Originally from Pennsylvania, he moved to Illinois where he met and married Anna Childs (1855-1946), who along with their five daughters came to Los Angeles with him from Arizona. Daughters Florence (1873- ) and Dora (1876- ) attended school in Philadelphia, with Florence then attending and graduating from Bryn Mawr College. Third daughter Lillian (1889-1901) also went to Bryn Mawr, but died from a tragic accident there in December, 1901. The accident was carried by the New York Times on their front page.
"At 8 o'clock Miss Vickers rose and retired to the bathroom, situated near her own apartment. Half an hour later she came rusing forth enveloped in flames." She died by 1 o'clock without regaining consciousness. The Times delicately stated "...the victim had rubbed her body with alcohol, which in some way became ignited."The New York Evening World was less delicate in their assessment.
|Evening World Article on Lillian Vickers' death|
After arriving in Los Angeles J.V. continued his cattle business, which included partnering up with Walter Vail, who was also a major rancher in Arizona. Together they formed Vail & Vickers Company, purchasing Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara, to raise cattle, which had previously been used for sheep ranching. The island became the last ranching enterprise on a Mexican Land Grant in California, and was run by a third-generation Vail descendant. Due to a (some say forced) federal government purchase of the land for Channel Islands National Park in the early 1980's, an agreement is in place to end all private activities by 2011.
In 1904 J.V. led a syndicate which bought a large parcel of land in Orange County. Realizing they needed transportation to the area if they were to develop it, they succeeded in luring Henry Huntington to extend his extensive trolley network by providing him a significant share of the operation, and even renaming the area from Pacific Beach to Huntington Beach. Little did they know the amounts of money in the ground, which did not appear until the 1920's.
Around the same time J.V. purchased a house in fashionable West Adams from Max Meyburg, a well-known retailer and light manufacturer in town. Max had had the house built sometime around 1898, but had decided to move a few blocks west. The house looked like the below in 1910:
|624 West 28th St. in 1910|
|J.V. in 1910|
Then while celebrating the Christmas season at home on December 28, 1912, J.V. had a heart attack while playing dominoes with his family. Clara stayed on for awhile, marrying Roy Naftzger, a real estate broker, in 1920. Mother Anna C. continued to reside in the house until her death in 1946.
|A sample bookplate|
The neighborhood has changed significantly since the Vickers purchase. By 1942 the house was surrounded by sororities and fraternities of USC, and after wife Anna's death, the house took its new place along Greek Row. In the 1950's AO Pi sorority was in the house.
|AO Pi, Nov. 1951 in the front yard at 624 W. 28th St.|
(courtesy of USC digital collections)
By 1962 Alpha Epsilon Phi moved into the house from their smaller location a block west, staying through the 1980's. Today the house still stands, its latest resident Beta Omega Phi, an Asian-American interest fraternity. The house's outline, while substantially altered, is easily identifiable.
|Recently at 624 W. 28th St.|
(courtesy of the author)