05 December 2011

1924 Map of Olinda Oil Field and Surrounding Areas, Part Five

Our series based on this nearly 90-year old map continues with the ownership (in 1924 or well before) of parcels in and around Olinda Village.  A large section, in fact, between there and the La Vida Mineral Springs property to the east is attributed to a "J.T. Raddick," but nothing has been discovered about this person thus far.  There are, however, three others, who owned property in the mid-1920s or earlier, who can be discussed.

One, actually, has been covered previously--this being William Hervey Bailey, Jr., the namesake son of the founder of Olinda Ranch.  Bailey, Jr. succeeded to the ownership and management of the ranch after his father's death in 1910, and his land in this section appears to have been near the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates tract and the confluence of Carbon and Soquel canyons.  His story has been amply detailed in earlier posts about the Baileys and the history of Olinda Ranch.  We will also see that Bailey, Jr. controlled other parcels on this map lying further south and west in the Olinda oil field.

To the north and west of Olinda Village, in what is today both privately-held land and portions of Chino Hills State Park, there was a notable character in the history of American oil development, John Martin Clapp.  Clapp's holdings extended to the Orange/Los Angeles counties border and, to the east, near the existing water tanks above the east side of Olinda Village, while, to the west, his land seems to have gone close to what is now the Olinda Alpha Landfill.  Given his history, there seems no question that Clapp bought his property, as did many others within the Canyon from about 1900 onward, for potential oil development, though little, if any, was found in his section.

Clapp was born in May 1835 in Mercer, Pennsylvania, in the far western part of the state, not far east of Youngstown, Ohio.  His mother was Sally Hubbard and his father, Ralph, was an iron master (an owner of an iron foundry--steel and ironworking being a primary Pennsylvania occupation for much of its history) before switching gears (!) completely and becoming a Methodist Episcopal clergyman.  The Clapps later moved to a new town established by Ralph called President, in Venango County, to the northeast of Mercer.  It was in nearby Titusville, in 1859, that the American oil industry began.

Meantime, John Clapp worked in the iron industry, perhaps taking over his father's foundry, as his occupation in the 1860 census was that of a "furnace manager."  Two years later, as the Civil War was in full swing, Clapp enlisted in the 121st Pennsylvania Infantry and was captain of its F Company.  Later in life, he was very active in veterans' affairs and was a major figure in the state's Grand Army of the Republic organization.  At the conclusion of the war, Clapp married Anna Pearson from nearby New Castle.  In the 1870 census, the young couple resided with her parents and John worked as a merchant in a flour mill.

His career in that line soon ended, however, as he moved to Tidioute, a booming oil town, in 1871 and engaged in petroleum prospecting with a brother.  Within a decade, he rose rapidly to become one of the state's oil barons and controlled tens of thousands of acres of oil-bearing lands and drilled, along with his brother and other partners, some 250 wells.  By 1881, he moved his family, including three children, to Washington, D. C., while he continued his oil business, supplemented with activities in banking, timber and real estate.  He remained a full time resident of America's capital and had a summer home at Lakewood, New York on Lake Chautauqua, not far from the Pennsylvania border, where Clapp died in October 1906 at age 71.  Interestingly, he was one of America's first major numismatics or coin collectors and his collection, left to his namesake son, was well-known and highly valued.

How Clapp came to acquire property in and around Carbon Canyon takes us back to Burdette Chandler, who was from the same area of Pennsylvania as Clapp and who entered the oil business there in 1860 at the start of the industry, discussed in the last post.  Chandler and Clapp certainly were acquaintances or friends back East and the former, it will be recalled, acquired considerable holdings within the Canyon in the later part of the 1800s, but wound up selling much of it, probably as the Boom of the 1880s petered out and Chandler needed cash.  In a 1906 Los Angeles newspaper article he wrote about the oil industry, Chandler noted that, "Victor Hall [Charles Victor Hall, another Olinda notable earlier profiled in this blog], J. M. Clapp of Pennsylvania and others also bought land.  J. M. Clapp came to my rescue when the Los Angeles business men hesitated and I sold him land at from $2.50 to $3 an acre."  Clapp appears to have owned at least a full section, or 640 acres, of land, at least by the reckoning of this map.

The other individual listed in the map as a property holder in the Olinda Village area was E. F. Gaines, who had the distinction of being one of the few, maybe the only, such landholder who actually lived in the Canyon and, also, utilized his property for something other than oil investments. 

Edward F. Gaines was a California native, born in January 1868 in Gilroy, south of San Jose, and long considered (at least, self-proclaimed) to be the garlic capital of the world.  His father, John, a native of Kentucky, was a carpenter and his mother Mary Margaret Clamp was from New York.  In the 1870s, however, the Gaines family migrated south and lived in the Wilmington area near today's Long Beach, where the family took up farming.  On Christmas Eve 1889, Edward married Frances Atwater, a native of Illinois, and the two settled in the Clearwater community of the Downey Township--now the City of Paramount--where Edward farmed, while the family grew to include three daughters, two of whom lived into adulthood.  As of 1910, the Gaines family still lived in this area, but sometime in the following decade moved out to Carbon Canyon, when Edward acquired property there.

In the 1920 and 1930 censuses, Edward and his wife Fannie lived alone on a ranch with his occupation listed as "farmer" and "dry farmer," respectively.  Oral histories of former residents of the Olinda oil fields (this covered in early posts to this blog) remembered Gaines as running cattle in the hills and it does seem unlikely that there could have been any tillable land in the Olinda Village area.  By 1947, Mrs. Gaines had passed away and nine years later, Edward died in Canyon City, an unincorporated area near Chula Vista close to San Diego.  Still to be discovered is when he sold his land, which was developed into the Olinda Village tract in the early to mid-1960s.

In the same Section 10 as the Gaines and Bailey, Jr. tracts were those of three companies: Olinda Land Company, owned by Bailey; Soquel Canyon Oil Company (previously discussed in this blog), which existed for a few years from 1900; and Continental Oil Company of Los Angeles, founded in 1899, and which was headed by William West, also president of the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which operated on 160 acres near where Soquel and Carbon canyons meet.  Charles E. Price, owner of land near the La Vida Mineral Springs area, was a partner with West in the Carbon Canyon and Continental firms.  In 1900, Continental had 40 acres in the Olinda field, but its later history needs to be researched, especially as to whether it became part of the Continental Oil Company that is now the massive conglomerate, Conoco (get it?) Phillips.


Richard Howie said...

I enjoyed reading about La Vida Mineral Springs, and the information on Edward F. Gaines. As I complete more research, I hope to return to your blog. Robert Howie married Vera Naomi Gaines, a daughter of Edward Gaines. They later divorced, and she remarried a Buell Clifford Pond.

prs said...

Hello Richard, glad you found the info on Gaines interesting and, if you find anything you think worth sharing, check back in. Thanks!

Richard Howie said...

Correction to my first comment. Robert Howie and Vera Naomi Gaines did not divorce. Robert Howie died young from consumption, and Vera Naomi then remarried to Buell Clifford Pond.