Monday, November 12, 2012

Update on Stoutenborough Lane

In my post about Stoutenborough Lane in Redondo Beach, California, I had speculated that Charles Henry Stoutenborough was the person for whom that street was named. A bit more research has convinced me that Stoutenborough Lane was indeed connected to Charles Stoutenborough.

His parents and siblings remained in New Jersey except for one sister, Elizabeth moved to San Francisco and was married to her older brother's business partner, Alexander Richards Baldwin. Charles Stoutenborough and Alexander Baldwin were in a partnership as stockbrokers.

Baldwin was also an investor in real estate. However, Baldwin died in 1889, three years before Redondo Beach was incorporated. Charles Stoutenborough died in 1906. His sister was still living in 1930.

Elizabeth's son, Alexander, was a lawyer who became general counsel and a vice president of the Western Pacific Railroad. In 1918, Alexander was appointed by Judge Walter H. Sanborn as one of two receivers in the bankruptcy of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW). He served in that role until 1921 when the D&RGW Railroad was reorganized emerged as the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

Now that I found a concrete tie of Charles Stoutenborough to the railroad business in California, I was still curious about a tie to Julius Kruttschnitt. As I wrote in my prior post,
Julius Kruttschnitt was chairman of the Southern Pacific Company Executive Board from 1913 to 1925 and president from 1918 to 1920.

The San Francisco Blue Book of 1899 listed the members of the Pacific-Union Club. This club was an exclusive club whose building was located in the financial district at the corner of Post and Stockton Streets. Included in the list are A. S. Baldwin of 10 Montgomery Street, J. Kruttschnitt of 4 Montgomery Street and C. H. Stoutenborough of 325 Pine Street. Stoutenborough's office was a couple of blocks away and down the street from Montgomery and accross from the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange

So it looks like Stoutenborough and Kruttschnitt were at least passing acquaintances. But I couldn't find a concrete connection of Stoutenborough and Kruttschnitt to the city of Redondo Beach. I looked at each page of the 1900 Census of the enumeration district in which Redondo Beach lies. I didn't find a Kruttschnitt Avenue nor did I find a Stoutenborough Lane. Nor did I find these streets in 1910 and 1920 Censuses.

However, as I looked at the 1920 Census sheets of Enumeration District 538 in Los Angeles County, I noted the names of many of the streets. I found streets like Huntington Lane, Pullman Lane, Stanford Street, Gould Lane, Marshallfield Lane, Vanderbilt Lane, Armour Lane, etc. These streets are named after wealthy, 19th Century industrialists.

Comparing the streets that I found in the 1920 Census with the streets I viewed with Google Maps, I found about half of the streets were recorded in that census. The streets not found in the 1920 Census were likely laid out but no one lived on them at that time.

I was curious as to why Charles Stoutenborough had a street named for him in a city that was almost 400 miles away from where he lived, worked and died. Since Cornelius Vanderbilt, Leland Stanford, Jay Gould, Marshall Field, et. al. had no real connection to Redondo Beach, I think that Charles Stoutenborough was just one of many wealthy businessman that had ties to the railroads and 19th century industry.

Hill Lane, formerly, Stoutenborough Lane, Redondo Beach, CA

Friday, November 9, 2012

Is the Republican Party destined to suffer the fate of the Whig Party?

Our nation just came through another presidential election. I witnessed the posturing of both parties since the 2008 elections and was struck by how radical those people in power who were elected as a Republican had become. Immediately the Whig Party crossed my mind.

I remember studying the Whig Party in high school and college but had long forgotten about the details. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Whig is a member a political party that was formed in opposition to the Jacksonian Democrats. It was established about 1834 and was replaced by the Republican party in 1854.

The party was not particularly successful until it ran William Henry Harrison for president in 1839. The Panic of 1837 was largely responsible for Martin Van Buren's failure to be elected to a second term. Harrison died in 1840 after serving only 31 days of his term and was succeeded by John Tyler.

Tyler vetoed the Whig economic legislation and as a result he was expelled from the party in September of 1841. He served the remainder of his presidential term without a party affliation. The party did not fare too well in the 1842 Congressional races but ran a close presidential race in 1844, however, the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, lost to James K. Polk. Henry Clay was a protectionist and was opposed to the western expansion.

When the party selected Zachary Taylor as their candidate in 1848, the Democrats were split. The Democrats ran Lewis Cass, a prominent Midwesterner. (I wrote about Cass on October 30, 2011.) But a splinter group, called the Free Soil Party, ran Martin Van Buren. Taylor won the presidency but died in July 1850.

Although Taylor was a slaveowner, he was opposed to allowing slavery to be expanded to the western territories. His successor, Millard Fillmore, helped push the Compromise of 1850 through Congress. This compromise delayed the issue over slavery for about four years. The Whig Party never managed to form a cohesive party and finally began to disintegrate about 1852.

