Saturday, April 30, 2011

April in San Pedro: Part Two

April in San Pedro: Part Two

15 April:

1899: A special wire has been leased running from San Pedro to the White House so that the President can push an electric button to start construction of the San Pedro breakwater on 04/26/1899 (xxxx; Los Angeles Times, 04/15/1899)


1922: Senator John Kendrake introduces resolution which leads to exposure of the Teapot Dome Scandal; investigation reveals 2 secrete deals by the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall; one ceded exclusive rights to the Teapot Dome, Wyoming oil reserves to Harry E. Sinclair of the Mammoth Oil Company; other ceded control over most of the Naval reserves at Elk Hills in Kern County, California to his friend Edward L. Doheny (of the Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company) in exchange for building a refinery in San Pedro with a pipeline to Elk Hills (Doheny gives Fall a $100,000 kick-back, $4.8 million in 2009 dollars using the unskilled wage index, in the guise of an interest-free loan); Fall is indicted for conspiracy and bribery on 06/30/1924 (found guilty 5 years later) but Sinclair and Doheny are “cleared” of all charges


1954: Councilman John S. Gibson, honorary Acting Mayor of San Pedro, is given flowers by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce Woman's Division when he proclaims May 16-22 as San Pedro's Geranium Week (USCDL, examiner-m20770)


1988: Critically acclaimed movie about LA’s gang unit and gang life, Colors (Orion Pictures; directed by Dennis Hopper; starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, with Maria Conchita Alonso, Don Cheadle, and Damon Wayans; see Trailer), is released; film grossed over $4.7 million on opening weekend ($46.6 million for the year in the U.S.); movie was shot on location throughout LA; San Pedro’s Knoll Hill area with its panoramic views of the inner harbor is featured in a drug bust scene; the homes on Knoll Hill were later bought and bulldozed by the Harbor Commission which wanted to level the hill to enlarge the container terminal which replaced the shipyard (see April 01) seen in the movie; community protests blocked POLA’s plans and the area was temporarily made into a dog park (now relocated to the gulch below the hill) before it was converted into Little League ball fields (eventually it’s supposed to be a mixed use park); all that remains of what’s seen in the film is one or two of the old trees (IMDb; TCM; AFI; Wikipedia)

16 April:

1890: The distressed bark Southern Chief arrives in San Pedro; left San Francisco in ballast for Puget Sound on 04/09/1890; sprung leak after encountering a stiff gale only a short distance out; had to run before the wind to work the pumps and could not carry enough sail to return to San Francisco; reached San Pedro with 7 feet of water in the hold (Sacramento Daily Union, 04/17/1890)

1919: West Cawthon (5,912 GRT; Design 1019; completed June 1919; renamed SS Empire Bison in 1940; sunk by U-124 on 11/01/1940) launched by Southwestern Shipbuilding Company (see April, Also in) in San Pedro


2005: Don Manuel Dominguez of Rancho San Pedro (see December 31) is inducted into the “Hall of Great Westerners” during the 44th Annual Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City

17 April:

1889: Wilkinson and Co. of New York is hired by Mexican authorities in the US to investigate rumors of new filibustering schemes; on 05/27/1889 (after an 8-day investigation) they report the rumors are unsubstantiated, even though a San Luis Obispo attorney, Frank Adams, claimed to be a member of an organization working for the US annexation of Sonora and Baja California; the group supposedly included prominent members from New Mexico, Arizona and California—including Captain J.F. Janes of San Pedro (see April 26) who was well-known for supporting filibustering views in his newspaper (on 12/22/1883, in the San Pedro Shipping Gazette, he wrote “Lower California we must have: it belongs naturally to Alta California... The government of this country must buy it, or we will have to take it for our own protection. Buy it if we can, if not we must take it”) (Stout, 2002, pg. 81; Stimson, 1955, pg. 62)

1898: William H. “Billie” Wickersham (born 11/21/1872 in Chester county, PA), the 25-year-old manager of the Haniman Fish Co. of Los Angeles, leaves the company he worked for since the age of 14 and moves to San Pedro to be a salesman for the Morgan Oyster Co. (headquartered in San Francisco); in 1899 he becomes manager of the San Pedro office and by 1907 he owns an interest in several fishing boats and outfits (and is chairman of the San Pedro school board); in 1904 he was elected to the state legislature by an overwhelming majority (having already served for 8 years on the county central committee of the Republican party) (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 1, pgs. 554-557)

18 April:

1855: Clipper ship Arcadia (850 tons) under Captain Phelps (owned by Abel Stearns, Alfred Robinson, and others) arrives in San Pedro from Boston after 112-day journey; named after Stearns’ wife, the ship is the 1st trader owned in LA and will make regular trips between the two cities

1906: The San Francisco Earthquake was felt as far south as below Los Angeles, as far north as Oregon and as far west as Nevada; the earthquake and the fire it spawned destroyed at least 50 percent of the city before being stopped; on the day of the quake, the San Pedro Board of Trade formed a committee to raise funds to help the distressed in San Francisco


1908: Great White Fleet arrives in San Pedro (see also April 19 and 25); in the excitement of the day (and the competitive fever of ferrying passengers between the city wharf and the fleet), the small craft Eagle cuts across the bow of the gasoline launch Raymo; the Raymo avoids hitting the Eagle, but while temporarily disabled is rammed by the gasoline boat Virginia; the owners of the Raymo file a $1,110 suit against the Virginia, claiming she ignored warning signals and hit the Raymo at full speed (Los Angeles Herald, 04/24/1908, pg. 3)

