Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

In 1947, the long-widowed Mary Louisa James Burns wrote to R. C. Heaton in Paso Robles, California. She sent him a history of her father, Drury Woodson James, a founder of the town. In 1905, Heaton had purchased the home Drury Woodson built for his family, the same home in which Mary Louise was born.  The residence was one of many buildings Drury Woodson James built as part of his El Paso de Robles Hotel, around which he built the town of Paso Robles. In one correspondence, written by her granddaughter Mary Joan Malley Beamis, Mary Louise James identifies and tags the early building of Paso Robles.

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Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.
Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.

Joan Beamis transcribes the identification tags dictated by her grandmother Mary Louise James…

This is from a wood cut. I have the original copy.

  1. D. W. James Home – 1969 or 70. I was born in this house. A very good likeness considering.
  2. South Cottage where your “Nana” was married (long cottage).
  3. Original Hot Springs Hotel.
  4. Patsy Dunn store. (Ed.: D.W.J.’s father-in-law Patrick Dunn) My father moved this and we used it for storage for many years. It was torn down in 1960.
  5. The Ralston Cottage, or at least its location.
  6. Bath House – original – another was built here but burned in about 1910.
  7. Club House
  8. Tenth Street
  9. Old Stage Road, now Spring St.
  10. Tenth St.
  11. Park Water Station
  12. (does not appear)
  13. Stagecoach approaching
  14. Sunnyside Cottage, or Cottage A                                      

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LETTER FROM R. C. HEATON TO MARY LOUISE JAMES BURNS

Paso Robles, Cal.    April 20th, 1948

Mrs. E.F. Burns

Somersworth, N.H.

Dear Mrs. Burns: Thank you for the copy of your father’s history sent me by the Paso Robles chamber of commerce at your request. I have it filed away in the history of San Luis Obispo county.

Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. "Carrie" James Maxwell and Helen "Hattie" James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. "UncLe Jim Blackburn" refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James. Heaton owned the El Paso de Robles Hotel property following its destruction by fire in 1910.
Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. “Carrie” James Maxwell and Helen “Hattie” James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. “UncLe Jim Blackburn” refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James.

Thinking that you would like to see a picture of the old home place as it was in your younger days I had some copies made and am enclosing one to you. I sent one to Carrie.

Please tell me when the house was built and when your folks moved in – also anything that you recall about the place.

Frank and Jesse James were out to California twice but I do not have the record of what years or where they stayed.

This would be interesting to some people.

The visit of Carrie and Hattie B.* last year with us is a happy remembrance.

Too bad that your father could not have ended his days peacefully in the grand old hotel** he had the faith and courage to build in those early days.

Too few people appreciate what he and that other active generous citizen – Uncle Jim Blackburn – done for this community and its old time residents.

Best wishes,

R.C. HEATON

* The references to Carrie and Hattie is to Mary Louise’s sisters Carolina F. James Maxwell and Helen James Bennett.

** The reference to the grand old hotel is to the larger resort hotel D. W. James built in the rear of the original pioneer stagecoach hotel. The Springs Hotel burned to the ground in 1910.

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In 2002, the friends and family of Frank & Jesse James reunited at the Paso Robles Inn to celebrate Drury Woodson James.