07 July 2012

The 1910 Federal Census and Olinda

As noted in the previous post on the 1900 federal census at the newly-opened Olinda field, the development of oil there was just starting to come into prominence and so only 123 persons were counted at that location.

A decade later, however, there had been an enormous increase in activity, with many new companies engaging in operations at Olinda.  Consequently, when census taker John L. Nichols came into what he called the "Olinda precinct" (which, however, he had to cross out and replace with "Fullerton Township," the official designation), it took him about two weeks, from 28 April to 14 May, to complete his task.

Nichols counted 1,436 persons in Olinda during that period.  Of these, a little over 800, or 56%, of the residents were males.  Just a tick under 60% of the denizens were adults over the age of twenty-one.  Almost 88% of those listed were caucasians and the only reason it wasn't quite a bit higher is that, of the 114 Latinos tallied, almost half of them were temporary residents composed of a construction crew brought in by contractors Palmer, McBride and Quayle of San Francisco to build a spur railroad line for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (a.k.a., Santa Fe) Railroad Company from the main line running parallel to Orangethorpe Avenue from the Richfield oil field northwest to Olinda.  Curiously, sixteen of the men were found to have "unknown" ages, a telling sidenote about their "transient" status as contracted migrant workers.  There will be a post sometime about that spur line.  Of the Latinos, nine were from Spain, three from Portugal, and the remainder from Mexico, California and Texas.  A few households from one family made up 14 of the Latino community and there was a family of four from the Peraltas who were early settlers of Santa Ana Canyon during the pre-American era of California.

There were also 64 other foreign-born residents in Olinda that year, including two dozen Canadians, three dozen Europeans (from such countries as Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden.)  There was also one caucasian born in Barbados in the West Indies.  Finally, there was one Japanese male, two Chinese males who were a cook and waiter for the aforementioned railroad construction crew, and a Hawaiian.  This latter was Richard Kalelio, who was from Maui in Hawaii and who was associated with the Bailey family which established the Olinda Ranch in 1887 (named for their Olinda sugar plantation in Maui.)

Other interesting tidbits of note:  The Palmer, McBride and Quayle Company had a construction crew at the end of 1910 building a railroad line from Hollywood to Van Nuys for the Los Angeles and Pacific Railroad and it seems possible that many of the men counted in the census at Olinda wound up at the other project later in the year.  In addition to the contracted workers, there were several men listed at Olinda as employees of the Santa Fe Railroad as it was completing its spur line.

On five of the enumeration sheets were boarding houses operated by several of the oil companies working the fields, though the names of the firms were not given, as would be the case in the 1920 census.  In 1900, there were no company-owned boarding houses in the nascent field.

As in 1900, there was one president of an Olinda-affiliated oil company who resided on the field, this being William Loftus of the Graham-Loftus concern, one of the first to drill at Olinda.

Another interesting note was the birthplace of fifty-five year old Mary C. Davis, who resided with her family, while her husband George's occupation was given as "miner Mexico."  She was listed as being born "on the overland trail to California."  That would have been in 1854 or 1855 amidst the great migrations of wagon trains taking the Oregon and California trails west--maybe, in her case, she had gold-seeking relations going to the Golden State.

A toddler counted at Olinda in 1910 was Trent H. Steele, whose father James was an oil pumper.  The Steeles had just come to California from the original oil-producing state in America, Pennsylvania.  Later, the family would migrate to a new regional oil field at Montebello.  In 1930, Trent Steele produced a college paper about the community in and around the Montebello oil field.

Finally, there was a young oil driller residing at Olinda in 1910 who was from Illinois and who bore the name Walter Wrigley.  It would be highly coincidental if he was  not related to chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Junior, soon to be owner within a decade of Santa Catalina Island and builder of the minor league baseball stadium named from him at Los Angeles.

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