1947: Salvage craft tender USS Laysan Island (ARST-1) leaves San Pedro under tow for San Diego where she is decommissioned (on 04/21/1947) and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet (NHHC)

1947: Net layer USS Spicewood (AN-53; launched 01/20/1944 by Pollack-Stockton Shipbuilding, Stockton, CA; commissioned 04/07/1944; 1 battle star; decommissioned 02/20/1946) sold to the Van Camp Seafood Co., Terminal Island, San Pedro, California after serving at the Phoenix Islands, Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, Ulithi, Leyte, Okinawa and Kerama Reta (NHHC)


1952: Mechanized landing craft (Landing Craft, Mechanized or LCMs, see USN Fact File) are transferred from truck to water by crane at the Naval Supply Depot in San Pedro (USCDL, examiner-m10542)

19 April:

1840: William Hale Munroe is born in Bristol, RI; at age 17 he enters the painting trade in Fall River, MA; after serving in the Civil War he pursued his trade in New England until 1876, when he moved to Yankton, SD; in 1894 he moved to Salt Lake City and in 1901 relocated to San Pedro, CA (buying the residence at 1325 S. Centre Street in Peck’s Subdivision, Block 33); after establishing himself as a local contractor in painting and decorating, Munroe sold his San Pedro holdings in circa 1907 and moved to Santa Rosa, CA (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pg. 2,050)

1906: Steamer Roanoke leaves San Pedro loaded with relief supplies and clothing for San Francisco earthquake survivors from the Citizen’s Relief Committee of LA County businessmen


1908: Great White Fleet on Easter Sunday: The San Pedro harbor, shores and hills are covered with spectators to witness the 6 am maneuvers of the 16 warships; the fleet splits into 4 divisions: 1st division stays in San Pedro, 2nd division goes to Long Beach, and the 3rd and 4th divisions round Point Fermin to anchor at Santa Monica and Redondo; LA railroads transport 10s of thousands to the four ports to visit the ships

1910: $6.5 million in bonds are authorized in a Los Angeles election for harbor area infrastructure improvements; $3 million are for harbor improvements and $3.5 million are for a power plant and other improvements in San Pedro and Wilmington; the bonds are a fulfillment of campaign promises made by Los Angeles during the consolidation campaign of a year earlier (see also October 26)


1989: Turret explosion on the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) while at sea in the Caribbean kills 47 sailors (initial false reports blaming the explosion on a gay seaman caused a massive controversy); on 04/10/2011 a rally was held in San Pedro to support preserving the Iowa at Pier 87 as a living museum (see also October 07); if the Navy authorizes the San Pedro plan by the summer of 2011, the ship will be opened to the public on 07/04/2012 (Wikipedia; ABC News; CBS News, 04/10/2011)


20 April:

1863: San Pedro Mining District formed at meeting on Santa Catalina Island (district includes all the Islands and coastal areas of LA County); claims are filed but no investments made

1932: Northwester gale with 50 mph gusts of wind hits southland; by storm’s end, on 04/21/1932, 4 fishing barges—the Thomas P. Emigh, Gracia, Charles Brown and Melrose—have been ground ashore; the 300’ long Melrose (originally a side wheel ferry of 2,662 tons built in 1908 at Oakland to service the San Francisco-Alameda route) was anchored off Whites Point, San Pedro undergoing conversion into the largest and “most palatial” fishing barge on the coast; she was beached broadside with one end raised on a rocky outcropping; the ship was a total loss and was shortly broke apart by souvenir hunters, beach combers, and the pounding surf; remnants were still found over 75 years later by shallow water divers at 10-30’ (California Wreck Divers)

21 April:

1890: Burkle’s bath-house on Terminal Island is burned by arson at 1:30 am (uninsured loss estimated at $300); 2 days earlier the county sheriff placed an attachment on the property filed by a San Francisco firm against the firm of Burkle & Laughlin—but the building and contents (including 14 rowboats, bathing suits, furniture, bar fixtures, beds, and bedding) had already been sold to Captain Elliott of the schooner Hueneme; although the sheriff’s action was invalid due to the prior sale of the property, it still prevented the watchman hired by George H. Peck (Elliott’s agent) from gaining access to the property; a night watchman on the other side of the creek (now called the Main Channel) reported the flames to Deputy Sheriff Anderson, who rowed across and found the waiting room area in flames; Anderson prevented the complete destruction of the building by tearing down the surrounding bathrooms; investigation showed the bath-house planks were saturated with coal oil; within a week an arson suspect was identified and a $250 reward offered for his capture (Los Angeles Times, 04/22/1890, pg. 2; 04/22/1890, pg. 6; 04/28/1890, pg. 3)


1894: Pacific Coast Steamship Los Angeles (287 tons; 107’ length; 27.5’ beam; 11.2’ depth; ex Wyanda revenue cutter) with 49 passengers and 36 crew is wrecked on rocks in heavy fog 1 mile off Point Sur on run from San Pedro to San Francisco; ship struck a reef at 9:15 pm, drifted inshore and sank at 9 fathoms; 5 dead; 2 boats successfully land at the beach; 2 boats and a raft are picked up by the steamer Eureka; license of Captain H.D. Leland is revoked for “unskillfulness and negligence” and that of 3rd officer R.L. Ryfkogel for negligence; ship valued at $50,000 is a total loss (New York Times, 04/23/1894; 04/05/1894; Los Angeles Times, 04/23/1894, pg. 1; The Call, 04/23/1894; The Record-Union, 04/23/1894; US Steamboat Inspection Service, 1895, pg. 19; Huebner, n.d.; CINMS; Wikipedia)

