A Mysterious Suicide in Elysian Park

October 16, 1927
Los Angeles

His body was propped against a tree with a shotgun’s muzzle placed against what remained of his head. He had pulled the trigger with his toe. The note was terse: “Suicide. No dependents. No estate. No heirs. Please notice in New York World on Oct. 30th to print. $2 inclosed [sic]. Body to science, in reserve, or cremate.” It was signed “Anton K. Windsor.”

But who was the man found by police in Elysian Park shortly after daybreak this morning? Despite the carefully printed signature on the note, police doubted his name was Anton Windsor. If it was, why had he cut all the laundry marks and labels out of his clothing? A shears and razor blade used to do the job were still in his pocket. Identification had also been removed from a Masonic apron neatly folded in an inside pocket.

He was rich, according to detectives who cited his expensive gray business suit and outing cap, his soft hands with their careful manicure, and his face—”that of a man accustomed to easy living.” They speculated that his request to have his death noticed in the New York World two weeks from now was a message to someone “arriving from Europe shortly before that date” or perhaps he wanted to announce his death “in connection with some public event, possibly the settling of an estate.”

Another clue to his identity (the Times referred to it as the “only clew”; they apparently didn’t count his Masonic affiliation) was the “ancient” J. Manton & Co. shotgun he used.

Who were you, Anton K. Windsor?

It’s All Fun Until Somebody Gets Shot

September 18, 1927
Inglewood

“A huge bowl of punch made from high-proof bootleg whisky” stood at the center of a drunken brawl that left one man near death and another on the lam early this morning. When an employee of the automobile wrecking plant located at 10636 Hawthorne Boulevard arrived for work around 8:00 a.m. today, he found Inglewood real estate developer H.C. Mitchell lying in a pool of blood at the back of the garage. Though badly wounded, Mitchell identified plant owner A.H. Van der Mark as his assailant. Officers have yet to verify that Mitchell, who remains in critical condition at Milton Hospital with gunshot wounds to his right lung and leg, is a former official of the Ku Klux Klan. Meanwhile, Van der Mark has disappeared.

Eyewitnesses told different stories, but all agree the shooting occurred after a long night of heavy drinking at Van der Mark’s home (also the site of the wrecking plant). Mr. and Mrs. Charles Proctor told police the party was in full swing when they arrived, with guests freely partaking of the whisky punch. By 3:00 a.m., only the couple, Mitchell, Van der Mark, and Grace Haynes (a widow and the “asserted sweetheart of Van der Mark”) remained. Everything was rosy until Van der Mark allegedly told Mitchell that the latter’s habit of reporting bootleggers to the authorities “would make no difference in their regard for each other.” Apparently these were fighting words, for a scuffle began shortly thereafter. The combatants were separated, but Van der Mark returned with a .22 caliber rifle. The fight recommenced, three shots rang out, Mitchell fell to the kitchen floor, and the Proctors skedaddled. Police believe Mitchell then walked from the kitchen to where he was found in wrecking plant. Neither of the Proctors was held after making their statements.

Grace Haynes, on the other hand, is being held in County Hospital as a material witness. She claims the severe bruising about her head and body was caused by Mitchell, who she says arrived at the party looking for trouble. He had several fistfights with partygoers smaller than himself, including Van der Mark, who wound up knocked out—and presumably unable to avenge his lady’s honor. Haynes’s brother (he wasn’t there, but the Times was happy to interview him anyway) says his sister told him Van der Mark was passed out, not knocked out, but either way, “He was cold when Mitchell pitched into another member of the party and this man got a rifle and shot him.” And who was this man with the rifle? Why, none other than Mr. Charles Proctor. Haynes also told her brother that while everybody else at the party was more or less blotto, she herself was completely—totally!—sober.

To recap, of the five people present at the end of last night’s wild party, three claim Van der Mark shot Mitchell, one claims Proctor did the deed, and the fifth hasn’t been seen since the incident occurred.

