27 January 2016

The Keene Ranch in Carbon Canyon

While Louis B. Joralmon established his Rancho Lindero at the Orange/San Bernardino counties line area of Carbon Canyon, there was a ranch on the Orange County side that featured another interesting history, that of Arthur G. Keene.

Keene was born in September 1878 in Fannin County, Texas, a rural sparsely-populated area northeast of Dallas.  His father Robert, a native Texan, came from a family who migrated from Kentucky and was a farmer.  His mother, Alice Yates, also hailed from the Lone Star state, and had Missouri roots.

The family moved northwest towards Amarillo and, in 1898, Keene married Rosa Sams, and the two started their family in another rural area, in Motley County, southeast of Amarillo, where they farmed.

A 17 October 1930 article in the Chino Champion details Carbon Canyon rancher Arthur G. Keene's themed show performed at the Ramona Indian Village near Culver City.
In the first decade of the 1900s, the Keenes, consisting of four sons, migrated west, settling in Mesa, Arizona, on the eastern fringes of Phoenix.  Arthur transitioned from farming into business pursuits, including ownership of a grocery store and barbershop and then the Mesa-Roosevelt Stage Company, which provided horse-drawn transportation and mail delivery service to the Tonto National Forest town of Roosevelt along the shores of the Salt River, northeast of Mesa.

After a few years, however, Keene pulled up stakes and headed further west and south to the eastern fringes of Imperial County near the Colorado River.  The reason was that the government had opened up land for homesteading in 1911 and Keene was one of the first applicants, receiving 320 acres.  Presumably, recent efforts to provide irrigated water to the area both spurred the offer of land and Keene's decision to move there, likely to farm.

However, he quickly moved on to the Los Angeles region and, in 1915, acquired Carbon Canyon land near the Orange and San Bernardino counties border from David Ewart, a Pomona clothier whose store, opened in 1908, was well-known for decades in that city and who had been buying up land in the area just afterward.

Later that year, Keene opened the Rose Cream Dairy and began a local milk delivery route, but gave that up within months to return to Texas with his family.  For a time, he returned to his home area near Dallas and farmed, before moving to Amarillo, where he worked as a contractor, realtor and then a teamster.

In 1923, the Keenes returned to Carbon Canyon, acquiring a ranch by lease on the Orange County side near Olinda.  This appears to have been on the south side of the canyon across from La Vida Mineral Springs and extending across the hills into Soquel and to Telegraph canyons, some of this land now being within Chino Hills State Park.  For a time, the Keenes lived in the Ventura area while still running cattle on the Carbon Canyon ranch.

A Champion  article about an event at Keene's Carbon Canyon ranch, 26 October 1934.
By the end of the decade, Keene was gaining some attention for the quality of the cattle and other stock that ranged on his ranch, as well as for his rodeo skills.  In September 1930, he provided some 200 animals for the city of Upland and its annual pioneer event and a Chino Champion article noted that he frequently provided stock, riders and stages at rodeos and other events.  A week later, he was performing at a rodeo in Merced, in central California.

In October, the Champion reported that a roundup based on Keene's life in Texas ranching as a younger man was being featured at an unusual venue: the Ramona Indian Village, located on Washington Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue in Culver City.

This auto park was the creation of an actor and author, Robert Callahan, and was intended to be a type of amusement park before it was reconfigured into a place where travelers could stay in tepees and pueblo-style units.  A theater, schoolhouse and chapel were part of the project, which survived until Interstate 10 was expanded in 1963.  The chapel and schoolhouse were moved to what is today Santa Clarita and survive at the William S. Hart Regional Park, near the historic home of the namesake, a famed silent film cowboy.

The nearly two-hour show featured a recreation of a roundup camp, cattle roping and bull riding, fancy roping and other elements and included wild horses and steers brought in from Texas.  While Keene hoped to continue with the show on a weekly basis, it is unknown if there were more than just the one performance.

A few years later, in 1934, Keene held a large-scale event at his own Carbon Canyon ranch, when 800 persons attended the annual convention of the Chuck Wagon Trailers association.  After a barbeque dinner at noon, bull and horse riding and roping demonstrations were provided during the afternoon, followed by a talk given by Al Jennings, an attorney turned outlaw with his brothers when the Jennings Gang committed crimes in Oklahoma at the end of the 1890s.  Jennings later came to Los Angeles and worked in film for a period.  It was also reported that one of the famed "Dalton Boys" of bandits was also in attendance at the event.  The Champion provided coverage of the festivities, complete with "Wild West" style language.

