Sunday, January 3, 2016

Memories at Mexi-Casa! Over 50 Years of History

This is a little off from the normal "historical" blogs on Anaheim that I usually write about, but it is one near and dear to my heart. You see, the little Mexican Restaurant known as "Mexi-Casa" located at 1778  W. Lincoln Boulevard was the backdrop to many of my family's memories, going back to its opening in 1965. For over 50 years this restaurant has been serving Anaheim families and making a name for itself without ever having to advertise.

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Mexi-Casa's earliest customers, my mother, Sandy. She started frequenting the restaurant back when she was still attending Anaheim High School in 1965. Both she and my aunt Kathy (my father's sister) would eat there regularly when it first opened and they loved it so much they told everyone to eat there, too. Word got around so much that before they knew it, all their friends were eating there and the restaurant became really popular. My aunt talked about it so much at home that it eventually piqued my grandparent's interest, starting a family tradition of eating there together regularly.

This tradition continued for years. As far back as I can remember my paternal grandparents, my mom, my dad, my aunts and uncles, cousin and my siblings and I ate at Mexi-Casa at least once a week together as a family....sometimes more than once a week separately, too! Other times we would sneak away to eat there and run into my aunt and uncle eating there at the same time. It seemed that we would always run into someone we knew at Mexi-Casa.

The original location of Mexi-Casa was located at 1750 W. Lincoln (which was the "El Conejo" club for many years; now Cuban Pete's). The 2nd location was where "The Clock" restaurant originally stood (this was demolished during the I-5 expansion in the 80s). The last and hopefully final location, where it stands today, is at 1778 W. Lincoln Boulevard. Once the restaurant for the Kettle Motor Motel, the 70's style lounge decor left within the structure seems to fit perfectly with Mexi-Casa's old vintage flare thus there was no need to remodel.

From the moment you step foot into this intriguing dive that I love to call a home away from home, you literally step back into the past. The heavy wooden door conceals dark paneled hideaway in the heart of Anaheim just waiting to be discovered. Kitsch light fixtures illuminate the room, while old dusty sombreros and wooden decor hang from the walls. From the red leather booths to the menu prices itself,  it seems that you really do transport back to another time, when prices were cheaper and life was more laid back. Even some of the waitresses are the same ones I remember from long ago. (How is that possible?) ;-)

For that hour or so that you dine, you really feel like you are apart from the world. When all is done, you pay with cash (again, we are in a time warp where plastic cards don't exist!), hand the cashier a couple dimes for a few Andes Mints from the counter and you exit back out that heavy wooden door. Your eyes squint as you venture back out into the real world, and into the daylight. For that short time you escaped, and although it's over, the restaurant seems to beckon you back once in awhile, for that taste of a simpler time.

Mexi-Casa truly is one of Anaheim's historic treasures. Perhaps not an early Anaheim treasure, but a treasure nonetheless.

(Copyright 2016- J'aime Rubio www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love and Marriage- The Schmidt & Langenberger Scandal of Anaheim

Petra Ontiveros Langenberger
What would you do for love? Many people may say, "anything," if one is truly in love. However, the standards of today were not acceptable a hundred years ago, or even 140 years ago. If one loved someone, and the person they loved were married, back then you kept it to yourself, unless you wanted to cause a scandal and bring reproach to your name, or the name of your family. For Augustus Langenberger, I guess love was all that mattered, and he created one heck of a scandal back in the early 1870s, shortly after the death of his first wife, Petra.

Augustus Langenberger came to the United States from Germany in 1849, settling in what would later become Anaheim. At the time, the land belonged to Juan Pacifico Ontiveros and it was called "Rancho de Cajon de Santa Ana." In 1850, Augustus married Juan Ontiveros' daughter, Petra. He also became the very first merchant in Anaheim's history. In 1857, Juan Ontiveros sold 1,160 acres of his land to George Hansen, who wanted to set up a German colony for the Los Angeles Vineyard Society. Within that group of new colonists was the Schmidt family, Theodore and Clementine. Several historical books claim that it was Theodore Schmidt who came up with the idea to name the town, Anaheim.
Augustus Langenberger

Theodore Schmidt was a native of Prussia, who came to the United States in 1848. He married his wife, Clementine (or Clementina) in June of 1859 in San Francisco. They were the parents of five children: Theodore Edward Schmidt, Jr., Clementine, Frances Emily, Rose Amanda, and William Frederick.

