The entire test of this little letter reads:
January 9th, 1884
My dear General,
Can you oblige me by letting me have a few seeds of the Casawba (?) Melon, provided you can conveniently spare them. You will be pleased to hear that my father & all the family are very well indeed. Will you kindly remember me to Madam Bidwell, & trusting that you are both enjoying the best of health
I remain, dear General, very truly yours,
Who was Tiburcio Parrott, who wrote with such an elegant hand and courteous manner?
He was the son of John Parrott, San Francisco banker and possibly the richest man in California. John Parrott had served as American consul in Mazatlan, Mexico, from 1837 to 1850. The position as consul paid nothing, but Parrott amassed a fortune in Mexico as a merchant and importer. Tiburcio, born in 1840, was his son by his Mexican mistress.
In 1850 John Parrott came to San Francisco and increased his fortune through banking and real estate. He built a large and beautiful mansion in San Francisco and a handsome summer home on his estate, Baywood, in San Mateo County. In 1853 he married Abbie Meagher and together they had eight children.
John Parrott did not neglect his Mexican-born son. He saw to it that young Tiburcio was given a good education in Massachusetts and England, before returning to the States to enter on a career in banking. Tiburcio came to California in 1862 and started working with his father. After his father’s death in 1884 he took over the Parrott Bank. About this time his step-mother bought property for him in the Napa Valley, where he built a mansion he called Miravalle and developed an interest in wine-making. This estate is surely where he planned to grow the casaba melons that John Bidwell had made famous.
The Parrott family has a Butte County connection. In 1860 John Parrott began buying land in Butte County and by 1875 he had acquired all of Rancho Llano Seco. This Mexican land grant, originally deeded to Sebastian Keyser, is situated on the east bank of the Sacramento River south of Chico. The ranch is still owned by the Parrott family.