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Report by Galen Hunter

1911 Pioneer Gathering at Redondo

This report presents the Redondo Reflex, Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Herald newspaper articles covering the April 1911 gathering of old-timers at Redondo Beach. End notes are created about aspects of what two important attendees, Dr. Frank M. Palmer and George W. Hazard, said and brought to the event.

_____ The Redondo Reflex, May 4, 1911 - "Successful Gathering", article _____

[ Figure 1 - The Redondo Reflex Article ]

Image of front page, top. Note column one article "Successful Gathering". Full transcription below.

Source: Redondo Beach Main Public Library

Image of "Page One" of 1911 "Successful Gathering" Redondo Reflex article":

Image of "Page Three" of 1911 "Successful Gathering" Redondo Reflex article":

Full Redondo Reflex article transcription:

_____ [ Transcribed ] _____

Meeting of “Old Timers” Last Saturday
an Enthusiastic Affair- A Brief History

No gathering of Redondo Beach has been held for years that equaled in sociability and good fellowship the big picnic of the “Old Settlers” that was held on Saturday.

Many old friendships were renewed and all differences of opinion as in politics and other questions were forgotten as the pioneers, including many who since removed their residence from here, met and talked over early days, when most of the dwellings were tents, "rag town" as named by someone, the tent school house was a tent placed on skids so that it could be moved about when deemed necessary, the days when everybody knew everybody else.

To O T. Clutter and H. G. Raby and members of the various committees, is due much credit for the success of the reunion, as it was only effected by tireless effort on the part of those few.

The efforts resulted not only in a delightful reunion of the old friends, but also in the formation of a permanent organization to be known as the Redondo Beach Pioneer Association. L. J. Perry was elected president of the organization; O. T. Clutter, vice president, J. C. Gillespie, secretary, and George Cate, treasurer.

W. R. Albee had charge of the register and when the pioneers came to this part of the program, it was found that Mr. and Mrs. Hiram V. B. Gibson, now of Los Angeles, were the earliest settlers, who are now living. They came here March 16, 1888, a month before the townsite was opened for sale. Mr. Gibson then had a small stand where he sold cigars, candy and fishing tackle to fishermen who came from Los Angeles to enjoy the sport. Later Mr. Gibson was proprietor of the first drug store, afterwards owned by Mr. May and S. D. Barkley.

Although the Gibsons were the first real settlers, now living, George W. Hazard claims the honor of being the earliest pioneer as he came here in an ox cart with his father, A. M. Hazard in 1854, when the latter was hauling material for the old Pacific Salt works which was being built. At that time Mr. Hazard was but 11 years old and all of the country, now the townsite, was but sheep grazing land with the exception of the salt works. Mr. Hazard had with him an ancient account book of the salt company, dated from 1854, which was of great interest to old settlers as it had the names of many well known pioneer of Los Angeles county. His father later took charge of the salt works and he was connected with the institution in the early years.

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bachman and their son-in-law, Dr. F. M. Palmer, are other pioneers who remember Redondo Beach many years before there was any town, as early in the 70's, they were accustomed to come with camping outfits for the summer.

T. B. Whiteside seems to have been the first settler who now lives here. Mr. and Mrs. Whiteside came among the earliest people and Mr. Whiteside was conductor on the second Santa Fe train running into Redondo Beach.

One of the greatest changes that seems to impress these early pioneers is the forestry. In the early days, there was not a tree to be seen, merely stretches of sand or grazing land, the trees having been planted by Captain J. C. Ainsworth and R. R. Thompson after they acquired the townsite.

The old town well that was located where the Los Angeles Pacific station now stands, was one of the old landmarks. Before the town was laid out this was a watering place for the cattle and sheep herded here and later after the town was started, the well was the water supply of the town and the water was delivered in barrels to the residents.

Mrs. Martha P. Brunson, who in spite of her 79 years, came from Santa Fe Springs to attend the reunion, was surrounded throughout the day by little groups of old friends anxious to greet the dear old lady.

Mrs. Brunson claims to have occupied the first frame dwelling in Redondo Beach, it being located on Pacific avenue close to Lerch’s store. She and her husband, the late Dr. Brunson, came here in May 1888, and lived here many years.

At 2 o'clock the pioneers gathered in the pavilion and the program of speeches was given. Father C. H. deGarmo opened the meeting with a prayer and then read a letter from A. G. L. Trew, D. D. of Los Angeles, who conducted the first Episcopal services here. His letter, which shows rapid growth of the town, is as follows:

146 E. Ave. 56, Los Angeles, Cal.
Feb. 24, 1911

When I made my first trip to Redondo it was as a guest of the Redondo Beach Company, one of the directors Mr. Nathan R. Vail, being a very warm personal friend. The town map had been made, but the lots had not yet been put on the market. A number of person, of whom I was one, went down on a special car of the Santa Fe railroad, which had just built its Redondo branch, to select lots that would be reserved for them on payment. In my case there would be no payment. The company also promised to donate a lot to the church.

