Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Donald Bertrand Tresidder 

  At the age of 20 Don Tresidder took a trip with his sister, Orliene, then 15, to Southern California. However, the railroad tracks were washed out and they went to Yosemite Valley instead.

Delighted with Yosemite, Tresidder applied for a job and was hired as a porter at Camp Curry.  At Curry his charm delighted many but raised suspicions in Curry's proprietor, David Curry.  When Tresidder persuaded Curry's daughter, Mary, to climb up the back of Half Dome in 1916, Curry summarily fired him. 

Anxious to stay in Yosemite, Tresidder found a job with Arthur C. Pillsbury at the Pillsbury Studio in Old Village.  Tresidder was able to occupy one of the tents kept there for employees and got to know other employees, who were mostly students from Stanford and Berkeley.  His charm and good looks then got him the male lead in a movie Pillsbury was then filming, Legend of the Lost Arrow, based on a Miwok ancient story of a young couple all too soon divided by death.  

Tresidder was counted as an amusing young man 

Moving among members of California's elite, whand charming your man, at ease with the young people from Stanford and Berkeley who routinely summered in Yosemite,  We cn assume this is where Tresidder met Stephen Mather, who would encourage Tresidder to remain in California and offer him unexpected advantages.  

Don Tresidder had traveled from Tipton, Indiana  intending to visit Southern California, with Oliene.   Along the way they encountered a train wreck and and met a representative of David Curry.  The gentleman, never named, mentioned they might like  to see Yosemite.  

Not only did Don see Yosemite, fit a job as  a porter,  but he took David Curry's daughter, Mary, up the back of Half Dome, something which it appears Curry did not want.  That is the admitted story, through Tresidder attempted to rewrite history after this was possible, failing to mention this less than glorious incident.  Tresidder was fired, forthwith.  Landing on his feet, Tresidder began working for Arthur C. Pillsbury and camping in the tents supplied along with other eccential facilities, and a dining room, which served the many employees, many of them students from Stanford and Berkeley, who worked at the studio. or taking workshops in photography.  Students working for Pillsbury for the summer lived in a tents surrounding the Studio, which surrounded the Yosemite Chapel in the trees, extending back toward the Cliffs.  Although there is no report of this, it is likely Oliene moved over to the Pillsbury encampment as well.    

Pillsbury chose Tresidder for the lead in the movie he produced over the summer of 1916.  The Legend of the Lost Arrow is a Miwok story about young lovers divided by death too early.
      The movie finished and the season moving toward its end.  Both Donald and Oliene return to Tipton.  Stanford records that Donald entered Stanford as a student in 1917, continuing his pre-med major but war was looming.   It was expected that patriotic young men would enlist or be drafted. In 1917 Tresidder enlisted in a base hospital unit at Camp Fremont in Menlo Park, very convenient for him.  This could have made it possible for him to continue to keep up with his studies.  After some months of service Tresidder was transferred to the air service of the Signal Corps as a flying cadet. At the end of a year of training he was graduated from the school of military aeronautics at the University of California. This was followed by training in Texas and Illinois he was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was serving with a bombing squadron in Houston, Texas, when the war ended. 
      It does not appear he would have been working in, or spending time in Yosemite with this schedule.  In the article, published in The Stanford Daily, Volume 129, Issue 5, 3 February 1956, the following untruth appears. "In 1922, because of circumstances ensuing from deaths in the Curry family, Tresidder turned aside from his medical courses to become associate manager of the Yosemite camp. But as the camp closed each fall during the years 1922 to 1925 lie would return to his studies at the medical school. In 1925 the Secretary of the Interior caused a consolidation of all the companies operating in the park. Tresidder became president of the consolidated company known as the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. He held this position for the remaining 23 years of his life."
        This statement is a fabrication of the fact, ignoring a parallel story on control of Camp Curry and the Curry Camping Company which transferred the operation, and its profits to Stephen Mather. 
      This photo was purchased by our forensic expert, Charlotte, from the collection of Mildred Clemens, a graduate of UC Berkeley who used Pillsbury photos for her lectures.  The collection was mainly comprised of photos made by Pillsbury and this one accords with his practice of circulating between the camping places in Yosemite Valley to take photos which were later purchased by the people photographed at the Pillsbury Studio.  Several things about this photo are striking.  First, Sigma Kappa is a sorority and at the time this photo would have been taken there was an active chapter at UC Berkeley.  Three os the standing figures in the middle include one who appears to be wearing a Marine uniform.  The two men to the right appear to be wearing similar clothing, which includes a badge visible on the sleeve of the man farthest right.  None of the figures appear to be particularly cheerful except the one who is likely Donald Tresidder, who is holding on to the sign for Sigma Kappa.  
      There is no doubt Donald Tresidder worked for David Curry in Yosemite in 1916.  There is no doubt Tresidder portrayed the male lead in Legend of the Lost Arrow, filmed and produced by Arthur C. Pillsbury while employed at the Pillsbury Studio in 1916.   
      The film was a short feature, running about 20 minutes.        In the opinion of an experienced film maker this took about a month for shooting and production.   Pillsbury carried out post-production at the Pillsbury Studio in Old Village.  
      In the photo to the right you see, starting to the left, Arthur Francis Pillsbury, about 12, standing in back, Julius Boysen,   Superintendent Lewis, Don Tresidder, Mary Curry, in back to the right of Curry, Arthur C. Pillsbury, then three women we are still researching.  
       AC Pillsbury had long since built a delay device timer which allowed him to be in the photo after setting it up.  
       Was the issue which caused Tresidder's firing really have something to do with his daughter?   David Curry died of gengrene caused by ignoring an injury on his toe on April 30, 1917.  At this point in time Curry is at war with Stephen Mather and the Mather forces in the National park Service.  Pillsbury sold a film to David Curry which Curry used as part of his presentations arguing against the monopoly being pushed by Stephen Mather.  
       The tourist season in Yosemite started in May.   
By 1916 many Americans believed was was coming and were preparing.  The need for trained pilots was widely known.  In California the Pacific Aero Club existed and was involved with diverse project carried out by their members.  This included designing aeroplanes, selling parts for aeroplanes, and flying meets, for instance the 1910 Los Angeles Air Show at Dominguez Hills, south of Los Angeles.  The logo on the shirt of the two young men, reclined in the front, is very similar to other logos used by flying clugs at the time.  The photo might also date from some other period when Tresidder was able to spend time in Yosemite. The young man on the Right does bear a striking resemblence to Tresidder.  
At age 20, Donald had already started college at the University of Chicago and would transfer his studies to Stanford, entering in the class of 1917, majoring in medicine.  In 1919 Donald would graduate with a A. B. degree from Stanford and begin medical school at Cooper's, which is now the Stanford Medical Center.   