The Irish Famine resulted in a large migration of poor Irish to the United States and this resulted in a new issue of nativism and prohibition. A new party was formed on the platform of denying Irish immigrants the ability to become a citizen. (I wrote about this on May 26, 2010.)

The anti-slavery issue re-emerged as a major issue. In addition, the deaths of Whig leaders, southener Henry Clay and northerner Daniel Webster, in 1852 severely weakened the Whig Party. Many of the northern Whigs moved to the new Republican party and most of the southern Whigs moved a newly formed American Party.

The Democrats won the next two elections. It was the Republican Abraham Lincoln who won the election in 1860. The Republican party held presidential positions through 1884 when the party lost the position to Grover Cleveland. Since that time, the office has been held by both Republican and Democrats.

Since I was able to vote, I may have been disappointed that my candidate did not win but I never saw it as a catastophe when my candidate lost. There was a civility that I have watched erode. When I lived in Los Angeles, I noticed that I was much more forgiving of the traffic trangressions of my neighbors than of those whom I did not know.

I began to watch the erosion of this civility after the 2000 elections. I am not certain why this happened, but I believe that this was the beginning of the downfall of the Republican Party. I see a fanatic faction taking over the party and are leaving behind the moderates who are interested in the well-being of our country.

I was greatly troubled when I heard the leaders of the Republican party after the election of Barack Obama say that their goal was to make him a one term president. I was really hoping that their goal would have been to make our country succeed.

As I watched this last election cycle, I found the Republican leadership out of touch with what the American public wanted. I was waiting for the moderate Republicans in office to stand up. They didn't and Barack Obama won. I am wondering if the Republican Party is on the path of demise like the Whig Party.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Widows in the United States Census

Prior to the 1850 Census, the members of the household were not identified other than the head of the household. The information gathered revealed little about the household other than the total number of members, number of males, number of females and the number of each falling within various age groups.

By 1850, every member of the household was enumerated with the head of the household recorded first. However, the relationship of the other members of the household to the head was not recorded. The marital status of individuals also was not recorded except in the case of newlyweds. A column was added in which members of the household who were married within the year were identified. In the 1870 census, the enumerator was asked to record the month in which the couple were married within the year.

Typically, the members of a household are recorded in this census in the following order:
  • Head (usually male)
  • Spouse (usually female)
  • Children
  • Parents of head or spouse
  • Siblings of head or spouse
  • Other relatives
  • Others including servants, boarders, houseguests, etc.
A female who is the head of household could be unmarried, married with an absent husband, divorced or widowed. Unless you have other information, you cannot be certain of her marital status.

Even the marital status of the male head of household cannot be stated with certainty. I have come across households composed of an unmarried man, his widowed sister and her children. In other instances, the household was comprised of a bachelor brother and one or more spinster sisters.

It was not until the 1880 Census that a column was added titled, "Civil Condition." Under this category are three columns in which the enumerator marked the appropriate column. The columns are labeled Single, Married, and Widowed/Divorced. The column in which the enumerator identified couples who were married during the census year was retained in this census but omitted in the subsequent censuses.

Of the thousands of 1880 Census images I viewed, I saw very, very few images in which an individual on the page was recorded as divorced. My initial assumption was that divorce was probably not very common at that time. However, after coming across a distant relative in this census whose marital status was widowed and later finding her deceased husband alive and well but divorced, I decided look further into divorce in the United States during this time.

The Europeans brought the concept of divorce to North America when they first settled here. However, a divorce was very difficult to obtain. A person seeking a divorce had to provide the court with a very compelling reason as to why a divorce should be granted. The grounds on which a divorce was granted include desertion, regular inebriation, impotence, adultery and extreme cruelty.

Although I saw a tiny number of divorced persons in the 1880 Census, I began to see more occurrences of these situations in the 1900 Census as well as the 1910 Census. Occasionally I found a widow but found the dead husband living in the same city or town. In one case, a couple was enumerated in 1900 in separate households. The female was widowed while the male was roomer who was married. A decade later she was married to a different man and her former husband now was recorded as divorced.

However, starting with the 1920 Census, I noticed a decline in these cases. Suddenly, I was seeing images with more divorced females than I had in the prior censuses. One of the ladies who was a widow in 1910 was a divorcée in 1920. But I should not be surprised as this was the beginning of the "Roaring Twenties" and the "flapper era."

There was a stigma prior to 1920 of being a divorced woman regardless of the cause of the divorce. So, when you look at census images, be very leery about your female ancestor that claims to be a widow. Don't give her husband up for dead. He may just be lurking in another Enumeration District.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stoutenborough Lane, Redondo Beach, CA

Recently, I wrote an article in a newsletter about the Stoutenburgh house in Pasadena. I was suprised to come across this home because not many Stoutenburgs settled in Southern California at the time this house was built.

I was doing some research on the Stoutenborough branch of the Pieter Stoutenburg descendants. To my surprise, I learned of the existence of a Stoutenborough Lane in Redondo Beach, California. However, you won't find it in Google Maps or in a Thomas Guide of Los Angeles County. It is not a figment of my imagination because it is recorded in several of the California registered voter lists I viewed.