By this time, Keene, who was still in his 50s, had gone through a number of tragedies, including the deaths of two of his five sons and of his wife within a few years from 1928 to 1930 and his deteriorating health.  In spring 1935, he married Florence Rothlis and not long afterward, as paralysis overtook his body, he was committed to a state hospital in Norwalk.

Keene's obituary from the Champion, 26 March 1937.
A nasty battle erupted between his new wife and Keene's brother, James, who assumed management of the Keene ranch lease when Arthur was incapacitated.  Florence Keene charged Robert with mismanagement of the property, while he responded that she was using undue influence on her ailing husband and that she was a bigamist to boot--her first husband evidently abandoned her and there was no divorce, though state law allowed remarriage after five years of unwilling separation.

When Arthur Keene died in March 1937, all that was left to fight over was about $1200 in assets. After a funeral held in Chino, Keene was interred in the Ventura cemetery where his wife was buried.

Meantime, there is another remarkable story to come out of the Keene family and the ranch, which will be covered in an upcoming post.

20 January 2016

Carbon Canyon Housing Project Editorial

This view looks east from near Olinda Village in Brea across the hills on the north edge of Carbon Canyon, including the proposed Madrona project site (162 units, recently denied by an Orange County judge) and, at the right further in the distance, the 76-unit Hillcrest development, now under construction.
Here is the text of a letter to the editor which appeared in the Champion's current edition concerning pending housing developments in Carbon Canyon:
Concerning the “Chino Hills planners bless Canyon project architecture” article from January 9, planning commissioner Karen Bristow’s comment about Carbon Canyon residents not welcoming the Hillcrest community “because it was the beginning of subdivisions which they are not used to” may apply to some people, but here’s another reason. 
This project was not only approved by the county in 1989, but under a negative declaration engineered by then-Supervisor Robert O. Townsend.  This meant the project did not have an environmental impact report, because the declaration determined one was not needed.  
However, not only have conditions in the last 27 years changed enormously in the Canyon, with respect to traffic volume, fire risk, and loss of habitat, but our general water supply and other environmental conditions have transformed, as well.  No development should get this type of protection for decades.  
Significantly, Chino Hills appears ready to approve a zoning variance for another project, the 107-unit Hidden Oaks development, just across Carbon Canyon Road—this can’t be blamed on “the county days.”  The Hidden Oaks area was zoned under the city’s general plan with plenty of due consideration for legitimate reasons.  A change to benefit the developer at the expense of zoning appropriate for the canyon will compound the wrong perpetrated with Hillcrest decades ago.
We already have other projects in the pipeline on the Chino Hills side of the canyon that will potentially add nearly 250 houses.  The 162-unit Madrona project just over the county line on the Brea side was dealt a rare court defeat recently, but will probably be appealed.   Can we really see a viable future with what could be over 400 new homes in Carbon Canyon?  Conditions have changed, but accommodations for developers evidently have not.
The Hidden Oaks project will likely be coming before the Chino Hills Planning Commission soon, after which, pending approval by that body, the matter goes to the city council.

Anyone concerned about the effects and ramifications of another large-scale (over 100 units) development coming to the canyon, on the heels of the 76-unit Hillcrest development, now under construction, and the 28-unit Stonefield tract, now up for sale, and a couple of other smaller pending projects, should be ready to express their views when the time comes.

14 January 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 18362, 18444 & 18591

None of these appear to have been major accidents, but they look to be indicative of some drivers' tendencies to stray off the defined lanes of Carbon Canyon Road because of what could be excessive speed or some other distraction.  All of these date back at least a couple of weeks or longer, but are more recent than the last "On the Skids" post.

First up is at the middle section of the S-curve where a chain link fence has long stood between a tight curve off the westbound lane of the state highway.  Here an eastbound driver looks to have crossed lanes and taken out a section of the fence, which is bend towards that eastern direction.

Next is just a bit to the west, also on the eastbound lane, quite close to where a bicyclist was hit and killed a couple of years ago.  In this case, the driver veered off the rather plentiful shoulder and grazed the landscape slope beneath the Carriage Hills development, leaving some leftovers from their vehicle in the wake.