Theodore & Clementine Schmidt
It is uncertain when Augustus was struck with his infatuation or "love-sickness" for Clementine, but it was very apparent shortly after the death of his wife, Petra.  In July of 1867, Petra gave birth to a son which soon died. "Infant" Langenberger was the very first burial in what is the Anaheim Cemetery on Sycamore Street in Anaheim. Within two months, Petra grew ill and also passed away on September 7, 1867. She was the second burial in the cemetery. Her husband August gave her a meager wooden cross to mark his symbol of love, or possibly lack thereof, for his wife. 

Augustus Langenberger had money, his original residence was located on San Pedro Street, which later became 124 West Center Street between Los Angeles and Lemon Streets.  It was a 12-room adobe structure which acted as a residence, a bank, a general mercantile store and the Wells Fargo Express office for Anaheim.  It also acted as the primary trading post in between Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Gabriel.  That structure stood until 1919, when it was demolished.

Langenberger Adobe
Painting of Clementine
With all that Augustus had, it was not enough, he wanted Clementine for himself. At one point he decided to name some of his land after his love-- not his deceased wife, but another man's wife, Clementine Schmidt.  Whether there were any physical improprieties committed between the two, or perhaps Clementine was flattered by the attention, it still caused quite the scandal at the time. It became so bad in fact that her husband Theodore Schmidt tried to win back his wife's affections by buying her land, giving her extravagant gifts and money, to no avail. Clementine had enough of her marriage to Theodore Schmidt and wanted a divorce. Schmidt had enough, and moved to New York, leaving Clementine to do as she pleased. By 1873, Clementine had filed for and received a divorce decree and by 1874, she was Augustus' bride.

That same year, Clementine's 13 year old son, Theodore Jr., died from what was said to have been an accidental gunshot wound. Thanks to the great detective work of John Marshall, a fellow member of our History of Anaheim Facebook Group, he put the pieces together, finding out the cause of Theodore, Jr.'s death. According to the newspaper of the time, on February 9, 1874, Theodore Edward Schmidt, Jr., was out hunting with friends at the Bolsa Chica Rancho when he attempted to shoot a hare from inside of a wagon. The "hammer (of his gun) caught on the seat of the wagon, and fell on the cap, exploding the charge, which entered behind the ear." He died a very gruesome death, instantly.

Villa Mon Plaisir
Back to the story,- Augustus and Clementine lived out the remainder of their lives together at the residence they called "Villa Mon Plaisir" or the "House of My Pleasure." Seems rather fitting since the two of them were very bold in getting what they wanted,  no matter what obstacles stood in front of them. Their home was one of Anaheim's most beautiful, situated on Clementine and Sycamore Streets, surrounded by orange groves, where Pearson Park stands today. 

Augustus passed away on April 3, 1895 and was interred in the elaborate Langenberger family mausoleum in the Anaheim Cemetery. Clementine lived another eighteen years, finally passing away on October 8, 1913. There is a memorial plaque on the mausoleum that has the dates 1849-1915, however those dates are incorrect according to Anaheim Cemetery records.

I guess we will never know how the relationship between Clementine and Augustus ended up on a personal level. Did they get the happy ending they both wanted? Was everything worth it in the end?  Again, we may never know. From records and photographs the pair appeared to be happy, even into their older years. 

Still, I cannot help but feel sorry for Theodore Schmidt and of course, Petra. The fact that Augustus didn't bother to erect a beautiful mausoleum for his first wife, but only erected a wooden cross, (not even a monument or fancy headstone), makes me feel even more sad for Petra. Instead, he names land after Clementine and eventually the pair end up in one of the finest private mausoleums in the cemetery, just feet away from Petra's meager grave.  Over the years Petra's headstone rotted until it was eventually nonexistent. By the 1970s, Mother Colony Household had a plaque put in place for Petra, and now she has a proper marker so that she can never be forgotten again. 

