Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Henry S Callahan -- 855 Elm Avenue, Long Beach

Born in Indiana, Henry Callahan (1868-1934) came to Southern California in 1894, settling first in Santa Ana, where he no doubt met and married Augusta C. (Young) in 1897. He began in the furniture business back in Indiana, so it made sense to continue when he arrived in Santa Ana, where the census noted his business as a "furniture clerk". Also in the census was the notice of his and Augusta's new daughter Thelma (1900-1917). Thelma would turn out to be their only child.

In 1902 the family moved to Long Beach, where Henry set up a furniture store in the new Masonic Temple on Pine Avenue. Shortly thereafter, the family moved into the building, creating a nice short stroll to work for Henry. By 1906 things must have been going well, as Henry signed on to fund a new bank, the Bank of Commerce, along with C.A. Buffum, another Long Beach furniture man. The bank may have merged, but it soon disappeared from the records by 1908.

In 1907 Henry ran for city council from the 3rd Ward, and won. He took office (at $3/session) in January, 1908 as mayor Stephen Townsend stepped down after his two terms, and Charles Windham was elected mayor from the city council. It was also about that time that Henry, Augusta, and Thelma moved into their new house on Elm Avenue on the edge of town. A photo of the house below:

The Callahan Residence around 1909

In the summer of 1908 the chamber of commerce and the mercantile manufacturers association decided to hold a city-wide "Festival of the Sea" around the upcoming Labor Day weekend, based on a similarly successful carnival held in San Bernardino. Parades and festivities were planned for five days, with a Queen and Juvenile Queen to be crowned. The festival's crowning of the queen made the front page of the Los Angeles Herald the next day. The headline included "Carnival of Sea Brilliant Spectacle" and "Beautiful City Ablaze with Myriad of Lights".

2 Sep 1908 L.A. Herald
(courtesy of

Yes, it was Augusta. And at the closing evening parade "King Rex" was unveiled to the crowds. The mystery man was--you guessed it--Henry.

Henry no doubt dabbled in real estate once his furniture business was
Henry in 1910
going. Records indicate that in 1913 he had a 5 story brick building built at 239 Pacific. Next year he joined up with W.L. Campbell as part of Campbell Investment Co. Campbell had long been involved in real estate and insurance in Long Beach.

In August, 1917 their only daughter Thelma died. No further details are known.

In 1925 Henry was back on the city council, and still in real estate with his Parkview Land Co. Inc. and Strand Improvement Co. It was also that same year that he and Augusta sold the house, moving down the block to 830 Elm. The buyer--Scottish Rite, put up a new cathedral in its place. Today the Romanesque building is a Long Beach Historic Monument.

Henry and Augusta moved again in the next few years, locating at 3215 E. Ocean. Henry passed away in 1934. Augusta remained in the house until 1936, then moved to a high-rise apartment at 455 East Ocean Blvd. where she lived until her last days.

The family is interred at Sunnyside Cemetery, Long Beach.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Samuel Evans -- 415 North Orange, Riverside

Born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Samuel C. Evans Jr. (1866 - 1932) came to California in 1874 with his parents from that city, where his father had been successful in banking, railroads, and real estate. He grew up in the Arlington area of Riverside, where his father was considered to be a city founder. Marrying Mary Southworth (1868-1959) in 1893, he started in work with his father, then went to college beginning in his late 20's at the University of the Pacific in San Jose, graduating in 1899. He came back and again worked with his father in real estate and water investments, and when his father died in 1902 (who was said to be Riverside's wealthiest citizen), the estate was estimated at $1 Million, to be divided between Samuel and his brother P.T. Below is a family ad taken from an 1892 book about the virtues of land in Riverside.

1892 advertisement for Evans family land

In 1900 the federal census showed Samuel living in the house at (then) 415 North Orange Street, with his wife Mary, his parents Samuel C. Sr.(1823-1902) and Minerva, and Samuel and Mary's son Errol (b. 1893).

415 N. Orange St. in 1910

Samuel was noted in the 1900 census as a "farmer", while his father was listed as "retired", both significant understatements for the day.

1907 was a big year.  Mary gave birth to a second son Samuel S. as the
S.C. Evans, Jr. in 1910
community of Riverside created its city charter. In May Samuel C. was elected the new city's first mayor, and then re-elected in 1909.

In 1912 Samuel ran for Congress.  Running as a Progressive Republican, his fortunes were scuttled by San Diego Chamber of Commerce members. The heavily Republican C of C wanted Evans' rival to win the Republican nomination, so they could lobby for naval facilities in the San Diego area. When that candidate lost to Evans, they swung their support to a conservative Democrat, who promised just that. And history was made.

Samuel rebounded politically by running and winning as State Senator for Riverside/Imperial counties for 1917-1921. He followed this with two more terms as mayor beginning in 1922 and finishing in 1926.

