Lola Montez’s stay in Grass Valley was brief, but memorable. Matilda Denzer (later Mrs. Uphoff) never forgot a Christmas party she attended at Lola’s house in 1853. In her memoir she recalled:
There were only a few girls in Grass Valley, and I was five when Lola Montez gave us little ones a Christmas party at her home. We were all excited about it. If Lola had been the woman some say she was our mothers never would have let us visit her.
She met us at the door as we arrived and gave each of us a merry welcome. I don’t remember much about her looks, except that she seemed to me the most beautiful woman in the world. Yes, she had a tree, I remember that, and she had gifts for us and we played games and had good things to eat.Quoted in “The Divine Eccentric: Lola Montez and the Newspapers”, by Doris Foley. Westernlore Press, Los Angeles 1989. p. 78-79
Two other little girls who may have attended that memorable Christmas party were Sue Robinson and Lotta Crabtree. Sue was already known as a child performer in the mining camps of Northern California at that time. Lotta went on to even greater fame on the stage. Both girls may have taken lessons from Lola, who in spite of her reputation for tantrums and eccentricities, had a great love for children.
Matilda never forgot that beautiful and kind lady.
She had a bear chained to a tree in the yard and we used to go by to look at it. Lola Montez was very kind. Once my mother and I and my baby sister went to Sacramento. We took the stage. Lola was on board, too, and she held me in her lap most of the way down, taking the care of me completely off my mother. She talked to me and sang as the stage drove along. I believe she gave me some candy too. Mother was very grateful to her for her help on the trip. Yes, she was very kind to many people.
Learn more about Lola’s famous grizzly bear here.