Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Horace Marden Albright - His Motives​​
He did it for the love of Stephen T. Mather and the
​one woman he ever loved, Grace Noble Albright


Albright wrote this book toward the end of his life with the assistance of his daughter, Marian Albright Schenck.  Each of the sections copied here illustrates in Horace’s own words, his values and motives.  He is essentially a good person whose loyalty to individuals causes him to make choices which violated the ethical behavior expected of him as a person and as an attorney.  He was a perfect and essential find for Mather, who, as a psychopath, certainly recognized this.  By introducing him to the prerogative driven world of ‘the elite’ Mather hooked him for life. 
     Below are excerpts from the book which provide insight into the emotional bedrock which took him in the direction compelled by Mather.  

Chapter 1: Boyhood Days in the Owens Valley, 1890-1908

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"Beyond the High Sierra and near the Nevada line lies Inyo County, California—big, wild, beautiful, and lonely. In its center stretches the Owens River Valley, surrounded by the granite walls of the Sierra Nevada to the west and the White Mountains to the east. Here the remote town of Bishop hugs the slopes of towering Mount Tom, 13,652 feet high, and here I was born on January 6, 1890. When I went to college, I discovered that most Californians did not know where Bishop was, and I had to draw them a map.

Long hours were spent in school. We had only one elementary school and one high school, the only one in Inyo County, which was as big as the state of Massachusetts.

We didn't think we were poor, didn't know we were poor, but we certainly were. Bishop had no autos, no power, no lights, no sewers, and no water systems, but we never missed them because we never had them. I don't remember anybody complaining about it either. They were good people, and nothing really bad happened. We never locked doors, and I don't remember any stealing. Once in a while we had a killing, but somehow I don't recall who was killed—or why!

My mother, Mary Marden Albright, was something different. She was born in Mokelumne Hill and had been honed in tough times in the rough mining camps of California and Nevada. However, she was a rare woman of that period. She had gone to college in Napa.

My mother ran the family with an iron hand. After her three sons spent long hours in school, there were chores around the house and tough physical work outdoors, washing windows and dishes, scrubbing floors, beating carpets, chopping wood, and doing the gardening. Every other waking minute was devoted to education and learning. And because my father was such a gentle, kindly man, she felt she had to be more aggressive.

My dad was a very popular man in town because of his involvement in local activities and his endearing personality. He was a quiet fellow, very gentle, very, very friendly, and awfully hard working. He was a handsome man, fairly tall, always lean but muscular. He had a mustache but was getting bald at an early age.

Besides working hard from dawn to dark, Dad belonged to every society and lodge in town and conducted most of the rituals at them because of his unusual memory. My mother used to say to him, "You belong to so many lodges you never lodge at home."

Break – Section talks about the Albright parents, who were good, honest people determined to get an education for all of their sons.  Despite the problems they faced, they did so. 

"The next year, my dad took me camping to Twin Lakes along with two other men and a boy my age named Billy. When Billy and I set off to fish on the lake, the boat proved to have holes in it and nearly sank. Fortunately, we made it back to shore. I couldn't swim then and, though afraid of water ever after, never did learn to swim.

While up near Mammoth Lake, we met Robert L. P. Bigelow, a ranger for the old General Land Office in the Sierra Forest Reserve, which extended south fromYosemite Valley to theTehachapi. There was, as yet, no United States Forest Service. In 1904 Bigelow took me along when he made his inspection trip north into Yosemite National Park. We went through Mono Pass and Bloody Canyon into Tuolomne Meadows, but never reached, or even saw from above, the Yosemite Valley. We saw the beauty of the Minaret-Devils Postpile region, an area that was removed a year later from the park. I never forgot that and tried all my life to get the lands restored to Yosemite.

We camped at Red Meadows, near Devils Postpile, with U.S. cavalrymen detailed to protect Yosemite Park from trespass by sheepherders and their flocks. They had just put fifty to seventy-five miles between some shepherds and their sheep. I remember noting some objects high in the pine trees. I asked what they were and was told they were sheep that had been "dressed out" in sacks and hoisted high in the trees to keep the meat cool and fresh. The sergeant said he thought they had enough sheep meat to last the rest of the summer.

[The actions of the cavalry taught him government can engage in asset forfeiture, stealing, at their discretion.]

[On a trip with his mother Horace is impressed by army officers and becomes determined to attend West Point.  He fails to accomplish this goal.]

Chapter 2: University of California, 1908-13

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[Horace works hard at Berkeley finding part time jobs, often manual labor, to pay his way.]

