Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rose La Monte Burcham -- 4900 Pasadena Avenue

It's been a small sadness that each time a vintage photo is posted, that residence is only a memory for the most part. So it was quite a delight to find that today's home is still in place.

Our story begins in 1895, when Dr. Rose Burcham (1857-1944), the first woman doctor in San Bernardino, decided to grubstake her husband Charles (1856-1913) for a search in the Mojave desert for gold. He met up with two other miners, John Singleton and Fred Mooers (1847-1900), and they hit big-time paydirt--we know it today as the Yellow Aster mine, which yielded over $12 million through its 30+ year life. Charles split his one third with Rose, who was elected by the group as secretary to run the business end of the mine, which included numerous lawsuits and counterclaims. Rose's impact on the business end was such that in Charles's biographies of the era, her capabilities were often quoted.  Here's an example from a 1904 biography of Charles:

"Mrs. Burcham, who is a native of New York, of Scotch and French ancestry, has the dual distinction of having been the first woman physician in San Bernardino, California, and of being a directing force in the practical operation of a great gold mine. She had attained a prominent position in the medical profession, as physician and surgeon, before she became identified with her husband's mining enterprises and in the latter field has become noted as one of the most capable business women in the United States."

By 1900 both Fred Mooers and John Singleton owned elegant Los Angeles homes. Singleton purchased the Longstreet mansion just off West Adams (only the palms are left today on the site of the Orthopedic hospital), where Charles and Rose were recorded as living in the 1900 census. By 1907 the Burchams had purchased a large house of their own on the edge of town and remained there through the 1910 census. A photo below of the house then:
4900 Pasadena Avenue in 1910

Their neighbors included William J. Washburn, a prominent local banker who lived nine blocks south.

Dr. Rose Burcham in 1910
With Charles's death in 1913, only Rose was left of the original owners to the mine. Squabbling with the other partners' heirs was an ongoing theme, but Rose kept the mine operation together until 1918. The mine was reactivated in the early 1930's. It ultimately shut down in late 1996.


Rose moved from the Pasadena Avenue house to the city of South Pasadena around 1915, and then later to an address in Alhambra, where she died in February, 1944.  Her husband Charles is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.  Her burial site has not yet been confirmed.

Rose sold the house to another oilman, Nathan W. Hale. A former Congressman from Tennessee, he went west after losing re-election to the 1909 Congress. He formed Hale-McLeod Oil Company as well as engaging in local real estate. He left by 1930.

The house today is at 4900 Figueroa Street, as Pasadena Ave. was renamed. It is a building of Sycamore Grove School, a private, religious school associated with the Pillar of Fire Church. The exterior is relatively unmodified--the chimney is gone, and an enlargement of that section of the house can be seen in an aerial view of the property.
4900 N. Figueroa Recently
(courtesy of the author)


References:
Rose Burcham--Men of Achievement in the Great Southwest
The Yellow Aster Mine--mineral resource of Kern County (1914)
A 1905 aerial of the neighborhood (our house is lower right)

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Rose La Monte Burcham is buried at Inglewood Lake Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA with a simple granite marker, on a hillside, overlooking a small lake.

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