Beneath Los Angeles BENEATH

Evergreen History

Hello, again, History Buffs:

It's been a while since our last official update letter, but we've been very busy adding new pictures and stories witout much fanfare, so always be sure to stop by the "What's New" page for the latest.

On a recent Sunday morning, I joined my friend, historian Joe Walker, and The Director of the Studio for Southern California History, Sharon Sekhon, and a few others, to show the folks from the museum around one of our favorite old LA Cemeteries, Evergreen. You may recall earlier updates from there that included Jolly John Larkin, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Sam Haskins, Earl Gilmore, and other luminaries from Los Angeles history. On this trip, I learned the story of Magdalena "May" Chandler, the first wife of Harry Chandler, whose early death left him open and available to marry his boss's daughter, one Marian Otis, daughter of Harrison Gray Otis, founder and publisher of the LA Times. Their union was the beginning of the Chandler Family Dynasty that ran the Times until just six years ago.

I also learned more about George A. Ralphs, the founder of Ralphs Grocery Store Chain (portrayed in a recent series of televison ads). Not only did he found the first and largest grocery chain in Southern California, he died a truly tragic death in 1914 while hiking with his wife, Wallula. Seems a boulder she was standing on just over his head gave way and fell, crushing poor George to death. Proof once again that exercise will kill you.

Learn also of the first black licensed pilot in America, James Herman Banning, who had many great accomplishments to his name, flying all over the world, only to die as a passenger in another man's bi-plane during an airshow over San Diego. The other pilot was trying to impress his noted passenger, to tragic result.

Biddy Mason was a former slave who won her freedom by challenging the constitutionality of her slave status in California, a newly free state, going on to become a wealthy landowner, philanthropist, humanitarian, and a founding member in 1872 of the First AME Church of Los Angeles.

Yes, Evergreen is full of great history, as are so many of LA's cemeteries. We even found a few more "Just Plain Dead" to bring a smile to your face. I want to thank Joe Walker for his knowledge and commitment, and please visit the website to see what you can do to help support the Studio for Southern California History.

Thanks again, as always, for your support and remember not to reply directly to this letter as I don't see the replies. You may write me directly from the site.


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