"I was never much at athletics. After toying with football, track, and rowing, I came to the conclusion that there were too many fellows far better than I and I really didn't have the time, as I had to work whenever and wherever I could. Anyway, in those days, being a successful athlete brought you only local fame and could get you flunked out. I decided to limit my activities to military science, which I really liked.

The military was a good experience for me, for I was really a very shy fellow, inclined to hold back, and found it hard to get acquainted with strangers—especially women. Military work gave me confidence, most particularly when I had the duty to command even a squad.

I became a cadet in the University of California Cadet Regiment and, by graduation, rose to the rank of captain, I commanded a company of one hundred men and served as an instructor to freshmen cadets. I added to my interest in military tactics by joining the First Company Field Artillery, California National Guard, at the Presidio. I was made a second lieutenant and could now wear a sword at drill time."

[It is likely Albright found the military organization of the National Park Service he was pivotal in creating an attractive and useful environment.  For this, he accepted orders and gave orders.]

"When the new semester started, I was pretty sure that I wanted to be a lawyer, so I loaded up on three jurisprudence courses as well as Latin, economics, history, and the military. Being house manager of Del Rey was a tough job because the limit for room and board payments was twenty-jive dollars per member per month. Right in the middle of the semester the boys would decide to have an extra dance without additional levies. Some fellow would invariably shout, "Aw, pay it out of the deficit." This would overrun the budget. Then I had to use my imagination to reduce the debt by having the butcher throw in a liver or two for a customer's dog. I told him we had six dogs, so I received a lot of extra liver for the boys. I had taken a great interest in the 1910 campaign for governor of California. My granddad Marden was happy when Hiram Johnson won the governorship and invited me to go with him to Sacramento to see Johnson inaugurated at noon on January 1, 1911."

[This is the kind of petty theft, which is certainly common, but clearly it did not weigh on Albright’s conscience. He is enabling the irresponsible behavior of his friends instead of pointing this out to them.  He will do the same with Mather with deadly results for others.]

[During this time Albright meets Grace Noble, with whom he falls in love and will marry.  This part of the story, written after her death, it touching.  He loves her deeply.]

"She really shocked me with that, and, not looking at Grace, I answered, "I have no date with her, but I wish I had one." And I astonished myself even more when I turned to her and asked, "Can I see you some evening before I go?" I was stunned when she replied that she would be glad to see me, and we agreed on a night for me to come to her home.

With this encouragement and my newly found self-assurance with the Washington position, I thought I was cool and calm as I walked up to her front door to keep our date just two nights before I was to leave Berkeley. There was only one problem. I was so excited that I showed up on her doorstep almost a half-hour early. I must have run part of the way or I was very nervous, for she later told me that I was perspiring so profusely that I took the varnish off the chair I sat on all evening.

I met her parents and sister, and then, almost on cue, they quietly withdrew, leaving us alone in the parlor. Grace was genuinely friendly and cordial. I was hardly myself, I was so thrilled just to be with her. I felt as if I either babbled or sat as silent as the sphinx and gaped at her. For me, it was an enchanted evening. All my dreams were coming true. Grace Noble was more beautiful than ever. She was even more charming, intelligent, and delightful than I had imagined. The hours flew by. It was after midnight when her mother appeared to suggest that I might be getting too tired, what with my long trip ahead.

As I left Grace, she expressed hopes for my success and added, "Drop me a line sometime, Mr. Albright."

"I managed to blurt out, "Thanks for a lovely evening and good-bye, Miss Noble." I cursed myself all the way home for being such a clod, I knew I was already deeply in love with Grace, and here I had probably wrecked any hope I had to make a good impression on her.

Several days later, at 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday, May 27, 1913, as I was about to leave for Washington from the Oakland Sixteenth Street Station, I discovered that my train was late, so I used the time to phone Grace and asked once again if she really meant it when she asked me to write her. She assured me she did. When my train stopped in Ogden, I mailed my first postcard to her, and when I changed trains in Chicago, I sent her another one. After I arrived in Washington, I wrote a sixteen-page letter postmarked June 1, 1913, 11:00 P.M."

[Horace Albright did not possess a deep intellect.  His entire life he was moved by emotions.  His loyalty to Stephen Mather was absolute and caused him to break the law and use his life to conceal Mather’s criminal actions, of which he was entirely aware.  His love for his wife, Grace, was also deep and absolute.  Mather used this to move Albright into an unquestioning loyalty to himself.  It was Mather's kindness for Grace which blinded Horace. Also, in this way, Albright could give Grace the kind of life which would make her happy and ensure she returned his love.]

Horace Marden Albright - 1912

Grace Noble Albright