1911: Work begins on the extension of the federal breakwater to the shoreline in San Pedro (later to become Cabrillo Beach); the gap was originally designed as a secondary entrance and to encourage the free circulation of water (thus reducing sewage and debris accumulation within the harbor and retarding shoaling), but the shoreline rocks and kelp beds discouraged its use while storms drove the kelp inside and created large areas of rough water; the 1,900-foot extension (1st planned in 1908) is authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 06/25/1910 (xxxxxx; McOuat, 1950, pg.265)


2000: Municipal Warehouse No. 1 (2500 Signal Street, San Pedro, California) declared a Federal Historic-Cultural Monument (POLA)

22 April:


1868: Joseph Ambrose “Joe” Weldt is born in Wilmington, CA; his father was “the first settler in that section of country” when he moved to Wilmington from Fort Tejon in 1862 and engaged in ranching, merchandising, and freighting to Los Angeles; in 1886 the 18-year-old Weldt moved to San Pedro to work in the ship chandlery business as a clerk for his brother, Port pilot Captain David W. Weldt (who lived at 298 9th Street in the early 1900s); in 1888 J.A. Weldt established his own ship chandler and grocer business—building a new 2-story building with entrances on Beacon and Front streets in 1904 (on the site of the brick storehouse once occupied by ship chandler S. Phillips and used by the Coast Survey as a benchmark to calculate elevations); in 1892 Weldt became the city treasurer of San Pedro (a position he still held in 1905; see also April 09); Weldt was also a director and Vice President of the Bank of San Pedro (see March 28) and a organizer and director of the Citizens Savings Bank of San Pedro (American Globe, Vol. 7, No. 8, September 1910, pg. 4; Anon., 1908, pg. 93; Guinn, 1907, Vol. 1, pgs. 662, 665; LA, 2010, pg. 18; USGS 1898, pg.381; Gilmore, 1905)


1890: The old San Pedro Hotel at the northeast corner of 4th and Beacon in San Pedro, owned by Captain R. “Dick” Hillyer, burns down in a 4 am fire; fire is thought to have been caused by 2 careless guests who left the hotel an hour earlier; new volunteer fire department (founded 1889, under D.R. Clay and W.H. Savage) prevents spread of flames to nearby buildings; although there were no fatalities, 1 fireman is badly burned; Hillyer estimated the total loss at $14,000 (about $325,000 in 2009 dollars using the GDP deflator index) but he was only insured for $6,900 (Los Angeles Times, 04/23/1890, pg. 8; 04/28/1890, pg. 3; Houston, 1977)

1908: Great White Fleet: All scheduled outdoor events for the visiting servicemen are cancelled due to rain; visiting parties to the ships anchored at Long Beach, Redondo and Santa Monica cancelled due to storm and rough water; ships anchored at San Pedro (Connecticut, Kansas, Vermont and Louisiana), protected by the breakwater, received visitors all day; several hundred visited ships—including 300 children on the Connecticut)

1954: Dr. E.C. Spires, a local San Pedro dentist, is appointed to the Harbor Commission to fill the vacancy left by the death of Albert O. Pegg (USCDL, examiner-m20882)


2003: New Fireboat No. 2 (Warner L. Lawrence, launched 01/17/2003 by Nichols Boats of Freeland, WA; 105’ length; designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C.; see the interactive panoramas by Bruce Ecker), “the world’s most powerful fireboat”, replaces the 78-year-old Ralph J. Scott—the oldest frontline fireboat in the United States; the new 105’ No. 2 and 3 new 39’ fireboats were dedicated on 04/12/2003—ceremony included the largest water display in LA’s history; the old No. 2 (see December 02) will be preserved as an historical monument; the boat remained dry docked in a parking lot for 8 years waiting for a new home to be funded and approved; on 03/18/2010 POLA presented the plans for the Ralph J. Scott museum and new downtown harbor; on 09/16/2010 POLA presented updated design elements (see overview image); on 02/28/2011 POLA presented the annual update on all of the LA Waterfront projects in San Pedro and Wilmington (see presentation or video)

23 April:

1846: Mexico declares war on the United States (on 05/13/1846 the U.S. reciprocates and declares war on Mexico)

1889: San Pedro Captain George Koughan, of the steamer Lillian, returns home from the sea unexpectedly and tries to hang himself after beating his wife’s disrobed “guest” (neighbor Gus Brannan) senseless; after recovering, Koughan declares he will kill Brannan on sight


1906: Gunboat USS Princeton (PG-13; commissioned 05/27/1898; decommissioned 07/03/1907; recommissioned 11/05/1909; decommissioned 04/25/1919), under Commander F.H. Sherman, arrives in San Francisco from San Pedro with 60 tons of provisions from the Commerce Relief Committee of Los Angeles; crew unloads cargo on 04/24/1908 and is assigned to shore patrol duty to help maintain order and safety in the aftermath of the earthquake and fires


