizzie Brockelbank Weller (1858-1860)

Born: around 1828 in NY
Died: Unknown
Married: John Weller on June 20, 1854
Children: Charles, John and William

Sophie Birdsall Latham Latham

Sophie Birdsall Latham (Jan 9-14, 1860)

Born: around 1835 in Yates County, NY
Died: September 10, 1867 in San Francisco, CA
Married: Milton Latham on Oct 1, 1853 in San Francisco, CA
Children: None

Maria Guirado Downey

Maria Guirado Downey (1860-1862)

Born: September 10, 1836 in Los Angeles, CA
Died: January 29, 1883
Married: John Downey in 1852
Children: None

Jane Lathrop Stanford

Jane Lathrop Stanford (1862-1863)

Born: August 25, 1828 in Albany, NY
Died: February 25, 1905 in Honolulu, HI
Married: Leland Stanford on Sept 30, 1850
Children: Leland Stanford, Jr.

Mollie Creed Low

Mollie Creed Low (1863-1867)

Born: January 17, 1840 in Lancaster, OH
Died: October 1, 1910
Married: Frederick Low on December 22, 1857
Children: Flora

Anna Bissell Haight

Anna Bissell Haight (1867-1871)

Born: October 2, 1834 in St. Louis, MO
Died: March 29, 1898 in Oakland, CA
Married: Henry Haight on January 24, 1855
Children: Janette, Mary, Dugald, Henry H., Jr., Louis

Mary McIntyre Pacheco

Mary McIntyre Pacheco (Feb - Dec 1875)

Born: January 2, 1842 in Danville, KY
Died: November 5, 1913 in San Francicso, CA
Married: Romualdo Pacheco on October 31, 1863
Children: Maybella Ramona and Romualdo, Jr.

Amelia Cassidy Irwin

Amelia Cassidy Irwin (1875-1880)

Born: October 11, 1843 in Ellenville, New York
Died: October 20, 1905 in Berkeley, CA
Married: William Irwin on Dec 21, 1865 in Yreka, CA
Children: Emma

Ruth Parker Perkins

Ruth Parker Perkins (1880-1883)

Born: August 21, 1843 in County Cork, Ireland
Died: February 4, 1921
Married: George Perkins on May 3, 1864 in Marysville, CA
Children: Fannie, George, Susan, Fred, Milton, Ruth May and Grace Pansy

Mary Hardisty Stoneman

Mary Hardisty Stoneman (1883-1887)

Born: July 28, 1836(?) in Baltimore, MD
Died: March 1915 in Brookline, Massachusetts
Married: George Stoneman on Nov 22, 1871 in Baltimore, MD
Children: Cornelius, George, Jr., Katherine and Adele

Jane Gardner Waterman

Jane Gardner Waterman (1887-1891)

Born: Novermber 8, 1829 in Stanstead, Canada
Died: April 12, 1914
Married: Robert Waterman on Sept 29, 1847 in Belvedere, IL
Children: Mary, James, Helen, Waldo, Anna and Abby

Mary Dana Markham

Mary Dana Markham (1891-1895)

Born: July 4, 1853 in Wyoming, IL
Died: May 31, 1934
Married: Henry Markham on May 17, 1876 in Waukesha, WI
Children: Marie, Alice, Gertrude, Genevieve, and Hildreth

Inez Merrill Buddd

Inez Merrill Budd (1895-1899)

Born: August 2, 1851 in Hartford, CT
Died: May 15, 1911 in Stockton, CA
Married: James Budd on October 29, 1873
Children: None

Fannie Rains Gage

Fannie Rains Gage (1899-1903)

Born: August 3, 1863 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Died: June 16, 1951
Married: Henry T. Gage on July 15, 1880
Children: Fanita, Lucilla, Francis, Volney, Arthur, Henry

Helen Penniman Pardee

Helen Penniman Pardee (1903-1907)

Born: July 18, 1857 in Chelsea, MA
Died: March 10, 1947
Married: George Pardee on January 25, 1887
Children: Florence, Carol, Madeline and Helen