(Copyright 2015) J'aime Rubio

All photos from Calisphere via Anaheim Public Library Archives (for educational purposes only).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anaheim’s White House Restaurant - Untold History Uncovered


Gervais House- 1912 (APL Archives)
Sitting on Anaheim Boulevard near Vermont Avenue is the Anaheim White House. This award winning restaurant started in one of Anaheim’s early historic homes in 1981, as a last minute decision by the Stovall family. Originally, Jim and Barbara Stovall had acquired the historic property with the intention of tearing down the building and constructing condominiums in its place. It was said that on the evening before the demolition, Mrs. Stovall had a change of heart and decided to save the home and have it turned into a restaurant. It opened for the first time on December 31, 1981. By 1987, Chef Bruno Serato had purchased the restaurant and turned the White House into an exclusive and elegant dining establishment that continues to this today.

Although many have dined here over the years, including celebrities and even former Presidents, not much is known about the home’s early history, until now.  Please take a step back in time with me to see where this stately manor had its start and the first families who called this house, “home.”

Originally built in 1909, the first family to live there was original owners, the Gervais family. Dosithe Gervais was born in 1872, in Illinois, but came from French-Canadian immigrant parents. He and his wife, Alberta married in February of 1894. They brought their three daughters up in the home, Gladys, Violet and Dorothy. Dosithe Gervais was a farmer, and later went on to raising poultry.

Interestingly, I found that the Gervais daughters were prolific writers, often times winning writing contests that were published in the Los Angeles Herald. All three were avid writers despite their young age, and it appears as though the older two, Gladys and Violet were regularly published in a children’s section of the newspaper, known as the Junior Herald.  By reading their work, I was able to get a sense of their personalities, which were quite lovely. Tales of adventure and excitement, humorous limerick writing and short stories were common as well as letter writing contests. One such contest seemed to stand out during my research. Ironically, this published work by Gladys Gervais seems to go along well with the overall theme that this home would later adopt.

Los Angeles Herald, 2/6/1910
The February 6, 1910, issue of the Los Angeles Herald mentions young Gladys Gervais competing in a writing contest for a popular column at the paper known as “Letters to Aunt Laurie,” noting her as an “honorable mention,” and publishing her short blurb on the subject of former President Abraham Lincoln.

Gladys’ letter was under the subheading, “Walked Many Miles to Correct Mistake”:
“Dear Aunt Laurie,
When Mr. Lincoln was clerking in a country store, a woman who lived four miles away and who came to the store once a week for supplies, entered one day and gave an order. Mr. Lincoln gave her the goods and received the pay.
When the woman had been gone about an hour Mr. Lincoln discovered he had not given her enough coffee. She ought to have had four ounces more.  So he wrapped up four ounces of coffee and tramped four miles through the woods.
The reason I like this story so well is because it shows the honesty of Mr. Lincoln, and verifies the title, “Honest Abe.”—Gladys Gervais, Anaheim School, Grade 8, Age 14.

Although short, this peek into the young mind of Gladys Gervais shows the respect and admiration of our forefathers that she was taught by her parents.  The Gervais daughters were mentioned many times in archived newspapers for being listed on the honor roll at the Anaheim School. By the time their children had grown up and moved away, Dosithe and Alberta Gervais moved on as well in 1916.  I found that they moved around California over the years, eventually living in Atascadero. Their final resting place can be found at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, where both Mr. & Mrs. Gervais were laid to rest.

By 1916, the home was sold to George Waterman, who lived for a short time on the property. Soon the Waterman’s sold the home to a young doctor, who had just started his career in Anaheim a few years earlier.  Dr. John Truxaw and his family were the next residents of this beautiful home.

