Glendale, California Biographies

Jesse Pawling Lukens

Jesse Pawling Lukens. More than twenty-nine years ago a delicate man who was told by the doctors “back East” that he could not live two months if he stayed in that climate, arrived in California. His having a letter of introduction to a gentleman living in Glendale brought him to this neighborhood. The Southern Pacific having given the impetus to the settlement of Southern California by completing its line from the north, the large Spanish land grants were already sold and subdivided into ten and twenty acre ranches. Money being scare at that time most of the land was sold on easy terms. The ranch industry was having a boom and our tenderfoot caught the fever and bought ten acres of sagebrush and cactus, on time. The land was not cheap, as the price paid was $250 an acre. Nursery stock was scarce. From a ranch nearby he obtained the seedlings that had dropped and by hand squeezed out the seeds and planted them in boxes, and after grubbing out the sage brush and cactus, he set out the small plants in rows for nursery stock. The plants grew and thrived and in due time were set out for the orchard.

He became ambitious and bought ten acres at the same price and on the same terms. He was now in debt $5,000. He was also healthy and happy, and the work was fascinating. This second ten acres he sold as soon as the trees were large enough and this helped lessen the indebtedness. He did this several times, buying bare land and setting out his own nursery stock, paying all the way form $350 to $600 an acres. In each case he profited. Finally buying ten acres he set out to lemons, and kept, with twelve original acres set out to oranges. The first orange crop yielded $5.00. The first crop of lemons $25.00. It was a long time before the grove began to pay expenses. But little by little, year by year, the gain was greater. Increased yield meant greater expenses. Dry years meant more water.  Much of the coveted gain went into a hole in the ground, and machinery. But finally, after many ups and downs (principally downs), strict economy, pure grit, pluck, and industry won. The goal was reached, the land paid for, the trees still beautiful and thrifty. There were many discouragements and anxious days and nights but he never lost his cheerful, hopeful spirit; and his honesty and happy disposition gained for him good friends and true, who helped him over some of the hard places. He stands today on Easy street an example of sturdy industry and pluck, a credit to his pioneer ancestors, who came to the new world to settle over two hundred and fifty-eight years ago, and who left behind them as heritage the sturdiness of constitution which triumphed over disease, with the help of the Glendale climate.

Mr. Lukens was born near Philadelphia, in Delaware county, Pennsylvania. His father was Abraham C. Lukens, born in the same vicinity. Abraham was the son of Levi Lukens, born in 1770. Of the fourth generation of the Lukens families, which came to America, with the William Penn colonies for the sake of civil and religious liberty. The old house where he lived while in active business, and the barn and part of the old tannery are still standing at Penfield, a suburb of Philadelphia. The home which he built for his later years is still standing and is kept intact, and is now known as the Samuel Hibbert property Levi Lukens was a great business man in his day; he had “pit wagons” as they were called, hauling merchandise between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. His horses were famous, so fat that they could scarcely walk.

.            Levi married Mary Jones, of Juniata County, Pennsylvania, April 17, 1787, at Haverford Meeting. Abraham, the youngest child, was born in 1814. He married Mary Pawling, a descendant of the well-known Pawling family of New York and Pennsylvania. The first Henry Pawling came to America, in 1664 in the Duke of York expedition. He was a captain in the King’s Army. After fighting the enemies of the King, he, “having behaved himself well, and as became a Souldyer” was given his discharge April 18, 1670, “and has now our consent to follow his private affayers without any further lett or interruptions.”

