Friday, November 30, 2012

Herbert P. Barton -- 1013 South Westlake Ave.

As a great-nephew of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, Herbert Parks Barton (1866-1925) settled into the health profession after his graduation from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1890. He served on the New York City Board of Health for two years, then moved to Denver for two years to practice.

An ad for Montezuma Stock, 1900
In 1897 he moved to Southern California, where he settled in Ontario, setting up his practice while helping that city form its Board of Health. Brother Clarence came out to Riverside, where he was listed as a publisher in the 1900 census. That same year Herbert and his family, consisting of wife Frances (Vasseur) (1867-1922), and one son Chandler (1894-1952), moved to Los Angeles. He and Clarence made an investment in the Montezuma Oil Company, which tried drilling in Riverside County, which had had one low-producing well to that point.  They sold out a year later to Minnesota interests, without finding oil.

By 1904 Herbert had changed direction back to health, forming the Clara Barton Hospital near downtown. Starting in a small location at Pico and Hope St., they grew quickly and by 1906, had moved to 447 S. Olive Street, where they were to remain until Herbert's passing in 1925.

The success of the hospital no doubt contributed to the family's reason to move to a new house on South Westlake. Previously they had lived in a smaller place on South Flower closer to the hospital, and that neighborhood was changing from residential to business.

The Barton Residence in 1909

In the Westlake house according to the 1910 census were Herbert, Frances, son Chandler (now 15), and a house servant Hannah Mathson.

Besides the main hospital, a nurse training school was formed, providing skilled nurses to Los Angeles hospitals. Under various names the school continued through 1989.

In 1910, an additional wing for the hospital was begun, adding seventy additional beds on six floors to the facility. Advertising in the annual street directory provided this view of the hospital in 1915:

A 1915 Ad for the Hospital (from

Chandler in the UC
Berkeley Annual in 1916
Son Chandler went off to college at UC Berkeley, with a short break for service in WWI, receiving both an A.B. and M.A. degree with a major in Philosophy.  No doubt if Chandler were alive today, he would be surprised to find his Master's thesis "Individualism and the State: Hegel vs. Plato", available on today's world wide web.

He returned to Los Angeles after college to his parents' home now at 715 S. Ardmore, where he is listed in the 1920 census as a "magazine writer". After a brief marriage around 1930, Chandler ultimately ended up in San Francisco, where he passed away in 1952. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno.

It is believed that in 1922 Frances passed away, as in the following year both Herbert and Chandler are noted as residing at the University Club downtown. Herbert is still there in the 1926 directory, but it is believed he passed away the year prior, since in 1926 the hospital merged with Hollywood Hospital, closing the doors at the South Olive location. By 1929 the name Clara Barton Hospital had disappeared from the directories.

Meanwhile back at 1013 S. Westlake, the next recorded occupant is Del Nethercott, a carpenter who was there in 1927. By 1930 he is gone. Then in 1952 Walter C. Eismann (1914-2001) and wife Eleanor arrive, with Walter's father and mother (W.C. Sr. and Margaret) living next door at 1015. By 1965 Walter and Eleanor have moved on, but Margaret remains next door through at least 1973. Addressing hints at a house now subdivided. By 1987 the site has become what it is today.

Yes, it is the parking lot for a McDonald's. Now that's progress.

Further info:
bio of Herbert Barton
burial site of Chandler Barton
picture of Herbert Barton, 1910

Monday, November 12, 2012

J. Nehemiah Blackstock -- 109 W. Avenue 54

Nehemiah ca. age 65
Born in Asheville, NC in 1846, Nehemiah Blackstock (1846-1928) served in the Confederate army for four years, before moving to Tennessee where he passed the bar in 1868. About the same time he married Abigail (Abbie) Smith (1848-1930) of Newport, Tennessee. After spending a few years in Missouri, they along with their three children Mary Belle, James, and John, moved to Los Angeles in 1875. They stayed a short time before moving to Ventura (then known as San Buenaventura, which can still be seen over the City Hall doors), shortly after the organization of the county.  Nehemiah practiced law there for about 30 years, fathering seven more children, including Charles (1876-1966), Lillian (b. 1879), Laura Mabel (1880-1968), and Edward (1892-1941). In 1897 Nehemiah was appointed to the State Railroad Commission, serving for four years. The Commission held the responsibility to set freight rates throughout the state.

In 1905 Nehemiah was appointed State Banking Commissioner, which involved a move to Los Angeles. He chose to live in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. In 1910 living at the house on Avenue 54 were Abbie, now 62, son Edward, 18, and one servant. Daughter Lillian had lived there for awhile but was gone during the census. Son Edward was listed as being a newspaper reporter. Son Charles remained in Ventura County, first teaching school, then becoming the City Attorney in Oxnard. Older son James ran a grocery store in Ventura. Daughter Mabel had married Oliver Dunn in 1906, an early resident of the Oxnard area, and was living in Camarillo.

109 W. Ave. 54 in 1909
With Nehemiah's connection as State Banking Commissioner, he became associated with Merchants Bank & Trust Co. of Los Angeles as a Vice-President and Trust Officer. By 1911 he had left and formed a new company, the International Indemnity Company, located downtown.

In 1912 Mabel's husband Oliver Dunn contracted a blood disease and died two months after diagnosis, resulting in Mabel and her two children moving from Camarillo to a house in Los Angeles around the corner from Nehemiah and Abbie (then known as 5409 Pasadena Ave.).

Now when one went on international travel in the 1910's, one passport was usually enough. The only time more than one was made was when the owner had lost the original one. Mabel appeared in the passport records in both 1917 and 1919 for a different reason. As she stated for an affidavit in  applying for her new passport in 1919:

"...that while she was gone on the said trip the said passport was handled so often and so much by various officials of said countries, that when she returned the same was practically worn out and destroyed; and that not deeming it necessary to retain the same, she completed the destruction." 
...which of course required a new passport. (I liked the first photo better, I think. ;-)

Nehemiah continued on as president of his International Indemnity Company, which offered casualty insurance, from his office at 347 S. Hill St. Son Edward continued to live at home, noted as an artist in the 1927 street directory of Los Angeles. The next year Nehemiah died, and was buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale.

Abbie followed in 1930, after declaring the house being worth $50,000 in the federal census. In the house besides Abbie (listed as 82 years of age) were Mabel, her two sons Oliver and Gerald, Edward (now a commercial artist), and a housekeeper.

Mabel continued to live in the house until 1967. She died the next year, and was buried in Forest Lawn next to Nehemiah and Abbie. Sometime later the house came down. Today at the corner of Avenue 54 and Figueroa:

109 N. Ave 54 (today's address)
(courtesy of Bing maps)
Son Charles, the City Attorney of Oxnard, went on to become head of Ventura County schools, then a judge in Oxnard. In 1965 a new Charles Blackstock Junior High School was named for him.  He passed away the next year.

More info:
Bio of Nehemiah Blackstock
Grave at Forest Lawn