Dr. John Truxaw was born on August 4, 1883, in Gage County, Nebraska. His mother was from Iowa, while his father was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who came to the U.S. to live the “American Dream.” It was in 1912, while finishing up medical school at the University of California that John Truxaw met Castilla Louise Wallberg, who was going to nursing school. By August 27, 1913, the couple were wed.  Dr. Truxaw moved to Anaheim in 1912, to start his medical practice which was located at 107 E. Center Street. 
Dr. John Truxaw (APL Archives)

Besides being the beloved Anaheim physician who saw to at least 3,500 births during his career, he and his wife also raised eight children.  Their names were John, Jr., Mary, Robert, Louise, Joe, Joan, Jean and Carol.  Dr. Truxaw's wife mentioned in her memoirs that her Buick had stalled out one day right in front of the home on Los Angeles Street. She came in to use the phone to call for a tow when she instantly became interested in the home. Every house she had been looking to buy was not to her standards and she really wanted that one. Unfortunately the house wasn't for sale, yet! After some serious begging to her agent, one day she heard news that the home was on the market. As soon as it became available the Truxaw's scooped it up and became the next owners. 

Apparently the former owners were taking too long to move out, and it was causing Louise to become very impatient, so she wrote them and basically stated that she would be living in the house with them if they didn't get out soon, because she was moving in. When moving day arrived she said they were literally moving things in the back door, as the old owners were moving out through the front door.  Louise's determination proved to be the best decision, as she spent many years in a lovely home that she adored.
From Louise Truxaw's Memoirs

At home, Dr. Truxaw had a small orange grove that surrounded the property. He also loved animals, including pheasants, ducks, chickens and turkeys, along with the family dog, a three-legged St. Bernard named Pancho. According to the family story, at one time the dog had been hit by a car and Dr. Truxaw refused to have the dog put to sleep. He made sure the veterinarian cared for him until he was well enough to be brought back to their family, where he was loved and managed to live just fine.  In a genealogical biography online, a nephew of the Truxaw’s, Micheal Winney wrote his memories while living with his aunt and uncle in the 1950’s. He mentioned that Mrs. Truxaw was an avid genealogist and enjoyed traveling to Iowa and Illinois to do family research. She was also very artistic, and her studio was upstairs across the hall from her bedroom. 

Dr. Truxaw’s career spanned four decades, as he watched the children he delivered grow up to have children of their own, and grandchildren of their own.  After a long fight with cancer, Dr. Truxaw succumbed to his illness and passed away on October 23, 1952. His wife remained in the home until her death in 1969. 

                Since then, the home has seen several other owners come and go, until finally Chef Bruno Serato purchased the property and brought it back to life again. Although this home is now a restaurant, you can see the love and care that has been put into it. I am sure if Dosithe Gervais or Dr. Truxaw were here today, they would see what a marvel this home has continued to be, now allowing thousands of people per year to feel the inviting atmosphere that the original families must have felt daily. That same feeling when you walk through those doors has withstood over 106 years, evidently showing that it will forever remain their home.----

(Copyright 2015, J'aime Rubio. All Rights Reserved)

Thank you Lisa Shaughnessey for the snippet of  Louise's memoir


A copy of this story will be provided to the Anaheim Historical Society for preservation purposes as well as a copy going to the Anaheim White House Restaurant for their own historical files.--- 

photo by Ed Wiesmuller - Copyright 2015

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ostriches in Anaheim?!


The thought of ostrich farms in Anaheim sounds quite odd to me, but history records prove that it did happen. In fact, there were quite a few different people who had ostrich farms within Anaheim and Orange County in the late 1800s.

Dr. Sketchley

Starting around 1883, a man known as Dr. C.J. Sketchley started the very first ostrich farm in Anaheim, California, on a 640 acre ranch that once belonged to Abel Stearns. A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Sketchley was the first to bring ostriches to California. 

