The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1981, Volume 27, Number 1
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor

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Lydia Maria Knapp Horton

Cover image: Lydia Maria Knapp Horton, seen here as a young woman, played a vital part in the development of San Diego dur­ing the latter portion of the 1800s as well as the first quarter of this century. First the wife of a naval officer, William Knapp, she would later marry the founder of modern San Diego, Alonzo E. Horton. Active in numerous community projects, she was also an ardent supporter of causes that would give women more opportunities. The story of this remarkable San Diego leader begins on page 17.

Lydia Knapp Horton

Page 17. Lydia Knapp Horton was the wife and widow of the Founder of modern San Diego, “Father” Alonzo E. Horton. She worked tirelessly on many civic improvement projects and played a vital role in the development of the community.

picture of Lydia picture of Lydia

Page 20. The front and reverse of the small framed picture of Lydia which was carried by Lt. Knapp to Africa and later stolen.

Old Town San Diego

Page 22. Old Town San Diego must have been a discouraging sight to Lydia Knapp after living in San Francisco and the busy cities of the East.

Page 25. A talented artist, Lydia Knapp painted this view of Mission San Diego in 1890 (date and signature close-up at right). After her separation from Knapp she used her artistic ability to support the family for some ten years.

Alonzo Horton

Page 27. At the age of forty-seven Lydia Knapp married Alonzo Horton who was then seventy-seven. In reporting the wedding The San Diego Union noted their considerable age difference but was careful to point out that Horton was “young in heart.”

Horton residence   Horton residence  

Horton residence

Page 30-31. Several views of the Hortons and their State Street home: the Horton residence as it was pictured in Golden Era magazine. Bottom is Horton and local businessman William Kettner (later Congressman) leaving for a drive with Lydia standing at the gate. Below, another view of the State Street house.

Carnegie Library

Page 32. San Diego’s Carnegie Library.

Southwest Institute

Page 33. The Southwest Institute at Fourth and Elm.

Page 34-35. Following the loss of a major portion of Horton’s income, Lydia went to work as Librarian for the State Normal School to help aid their meager earnings. She served at a salary of $75 a month.

Page 37. The Wednesday Club House, Lydia Horton served as the organization’s first President and was later made its first Honorary Member.

Lydia Horton with 21st Infantry Regiment

Page 38. Lydia Horton (center, with flag pole) with the 21st Infantry Regiment in Balboa Park, March 1, 1917.

Lydia Horton

Page 39. An imposing figure, very much the genteel dowager, Lydia Horton posed for this striking photograph in 1912.


THE PHOTOGRAPHS on pages 17, 25, 30, 31, 33 and 38 are courtesy of the San Diego Public Library. All others are from the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection.