Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Author, pianist and spiritualist. Second cousin to Benjamin H. Grierson.

Born Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard, and known as Jesse Shepard, he adopted his mother's family name in 1899.

From the description of Papers, 1889-1927. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 32363842

Biographical / Historical Notes

Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard (1848-1927) was a musician, author, lecturer, spiritualist, and self-proclaimed seer. While living in London in 1896, Jesse Shepard took the pen name Francis Grierson (Grierson being his mother’s maiden name), to which many of his works are credited. Shepard was born in Birkenhead, England on September 18, 1848. When he was six month old his parents immigrated to America and in 1849 settled in Sangamon County, Illinois. In 1858, while living in Alton, Illinois, Shepard was present at the last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. From 1859 to 1862 he lived in St. Louis and served as a page for General John C. Fremont. While living in Niagara Falls with his family in 1863, Shepard had the opportunity to play the piano and discovered his musical talents. Prior to 1887, Shepard traveled extensively performing throughout the United States and Europe at the patronage of his admirers who were often prominent writers, artists, intellectuals and politicians. Shepard received notoriety as a master of piano improvisation performing at famous salons and for European royalty. While in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1871 Shepard received instruction in holding séances furthering his interest in mysticism and Spiritualism.

In 1887, Shepard and his close friend and personal assistant Waldemar Tonner moved to San Diego and, with the financial support of William and John High, built a Queen Anne style mansion they named Villa Montezuma. While living at Villa Montezuma, Shepard hosted many of his own salons entertaining prominent guests and fellow Spiritualists with his musical talents.

Shepard left San Diego for Europe in 1890 to focus on his writing. While living in London, he wrote poetry and eight books including "Modern Mysticism" (1899), "The Celtic Temperament" (1901), "Parisian Portraits" (1910), "The Humor of the Underman" (1911), "The Invincible Alliance" (1913) and his most famous work, "The Valley of Shadows" (1909). Shepard contributed poems, articles, and essays to various publications during this time. In addition to Francis Grierson, Shepard also used the pen name Judah P. Benjamin at least once for the publication of his poetry.

In 1919, Shepard lectured on Theosophy in Toronto. In 1920 Shepard settled in Los Angeles where he lived with Waldemar Tonner for the remainder of his life. On May 29, 1927 at the age of 79, he died while giving a piano recital at his home.

Much research has been done on Shepard. Harold Simonson conducted research at the Illinois State Historical Society and Library for his biography of Jesse Shepard titled, "Francis Grierson" (1966). Other research on Shepard’s life was undertaken by Clare Crane during the restoration of Villa Montezuma in the 1970s.

From the guide to the Jesse Shepard Papers, 1868-1959, (San Diego History Center Document Collection)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, March 11, Mill House, Radclive Near Buckingham [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, April 16, 1913, Twickenham, London [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Teasdale, Sara, 1884-1933. Papers of Sara Teasdale [manuscript], 1888-1934 (bulk 1905-1933). University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Papers, 1889-1927. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, March 7, Mill House, Radclive Near Buckingham [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, [Between 1913 and 1927]. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, October 20, Twickenham, England [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 7, the Trandell, New York City [to] Mrs. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, November 1, Twickenham, England [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 7, the Trandell, New York City [to] Mrs. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Jesse Shepard Papers, 1868-1959 San Diego History Center Document Collection
referencedIn Björkman, Edwin, 1866-1951. Edwin Björkman papers, 1855-1954 (bulk 1907-1954) [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, July 19, Twickenham, England [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 27, 1903, Richmond, London [to] Eitor of The Arena, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, December 18, Turckenham, England [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Shepard family. Letters to Benjamin and Alice Grierson, 1858-1890. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 7, the Tradell, London, England [to] Mrs. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, 1910-1920, Richmond, London [to] Mrs. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 11, 1909, Mill House, Radclive, Near Buckingham [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 26, the Grandell [to] Mrs. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
referencedIn Papers, 1897-1930. Houghton Library
creatorOf Mary Hunter Austin Collection Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, October 16, Twickenham, London [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
referencedIn Scheffauer, Herman George, 1878-1927. Herman George Scheffauer papers, 1893-1926. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, May 15, Turckenham, England [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Newspaper Clipping, August 27, Mill House, Radclive Near Buckingham [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927. Letter, April 26, 1910, Twickenham, London [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island, New York] / Francis Grierson. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abemelik, Princess person
associatedWith Ahna, Pauline de person
associatedWith Alden, Ada person
associatedWith Austin, Mary Hunter, 1868-1934. person
associatedWith Bazalgette, Leon, 1873-1928 person
associatedWith Begas, Mrs. person
associatedWith Behymer, L. E. person
associatedWith Bell, Edward Price, 1869-1943 person
associatedWith Berkow, Karl person
associatedWith Biedma, Patrocinio person
associatedWith Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914? person
associatedWith Björkman, Edwin, 1866-1951. person
associatedWith Bleichroeder, Harriet person
associatedWith Bonaparte, Marie, Princess, 1882-1962 person
associatedWith Bonaparte, Roland, prince, 1858-1924 person
associatedWith Bornier, Henri de, vicomte, 1825-1901 person
associatedWith Bourget, Paul, 1852-1935 person
associatedWith Bragdon, Claude Fayette, 1866-1946 person
correspondedWith Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962 person
associatedWith Broglie, Duc de person
associatedWith Cadwallader, Sylvanus, 1825 or 6- person
associatedWith Calcar, Elise van, 1822-1904 person
associatedWith David, Samuel person
associatedWith Dawson, Miles person
associatedWith Delaporte, V. (Victor), 1846-1910 person
associatedWith Diane, comtesse, 1829-1899 person
associatedWith Dunbar, William person
associatedWith Dyck, Ernest van person
associatedWith Editor of The Arena, 1852-1940, person
associatedWith Flower, B. O., (Benjamin Orange), 1866-1918. person
associatedWith Grierson, Benjamin Henry, 1826-1911, person
associatedWith Herron, George person
associatedWith Holmes, Augusta Mary Anne, 1847-1903 person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964 person
associatedWith Howe, Edith person
associatedWith James, William, 1842-1910 person
associatedWith La Follette, Fola, 1882-1970 person
associatedWith La Rochefoucauld, Antoine de, Comte person
associatedWith La Roche-Guyon, Duc de person
associatedWith La Rouche-Guyon, Douairiere de, duchess person
associatedWith Lavedan, Henri, 1859-1940 person
associatedWith Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943 person
associatedWith Loyson, Hyacinthe, 1827-1912 person
associatedWith Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron, 1803-1873 person
associatedWith MacKenzie, Cathinka, Madame person
associatedWith Macleod, Fiona, 1855-1905 person
associatedWith Maeterlinck, Maurice, 1862-1949 person
associatedWith Mailhac, Pauline person
associatedWith Mallarme, Stephane, 1842-1898 person
associatedWith Markham, Anna Catherine, 1859-1938, person
associatedWith Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940, person
associatedWith Mason, J. W. T. person
associatedWith Meschi, Edward person
associatedWith Miranda, Comtesse person
associatedWith Mistral, Fredric person
associatedWith Nilsen, Laurvik person
associatedWith Nilsson, Christine, 1843-1921 person
associatedWith O'Shaughnessy, Edith, 1870-1939 person
associatedWith Petrie, Ronald person
associatedWith Picard, Elise person
associatedWith Pius X, Pope, 1835-1914 person
associatedWith Roberts, 1892-1976 person
associatedWith Roux, Joseph person
associatedWith Scheffauer, Ethel Talbot person
associatedWith Scheffauer, Herman George, 1878-1927. person
associatedWith Schure, 1841-1929 person
associatedWith Sharp, William, 1855-1905 person
associatedWith Shepard family. family
associatedWith Shepard, Letitia person
associatedWith Simon, Jules, 1814-1896 person
associatedWith Simonson, Harold Peter, 1926- person
associatedWith Sinclair, May person
associatedWith Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968. person
associatedWith Spencer, Lilian White, 1876-1953 person
associatedWith Sterling, 1869-1926 person
associatedWith Suin, Diane Marie de person
associatedWith Sully Prudhomme, 1839-1907 person
associatedWith Swedenborg, Emanuel, 1688-1772. person
associatedWith Teasdale, Sara, 1884-1933. person
associatedWith Thackara, 1859-1915 person
associatedWith Theuriet, Andre, 1833-1907 person
associatedWith Thomas, Edith Matilda, 1854-1925 person
associatedWith Tonner, Lauritz Waldemar person
associatedWith Van Noppen, Leonard Charles, 1868-1935. person
associatedWith Vannutelli, Vincenzo, 1836-1930 person
associatedWith Verlaine, Paul, 1844-1896 person
associatedWith Wagner, Richard, 1813-1883 person
associatedWith Walter, Clark, 1846-1924 person
associatedWith Waterman, Robert person
associatedWith Watterson, Henry, 1840-1921 person
associatedWith Wendelstadt, La Baronne de person
associatedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 person
associatedWith Wiszniewska, Prince person
associatedWith Wiszniewska, Princess person
associatedWith Wolsley, Lord person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Illinois
Villa Montezuma (San Diego, Calif.)
Paris (France)
London (England)
Sangamon County (Ill.)
Los Angeles (Calif.)
San Diego (Calif.)
Subject
Poetry
Literature
Mysticism
Improvisation (Music)
Spiritualism
Writing
Piano
Theosophy
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1848-09-18

Death 1927-05-29

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6vm5533

Ark ID: w6vm5533

SNAC ID: 57004335