18 January 2012

More Early La Vida Mineral Springs History

Early on in this blog, it was noted that an Orange County history timeline stated that William Newton Miller opened La Vida Mineral Springs in 1924.  However, there was an earlier operation at the site, going back at least a decade.

This was noted in a February 1915 issue of Junior Republic Magazine, the in-house campus publication of what was then called the George Junior Republic and is now Boys Republic, the facility for troubled youth that has been in Chino Hills since 1907.  The reference in the magazine, which was produced at a print shop that still exists today (although obviously using more modern printing methods--though some of the old typesetting machines are still there), was that, among the many print jobs done by the facility was one for "La Vida Springs."

Then, while research was being conducted on the 1920 federal census in the Olinda oil field area, there was a notable listing for the manager of "La Vida Springs," 36-year old Allen R. Abbott, residing with this wife Florence.  There were no other persons associated with the facility at that time, so it was clearly a small operation.  But, how did the "La Vida Springs" come into being?

First, work was done on Abbott's past, starting with his World War I registration information, which showed "Allen Roscoe Abbott", born in August 1884, living as a farmer in Buena Park.  Then a check of the California Death Index for 1940-1997 found a listing for Abbott as dying in July 1959, but, more importantly, that his mother's maiden name was Gaines.

Well, the neighboring household to Abbott's at La Vida in 1920 was rancher Edward F. Gaines (discussed previously in the 1920 and 1930 census posts for Olinda.)  Another look back at the 1900 census found Allen Abbott residing at Gardena in the South Bay area of Los Angeles with a younger brother, his father, Lucius P. Abbott, a farmer, and mother Sarah E., who was born in California with a father from Kentucky and a mother from New York, just like Edward Gaines, who was living in Downey in 1900.

The Abbott family goes back to the 1850s to Russellville, Ohio, a small farming town southeast of Cincinnati and near the Kentucky border, where Lucius was born.  Then, the family moved to Ross, Illinois in the central eastern part of the state, very close to Indiana.  Finally, during the 1870s, the Abbotts relocated to Wilmington, the town where the Port of Los Angeles is now located, and engaged in farming.  After Lucius Abbott died, his mother, the former Sarah Gaines, remained in Gardena until the 1920s and then moved to Highland Park, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.  She lived until age 96, dying in 1960.  As to Allen Abbott, he relocated to Edwards, Montana to resume farming, but returned to Los Angeles where he died in July 1959 at the age of 74.

So, it seems possible that it was Edward Gaines who first developed "La Vida Springs," assuming that he had left his Downey farm for Carbon Canyon between 1910 and 1915, when the Boys Republic magazine mentions the Springs and then hired his nephew to run it for him.

By 1925, there was still some reference to "La Vida Springs," specifically a North Orange County directory listing for a restaurant waitress named Verna Swift.  The next year's directory, however, shows a name change to "La Vida Mineral Springs" for a chauffeur there named Harold Brennan.  In addition, articles of incorporation were filed on 27 March 1924 in Sacramento for the "La Vida Mineral Springs Company," though no information about the incorporators was found for the now long-dissolved company.  Presumably, this would have been when William Newton Miller established his resort.

In 1927, there were additional persons associated with the Mineral Springs, specifically Harold's father, Peter, listed as a masseur, and Fred J. Cline, the manager.  While Brennan resided on the property, Cline and his wife, Nellie, were living on Main Street in Placentia.  Cline was also listed as manager of the resort in 1928 and at the same Placentia residence.

By 1930, both in the North Orange County Directory and the federal census, there was a change in personnel.  Cline was no longer shown at the Springs, but Brennan, a 51-year old native of Ohio, continued to reside there and work as a masseur, while his 42-year old wife, Laura, born in Kansas, was a masseuse.  Their son, Harold, noted above and a native of Nebraska, also resided with them and was listed as an "odd jobs laborer," though whether at the Springs or elsewhere is not known.

There was also the "bath man" in 52-year old Minnesotan, Dan Mangan, and his wife Nellie, 41, originally from Illinois, who was listed as "Proprietor Hotel," meaning, obviously, the new hotel at the Springs.  The couple's 18-year old son, Howard, a Canadian native, also resided with them.  Mangan is also listed as an employee at La Vida, though not a specific occupation, in the 1930 North Orange County Directory.