1912: Hole punched 9-11’ below waterline in starboard side of American armored cruiser by dummy Weymouth torpedo during night time target practice off San Pedro; 10-year-old submarine Grampus (SS-4; launched 07/31/1902; renamed A-3 in 11/17/1911) used the USS Maryland (ACR-8; later CA-8; 503’11”x69’7”; 13,680-ton displacement; renamed USS Frederick on 09/12/1916; decommissioned 02/14/1922) as a live target—hitting the ship 2 out of 2 times; one torpedo impact causes a 9-10” hole through the cruiser’s outer plates, flooding one compartment; Maryland returns to San Pedro with a 6 degree list and anchors within the breakwater for temporary repairs; hardhat divers inspect damage and make difficult temporary repairs; angry Maryland crew files protest; exercise proves the “terrible possibilities of the submarine torpedo boat as an engine of warfare” (and the vulnerability of America’s “armored” fleet); Naval Court of Inquiry held in San Diego on 04/23/1912; Side Note: a year before it was decommissioned, the Maryland “co-starred” in Harold Lloyd’s 1st feature film, A Sailor Made Man (1921), during location shooting in San Pedro (New York Times, 04/25/1912; 04/26/1912; Hartwell, 2009)

1943: Auxiliary cargo ship USS Megrez (AK-126; ex General Vallejo; acquired by Navy on 10/07/1943; commissioned 10/26/1943; decommissioned 05/29/1946) launched by California Ship Building Corp., Wilmington, California (NHHC)

1946: Net Layer USS Terebinth (AN-59; launched on 08/19/1943 by Barbour Boat Works, New Benn, NC; commissioned on 08/05/1944; 1 battle star; decommissioned on 01/31/1946) sold to Van Camp Seafood Co., Terminal Island, San Pedro, California (NHHC)


1952: Mara Maru (Directed by Gordon Douglas; starring Errol Flynn, Ruth Roman, Raymond Burr, and Paul Picerni) is released; the action-adventure movie takes place in the Philippines but the entire film was shot in California—mostly in a large pool on sound stage 22 with 3 days on location in San Pedro; the opening scene establishing shot (watch clip) is of Errol Flynn rising from San Pedro harbor in a hardhat diving suit; Picerni talked about working with Flynn in making the movie during his book promotion (see John Gloske video and Tom Weaver article)—including a story of the infamous womanizer (i.e., male slut), Flynn, proposing to cure his young son’s acne while in San Pedro through a liberal application of female “companionship” (IMDb; TCM; AFI; The Errol Flynn Blog)

24 April:

1905: Articles of incorporation filed for the Marine Supply Manufacturing Company, Ltd. headquartered in San Pedro, California (No. 42,706; $10,000 capital stock)

1911: Maiden voyage of the Bates & Chesebrough Co. steel steamer Navajo (265’long; $200,000; up to 1,500 horsepower) from San Pedro to Balboa, Panama; launched on 03/30/1911 at Craig shipyard, San Pedro inner harbor; built for Western Steam Navigation Co. of Long Beach and San Pedro


1943: USS Heywood (AP-12; later APA-6;14,560-ton amphibious attack transport; 25’6” draft; 507’ length; 56’ beam; decommissioned 04/12/1946) leaves San Pedro (arrived 01/16/1943 for overhaul after service at Guadalcanal) carrying troops for the amphibious assault on Attu, Aleutian Islands; ship receives 7 battle stars for WWII service (NHC; Wikipedia; NavSource; HyperWar; HistoryCentral; ShipScribe)


1951: Burglary ring broken in San Pedro by Detective Arthur Sage (USCDL, examiner-m321)

25 April:

1812: An Act of Congress established the General Land Office under the Department of the Treasury to survey new lands, specifically the Louisiana Territory

1862: Gawn Jackson Lindsay is born in Belfast, Ireland; after apprenticing as a carpenter and builder in London, Lindsay moved to Pasadena, CA in 1880 with his brothers George and Charles; in 1889 he built the 1st  planning mill in Redondo Beach with brother George; after George died, Lindsay built a feed mill and electric light plant; after 5 years he sold out and moved to Pomona to engage in the foundry and machine business with the Lindsay & Addison partnership; in April 1904 he sold out and went to work as mill superintendent for E.K. Wood Lumber Co. in LA and in January 1905 he became superintendent of the company’s new mill in San Pedro (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pgs. 1,903-1,904)

1867: John Mathews is born in Aaronsburg, Russia; he 1st shipped out as a seaman at age 15; in 1885 he joined the coal-laden Lady Lawrence bound for San Pedro, CA from Newcastle, Australia and decided to stay in the United States; he changed his name from Mathias to Mathews when he took out citizenship papers and worked as a painter in San Francisco for 4 years before returning to San Pedro; in San Pedro he bought property, the 10-ton gasoline launch Ruth, and married Dolores Machado of Wilmington (daughter of Manuel Machado of Portugal and Theresa Morales of Wilmington) (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pg. 2,180)

1889: Gustave Breman is tarred-and-feathered in San Pedro for being too familiar with another man’s wife; on 07/29/1889 seven men are found guilty of simple assault for the excessive lesson in good manners


1899: Pre Free Harbor Jubilee (April 26-27, 1899) festivities begin in Los Angeles with receptions for invited guests and the visiting commercial organizations from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada hosted by the LA Chamber of Commerce and the opening of the Masonic fruit and flower festival (with its 100’ floral tower and mounds of fruit) and ball; both LA and San Pedro are “profusely decorated” with flags, banners, lights, and red, white and blue bunting; the goal of the celebration is to commemorate the birth of a new commercial and industrial epoch in the American southwest and the future prosperity of Los Angeles made possible by a “free harbor” (free of the economic stranglehold of monopolists) in San Pedro (see April 26-28) (San Francisco Call, 04/26/1899, pg. 3; Los Angeles Times, 04/14/1899; 04/23/1899; 04/24/1899)


