Monday, October 16, 2017

The Mysterious Death of Paul Whitice

Tomorrow is the 102nd anniversary of the death of young bride, Enid Rimpau. Her death left a tragic stain on the historic colony district in Anaheim that is remembered each year at this time. Because of the odd circumstances and strange similarities that both Enid's death and that of another gentleman, Paul Whitice, who died 12 years later, I chose to write this blog tonight.

In Enid's case, she died from poisoning on October 17, 1915, after only three months of marriage to Theodore Robert Rimpau, the grandson of Anaheim Pioneer Theodore Rimpau. Robert, as he chose to be called, was smitten by the young Enid, and courted her until she accepted his proposal of marriage. Enid had just divorced her first husband, Charles Stone, because of his "intemperate habits," and had been working two jobs to support herself on her own. She had moved to Anaheim to start over, and it seemed that everything was working out until that Sunday afternoon, just after church, when her husband claimed he found her dying of poison in her bedroom.

Family members came to the house, as well as Dr. Truxaw who came immediately when he was called. Unfortunately, the doctor saw that Enid was beyond help, and so Enid died there at her home on 503 Zeyn Street in Anaheim. The story in the papers stated a note was found, and that because of this there was no inquest into her death (even though there was no mention of anyone having checked to see if the note was even in her own handwriting). And so it was accepted that Enid had committed suicide. Still, there have been those who believe that she did not kill herself, and that she might have been poisoned on purpose. I went over her story inch by inch in my latest book, "Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered,"

In regards to Paul Whitice, he too died suddenly and suspiciously. He was also a divorcee, previously married to Alice Marxmuller in 1911; However, in August of 1916, he remarried, this time to Robert Rimpau's cousin, Rosabelle Rimpau. I was recently contacted by someone who just purchased Paul & Rosabelle's first home in Los Angeles. The new owner, John Wray, is currently doing research on the history of the home itself and the Whitice family and sought me out for help in putting Paul's life events together.

Years ago, a random commentor had left a message on my blog about Enid Rimpau's death, claiming that hers was not the only suspicious poisoning in the Rimpau family, insinuating that perhaps someone within that family may have been involved in foul play in both deaths. I looked into the story myself and I have to say there are some similarities, as I will detail below.

For one, both Enid and Paul were both previously married prior to marrying into the Rimpau family.  The Rimpau's were devout Catholics. In fact, many church services had been performed in patriarch Theodore Rimpau's home, back in Anaheim's early days, before St. Boniface had been constructed. Still the idea that one of the Rimpau's poisoned both Enid and Paul is reaching. I won't say that it isn't possible, but the question remains "why?"--

Well, one could argue that because both Enid and Paul were both married before, that perhaps their marriage into the Rimpau family tarnished the prestigious Anaheim family's good name. Again, that is just speculation. But it is a known fact that divorce was frowned upon, especially during that time in our past. But, Paul didn't die months after his marriage, like Enid did. He died nearly 11 years later. So that theory that both were poisoned because of their prior marriages does not fit.

Let's look into Paul's life a little further before I get to the details surrounding his death.

Paul was born on July 10, 1887 in Ridgedale, Chattanooga, Tennessee to parents Sarah and R.D. Whitice. By 1910, the family was listed in the U.S. Census as living at 1570 W. 17th Street, in Los Angeles. At that time, Paul was 22 years old, and working as a foreman at a building company, more than likely the same place his father was working, as a contractor. On March 20, 1911, Paul married Alice Marxmuller in Orange County, California. She was 22 years old, and a native of Kentucky, while Paul erroneously listed his age as 28 (he was only 24).  At some point he divorced Alice, although I could not locate the date of their dissolution decree.

By August 10, 1916,  Paul was wed once again, this time to Rosabelle Rimpau. The wedding was quite an affair and the newspapers mention they spent their honeymoon in San Diego. In 1916, Paul built had their first home built on Westchester Place, in Los Angeles but within a year the bank foreclosed on it.

U.S. WWI Draft Registry Records
Paul is mentioned in vital records again, in 1917-1918 for the U.S. Draft Registry records, where he listed his address in Prescott, Arizona, only to cross that address out and add his mother-in-law's address at 1540 N. St. Andrews Place in Los Angeles. Paul was still listed as living with Rosabelle's mother even up until the 1920 Census.  John Wray shared with me that he discovered Paul had some legal troubles even after Paul's home had been foreclosed on at Westchester Place in 1917. In fact, according John's research, Paul had filed for bankruptcy in 1918, after creditors were still hounding him for his debts. During the 1920's he moved his family (which now consisted of one daughter and later a son), around a lot. Paul had moved at least 3 or 4 times between 1921-1927.

When researching Paul's career,  I found that he continued his involvement in architecture and real estate construction.  I found several homes in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Los Feliz that bear his name as either architect, builder or both.

On July 4, 1927, Paul would be found dead in his home at 6517 Country Club Drive in Los Angeles. The newspaper reported that he had played too much Sunday golf and that it was a strain on his weak heart that did him in.  Paul was only 40 years old, and according to the paper his wife claimed he had been a sufferer of health problems for a while.

The newspapers did not fail to mention the fact that there was a poison bottle found in the bathroom, which started rumors that he might have committed suicide. There is no mention of an inquest or an autopsy, just that the "Police and coroner therefore decided that he died from organic trouble."  

