Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Naming of Covina

...by guest author Glenn Reed

Recently Karl Blackmun, one of our new members gave us a copy of his great grandmother's memoirs of her life in Covina in the early days. Her name was Clara Margaret Eckles (1874-1966). She married Carl Warner, best known in Covina as the younger brother of Elwin Perle Warner, long time prominent Covina grocer. Her memoirs paint a picture of life in this area before 1900 and relates some of her contacts with such early residents as Antonio Badilla, Lucky Baldwin, and Joseph Phillips.

Of particular interest is her account of how Covina received its name. Most of us have heard that the name came from the location, as a cove between the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Jose Hills at least partly filled with vines. After all, Baldwin Park was for many years called Vineland until the residents changed the name in order to curry the favor of Lucky Baldwin.

Here is the story in the words of Clara Eckles:

The Dunkard Brethren were colonizing Covina, only that wasn't its name yet. One day Phillips called father over to do some surveying and to give some advice. It seemed the colony of Brethren wanted to name their section, "Los Covinas." They thought it was Spanish for "The Little Cove." "Los" was the only Spanish part of it, and Mr. Phillips didn't want to hurt their feelings by pointing out their mistake. Besides, there wasn't any cove present! So a compromise name was suggested, that of "Covina," the leaders were consulted, and the town named before it had time to catch its breath.

I think that is a better story for the naming of Covina than any that I have heard, and besides, it is an account from someone alive at the time; I am accepting it. More of Clara's memoirs later.

This article was originally published in the June, 2018 issue of "The Covina Citrus Peel," the official newsletter of the Covina Valley Historical Society, and is reproduced here with the permission of the author, Covina historian Glenn Reed.


German Baptist Brethren church on Third at Puente, circa 1920.

 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Ruddock Mansion

In 1885 – the same year that Joseph Swift Phillips founded the town of Covina – Chicago lumber tycoon Thomas Sanderson Ruddock1 purchased 120 acres2 of land from John Edward Hollenbeck, just east of Phillips's tract. There, the following year, Ruddock built his new winter home: "Mountain View."3,4

In pioneer times, the extravagant 3-storey Queen Anne-style mansion2 was the showpiece of the entire Azusa Valley (as the Eastern San Gabriel Valley was called back then).4 According to Covina historian Barbara Ann Hall, Mountain View...

...had 11 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 7 fireplaces of Belgian tile and rosewood. A stained-glass window looked down upon the staircase. There were stained-glass chandeliers in the ballroom. Surrounding the mansion were stables, a carriage house, a bunkhouse, servants' quarters, and a caretaker's cottage. The 800-foot drive was lined with palm trees and roses.2

Thomas Ruddock died in 1890 at the age of 71, and left Mountain View to his wife, Maria Nancy Newell Ruddock (b.1827).1 When she passed away in 1905, son Charles Homer Ruddock (1848-1929) inherited the property.

Ironically, for all its local fame in bygone days, few photographic images of Mountain View were known to have survived. Recently, however, I made the acquaintance of Mary Elarton Kidd – whose great aunt was the last resident of Mountain View – and she has shared with me many photos of the ranch which have never before been seen by the public.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the most detailed picture in existence of Covina's lost Victorian treasure. It shows Mountain View not long after Mary Chrastka acquired the ranch in the early 1930s.5


The Ruddock Mansion, 1886-1950. Photo courtesy Mary Kidd. Click image to enlarge.

The entrance to Mountain View, formerly located at 522 North Grand Avenue5 at the eastern end of San Bernardino Road. The mansion itself was located immediately east of the intersection of today's East Wingate Street and South Westridge Avenue.


Photo courtesy Mary Kidd.

Planted over 130 years ago, the Washingtonia filifera fan palms that still stand today along East Wingate Street are among the oldest trees in Covina (together with the palms that line Hollenbeck Street). Here they are in the 1940s, when they were already six decades old.


Photo courtesy Mary Kidd.

A Ruddock Company citrus crate label. At its peak – just before the turn of the last century – approximately 9,000 orange and 3,000 lemon trees1 grew on the estate.


Image courtesy Calisphere.

Continuing on:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Covina Banknotes

Most people today don't know this, but from 1863-1935, local National Banks could issue their own banknotes, which were legal tender anywhere in the United States.

Here are some examples of U.S. currency produced by the two National Banks in Covina in the early years of the 20th century. (The first two are the old, large "horse blanket" banknotes; the third is the same size as our bills are today.)


$5 note, Series of 1882, Charter date 1901. Portrait depicts the late President James Garfield. Click image to enlarge.


$10 note, Series of 1902, Charter date 1921. Portrait depicts the late President William McKinley. Click image to enlarge.


$20 note, Covina National Bank, Series of 1929. Image courtesy seller jscabani1988 on eBay.

Below are some historical photos of Covina's two chartered National Banks.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Old Covina High, 1961

Recently added this Kodachrome transparency to my Covina ephemera collection. It's likely one of the last photos ever taken of the old Covina Union High School building on Citrus at Puente before it was set afire and subsequently demolished.


click image for enlargement

If you look closely, you can see several windows have been broken, and even though the place was abandoned at this time, the grass looks like it's still being mowed regularly.

Note the date impressed on the slide: AUG 61.

Seeing the burned-out high school after the arson fire was one of my earliest memories of downtown Covina. I previously thought that was in 1960, but the date on the slide clearly shows the building was still standing a year later than that.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Strapping Youth

Unknown Covina Union High School Colt varsity baseball player from the 1930s. Photo attributed to Burton O. Burt, who was active in California and the Southwest in the early 20th century.


Image courtesy of seller tobeacat66 on eBay.

Some people I showed this to thought it might be a picture of a young "Doc" Sooter – the semi-legendary CHS sports coach – but one of them asked his surviving brother about it and it turns out Doc was still living with his family in Missouri at the time this photo was taken. So the young man's identity remains a mystery.

Anyway, regardless of who it is, this is a great image of a pre-War Covinan! His face really lights up the room, doesn't it?

Note: this 5x7 negative is currently available on eBay. Either click on the picture or this link, and it will take you to the ad page.