Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Joseph D. Radford -- 1124 West Adams Street

Born in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Joseph (1857-1918) married childhood sweetheart Mary Pinney (1857-1901) in 1881. Soon after they moved to Bozeman, Montana as Joseph continued his career in banking. In 1887 his only child Ruth was born there. Mary's health was not holding well, so in 1896 the family moved to California in search of better climes.

San Jose News, 1901
Joseph continued in the banking business in California, finding a position as assistant cashier at the National Bank of California in Los Angeles. He also became a director of the bank, along with another gentleman of mention, Nathan W. Stowell, a local iron pipe manufacturer, whose wife Florence (known as Flora) was active in Los Angeles society.

In 1898 the family moved to San Jose, where Joseph had been promoted to cashier at a bank there. Sadly, in 1901 Mary passed away due to her poor health. The Radfords were so well-known in San Jose that her death made the local paper.

Participating in statewide banking conventions, Joseph became well-known throughout California in the banking community, so it was no surprise when in 1907 he was named as Vice-President of the German-American Bank in Los Angeles. Ruth and Joseph moved back to Los Angeles, where they took up residence on West Adams.

Their new, eleven-room home on West Adams had been purchased in 1906 by investor Charles Pregge, who had paid $16,500, buying it from the estate of Charles & Melissa Clarke, he a retired distiller from back east in "cold" country.

1124 West Adams in 1909

Joseph engaged himself in many charitable organizations around town, including the YMCA/YWCA, where he may have crossed paths again with Flora Stowell, who was also active with the YWCA. Flora was now divorced, coming off an ugly parting from her  husband. It appears that in 1905, Professor William and Mrs. Wilkinson of Chicago were visiting Los Angeles, where their daughter Evelyn became ill from smallpox. Flora, who was immune, volunteered to care for Evelyn, age 20, as her parents needed to return to Chicago. Staying in the Stowell home, she and 58-year-old Nathan fell in love. Nathan divorced Flora while in El Paso, providing a settlement of $150,000 and a house to Flora as he went to Chicago and married Evelyn despite her parents' disapproval. The disapproval became public with a news article in June, 1905 published in the New York Times, as well as the local L.A. Herald, in which the Wilkinsons disowned their daughter.

In October, 1908 widower Joseph married Flora at the home of Flora's mother, surrounded by a small group of relatives and friends, according to the article. The wedding was officiated by the Reverend Robert J. Burdette, who edited the book from which these blog house photos were taken.

Joseph in 1913 in
the Celebration Booklet
The Banks of Los Angeles in
the Celebration Booklet

By 1910 daughter Ruth had married and moved to the Imperial valley. Joseph continued with banking, leaving the German-American Bank for a position as vice-president at Hibernia Savings Bank.

In 1913 Joseph led the commission charged with celebrating the new Owens Valley Aqueduct. Along with the celebration ceremony itself, a 50-page booklet was produced by the Commission, which was provided to invitees of the formal celebration. Besides photos of the aqueduct, the booklet extolled the virtues of the chief engineer, William Mulholland, as well as providing self-adulation of population growth, the post office, Exposition Park buildings, and growth of overall business in the area. Interestingly, one of the pages featured banking, and of the five images shown, two were banks that Joseph worked in.

In 1914, doctors advised Joseph to step down from his banking positions, so he retired, but continued in public service as President of the Los Angeles City Board of Playground Commissioners, which he joined in July, 1913. He served as its President for three years, followed by additional service until December, 1917 when he resigned, probably for health reasons. He passed away the next year, and is buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale. In 1919, the Commissioners added a new city-owned camp in the Big Bear Lake area to its holdings, naming it Camp Radford in honor of Joseph.

Flora remained at the house at 1124 West Adams, joined by her niece Ethel Rivers Hopkins in 1920, along with Ethel's son Vance. Flora passed away in 1943 at age 82, and is buried alongside Joseph. Ethel remained in the house, with Vance coming and going. Their last recorded mention of being in the house was in 1954. By 1956 there is no listing for the house, which was purchased by the Sisters of the Company of Mary, who own the house and lot next door at 1100 West Adams.

From aerial photographs, it is apparent that today's apartment building was erected prior to 1972. It is known today as the St. Joseph Residence.  Ethel passed away in San Bernardino in 1960, while Vance died in San Diego in 1968.

Today's 1124 West Adams Blvd.

The orientation of the front apartment building aligns with the former house located on the lot.

