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From the Archives: Passengers. Many From This City Aboard Stricken Liner.

Among the dead when the Lusitania sank on May 7, 1915, was prominent Angeleno A.C. Bilicke

Desiring complete rest from nervous strain and relying on a sea voyage as the most officacious of all proven means for obtaining this, A.C. Bilicke, multi-millionaire president of the Alexandria Hotel Company and the Bilicke-Rowan Fireproof Construction Company, with Mrs. Bilicke, took passage on the Lusitania despite the warning suggestions of impending danger by friends, and even in the face of warning received in New York. The three Bilicke children, Constant, Nancy and Archie, remained at the family home, "Mariposa," on Monterey road, South Pasadena.

Announcement of the possible death of this financier, philanthropist and leading citizen in many ways caused little short of consternation among his associates and friends. The name of Bilicke stands for the progress of the city, and from the beginning of his operations in real estate as part owner of the Hollenbeck Hotel, to the present time, when his holdings are among the heaviest in the community, he has always been regarded as one of the most solid citizens. Mrs. Bilicke is known for her love of family and particularly for her unostentatious charities.


Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Campbell-Johnston of San Rafael Heights, another pair of Los Angeles travelers aboard the ill-fated ship, have been socially prominent in Southern California for a number of years, and the journey was undertaken partly to assist in the clearing up of an estate left by a brother of Mr. Campbell-Johnston, and partly to offer his services to his native land in the present warfare. Mrs. Campbell-Johnston refused to remain at home, having a premonition for several weeks that the journey would possibly end in fatalities and that she would share her husband's danger.

Willoughby Rodman, an attorney, No. 2631 Orchard avenue, received last night a cablegram from Mr. and Mrs. Campbell-Johnston, Angelenos who were among the Lusitania's passengers, declaring both were then safe in an Irish village. No details were given.


Mrs. Cyril Bretherton, with her two babies, Paul, aged 4, and Elizabeth, aged 2, were on their way to visit the parents of Mrs. Bretherton. Mrs. Bretherton came to Los Angeles about six years ago as Miss Nora Keating, and immedately [sic] after arrival was married. She was taking the children back home to introduce them to their grandparents. Her husband, a local attorney, had accompanied her as far as New York City, and is now supposed to be on his way home via the Panama Canal. The family residence of the Brethertons is at Santa Monica.


A similar reason actuated the trip by Mrs. W.F. Gray, who accompanied by her son and her father, was on her way to England to visit her mother and other close relatives whom she had not seen for a number of years. Her husband also went with her to New York, where he, as cloak and suit buyer of the Fifth Street Store, had business to look after. J.P. Gray, mentioned in the dispatches, is her father, and her son is Stuart Gray. 

Others mentioned as residents of Los Angeles aboard the Lusitania on her final voyage were G.F. Forsetti, Mr. and Mrs. W. Moody and daughter and G.T. Brown.


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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

Editor's note

A German U-boat torpedoed the Cunard liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. The ship sank in 18 minutes, and 1,195 people died. Among them was A.C. Bilicke, whose legacy in Los Angeles endures at the intersection of 5th and Spring streets downtown. He was one of the developers behind the Hotel Alexandria and the Rowan Building (both designed by noted architect John B. Parkinson). Among the 764 Lusitania passengers who were saved was Bilicke's wife. She returned to Southern California in June of that year. This is an article that ran on Page 2 of the Los Angeles Times on May 8, 1915, reporting on the Bilickes and other Angelenos who were aboard the ship.

-- Matt Ballinger