The Life and Times of George Monroe and His Family

By Tom Bopp

“Just as there are the greatest of soldiers and sailors, artists and mechanics at times
 so there are greater stage drivers than their fellows and George Monroe was the greatest of all.”

– A.H. Washburn, Supt., Yosemite Stage & Turnpike Company

“I have by now recovered enough from celebrating the holidays with extended family … to be able to finish your superb book about George Monroe and his extended family. Here are my comments, hoping you won't mind the format.

General: unusual and compelling example of local history to illustrate temper of the times, with threads to state, region, & nation (including "famous passengers," also references to racial prejudice and other lingering wounds of the Civil War); research is well anchored in a variety of sources, with effective use of quotations from newspapers and diaries (e.g., pp.102-3, Taylor's marvelous account of George, his craft, and mountain stage driving); characters and their actions are plausibly reconstructed when no hard evidence is available (e.g., "George would have [seen or done this or that]."

Monroe & Grant: after hints of their connection along the way, chapter 6 makes it come alive, indeed the climax of the story, with a moving description of George's "place in history," sitting next to Grant in 1879 on the front bench of the stage, his place too.
Yosemite: most Ango-European Americans who know "Yosemite" associate its early years with John Muir; now I also know Yosemite through the eyes of George Monroe, his family and associates; next time I stay at the Wawona Hotel, I'll imagine seeing both Grant and Monroe there; next time I stop near Tunnel View on my way down to the Valley, I'll hike uphill to Fort Monroe.

Thank you, Tom, for Yosemite Stage Driver … “

Gaines Post, Jr. 1/16/24
[Author/Historian Gaines Post, Jr., was educated at Cornell, Oxford (Rhodes scholar) and Stanford. He taught modern European history at the University of Texas, Austin, and at Claremont McKenna College, where he also served as dean of faculty].
“I loved this book. The research is excellent and the writing smooth, accessible, and often witty. The fascinating story of George Monroe is told against the background of the history of early transportation into Yosemite Valley, the evolution of the iconic Wawona Hotel, and the settlers and eminent visitors to the region. I found the story of Monroe’s parents especially interesting and touching. As I step into the lobby of the Wawona Hotel today, I look at George Monroe’s photo by the entrance and see the hotel, the Park and all the surroundings in a totally different light.”

Federico Peinado 10/31/23
[Professor of English and ESL, Santa Barbara City College]
"A very well written, carefully documented story."
Dr. John Oliver Wilson 4/21/21
[School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley]