09 February 2016

Before Olinda: The Shanklin Ranch

As noted before, the area that became Olinda and extended into Carbon Canyon as far as the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino boundary, just east of today's Sleepy Hollow neighborhood in Chino Hills was considered public land from the Spanish period of California onward through the Mexican era.

Public lands became important as common grazing lands between ranches like Chino, Cajon de Santa Ana, La Puente, CaƱada de la Brea, La Habra and others in the area, so that cattle could be moved from the ranches to the public lands to equalize the effect of grazing on grasses and other plant material.

James W. Shanklin's listing in the Great Register of Voters, San Francisco, 1866.  Click on any image to see the set in enlarged views in a separate window.
Once the American conquest of Mexican California took place in 1846-47, there were no immediate changes to that status, because the regional economy was still cattle-dominated and the ranches in full operation.

By the late 1860s, however, matters had changed considerably.  The end of the Gold Rush, an economic downturn in the late 1850s, floods in 1861-62, and drought to 1865 all contributed to the decline of the cattle industry and to the loss of many of the ranches that existed to serve it.  A new era was at hand, led by agriculture, including vineyards and orange groves, primarily.

In the late 1850s, President James Buchanan reversed the policy of Franklin Pierce and ordered tens of millions of acres of federal public land placed on the market--this followed the Depression of 1857 and a need for increased revenue was part of Buchanan's decision.  Between 25 and 30 percent of this land was in California alone.

James W. Shanklin's entry in the Great Register of Voters, Alameda County, 1870.
A problem was that surveys of California lands under the auspices of the federal General Land Office were proceeding slowly as land claims from Spanish and Mexican grants on ranchers was also moving through the courts at a glacial pace.

The state legislature passed an act in 1863 allowing persons interested in acquiring public land to apply to the state, which would then check with the federal land register.  If the land in question was determined to be open, not mineral land, or subject to any legitimate claim, the surveyor general would do a recheck.  If the land was considered available, it was up to the state to issue a patent, after one had been given from the federal government to the state.

Finally, public land sales, mostly to speculators and wealthy land owners with a great deal of pull, accelerated in the latter part of the Sixties.  By 1869, public land sales in California were more than those of all other states in the Union combined and another 8 million acres of lands initially set aside for schools, colleges, and as swamp lands, were being put on the market, as well.

Photo from James W. Shanklin obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 March 1902.
It was in this context that former public lands in northeastern Orange County became available.  In a 1916 court case, Stutsman v. Olinda Land Company, the judge observed that property later part of the Olinda Ranch was composed of lands 'in lieu of a certain thirty-sixth section given to the state [by the federal government] under general grant for school purposes."

The plaintiff in this case, W. A. Stutsman, argued that the acquisition of the land at issue in this case was acquired by James White Shanklin in 1868 from a deputy federal surveyor, Henry Hancock, and that the property, being mineral land, could not be sold nor could Shanklin, who Stutsman argued was the state surveyor general, acquire the land.  Unfortunately for Stutsman, his facts were somewhat off base.  The judge, moreover, ruled that "the conveyance to Shanklin came from the state of California and not from the {federal] government" rendering Stutsman's argument moot and the matter was dismissed.

What did happen to the land that became Olinda, though, is that these former public lands were assumed by the federal government after the conquest of California, were in limbo as surveys were being completed and land grants sorted out, and then assigned to the state for sale by the late 1860s.

In early March 1874, Shanklin acquired 4,360 acres in the former public lands of northeastern Orange County for $1,000 from C.G. Jones and his associates.  Notably, Shanklin also filed an "agreement as to conveyance of lands" with Hancock, who was no longer a surveyor but an attorney specializing in land cases,  A week later, Hancock and others then conveyed their one-third interest in the 4,360 acres to Shanklin for $2,500.

Los Angeles Herald, 6 March 1874.
James W. Shanklin was born 5 August 1824 near Rochester, New York and worked on the family farm before briefly becoming a teacher and then studied the law in Rochester.  When the Gold Rush erupted, he followed the teeming hordes to California and mined on the American River.  He also participated in a lumber business.

In 1864, President Lincoln appointed Shanklin as the receiver in the federal land office in San Francisco just as California's public lands were beginning to be transferred to the state.  He then became the register in the same office, the same position mentioned above.  In 1870, Shanklin moved to Oakland, where he served on that city's Board of Education and then its city council during the following decade.  It was, of course, during these years that Shanklin acquired his property in what later became Orange County.  The Anaheim Gazette in its last issue of 1875 mentioned his "sheep camp," with the raising of these animals growing in significance in those years.

Shanklin then moved into state politics when he was elected in 1879 to be the state surveyor general, responsible for the surveying and tracking of the transfer of lands from the federal to the state government.  Shanklin served in this position from 1880 to 1883, when he decided not to run for reelection and returned to private life.

Los Angeles Herald, 19 March 1882.
He did, however, add to his ranch holdings in what became Olinda.  In March 1882, Charles M. Laughlin sold to Shanklin additional acreage of an unstated amount (lots and sections were, however, listed, including areas within and to the east and south of future Olinda) for $6,000.

Early in 1883, Shanklin, having just left office, authored a bill to be introduced to the state legislature by Reginaldo F. del Valle of Los Angeles, concerning the better regulation of water for irrigation.  This was a contentious issue, concerning whether riparian water rights to be available to any land owners along the course of the river, stream, creek, or wash was to be superior over the right for nearby landowners to draw water by means of irrigation.