There were not more than half a dozen buildings of any kind at that time. There was an old ranch cottage near what was known as "The Salt Works." Excavations had been begun for the foundations of the big hotel, and some of the lumber had been hauled to the site. Pier No. 1 had been built, a small affair about half its present size.

Within two years the place grew very rapidly, the public school was built during the first six months.

The Chataugua hall, now the high school, was built, etc.

The place showed signs of great future importance if the pace were kept.

Then came the breaking of the boom and the serious financial depression, which the early nineties expended over the whole United States. It particularly paralyzed Redondo and for year no growth was visible. It is only since you know it that it has revived.

Yours sincerely,
A. G L. Trew

Mr. Clutter, who presided at the meeting, then called upon mayor Hess, who, with a happily worded address of welcome, made his maiden speech as mayor. Mayor Hess spoke of the ups and downs of the town during his residence of twenty years here, and then advocated better school buildings, a muchly discussed subject at present as one of the most important improvements to the city. He cordially welcomed the visiting pioneers and expressed the wish that they would all enjoy a good time while here.

L. J. Perry, one of the earliest settlers, was next on the program. Mr. Perry has been closely associated with Redondo Beach history for many years. He was the first superintendent of the wharves or rather wharf and was superintendent of the Los Angeles and Redondo railway for many years. His father, Rev. Horace Perry, was the first minister who ever conducted services here, and later at his death, was the first man to be buried in the Redondo cemetery now abandoned.

Mr. Perry gave an interesting account of the establishment and growth of the city. He told of the big barbeque with which the townsite was opened April 12, 1888, when the old Redondo Beach Company composed of Judge Silent, N. R. Vail, L. T. Garnsey, Dan McFarland and others put on sale the town lots. An excursion was run on the line built by this company, later taken over by the Santa Fe, Mr. and Mrs. Perry came here to live early in 1889, and the old Perry home, at the rear of the present residence which was built by L. J. and W. N. Perry, was the fourth residence put up.

Mr. Perry told of the sale of the 1200 acres that comprised the land-site to Captain J. C. Ainsworth and R. R. Thompson, who at once began extensive improvements including the building of the hotel, rebuilding of the wharf, and the erection of the Los Angeles and Redondo line. As superintendent for this latter company, Mr. Perry landed the first vessel ever docked at these wharves, the Eureka.v Mr. Perry closed his talk with a resume of the splendid advantages possessed by Redondo Beach and the wonderful opportunities she has for a brilliant future which he enthusiastically predicted.

"Grandma" Brunson read an original poem which was appreciated by the old settlers. It is given below:

In the spring of ’88 a little colony was formed
Down by the sea – Redondo Beach – the hills with flowers adorned.
At first they had to live in tents
And everyone seemed quite content -
They did not work very hard –
Nothing but sand in the yard.
The first house built we do claim.
The next, Williams was the name;
They kept boarders many years –
And to us were very dear.
Gibsons and Fishers lived quite near;
Wygals, Venables and Freier.
Andersons, Longstreets and Cates.
Welcome Smith, Murrays and Troups,
Terrys, Bracewell and two Browns.
House and Barkley all helped the town
Some are here, some have passed away
We do not see all today.
Fred Mellus, Trudel and Scotts,
Bod Davis, Feder and Foote,
Mr. Gird lived on the hill;
And Rockebrandt lives here still
English, Means and Easterdays,
Hazeltine, Steel, Hathaways;
Dr. Whitetrain kept a drug store,
Mrs. Seise a dry good store –
Whiteside, Blanchard and Celia Clark,
Rev. Browning and Mrs. York.
Means, Best, May and Russels,
Rev. and Professor Rowells,
Doasters, Bartlett, Dry and Sibley
Brewer, Spinx, Rev. Field, Lindsleys,
Clutter, Raby, Reese and Younkman.
The Wally boys and Harrison
Mullen, Hess and Morrison;
Mrs. Arbuckle and Cotton.
Witheral, Al Curriere and Thomas
Easterward, Lacy and George
Edwards and Dr. Haneat –
And other names we have forgot.
Few pioneers are here today;
Most have gone the other way
Two decades have passed and gone,
And the time will not be long_
E’re they will greet us all above
In the land of peace and love.

