This year marks the 100th anniversary of two important events in
Glendale's history: the arrival of the Red Cars and the completion of
El Miradero in what is now Brand Park. Both were the product of L.C.
Brand's drive and determination to succeed.
I've just finished reading a Brand family history, written by Judy
Brand of Colorado, which details much of Leslie Coombs Brand's life.
He was born in 1859 in Missouri, one of several children of
relatively prosperous parents.
However, when Brand was 10, his father died and his mother was
left with several young children, the youngest less than a year old.
Brand had an older brother, who was 16 and old enough to take
charge, but the family history recounts a legendary story that during
a particularly severe blizzard in 1870, when many of the Brands were
stricken with cholera, the by- then-11-year-old Brand took a piece of
his mother's jewelry to St. Louis, successfully bartered with
merchants and returned home that evening with a wagon- load of coal
and rations to see his family through the winter.
"It's a delightful story," wrote Judy Brand.
By this time, the Brands were living in the St. Louis area, and
Brand completed his education there. When he was 20, Brand went to
work in a recorder's office in nearby Moberly and did so well that he
soon opened his own real estate office. He married Lulu Broughton in
1883, but sadly, she died a few months later.
Brand left Missouri after his wife's death and moved to Los
Angeles, which was experiencing a land boom at the time. He teamed up
with E.W. Sargent to form the Los Angeles Abstract Co. (a title
company) at the corner of Temple and New High streets in Los Angeles.
He returned to Missouri to settle his wife's estate and when he came
back, he brought his mother and two married sisters, Ada Stocker and
Helen Dryden, with him.
Brand had speculated on oil in the Saugus area when he first
arrived here. When that investment failed and a "lean '90s recession"
set in after the land boom, Brand and Sargent sold their company to
the fledging Title Insurance and Trust Co. Brand left for Galveston,
Texas to join other investors in buying real estate. According to the
family history, he worked for an abstract firm in Galveston and took
many long walks around the city.
He described Galveston's main street in a letter to his mother:
"Broadway is 150 feet wide and the center for miles is a park. A
driveway is on each side with flowers and grass and trees on either
Perhaps Brand had Galveston's Broadway in mind when he later laid
out Brand Boulevard with a broad median strip down the middle for the
Brand stayed at the Tremont Hotel in Galveston, a fine hotel
completed just after the Civil War. It had a great skylight, which so
impressed him that he later incorporated one into El Miradero.
By this time, his sister, Ada, had a daughter, Helen, and Brand
wrote a tender letter describing a Galveston snowstorm.
"I know you would like to see the snow and play in it ... when
'unkie' saw the little boys and girls on sleighs, he thought how he
would have liked to pull his baby [Helen] around on one too and see
her cheeks pretty and rosy. Your unkie, Les."
Note to Readers: Brand Library and Art Center, 1601 Mountain St.,
is observing the 100th anniversary of El Miradero next month. The
event will be celebrated for a week, beginning with the opening of
"Brand 33," its annual exhibition, on Dec. 5 and ending with the
Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair the following Saturday, Dec. 11.
* KATHERINE YAMADA'S column runs every other Saturday. To contact
her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at 637-3241. For more
information on Glendale's history visit the Glendale Historical
Society's web page: www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference
desk at the Central Library at 548-2027; or visit the Special
Collections Room at Central (open by appointment only).