1908: Great White Fleet leaves San Pedro and Long Beach for Santa Barbara and San Francisco; Rear Admiral Thomas, on his flagship Connecticut, and squadron leave San Pedro at 5:45 am; they are joined outside of the breakwater by the 2nd division which had been anchored off Long Beach


1909: Japanese cruisers Aso and Soya (prizes of the Russo-Japanese war) arrive in San Pedro; the 1st visit of Japanese warships to the Pacific coast in 10 years is greeted with daytime fireworks; hundreds of Southern California Japanese arrive in San Pedro on 4 steamers to greet the ships; Japanese Navy spends a week in San Pedro and Los Angeles before going to San Francisco for the official state and federal welcomes starting on 05/01/1909 (see April 26 and 28) (Los Angeles Times, 04/25/1909, pg. V19; 04/26/1909, pg. I1; 04/26/1909, pg. I6; 04/27/1909, pg. II10; 04/28/1909, pg. II1; New York Times, 04/26/1909)

1923: Propellers from the WWI German U-boat UB-88 are stolen from the submarine base warehouse in San Pedro (see January 03)


1958: Mrs. Vincent Bogdanich, San Pedro’s 1957 Junior Woman of the Year, gives the silver tray to her successor, Mrs. William Wilson (USCDL, examiner-m17816)

26 April:

1863: Samuel C. Wilhite is born in Ukiah, CA; Wilhite was educated in Santa Ana and started work as a common laborer in the lumber yards for J.M. Griffiths; after 2 years as shipping clerk for San Diego Lumber, he moved to San Pedro and worked at the customs house and then as a lumber inspector for San Pedro Lumber; after moving back to Orange County for 4 years he returned to San Pedro in 1893 to be an independent inspector; in 1902 Wilhite, Coleman and Mahar organized the Lumber Surveyor’s Association of Southern California with Wilhite serving as secretary (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 1, pgs. 960, 963)

1887: Captain Hamilton of the schooner Challenge arrives in San Pedro and reports sighting a 16-18’ ship’s yaul-boat floating bottoms-up

1890: Longtime filibusterer Captain John F. Janes—the San Pedro, Los Angeles and San Francisco newspaper publisher (San Pedro Shipping Gazette; Los Angeles and San Pedro Shipping Gazette; The Advocate; The Non-Partisan; City Front Gazette; City Front Pioneer), pro-labor and anti-Chinese activist (see March 14 and December 22), fishmonger, ship chandler, “ex-sailor, ex-miner, ex-explorer, and ex-ward politician”, and overall colorful and cantankerous character—reveals the “bogus” scheme of “Governor General” Walter G. Smith (primary organizer and editor of the San Diego Sun) and “War General” Augustus Merrill (editor of the San Diego Informant) to invade Mexico and establish the independent “New Republic of Baja California” (other alleged conspirators included LA real estate speculator and former Civil War General “Colonel” Edward Hill; Baja California land owner “Captain” Harris; newspaper manager “Secretary General” B.A. Stephens; J.K. Mulkey; Ranford Worthing; “Surveyor General” C.A. Harris; and an English corporation which owned the Land and Colonization Co. of Mexico and the International Co. of the U.S.); Jane’s assignment in the plot was to capture the Mexican gunboat Democrata; Janes’s filibustering (see also April 17) goes back to 1874, when he was ordered out of Mexico for protecting American mining interests from Mexican soldiers during the “El Triunfo War” (Daily Alta California, 11/28/1874); Janes also wrote a published account of his adventures in 1874 (reprinted in Hager, ed., 1968—see review of the 1972 edition); in 1890 he was supposedly seeking support for his own filibustering scheme when he was 1st approached by Smith and Merrill  (Stout, 2002, pgs. 81-87; Stimson, 1955, pgs. 62, 447; Los Angeles Times, 05/24/1890)


1899: Free Harbor Jubilee San Pedro Day: Giant free BBQ “near Point Fermin” (grounds used were actually due west of San Pedro, above 4th street) overlooking the site of the future breakwater; the purported largest BBQ in the U.S. was served by 260 waiters on a 300’ table to 20,000 people from 11 am until dusk; it included 16 pits roasting 1500 lbs. of beef, 10,000 lbs. of steamed clams, 25,000 buns, 1250 lbs. of beans, and 500 lbs. of coffee; festivities began as President McKinley in Washington, D.C. signaled by a special wire to drop the 1st barge load of rock from the Catalina quarries (see March 31) while a cannon boomed in San Pedro; the automatic machinery on the barge malfunctioned and the rocks had to be rolled off the barge by hand; the unloading was followed by an afternoon full of speeches by politicians and other notables praising the future of San Pedro and Los Angeles (including one by George S. Patton, father of the famous WWII general); at night towering red and blue lights outlined the Main Channel and lighted boats outlined the future breakwater while shooting a fireworks display—followed by bombs and rockets fired from Deadman’s Island; attendees at the festivities were pre-warned by authorities to be leery of pickpockets (see also April 25 and 27) (Gnerre, 03/16/2011; 03/18/2011; San Francisco Call, 04/26/1899, pg. 3; Willard, 1899, pgs. ; Guinn 1907, Vol. 1, pg. 404) Los Angeles Times, 04/19/1899; 04/24/1899; 04/25/1899, pg. 9; 04/26/1899a; 04/26/1899, pg. 11; 04/26/1899, pg. 13; 04/26/1899,pg. 8; 04/27/1899, pg. 11; 04/27/1899, pg. 11b; 04/27/1899, pg. 10; 04/27/1899, pg. 8;