J. W. Foote gave a German dialect recitation, which was highly appreciated. "How Sockery Set the Hen," was the title. This number of the program brought back the early days when no program was complete without Mr. Foote, and his rendition of the piece showed he had lost none of his ability as an entertainer.

John W. Venable, sr., one of the earliest pioneers of Southern California, a forty-niner, gave a short address on early times and said he remembered Redondo Beach when there were no houses standing.

George Cate who is with the exception of Mr. Whiteside, the earliest settler now residing here, told of the first tent school house. Mr. Cate helped organize the first school district here. He came soon after the townsite was opened up and established a feed store and livery barn. He says at that time there were no houses, only tents standing, with the exception of the old house on North Catalina, now the Chinese laundry. He has been a member of the School Board so many years, he has been closely connected with the affairs of the city.

Dr. F. M. Palmer closed the program with an excellent paper on the aboriginal possessors of the Redondo Beach, the "real pioneers." Dr. Palmer's description of the Indians that peopled this place in ancient times was very interesting. He told the valuable archaeological discoveries made here and described some of the relics which show the nature of the people that lived here. He also said he has recently discovered another Indian burial ground contiguous to Redondo Beach. He advanced the suggestion that a permanent organization of the pioneers be made and that this organization establish a museum for the valuable Indian relics and curios found in the vicinity of Redondo Beach. He stated there were several private collections that were as fine as any found in large museums, including his own collection, which he offered to such an organization as he suggested.

The floor was then cleared for dancing and the orchestra, the famous Schoneman-Blanchard orchestra, that for the past eighteen years as played here, started the dance program. No person or institution is more closely associated with Redondo Beach history than the orchestra, for it is safe to say that there has been no occasion of any importance in its history that this splendid musical organization has not taken part. The early days of the jolly informal dances in the old pavilion, when Harry Schoneman called the dances and incidentally jollied all the dancers, were recalled when an old-fashioned Virginia reel was announced. Mr. Schoneman called in his old style and Mrs. M. V. Fisher and P. S. Venable distinguished themselves as star dancers.

A group picture of the picnickers was taken by Lemon in front of the pavilion. All wishing to secure these pictures should communicate with Mr. Clutter.

Mr. Clutter, as president of the organization, wishes to express his thanks, through the Reflex to the members of the committees and the other pioneers who assisted in making the affair the success it was.

_____ [ /Transcribed ] _____

[ Figure 2 - The Los Angeles Times Article ]

Image of April 30, 1911 "First Settlers' Picnic" Los Angeles Times article on page 18:

[ Figure 3 - The Los Angeles Herald Article ]

Image of April 30, 1911 "Redondo Settlers Form Pioneer Association" Los Angeles Herald article on page 11, column 2:

End Notes

_____ [ 1 ] _____

Dr. Frank M. Palmer's speech at old-timers meeting. Excerpt from the Redondo Reflex article:

"He advanced the suggestion that a permanent organization of the pioneers be made and that this organization establish a museum for the valuable Indian relics and curios found in the vicinity of Redondo Beach. He stated there were several private collections that were as fine as any found in large museums, including his own collection, which he offered to such an organization as he suggested.

This collection of his that Palmer offers to this local museum (he suggested be created) may be the same collection Palmer ultimately gave to the Redondo Union High School in 1917, presumably because a local museum was not created. See 1917 Frank Palmer Collection for what happened to these artifacts Palmer gave the high school.

This author first learned there was a 1911 pioneer gathering at Redondo while researching the Palmer manuscripts at the Braun Research Library, Los Angeles. At the Braun, there is a notebook of Palmer's called "Redondo Pioneers Speech". The notebook has 14 pages of handwritten notes for the 1911 speech. As reported in the Redondo Reflex article, Palmer does write in his speech notes "I have located another prehistoric burial places in the immediate locality" and he also says something about he dug two holes and "found instruments".

This collection Palmer is referring to in his 1911 speech may be the same collection Richard Van Valkenburgh lists in his 1932 Malaga Cove field notes also at the Braun. Van Valkenburgh writes a list of Palmer collections of Indian artifacts that were taken from Malaga Cove and one of these collections is noted as going to the Redondo high school.

_____ [ 2 ] _____

George W. Hazard brought with him his father's "ancient account book of the salt company, dated from 1854". Excerpt the Los Angeles Times article:

"Mr. Hazard had with him an ancient account book of the salt company, dated from 1854, which was of great interest to old settlers as it had the names of many well known pioneer of Los Angeles county. His father later took charge of the salt works and he was connected with the institution in the early years.

See The George W. Hazard Collection for this author's report on searching for this "ancient account book". At least found new excerpts from it at UCLA Special Collections.