The Shanklin family's census listing, Oakland, 1900.
In semi-arid southern California, especially, the question of water rights and access was not only controversial but could lead to violence.  In Shanklin's case, he clearly needed irrigation to draw water from the Santa Ana River to his ranch.  In 1878, he was the president of the new Cajon Irrigation Company, formerly the North Anaheim Canal Company.  That November a new flume was completed, which was cause for a large celebration (documented in the accompanying photo from the collection of the Anaheim Public Library) and documented in the Anaheim Gazette and reprinted in the Los Angeles Herald.

Shanklin could not be present at the event, but had a letter read by W.M. McFadden, who then discussed the origins of the irrigation canal project in early 1875, just after Shanklin's purchase of his ranch and of a state law which cleared the way for such work.  The North Anaheim Canal Company was not named in McFadden's address, but the financial problems of continuing the work after eight miles were dug were noted.  Then, in 1877, a new effort was launched by seven men, (in addition to Shanklin and McFadden, there were names like Crowther and Gilman involved--the names of the latter three memorialized in Placentia street names today), with the 8-foot deep, 15-miles long ditch capable of irrigating 10,000 acres finished at a cost of $50,000.

The celebration of the completion of Flume #7, Cajon Irrigation Company, November 1878.  From the collection of the Anaheim Public Library.
Problems ensued, however, internally and externally and involving lawsuits, so in 1884, a new enterprise, the Anaheim Union Water Company, was created to embrace Cajon and two rivals.

In 1886, Shanklin and R.J, Northam were the heads of the Anaheim Anti-Riparian Irrigation Club, as listed in the Proceedings of the State Irrigation Convention.  That same year, an address to the State Irrigation Committee included this caustic commentary
J.W. Shanklin, once Surveyor-General of this State, ‘hogged’ more water in Los Angeles county than he has land to cover, or has ‘hogged’ more land than he has water to cover, we know not which, is up at Sacramento ‘bellyaching’ against the irrigation bills.  The burden of his song is that the laws proposed don’t fit his case.  Shanklin ought to buy an uninhabited island and move on it.  Then he could pass laws to suit his own views. 
Another potential problem, it seems, had to do with land squatters.  In June 1883, the Los Angeles Herald published an editorial claiming that squatters from Las Bolsas, near the Pacific in modern Huntington Beach, were flocking to the Santa Ana Mountains because of reports of oil found there.

The paper noted that there were several large landowners in the general vicinity, including Shanklin, and that these men "will not stand any squatter sovreignty" and "will use their lands for pasturage at present" for cattle, horses and sheep.  Most relevantly, the Herald continued, "there is no water for their stock in that highland plateau at present."

Shanklin took to renting out a large portion of his holdings, said by the Gazette to amount to a substantial 12,000 acres.  One such advertisement, in the Herald in August 1884, sought someone to take a lease on 5,000 acres, being "a splendid place for hogs or sheep," but also having access to "a good ditch of running water," presumably the irrigation canal, near which were 73 acres of alfalfa.

Los Angeles Herald, 13 August 1884.
The following year, 1885, brought the direct connection of a transcontinental railroad to Los Angeles through the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line, which ran along the southern reaches of Shanklin's domain.  Within a couple of years, the famed "Boom of the Eighties" erupted in the region.  Thousands and thousands of emigrants flocked to the area, land prices skyrocketed, and wild speculation was the order of the day.

Looking to get in on the action, former Los Angeles newspaper publisher Jesse Yarnell and future Los Angeles mayor Henry T. Hazard purchased some of Shanklin's ranch in March 1887, during the frenzy of the boom, for $50,000.  Within five months, Yarnell and Hazard were part of a syndicate planning a "colony" on their new holdings.  As reported in the Herald on 26 August, the group looked at their "patch" of 750 acres, valued at $150 an acre, for the laying out of a townsite adjacent to the new railroad line.

Los Angeles Herald, 8 September 1887.
A few weeks later, in early September, the Richfield Land and Water Company was incorporated, including Yarnell; Hazard; H. C. Witmer, a banker, streetcar line owner and real estate developer; W.H. Bonsall, whose realty deals included the Centinela Land Company near today's Los Angeles International Airport and the Redondo Beach Company and who was a Los Angeles city council and Board of Public Works member; and George O. Ford, who became the company's agent and whose home in the historic Angelino Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles still stands.

The company then announced a new townsite to be called Richfield, but, by the end of 1887, the Herald reported, in its 23 December issue, that it "now goes by the name of Carlton."  Perhaps in the flurried activity of the boom the paper got its towns mixed up, as Richfield was located by the Santa Fe rail line in what is now the Atwood neighborhood of Placentia.

Los Angeles Herald, 23 December 1887.
The other issue is that Carlton was not in the Yarnell-Hazard tract at the southern portion of the Shanklin Ranch, but was in the northern section.  This was sold by Shanklin, also in March 1887, to William Hervey Bailey, who was fellow Oakland resident.

As extensively covered in this blog, Bailey was the son of Congregationlist missionaries on the Hawaiian island of Mau'i and he and his family resettled in Oakland in 1885.  Earlier posts suggested he bought the land "about 1888" that he renamed "Olinda" after his family's sugarcane plantation in Mau'i, which in turn was named for the famed Brazilian region of Olinda.

Instead, Shanklin executed an "agreement to convey ranch" of just a smidgen over 4,857 acres on 30 March 1887 to E.W. Blaisdell of Oakland.  Then, that same day, Blaisdell issued "an assignment of above" to Bailey.  It was later reported, in October, when Edward Record bought a one-third interest in this parcel from Bailey for $33,333.33 that the purchase price by Bailey was $70,000.

The Herald did go on to say that "Carlton is on the same slope with Whittier," that is along the foothills of the Puente Hills-Chino Hills range.  Carlton, moreover, was said to be one mile from the rail line and that a proposed railroad to run from Pomona through Tonner Canyon and then to the coast was to pass through it.