Finally, over on the Brea side and also eastbound, just past the old Manely Friends stable property, a car strayed off the road, scraped the bottom of the hillside, took out a reflector and deposited some debris, as well as what looks like fluids from the car on the roadway.

11 January 2016

Carbon Canyon Historic Artifact #49: La Vida Mineral Water Bottle Opener

This is the third bottle opener of a distinctive design from the La Vida Mineral Water Company or La Vida Bottling Company to be highlighted here.

These can be tough to date, but, given that La Vida bottled water appears to have been sold from about 1927 to 1963 and given that this is not likely from the earlier period, when the openers had a sharp point to piece the cap, but instead pulled the cap off from the outside, it might be from the 1940s or so.

Note that stamped on either side is the name "La Vida Beverages" and then, on one side, "Deliciously Different" and, on the other, "Everybody's Choice."  A search of newspaper ads, articles and other sources didn't come up with the use of those terms.

Anyway, this is another item to document the history of an enterprise that was heavily promoted and sold throughout the American West from the late Twenties to the early Sixties.

03 January 2016

L.B. Joralmon and the Rancho Lindero in Carbon Canyon

Over the years, Carbon Canyon has been home to a number of ranches, large and small.  One of the bigger examples was Rancho Lindero, a 400-acre property that was owned by Louis Bogart Joralmon, a major figure in Chino Valley real estate for nearly a half-century.

An advertisement from Louis B. Joralmon's Campbell-Joralmon Company for farm and ranch sales assistance in the Chino Valley, from the 21 January 1927 edition of the Chino Champion.
Joralmon was born in December 1870 in Fairview, Illinois, a rural village in the west-central part of the state near Peoria.  His father, John, was from New York City and related to an old, well-known family from Brooklyn where a Joralemon Street memorializes the family name.  John graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1852, becoming a minister with the Reformed Church of America (formerly the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church).  His mother, Martha Condit, also grew up in Newark and after she married John, the two volunteered to be missionaries in Amoy (now Xiamen) China for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

John and Martha Joralmon stayed in China for four years before returning to the United States in 1860 "on account of sickness."  In fact, after John was assigned to be the pastor of a church in Fairview just after their return, the couple's first child died of an unspecified illness.  Aside from Louis, there was another son, Henry, who became a banker and mining millionaire in Denver and then lived in New York.

A Champion article from 24 December 1937 reporting on the approval of a land swap proposed by L.B. Joralmon on Marshall Estate Properties he was liquidating to the City of Chino in exchange for forgiving delinquent taxes.
After some thirty years in Fairview, John Joralmon became a minister in Norwood Park, which was a suburb of Chicago until it was annexed in 1893.  During the family's stay there, Louis attended the University of Chicago, where he graduated that same year.  By the end of the decade, however, the family relocated to Denver, where Louis joined his brother in the banking business and also worked in real estate, while their father finished out his ministerial career.  In 1902, Louis migrated to Salt Lake City to further his real estate career, but he doesn't appear to have stayed in Utah for long.

It is not known exactly how Louis Joralmon came to Chino, but, in 1905, as E. J. Marshall was developing the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino through his Chino Land and Water Company, Joralmon was hired to be a land agent for the company.  He continued in this capacity for several years and moved up to be the chief agent by the early 1910s, overseeing all sales for properties of the company in the Chino area.

An 13 April 1934 ad from the Joralmon Land Company about contacts to local land owners from the Champion.
Sometime around mid-decade, Joralmon joined forces with Los Angeles realtor Thomas Campbell as a partner specializing in Chino Valley property, as well as other real estate deals in the Los Angeles region.  In 1919, the firm became known as the Campbell-Joralmon Company with Campbell as president, Joralmon as vice-president, and Jared S. Torrance, a Chino Land and Water Company officer and founder of the city of Torrance as an unspecified officer or partner.

Campbell (1882-1966) was a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota and studied mechanical engineering, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Dakota and then doing post-graduate work at Cornell University,  In addition to running his family farm in Grand Forks, he owned a concrete company and built the first streetcar in his hometown.  In 1910, he relocated to Los Angeles, which was then on the cusp of another of its many real estate and population booms.  He established the realty firm Thomas D. Campbell and Company in a downtown Los Angeles office, while residing in a tony neighborhood in Pasadena.

