The Street Seen: Mary Hotchkiss Park (part I)
4th Street @ Strand
The often told story of Mary Hotchkiss Park involves two remarkable women - Nancy Talbot Lucas and Mary A. Green.
In 1875 (the year Santa Monica is founded), recent widow and Ocean Park pioneer, Nancy Talbot Jones Lucas (1806 - 1881) constructs a grand 2-story mansion1 on the highest point of her ranch—the hill from Strand and Hollister between 3rd & 4th Street. In 1881, Nancy Lucas dies from “accidental” poisoning - strychnine (used for killing rats) has gotten onto the cake she eats.
Mary A. Green2 and husband Dan Mooney3 arrive in Los Angeles in 1874.4 They begin investing in downtown Los Angeles real estate.5 In contested proceedings in 1877, Mary’s mother gains custody of her orphaned grandson, T. Jeff White.6 In 1883, Mary A. Mooney acquires the Lucas Mansion from the Lucas estate for $3,500. Mary and Dan Mooney take up residence in the mansion, which becomes known as the “Mooney Mansion.”
In 1885, Mary and Dan Mooney are traveling alone from their mansion to Los Angeles in their horse and carriage, when Dan Mooney's pistol falls from his pocket and inflicts a mortal wound. An inquest finds the cause of death to be “accidental shooting in the back.” 78
After Dan Mooney’s 1885 death, there are attempts from 1887 to 1895 to rent out the 19 room Mooney mansion either as a hotel (The Highland 1887, Keystone Villa 1895) or the whole house (Mooney Sea Mansion). In 1891, Dan’s brother, John C. Mooney, arrives in Los Angeles to investigate - and to perhaps recover some of his brother’s assets. Mary’s lawyer “friend,” Colonel A. B. Hotchkiss,9 writes a strong letter to the newspaper defending her - declaring it would be “an utter impossibility for the wound to have been inflicted by Mrs. Mooney.”
Around 1895, Mary marries Colonel Hotchkiss, and they take up residence in the Mooney Mansion. In 1903, the Mooney Mansion burns to the ground in questionable circumstances10 and the insurance company refuses to pay up without a lawsuit. A.B. Hotchkiss buys the Rose Mansion11 in downtown Los Angeles, and Mary and A.B. Hotchkiss leave Santa Monica, never to return. A.B. Hotchkiss dies of natural causes in 1905.
In 1906, Mary Hotchkiss marries Los Angeles physician Dr. Joseph W Jauch.12 Mary and Dr. Jauch live at the downtown Los Angeles Rose Mansion until about 1917, when they move to the Fremont Hotel,13 which Mary now owns (along with other downtown Los Angeles property). Mary Green Drury Mooney Hotchkiss Jauch dies in 1934, and leaves the 2 acre Mooney Mansion property to the City of Santa Monica to be used as a public park - Mary Hotchkiss Park. A quiet sleepy park.
Next Week: Mary Hotchkiss Park (part II)
Nancy Lucas hires San Francisco architect Charles Wellington Davis (1826 - 1897) to design a grand 2-story mansion - the Lucas Mansion. It is very expensive - $8,000 - Nancy bought her whole 861 acre ranch for $12,000. Water is supplied by a wind mill pumping water from a 90ft deep well on the property to an elevated tank.
Mary Abigail Hotchkiss (1851 - 1934), born in KY, is the daughter of Jeremiah J. Green (1822 - 1877) and Virginia R. Dillard Green (1832 - 1888). In 1869, Mary marries Drury in AR. In 1874, Mary marries Dan Mooney in AZ. About 1895 (there is no announcement), Mary marries the recently divorced Colonel Hotchkiss. In 1906, Mary Hotchkiss marries Los Angeles physician Dr. Joseph W. Jauch. Mary is always described as an impeccably dressed business woman. Mary Hotchkiss dies in 1934, one of the wealthiest women in Los Angeles, leaving a large estate.
Virginia Green (Mary’s mother) and her family also arrive in Los Angeles in the mid 1870’s. Mary’s sisters, Jennie Green(1855 – 19??) and Jessie Green (1863 – 1913), are bridesmaids at the 1875 wedding in Los Angeles of their sister Amma Green to Thomas Jefferson White, Jr. Virginia Green dies in Los Angeles in 1888.
The source of the Mooney’s wealth is vague. It is rumored that Dan Mooney has acquired considerable fortune (said to be $150,000) in Arizona. John C. Mooney, Dan’s brother, claims that just before he died, Dan signed over all of his property to Mary. A. B. Hotchkiss, in his letter to the newspaper, claims that it’s all Mary’s money and Dan Mooney is merely her agent.
