Verdugo Views: Pioneers honored at 1981 Glendale Jubilee

Glendale’s Jubilee in 1981 marked 75 years since its founding in 1906. During the jubilee event, the city’s pioneers (those who had lived here for 75 years or more) were honored. Making the introductions that day was Carroll W. Parcher, born in 1903, whose father was Wilmot Parcher, the city’s first mayor. As Carroll announced each honoree, mayor John F. Day, presented them with a commendation and Glendale News-Press writer Ellen Perry made brief comments.

The oldest attendee was Dora Verdugo, then 99 years old. She was the great-granddaughter of Jose Maria Verdugo, owner of the Spanish land grant on which Glendale was founded, according to the Daily News, May 16, 1981.

Also honored that day were several who were born here in the late 1800s. They were: Ethel Nelson Last, born in 1890; Ethel Tarr Gillis, 1895; Edward Camargo, 1898; and Daphne Lyons, 1899. Another old-timer Albert Cornwell, came to the city in 1892.

Many of the honorees were born here in the first decade of the 1900s, including; Paul E. Richardson, 1900; John Richardson, 1903; and George Kober, 1904.

Those who moved here during that decade included Margaret Menzies Selover, whose grandfather was the minister at the Tropico Methodist Church and Margot Duffet Flynn, an actress who appeared at the Burbank Theater in Los Angeles.

One of the many photos taken at the jubilee was of two pioneers, Miguel Camargo and Wilbur Lee.Both the Camargo and Lee families had been profiled by Perry and excerpts from her articles are below.

Miguel Camargo, born in Glendale in 1902, was one of 12 children born to Francisco and Arelia Camargo. Francisco Camargo had come to California from Sonora, Mexico, when he was 14 years old, as Perry wrote in the News-Press Aug. 28, 1980. Francisco Camargo worked in the San Joaquin and San Fernando valleys before finding a job on the Lucky Baldwin ranch and meeting Arelia Acuma. After their wedding they moved here and Francisco worked for two local ranchers, J.P. Lukens and John Calvin Sherer, then at the Leslie Brand Water Co. When Brand sold the water company to the city in 1906, Camargo began working for the city.

Wilbur Lee and his sister Dorothy Lee Weller (who was not able to attend the event) arrived here the year Glendale became a city.

The Lee siblings and their parents came from Iowa by train and found a place to live on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. Several months later, seeking a less congested area, their father, Ed Lee, bicycled down San Fernando Road to Verdugo Road where he talked to a man working in his fields. The rancher told Lee there was a 10-acre farm for sale near by. The next day, Lee returned to purchase the land, Perry wrote in the News-Press, April 22, 1993.

The Lee children went to Broadway School, now John Marshall Elementary, and the family joined the First Methodist Church, whose congregation met on the second floor of a building at Wilson Street and Glendale Avenue. Later, Ed Lee joined with his brother W.W. Lee and also with M.P. Harrison in establishing a local bank.

The event honoring Glendale’s pioneers was organized by Eugene Golay of the Greater Glendale Council on Aging.


Readers Write:

I really enjoyed your column of June 5 (“A champion in Glendale”) It raised an interesting possibility in my mind. Here in Northwest Glendale we have a Willard Avenue. I had always assumed it was named for a friend of the developer, or perhaps Frances Willard of Women’s Christian Temperance Union fame. But now, I wonder if perhaps it was named for Jess Willard? This area was developed in the mid-1920s, so the timing would be about right.

Sincerely, Dr. Eileen V. Wallis

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