Don and Oliene's father, Dr.  James Treloar Tresidder, was a prosperous physician who was born in Cornwall, England and came to the United States and there attended medical school.  The initial stay at Camp Curry might have been necessary to extend their stay in the Valley.   Since there are no reports to be found on Oliene, it is impossible she was occupying herself with the delights of getting to know Yosemite.  But she could also have met her future husband, Lucio Mancilla Mintzer.  Several years her senior, Lucio was from a prominent Marin family who had made their fortunes in the construction industry.  
Camp Curry was know for its multiple innovations, especially beginning in 1915 and through the period when the famous Yosemite destination was still managed by first David Curry and then by Foster Curry.  The group of young men below could be affiliated with either Stanford or Berkeley.


Dr. Tresidder died August 27,  1922 and his obituary, appearing in the Tipton reported, " Dr. J. T. Tresidder, well known physician, died at his home in North West street, this city, last night at 11 o'clock, his death following a prolonged illness, and his demise was not unlooked for, as he bad been in a most critical state of health for many weeks. The funeral services will be held at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday afternoon at the late home. The burial will be in Tipton. Dr. Tresidder is survived by the widow and two children, the children being Don, of California, and Oliene, of this city. Another daughter, Mrs. Roy Tope, died several years ago. Dr. Tresidder was a native of England, being born at Falmouth in December 1864, and came to this country in 1887. He attended medical college at St. Louis and it was while in this institution that he met his future wife. Miss Sarah Daunt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andy Daunt pioneer residents of Tipton county. They were married April 15, 1890. Following his course in medical school Dr. Tresidder came to Tipton county and was associated in the management of the Daum sanitarium, west of the city, being connected with this institution for several years, and also engaged in the practice. Later he moved to Tipton and entered actively into the practice, enjoying a very large business fcr many years, and it was due, in a great measure, to the demands made upon him in a professional way, that under-minded his health and finally rendered him an invalid.
          Dr. Tresidder was a member of the Masonic lodge, and he was of the Episcopalian faith In his religious views. Dr. Tresidder was of a most genial nature, and his friends were legion, always being of that genial temperament which made him most popular with all who knew him. Among the papers of Dr. Tresidder some data was found giving more details as to his life, showing that he was born at Carmlke, Parish of Wendrow, near Helston and Falmouth Cornwall, Eng., in September 1864. When he was a mere child his parents moved to north of England. He left England in September, 1887, coming to this county, but he returned to England in March of 1895, going to visit his parents, Thomas Tresidder and wife and other members of the family. His mother died in the north of England in 1896, and his father died at Falmouth a few years later. One brother and two sisters survive, they living in England. Dr. Tresidder was of ancient English stock, his mother being a relative of the Prince of Wales. Dr. Tresidder returned to America in 1896 and took up the practice at the Daum sanitarium. He was then united in marriage to Sarah in 1890, and that year moved to Warsaw, where he had charge of a sanitarium for two years, after which he returned to Tipton and was active in the practice here until his health failed a number of months ago."

            Don Tresidder returned to Tipton from California.  He served in the military, receiving training as a pilot.  After this interruption he reendered college at Stanford in 1918 for the expressed purpose of obtaining a degree in medicine.  This could have been an agreement with his father, who agreed to fund his education if  he went to medical school.