Vignette > Servant Problems

Eels family on the Farm

After the April 1906 earthquake, Alec Eells moved his family to his gentleman’s farm in Homestead Valley. He commuted to his relocated law office in San Francisco. His wife Caroline tried to make life more comfortable for their two young daughters. A third daughter was born in July. Alec and Caroline decided to hire a live-in couple, the husband for general work on the farm and the wife for housekeeping. On Thursday morning Sept. 21, 1907 he placed an ad in the Help Wanted column of the Examiner: “Man and wife for general work and housework on country place near Mill Valley. Wages $30 each.” There were 8 applicants. The first couple interviewed impressed him very favorably. He invited them to come over Friday morning and gave them 80 cents for the ferry/train fare, but they never showed up. He concluded they were confidence operators. During the following two years he continued to have trouble hiring and keeping servant couples. A series of five couples came and left for one reason or another. Finally on October 1, 1909, Gordon and Dora Gorman, a young couple from Tennessee came and stayed for more than a year.