Los Angeles Herald, 12 January 1888.
Significantly, the paper reported "an oil well has been drilled in the foothills one mile north of the place, and oil is now flowing from it."  This was a foretaste of the great Olinda oil field that was still a decade away from developing.

The article went on to say that Carlton sat amidst a very fertile region, as
large flocks of sheep are no grazing upon it, and within one mile are corn fields and orchards of almost all kinds of fruits.  Hundreds of wagon loads of pumpkins and watermelons are lying uncared for in the fields, and hundreds of acres of alfalfa are growing in the neighborhood.
The piece ended by predicting that "a new town will soon—perhaps within ninety days—look down upon the distant sea from this sunny slope."

Los Angeles Herald, 28 January 1888.
In January 1888, the first advertisements for Carlton were taken out in the Herald and a sampling of those is offered here.  With the usual hype, hoopla and hysteria, Carlton was pumped up to be many things, including "The Greatest Town of the Age!"  It was anything but, as the boom soon went bust and whatever was actually built in Carlton was probably little more than window-dressing for a speculative project that typified the excesses of greater Los Angeles's first huge growth boom.

Los Angeles Herald, 3 February 1888.
As for Shanklin, his luck continued with selling off pieces of his ranch to a great profit.  Having already pocketed $50,000 in sales to Yarnell and Hazard and $70,000 to Bailey, he returned to the ranch in April 1888 after a trip back from the East and, as noted by the Herald, spent a couple of days "during which the [ex-Surveyor] General will close up some of his business interests in the Shanklin ranch, near Anaheim." Among these "closures" was the sale of more parcels in the Yarnell-Hazard subdivision.  Still, in the Directory of Grape Growers and Wine Makers of California for 1888, Shanklin was listed among the many local vineyardists.

An ad selling a piece of the former Shanklin Ranch, Santa Ana Register, 9 February 1920.
Yet, some of the former ranch property remained in his possession until his death in Oakland in February 1902 at the age of 77.  He left behind a son, Edwin, a mining engineer, an adopted daughter Georgia, and his wife, the former Adaline Slater.  When his widow died in early 1920, she still had some of the old ranch land in her estate, which her son, as executor, sold, ending the Shanklin family presence in the Olinda area after nearly a half-century.

02 February 2016

Carbon Canyon Crime Capsule #5: Murder at the Keene Ranch, 1931

The last post detailed some of the history of Arthur G. Keene and his Carbon Canyon ranch, located on the Orange County portion of the canyon.  Keene had a sister, Ruby, who had been married to Texas native and blacksmith Gilbert Francis Collie, born in 1879 in San Antonio.  The couple had two sons, Herbert and Gilbert, Jr., before the relationship disintegrated, probably due to physical abuse by Collie, and the pair divorced.

Collie who drifted considerably over the years, remarried and had another son in Medford, Oregon, before his violent tendencies manifested themselves again.  Collie wandered through several areas of Oregon and California, living in Kern and Imperial counties for spells and then at Bailey Flat in Madera County in late 1930, before showing up in Carbon Canyon early in 1931.

Interestingly, in February 1931, the El Rodeo Riding Club, which is now in Carbon Canyon, but at that time was a four-year old organization out in Placentia/Brea near Valencia Avenue and Imperial Highway, held a rodeo on the Flying Cow Ranch of Ed Gaines, where the Olinda Village community is within the canyon.

A press photo of Gilbert F. Collie, who killed George Walker in Carbon Canyon early in 1931.  Click on any image to see the set in enlarged views in a separate window.
The 24 February edition of the Santa Ana Register featured an article on the festivities, which included a lunch "at a beautiful site on the hillside" and then the group "moved up to the stockade on the mesa behind the ranch house" where a goat roping contest was held.  Then, a pair of potato sack races, one for men and the other for women, followed.

The next activity on the program featured bronco riding, with that entertainment provided by "California Jimmie" Murphy and "Snake Bite" Gilbert Collie.  After that part of the day's events, there was an exhibition of "broom polo."  Participants included club president and recently retired Orange County sheriff Sam Jernigan, John Wagner of an old Placentia famiy, Mr. and Mrs. Alonso Yorba, descendants of the founding family of the northeast Orange County region, and dozens of others.

What isn't known is whether "Snake Bite" Gilbert Collie was the father or his namesake son, who was 20 at the time of the rodeo.  Young Collie did live in the area later in the 1930s, and, in fact, was arrested in August 1939 at the Tidwell Oaks tavern in Sleepy Hollow--the building still stands as an apartment in a complex at the far eastern edge of the neighborhood.  A resident of south-central Los Angeles, Gilbert, Jr. was hauled in for disturbing the peace (drunkenness) and Chino's Justice of the Peace Edwin Rhodes, later writer of a 1950s history of Chino, sentenced him to a $30 fine or 15 days in the town hoosegow.

A portrait of Gilbert Collie, probably from about the 1910s from the family tree of "cfirstoffive" on Ancestry.com.
While Arthur Keene was not listed as a guest at the Gaines affair, his ranch was just a short distance to the southeast near the La Vida Mineral Springs and his ex-brother-in-law soon found the Keene Ranch to be a particularly useful place.

As reported nationwide in the press just prior to Thanksgiving, a remote shack on the Keene Ranch was found to be fully engulfed in flames on 20 November.  Workmen, apparently from the ranch, responded and a gruesome discovery was made.