So what happened to it? The street did not disappear. In 1946 it was renamed Hill Lane. I found Special Ordinance No. 1075 from February 18, 1946 that changed the name of the street to Hill Lane.

I lived in Los Angeles for many years and worked several years in nearby Inglewood and El Segundo yet I spent virtually no time in Redondo Beach. I really knew very little about about that city. My son earlier this year moved to Redondo Beach. I was really surprised to find that he lives fairly closed to Hill Lane.

Google Maps reveals that Hill Lane is only two blocks long. It lies within the triangle formed by Ripley Avenue, West 190th Street and South Inglewood Avenue. I was intrigued by Stoutenborough Lane and why the city changed the name to Hill Lane. I can only speculate why based on the information I came across.

There was another street whose name was changed in Redondo Beach. In 1949, Kruttschmitt Avenue was renamed Ford Avenue. I then found a comment by someone who speculated that the name was changed because it has hard to pronounce. That may have been the reasoning behind why Stoutenborough Lane was renamed. However, I uncovered an event that may be a more plausible explanation.

On February 7, 1940, a fireworks manufacturing factory exploded. I found reports of the explosion in several newspapers across the country. That factory was on Stoutenborough Lane. It was so big that the explosion was felt miles away. My explanation is that the street was renamed for two reasons. The primary reason was to remove the stigma of a street on which a massive explosive occurred. The secondary reason was the length of the name.

Nonetheless, I still wanted to know how a street in Redondo Beach was once Stoutenborough Lane. I looked at voters registration lists. The earliest list in which I found Stoutenborough Lane was 1924. I viewed the registration lists from that year through 1946, the year in which the street was renamed. In none of the registration lists for the precinct in which Stoutenborough Lane was situate did I find a registered voter with the surname Stoutenborough. Nor was I able to find anyone named Stoutenborough residing in Redondo Beach in the various censuses.

I did find a Henry W. Stoutenborough in Los Angeles in 1910 but there was nothing in that record that would make me believe that Stoutenborough Lane was named for him. So I then focused on that other street that was renamed, Kruttschmitt Avenue.

Julius Kruttschmitt was an executive of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Based on several newspaper articles that I read from the beginning of the twentieth century, he had an influence on the growth of Redondo Beach. The city was incorporated on April 29, 1892.

I learned that Kruttschmitt was transferred to San Francisco in 1885, I had an aha moment. Charles H. Stoutenborough also lived in San Francisco. He was a wealthy stockbroker. At this point, I haven't made the connection between Julius Kruttschmitt and Charles Stoutenborough, but I believe that Stoutenborough Lane was named as a result of that connection.

Friday, November 2, 2012

FEMA and Hurricane Sandy

It’s truly amazing what the East Coast communities are dealing with! It looks like FEMA is doing so much better than it did after Katrina. Not only is FEMA currently dealing with a much larger geographic area but with a much greater number of affected people.

My one and hopefully only experience with FEMA was only positive. The Northridge earthquake on January 17, 1994 marked the event that connected me to FEMA. Although our house seemed intact, the walls throughout the house were cracked or were missing hunks of plaster. We were without power and heat for only three days.

But when the rains started, we had to put pots and bowls around the house to collect the rain water. At that point, not certain that our house was really safe, we contacted FEMA. A FEMA inspector came out right away and gave us a green tag. We continued to experience good-sized aftershocks for months. Thus FEMA’s inspection of our house and the inspector’s assessment that our house was safe was very comforting.

With this latest disaster, I began to think about FEMA and wondered when it was started.  It must have been established sometime after I became an adult as I had not heard of FEMA when I studied civics in high school and American government in college.  FEMA has a website that includes a brief history.

As I thought, FEMA was established after I reached adulthood. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter merged several disaster related federal governmental entities into the Federal Emergency Management Agency by Executive Order 12127. Prior to FEMA, various aspects of disaster preparedness and relief were handled by several departments that included the General Services Administration (GSA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Defense Department. By the time President Carter established FEMA over 100 federal agencies had been involved in some part or another with hazards, emergencies or disasters.

It’s a bit ironic that a Democrat president was the one who consolidated all of these functions into a single agency in order to make emergency management by the federal government more efficient and more effective. For as long as I can remember, I had heard that Democrats equal big government; Republicans equal small government.

It seems to me that over the last several years Republicans holding federal office also want big government. The differences seem to be more about what areas should be larger. As I listen to many of the Republicans who hold office, I am reminded of “Big Brother” from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four. And it alarms me. These people certainly don’t represent the Republican Party that I remember.

I never believed that Democrats want big government while Republicans want small government. Instead, I believe most people want the right-sized and an efficient federal government. I hope we can return to a time when regardless of which party an office holder is a member that he/she is willing to work with and compromise to create a win-win situation for all the nation’s people.