Additional info:
Joseph Radford photo/bio in 1910

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Edwin W. Sandison -- 6525 Franklin Avenue

Edwin Wallace Sandison (1844-1918) found his business love early on--developing real estate.  His short biography from Homes of Los Angeles indicated he was the founder of three Kansas cities--Everest, Horton, and Liberal--all of which he did before moving in the late 1890's to Los Angeles. Of course it was also before he took 15 trips to Alaska for the gold rush.  Married in 1875 to Sabina Wigle (1855-1938), their children as listed in censuses demonstrate well the family's travel across the U.S. First child Edna (b. 1878 NE), was followed by Edwin Jr. (b. 1880 NE), Wilbur (b. 1885 KS), Mamie (b. 1883 KS), Gordon (b. 1886 KS), and Addie V (b. 1888 CO).

Out West Magazine  Volume 3, in 1895 recorded their early family home in the "University Place" district of Los Angeles:


According to street directories of the day, it was located at  the "ne corner W 39th and Budlong", which would have placed it about three blocks west of Exposition Park and the university. At the time their youngest son Gordon was twelve. That may have been him in the yard.

By 1905 the Sandisons had moved to their new home "out" in Hollywood. In April of that year daughter Addie garners a mention in the L.A. Herald for taking a picnic to Ocean Park as part of the Jolly Six Club, which appears to be Addie and five of her friends.

The winter of 1905-1906 was a very wet one, with constant newspaper reports of rain.  (It's good to know that back then the rains also came in winter to Southern California.) It was so omnipresent that season that when tragedy struck the Sandisons in March, 1906 with the death of their son Gordon--the funeral notice, while mentioning the funeral was held at the Sandisons' Hollywood house, also reported in a large sub-headline that "Cars near Hollywood Tied up by Washouts and Sanded Tracks". The funeral was overseen by Rev. Bovard, who may have been related, as daughter Mamie had married a Bovard.

225 West Franklin Ave. in 1909


 In 1910 living in the house were E.W., wife Sabina, daughter Edna (who never married and lived with Sabina until her death), son Wilbur (age 25), and daughter Addie (age 22). About this time E.W. invested in large tracts of land in Wilmington, near San Pedro.  Son Edwin Jr. and his wife Ruth ran the real estate office there, and lived in the area at 1149 Marshall for many years. Continuing the naming tradition, grandson Edwin III and great-grandson Edwin IV also lived in Wilmington.

In July, 1918 Edwin Sr. died, and Sabina and Edna moved out of the large house to the Wilmington area, probably to be nearer son Edwin Jr. They stayed a short period at the Hotel Schuyler in Long Beach, then moved to Banning Avenue in Wilmington, where Sabina passed away in the late 1930's.

The house at 225 West Franklin received an address change with Hollywood's merging into Los Angeles, becoming 6525 Franklin. The next family was to live there longer than the Sandisons had.

William F. Beesemyer Jr.(1887-1953) was a local, native-born son, one of five, graduating from Hollywood High in 1906, where he was also one of the commencement speakers. He was the son of Hollywood pioneers William (1854-1947) & Sophie (1858-1946) Beesemyer, whose early investment in Hollywood land made them quite wealthy. Their Hollywood ranch was bordered by Sunset & Santa Monica Blvds. on the north and south, and Western and Bronson Aves. on the east and west. Their house address was 1407 N. Wilton, right in the middle of the property. Part of the ranch included today's KTLA-TV lot, which was an early Warner Bros. studio location--it was sold to the Warners for $25,000 by William Sr. and Sophie around 1919.

William Jr., the third of five sons of William and Sophie, married Leah Marsh, also a Californian, and by 1920 they had moved into 6525 West Franklin with their new baby son, William III. Son Frank (1920-1990) joined the family that year, as William Jr. pursued a career in wholesale food brokering, rather than land or movies.

The Beesemyer neighborhood--looking east on Franklin Ave. at Whitley, 1928
The house is on the left side where the street crests the hill (blocked by the tree).
(courtesy of USC Digital Archives)


It seemed to be a quiet life for the family. As William Sr. continued in ranching and real estate, William Jr.'s older brother Arthur (1882-1923) became superintendent of streets for Hollywood. Another brother, Clarence (b. 1891) went into the oil business, ultimately becoming president of Gilmore Oil Co. Brother Gilbert (b. 1885) went into banking, with spectacular results--he was arrested for embezzling over $7 million. He was convicted in 1930 and sentenced to prison for 10 to 100 years.

Sometime around 1950, William and Leah left the house, as records indicate son Frank and his wife Phoebe (1921-2012) are living there in 1951. William passed away in 1953; Leah moved to an apartment on Scenic Drive.

By 1956 the Franklin Ave. house had become an apartment house--as it is today.

Aerial view of the lot--outlined in red

Additional info:
bio and photo Edwin Sandison
large scan of Sandison house