[Left page: Portrait of Mrs. Noble Martin]
[Right page: Typewritten letter pasted onto page. Text transcribed below.]
It is with pleasure that I accept this symbol of authority. A bit of wood, chipped from an old Pioneer ship, made into a gavel, and presented to the Association of Pioneer Women of California by the family of the Captain of the ship “ARKANSAS,” and by the hand of a brother Pioneer, is indeed a pleasant event in our history. We deeply appreciate the gift of Captain Shepard’s daughters in thus providing for our needs. We are glad they chose to have our gavel made from a relic, from a piece of the ship that brought them to California over half a century ago.
I am glad, sir, that you desired to place this historic memento in my keeping, and in the name of the Association of Pioneer Women of California, I take it with reverent hands. And while it is my duty to use it officially, it shall be the purpose of my heart to do so with wisdom and justice. Yes, I am glad, Judge Halliday, that you desired to bestow this favor upon us. You, sir, have been a keen observer of the changes time has wrought in people and in ships. You have painted a word picture for us to-day; one that is vivid and beautiful; one that stands out in a high light. We see that staunch Pioneer ship leaving her home port, forcing her way through the great oceans, bearing her precious burden into a safe harbor.
The great change has come to Captain Shepard; he has finished his life voyage; he has passed the harbor bar into the Great Unknown. A change has come to his ship; it is not now known as a ship. It was not wrecked, its fragments are not driftwood, tossed hither and yon by the waves, it has not become useless. It has not vanished; a piece of its keel is before us, and for a purpose; and as a whole that old ship floats in Memory’s sea.
It is fitting, eminently so, that our gavel should be made of wood that was once a party of that old ship – wood that has been tested, tried and found fit for service. It has stood in the sunshine, passed through storms, been buffeted by the winds and baptized by the waters. It is well that the sessions of Pioneer Women should be controlled by blows of wood about which clings the distinctive atmosphere of Pioneer Days. Added to all the other memories that cluster about this relic there now twines with its even fiber another history. It is now our gavel, and its history is a part of our records, that will be handed down proudly to our children and great grandchildren.
We are a young organization, whose roots are in the past, back in the middle of the century just fading away in the gold of a glorious sunset. Being young, we have a future before us, – a future in which our daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters for all time will have a part. They will add to and adorn with beauty the ship we have just launched. Other captains, other crews, will sail our ship over the sea of time, but never, never into the waters of oblivion.
MRS. NOBLE MARTIN
Founder of the First Pioneer Women’s
Organization in the State of California.