| The Family Routine
The family routine was to spend the summer, from June through October, at Presdeleau. The family, with their Chinese staff and maids would board Frank’s private railroad car, Hauoli, and an additional pullman, at Oakland, California and travel to Chicago. The original plan was to transfer to the Erie Station by tally-ho, but after some hoodlums stoned his Chinese cooks, the household stayed aboard the cars during the tedious switching operation to Dearborn station. When they arrived in Jersey City, the family transferred to the family steam yacht, also called Hauoli, and steamed down Long Island Sound to Smith’s Cove where they stepped ashore at Presdeleau.
Shelter Island was intended for rest and relaxation. The family stayed for four or five months. The estate was so beautiful and so well equipped for diversion, including a tennis court, that family and guests were well entertained. In addition, they took many yacht cruises north to Newport and as far south as the Chesapeake Bay.
The family consisted, of course, of Frank and Mollie. There were also adopted or foster daughters and young women whom they had taken into their charge as babies and teenagers. Mollie, after a tragic miscarriage, could never have children of her own, but she yearned for them, and this was their solution. The “Solid Six,” as Frank affectionately called them, were Marion Francis Smith (1883 as an infant), Anna Mae and Sarah Winifred Burdge (1893 as young teenagers), Charlotte Grace Sperry (1895), Evelyn Ellis (late 1890s) who became Mollie’s secretary, and Florence Nightingale.
Gertrude Tuthill Robinson remembered the Solid Six attending services at the Presbyterian Church, “The style at the time was leghorn hats, pastel organdies or swiss, and velvet ribbons.”
In 1900, the Smith family was in residence on Shelter Island when the census was taken on June 13. In addition to the “Solid Six,” all of whom are listed, the household also included Mary J. Thompson, Mollie’s mother, age 78; Laura Gordon, age 49, a “companion” from England; servants Lucy Deloy (21) and Elise Breuleux (27) from France; Alice McNamara (14) from New York; and Jufong (35), Jusing (30), Juyong (27) and Hoohong (40), all men from China.
Back in Oakland, Mollie presided over a huge estate in construction, Arbor Villa, which they completed in 1895. It had 50 rooms and was on 53 acres in downtown Oakland. It was of the Queen Anne style -- huge and unique in that region.