PETALUMANS OF YESTERYEAR
Ada (Addie) Daley Atwater was born on October 16, 1836 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, of a well-to-do family. Her grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War as a bodyguard to General Washington. As a young girl, Addie Daley grew up in Canada and New York. It was in New York that she met Henry Atwater, who was working as an accountant. The young couple was married in May 1,1856, when both were twenty years old.
After her mother died and her stepfather moved to California to seek his fortune, the Atwaters who now had a young son, Franklin, decided to join him. They arrived in Petaluma in 1859 where her stepfather, Mr. Hinman, had settled. The small village had just been incorporated the year before.
Mr. Atwater was in much demand as an accountant. When Mr. Isaac Wickersham started the first bank in 1866, he hired Mr. Atwater to be his cashier (manager), and he stayed in that position until his death in 1896. Addie became active with the wives of the prominent men of Petaluma. When the couple purchased the beautiful home on the northwest corner of 4th and E Streets, Addie turned it into a showplace. Her gardens and hospitality were renowned.
Addie was particularly concerned about the development of Petaluma. To aid in its beautification, she formed the Ladies’ Improvement Club and was its President for many years. It was through their efforts that Walnut Park and Penry Park were created and developed.
Addie was also concerned about the many uncared-for animals in town. She helped organize the Humane Society and was its president until her death.
Mr. Atwater was very active with other members of the Odd Fellows Lodge in creating a library for the public. After his death, Addie and the Ladies Improvement Society continued to work towards a permanent building for the library. When Carnegie Funds were obtained, Addie provided the site for the building at a very low cost to the city. The group also helped landscape the area and raised funds for books.
Addie Atwater died in 1912, a very revered pioneer of Petaluma. Petalumans today continue to benefit from her foresights and efforts.