This left "cafe operator" Archie Rosenbaum, born to a Jewish family at the end of December 1882 in Russia, who emigrated to the United States as a boy in the early 1890s.  Rosenbaum's wife, Mary, a 45-year old from Iowa, was in the household, as was a 17-year old Californian of Austrian ancestry, Anna Szettere, listed as a "waitress."

Rosenbaum has, in a few sources, been identified as the owner of La Vida, although references found so far, whether they be from Orange County voter registration or North Orange County Directory listings uniformly list him as a "cafe operator" or a "cafe man."  The earliest date for Rosenbaum in the area is 1926, when he and his wife are shown in the directory as residing in Rural Free Delivery (a postal delivery term) District #1 in Placentia, which did include La Vida, though there is no occupation given.  There was also an obscure newspaper reference from October 1928 about Rosenbaum, of Placentia, having his car license plates stolen and used on stolen vehicles in robberies in central California.  Then, there are the 1930 references noted above.

Rosenbaum can be traced in southern California to between 1900 and 1910 when he and his wife Abbie Hall, resided on Grand Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles and where Archie was a hotel waiter.  In the 1910s, the couple had relocated to the Florence district of south Los Angeles, and Archie was working as a shipyard foreman for the Bagley Southwestern Shipyard Company at San Pedro during the height of the World War I military buildup when he registered for the draft in September 1918.  

After the war ended, Rosenbaum went back to the restaurant business and, enumerated at Florence in the 1920 census, his occupation was given as manager of a cafe and the Rosenbaums remained in that area until at least 1922.  Clearly, his years of restaurant experience brought him, by at least 1926, to run what was likely a new restaurant at the recently reconstituted La Vida Mineral Springs.  As some oral histories of Olinda oil field workers revealed (noted in early posts to this blog,) Rosenbaum was able to develop a customer base with Los Angeles Jews who patronized La Vida.  The opening in 1928 of the Camp Kinder Ring facility by the Arbeter Ring, a liberal Jewish organization from Los Angeles, on the San Bernardino side of Carbon Canyon, where a horse ranch now occupies the site with some of its original buildings, probably also facilitated the growth of the Jewish clientele at La Vida.

Rosenbaum remained at La Vida until at least 1940, when the biennial voter registration record shows him still as a cafe owner.  By 1944, however, he and his wife were back at Florence working in the restautant business and listings for him continue into the 1950s.  Archie died in early 1966 in Los Angeles at age 83.

Another notable development in the early years of the history of La Vida was the formation of the La Vida Mineral Water Company, which appears to go back as far as 1929.  This may also have been a brainchild of Rosenbaum, although no incorporators of the separate company have been located so far.  By early 1931, though, advertisements for La Vida Mineral Water showed up in downtown Los Angeles and as far afield as Prescott, Arizona.  Radio and print advertisements and a listing of copyright entries with the federal government soon followed in 1932 and there was even a San Francisco office listed in that city's directories starting in 1932.  By 1934, there was a Los Angeles office on West 2nd Street and a name finally associated with the mineral water firm:  An H. Schugt appears in the 1935 North Orange County Directory as the manager at the same post office box adddress as for Rosenbaum.

As mentioned in the 1930 census post for Olinda, this year should bring the release of the 1940 federal census (these are made public after 72 years.)  While it is known that Rosenbaum was at La Vida to at least that year, it will be interesting to see who else was counted in that enumeration at the Springs as the history continues into the World War II years and beyond.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know how to contact you other than place a comment on this blog.

cert# 500

would it be worth anything to a collector? or even a local? :)
Just curious. thanks

prs said...

Hello anonymous, as a matter of fact, I'm going to do a post here pretty soon on the La Vida Mineral Water Company and its late 1920s/early 1930s activties. If you're interested in selling, how do I get in contact? Thanks.

sweetsimplicity said...

wow! I'm looking forward to it! neat! :) i believe that i'm under the username gigglefight. I'll post the comment under my google account. k. this is a great blog for info; I've just passed the link on. :) another is interest in more information on this company

please email me; I'm subscribed to this blog. feel free to email me back on my gmail. thanks.

here's a link to a user on listia, it maybe of interest you.

sweetsimplicity said...


just a little help to a fairly new user on listia.com :)


prs said...

Hello sweetsimplicity, I didn't see a Google e-mail addres for you on your Blogger profile. Thanks.

sweetsimplicity said...

yes. i noticed. it's like on this blog as well. anyhow here it is:

keep in touch!