In perhaps not unrelated news, the Times reports that the state now holds sixth-place in the nation for the number of “feeble-minded” persons admitted to institutions this year—or, as a headline summed up: “CALIFORNIA IDIOTS GAIN IN NUMBERS.”

The Little Klansman That Couldn’t

August 4, 1927ousterdamage
San Pedro

That Ernest M. Branson just couldn’t leave well enough alone.  He was a member in good standing of San Pedro 51, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and all was fine and hunky-dory, until he started stirring the pot with his talk.  So from under the sheet came a big boot, and out went Ernest; now, Ernest says he was libeled in the written order that banished him from the Kluxers.

What was it ever did Ernest say?  To hell with the flag?  Hooray for Hebrews?  Eucharist is yummy?  Thomas Jefferson got it on with Sally Hemmings?

No, all he did was stir up some internal dissension inside the Klan, which resulted in his ouster (maybe he sided with Madge over DC.)  That’s gotta be the worst libel of all—accused of making mishegas in the klavern!

So now Ernest has filed a $25,000 ($275,749 USD2006) libel suit against none other than Exalted Cyclops Karl K. Keller.  

(Yes, Karl K. Keller.  I bet his real name was Herman Flork.)

Last Rites for an Early Church


Jan. 12, 1907
El Monte

For half a century, the Baptist Church of El Monte and the Mason’s Lexington Lodge No. 104 shared a clapboard building on Main Street, the worshipers on the first floor and the Masons, as always, on the second.

Then came the developers and the urge to grow.

“Seized with the thrill of the new trolley boom, the lodge members are about to put up a new Masonic temple; the Baptists, who have shared quarters with the Masons of El Monte for more than 50 years, are also said to be ambitious for a new place,â€Â The Times says.

Taking the original name of the settlement, the Masons founded Lexington Lodge in May 1853, making it one of the oldest in California, and sent for regalia that came around the Horn from the East. One of the early lodge members, Elkenna Parrish, can still be seen driving his buggy around El Monte, The Times says. 



The Baptists, meanwhile, built the first Baptist church south of the Tehachapi, using ox teams to haul lumber from San Bernardino. The Rev. J.C. Freyer arrived after a six-month journey from Alabama and was the first Baptist minister ordained in Southern California, The Times says.

The Baptists had outgrown the structure, built in 1866, and wanted a new church, but the Masons refused to yield their half, so they purchased the building in 1906 in an attempt to save it. By the next year, however, they agreed to let the small, old building come down.

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Matzo Brawl!

Nov. 29, 1907
Los Angeles

Oh Those Shriners:
Recall, if you will, the grisly train wreck that killed a large number of Shriners returning from their convention in Los Angeles. It seems that one of them, George F. Hageman, inadvertently touched off a legal dispute between two belles of Reading.

Sarah Reber and Maude Weber went before the court insisting that each of them was the rightful heir of the bachelor, who was

Horse Abuse At the Fiesta

May 9, 1907
Los Angeles

The spies of the SPCA were watching closely as the Fiesta electrical parade wound its way down Broadway last night, ready to spring forward in defense of the poor animals on whose shoulders so much of the festivities rests.

Sure enough, rider W.S. Voorsanger was spotted at 2nd and Broadway, spurring his horse so violently that blood showed on its flanks. Officer Mitchell approached Voorsanger to rebuke him, but the man galloped away, then pushed his mount into a run. Commissioning a nearby automobile, the SPCA officers gave chase, capturing their quarry near Fourth and Main. Voorsanger will stand trial in Police Court today on a charge of animal abuse; he claims he did not realize he was harming the horse, and gives no excuse for running.

Voorsanger… isn’t that Dutch for "to make bloody"? 

Shriners Present a Colorful Array

What, you might ask yourself, did Shriners do before the advent of those little cars and Harley- Davidson Electra Glides? The elaborately costumed men staged precision, close-order drills accompanied by marching bands.

The effect, according to The Times, was stunning, inspiring the unidentified author to summon forth his (or possibly her) own gaudiest prose.