They brought the first 21 birds to the farm from Africa. None of the birds were lost or died on the trip over, except for one female who killed her mate. Being that ostriches were so foreign to locals, Dr. Sketchley's farm became a magnet for hundreds of people daily, showing up uninvited to the farm to get a look at these enormous, flightless birds. Soon after opening the farm, Dr. Sketchley grew frustrated with the constant impositions that visitors made to his business. Constantly worrying about visitors and dogs coming on to his property and annoying the birds, or attempting to steal the valuable feathers, he started to charge $ .50 per head which would be the equivalent today of about $12 per person to visit, hoping to get rid of visitors. Unfortunately, that didn't do much good. Being that feathers were worth so much at the time, people risked their own safety by sneaking onto Sketchley's property to pluck feathers off of the ostriches in order to sell them.


L.A. Herald, January 29, 1887
In an interview for the New York Times in October of 1883, Sketchley was quoted saying, "when you ask me what are the greatest drawbacks I have met with I must answer dogs and visitors,  and perhaps the visitors are the worst."  Eventually, Anaheim became too much for Sketchley so he moved to a farm just outside of Los Angeles, leased by G. J. Griffith.  Later a rail line from Los Angeles to the farm was put in, and Sketchley gave in to allow a tourist attraction along with his ostrich farm located where Griffith Park stands today.


Dr. Sketchley wasn't the only one who went into the Ostrich farming business either....

Edward Atherton

The next fellow to come to Anaheim with ostriches on his mind was Edward Atherton. Another fellow South African, just like Sketchley, Atherton was well experienced as an ostrich farmer. 
Edward Atherton was born in Cape Town, South Africa on May 29, 1860, who was the son of Cape Town pioneer John Atherton, a native of Manchester, England.  His father, being business savvy, not only owned a farm of over 500 acres for grain, vineyards and stock, but he also owned two factories, one for distilling liquor and another for scouring wool. 

"The History of Orange County" claims that in December of 1886,  Edward came to Anaheim to acquire the 21 birds that had originally came to Anaheim a few years earlier. I had originally assumed, given this exact number, this was Dr. Sketchley's original birds but it doesn't appear to be so. It also states that upon arriving, Atherton learned that the 21 birds had grown to 46, after breeding. 

The book goes on to state the original 21 birds sent to Anaheim, came in 1882 after being in an exhibition in San Francisco in 1881. Then they were moved to Anaheim in 1882 by the California Ostrich Farming Company, managed by R.J. Northam.  Atherton eventually settled on a farm close to Fullerton and bought out Northam's interest in the business. Towards the end of his career in ostrich farming, he sold all but eight birds and kept most of his land for growing Valencia oranges and walnuts.   The wedding photo of Mr. Atherton and his wife can also be seen on the mural of the Chase Bank (fka Home Savings of America) at 101 S. Harbor Blvd on the corner of  Lincoln.




OSTRICH FARMER, EDWARD ATHERTON~ Born in Cape Town, South Africa on May 29, 1860. Edward Atherton came to California via Cape Horn. In 1886, Edward came to Anaheim and became one of the first Ostrich Farmers. He married Carolina Sellinger in 1897 and they had three children: Malcolm, Miranda and Dalton.
Edward Atherton at farm



 Ostriches Were Useful!

Although ostriches are not well tempered birds, they seemed to be useful for different things, such as delivering mail. Well, not exactly, but at least pulling the mail cart to deliver the mail! Honestly, I don't know how anyone managed to deal with these birds, as I had my own run in with an ostrich when I was just a teenager and I thought it was going to attack me. Let me just say, calling these birds grumpy is an understatement. They are very violent and prone to kicking anything they see. Somehow or another, they were able to use them successfully around town.






  MAIL BY OSTRICH!-- In this photo you will see Anaheim barber, Willard A. Frantz standing next to a cart and R.F.D. (Rural Free Delivery) postman Frank Eastman in cart on a dirt road, drawn by pair of harnessed ostriches named Napoleon and Josephine. (1896)



 Ostrich Racing?!




And let us not forget animal trainer, Gene Holter and his ostrich races. I found many advertisements in archived magazines and books for his many races of ostriches in Anaheim, and all over.