The body of 35-year old George Myron Walker, a laborer from Santa Rosa from northern California, was found inside.  Walker's skull was crushed, the little building torched, and the victim's car stolen. One account suggested Walker had been murdered several weeks before, but others indicate it happened just before the shack was set afire.  Notably, one media account stated that investigators believed that Walker's death was an accidental one involving an unexpected fire in the cabin.

From the Santa Ana Register, 4 January 1932.
Shortly afterward, however, Collie was arrested by San Bernardino County Sheriff Department deputies, because he was suspected of a similar murder involving 20-year old Dale Slater, a carpenter who had recently moved to Los Angeles from The Dalles, a town east of Portland, Oregon, where Collie had also resided not long before.  Slater's mother had received a letter from Collie claiming that Slater was in Las Vegas on a drinking binge, but his mother insisted that her son never drank.  With this information, Collie was arrested drew a crude map indicating where Slater's body could found.

Acting on this, authorities traveled to Yermo, a town out in the desert beyond Barstow and found the young Slater's body dragged from a shallow grave alongside railroad tracks, his body partially consumed by animals.  As with Walker, Slater had been killed by a blow to the head and his body burned.

Collie, known as "Gorilla Man" for his strength (obviously built up from years in the blacksmith trade) and black beard, apparently was a man prone to sudden irrational bursts of anger, as displayed by the profanity-laced tirade he unleashed when told he would not accompany investigators to Yermo to search for Slater's body.  While in jail the day after his arrest, he blurted out that he had killed 11 or 12 people and would have an unnamed person who bought Slater's car from him reveal the locations of their bodies.

From the La Grande (Oregon) Observer, 11 January 1932.
Yet, Collie's bravado soon receded and he was said to have spent restless nights in jail, crying out "I want to die!  Let them hang me now!"  On the 27th, he employed a crude suicide attempt by slashing himself with the lid of a can of chewing tobacco, cutting his wrists and throat from ear-to-ear in the early morning hours.  Scrawled in his blood on the walls of his cell was:
There will be Hell around here tomorrow, but it will be in blood.
Though he was found unconscious, Collie was revived and a preliminary hearing postponed until he was healed up.  On 2 December, he pled not guilty on a first-degree murder charge in his  hearing before San Bernardino County Superior Court judge Charles Allison.

On the 4th, the Chino Champion published an article in which Collie stated to authorities that he was a brother-in-law to Arthur Keene, but Keene answered that the marriage to his sister and ended in 1914.  While Ruby did marry again, to Gilbert Jara, that marriage also dissolved and she, notably, retook the Collie surname when she was counted in the 1940 census.

From the Bend (Oregon) Bulletin, 16 March 1932.
The rancher said that he was unaware of what had happened on his property until oil workers from the nearby Olinda oil field woke him up at his cabin, which was about a quarter-mile from the burning shack, but "obscured" from it, probably by hillsides in the narrow canyon.

It does seem strange, though, that Collie attended, nine months prior, the El Rodeo event at the Gaines ranch just a short distance away without Keene knowing that his former brother-in-law was in the area.

In any case, Collie was adjudged sane by a panel and ordered to trial on 4 January 1932.  A week later, on the 11th, he was found guilty for the Slater murder--the Orange County district attorney waited to see the outcome in this case before filing for one in the Walker slaying--and sentenced to be hung.  It was reported that the condemned man uttered "an almost inaudible expression of 'thank you'" when the judgment was rendered.

Collie's registration card at San Quentin State Prison, 12 January 1932.
Collie's court-appointed attorneys offered no defense, perhaps on his insistence, but, after the state rested, the jury took nearly 12 hours to return their verdict.  Because there was no recommendation for sentence from them, the judge was required by law to render a death sentence.

Collie was then sent up to San Quentin State Prison and it was not long before reports came out that he had gone mad over fear of his execution, which, ironically, was scheduled for April Fool's Day.  On 16 March, a jury in San Rafael near the prison found him insane, sparing him, for the time being, from the gallows.

Collie was transferred to a state mental hospital in Mendocino County and was there about a year, when the medical superintendent petitioned Governor Rolph to change Collie's sentence to life imprisonment, determining that the prisoner had "regained his sanity."


From the San Bernardino Sun, 30 July 1937.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Stanley Mussell, however, argued, based on conversations he had with Collie, that the insanity fit was an act to avoid execution and said that Collie told him as much, though also said at one point that he'd welcome a return to death row so that they could "get it over with."

Around the first of July 1933, Collie was back at San Quentin and the governor met with the chief justice of the state Supreme Court for advice on how to proceed with the matter of the death sentence.  While state law required a return to death row for men determined to have regained their sanity, the governor was careful about stating that he could not justify execution for an insane man.

Given this, it is not surprising that Rolph, on 16 January 1934, ruled that Collie would be spared the hangman's noose and had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.   Interestingly, just the day before, on the 15th, Collie somehow got hold of a hacksaw and cut his way out of the Mendocino State Hospital, though he was quickly recaptured without incident.  An account in the Register noted the irony of the fact that Arthur Keene had only been recently adjudged insane by an Orange County Superior Court and sent to a mental hospital in Norwalk where he died three years later.

Collie's mug shot at Folsom Stte Prison, 19 August 1940.
Orange County, then, decided to try Collie for the murder of George Walker and, on 29 July 1937 he pled guilty for that crime.  Collie stated that there was a fight over spilled liquor as the men were on a drinking binge and that he grabbed a tree root to pummel Walker over the head.  He dragged the unconscious man into the abandoned shack and set it afire "and Walker burned to death," according to a San Bernardino Sun piece.  The paper also reported that "Collie smiled as he walked out of the courtroom, because he believed his plea of guilty had saved him from a sentence to be hanged."

