Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach about its rich past

Huntington Beach's Early Years


Have you ever thought about what our very early residents would think if they could somehow see Huntington Beach today. But with history we can see what these people, their events and important issues were when our city was very young.

When Huntington Beach was still known as Pacific City in 1903, Deputy Constable J.W. Sauder was out warning the local townspeople that leaving their horse in public over five hours without water would get its owner a stiff penalty. To help get that water into town for both residents and their horses, a three horsepower gasoline engine was installed at the city water works in July of 1903.

When the town’s name was changed to Huntington Beach in late 1903, its new “post office” was made from an old piano crate into slots for letters to be inserted and this was housed inside a local business. Our early residents could now send post cards back home to their friends and relatives showing beautiful California sunsets and sites in Huntington Beach and it only cost them a penny to send anywhere in the United States.

Our new town’s namesake, Henry Huntington, made a surprise visit on July 1, 1905 to look over his new holdings along with three officials of the Huntington Beach Company. They traveled the hour-long trip on Huntington’s Pacific Electric's red car and as they passed the marshlands of the Bolsa Chica, one of these men remarked that the lagoons could be deepened and widened and this marsh could be converted into a veritable paradise in the near future.

Three years later after Huntington's visit saw the construction begin for the new $35,000 Huntington High School building in 1908.

It was a sad time at the home of Wm. and Mary Newland when Mary Newland’s father, John M. DeLapp passed away in May of 1908 and his funeral was held inside the parlor of the Newland’s home.

When our city incorporated on February 17, 1909, Charles Howard, Charles Warner, Matthew Helme, Ed Manning and D.O. Stewart were elected our city’s first trustees. At their first meeting, Ed Manning was elected President (mayor) of the Board of Trustees (city council), Rush Blodget was made city attorney, M.D. Rosenberger our first city clerk and R.E. Graves was appointed city treasurer.

In 1910 the Huntington Beach Company wanted to build a wooden pier at the foot of 23rd Street (Goldenwest) instead of at the foot of Main Street as a way to promote their property they were developing there.

In June of 1912 the Huntington Beach Woman’s Club hosted a large picnic for its members on the grounds of Tent City on Twelfth Street and they even allowed their husbands probably to carry the picnic baskets and clean up when it was over.

That same month, George Hall had a party for his daughter Alta at their home in Wintersburg where her little friends had plenty of fruit punch and birthday cake.

In the 1914 city election the town’s 380 voters approved a measure to pay the town’s trustees a sum of $10 a month. With today's budget cuts I sure hope we’re not paying that much to our present trustees.

It was in June of 1915 that cement contractor James E. Brunton and his wife celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary and today if you walk along some of our oldest sidewalks in the downtown you may still see Brunton’s initials J.E.B. embedded in the sidewalks.

Poor Walter DeHetre for in August of 1915 he rode a borrowed bicycle over to the post office on Walnut Avenue, next to the City Hall and Courthouse and parked his two-wheeler outside while he went in to check his mail. Just prior to that, City Marshal Tinsley had rode up on his bicycle and parked it and went inside the city hall. When Tinsley came back outside he found that his bicycle was gone. Word of the theft of the officer's stolen bicycle spread around town.

In the meantime a little boy ran up to DeHetre and told him that his bicycle looked just like the marshal’s stolen bicycle. When DeHetre returned to the post office, and sure enough he found his borrowed bicycle still standing there and that he must of mistaken Tinsley’s bicycle for his and needless to say the marshal got his bicycle back.

A first for Huntington Beach occurred on July 21, 1917 when Edward Teel of Wintersburg parked his Overland automobile on Ocean Avenue (PCH) to go to the beach for the day and when he returned it was gone, the first recorded stolen car on Huntington Beach’s streets.

But the next day, E.N. Cook from Anaheim was enjoying the evening in his tent in Tent City when a thief stole his Buick “6” automobile. The next day Marshal Tinsley was able to notify Cook that his Buick had been found abandoned in Pasadena.

As for the Overland, it was never located. I wonder if the marshal ever checked in front of the post office?

These are just a few of the happenings from our young and innocent years when the town was small and people knew their neighbors.