Yda Hillis Addis

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Yda Hillis Addis
Yda Addis.jpg
Yda Addis
Born 1857
Leavenworth, Kansas
Occupation Writer
Nationality United StatesAmerican
Charles A. Storke
(m. 1890; div. 1894)
Disappeared 1902
Status dead
Other names Yda Storke
Yda Addis Storke

Yda Hillis Addis, (born 1857,[1] disappeared 1902) was the first American writer to translate ancient Mexican oral stories and histories into English. The most widely published of her more than 100 stories are The Romance of Ramon and Roger's Luck.[2]

Early background[edit]

Addis was born in 1857 in Leavenworth, Kansas,[2] and moved with her family to Chihuahua, Mexico, at the start of the American Civil War.[3] The daughter of an itinerant photographer, Alfred Shea Addis, she roamed the Western frontier and Mexican wilderness, into Indian villages, miners' camps, and other exotic locations, mostly in California and Mexico, assisting her father. When she was 15, she and her family moved to Los Angeles where she graduated with the first class of Los Angeles High School; a graduating class of seven students.[3] She also began teaching seven-year-olds.

Fiction-writing career[edit]

Addis wrote many short stories, drawn from Mexican oral sources, as well as original fiction. Her writings included ghost tales, visitations of the unseen, tragic love triangles, and stories that presaged American feminism. In 1880 she submitted her stories of heroines, such as Poetic Justice and Señorita Santos, to The Argonaut,[3] a bi-monthly San Francisco journal, founded by Frank M. Pixley. Soon her work was appearing in other publications such as The Californian, The Overland Monthly, Harper's Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, Examiner, Los Angeles Herald, St. Louis Dispatch, Chicago Times, Philadelphia Press, McClure Syndicate and many Mexican newspapers and periodicals.

Personal life[edit]

Pixley introduced her to his good friend and former California governor John G. Downey, in his late sixties. When Downey's sisters discovered that he and Addis had become engaged, they shanghaied him to Ireland leaving Addis to sue for breach of promise.[4] Before the trial date, Addis left San Francisco for Mexico City to write for the bilingual newspaper Two Republics, owned by J. Magtella Clark. When the editor, Theodore Gesterfeld, became distracted with Addis' wit and charm, the editor's wife, Ursula, sued for divorce and named Addis a co-defendant. In Gesterfeld's testimony, he admitted to committing adultery, but not with Addis.

With this unfavorable publicity, Addis left Mexico for Santa Barbara, California, and began collecting material about prominent citizenry of the area for a book of biographies to be published by Lewis Publishing Company. During one of her interviews she met and shortly afterward married Charles A. Storke, a local attorney and owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Addis' history of Santa Barbara, her only book, was published in 1891.[3] Addis said she was treated badly by her husband and his teenage son Tommy. She accused Storke of some peculiar intimate behaviors and violence toward her.[5] Storke retaliated with a divorce complaint on the grounds that Addis was insane.[6]

During the divorce Addis discovered that her attorney, Grant Jackson, esq., was in duplicity with Storke. She shot Jackson, who survived, but she spent eight months in prison. When she was released, the divorce was not final and Addis requested alimony. At this time Clara Shortridge Foltz stepped in briefly to defend Addis. Storke refused to pay the $500 a month that Addis requested and instead had Addis committed to an insane asylum. Addis later escaped from the asylum, and disappeared.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ One authority suggests 1859 as the year of her birth. See "Addis, Alfred Shea", in Palmquist et al., Pioneer photographers from the Mississippi to the continental divide, p. 68
  2. ^ a b Mighels, Ella Sterling (1893). The story of the files: a review of California writers and literature. San Francisco: Cooperative Printing Co. pp. 225–226. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Rasmussen, Cecilia (October 22, 2006). "A 19th century firecracker flames out in her private life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ The San Francisco Examiner July 28, 1887, p. 1, col. 1.
  5. ^ Starr, Kevin (1991). Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s. Americans and the California dream. Oxford University Press, United States. p. 290. ISBN 0-19-507260-X. 
  6. ^ "Mrs. Storke's Statement". Los Angeles Herald. 14 August 1891. p. 5. Retrieved 18 July 2017 – via newspapers.com. 

Further reading[edit]