Corona, CA: Duchess reigned in Corona

Janet Gould was called "the Duchess" because of her regal bearing and her many contributions to her city, her state and their history.

Photos show Gould in the attire of a well-dressed woman of the early 19th Century. She wore this costume when she spoke to different organizations, as she often did.

Her black dress was marked by a delicate pattern. She wore the mantilla in her hair that supported a black lace scarf. Her arms carried golden bracelets that jangled when she gestured as often happened during her talks.

She was born Janet Williams on a plantation in Howard County, Missouri , in 1878. Her father was a banker who served a term as treasurer of the state of Missouri.

Early in life Janet became interested in history and it became a life-long interest for her. She majored in history and English before marrying Walter M. Dean, who died in 1935. She married a second time to Chester Gould, who died in 1952.

Twice a widow, and living in Corona, she became fascinated with the Indian artifacts found in the area, the canyons around Corona, and the Spanish and Mexican heritage.

Gould did research in such libraries as the Huntington Library in San Marino and the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. She wrote articles and poems. She shared her accumulated knowledge by giving talks to clubs and church groups.

The Duchess title came to her, and no one knows who had originated it. But people in Corona generally accepted the title, though unofficial, as appropriate to this energetic and dignified lady.

Gould, alias the Duchess, was most famous for her work in researching and publicizing the history of Corona. For the 50th anniversary of the city in 1936, Gould wrote and directed a pageant that was staged by schoolchildren.

The city enjoyed the pageant and people in Corona talked about it for years.

Gould used her influence to secure the establishment of state historical markers in and around Corona.

One of them marks the site of the old Butterfield Stage Station on the old Corona-Elsinore Road.

The Duchess died in July 1964, at age 86. She had lived in Corona for 54 years. She was recognized as the historical authority on Corona and environs.

She was often contacted by government officials for information relating to local history. Many of her papers and artifacts were donated to the Corona Public Library.

She left one son, one daughter, a stepdaughter, and five grandchildren as well as five great-grandchildren. Corona's Duchess made more of a contribution to her city and state than do many of the officially-titled duchesses of Europe make to their lands.

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