1906: Articles of incorporation filed for the First Baptist Church of San Pedro headquartered in San Pedro, California (No. 46,065); the church building (built in 1919) is declared a LA Historic-Cultural Monument in 1990 (McKinzie, 2007)


1909: Admiral H.E. Ijichi (see April 25 and 28), commander of the Japanese training squadron anchored at San Pedro, meets with old friend Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans at their Los Angeles hotel; responding to reporters, the 2 admirals agreed there could never be a war between the  U.S. and Japan: “such a thing is impossible” said Admiral Ijichi, “Such a thought is ridiculous” agreed Admiral Evans (New York Times, 04/27/1909; Library of Congress)

27 April:

1843: Reverend W.E. Jacob is born in Queens County, Ireland; in 1875 he moved to the United States and worked in New York and Nebraska before establishing himself in 1885 in Encinitas, CA to service Episcopal congregations throughout San Diego county; after 1897 he was in charge of the Episcopal Church in San Pedro—establishing a mission on Terminal Island and a Long Beach congregation before moving to South Oceanside to minister congregations in Carlsbad, Merle and San Luis Rey (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pg. 1,162)

1863: Banning’s tug steamer, the Ada Hancock (the ex Milton Willis of San Francisco built in 1859; 65’ length; 42-83 tons), explodes at about 5pm and sinks in 8’ of water; news of the tragedy (often with questionable and inconsistent facts) was published from coast to coast and across the Pacific; the small ship was used by Banning to tow freight and convey passengers and cargo up and down San Pedro Creek between ships anchored in San Pedro Bay and Banning’s wharf in New San Pedro (a.k.a., Wilmington); the boiler on the Ada Hancock burst about ½ mile southwest of New San Pedro when it was hit by squall of wind while navigating a sharp turn in the creek; most accounts credit variations on the scenario of cold water hitting a hot boiler as the cause of the explosion, but some blame faulty equipment, negligence, barrels of gunpowder, or gunplay between warring thieves; early accounts list 26 confirmed dead but the total loss of life could have been as large as 50 (portions of the boat and its occupants were spread in a ¾ mile radius; the remains of one victim was found and actually identified almost 50 years later in 1912); the recovered bodies were looted of their valuables as quickly as they were found and at least $40,000 dollars in gold and greenbacks (the equivalent of $8.1 million in 2009 dollars using the nominal GDP per capita index) are known to have disappeared in the explosion—treasure hunting websites have recently added another $100,000 in stolen gold from a fictional Wells Fargo robbery in LA (LAFD Historical Archive; Los Angeles Star, 05/02/1863 reprinted in The Shoreline, April 1986, pgs. 14-17; eAdventure; GenDisasters, 04/25/2008; New York Times, 05/31/1863; Newmark, 1916, pgs. 319-321; Riggs, 05/30/2008; Chandler, 07/16/2008; 08/01/2008; Seacrest, 2005, pgs. 102-105; THunting, 04/17/2010; Wellington Independent, 07/21/1863; GHS, 05/01/2008; Bell, 1976, pg. 325; Daily Alta California, 05/02/1863; Lecouvreur, 1906, pgs. 314-316)

1880: F.P.F. (Francis Pliny Fisk) “Templito” Temple (brother of Jonathan Temple; son-in-law of William Workman; partner of Isaias W. Hellman; see also February 12 and January, Also in) dies at age 58 (Wikipedia)

1890: Reverend F.R. Starr gives farewell sermon at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (see December 06) after 3 years service as the San Pedro rector (Los Angeles Times, 04/28/1890, pg. 3)


1899: Free Harbor Jubilee Los Angeles Day: celebrations begin with a ceremony honoring C.D. Willard at the Chamber of Commerce, followed by the unveiling ceremony for the Los Angeles Times San Pedro Harbor memorial tablet; the granite tablet was installed near the cornerstone of the LA Times Building at 1st and Broadway (the same building that was bombed by terrorists on 10/01/1910—see October 01);


In the afternoon 100,000 people attended a “several miles” long floral parade (the Free Harbor Jubilee Grand Parade; John C. Cline, Grand Marshall) with over 100 decorated vehicles, and marchers from uniformed and fraternal organizations, several foreign countries, the LA Chinese community (in traditional costumes and a 50-foot dragon), local schools, California National Guard, LA Fire Department, bicyclists, mounted caballeros, etc.; the day ended with the illumination of the downtown business district with 5,000 decorative incandescent lights (Los Angeles Times, 04/28/1899, pg. A1; 04/28/1899, pg. 1; 04/29/1899, pg. 11; 05/13/1899, pg. 8; 05/16/1899, pg. 8; 05/17/1899, pg. 8; 05/17/1899, pg. 14; McGroaty, 1921, Vol. 2, pgs. 38-40)

1895: John Milner dies in Los Angeles at age 61; Milner was born in Hanover, Germany on 02/05/1834 and immigrated to New York at age 18; in 1858 he worked at mining in California, returning to the east in 1860; he joined the quartermaster department during the Civil War and served under Captain Swazey in Wilmington, CA; after resigning from the army Milner worked for Banning and became the business agent for the Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad; in 1874 he left to join the management of the newly organized Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles, first as secretary and then (until his death) as cashier (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pgs. 850, 853)

1905: 25 regular steam passenger trains between Los Angeles and suburbs (San Pedro, Santa Monica, Long Beach and Whittier) discontinued due to competition from electric lines; lines are reduced to one per day for each city