A Champion article from 1 December 1933 about Louis B. Joralmon's acquisition of the control of the Campbell-Joralmon Company, renamed the Joralmon Land Company.
Campbell became quite a real estate mogul as he not only was very successful in Los Angeles, but owned a 95,000-acre Montana ranch that made him the biggest American farmer of any kind and one of the largest wheat farmers in the world.  This distinction earned him a front cover photo in Time magazine at the beginning of 1928 and his Montana Farming Corporation was given a feature story.  He was also the owner of a staggering 500,000 acres in New Mexico.

The archival holdings of famed humorist Will Rogers included correspondence between Rogers and Campbell in which the latter, who served as an advisor to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin starting with Stalin's first five-year plan in the late 1920s and who was one of the first Americans to meet with the strongman.  Campbell helped organize the creation of millions of acres of wheat and the mechanization of these farms for the Soviets and Rogers sought to meet Stalin on a proposed trip to the Soviet Union, which did not take place.  He also consulted with the governments of England and France on agricultural techniques.

Campbell was also a brigadier general in the Air Force, serving in both World Wars and was the prime mover in the development of napalm, used first in the Pacific Theater in World War II and notorious for its application during the Vietnam War.  He served as a special consultant at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 that coordinated Allied plans for the conclusion of the war.  His boyhood home in Grand Forks, North Dakota, built by his Scotch-Canadian immigrant parents, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

An ad for the sale of bulls at L.B. Joralmon's Rancho Lindero at the San Bernardino/Orange counties line in Carbon Canyon from the 7 February 1941 edition of the Champion.
When the Campbell-Joralmon Company was established in 1919, it was because Campbell, though retaining the presidency was turning over the day-to-day management to Joralmon while he focused on his Montana wheat empire.  The business did realty work throughout the Los Angeles region and had a branch office in Fullerton for its Orange County transactions, while Joralmon used his experience with Chino Land and Water Company to continue marketing properties in the Chino Valley through his firm.  In 1925, Joralmon moved up on the marquee as the company was retitled Joramon-Campbell-Rowley, Inc. and a new partner, Walter J. Rowley, taken on.

Among the major deals consummated by Campbell-Joralmon and Joralmon-Campbell-Rowley in this area were:
  • the 1922 sale of 800 acres of land off Carbon Canyon Road, out near where Peyton Drive and Chino Hills Parkway meet today, to dairy farmer A.V. Handorf, who had his main dairy business in today's City of Industry; 
  • the sale of the 1187-acre McAllister Ranch in 1929 to Louis Abacherli in what is now the southern extremity of Chino Hills and some of which has been the subject of recent debate on rezoning for potential future residential and commercial development;
  • a 1924 sale of the old "Home Ranch" of Joseph Bridger, later owned by E.J. Marshall, to the Long Beach syndicate that developed Los Serranos Country Club and a tract subdivision on the 716-acre property; 
  • and what was touted as the last major sale of the former Rancho Santa Ana del Chino lands, a 400-acre property near Los Serranos sold in 1927 to F.W. Harris, a Chicago tycoon who was developing an Arabian horse breeding ranch.
One deal that appears to have fallen through, but would have been very notable, was one that involved William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Democratic Party candidate for president, a well-known "populist" supporting small farmers and laborers against big corporations and other moneyed interests, a renowned orator, and an attorney who won the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" case, which led to the conviction of a Tennessee high school substititute teacher who discussed evolution in the classroom.

An Orange County Register ad for the sale of Holstein Friesian bulls at Rancho Lindero, 23 May 1941.
In early 1924, the Champion announced that Bryan, then in the thick of the Scopes trial, had purchased 100 acres in what is now Chino Hills for a country residence, though details were not available.  Even if Bryan bought the land, he would probably have had to wait until the trial was ended before developing his new estate--but, Bryan died just five days after the momentous decision in the case was handed down.

Joralmon was also active in selling land in Soquel Canyon, which started, like Carbon Canyon, to be a desirable place for country homes and weekend retreats during the 1920s.  In fact, Joralmon was a prime mover in appealing to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1926 to study the possibility of building a road through the canyon where it meets Carbon Canyon at today's Olinda Village eastward to the new Los Serranos Country Club, which had opened the previous year.  A projected Soquel Canyon Road, while never built, remained on county maps as a possible project until just within the last several years or so.