There is no further mention as to whether or not anyone contacted Paul's past physicians to verify whether or not he truly suffered from heart related ailments, so all we can go by is the official records filed with the county, that he died from natural causes. But was that really the case?

Santa Ana Register, July 5, 1927

So what do you think?

Is it possible that Paul was depressed and chose to end his life by way of poisoning himself? 

Poison usually is the preferred choice of women, not men. And what would be the reason for him to take his own life? Was he having legal or financial troubles again? Was his marriage on the rocks? 

And if he did commit suicide, did Rosabelle or her family pay off the police and coroner so they would rule it a natural death to avoid any scandal? 

Is it possible that Paul didn't kill himself but instead was poisoned, and the whole thing was covered up? 

Then you must ask yourself, who would have a motive to do this? And why?

Or could the simpler answer, that he died from heart failure, be the right answer all along?

I will leave that for you to decide.


(Copyright 2017- J'aime Rubio

Thank you to John Marshall and John Wray!


Santa Ana Register, July 5, 1927
Los Angeles Herald, June 16, 1920
1910,1920 Census Records
U.S. Government WWI Registry Draft Records (1917-1918)
Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1916
California County Marriages, Orange County & Los Angeles County, 1911 & 1916

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Few of Anaheim Early Residents

What Happened to Paquito? 

Paquito Pellegrin, as seen in this photo, ran Pellegrin P. & Sons in Anaheim, specializing in jewelry and sewing machines. Besides working for the family business, his son Edward managed Reiser's Opera House on Center Street, while the other son Alfred ran the first photography studio in Anaheim.  

Paquito Pellegrin was a native of Switzerland. He married Julie Aubert in Kentucky around 1857. Their union produced two sons, Edward and Alfred. According to genealogy forum posts, his great grandchildren did not know what happened to Paquito or his wife. They believed Julia died in Ohio in 1864, but have no record of death for Paquito. He was a watchmaker in Anaheim, but later he allegedly "got lost" in Nogales, Mexico.

The question is, did he find his way back?

Well, he went to Nogales, but not in Mexico, in Arizona.  In fact, according to newspaper articles dug up by John Marshall, Paquito opened a store there in 1896 in the old Pascholy building. His son, E.J. Pellegrin was to operate a grocery store on one side and Paquito would operate the jewelry/watchmaker store on the other side.  It appears that he remained in Nogales, Arizona for the short remainder of his life. Only one year after opening his store, Paquito Pellegrin passed away on October 23, 1897. 

"The funeral took place from the family residence at the corner of International Street and Morley Avenue, Sunday morning at 9 o'clock. Services were held at the cemetery and many friends of the family were present."-- The Border Vidette, 10/30/1897. 

(Photo taken in 1872, c/o "Anaheim: A Historical Reflection, The Bicentennial Edition, 1776-1976)

Daughter of a Pioneer

Matilda Rimpau was the daughter of Anaheim Pioneer Theodore Rimpau and his wife, Francesca Avila. She was also the granddaughter of Don Francisco Avila, the Alcalde of Los Angeles and one of the richest ranchers Los Angeles.

Interesting fact to note: Don Francisco owned the Rancho Las Cienegas and the the Avila Adobe on Olvera Street (which is the oldest standing house in Los Angeles). 

One of fifteen children, Matilda Rimpau made her own mark in Anaheim's history by being the very first student in the Anaheim school system to earn her diploma, graduating from high school in 1880. Sadly, on August 30, 1893, Matilda was overcome with consumption, passing away at such a young age. She is buried at the Anaheim Cemetery along with other members of her family.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Years...and this photo shows real love! 

Anaheim residents, 
John Lawson Bryson (3/17/1870-12/6/1913)
& Louella Carrie Anderson Bryson (1867-6/16/1908)

Here is an interesting and heartwarming photo of a happy couple that is buried in the Anaheim Cemetery. I haven't been able to find records as to when they moved to Anaheim but records indicate they died there. John and Louella Bryson both passed away within 5 years of each other, with Louella dying at the age of 41, in 1908, while John died in 1913, at the age of 43. They are buried together and share a joint headstone marker. (photo from

Captain Andrade - In His Younger Years 

Here is a rare photo of Anaheim Police Captain Marcus Andrade in his younger days. He was a member of the Anaheim Police force for 23 years, serving as a patrolman, Desk Sergeant and Captain. (photo via findagrave)

Anaheim's First Doctor

 Dr. John Augustus F. Heyermann  (born: December 11, 1818 - died: February 1, 1888) Dr. Heyermann wasn't just Anaheim's very first physician, but he was also the first physician in Sonoma County as well. He also operated a drug store that he and friend, Robert Freund started on the corner of 4th and Bryant in San Francisco, prior to his move to Southern California. His marriage to his wife, Sophie was also listed as the very first marriage recorded in Sonoma County on December 21, 1851. Their union produced a daughter, Catharine who in turn grew up to marry Joseph Backs, of Backs and Terry's Mortuary which was located in the original downtown district. Dr. Heyermann remained in Anaheim and was later buried at the Anaheim Cemetery along with his wife who predeceased him by three years. -

Photo sources include: Findagrave;; the book, "Anaheim: A Historical Reflection, The Bicentennial Edition, 1776-1976"; and the Anaheim Public Library Archives. 

(Written Content Copyright, 2017 -- J'aime Rubio) 

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

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
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.

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.

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!

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.

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.


(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.