2002: Public dedication and launching of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum’s twin 90’ brigantines (commissioned 03/28/2003), the sail training vessels Exy Johnson and Irving Johnson; the vessels and the TopSail Youth crews are named “The Official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles” (Los Angeles Maritime Institute; Wikipedia; POLA Press Release, 03/20/2003; TopSail Program;
Crusader Yacht Sales, 03/29/2011, Exy Johnson specifications)


2007: Sci-Fi paranormal action movie Next (directed by Lee Tamahori; starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel; view trailer) is released; film opens with a helicopter shot of a berth on the Port of Los Angeles Main Channel (Terminal Island, San Pedro, California) where the villains unload a shipping container, move it into a warehouse, and arm the nuclear bomb inside; at the end of the film we return to the docks for the explosive action finale—including the destruction of the harbor with a CGI shock wave from a nuclear blast (IMDb; TCM; AFI; Wikipedia)

28 April:

1887: Report that a “committee of citizens” in San Pedro waylaid a Mr. Parker, who was preparing to desert his family; the committee took away all of his money (except for $10) and gave it to his wife; Mr. Parker was told to skip town (XXXX?)

1899: Free Harbor Jubilee ends with serious business in Los Angeles during the sessions of the Commercial Congress designed to strengthen the commercial ties between LA, neighboring cities, and the southwestern states whose products are expected ship out into the Pacific through the new San Pedro harbor (San Francisco Call, 04/26/1899, pg. 3)


1909: 1st ship-to-ship wireless telephone demonstration in San Pedro harbor; Japanese Rear Admiral Ijichi (see also April 25 and 26) uses an A. Frederick Collins’ telephone aboard his flagship Soya to talk to the Aso farther down the bay during reception day on the Japanese cruisers; guests are also entertained with jiu-jitsu and fencing demonstrations (Los Angeles Times, 04/29/1909, pg. I9; Los Angeles Herald, Vol. 37, No. 9, 1909/10/10, pg. 11; New York Times, 11/22/1910); Admiral Ijichi goes on to attend the Seatle’s World’s Fair while Collins continues to make wireless demonstrations promoting his company until he is prosecuted for stock fraud (Seattle World’s Fair; Japanese Navy Day, Seattle; Ogden Standard, 04/27/1909; The Collins Wireless Telephone; Wireless Telephone Scam in 1909; National Magazine, June-July, 1910, pages 425-429)


2011: Operation Pirate Town: 80 members of the Rancho San Pedro (RSP) gang are arrested on drug, firearm and extortion charges in a police sweep after a 2½ -year investigation by over 1,300 agents from over a dozen federal, state and local agencies; the RSP, named after the old  housing project in San Pedro (built in the 1940s and 1950s over the sites of the redlight district from the late 1800s—see April 07—and the old bluffs which were removed in the 1920s and 1930s), the San Pedro gang was founded in the 1970s and now has 600 documented members and over 400 associates in the harbor area; LA City Attorney office files gang injunctions prohibiting alleged gang members from associating in San Pedro and nuisance abatement actions against 5 commercial and residential locations; LA County District Attorney office is prosecuting about 145 defendants on state charges; federal grand jury has issued 12 indictments against 26 defendants (about half face potential life sentences); Operation Pirate Town grew out of earlier sweeps north of San Pedro in 2008 and 2010 as a joint initiative by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and the LAPD, but came to include agents of the DEA, Immigration (ICE), Homeland Security, IRS, Secret Service, HUD, Inspector General, California Department of Corrections, and the Torrance and Long Beach police departments; more arrests are expected in the operation which targeted about 230 members and associates of the gang in an unparalleled collaboration between federal, state and local authorities within Los Angeles (ATF Press Release, 04/28/2011; KTLA, 04/28/2011; Los Angeles Times, 04/28/2011; KPCC, 04/29/2011; Press-Telegram, 04/29/2011; Cypress Times, 04/29/2011)

29 April:


1904: Captain James A. McVicar quits the sea to be a landsman at San Pedro (building his 14th street residence on Vinegar Hill near Mesa); McVicar was born on 08/14/1851 in New Brunswick, Scotland; he 1st took to sea on 06/08/1865 while still 13; he first arrived in California in August 1878 and stayed to work on several ships out of San Francisco and San Pedro; he married Annie Edwards of Hastings, England in Los Angeles on 11/13/1887; after taking a break from the sea to be foreman of the dock at San Pedro for a year he worked several more ships before retiring from the sea after almost 40 years at age 53; in February 1905, in partnership with R.L. Brand of the Sea-Side Market on Front street, he established the meat business of McVicar & Brand serving both ships and locals (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, pgs. 1,830-1,831)

1933: Lumberyard worker and truck driver Dowson Trutman, begins mission work in San Pedro, California with high school students and sailors after having a personal vision; he goes on to found an evangelical movement, The Navigators (a world-wide Christian evangelical group incorporated in 1943), and to mentor the young up & coming Billy Graham (in his 1950s College Crusade); The Navigators headquarters moved to Colorado Springs, CO in 1953

1935: 134 warships leave San Pedro and San Diego for Pacific war games

1992: LA Race Riots: Acquittal of 4 white LAPD officers, tried for the videotaped beating of Rodney King, results in a week of rioting throughout Los Angeles; 55 people died in the riots which also caused $785 million in damages

30 April:

1860: “An act to authorize John J. Tomlinson and Associates to build a Wharf at the Port of San Pedro, in the County of Los Angeles” is approved; act gives Tomlinson (Banning’s primary rival in the LA-San Pedro freight and passenger business) and his associates (and their heirs) harbor rights at Timms Landing for 20 years if they complete the wharf by 05/01/1865 (see also January 03; February 16; December 17)



