Ina Coolbrith (Smith) Coolbrith

Josephine Donna (Smith) Coolbrith (1841 - 1928)

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Josephine Donna (Ina Coolbrith) Coolbrith formerly Smith aka Carsley
Born in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 21 Apr 1858 (to 26 Dec 1861) in San Gabriel, Los Angeles, California, USAmap
[children unknown]
Died in Berkeley, Alameda, California, USAmap
Profile last modified 11 Jun 2019 | Created 10 Dec 2011
This page has been accessed 354 times.


Ina Coolbrith (Smith) Coolbrith is Notable.

Josephine was born in 1841 to Don Carlos Smith and Agnes Moulton Coolbrith Smith Pickett. Though born Josephine Donna Smith, after the death of her husband Robert Carsley, she chose to go by the name of Ina Coolbrith. Ina had been her nickname since childhood. Coolbrith was her mother's maiden name. She passed away in 1928.

Ina's father was the youngest brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Mormon Church.

Ina married Robert Carsley in 1858 and they were divorced in 1861. There was a male child born from this marriage, but he died young and there are no definite records of him, including his name. From what is known the child was probably born in early 1859 and died prior to Ina and Robert's divorce. From that time on she went by the name of Ina Donna Coolbrith.

As an adult Ina was responsible for caring for her mother, sister, and her sister's children. During this time she worked for the Oakland Public Library from its inception in 1878 until 1892. During that time she was a mentor to Jack London and Isadora Duncan.

From a very young age Ina enjoyed writing, especially poetry, which became her lifelong avocation. In 1915, during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, she was crowned with a laurel wreath and called "the loved, laurel- crowned poet of California". In 1919 Ina was confirmed as the first Poet Laureate of California.

During Ina's life she was a contemporary and friends with many well-known people such as Bret Harte, Joaquin Miller, Mark Twain, Gertrude Atherton, Charles Warren Stoddard, and others.

Ms. Coolbrith lived a long and interesting life starting in the early days of the Mormon Church. She traveled by wagon across country with her step-father, mother, sister, and twin step-brothers to southern California. Eventually she moved to the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area where she lived for many years. She lived through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake losing everything. She spent a few years in her "adopted state" of New York in her later years, but returned to California where she died in 1928 in Berkeley. [1]


  1. George, Aleta, "Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate" Shifting Plates Press, USA (2015)
  • George, Aleta, "Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate" Shifting Plates Press, USA (2015)
  • "California Marriages, 1850-1945," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), R. B. Carsley and Josephine Smith, 21 Apr 1858; citing San Gabriel, Los Angeles, California; FHL microfilm 1,033,132.

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Memories: 2

On 10 Dec 2011 Thomas Jones wrote:

On 10 Dec 2011 Thomas Jones wrote:

AKA: Ina Coolbrith

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Ina Coolbrith by comparing test results with other carriers of her ancestors' mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Ina Coolbrith:

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On 4 Sep 2018 at 20:19 GMT Robin (Dodge) Shaules wrote:

Smith-163243 and Smith-23671 appear to represent the same person because: they have the same parents and siblings. They also have the same biographies.

Ina Coolbrith is 19 degrees from Cari Starosta, 20 degrees from Marie-Antoinette d'Autriche and 15 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Librarians | Poets Laureate | Poets | Notables