Independent Old Friends

By Larry Clinton, Sausalito Historical Society

A gathering of Independent Old Friends on the steps of the El Monte Hotel.  Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

A gathering of Independent Old Friends on the steps of the El Monte Hotel.

Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

In the 1880s, a number of social and fraternal associations sprung up in Sausalito, which eventually merged into one, called “Independent Old Friends.” The secretary of the organization was J.E. Slinkey, who was also the proprietor of the Sausalito News at the time.  Not surprisingly, then, the paper ran this glowing report in October 1889 on a gathering of the group at Slinkey’s hotel.

Entitled “A Grand Jollification last Sunday at the EI Monte,” the article told the story of a special breakfast gathering, which folks had been anticipating with pleasure.  But, when a storm blew in on the big day, “the clouds were dropping down their dew most vigorously — every one said: ‘Oh what a day —surely no one will venture out in such a storm’.” The article continued:

But when the pretty and proud steamer San Rafael came to her moorings at the wharf, then it was that the Old Friends, "independent" of the elements sallied forth in large numbers. Col. J. E. Slinkey had made ample preparation for the old time veterans; even the ladies were not forgotten, nor the young veterans, who watched the silvered tongue orators speak a cheery welcome, reminding them of pleasures wand, not forgetting to tell them also of those grand old words, "Honor to Whom Honor is Due!"

The feast of good things was done justice to, and those present on the occasion will ever remember the cloudy day, when it stormed on the outside that beneath the roof of the famed El Monte, there were warm hearts who will ever cherish the motto: "Friendship and Sociability."

President Craig spoke of one missing brother, whose jovial face would be seen no more among his old friends, namely, Bro. Chas. Cox, who passed away last Saturday night in San Francisco, and hoped that eternal joy would await him on the other shore — though gone the lost brother would be cherished in memory by the "Independent Old Friends." The birthday of two popular members of the "I. O. F's" occurred on this occasion, namely, Dr. J. S. Knowlton, of San Francisco and Alexander Dalrymple Bell, of Sausalito, and their health was toasted and drank amid congratulations and expressions of "long life and happiness."

Capt. W. F. Swasey, a '49er of this glorious State of California made two happy speeches, one for Dr. Knowlton and the other for Bro. J. E. Magary. They were appreciated and applauded. The Captain is a splendid fellow and knows how to make an eloquent address. The gallant veteran Jim McCue, did not forget the ladies, and in a most pleasing manner paid them a high compliment, not forgetting the "old boys" who weatherbeaten by many a storm are yet ever ready to act the gallant as in ye olden time, when umbrellas were at a premium in the mining camps. After the breakfast the ladies returned to the parlor, and the gentlemen to the billiard room to wind up the balance of the day, telling stories, anecdotes of the old time days, that were amusing to hear, as the gray veterans shook their sides with a "ah ha!" here and an "ah ha!" there.

Back issues of the Sausalito News may be accessed through the Historical Society website at: