Jane Who Honored Her Son and Her Husband

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I learned a touching story recently about Jane and Leland Stanford.

Leland was an attorney and married to Jane when the valuable collection of law books his father had given him burned in a fire. In 1852 Leland decided to go to California where his five brothers were already living. Jane followed soon after.

Leland sold supplies to prospectors who had come to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. He later became governor of California and one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. The Central Pacific was the railroad that built the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Leland and Jane had one son. When their son was 15 years old, the three of them went on a tour of Europe. Their son caught typhoid and died in Italy.

The Stanfords came home to California and founded Stanford University in honor of their child. They wanted to see all the children of California as their children. When the college opened in 1891, young Herbert Hoover was in the first class. Hoover had been orphaned as a child and the tuition at Stanford was just right. Until 1920, it was free. Hoover studied geology. He fell in love with the only female geology major at the school. Her name was Lou Henry. He graduated in 1895. She graduated in 1898 and they got married.

Leland Stanford died a few years after he and Jane founded Stanford. A chapel had been part of the original plan for the school, but had not yet been built. Jane built the chapel in honor of her husband.  It is beautiful inside and out. The inside looks like an ornate cathedral. As you can see, the upper portion of the front has a wonderful mosaic.

Stanford Memorial Arch at Stanford University. Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

I love to think that the students at Stanford walk past Stanford Memorial Chapel. What a gift Jane Stanford gave to generations of other people’s children. Jane Stanford said this about the chapel: “While my whole heart is in the university, my soul is in that chapel.”

Thank you for blessing your children today and for putting your heart and soul into doing it.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let’s rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24



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