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Catalog number 1997.2.1610
Object Name Clipping, Newspaper
Date 1940
Description TITLE: MAMMY PLEASANT'S PARTNER (Putnam, $4.50) AUTHOR: Helen Holdredge. Illustrated with photographs.
When Mrs. Holdredge gathered material for the life of Mammy Pleasant (published last year), the evil genius of the gentle shakedown during San Francisco's boisterous post-gold rush days, her notes became enmeshed with a character known as Thomas Bell. He loomed so large in Mammy's fortunes and misfortunes he seemed to deserve a book of his own. This is it.

Bell, right name Hill, was an English absconder turned trader in Mexico, whom Mammy met
in San Francisco in 1852 and promptly latched onto as a foil in her nefarious schemes to squeeze a fortune from her private brothels, baby "farms," excursions into high finance and blackmail by intimate knowledge of the private lives and scandals of some of the city's wealthiest men.
Bell was devious, grasping and greedy for wealth. Mammy was clever, an astute businesswoman. Together they made. quite a pair. As long as Mammy could use him to advantage everything he touched turned to gold. For a time he was quicksilver king of California, a partner in the New Almaden Mines south of here, owner of others in San Benito County. While Bell made it, Mammy spent it (she dropped

$400,000 financing Sara Althea Hill's fight for the Sharon estate). She married him off to one of her "girls," ruined! him with her extravagance, and neatly disposed of him when he was no longer of any use to her by shoving him to his death over a railing of the 30-room "House of Mystery" they occupied on Octavia street.
Bell was an intimate of many great names in the San Francisco of his day, and they run in and out of the biography with gossipy and scandalous abandon.
People Bell, Thomas
Hill, Sara Althea
Pleasant, Mammy
Cataloged by Boudreault, Art