Jesse Shepard and the Spark of Genius

April 1, 1987

The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring-Summer 1987, Volume 33, Numbers 2 & 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

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Jesse Shepard
Back cover: Jesse Shepard, author, musician and man for whom the Villa Montezuma was built, is seen here in a portrait done when he was twenty-three. The painting was completed in St. Petersburg, Russia by artist Mathieu Geslin while Shepard was touring there in 1872. It is an oil on canvas, mounted on board and hung in the Villa Montezuma during the years Shepard lived there. Now, returned to the house as part of the San Diego History Center’s furnishings, it may be seen again in its original location.

Jesse Shepard  
Jesse Shepard, c. 1870s.

Lawrence W. Tonner  
Lawrence W. Tonner became Shepard’s companion and secretary for over forty years. In later years he supported him by giving French lessons.

Jesse Shepard as a young man  
Jesse Shepard as a young man. He lived in Chicago before coming to San Diego where he reputedly gave seances in the home of a prominent medium.

Shepard at the piano  
Shepard in a familiar pose – at the piano.

concert program  
A copy of one of Shepard’s concert programs.

Shepard's father  
Shepard’s father Joseph Shepard.

Shepard's mother  
Shepard’s mother Emily B. (Grierson) Shepard.

The Golden Era magazine  
In an 1887 issue of The Golden Era magazine Shepard published his first essay.

Jesse Shepard  
Jesse Shepard.

Leticia Shepard  
Shepard’s sister, Leticia Shepard, 1888.

Psychic Pianist  
The World magazine, January 18, featured this cover of a now elderly Shepard billed as a “Psychic Pianist.”

Los Angeles Times obituary  
Shepard’s Los Angeles Times obituary headline from 1927.

Jesse Shepard  
Shepard’s studio photograph from around 1900.