Collie's listing in the Folsom Descriptive Register, 19 August 1940
Collie was returned to San Quentin with two life sentences to serve, though, in 1940, he was transferred to the state prison at Folsom.  He remained there quietly for sixteen years, until, suddenly, in late September 1956, he was back in the papers again.  Submitting his own handwritten writ of habeus corpus to the California Supreme Court, the 76-year old lifer wrote
I ask that the court set aside the commutation and that the death penalty be invoked to give me a more merciful and humane death by hanging, as provided by the original sentence . . . I am old, infirm, ready for death, and tired of this mockery of justice . . . I want freedom from this living death.
However, the court had previously stated that it had no authority to countermand Governor Rolph's 1934 order and, in this instance, returned Collie's writ without comment.  Three-and-a-half years later, on 31 March 1960, Collie finally died at Folsom, undoubtedly being, at 81 years of age, one of its oldest inmates.  He was interred at the Masonic Lawn Cemetery, just south of Sacramento's downtown.


From the Amarillo (Texas) Globe Times, 11 October 1956.
Canyons are often the place for all kinds of secret acts--lovers' rendezvous, testing out the limits of how fast a car can go, dumping unwanted trash and, on occasion, horrible crimes, among others.  With this latter, the Collie murder of George Walker 85 years ago stands out as one of the more unusual aspects of Carbon Canyon's fascinating history.

27 January 2016

The Keene Ranch in Carbon Canyon

While Louis B. Joralmon established his Rancho Lindero at the Orange/San Bernardino counties line area of Carbon Canyon, there was a ranch on the Orange County side that featured another interesting history, that of Arthur G. Keene.

Keene was born in September 1878 in Fannin County, Texas, a rural sparsely-populated area northeast of Dallas.  His father Robert, a native Texan, came from a family who migrated from Kentucky and was a farmer.  His mother, Alice Yates, also hailed from the Lone Star state, and had Missouri roots.

The family moved northwest towards Amarillo and, in 1898, Keene married Rosa Sams, and the two started their family in another rural area, in Motley County, southeast of Amarillo, where they farmed.

A 17 October 1930 article in the Chino Champion details Carbon Canyon rancher Arthur G. Keene's themed show performed at the Ramona Indian Village near Culver City.
In the first decade of the 1900s, the Keenes, consisting of four sons, migrated west, settling in Mesa, Arizona, on the eastern fringes of Phoenix.  Arthur transitioned from farming into business pursuits, including ownership of a grocery store and barbershop and then the Mesa-Roosevelt Stage Company, which provided horse-drawn transportation and mail delivery service to the Tonto National Forest town of Roosevelt along the shores of the Salt River, northeast of Mesa.

After a few years, however, Keene pulled up stakes and headed further west and south to the eastern fringes of Imperial County near the Colorado River.  The reason was that the government had opened up land for homesteading in 1911 and Keene was one of the first applicants, receiving 320 acres.  Presumably, recent efforts to provide irrigated water to the area both spurred the offer of land and Keene's decision to move there, likely to farm.

However, he quickly moved on to the Los Angeles region and, in 1915, acquired Carbon Canyon land near the Orange and San Bernardino counties border from David Ewart, a Pomona clothier whose store, opened in 1908, was well-known for decades in that city and who had been buying up land in the area just afterward.

Later that year, Keene opened the Rose Cream Dairy and began a local milk delivery route, but gave that up within months to return to Texas with his family.  For a time, he returned to his home area near Dallas and farmed, before moving to Amarillo, where he worked as a contractor, realtor and then a teamster.

In 1923, the Keenes returned to Carbon Canyon, acquiring a ranch by lease on the Orange County side near Olinda.  This appears to have been on the south side of the canyon across from La Vida Mineral Springs and extending across the hills into Soquel and to Telegraph canyons, some of this land now being within Chino Hills State Park.  For a time, the Keenes lived in the Ventura area while still running cattle on the Carbon Canyon ranch.

A Champion  article about an event at Keene's Carbon Canyon ranch, 26 October 1934.
By the end of the decade, Keene was gaining some attention for the quality of the cattle and other stock that ranged on his ranch, as well as for his rodeo skills.  In September 1930, he provided some 200 animals for the city of Upland and its annual pioneer event and a Chino Champion article noted that he frequently provided stock, riders and stages at rodeos and other events.  A week later, he was performing at a rodeo in Merced, in central California.

In October, the Champion reported that a roundup based on Keene's life in Texas ranching as a younger man was being featured at an unusual venue: the Ramona Indian Village, located on Washington Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue in Culver City.

This auto park was the creation of an actor and author, Robert Callahan, and was intended to be a type of amusement park before it was reconfigured into a place where travelers could stay in tepees and pueblo-style units.  A theater, schoolhouse and chapel were part of the project, which survived until Interstate 10 was expanded in 1963.  The chapel and schoolhouse were moved to what is today Santa Clarita and survive at the William S. Hart Regional Park, near the historic home of the namesake, a famed silent film cowboy.

The nearly two-hour show featured a recreation of a roundup camp, cattle roping and bull riding, fancy roping and other elements and included wild horses and steers brought in from Texas.  While Keene hoped to continue with the show on a weekly basis, it is unknown if there were more than just the one performance.

A few years later, in 1934, Keene held a large-scale event at his own Carbon Canyon ranch, when 800 persons attended the annual convention of the Chuck Wagon Trailers association.  After a barbeque dinner at noon, bull and horse riding and roping demonstrations were provided during the afternoon, followed by a talk given by Al Jennings, an attorney turned outlaw with his brothers when the Jennings Gang committed crimes in Oklahoma at the end of the 1890s.  Jennings later came to Los Angeles and worked in film for a period.  It was also reported that one of the famed "Dalton Boys" of bandits was also in attendance at the event.  The Champion provided coverage of the festivities, complete with "Wild West" style language.