The Evans' left the Orange Street house prior to 1920, settling at 1191 W. 7th Street. The 1930 census finds Samuel, Mary and a housekeeper at the same location, although the address has now changed to 4191 W. 7th. From this home in 1932 Samuel once again ran for, and was elected mayor of Riverside, but died prior to taking office at age 66. He was buried in the Evans family plot at Olivewood Cemetery.

The house on Orange Street was also renumbered by 1930, becoming today's 3415 Orange Street. In 1936 it was being occupied by John & Pauline Davenport.

Today the site for the old house is part of the Riverside Convention Center. It once stood on the southwest corner of Orange and 4th Streets. Interestingly, nearby houses still stand, including the house that is kittycorner across the intersection.

Additional info:
A photo of the Evans family in Yosemite, 1920's
An article about S.C. Evans' passion for cogged stones(from
Short bio from Notables of the West (1913)
More on Samuel Evans, Sr.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Emma A. Summers -- Oil Queen
603 South Westmoreland

In 1892, "Miss" Emma Summers (1858-1941) was listed in the directory as "Piano Teacher", giving lessons at her residence at 517 Sand Street (soon to become California), where she and carpenter husband A.C. rented a small place. With her 1879 degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, she was in strong demand to teach many children the black and white of pianos, and in fact had multiple pianos in the house. But in April 1893 all that was about to change, as two down-on-their-luck miners (Doheny and Canfield), using a 60 foot Eucalyptus tree trunk as a drill bit, struck oil a few blocks away at Court and Patton. It was the first oil well in downtown Los Angeles.

Emma had the business head in the family--she had saved $700 from her child tutelage, and she used the money to go in half on a new well in the neighborhood. She ended up following the initial amount with an additional $1800, and the well hit. In fact it was still producing after 10 years. Wells popped up everywhere in the area. The neighborhood by the late 1890's looked like the below, with houses interspersed between well derricks.
Court Street in 1901
(courtesy of USC Digital Collections)

San Francisco Call, 1901
Emma continued to invest in oil wells, still teaching piano at night, followed by then balancing the books of the business. In the beginning she was in debt up to $10,000 and thought that she might quit when the debt was paid off, But she continued and by 1901 she was being called the "Oil Queen" (see image at left), and with her many dealings in oil, she controlled the Los Angeles market.

By 1904 she dealt in 50,000 barrels per month, having moved her office from her home on California St. to the Mason Opera House building downtown. (Note the window lettering, second floor on the right for the above linked photo, from

She had contracts with companies such as the Los Angeles Railway Company, the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, the Redondo Railway Company, Pacific Light and Power, a number of oil refineries and practically every large hotel, laundry and machine shop in the city.

By 1909 she had expanded into paint, opening a paint company with her brother T. A. McCutcheon as manager. On the home front she and Alpha moved to the new "suburbs" out Wilshire Boulevard, where she first lived at 603 Miami Avenue (now Westmoreland), one block north of Wilshire. A photo of the house below as it appeared in 1909:

603 S. Westmoreland (from our book)

She did not stay long however, as she soon moved a block south to 655 Wilshire Place (on the southwest corner with Wilshire Blvd.) In 1910 her niece Virginia Parker married in the house to George Sisson, both recent graduates of U.C. Berkeley. It appears that Virginia's mother, Callie McCutcheon Parker was also involved in the oil business with Emma, as her name shows up on contracts during the 1910's.The Wilshire Place home is shown as it appeared in 1911:

Emma Summers' mansion on Wilshire Place
(courtesy of Sunset Magazine, July 1911)

The house on Wilshire Place was subsequently demolished and replaced in 1929 by a new art-deco Bullocks Wilshire Department Store.

But the old street was not left undone.  Down the block from her early California Street residence Emma had already built the Queen Apartments, which by 1940 had been "downgraded" to the Princess Apartment-Hotel, according to At that time Ansel Adams came by to take a shot of the apartment building as part of an article for the Fortune magazine.  It is said that Emma lived in the apartment building for awhile. The building survived until the early 1950's when the downtown freeway destroyed the whole block. Here's one of three images that Ansel Adams took:

Princess Apts. 1939
529 California

By 1930 Emma had moved to the Alexandria Hotel downtown. The 1939 L.A. directory shows "Ella G" widow of A.C. living at 519 California.  By 1940 she moved to a home in Glendale, passing away November 27, 1941.

From piano teaching to controlling the L.A. Oil market.  Not bad.

And what of 601 S. Westmoreland?  It's long been commercial. The house just south at 609 S. Westmoreland is actually still there--with a couple of small businesses inside.

601 S. Westmoreland in a recent photo

Additional info:

1911 Sunset Magazine Article
Photo of Emma Summers used in Our Book


Link checked 7/5/24