The Hattie Weber Museum of Davis got an early Christmas present this year thanks to the generosity of Carole and Jan Brewer, who donated a large collection of photographs, documents and artifacts from the pioneer Schmeiser family.
Gottfried Schmeiser married Sophia Oeste in November 1868; they moved to a ranch about five miles west of present-day Davis a few days later. Gottfried and Sophia had a rocky start when they discovered they did not have clear title to the land and that “land grabbers” were trying to run them out and take over.
Ultimately, they prevailed and became quite prosperous. Eight children were born to the couple. Most of the items in the Schmeiser collection relate to two of them: Pauline and Elmine.
The gem of the collection is already on display at the museum, although it will be a few weeks before it is fully functional. It is a Weber modified upright piano manufactured in Rochester, N.Y., in 1908 that probably was shipped around the horn of South America to the distribution firm of Kohler and Chase in San Francisco.
An inside label proclaims it was manufactured especially to withstand the Pacific coast climate. It is a handsome piece in excellent condition but it needs time to acclimate to its new location before it can be tuned.
The piano should be tuned in time for Christmas, when the museum will celebrate with a tribute to a Davisville celebration in 1898 with a Christmas tree and goodie bags for children. The bags are reminiscent of those containing fruit, nuts and candy distributed to the 200 children living in town that year and are given to young visitors to the museum in December at no charge.
Also in December, the museum will open the “Purple Circle” exhibit celebrating the era from the 1910s to 1960s when the area around Davis was famous for grand champion livestock from prestigious shows around the country. Purple is the color of the grand champion award ribbons.
Purple ribbons, as well as blue first-place and red second-place ones won by the Rowe family’s Innisfail herd, were sewn into a coverlet by a family friend in the 1920s. The coverlet is part of the exhibit, as are pictures of local grand champion cattle and sheep from the Davis area shown at the Chicago International Livestock Exposition and a map showing the names and locations of Purple Circle Society members.
The Hattie Weber Museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on holidays. It is at 445 C St. in Central Park in Davis.