Isabella Erzgraber Gillett

Isabella Erzgraber Gillett (1907-1911)

Born: around 1870, San Francisco, CA
Died: November 24, 1946
Married: James Gillett on May 8, 1898
Children: Effie, Ethel, Horace, and James

Minnie McNeal Johnson

Minnie McNeal Johnson (1911-1917)

Born: June 11, 1869 in Sacramento, CA
Died: January 25, 1955
Married: Hiram Johnson in 1886
Children: Hiram and Archibald

Flora Rawson Stephens

Flora Rawson Stephens (1917-1923)

Born: May 16, 1869 in Chicago, IL
Died: April 21, 1931 in Los Angeles, CA
Married: William Stephens on June 17, 1891 in Poway, CA
Children: Barbara

Augusta Felder Richardson

Augusta Felder Richardson (1923-1927)

Born: March 26, 1869 in IL
Died: June 17, 1955
Married: Friend Richardson on July 23, 1891
Chidlren: Ruth, Paul and John

Lyla Vincent Young

Lyla Vincent Young (1927-1931)

Born: July 23, 1880 in Alameda, CA
Died: June 9, 1967
Married: Clement Young on March 15, 1902
Children: Barbara and Lucy

Annie Reid Rolph

Annie Reid Rolph (1931-1934)

Born: 1872 in San Francisco, CA
Died: September 23, 1956
Married: James Rolph on June 26, 1900
Children: Annette, James and Georgina

Jessie Millisack Merriam

Jessie Millisack Merriam (1936-1939)

Born: September 5, 1869 in IA
Died: July 13, 1948
Married: Frank Merriam on January 25, 1936
Children: None

Kate Jeremy Olson

Kate Jeremy Olson (Jan 1939-Apr 1939)

Born: 1883 in Utah
Died: April 15, 1939
Married: Culbert Olson in 1905
Children: Richard, Dean and John

Nina Palmquist Warren

Nina Palmquist Warren (1943-1953)

Born: March 9, 1893 in Visby, Gotland, Sweden
Died: April 24, 1993
Married: Earl Warren on October 14, 1925 in Oakland, CA
Children: James (son from 1st marriage), Virgina, Earl Jr., Dorothy, Nina (Honeybear) and Robert

Virginia Piegrue Knight

Virginia Piegrue Knight (1954-1959)

Born: October 12, 1918, Fort Dodge, Iowa
Married: Goodwin Knight on Aug 2, 1954 in Beverly Hills, CA
Children: None

Bernice Layne Brown

Bernice Layne Brown (1959-1967)

Born: November 19, 1908 in San Francisco, CA
Died: May 9, 2002
Married: Edmund G. 'Pat' Brown on Oct 30, 1930 in Reno, NV
Children: Jerry, Kathleen, Cynthia, Barbara

Nancy Davis Reagan

Nancy Davis Reagan (1967-1975)

Born: July 6, 1921 in Queens, New York
Married: Ronald Reagan on March 4, 1952 in Los Angeles, CA
Children: Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott

Gloria Saatjian Deukmejian

Gloria Saatjian Deukmejian (1983-1991)

Born: 1933 in Long Beach, CA
Married: George Deukmejian on February 16, 1957
Children: Leslie, Andrea, George

Gayle Edlund Wilson

Gayle Edlund Wilson (1991-1999)

Born: Phoenix, AZ
Married: Pete Wilson on May 29, 1983
Children: Todd and Philip

Sharon Ryer Davis

Sharon Ryer Davis (1999-2003)

Born: 1954 in San Diego, CA
Married: Gray Davis
Children: None

Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver (2003-2011)

Born: November 6, 1955 in Chicago, IL
Married: Arnold Schwarzenegger on April 26, 1986
Children: Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher

Anne Gust Brown

Anne Gust Brown (2011-present)

Born: March 15, 1958 in Bloomfield Hills, MI
Married: Edmund G. "Jerry Brown" on June 18, 2005 in Oakland, CA
Children: None