Wednesday, December 7, 2011

John Fremont Salyer -- 705 East Adams

Born in Iowa in 1862, J. F. Salyer came west to Los Angeles in 1890 with his wife Rosa (1870-1914), and two sons Edwin (1885-1951) and Roy (1887-1950), and soon joined the Bartlett Music Co., formed by the Bartlett Brothers a few years before. As company fortunes rose, so too did J.F.'s.  By 1905 the family had moved to this new house on Adams Street. In fact they held a Valentine party there that very year.

705 East Adams in 1910

The next year found the Salyers (J.F. and Rosa) vacationing in Yosemite with neighbors Mrs. Lida McGauhey and daughter Byrda. Rosa and Byrda were both ranking members in the same chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Byrda's brother Benjamin was noted as an employee at the Bartlett Music Co. in 1901 (a "polisher" according to the directory). But it turned out Byrda had known J.F. since at least early 1900. In March of that year J.F. and Byrda had applied for passports on the same day using the same notary. Byrda was a stenographer and may have also worked at Bartlett. And during this period an application often included a wife--although Rosa is not named in the application. Here's the signature part of their applications.

John F. Salyer

Byrda McGauhey

Both were approved on April 2, 1900 along with Byrda's sister Opal's application which had been filed five days prior to Byrda's. Opal and Byrda had their passports mailed to their residence. J.F. had his mailed to the office. The three of them are missing from the 1901 directory for Los Angeles--perhaps they were out of the country?

J.F. was promoted from manager to Secretary of the business, and in 1906 when the Bartletts wished to retire due to health reasons, J.F. led a buyout of the Bartletts, subsequently installing himself as President of the business. No doubt success continued, as evidenced by the large advertisements posted in the L.A. Herald paper. This one took up 3/4 of the page.

Bartlett Ad 1908

J. F. in 1910
J.F. was a member of the Society clubs in town, including the Jonathan and City Clubs, and in 1910 he was found in the census residing at the Jonathan. Rosa was still at home with son Edwin, and the census indicated Rosa and J.F. were still married. But by 1912 they had divorced and J.F. had remarried. His new bride?  Byrda McGauhey. By 1915 it appeared that everyone had moved out of the house (the directory that year showed the only resident at 705 E. Adams was a  "Fremont Salyer, elev. opr.").

By 1920 J.F. and Byrda were living again in the house at 705 E. Adams. J.F. had decided to retire and they then traveled extensively.  By 1930 they were living in San Gabriel, although their voter registration in 1934 remained at 705 E. Adams.  They were registered as Democrats.

In the meantime since J.F.'s retirement, Bartlett Music seemed to fade away. Three locations in 1923 became zero locations by 1927, and both sons were no longer listed as working with music. Edwin became an insurance salesman and Roy became a carpenter, moving to San Clemente.

J.F. passed away in the late 1930's, and Byrda ultimately passed away in Ventura in 1950.

 And the house at 705 E. Adams? Gone and replaced by a commercial building.

705 E. Adams today (courtesy of Google Maps)
 But wait--there's hope...see the comments.


  1. The house was moved to 24th and Gramercy Place, where it is today, but with a different roofline.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous for the update--the house definitely looks like the one. Sadly it could use some paint, too.

  2. It has aluminum siding. The columns have been stripped as the owner is getting it ready to sell. Look for an open house soon.

    1. How did you know the house had moved there? I've been thinking of developing a list of all the moved historic houses in Los Angeles since there seems to be no central resource for that information.

  3. Thank you for this post. John Fremont Salyer was the uncle of my great-grandfather (Harry Milton Salyer). The Fremont Salyer of 1915 you mentioned would have been Harry Fremont Salyer, Harry Milton's son and my grand-uncle. I'm surprised to hear that the house is still in existence. My mother had told me that the house had been filled with many elaborate architectural features and that those had been stripped out and sold before the house was torn down. I have a 1916 photo of a race car with three men parked probably on South San Pedro Street with the house behind that was among my Uncle Fremont's belongings. On the reverse Uncle Fremont wrote that it was his home for a couple of years.

  4. I forgot to mention that my mother was born in the house August 7, 1915.

  5. JoAnn,
    Glad you enjoyed the post. It's always interesting to find out new stuff about these old houses--e.g. they've been moved (like this one), or they're still there but hidden (ala John H. Norton).

  6. The house was just purchased by a new family and they would love to hear more about its history.

  7. The new buyer is going before the HPOZ board to get approval for the exterior restoration. Any pictures available, would be so appreciated. Suzanne Henderson,
    City Living Realty,

  8. I go by this house during my morning run. It looks like it's in the process of being restored! It's unfortunate we have no way of restoring Adams...


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