Moving to Los Angeles

Ursula Cheshire, age 4

Ursula at age 4

The year after Ursula’s parents traveled to Hawaii, Clara and Alfred’s names started appearing in the society news in the Los Angeles Times. More precisely, mentions of them ran in the Arts and Leisure section’s “Out-of-Town Society” column, under the goings on of Monrovia, California, between April and late August 1907. This leads me to believe the Cheshires left San Francisco earlier that year to set up temporary residence in Monrovia, a residential community in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles. At the time, Ursula would have been four, going on five.

Pacific Electric depot

Pacific Electric’s main depot circa 1910.

Just a few years before, the Pacific Electric mass transit system was opened, providing convenient transportation to and from LA for residents of Monrovia (and other suburbs), like the Cheshires. We don’t know why they left San Francisco—perhaps it was too chaotic for them during the city’s recovery and massive rebuilding projects following the great earthquake of 1906. Or, perhaps Alfred, who is referred to as a capitalist in a later news item, was seeking to do business in the LA area.

While in Monrovia, one of the events Clara attended, according to the Times, was a luncheon at La Vista Grande hotel for the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a fraternal organization still in operation today. For the event, deemed one of the “delightful affairs of the week,” the hotel’s reception hall, parlors and private dining room “were artistically decorated in gold and white with rare flowers from Mr. Best’s tropical gardens.” Clara not only attended, but also was one of two guests who entertained the group with a “musical programme,” probably playing piano (the news clip mentioned below describes Clara as “an accomplished pianist”).

La Vista Grande

In 1907, Ursula’s mother, Clara, was a guest and entertainer (piano) at a luncheon held in La Vista Grande hotel, Monrovia, CA

It seems Monrovia was a stepping stone to more permanent residence in Los Angeles. A November 1907 society item in the Los Angeles Herald announced that “Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Dudley Cheshire and little daughter Ursula” had moved to 1422 Malvern Avenue in LA, and “may possibly make [the city] their permanent home”—which they indeed did.

cheshires in LA

A blurb in the Los Angeles Herald’s “Society” column, November 22, 1907

Ursula and her parents will start the new year of 1908 in a new home and in a new city. What adventures are in store for them there? As this is my last post of the year, I’m afraid we will have to wait until the new year of 2014 to find out! I will be taking a brief hiatus from the Mystery Dancer blog during this busy holiday season but will be back with Ursula, Clara and Alfred Cheshire in January. Stay tuned…and best wishes for the holidays!

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