Thomas Jefferson White (1876 - 1937 ?) is the son of Thomas Jefferson White, Jr (1846 - 1877) and Amma Green (1859 - 1876) - Mary’s sister. Shortly after T. Jeff White’s birth, his mother Amma, who is 16 years old, dies. When his father, Thomas Jefferson White, Jr dies soon afterwards in 1877, T. Jeff White is an orphan and heir to the estate of his pioneer grandfather, Dr. Thomas Jefferson White (1804 - 1861).
After some dispute, in 1877, the court revokes the will of T. Jeff White’s father, and appoints his grandmother, Virginia Green (Mary’s mother), as guardian. After Virginia Green dies, Mary adopts T. Jeff White in 1889. In 1899, T. Jeff White marries and quickly divorces Verna Lincoln, an actress. He also spends most of his inheritance - and remains in financial straits the rest of his life.
In 1901, T. Jeff White marries Jeannette G White (1879 - 1908) and they have a daughter Amma J. White (1902 - 2001). T. Jeff White is at the Mooney Mansion the night it burns down in 1903. In 1905, Mary Hotchkiss takes over the lease of the “Casino” theater and renames it the “Hotchkiss” with adopted son T. Jeff White as manager. In 1906, T. Jeff White, his wife pregnant again, runs off to San Diego with a chorus girl.
His wife, Jeanette moves in with her aunt, Virginia M. Gutsch (1867 – 1920). Their second baby, Frances White (1907 – 1907) dies and then in 1908, Jeannette White dies. Jeannette leaves all her property and the custody of Amma to Gutsch. Another legal dispute. Gutsch and Mary Hotchkiss are in court over the custody of the 6 year old Amma. During the proceedings, Mary and T. Jeff White kidnap Amma, but the court gives custody to Gutsch.
The shooting (0.38 caliber Colt six shooter) occurs 1 1/2 miles from Santa Monica. The bullet goes through Mooney’s heart. Local real estate man Walter Henry Wren (1846 – 1920) and his son Walter Joseph Wren (1873 – 1919), who meet Mary returning to Santa Monica with the deceased Dan in one arm and the bridle in the other, are called as witnesses. The seven man Coroner’s jury includes H.L. Jones. The Los Angeles Times article on the inquest, ends with a rather snide comment “Mrs. Mooney is generally defined as a very handsome woman. Her maiden name was Mary A. Green. Neither she nor her husband have enjoyed a strictly first-class reputation.”
Mary’s sister, Jessie Green (1863 – 1913), marries cattle dealer John Lang (1855 – 1933) in 1881 and they have a daughter, Pearl Lang (1885 - 1888). The Los Angeles Times describes Jessie as “….a very beautiful woman, of the ultra blonde style of feminine beauty, and is quite dashing.” Jessie Lang lives at the Menlo hotel in downtown Los Angeles - her husband is usually away attending to his cattle business. In 1894, Jessie Lang is lunching alone with her paramour, Howard R. Cole (1859 – 1894), in a private upstairs room of a downtown Los Angeles restaurant, when Cole shoots himself in the forehead. The Coroner’s jury returns a verdict of death by suicide.
Albert Beecher Hotchkiss (1839 - 1905) is born in PA and is admitted to the bar in 1862. After practicing in Wilkes-Barre, PA for a few years, Hotchkiss moves to Cleveland, OH (where he marries Sarah H) and from there moves to San Diego, CA. He is the district attorney of San Diego County from 1873 to 1875, and attorney for the City of San Diego. Hotchkiss moves to Colton, CA, where he was president of the Colton Land and Water Company, and a Trustee of the City of Colton. He moves to Los Angeles, and is a well-known attorney, who for many years represents the Southern Pacific Railroad. Hotchkiss is an editor of the magazine “Public Resources” and also runs unsuccessfully for several elected offices under the Prohibition Party banner. Colonel Hotchkiss is prominent in club life and known as a smart dresser. In about 1895, the recently divorced Hotchkiss marries Mary. He dies (Pioneer Lawyer called by Death) of natural causes.
Mary and A.B. Hotchkiss are in San Diego, and the Mooney Mansion is under the care of Mary’s adopted son T. Jeff White. The “sensible young man that he was” has packed his personal property just before the fire, and escapes the fire with no loss of his possessions.
Joseph Wilhelm Jauch (1863 - 1949) is born in Switzerland and receives his medical degree in 1889. In the same year, he comes to the US and begins a medical practice in Los Angeles. He marries Jennie Bonsall Jauch Newton (1873 - 1955) in 1895, but she divorces him in 1899. In 1906, Dr. Jauch marries Mary Hotchkiss. After Mary’s death, Jauch moves to a house at 2617 Ocean Front Walk in Ocean Park, where he dies in 1949.