Family and Childhood

Treadwell’s family heritage combines both European and Mexican traditions, a fact of which Treadwell was extremely proud.  Her passion for her European and Mexican background can be easily detected in her journalistic writings, dramatic characters and travels.

Treadwell’s family ancestry can be traced back to the late 1700s.  Her paternal great-grandfather, an Englishman named Walker, emigrated to Mexico where he married a woman of Spanish descent named Vivian Evara in Hermosillo in 1834.  Their daughter, Susan Walker, married one William Treadwell, an English painter who had migrated to Mexico.  Susan and William, Sophie’s paternal grandparents, moved to Stockton, California in the early 1850s, where their son, Alfred B. Treadwell, was born.

On her maternal side, Sophie’s grandparents were of American and Scottish stock.  Her Scottish grandmother, Anna Gray Fairchild, had come to Stockton in 1850 with her husband, William, where they established a homestead ranch just outside of town. Their daughter, Nettie, married Alfred Treadwell in 1884, and their only child, Sophie, was born the following year.

Sophie’s parents had a troubled marriage.  Alfred was a stern disciplinarian, a trait that characterized his career as a lawyer, justice of the peace, city prosecutor and judge. When Alfred and Nettie separated in the early 1890s, Sophie continued to live with her mother, alternating between her grandmother’s Stockton ranch and pursuing Alfred after his move to San Francisco. Nettie never could make good on her vow to divorce Alfred, and her economic and emotional hardships greatly impacted Sophie’s childhood and later writings.

click for larger image of Alfred Treadwell
click for larger image of Nettie Treadwell

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As a young girl, Sophie at first excelled in her education, only to lose faith in her own abilities as she continued to move with her mother. Nevertheless, Sophie forged a few lifelong friendships during her childhood years, and later wrote of her youth in a short, unpublished manuscript which she titled, “The Story of Muh Life by One Who Has None” (1908).

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