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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Alvarado Neighbors: 408 A

408 A belonged to Vern Josiah Dumas, his wife Verna, daughter, Hazel, and friend, Neil Harrington. Vern, his wife, and daughter were all Texas born, moving to Northern California in the early 1900’s. Verne was a prominent agent in the San Francisco Bay area for the Western States Life Insurance Company. Vern, a few years later, traded the life insurance business for the oil industry. He became the business manager for the Volunteer Oil Company of Fredonia, Kansas, settling his family in Los Angeles & eventually at 408 S. Alvarado. Vern later became the president and general manager of the Apex Petroleum Company in Long Beach. He was also associated with the Empire Petroleum Company, the Tal-Me Oil and Refining, and the Pan-Mex Petroleum Company. He also had associations with the Red Hill Petroleum and the Greater Amarillo Oil companies. Vern was one of the developers of the Santa Fe and Signal Hill oil fields. Vern was considered a pioneer South California oilman when he divorced his wife Verna in 1931 so he could marry Vashti Marshall of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. There was a connection between Dumas and Elks Hills that I will add later. Vern’s daughter, Hazel in Van Alstyne, Texas on 3 August 1897 married Michigan born lawyer, Frank Rouse.
Neil Harrington was living with the Dumas Family when William Taylor was murder. Neil was previously referred to as an oil operator, but the Kansas born son of a preacher worked for Hass, Baruch, and Company, wholesale grocers at the Corner of 2nd and Alameda, specializing in coffee roasters, spice grinders, tobacco and Cigars.
The previous tenants in 408 A were Ohio born Herbert Irving Skillman and his mother Ida. Herbert passed away on 13 August 1920 in Los Angeles. Before Herbert’s death, a Nebraska born actor named Charles Spear (Spere) was living in the apartment with the Skillmans.

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