A 13 April 1926 article from the Register covers a proposal from L.B. Joralmon and James Macklin of Huntington Beach to the Orange County Board of Supervisors for the consideration of a county highway through Soquel Canyon.
At the end of 1933, Campbell decided to bow out completely from the real estate business and Joralmon assumed complete control of the firm (Rowley had evidently only been a partner for a short period), which was refashioned into the Joralmon Land Company.  Even during the depths of the Great Depression, Joralmon, who was well into his mid to late sixties, was a very active and prominent person in local real estate.

An ad for the lease of 200 acres of what appears to be the Rancho Lindero, 19 March 1926, from the Champion.
One of his most interesting transactions was the liquidation of the holdings of E. J. Marshall, who transformed the Chino Land and Water Company into The Marshall Properties and then passed away in 1937 with some considerable unsold property in Chino.  From an office at Central and Chino avenues, Joralmon worked aggressively to dispose of the remaining lands. 

Late in 1937, Joralmon made a novel proposal to the Chino city council:  some choice property in downtown could be essentially traded from Joralmon's firm to the city in exchange for forgiving all delinquent property taxes on the property.  Articles in the Chino Champion detailed the acceptance of the plan because the city could use the parcels for civic and park purposes.  Today's civic center complex is largely situated on the land transferred to the city by Joralmon at that time.

Joralmon's work in local real estate continued until just after the conclusion of World War II and his final ad in the Champion was in March 1946 when he announced he was liquidating Marshall Estate property in downtown that he unsuccessfully tried to swap in a second tax eradication scheme with the city.  By then, he was 75 years old, though he remained in contact locally by continuing his subscription of a half-century with the Champion and by maintaining ownership of a ranch in Carbon Canyon, which he called Rancho Lindero.

A Champion ad from 22 March 1940 for pasture for rent at Rancho Lindero.
The word lindero in Spanish means boundary and, between 1923 and 1926, Joralmon and partner John C. Miles, an attorney whose office was in the same Los Angeles office building as Joralmon's, acquired 400 acres from the Chino Land and Water Company that was situated on both sides of the boundary line of San Bernardino and Orange counties, just north and west of the new subdivision of Sleepy Hollow, laid out in 1923.  

The first transactions, in April and September 1923, were for the San Bernardino County section and others, in January, June and September 1924, included the section within both counties as well as in San Bernardino County.  In October 1924, Sleepy Hollow's founder Cleve Purington and his associates sold property within their subdivision, probably as an easement for access from Catrbon Canyon Road, to Joralmon and Miles.  Finally, in April 1926, S.W. Smith sold additional land adjacent to the others to Joralmon and Miles, which appears to have been the final consolidation of their total holdings.

Joralmon, who maintained a residence in Hollywood for most of his life, appears to have both ran his own cattle and sheep on the Rancho Lindero, as well as leased the ranch out for those purposes.  Unfortunately, there is not much information available about the ranch or its uses, aside from an occasional advertisement taken out in the Champion by Joralmon for leasing opportunities on it.

A public notice statement establishing the name of L.B. Joralmon's Rancho Lindero Stock and Poultry Farms on the San Bernardino/Orange counties line from the Champion, 10 May 1940.
Among the tidbits located was that in 1928, Joralmon repoted to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors that a house was built on the easement to Carbon Canyon Road near his access to the ranch and that the building could be removed as a nuisance.  In 1936, the Chino Fire Department received the donation by Miles of a pig from the ranch for a banquet and it was noted that Miles, the guest of honor, spoke to the crowd and thanked the department for using Rancho Lindero as a place to demonstrate fire prevention work,   The year afterward, a water well was brought in on the ranch.  In 1940-41, Joralmon advertised for land to lease and for the sale of cattle from the property.

Beyond that, the ranch seems to have been owned by Miles and Joralmon until the former died at age 65 in 1955 and then Joralmon passed away a couple of years later in September 1957 at the age of 87.  The status of Rancho Lindero over the next fifteen years has not been tracked so far, but, in 1972, the ranch was sold to Frances Krug, leader of the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious community that has occupied the property for the last forty-five or so years.