29 December 2011

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

In the area directly north of the Olinda Oil Field's thick concentration of oil wells on this 1924 map, are sections 4 and 5 up in the hills and into the lower part of Tonner Canyon.  Research into the several owners of these areas has yielded little information, so far, except for, naturally, Shell Oil Company, which is well enough known.  For example, nothing has been located yet on the California Crude Oil Company and the surname Packovich in the rest of section 5.  And, in section 4, the larger share assigned to "C. Sheerer" has also drawn a blank.  At least with the remainder of that latter section, something is known, although there is also some speculation to be made, too.

There are four persons, other than Sheerer, listed as owners of land within section 4.  For at least two of these, there appears to be a solid link.  These are Waddy Johnson and his father-in-law, John Ward.  Johnson, whose birth name was, indeed Waddy (often used as a nickname for Walter), was born in March 1861 at Knight's Landing, a river ferry crossing community in Yolo County, just west of Sacramento.  His father, John, was a native of North Carolina and his mother, Mary, was from Tennessee.  By 1870, the family had relocated to the Ventura area and, in the ensuing decade, John Johnson passed away.  At the time of the 1880 census, Mary Johnson, Waddy and a daughter, Clara, were living in Santa Ana, where Waddy worked as a farm hand.

Perhaps he was employed on the farm of John Ward, a native of Arkansas, who later resided and married Texas.  He and his wife Rosana had a daughter in the Lone Star State before coming to California in the late 1860s.  By 1880, the Wards settled in Tustin, living a few households from the community's namesake founder, Columbus Tustin.  The Wards established a farm at the intersection of what is now Newport Boulevard and Walnut Avenue, just east of the 55 Freeway and south of Interstate 5. 

However they may have met (you've heard the one about the guy who met the farmer's daughter), Waddy Johnson married Rosana Ward, the third Ward child, in 1887.  The couple, who had three daughters, resided for a time in the Orange area, before settling in Santa Ana, on the west side of the river, where Waddy was an apiarist, or bee-keeper, for a time.  Later, he seems to have worked for the Irvine Company, before retiring in the 1920s to a home in downtown Santa Ana.  Waddy died in Santa Ana in 1938 and his wife passed away four years later.  It would appear that Johnson and Ward went in together to acquire the property in the hills north of Olinda believing there would be the potential for oil there, though the map clearly shows that this was not the case, at least in 1924.

As to the other two men listed in the same section as Johnson and Ward, there looks to have been a possible connection geographically.  There was a John W. Rogers, born in July 1882, who lived in Santa Ana, where his father, Frank, owned a feed mill.  John later resided on Cambridge Street, west of the town of Orange, where he worked in ranching and his wife, Martha, was a nurse.  By 1930, the couple lived in Tustin, where John operated a farm.  Perhaps further research will validate whether this was the "John Rogers" listed on the map.

The case is a little stronger for Fred Kelly.  It is tempting to want to believe that this is the same Fred Kelly, for whom the athletic stadium at El Modena High School in Orange is named.  This Fred Kelly, born in 1891, was a 1911 graduate of Orange High and, while a freshman at the University of Southern California, qualified to represent the United States in track and field events at the summer Olympics of 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden, where he took the gold medal in the 110 meter hurdles.  Kelly competed in American Athletic Union (AAU) events and was a two-time hurdles champion later in the 1910s.  While working on a ranch in the Riverside County desert town of Mecca, near Palm Springs, he enlisted in the aviation corps for World War I and began a career as a pilot.  In 1930, for example, he delivered mail by airplane and lived in San Gabriel.  Whether he would have amassed the money or had the interest in buying land near Olinda before his mid-30s, when the map was issued, is not clear.

There was, however, another Fred Kelly in the area.  This one was born in May 1870, in Milford, Pennsylvania, at the eastern edge of the state near the borders with New York and New Jersey.  His mother was Jane Robinson and his father James Kelly (the two marrying in March 1869).  James Kelly, a native of Milford, was a farmer before enlisting with a state cavalry unit and serving as a first lieutenant.  He was captured by the Confederates in June 1864 and remained a prisoner of war (even escaping twice before being recaptured) until the conclusion of the war about nine months later.  He returned to farming and also served as county sheriff in his home area before taking his family west to Lawrence, Kansas in 1888.  Fred, meantime, enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he received his degree as a doctor of medicine, though he did not practice.

In 1891, James Kelly and family, including Fred, migrated to California, takling up residence in east Santa Ana, living on a farm on Walnut Street, where he raised apricots, oranges and, naturally, walnuts.  Fred, however, by 1896 found a government job as postmaster, though this was in Needles, the eastern California desert town on the Arizona border.  He continued in that position for at least twenty-five years, but obviously spent much time in Santa Ana, where he met and married Pearl Glenn, an Iowa native whose widowed mother moved to Santa Ana in the late 1890s.  After their 1899 nuptials, Fred and Pearl Kelly raised two sons, though Pearl and the boys often lived with her mother in Orange County, while Fred tended to his job in Needles.

Sometime in the 1920s, though, Fred changed professions and became an engineer for a mining company.  While there was plenty of that being done in Needles, Fred had relocated permanently to Santa Ana.  Perhaps he purchased the property near Olinda because of his experience in the mining industry?  Perhaps further research will better establish the connection of the property discussed here with Kelly, Rogers, Sheerer, Packovich and California Crude Oil. 

Notably, the land covered in this post is west of the boundary line (being Valencia Avenue, seen at left) between the Rancho Cajon de Santa Ana and public land and going up to the border between Los Angeles and Orange counties.  Some of this area is now the Olinda Alpha Landfill.  It is also worth pointing out that, just west of this, and also covered by the map is the Brea Canyon property developed by more Santa Ana residents, including Albert Otis Birch, whose strange story was covered in an early post on this blog back in 2008.

This, however, concludes the series of posts on this fascinating map.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fred and Pearl Kelly are my great grandparents. Please email me at kfilar@hotmail.com
~Kimberly Kelly