07 August 2008

Sleepy Hollow History Publicized!

Last Saturday's edition of the Chino Hills Champion, which I didn't get in my mail until yesterday (no delivery in Sleepy Hollow), has two nice articles on Sleepy Hollow and one of our oldest residents, Don Briney, who's lived in the neighborhood for about 45 years, is featured in the front page article. Another piece on page 4 has the headline "Hollow Has Colorful Past, Wild Side" and gives some interesting information.

(The photo above is looking east along Carbon Canyon Road [State Highway 142] at the county line into Sleepy Hollow)

The man who built the home I live in told me that about the time the house was completed, in 1990, he was out at the front of the house when an older woman drove up, stopped, and asked him what he knew about the neighborhood. After they talked a few minutes, she paused and then told him that her name was Rosemary, the name of the little one-lane road her car was idling on.

Well, among the material provided in the Champion is about Rosemary's family. In fact, 80 acres of the canyon was bought in 1921 by Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, who then subdivided the following year. In my June post on the community and on the Google interactive map I've created and twice posted, I stated 1915, on the understanding that part of the house of a neighbor of mine was built that year. I'll have to make the correction.

There is other history mentioned, which I would like to elaborate on further later, but these articles inspired me to do a little genealogical digging, courtesy of Ancestry.com, on the Purington family. Here's what I've found:

Cleve Alpheus Purington was born 20 December 1882 in Phippsburg, Maine, the son of Robert S. and Mary C. Purington. Robert was born in 1854, probably in Phippsburg or Brunswick, and was a laborer. Cleve's grandfather, also named Robert, was born in 1823 and was a teamster (land-based shipping), a mariner or seaman, and a stevedore (someone who loads/unloads ships). This is hardly surprising because most of Maine's economy was and is related to the sea, including commercial fishing and shipping. There were a great many Puringtons in that area and throughout the state. Cleve, however, left the family home by the time he was 18 and made his way to the nearby town of Bath, where he lived in a boarding house and worked in the town's largest business, the well-known Bath Iron Works.

By 1910, perhaps because of his older brother, Fred, Cleve made his way across the United States and settled in the Brooklyn township of Oakland, where he lived with Fred and worked as a shipping clerk in an iron works company. It is not clear where, but by 1917, Cleve had relocated to Washington state, probably in the Seattle/Tacoma area, where ironworking and shipbuilding were in full swing because of the First World War. He had also married Elizabeth Heald and the couple's first child, David (mentioned in the Champion article) was born in Washington in 1917.

Elizabeth was born in New Hampshire to Josiah H. Heald and Katherine (Catherine) Pike, both natives of Maine. In fact, there were Healds who lived right next door to Cleve Purington's grandfather, Robert, in the 1880 census in Phippsburg, so Cleve and Elizabeth may have met through family connections. In 1884, Josiah Heald and Catherine Pike were married, but either married in New Hampshire or soon moved there, because their first three children, including Elizabeth, were born in that state.

Elizabeth's path to the west was further south than that of Cleve Purington. Her father was a Congregationalist pastor who was born in Lovell, Maine in 1859, the son of farmer Abel Heald and Mary Stearns. Based on his reported property values, which were much higher than his immediate neighbors, Abel was probably quite well-to-do. He was retired by 1880 and the fact that Josiah, then 21, was still in school, perhaps a divinity college, would indicate that there was money to provide for a higher education, a rarity among Americans.

It seems probable that Josiah completed his education, married, and took a pastorate in New Hampshire where Elizabeth was born. Given that clergy tend to move often, it is not surprising that he moved his family to what was then the territory of Arizona sometime around 1890. Their youngest son, Josiah, was born there, but in 1900 the Healds had migrated east to another territory, New Mexico, where they settled in the village of San Rafael. Ten years later, the family was in the much larger city of Albuquerque.

What is not obvious is how Elizabeth Heald met up with Cleve Purington, where they were married, and how they wound up in Washington.

By September 1918, though, the Puringtons had relocated to another shipbuilding mecca, Long Beach, where they were living when Cleve registered for the draft. He listed his occupation as a shipbuilder with a company operating in "East San Pedro." In the physical description portion of the registration card, Cleve is listed as 5'7", of medium build, and with blue eyes and brown hair.

It was the next year, according to the Champion article, that Cleve and Elizabeth made their first visit to Carbon Canyon and "fell in love" with the area. They remained in Long Beach for a few years, living close to the shipyards where Cleve advanced to foreman. In July 1920, they had their second child, Rosemary.

It was, as stated above, the following year that the Puringtons bought the 80 acres. Obviously, these were not land developers or wealthy investors, but a shipyard foreman who saved enough money to buy what had to have been cheap land in what was at that time the middle of nowhere. In fact, there would have been no way the Puringtons could today have developed Sleepy Hollow (named after the famous novel by Washington Irving) with its narrow streets, hilly lots, and lack of infrastructure. Then again, Sleepy Hollow was not intended for full-time residents but for weekend cabins and get-aways from Los Angeles and nearby areas.

Sadly, Cleve Purington died within just a few years of creating the community. His wife and children, however, stayed and Elizabeth was listed as a "real estate saleslady" in the 1930 census, keeping the business of selling Sleepy Hollow land going after her husband's death (he was probably in his mid-30s). The family, or at least Elizabeth and son David, remained tied to Sleepy Hollow for decades. Elizabeth died in 1951 and though David lost his home in the community in a 1958 fire, he remained a resident until he died in 1991. Don Briney bought the land where David's home had been and built the current house on it in the early 1960s.

It would be nice to know if there are still descendants around and whether there are any family photographs, letters, papers, diaries, etc. that could be available for documenting the history of this unique little corner of Chino Hills.

1 comment:

Ruth Aylwin said...

This is really intriguing. I'm in love with reading the histories of areas around me. This article was very informative, so thank you! I'm excited to explore Sleepy Hollow and learn more about it.