Monday, December 15, 2014

Henry M. Kendall, Orange Juice in his Blood (52 Ancestors #47)

This is another article for the series "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

Henry Martin Kendall, unknown date
(click images to enlarge)
Henry Martin Kendall, son of Lewis Henry Kendall and Sarah Jane Harris Kendall, was born on 9 Feb 1864 near Morehead, Rowan County, Kentucky.  He was my great-grandfather.  Most people called him Marty. 

Henry had six siblings:
  • James Kendall, born 1857
  • Celia Ann Kendall, born 1859
  • John A. Kendall, born 1861
  • Rebecca Susan Kendall, born 1866
  • Elijah Kendall, born 1869
  • Melvin Hayden, born 1872
Sometime after Rebecca was born, the Kendall’s moved to Clark’s Creek, Morris County, Kansas.  Henry’s father was a farmer so quite possibly he found some chores suitable for a young lad like Henry.  Unfortunately, Lewis died on 31 Jan 1874 when Henry was 10 years old.  The family remained together with Sarah becoming head of a full house of children aged 2-17.  James, the eldest, probably assumed responsibility for managing the farm.

Fast forward several years and on 26 Jul 1887, Henry, 23, married Ida May Brown, 18, in Council Grove, Morris County, Kansas. 

26 Jul 1887 Marriage License for Henry Martin Kendall and Ida May Brown,
Council Grove, Morris County, Kansas
Henry and Ida also had a full house - six children:
  • Charles Pirl Kendall, born March 1888
  • Celia May Kendall, born March 1891
  • Henry Walter Kendall, born May 1894
  • Joseph Lloyd Kendall, born August 1896
  • Ethel May Kendall [my grandmother], born May 1899
  • Thomas Arley Kendall, born Feb 1904
Off to California
When did Henry and Ida arrived in California?  I pieced together some clues but needed a more definitive answer.  I turned to the California voter registration records.  The early records were data-rich on their own but they're especially helpful in finding ancestors in the absence of other records or large gaps of time like in between census years.[1]

Wow, the answer was 1890.  The California Great Registers[2] of 1890 and 1892 placed Henry (and presumably Ida, Charles and Celia) in Glendora (post office Azusa), Los Angeles County, California.  The San Gabriel Valley.  His occupation was blacksmith in 1890 and farmer in 1892.  The latter record described him – 5’10, light complexion, gray eyes and light hair.

California Great Register, 1890
Or maybe November 1889.  I gasped with glee when I found a newspaper article dated 1934 - the 18 page edition of the Covina Argus was devoted to celebrating its 50th anniversary and the growth of the valley.  Current and former residents reflected on their role in settling the area including my Kendall family.  Some of the information in the article fits with records and familiy stories and more clues surfaced, namely the house still standing in 1934, moving to Norwalk. and 'four corners'.  

Covina Argus Newspaper on 12 Oct 1934, page 6
The Los Nietos Years
Next, the 1896 California Great Register placed 32 year old Henry in Los Nietos[3], Los Angeles County, California.   His eyes were blue now and his hair black!  He could read the Constitution in English and write his name.  I don’t know when or why my Kendall family moved to Los Nietos.  I suspect the move was as early as 1894, the year of son Henry's birth.  Henry Martin operated his blacksmith shop there until 1905.

The Citrus Ranch Years
Yet another mystery - why the Kendall’s returned to the San Gabriel Valley where they lived upon arrival in California.  In 1905, Henry bought 25 acres of land for $2,300 in Baldwin Park, Los Angeles County, California.[4]  The property was at the northwest corner of San Bernardino Road and Orange Avenue (now called Azusa Canyon Road).  My Uncle B told me that Henry and son Charles built the barn first, staying in a tent on the property and riding back and forth to Los Nietos by horse as needed.  Uncle B said that his mother liked to quip that she lived in a barn!  (I can see her saying this with a very straight face.)