Apparently he had his farm at 8901 Kathryn Drive in Anaheim for a while. (Note: There are two streets with that name, one being spelled Kathryn and the other Catherine. I know, because I grew up on Catherine Drive in Anaheim, too.) It appears as if his races were during the 1950s and 60s.

Well there you have it folks, a brief but educational glimpse into Anaheim's past and it's strange intrigue over ostriches!

(Copyright 2014) J'aime Rubio, Dreaming Casually Publications

Photos: Anaheim Public Library Archives, Anaheim Historical Society
Sources:
Various newspaper clippings, L.A. Herald, New York Times, and History of Orange County.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Historic Anaheim Homes - Then & Now!

 This will be one of many posts to this blog showing "Then and Now" photos of some of Anaheim's beautiful historic homes. I have had the privilege to work with another fellow Anaheim history buff to compile these great photos to give you a glimpse at some of our local history.

Anaheim resident and history teacher, Ed Wiesmuller has caught the eye of many Anaheim history lovers lately. His new spin on an old favorite type of comparison photography has all the vintage flare with just enough history mixed in it to be entertaining and educational.  It was just last Summer when Ed decided to join in on the "History of Anaheim" group page via FACEBOOK, where he quickly dove in head first, immediately contributing his photography, Anaheim history knowledge and also added his own style to the group.

Ed's signature is his "Then & Now" photography of historic homes throughout Anaheim. This will be the first of several posts that feature Ed's photos, which usually feature one of his classic cars, along with historic information on the homes. This unique and very interesting style used by Mr. Wiesmuller, captures the Vintage aura that many of us "Anaheim'ians" love so much.




THE BACKS RESIDENCE
188 N. Vintage Lane

The Backs' house originally stood on Los Angeles Street (now Anaheim Boulevard) and Lincoln Avenue. Built in 1902, this house belonged to early Anaheim residents, the Backs family. The moving of this home in the late 1980s ignited a law suit that allowed many of the other Anaheim historic homes to be moved and restored to their former grandeur.  To read more about the history of the home, see L.A. Times article from 1986, click here.





THE FISCUS RESIDENCE
902 W. Broadway

This home was once the residence of Joseph Fiscus, a walnut and citrus rancher, and was originally located at 1001 South Los Angeles Street (now Anaheim Blvd.) at Vermont Street. It was later moved to 902 West Broadway.

Note from J'aime Rubio: My mother used to babysit at that house in the early 1960s, and she always said the house was creepy!







THE BOEGE RESIDENCE
500 N. Clementine
One of the first homes built on this tract, the Boege home cost a reported $8,000 at the time it was constructed in 1922.  Designed by architect, Frank Benchley for Vice President of  First National Bank and City Treasurer, Charles Boege and his family. This 7-room house was considered one of the most costliest of the time. Thankfully this home still stands in its original location.



THE DUCKWORTH RESIDENCE
521 N. Lemon St.


Built in 1922, this was the home of William E. Duckworth.  William was the son of  J.W. Duckworth, the postmaster of Anaheim.  A member of the Degree of the Woodmen of the World, Duckworth was also a local fuel and feed merchant and land developer. This home is still in its original location.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE POSTS........




(Copyright 2014) J'aime Rubio, Dreaming Casually Publications

Photos:  Archived Photos c/o Anaheim Public Library Archive Collection
              Newer photos c/o Ed Wiesmuller, All Rights Reserved.

Enid Rimpau & The Mystery on Zeyn Street



Rimpau House on Zeyn Street


When I was a young girl visiting my Grandparents as usual in Anaheim a few blocks from where I lived, I went down good old Sycamore Street to the Park (Pearson Park) where the ducks roamed. There was plush green grass and a pond that ascended over the entire property. I loved to go there as a kid. There was also a certain house just down the street from this park that always caught my eye. It is located at 503 Zeyn Street.

At the time I knew nothing of the history within its walls. All I knew is I was drawn to the house for its beautiful appearance. I became so interested by the house I began asking about it. There was something about this house that was so beautiful and so rare, unlike any other on the block. I imagined myself there, as if I could step back in time to a different era. When things were simple and life was pure. Staring into the windows of that old house I felt sad. Sad that I knew there was a history behind its walls, but I was unable to know it it truly since I was born 66 years too late.