By this time, Keene, who was still in his 50s, had gone through a number of tragedies, including the deaths of two of his five sons and of his wife within a few years from 1928 to 1930 and his deteriorating health.  In spring 1935, he married Florence Rothlis and not long afterward, as paralysis overtook his body, he was committed to a state hospital in Norwalk.

Keene's obituary from the Champion, 26 March 1937.
A nasty battle erupted between his new wife and Keene's brother, James, who assumed management of the Keene ranch lease when Arthur was incapacitated.  Florence Keene charged Robert with mismanagement of the property, while he responded that she was using undue influence on her ailing husband and that she was a bigamist to boot--her first husband evidently abandoned her and there was no divorce, though state law allowed remarriage after five years of unwilling separation.

When Arthur Keene died in March 1937, all that was left to fight over was about $1200 in assets. After a funeral held in Chino, Keene was interred in the Ventura cemetery where his wife was buried.

Meantime, there is another remarkable story to come out of the Keene family and the ranch, which will be covered in an upcoming post.

20 January 2016

Carbon Canyon Housing Project Editorial

This view looks east from near Olinda Village in Brea across the hills on the north edge of Carbon Canyon, including the proposed Madrona project site (162 units, recently denied by an Orange County judge) and, at the right further in the distance, the 76-unit Hillcrest development, now under construction.
Here is the text of a letter to the editor which appeared in the Champion's current edition concerning pending housing developments in Carbon Canyon:
Concerning the “Chino Hills planners bless Canyon project architecture” article from January 9, planning commissioner Karen Bristow’s comment about Carbon Canyon residents not welcoming the Hillcrest community “because it was the beginning of subdivisions which they are not used to” may apply to some people, but here’s another reason. 
This project was not only approved by the county in 1989, but under a negative declaration engineered by then-Supervisor Robert O. Townsend.  This meant the project did not have an environmental impact report, because the declaration determined one was not needed.  
However, not only have conditions in the last 27 years changed enormously in the Canyon, with respect to traffic volume, fire risk, and loss of habitat, but our general water supply and other environmental conditions have transformed, as well.  No development should get this type of protection for decades.  
Significantly, Chino Hills appears ready to approve a zoning variance for another project, the 107-unit Hidden Oaks development, just across Carbon Canyon Road—this can’t be blamed on “the county days.”  The Hidden Oaks area was zoned under the city’s general plan with plenty of due consideration for legitimate reasons.  A change to benefit the developer at the expense of zoning appropriate for the canyon will compound the wrong perpetrated with Hillcrest decades ago.
We already have other projects in the pipeline on the Chino Hills side of the canyon that will potentially add nearly 250 houses.  The 162-unit Madrona project just over the county line on the Brea side was dealt a rare court defeat recently, but will probably be appealed.   Can we really see a viable future with what could be over 400 new homes in Carbon Canyon?  Conditions have changed, but accommodations for developers evidently have not.
The Hidden Oaks project will likely be coming before the Chino Hills Planning Commission soon, after which, pending approval by that body, the matter goes to the city council.

Anyone concerned about the effects and ramifications of another large-scale (over 100 units) development coming to the canyon, on the heels of the 76-unit Hillcrest development, now under construction, and the 28-unit Stonefield tract, now up for sale, and a couple of other smaller pending projects, should be ready to express their views when the time comes.

14 January 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 18362, 18444 & 18591

None of these appear to have been major accidents, but they look to be indicative of some drivers' tendencies to stray off the defined lanes of Carbon Canyon Road because of what could be excessive speed or some other distraction.  All of these date back at least a couple of weeks or longer, but are more recent than the last "On the Skids" post.


First up is at the middle section of the S-curve where a chain link fence has long stood between a tight curve off the westbound lane of the state highway.  Here an eastbound driver looks to have crossed lanes and taken out a section of the fence, which is bend towards that eastern direction.


Next is just a bit to the west, also on the eastbound lane, quite close to where a bicyclist was hit and killed a couple of years ago.  In this case, the driver veered off the rather plentiful shoulder and grazed the landscape slope beneath the Carriage Hills development, leaving some leftovers from their vehicle in the wake.


Finally, over on the Brea side and also eastbound, just past the old Manely Friends stable property, a car strayed off the road, scraped the bottom of the hillside, took out a reflector and deposited some debris, as well as what looks like fluids from the car on the roadway.

11 January 2016

Carbon Canyon Historic Artifact #49: La Vida Mineral Water Bottle Opener

This is the third bottle opener of a distinctive design from the La Vida Mineral Water Company or La Vida Bottling Company to be highlighted here.


These can be tough to date, but, given that La Vida bottled water appears to have been sold from about 1927 to 1963 and given that this is not likely from the earlier period, when the openers had a sharp point to piece the cap, but instead pulled the cap off from the outside, it might be from the 1940s or so.

Note that stamped on either side is the name "La Vida Beverages" and then, on one side, "Deliciously Different" and, on the other, "Everybody's Choice."  A search of newspaper ads, articles and other sources didn't come up with the use of those terms.


Anyway, this is another item to document the history of an enterprise that was heavily promoted and sold throughout the American West from the late Twenties to the early Sixties.

03 January 2016

L.B. Joralmon and the Rancho Lindero in Carbon Canyon

Over the years, Carbon Canyon has been home to a number of ranches, large and small.  One of the bigger examples was Rancho Lindero, a 400-acre property that was owned by Louis Bogart Joralmon, a major figure in Chino Valley real estate for nearly a half-century.

