20 September 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Chino Land and Water Company 2.0

The 1900 purchase of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino by San Francisco investors, headed by Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of famed publisher (and Citizen Kane inspiration) William Randolph Hearst, led to the creation of the first version of the Chino Land and Water Company.  While some work was done to develop the ranch in succeeding years, the company found willing buyers from the Los Angeles area.  In 1905, the acquisition was finalized and a second version of the company was inaugurated.

The new Chino Land and Water Company had aggressively marketed the ranch, sold off significant sections of it and, more importantly, further developed the townsite of Chino, which was created by former owner Richard Gird back in 1887.  The growth of Chino was so market that, despite the economic downturn brought about by the Depression of 1907, the community decided to incorporate.  In 1910, the effort was successful.  The subsequent history of the town is being well-covered by Allen McCombs, publisher emeritus of the Chino Champion and historian of the city, in the newspaper's ongoing commemoration of the centennial of the incorporation.

The new owners of the Chino rancho were led by Edwin Jessop Marshall, whose name graces a Chino elementary school, but who is, otherwise, virually unknown by local residents today.  Yet, he was a fascinating individual as were many of his investing associates.

Marshall was born in March 1860 at Dulaney Valley, Maryland, just north of Baltimore and an area that was flooded to create a reservoir to serve the burgeoning population of the area.  His mother Amanda Jessop was from that valley.  His father Henry was descended from an old Quaker family of Chester County, Pennsylvania, just southwest of Philadelphia.  By 1850, Henry was working as a druggist for the Sharp and Doane firm in Baltimore, and married Amanda Jessop seven years later with the couple having seven children.  The family remained in Maryland for only a short time and then migrated to Olney, Illinois, a small town in the southern part of the state directly east of St. Louis and just west of the Indiana border.

In a later biographical sketch for a Los Angeles history, Marshall stated that, due to an uncle's strong suggestion that E. J. not attend the West Point academy he decided to strike out on his own at fifteen years of age and that he ventured to St. Louis to work as a railroad clerk.  That may well have been the case, but Marshall also did not want to publicly air a painful truth.  His father worked as a bank clerk and in 1877 was fired by his employer, the First National Bank of Olney, because of illicit exchanges of bank notes involving land trades in Richland County, in which Olney is located, and in Florida.  Henry Marshall was then indicted and convicted for his role in these activities and, in 1880, was listed as prisoner #1683 at the Illinois State Prison at Joliet.  The 52-year old convict listed his profession as a bank cashier, but his career was ruined.  Amanda Marshall died a few years later and, upon his release from prison, Henry Marshall remarried and lived until 1909.

Naturally, E. J. did not want to let on about his father's indiscretions, but it is likely that the disgrace forced the young man to abandon thoughts of a military career or higher education.  According to his biography, Marshall went to work for the Central Pacific Railroad at Atchison, Kansas.  After an illness forced him to leave his job, he went to work for the Pullman Palace Car Company, which made the famous railroad sleeping and dining cars used across the U. S.  He then landed a job with a regional railroad, working as secretary to the General Manager for two years, until the line was absorbed into the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (known simply as the Santa Fe.)  Marshall eventually lost his job in the shake-up.

Meanwhile, with $2000 in savings, the young man bought a ranch in Lampasas, Texas, roughly between San Antonio and Dallas (and near Killeen, founded by the railroad general manager Marshall worked for previously) and tried sheep ranching, but then followed his father's footsteps and became cashier at the First National Bank of Lampasas.  This was Marshall's first major calling, as he remained with the bank seventeen years and rose to be its president.  He also made his ranch profitable, but his big boon came in 1900.

Marshall was superintending the driving of 2,000 head of cattle to Oklahoma when news broke of the discovery of oil in the Beaumont field, east of Houston.  While land was quickly snapped up by investors, Marshall joined a syndicate with four other men and took an option on fifteen acres.  The craze was so strong that the group was able to sell half the land for $300,000 profit in a month.  In short order, the syndicate found that more capital was needed to build the infrastructure for oil prospecting on the land and brought in new investors from New York.  This led to the creation of the Texas Company, known commonly as Texaco, now one of the biggest multinational oil companies in the world, and Marshall, who had arranged the early financing of the first syndicate, served as the company's first treasurer.

