03 October 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Chino Land and Water Company, Version 1.0, Take 2

In the 11 September posting about the first edition of the Chino Land and Water Company, it was noted that the main investor in the company, which obtained the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino in 1900, was Phoebe Apperson Hearst, widow of mining magnate, land baron, and U. S. Senator George Hearst and mother of publishing giant (and purported inspiration for "Citizen Kane") William Randolph Hearst.  Mrs. Hearst did, however, have other investors in the project.

The 8 November 1900 issue of the Los Angeles Times had a short article observing that articles of incorporation for the Chino Land and Water Company were recently filed in San Francisco and transmitted to San Bernardino County.  Listed as directors were Richard A. Clark; Henry A. Whitley; Samuel M. Samter; George A. Rankin; Arthur F. Allen; J. B. Reinstein; Jesse W. Lilienthal; I. J. Wiel; and C. S. Benedict.  All but the first two were from San Francisco with Clark a resident of Alameda, next to Oakland and Whitley living in Berkeley.

Phoebe Apperson was born in 1842 on a farm along the Meramec River in Franklin County, southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.  Her father, Randolph W. Apperson, a native of Virginia, migrated west to Missouri in 1829 and, in 1840, married Drucilla Whitmire.  The couple had three children with Phoebe being the eldest.  When George Hearst married her in 1862, the couple resided in Steelville, a nearby community, and their only child, William Randolph, was born the following year.  Very soon after the youngster was born, however, George Hearst took his family to California and, during a terrible drought, was able to pick up the substantial Rancho San Simeon for a rock-bottom price.  From there, Hearst had mining interests at Lead, South Dakota, the Anaconda Mine in Billings, Montana; and California mines, as well.

Clark and Whitley had direct personal connections to the company because they were cousins of Phoebe Hearst.  Clark, a native, like Mrs. Hearst, of Franklin County, Missouri, was the son of James R. Clark and Phoebe Whitmire, sister to the Drucilla Whitmire who was Mrs. Hearst's mother.  In 1900, Clark lived in Alameda with his wife and son and worked as a cashier and bookkeeper.  In subsequent censuses, however, he worked for his cousin directly, serving as a "private estate manager" in 1920 and manager of the Hearst Estate Company a decade later.  Clark moved to Berkeley and his home, now part of the University of California campus and used as student housing, is a landmark designed by Julia Morgan, whose fame rests with her designs of campus structures, but mainly with the world-renowned Hearst Castle, completed in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst, and now a state park.

Whitley's mother was Mary Whitmire, sister of Phoebe and Drucilla Whitmire noted above.  His father was William Whitley, a Missouri native who moved his family to Lead, South Dakota, where he seems to have gone into mining with (or for) George Hearst.  In fact, Lead's public library was endowed by and remains named for Phoebe Apperson Hearst.   The Whitleys then migrated west and, in 1900, lived in Berkeley, just a few blocks from the Clarks, where William retained mining interests and his son, Henry, was a manager for a land company, perhaps the Hearst Estate.  Henry later moved into San Francisco and got into the contracting business and specialized in building bridges and grading for railroads.  In the 1920s, he was an oil producer.

Samuel M. Samter was among the several Jewish attorneys in the Chino Land and Water Company syndicate.  He was born in August 1876 in St. Louis to Marks Samter and August Fischer, who were Prussian immigrants, but the family relocated when he was very young to Memphis, Tennessee.  Marks Samter, who had lived in New York City after coming from Europe, was a dry goods merchant in Memphis as was a brother, Louis.  In the 1890s, the Samter brothers moved their families to San Francisco, with Louis going into the sales of neckwear, while Marks moved into the cigar business.  Samuel, however, entered the Hastings law school at the University of California, and later was a law partner of J. B. Reinstein, thus explaining his presence as an investor in the Chino project.  Samter never married and continued residing with his parents in San Francisco through at least the 1920s.

George A. Rankin, who seems to have had managerial involvement in the Chino Land and Water Company aside from an investment stake, was born in 1856 in Keosauqua, Iowa, a town in the southeastern part of the state, where his Ohio-born father, Thomas, was a merchant.  George, from a family of four children, left Iowa for the West in the late 1870s and lived for a time in Reno, near the booming silver mines of that portion of Nevada and was an attorney in that city.  By 1887, he was in San Francisco practicing law and was married to Alfaretta Bogle of Missouri, the couple having two children.  When the Hearst group acquired the Chino rancho, it was Rankin and Reinstein who acted as representatives in the acquisition of the property.  In fact, in August 1900, the two men organized an oil drilling project for the comapny "in the first cañon of the Chino hills east of Soquel."  Where this canyon was is not immediately clear, but it might have been Bane Canyon in what is now Chino Hills State Park.  Presumably, the well never produced anything, as oil production in this area was unsuccessful in total.  Rankin, who also served as circuit court judge in San Francisco, appears to have died not long after the Chino ranch purchase, as his wife was listed as a widow in the 1910 census in San Francisco.