I soon forgot about the house, distracted as so often children are. Years later, I moved back to Anaheim and unexpectedly one day I passed the very same house I had been so intrigued by so many years before. I stopped and stared at it, looking upon the large columns and "Juan Costa" mahogany front door. I began to remember all questions and interests I had originally had as a child flooding back into my mind.

Then and there I decided that as an adult I would investigate. I quickly googled the address and came upon a few stories of Historic Anaheim. I decided to go to the Anaheim Library and look up its history further. Later, I came across an article from the Anaheim Gazette (an 8-page newspaper) dated October 21, 1915. What I found there was astonishing.

First and foremost, Anaheim’s name is derived from the German word “heim” meaning home, and Ana after the Santa Ana river….”home by the river". Many hundreds of people settled in Anaheim in the 1800’s and many places are historical landmarks now. One of which would be that home on Zeyn Street. For you to understand the history I must then tell the tale……
 
ENID RIMPAU 
APL Archives

Born in 1891 to parents William Stanley Williams and Catherine Ferguson, Enid lived with her parents in Los Angeles until she married Charles Stone of Glendale on Sept. 21, 1910 at the age of 19. The couple was said to have moved to Long Beach, but within a year of their wedding, Enid left Charles and filed for divorce due to his "intemperate habits."


In 1913, she moved to a small town of German immigrants surrounded by orange groves known as Anaheim, California. It had already been nearly 4 years after leaving her husband when she met Robert Rimpau (Born: Theodore Robert Rimpau, son of Adolph Rimpau and grandson to Rimpau patriarch, Theodore Rimpau).  Enid met Robert while working at Weber's book store and the Millinery Store. Robert Rimpau worked at Miles Grocery store. She was said to have been "beautiful, sweet and always had a sunny disposition". She was well liked within the community and that is how she captured the attention of her soon-to-be second husband, Robert Rimpau.

Mr. Robert Rimpau had been Head Clerk for the Miles Grocery Store Company for several months when he began courting then 22 year old beauty Enid. Enid had been previously married to Charles Stone of Long Beach. They had been divorced about a year into the marriage due to Mr. Stones "intemperate habits", according to the Anaheim Gazette article.  By 1915, Robert had courted "beautiful" Enid and proposed marriage to her. They were wed on July 5, 1915.

After the construction of the beautiful home was finished (built by Chas Trudeau), they were married and moved in. Just four months after wedding Robert, Enid was said to have told her friends she had become so lonesome at home that she would rather be working to pass the time then be home alone. All the while, she kept her bright and positive demeanor even up until the weekend of the tragedy.

Then that Sunday morning in October 1915 something went terribly wrong. As usual Mr. and Mrs. Rimpau came to St. Boniface Church located on Lincoln Ave to attend Sunday Services and Enid returned home alone as her husband stated he needed to run an errand. Just an hour after returning from his errand, Robert found his wife dying from cyanide poisoning. Robert claimed that she was dying at the time of his arrival to the home.

Dr. Truxaw came to the residence only to find out it was too late. They found a small vial of Cyanide of Potassium Solution that was still pretty full. Only a small amount had been taken out of it. The means to which Enid acquired this poison is still unknown to this day. Some say she must have kept it for quite some time without her husband having any knowledge to the fact.

The Coroner deemed it a suicide and that it was unnecessary to hold an inquest, claiming that she must have acted on temporary insanity. The few who claimed to be friends (none of which were named in the article) said she had been quite melancholy weeks leading up to her death. Yet, others who spoke of the story during that time and years later, who state that they did know Enid well said they could not believe such an even tempered and lovely person could have become mentally disturbed enough to end her own life.  Even at Mass the very day in which she died witnesses claimed she was her bright and happy self.

There was a suicide note found that was "allegedly" Enid's. It was never said whether it really was written in her hand. It did state that she was sorry and hoped that God would forgive her. The motive of her self-inflicted demise is still questionable. This alleged note was never examined or questioned by the authorities.