Once again, Henry set up his blacksmith shop on the ranch which likely served as the primary source of income to supplement his other job – starting a nursery to plant an orange orchard – Valencia and Washington navels to ensure a year-round growing season.   His business sign read “Kendall Ranch, Sunkist Affiliate”.  I’m still looking for the sign.  One year when the crop yield was particularly good the Kendall children received a $100 gold coin for Christmas.  A very good year indeed!

The valley was predominately agricultural - citrus orchards were most prevalent with a smattering of walnut groves.  Packing houses were abundant.  After years of being at the mercy of packing houses and shippers, citrus growers organized cooperatives to ensure uniformity in pricing and marketing.  For a number of years, Henry was a director with the Irwindale Citrus Association.

Covina Argus Newspaper 16 Dec 1927

Community Involvement
Before his involvement with the citrus association, Henry was a member of the Baldwin Park School Board.  He was tasked with recruiting a teacher for the two-room schoolhouse and apparently had someone in mind.  Away he went on his horse to Los Nietos/Whittier to hire Mrs. Margaret Heath.  He must have thought highly of her from his days in Los Nietos -- maybe she taught his children there.  My grandmother was one of her first pupils in 1906.  Years later, Mrs. Heath was Uncle B’s teacher.

Excerpt from profile of Mrs. Heath from
1951 Alumni Bulletin, Indiana Teacher's College

Two other boards of directors occupied his attention:  the First National Bank of Baldwin Park and the Baldwin Park Water Company.  Newspaper accounts indicate he was a member of the water board for at least three years.

Covina Argus Newspaper 10 Jan 1914
The Shack
Was Henry lured to sand and surf for relaxation?  Only 30 miles from the ranch lay the ocean; that's via today's highways and cars.  Before WWII, he and his sons built “the shack” and a one bedroom house in front of it in Seal Beach, Los Angeles County, California.  It may have been on Dolphin Street, off Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) near the railroad tracks, a block from the beach.  Ida lived there for awhile after Henry died.   Her grandson Robert M. Hibsch lived with her from 1941-1943.  He looked out for her after work and before he entered military service.  Oh, to have the house in the family today.  Home values there now are over a half million dollars.

Thirty-Two Years Later
My great-grandfather was part of the burgeoning years of the citrus industry in the San Gabriel Valley for over three decades.   He made a mark in his community through involvement.  This quiet-unassuming man died[5] of leukemia on 14 May 1937 at age 73 and was buried in Glendora, Los Angeles County, California at Oakdale Memorial Park.  Awhile later, Charles sold the ranch property for his mother who moved to a house on Virginia Street in Covina.  The new owner razed the structures and built an ice skating rink where my cousins skated a number of times.  The property was sold again and is currently unoccupied. 

Obituary, Henry Martin Kendall published 21 May 1937
in the Covina Argus Newspaper on
Future Research
  • Obtain records for birth, death, properties, boards and associations
  • Learn more about Alosta and boundaries for Baldwin Park, Covina, and Irwindale
  • Learn more about boundaries for Los Nietos, Whittier and Norwalk 
  • Obtain photos of Alosta, citrus ranch house and the Seal Beach shack
  • Research Henry's children, neighbors and associates for more insight
  • Learn more about blackmithing in the valley; what Henry made  


[1] California voter registration records help locate most male citizens between the years of the federal censuses. The first voter registration records were county poll lists. Although poll lists were required by law after 1850, the earliest records are incomplete. In 1866, poll lists were replaced by voter registers known as the Great Registers. Each voter was required to register with the county clerk, giving his full name, age, state or country of birth, occupation, and address.  Subsequent registers included a physical description of the voter. FamilySearch Wiki
[2] California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 - 2A; CSL Roll Number: 23; FHL Roll Number: 976932; 
[3] West Whittier-Los Nietos is a census-designated place in Los Angeles County, California, near the San Gabriel River and the San Gabriel River Freeway (605 Fwy.). Wikipedia 
[4] Interview with Charles P. Kendall in 1936 published in the Covina Argus newspaper.
[5] Obituary, Covina Argus newspaper, 21 May 1937. 

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