1887: David W. Alexander (early LA merchant and one of the founding fathers of the Port of Los Angeles—along with Abel Sterns, John J. Tomlinson, Francis Mellus, Benjamin D. Wilson, Phineas Banning and Augustus W. Timms) dies in his Wilmington home at the age of 74 (Barrows in HSSC Quarterly, Vol. 4, 1899, pgs. 43-45; see January, Also in)

1940: Crew of the American-Hawaiian freighter Panaman, charged with mutiny, agree to sail from San Diego to San Pedro to settle dispute as ordered by their union (the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific); on arrival the ship is boarded by the FBI (Wikipedia)

1944: Navy salvage ship USS Cable (ARS-19; 1,213’6” length; 39’ breadth; 14’8” depth; launched 04/01/1943 by Basalt Rock Co., Napa, CA; commissioned 03/06/1944; decommissioned 09/15/1947) cleared San Pedro to join Pacific theater operations, where she earned a Navy Unit Commendation (for service in the Philippines) and 3 battle stars (NHHC)

1946: Navy icebreaker USS Burton Island (AG-88; commissioned 12/28/1946; re-designated AGB-1 in March 1947; decommissioned on 12/15/1966 and transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard) is launched by Western Pipe and Steel Co., San Pedro, California; arrives at the Ross Sea, Antarctica on 02/08/1947 to participate in Operation Highjump (back in San Pedro on 03/31/1947); also served in the 2nd Antarctic Development Project, Operation Windmill, in January 1948 (returning to San Pedro on 03/21/1948); serves 9 more duties in Antarctica from 1957-1969 (NHHC; South-Pole.com)


1951: Car driven by 21-year old Navy seaman overturns at Paseo del Mar and Weymouth Ave., San Pedro, California (USCDL, examiner-m527)

31 April:


1916: San Pedro Lumber Company fire causes $2,500 in damages (equivalent to $236,000 in 2009 dollars using the nominal GDP per capita index) to a brick and corrugated iron building; a devastating fire was successfully avoided with the aid of the fire tug Warrior despite an almost comical series of problems and accidents (LAFD; see also January 12)

Also in April:

1846: Archibald Hamilton arrives in Monterey disguised as an invalid merchant to transmit a secrete communication to Captain John C. Fremont

1853: Albert H. Clark appointed surveyor of customs at San Pedro after removal of Hopeful Toller (assigned to San Pedro in September 1852 when J.B. Stevens resigned)

1877: Southern Pacific railway line extended to Colorado River

1888: John Ryland Brierly (member of the K. of P. San Pedro Lodge No. 3,342, prior California Assembly Speaker pro tem and San Pedro customs collector from 1882-1886) becomes Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools (see also January 05 and 07)

1893: Ship owner’s association reestablishes a shipping office in San Pedro under the protection of uniformed guards

1893: Wage dispute between Terminal Railroad and other lines connecting San Pedro and Los Angeles; the TR could not pay scale and worked 12 hour shifts without overtime; San Pedro employees induced the national offices of the Order of Railway Conductors and the Brotherhood of Engineers and Firemen to negotiate settlement


1898: Miss C. Rogers of Cork, Ireland crosses the Atlantic Ocean and moves to Canada after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and studying and traveling on the continent; in 1902 she arrives in San Francisco for a transcontinental trip across the United States; stopping in Los Angeles for a day’s visit with family friends, they convince her to delay her trip and visit fellow countrymen in Pasadena and the coast towns; Rogers takes a job with George H. Peck of San Pedro and after a few months resigns to start her own realty business; opening offices in Los Angeles (and later San Pedro) she deals only in San Pedro and harbor real estate—specializing in waterfront property (Guinn, 1907, Vol. 2, Vol. 2, pg. 2,126)

1910: 2 expert submarine divers from San Pedro are hired by the Reclamation service to lay blasts underwater in the shafts on either side of the Colorado River for the Yuma Irrigation Project

1937: 23-year-old hula dancer, Mae Purdue, dies of burns after her hula skirt is set aflame with a match during performance at San Pedro waterfront café; 2 men are held for investigation after coroner’s jury fails to reach a verdict (Abilene Reporter News, 04/24/1937, transcribed in GenDisaster, 04/04/2009)


1978: Cult classic low-budget post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi Action b-movie Deathsport (produced by Roger Corman; directed by Nicholas Niciphor and  Allan Arkush; starring David Carradine, Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings, and Richard Lynch; view trailer) is released as a non-sequel derivative follow-up to 1975’s successful Death Race 2000 (also starring Carradine and produced by Corman); finale chase scene with its excessive explosions was filmed in and through the batteries of the Fort MacArthur upper reservation and the Whites Point NIKE site (now a nature preserve) in San Pedro, California (IMDb; TCM; AFI; Wikipedia)

1987: Air Force/LA City compromise: Air Force receives title to 11.34 acres at Whites Point (called ”Pacific Heights”) and 22.09 acres of Bogdanovich Park (called “Pacific Coast”) for military family housing


2004: 1st issue of the 14-issue (April 2004-October 2009) Pedrozine (San Pedro punk and skateboarding fanzine) The Rise and the Fall of the Harbor Area established in January 2004 by the San Pedro punk community to cover music, skateboarding, art and entertainment (Obey, n.d.; MySpace; Razorcake)







2 comments:

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