It was said that a life insurance agent Al Nowotny gave a statement that she had asked him if the insurance was covered in the event of a suicide. In answer, Al Nowotny explained that only after the policy had remained for a year, then in the event someone died then the insurance would pay out.  So why then would Enid kill herself? That doesn't make any sense at all.

QUESTIONS

Robert was in fact, a descendant of the Anaheim founders. There were rumors that Mr. Rimpau himself may have been jealous of her attention she received from her friendly and likeable demeanor. There was always a possibility that Mr. Rimpau could have paid off Al Nowotny to make it believable that Enid did in fact seem suicidal before her death. All it took was one witness to say something veering towards a mentally unstable condition to verify that suicide was a possibility. That way if in fact she was murdered, no one would be the wiser and it would go undetected as a suicide. The perfect crime really if you think about it.


WHAT MOTIVE?

Was Robert Rimpau jealous enough to poison his own wife ?

Perhaps Enid's ex-husband Charles Stone may have come looking for her?

Was Enid sad that she had divorced Charles, and regretted it?

Or maybe Enid was afraid of Charles, and that is why she divorced him and fled?

Did Enid's husband Robert poison her thinking she would leave him for her ex?

Or could it have been a member Robert's prestigious family?

THE PLOT THICKENS

The Rimpau's were considered a pretty high caliber family in that small community, and are seen in various historical photographs through out Anaheim's vast historical albums. Is it possible that they were unhappy with the union of man and wife that took place between their beloved Robert and newly divorced Enid?

Remember back in that time period, divorce was certainly frowned upon and many people made judgement based on gossip and circumstances in ones class or status. Maybe they were worried she would put a damper on their clean and polished family reputation, being that she was a divorced woman with a past. Perhaps they wanted their son Robert to marry into a wealthy socialite family instead of someone as common as Enid.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What reasons would Enid have had to end her young life? She had friends and a new life in Anaheim. Maybe it was Robert's family, or maybe her husband was just not as nice as he appeared. That would lead me to the conclusion that Enid's husband may have been the one who poisoned her.

Now, recently when my paternal grandfather passed away from old age in 2008, we laid him to rest in good old Historic Anaheim Cemetery. I was walking around the grave sites by the Anaheim Pioneers where grandpa’s grave is set and I stumbled across many historic grave sites of the old Pioneers including the Mausoleum for the Rimpau family.

I could not help but to feel emotion for this young woman who died way too soon, to feel sorrow and sympathy for her broken heart. Someone was hurting her enough that she died, whether she took her own life or another person who cause her death. Either way, there must have been serious problems brewing.

Will we ever know how she really died? Or maybe I should rephrase that, why she died?

Did she really take her young life?

Was she that sad that ending her life was more appealing that continuing on in the world?

Did her husband kill her?

Or perhaps it was someone within the very family she married into?

The world will never really know what happened since the secret is buried with her.
 
Courtesy of Mark Daniels
Enid Rimpau died on a Sunday in October 1915. She was laid to rest on that following Tuesday morning in the Anaheim Community Mausoleum, in the Anaheim Cemetery, not the Rimpau Family Crypt as many others will have you to believe.  (Note: her grave says she was born in 1893, however she claimed she was younger than she actually was on her wedding license, thus when she died her husband put the year of birth she told him- despite the fact she was actually born in 1891.)


To read more about Enid's life and death, as well as learn about other various mysterious of the past, order a copy of "Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered" today!  Available on Amazon.



When I go to see my grandparent's grave, I will always remember this woman's story that was left unsaid. The story that only a few left know. This story will remain a mystery, one with a question we will never know the truth to. Our minds will keep searching for an absolution to know why this beautiful young woman died.  Let us never forget Enid!


-J'aime Rubio (copyright) originally written in 2006 and revised in 2008 on "Dreaming Casually" blog. 
Sources: October 21st, 1915 issue Anaheim Gazette
and Anaheim Library