07 March 2012

Founders of Sleepy Hollow: The Shipyard Six Syndicate

The third of three sheets from the original 1923 tract map of Sleepy Hollow, which includes certification of the map by the community's six founders, who appear to have known each other from working in the Long Beach naval shipyards during World War One and the early 1920s.  The map was provided by the San Bernardino County Archives with assistance from former county archivist and current Riverside County archivist James Hofer.

Last post highlighted the 1923 tract map that inaugurated the existence of the Carbon Canyon community of Sleepy Hollow.  While the first two pages showed the mapping of original lots in the subdivision, the third page consisted of several acknowledgements.  The first was a certification that the document represented the survey conducted in August by Los Angeles civil engineer Edward Taylor and dated 24 October.  Another was a statement by San Bernardino County's surveyor and assessor that they examined each lot and its commercial or residential value and recommended approval by the Board of Supervisors.  Then there was the county clerk's certifying that, on motion of Supervisor Cheney, the board approved the map and ordered it filed, dated 26 November.  County auditor Vincent Rose then certified that all property taxes owed on the new subdivision were paid. 

A detail of sheet three with the signatures of the six founders: Cleve and Elizabeth Heald Purington; Charles and Olga Milberg Hale; George Wanley; and Charles M. Witter.  Only the Puringtons and Wanley actually lived in Sleepy Hollow.

This left three separate statements by the subdivision's owners.  One was a certification that they were owners "and that we are the only persons whose consent is necessary to convey a clear title to said land and we hereby consent to the making of said map and subdivision and hereby dedicate to public use, all roads shown on said map within said subdivision."  Two others were specific statements by five of the owners and another by a single owner that were notarized attesting that they were the persons named on the tract map.  Why one of the six had a separate notarized statement may have been a matter of scheduling--perhaps he was not available on the same day as the others?

A detail showing the certification that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors had approved the tract map for Sleepy Hollow, dated 26 November 1923.

In any case, who were these six people and what was their background?  Cleve Purington and his wife Elizabeth Heald, identified as the main figures in the creation of the community, have already been profiled here before, with respect to their backgrounds and history.  As to the other four, there was another couple:  Charles R. Hale and his wife Olga.

Charles Hale was born in August 1873 in Iowa, but moved at a young age to the town of Mineral, Illinois, a community about 30 or 40 miles east of the Iowa border, where his father John was a farmer.  By 1900, Hale was still in the area, living in the hamlet of Sheffield, a little east of Mineral and was working as a general store salesman.  He had recently married an Illinois native named Bertha, but it appears that during the ensuing decade his wife died, perhaps in childbirth.  By 1910, Hale had relocated to Duluth, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior and was living at a YMCA facility.  Moreover, he had a new occupation: civil engineer, which might have made him useful in the later founding of Sleepy Hollow.

By 1920, Hale had moved again, coming west to California, and a possible factor could have been jobs available due to the outbreak of World War I and the military buildup that was quickly initiated.  In particular, there were many jobs to be had in the shipbuilding industry at Long Beach.  In that year's census, Hale was living in downtown Long Beach and working as a shipyard foreman.  He had also remarried, his second wife being German-born Olga Milberg.  Born in 1882, Olga migrated to the United States with her family in 1892 and lived first in Washburn, Wisconsin.  By 1910, her blacksmith father, Paul, had taken the family to Duluth and, obviously, she met Hale there and came west with him.    Even after their role in founding Sleepy Hollow, the Hales remained in Long Beach and were there in the 1930 census, where Charles managed the apartment house they lived in with her father and the tenants.

A notarized statement certifying that five of the six owners of Sleepy Hollow were acknowledging that status.

Another Sleepy Hollow founder was Charles M. Witter, who was born in December 1860 in Centre, Indiana, a village in eastern Indiana close to the Ohio border, where Witter's father Henry farmed.  The oldest of ten children, Charles remained on the family farm until his marriage in 1887 to a local woman named Eva and, by 1900, he was running his own farm adjacent to his father's place.  In 1910, Witter was still at the home place after nearly fifty years, though he was married for a second time a couple of years before, though whether he was widowed or a divorcee is not known.  Witter did have a daughter, Alta, by his first wife. 

Then, by the 1920 census, Witter came west and, like Charles and Olga Hale, he and his second wife, Cora, were residing in Long Beach and Witter was working as a carpenter, almost certainly in the shipyards.  He and his wife had two young daughters, as well, though the four-year old was shown as born in California (indicating that the Witters came to Long Beach no earlier than 1916) and the two-year old was born in Indiana (perhaps on a brief return back to the home state.)   In 1930, the Witters were still in Long Beach, though the 69-year old Charles was retired.

Another notatized statement for the sixth owner, Charles M. Witter, signifying his acknowledgement as an owner.

Finally, there was George Wanley, born in November 1879 in Hartlepool, England, a seaside community in the northeast part of the country.  Wanley, whose parents were William and Mary, had two sisters, and appears to ahve remained in his hometown until the age of 27.  In 1906, he left Britain for the United States and, in the 1910 census, was living in San Francisco in a residential hotel and working in that city's large shipbuilding industry as a ship's fitter.  That position entailed holding pieces of steel on the hull for welding and riveting.  By the time the United States had entered World War I, however, Wanley had relocated to Seattle, another major shipbuilding center, and was engaged in the same occupation.  Notably, Wanley was in Seattle at the same time as Cleve Purington and, undoubtedly, the two worked together in the yards.  When Purington relocated to southern California, Wanley may well have followed him.

In any case, Wanley married rather late in life, becoming wedded to a woman from Iowa named Grace in about 1925.  By then, he had participated in the founding of Sleepy Hollow and also had the distinction of being the only other founder, besides the Puringtons, of living in the community he helped establish.  it seems likely that Wanley was closer personally to Cleve and Elizabeth Purington than the other founders of the community.  Wanley lived in the Chino area, perhaps in Sleepy Hollow, until his death at age 71 in July 1949.

The founders of Sleepy Hollow were not wealthy people, but, then again, they were buying "country" property in a rustic undeveloped canyon out in the "boondocks."  Their creation was not intended as a full-time residential subdivision, but as a place for people to buy small "cabin lots" and build a modest vacation place to spend a weekend or several weeks in the summer.  While there were, actually, a few full-time residents early on, it was not until well after World War II and the growing urbanization of the Los Angeles Region was moving further into the hinterlands that Sleepy Hollow became less a vacation spot and more of an established residential community.  While they have been unknown to residents of the neighborhood, these six founders, Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, Charles and Olga Hale, Charles Witter and George Wanley, were the founders of Sleepy Hollow nearly ninety years ago and deserve remembrance for their project.


ME_lodi said...

I love this! Thanks for the history lesson!

prs said...

Hello ME_lodi, thanks for visiting and leaving the comment about Sleepy Hollow's early history.

John Acevedo said...

Thank you for this article. I am the new proud owner of the Founders house located across from Rosemary Lane. Living here is beyond words, I intend on preserving this piece of History as it stands because it is definately a jewel to say the least.


prs said...

Hi John, welcome to the neighborhood and glad to hear you are the new owners of that house. There'll be a presentation on the history of Carbon Canyon next Monday at 7 p.m. at the Chino Hills Community Center on Peyton Drive, if you're available and interested to hear more on the local area.