An advertisement from Louis B. Joralmon's Campbell-Joralmon Company for farm and ranch sales assistance in the Chino Valley, from the 21 January 1927 edition of the Chino Champion.
Joralmon was born in December 1870 in Fairview, Illinois, a rural village in the west-central part of the state near Peoria.  His father, John, was from New York City and related to an old, well-known family from Brooklyn where a Joralemon Street memorializes the family name.  John graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1852, becoming a minister with the Reformed Church of America (formerly the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church).  His mother, Martha Condit, also grew up in Newark and after she married John, the two volunteered to be missionaries in Amoy (now Xiamen) China for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

John and Martha Joralmon stayed in China for four years before returning to the United States in 1860 "on account of sickness."  In fact, after John was assigned to be the pastor of a church in Fairview just after their return, the couple's first child died of an unspecified illness.  Aside from Louis, there was another son, Henry, who became a banker and mining millionaire in Denver and then lived in New York.

A Champion article from 24 December 1937 reporting on the approval of a land swap proposed by L.B. Joralmon on Marshall Estate Properties he was liquidating to the City of Chino in exchange for forgiving delinquent taxes.
After some thirty years in Fairview, John Joralmon became a minister in Norwood Park, which was a suburb of Chicago until it was annexed in 1893.  During the family's stay there, Louis attended the University of Chicago, where he graduated that same year.  By the end of the decade, however, the family relocated to Denver, where Louis joined his brother in the banking business and also worked in real estate, while their father finished out his ministerial career.  In 1902, Louis migrated to Salt Lake City to further his real estate career, but he doesn't appear to have stayed in Utah for long.

It is not known exactly how Louis Joralmon came to Chino, but, in 1905, as E. J. Marshall was developing the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino through his Chino Land and Water Company, Joralmon was hired to be a land agent for the company.  He continued in this capacity for several years and moved up to be the chief agent by the early 1910s, overseeing all sales for properties of the company in the Chino area.

An 13 April 1934 ad from the Joralmon Land Company about contacts to local land owners from the Champion.
Sometime around mid-decade, Joralmon joined forces with Los Angeles realtor Thomas Campbell as a partner specializing in Chino Valley property, as well as other real estate deals in the Los Angeles region.  In 1919, the firm became known as the Campbell-Joralmon Company with Campbell as president, Joralmon as vice-president, and Jared S. Torrance, a Chino Land and Water Company officer and founder of the city of Torrance as an unspecified officer or partner.

Campbell (1882-1966) was a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota and studied mechanical engineering, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Dakota and then doing post-graduate work at Cornell University,  In addition to running his family farm in Grand Forks, he owned a concrete company and built the first streetcar in his hometown.  In 1910, he relocated to Los Angeles, which was then on the cusp of another of its many real estate and population booms.  He established the realty firm Thomas D. Campbell and Company in a downtown Los Angeles office, while residing in a tony neighborhood in Pasadena.

A Champion article from 1 December 1933 about Louis B. Joralmon's acquisition of the control of the Campbell-Joralmon Company, renamed the Joralmon Land Company.
Campbell became quite a real estate mogul as he not only was very successful in Los Angeles, but owned a 95,000-acre Montana ranch that made him the biggest American farmer of any kind and one of the largest wheat farmers in the world.  This distinction earned him a front cover photo in Time magazine at the beginning of 1928 and his Montana Farming Corporation was given a feature story.  He was also the owner of a staggering 500,000 acres in New Mexico.

The archival holdings of famed humorist Will Rogers included correspondence between Rogers and Campbell in which the latter, who served as an advisor to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin starting with Stalin's first five-year plan in the late 1920s and who was one of the first Americans to meet with the strongman.  Campbell helped organize the creation of millions of acres of wheat and the mechanization of these farms for the Soviets and Rogers sought to meet Stalin on a proposed trip to the Soviet Union, which did not take place.  He also consulted with the governments of England and France on agricultural techniques.

Campbell was also a brigadier general in the Air Force, serving in both World Wars and was the prime mover in the development of napalm, used first in the Pacific Theater in World War II and notorious for its application during the Vietnam War.  He served as a special consultant at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 that coordinated Allied plans for the conclusion of the war.  His boyhood home in Grand Forks, North Dakota, built by his Scotch-Canadian immigrant parents, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

An ad for the sale of bulls at L.B. Joralmon's Rancho Lindero at the San Bernardino/Orange counties line in Carbon Canyon from the 7 February 1941 edition of the Champion.
When the Campbell-Joralmon Company was established in 1919, it was because Campbell, though retaining the presidency was turning over the day-to-day management to Joralmon while he focused on his Montana wheat empire.  The business did realty work throughout the Los Angeles region and had a branch office in Fullerton for its Orange County transactions, while Joralmon used his experience with Chino Land and Water Company to continue marketing properties in the Chino Valley through his firm.  In 1925, Joralmon moved up on the marquee as the company was retitled Joramon-Campbell-Rowley, Inc. and a new partner, Walter J. Rowley, taken on.