Edwin Jessop Marshall (1860-1937) was the prime mover
in the newly constituted Chino Land and Water Company in 1905

Marshall was first married in 1887, but his wife appeared to have died within a few years.  In 1892, he married Sallie McLemore of Galveston and their only child, Marcus, was born the following year.  The young man had health problems, probably related to lung troubles, and so Mrs. Marshall and Marcus went to California about 1900 and lived there for a few years, while E. J. organized Texaco.  Ironically, the Spindle Top area where Marshall and his fellow investors started proved to be a short-lived oil field, affected by over drilling in close proximity and the poisoning of wells by excessive salt water.  Marshall actually made much of his fortune on land speculation and sold out the last of his Texaco stock in 1906.

On New Year's Day 1904, he arrived in Los Angeles to rejoin his wife and son and had a job waiting for him: the vice-presidency of the Southwestern National Bank, which was soon consolidated with the First National Bank of Los Angeles and Marshall declined to work with the new bank.  In the meantime, he was interested in continuing his ranching enterprise and bought three Santa Barbara County ranches from Jared S. Torrance, a real estate magnate and founder of the South Bay city of that name.  One of these ranches, the 42,000-acre Jesus Maria, north of Santa Barbara, became part of Vandenburg Air Force Base.  This ranch contained thousands of head of cattle and had thousands of acres under cultivation, including a thousand leased to sugar beets.  This crop, of course, made Chino famous from the time Richard Gird introduced it there back in the 1880s.  Marshall was the main investor, along with Torrance, John S. Cravens, Issac Milbank and Edwin T. Earl in the 1904 acquisition of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, amounting to 46,000 acres.  Torrance and Marshall, about 1910, were also investors with A. B. Miller in the Fontana Land and Water Company, which had been controlled by the San Francisco Savings Union (which, in turn, had loaned the money to Richard Gird that included the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino as collateral.)

Marshall made other notable acquisitons, including one near the Grand Canyon, acquired for $250,000.  But, the most amazing was, undoubtedly, the Palomas, a conglomeration of some thirteen ranches along the border of New Mexico and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.  Totaling a staggering 2,270,000 acres, the Palomas became the largest ranch in the world.  His partners included Jed Torrance.  Marshall was also the president of the Sinaloa Land Company, which owned 1,500,000 non-contiguous acres in the Mexican state. 

At one time, Marshall, on his several ranches, had 100,000 cattle and 40,000 acres of farmland within his domain.  By 1913, he was a director of an astounding thirty companies, including several Los Angeles-based companies, including the Los Angeles Trust Company, First National Bank of Los Angeles, Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company, and Home Telephone and Telegraph Company of Los Angeles.  He was also part-owner of three major office buildings in Los Angeles and a member of several of the city's most exclusive social clubs.

After arriving in Los Angeles, he lived in a neighborhood just west of downtown and then lived south of downtown.  Finally, he moved to the westside, living on Wilshire Boulevard and then relocated to Pasadena, where he resided until his death in May 1937.  Marshall had two siblings who also came to the region: his brother Nathan lived in Chino and died there in 1915 at age 47 and another brother, Frank, passed away in Bell at the age of 72 in 1942.

Notably, just within the last month, a granddaugther, Marcia Marshall Long, died.  She was the daughter of E.J.'s son Marcus and his second wife.  After Marcus Marshall, who was also associated in banking with his father, died in 1930, her mother remarried and Marcia Long grew up on the Jesus Maria rancho before it was requisitioned to the military in World War II.  She then married and moved to Minnesota, where she lived the rest of her life.

Upcoming posts will discuss Marshall's four fellow investors in the Chino Land and Water Company:  Torrance, Cravens, Milbank and Earl.

1 comment:

John Powers said...

Thank you for this detailed account of E.J. Marshall. I look forward to reading your work on J.S. Torrance as I am developing a performance about him for the City of Torrance's Centennial.