10 June 2012

The 1900 Federal Census and Olinda

In 1896, Edward Doheny, who had opened the Los Angeles City oil field with Charles Canfield, engaged in drilling in a portion of the Fullerton township and soon brought in the first well of the Olinda oil field.  Not long afterward, William Loftus and Samuel C. Graham formed the Graham-Loftus Oil Company, invested $10,000 in the Olinda area, and put its first well, at 700-barrels per day into production in 1898.

The 1900 federal census is the first significant opportunity to see the new Olinda oil field community developing.  From 14-16 July, enumerator Clarence Dickson made his way through the field counting the residents of the small, but rapidly growing area.

Dickson tallied 123 persons in the field, although there were an additional 24 oil workers found in Fullerton and in what became Brea, many or most of whom would have worked at Olinda, as well.  Of these counted 63% were men and 68% were over the age of 21.  American-born residents comprised 94% of the total, with four Europeans (one each from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Sweden), two Canadians and one California-born Latino entailing the remainder of the citizens.

Stock certificate 172 from the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which incorporated in California just six weeks before the federal census was conducted at the new Olinda oil field in July 1900.  The certificate is signed by president William F. West and secretary Charles E. Price and is for 100 shares of stock with a par value at $1 each.  Click on the image to see a larger view in a separate window.  From the collection of YHB.

The Graham-Loftus Company was likely the largest employer at the time and company cofounder, William Loftus resided on the property his firm was developing, along the with William Graham, brother of the other founder and who was listed as an "oil overseer," or superintendent, on his census listing.

As noted in some previous posts, the Graham-Loftus firm had a direct connection to Union Oil Company, which was becoming a major player in the rapidly-growing California oil industry.  Based in Santa Paula in Ventura County, Union was founded in 1890 by Thomas Bard, Lyman Stewart and Wallace Hardison.  Hardison's sister married William Loftus in 1893. 

Loftus, born in 1860 in Brooklyn, New York (Brooklyn was a separate city later absorbed as a borough of New York City) to a Irish emigrant rope maker and his wife, worked in the oil fields of Pennsylvania (where the first American oil wells were produced in 1859) and was recruited to come to California to work for the oil industry and was first in a predecessor to Union Oil, a company called the Torrey Canyon Oil Company, operated by Bard and Hardison, before joining Union.

As to Samuel C. Graham, he was born in 1861 in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania and worked as a pumper, dresser and driller in the state's oil region until he relocated to Los Angeles in 1882.  He later went to work, like Loftus, for Torrey Canyon and then Union Oil and married another Hardison sibling, Mamie.  Whereas Loftus lived on the company's Olinda holdings in 1900, Graham resided in downtown Los Angeles with his wife and son and lived in that city until his death in 1934. 

In addition to his oil busines, Graham was a major player in political reform movements in Los Angeles, specifically the successful 1906 recall of Mayor Arthur C. Harper, and was treasurer of the Laguna Maywood Company, which bought land formerly part of the Rancho San Antonio (owned at one time by Antonio Maria Lugo, first owner of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and for whom Don Lugo High School in Chino is named), which developed the townsite of Maywood.

Meantime, another Pennsylvania oil worker, Benjamin Scott, joined the Union company and married another Hardison daughter.  Scott became a principal of the Columbia Oil Company, which soon became another major player at Olinda, thanks to the family connections with Hardison's firm.

The reverse of the above stock certificate for the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, dated 7 November 1900.  The company worked on 160 acres at the intersection of Carbon and Soquel canyons in the vicinity of today's Olinda Village community in Brea and drilled several wells there.  Click on the image to see a larger view in a separate window.  From the collection of YHB.

Just six week prior to the taking of the 1900 census, another oil company entered the ranks of prospectors in the Olinda area: this being the Carbon Canyon Oil Company (which was profiled here in a couple of posts from April 2010.)  The two sides of a November 1900 stock certificate from the company are shown as images here.

And, of course, Union Oil Company became a dominant presence in Brea, having a corporate building at the northeast corner of Imperial Highway and Valencia Avenue (also State Highway 142) for many years, until it was torn down not that long ago and is now the site of a future housing and commercial project.

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