Arthur F. Allen was one of the few natives of California in the CLWC.  His Massachusetts-born grandfather, Isaac S. Allen and grandmother, Alice Patten, migrated to San Francisco in the Gold Rush years, settling in the boom town in 1855 with their family, including son Isaac Patten Allen.  The younger Isaac Allen, Arthur's father, was a druggist, but developed an interest in banking and joined the state's largest, the Bank of California, in 1871, remaining with that institution until the late 1880s.  After a stint as a bicycle manufacturer, Isaac P. Allen  returned to finance, forming the Russo-Chinese Bank of San Francisco (1902), followed by the Canton Bank of San Francisco (1907) and the Bank of Canton in Hong Kong (1911.)  He was also president of the Prudential Loan Society in San Francisco.  Arthur, born in March 1870, went to Hastings Law School at UC Berkeley, as did Samter and Reinstein, and graduated in 1891.  He was practicing law in San Francisco in 1900 and remained in the profession for some time, but lived for many years in Manila, Phillipines, which were then an American possession.  By 1930, however, Allen was back in the United States and was living in Alameda, running a novelties manufacturing business.

Jacob B. Reinstein was most likely the major force in the CLWC acquisition of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and was a protege of Phoebe Hearst.  His parents were immigrants of Posen in what was then Prussia, now part of Poland, and which area was the source of many migrations of Jews to America after the political turmoil of 1848 and the news of the Gold Rush reached the region.  Father Oscar came to America in 1850 and to California shortly afterward, settling in Visalia where he was a merchant.  With his wife Hannah, Oscar had several children, the eldest being Jacob, born in 1854.  Evidently believing he'd made enough money in Visalia to retire and move to the big city, Oscar relocated the family to San Francisco, but soon went back to the mercantile industry.  Jacob was among the first 12 students (called "The Twelve Apostles") to graduate from the University of California in 1873 and took his degree in the law. 

Through this connection, he became associated with Phoebe Hearst, a major figure with the university, and specifically through "The Phoebe A. Hearst Architectural Plan," in which she endowed a large program of buildings on the campus.  Reinstein was elected to the Board of Regents of the university and also was so prominent that he was appointed to the "Committee of Fifty," which oversaw the planning of the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed most of the great city.  Reinstein had several law partners, including his brother-in-law, Milton Eisner (married to Reinstein's sister, Lena), Samuel Samter (another Chino investor), and Albert Rosenshine.  Reinstein, a confirmed bachelor, lived with his parents and then widowed mother until his death in 1911.

Jesse W. Lilienthal was from Haverstraw, New York, along the west bank of the Hudson River north of New York City and was born in August 1855.  His father Max was a rabbi (though listed in the 1860 census as a "Jewish Preacher"!) and his Bavarian-born parents, including mother Bertha, relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio when Jesse was a very small child.  The family remained there for about twenty years and Jesse graduated from Cincinnati High School and then got a law degree from the University of Cincinnati.  Although he was admitted to the state bar in Ohio and worked briefly with a Cincinnati firm, the Lilienthals returned to New York, and Jesse entered Harvard Law School for further study between 1874 and 1876.  At the famed institution, his classmates included future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, the first Jew on the high court.  Unfortunately for Lilienthal, the strain of his studies led to a nervous breakdown before he could complete his final exams and he never received his juris doctorate degree.  Instead, he roamed throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Europe to recover and "find himself."  After several years, he returned to New York, gained admittance to the bar in 1880 and entered the practice of law, though he also had an interesting foray into Mexico in 1890 representing that country's dictator, Porfirio Diaz, in seeking private loans for his government.  In 1887, he married and the couple had one son, Jessie, Jr. 

Due to wife Lillie's poor health, the family moved to San Francisco in 1893.  In addition to his law practice, Lilienthal was president of United Railroads, the major streetcar company (formerly the Market Street Railroad Company) in the city and was a director of California Pacific Title Insurance Company. He also was involved in community groups and was president of the San Francisco-area Boy Scouts of America council, chair of the city's Municipal Relief Commission concerning unemployment, member of the Probation Commission of the juvenile court system, president of the San Francisco Bar Association, and president of the San Francisco Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.  Just seconds after concluding a speech at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on 7 June 1919, Lilienthal collapsed and died of a massive heart attack.