Among the major deals consummated by Campbell-Joralmon and Joralmon-Campbell-Rowley in this area were:
  • the 1922 sale of 800 acres of land off Carbon Canyon Road, out near where Peyton Drive and Chino Hills Parkway meet today, to dairy farmer A.V. Handorf, who had his main dairy business in today's City of Industry; 
  • the sale of the 1187-acre McAllister Ranch in 1929 to Louis Abacherli in what is now the southern extremity of Chino Hills and some of which has been the subject of recent debate on rezoning for potential future residential and commercial development;
  • a 1924 sale of the old "Home Ranch" of Joseph Bridger, later owned by E.J. Marshall, to the Long Beach syndicate that developed Los Serranos Country Club and a tract subdivision on the 716-acre property; 
  • and what was touted as the last major sale of the former Rancho Santa Ana del Chino lands, a 400-acre property near Los Serranos sold in 1927 to F.W. Harris, a Chicago tycoon who was developing an Arabian horse breeding ranch.
One deal that appears to have fallen through, but would have been very notable, was one that involved William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Democratic Party candidate for president, a well-known "populist" supporting small farmers and laborers against big corporations and other moneyed interests, a renowned orator, and an attorney who won the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" case, which led to the conviction of a Tennessee high school substititute teacher who discussed evolution in the classroom.

An Orange County Register ad for the sale of Holstein Friesian bulls at Rancho Lindero, 23 May 1941.
In early 1924, the Champion announced that Bryan, then in the thick of the Scopes trial, had purchased 100 acres in what is now Chino Hills for a country residence, though details were not available.  Even if Bryan bought the land, he would probably have had to wait until the trial was ended before developing his new estate--but, Bryan died just five days after the momentous decision in the case was handed down.

Joralmon was also active in selling land in Soquel Canyon, which started, like Carbon Canyon, to be a desirable place for country homes and weekend retreats during the 1920s.  In fact, Joralmon was a prime mover in appealing to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1926 to study the possibility of building a road through the canyon where it meets Carbon Canyon at today's Olinda Village eastward to the new Los Serranos Country Club, which had opened the previous year.  A projected Soquel Canyon Road, while never built, remained on county maps as a possible project until just within the last several years or so.

A 13 April 1926 article from the Register covers a proposal from L.B. Joralmon and James Macklin of Huntington Beach to the Orange County Board of Supervisors for the consideration of a county highway through Soquel Canyon.
At the end of 1933, Campbell decided to bow out completely from the real estate business and Joralmon assumed complete control of the firm (Rowley had evidently only been a partner for a short period), which was refashioned into the Joralmon Land Company.  Even during the depths of the Great Depression, Joralmon, who was well into his mid to late sixties, was a very active and prominent person in local real estate.

An ad for the lease of 200 acres of what appears to be the Rancho Lindero, 19 March 1926, from the Champion.
One of his most interesting transactions was the liquidation of the holdings of E. J. Marshall, who transformed the Chino Land and Water Company into The Marshall Properties and then passed away in 1937 with some considerable unsold property in Chino.  From an office at Central and Chino avenues, Joralmon worked aggressively to dispose of the remaining lands. 

Late in 1937, Joralmon made a novel proposal to the Chino city council:  some choice property in downtown could be essentially traded from Joralmon's firm to the city in exchange for forgiving all delinquent property taxes on the property.  Articles in the Chino Champion detailed the acceptance of the plan because the city could use the parcels for civic and park purposes.  Today's civic center complex is largely situated on the land transferred to the city by Joralmon at that time.

Joralmon's work in local real estate continued until just after the conclusion of World War II and his final ad in the Champion was in March 1946 when he announced he was liquidating Marshall Estate property in downtown that he unsuccessfully tried to swap in a second tax eradication scheme with the city.  By then, he was 75 years old, though he remained in contact locally by continuing his subscription of a half-century with the Champion and by maintaining ownership of a ranch in Carbon Canyon, which he called Rancho Lindero.

A Champion ad from 22 March 1940 for pasture for rent at Rancho Lindero.
The word lindero in Spanish means boundary and, between 1923 and 1926, Joralmon and partner John C. Miles, an attorney whose office was in the same Los Angeles office building as Joralmon's, acquired 400 acres from the Chino Land and Water Company that was situated on both sides of the boundary line of San Bernardino and Orange counties, just north and west of the new subdivision of Sleepy Hollow, laid out in 1923.  

The first transactions, in April and September 1923, were for the San Bernardino County section and others, in January, June and September 1924, included the section within both counties as well as in San Bernardino County.  In October 1924, Sleepy Hollow's founder Cleve Purington and his associates sold property within their subdivision, probably as an easement for access from Catrbon Canyon Road, to Joralmon and Miles.  Finally, in April 1926, S.W. Smith sold additional land adjacent to the others to Joralmon and Miles, which appears to have been the final consolidation of their total holdings.

Joralmon, who maintained a residence in Hollywood for most of his life, appears to have both ran his own cattle and sheep on the Rancho Lindero, as well as leased the ranch out for those purposes.  Unfortunately, there is not much information available about the ranch or its uses, aside from an occasional advertisement taken out in the Champion by Joralmon for leasing opportunities on it.

A public notice statement establishing the name of L.B. Joralmon's Rancho Lindero Stock and Poultry Farms on the San Bernardino/Orange counties line from the Champion, 10 May 1940.
Among the tidbits located was that in 1928, Joralmon repoted to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors that a house was built on the easement to Carbon Canyon Road near his access to the ranch and that the building could be removed as a nuisance.  In 1936, the Chino Fire Department received the donation by Miles of a pig from the ranch for a banquet and it was noted that Miles, the guest of honor, spoke to the crowd and thanked the department for using Rancho Lindero as a place to demonstrate fire prevention work,   The year afterward, a water well was brought in on the ranch.  In 1940-41, Joralmon advertised for land to lease and for the sale of cattle from the property.

Beyond that, the ranch seems to have been owned by Miles and Joralmon until the former died at age 65 in 1955 and then Joralmon passed away a couple of years later in September 1957 at the age of 87.  The status of Rancho Lindero over the next fifteen years has not been tracked so far, but, in 1972, the ranch was sold to Frances Krug, leader of the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious community that has occupied the property for the last forty-five or so years.