Irving J. Wiel was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1872, the eldest child of Louis and Henrietta, natives of Prussia.  Louis was a boot and shoe merchant who moved his family to San Francisco at the very end of the 1870s.  Irving went on to get his law degree, presumably at Hastings at the University of California and married, but his business took him to New York City, where he practiced in Manhattan and where his only child was born.  By 1920, however, Wiel was back in San Francisco, working as a lawyer, and living in a suite at the posh Fairmont Hotel with his wife and son.   Wiel and spouse Elsie were still living at the hotel a decade later.

Finally, there was Courtland S. Benedict, who was not an attorney and was the oldest of all of the CLWC investors.  A native of New York, Benedict was born in 1835, but the earliest information found on him was that he lived in San Francisco during the Civil War years.  In 1870, he was shown in the census as a "finishing store" business owner (meaning, men's clothing) and was married to Sophia Judson.  Subsequent censuses showed Benedict as a "merchant tailor" and "clothing merchant," and he was a director of the San Francisco National Bank (along with railroad and real estate titan Henry E. Huntington), but it seems that his investment in the Chino ranch was due to his wife's connections. 

Sophia Judson Benedict was the niece of Egbert Judson, a Gold Rush emigrant of 1850 whose extensive mining work and knowledge of chemistry led him into the explosives industry.  In 1867, Judson was licensed to market and sell the new safety "powder", or dynamite, created by Albert Nobel (ironically, benefactor of the Nobel Peace Prize, given how much his contribution to the explosives industry has served the whims of war.)  Even Nobel's "safe" formula needed further refinement, so Judson, through his San Francisco-based Giant Powder Works, patented, in the mid-1870s, his own "Judson Powder," which only used 5% nitroglycerine mixed with potassium nitrate, sulful, anthracite coal and asphaltum to make a spectacularly explosive dynamite that was less dangerous than earlier forms.  Egbert Judson, also creator of the San Francisco Chemical Works, developed his dynamite formula for mining work, blasting away hillsides to find silver and other precious metals, in such places as the Union Lode at Cerro Gordo in Inyo County in eastern California, Bodie (now a state park ghost town), and Tombstone (the very mining area developed first by former Chino ranch owner Richard Gird.)  Judson, a bachelor who had ownership interests in Yerba Buena Island, sold his Giant Powder Works (later acquired by the chemical giant Du Pont) and formed Judson Dynamite and Powder Company. 

In July 1892, the Giant and Judson enterprises were in what was then called West Berkeley (now Emeryville) when an accident led to a catastrophic series of at least seven explosions involving a staggering 300 tons of explosive material.  Most of the workers at the compound were Chinese and the death toll was never fully established.  Dozens of houses in the town were obliterated and buildings were damaged several miles away in Oakland and San Francisco.  By the end of the year, Egbert Judson was dead at age 80 and his estate, valued at well over $1,000,000, went to his four nieces and nephews, including Courtland Benedict's wife, Sophia.  The terms of the will, however, stipulated that the estate had to be managed as it was at Judson's death for ten years and from which the heirs could draw a specified annual income.  After a decade, the estate was allowed to be dismantled, just in time for the investment at Chino in 1904-05. 

It appears, however, that Sophia Judson Benedict, who died about that time, left her inheritance to her only child with Benedict, Egbert.  The young man, who was a bank clerk, also led a dissolute life, according to his father, and died an alcolholic about 1910.  Courtland Benedict challenged the will, which left the estate to his son's widow, but lost.  Still, he had a wife thirty-five years younger whom he married in 1906, so there was, perhaps, some consolation!  Benedict, still working as a clothing merchant, died sometime in the 1910s.

The Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, including a significant portion of Carbon Canyon, may have passed quickly through many hands from 1893 to 1905, but there were some fascinating and interesting characters who were investors in the several companies who had fleeting ownership of one of the more renowned ranches in southern California.

1 comment:

Melody said...


I was wondering where you got the information about Richard A Clark. I am currently a resident at his former home in Bekeley CA and am conducting a research project about the history of the building however I am having trouble finding information about the building's first residents. While conducting my research I stumbled across your fabulous blog and I was wondering where you got your sources. Any information you can give me would be extremely helpful. You can email me at msettel@gmail.com

Thank you!!