He was given two grants of land, one in Pennsylvania, and one in New York. He married and settled in New York. In 1720, when his two sons, John and Henry, were old enough, he sent them to the Pawling grant in Pennsylvania, where they settled. They were the progenitors of many hundreds of the Pawling family scattered throughout this country and Canada,. The location of this tract may be seen on the map, pages 158 and 159, Vol. II, of Fisher’s “The Dutch and Quaker Colonies of America,” where two lots are marked H. Pawling. Pawling’s ford and Pawling’s bridge in the Perkiomen region were named after this family. John Pawling, son of the first Henry, served in the militia during the colonial period holding the rank of Lieutenant, in 1711. When he came to Pennsylvania with his brother, he became owner of a large tract of land on the Perkiomen Creek, with mills, slaves and considerably person property. This property became famous in Revolutionary history as the campground of Washington ’s Army before and after the battle of Germantown. Many of the Pawling family were prominently identified with St. James Perkiomen Church and served as wardens and vestrymen. Local history states that the Pawling family was a large and influential one and honorably identified with the affairs of Pennsylvania. Mary Pawling was a direct descendant of John Pawling. ) The above notes were taken from “Genealogy of the Pawling Family” by Katharine Wallace Kitts.)

The subject of this sketch was the seventh child of Abraham and Mary Lukens. He received his education at the ,Chester Academy, as his father was living at that time in Chester Township, Delaware county, Pennsylvania,. Mr. Lukens suffered for several years with throat trouble, and finally left Chester, December 23, 1883, for California, arriving in Los Angeles, January 1, 1884. There had been no raid that fall and he thought it the driest and most uninteresting country he had ever seen, but in January the rain began and for the next six months he spent the loneliest, dreariest, time of his life. That was the year of the floods, when forty inches of rain were recorded. The whole country from Los Angeles to the sea was one vast lake, while the Southern Pacific was washed out from Burbank to Los Angeles. For years afterwards the tops of cars could be seen sticking out of the sand, as they were never salvaged.

He called with a letter of introduction, on Mr. J.C. Sherer as soon as he arrived but did not see him again for many months. In June by the advice of physicians he bought a horse and a hunter’s outfit and started on a trip “into the land of nowhere.”  He went north through Santa Barbara and up the coast as far as the Oregon, line, and down the middle of the state. His adventures were many and varied. The roads were only trails. Many days would pass when he wouldn’t see a human being. Sometimes he had to wait until the tide went out before he could pass some rocky point. Reaching a city he would put his horse out to pasture and rest himself for a week or two. He stayed in San Francisco for two months. In returning he came through the inland valleys. Reaching Yosemite, he left his horse at the entrance and went into the valley on foot. He reached Saugus on Christmas Eve in time to eat a fine Christmas dinner, and was in Los Angeles the next day with his throat trouble all cured. About January 1, 1885, Mr. Sherer met him on the street and asked him to go out to Glendale. When he come to California he was in partnership with his brothers in the flour, feed and hay business and of course expected to go back to it sometime, but never did, later severing his connection to the firm.

Feeling so much better he stayed with Mr. Sherer in Glendale and worked for him. As everyone was buying land at that time, he bought a lot on Pearl Street, Los Angeles, and spent all he made in paying for it, which was the beginning of his land ownership in California. He never desired to leave the valley after his arrival. During the boom in the late [18]80’s he and Mr. Sherer went in the pipe laying business, all the water before that time having run in open ditches. Mr. Sherer withdrew after a time, but Mr. Lukens continued in the business for many years, and laid miles of pipe for the Southern Pacific, the Kern County Land and Water Co., the Sespe Land and Water Co., the Azuza Land and Water Company, the Consolidated Mines of Arizona, and many others. Some of the pipe systems he installed are still in use.

At the time of his arrival in Verdugo the only postoffice in the valley was in a store kept by S.I. Mayo, just north or Mr. Sherer’s place. The mail was taken to Los Angeles by carrier who came down from La Canada. During the boom days of 1887 the postoffice was moved to a building at the southwestern corner of Verdugo Road and Fourth Street (now Broadway). In 1890, Mr. Mayo left Verdugo and sold his store to Miss R. M. Sherer, and Mr. Lukens was appointed postmaster, John Wanamaker being at that time Postmaster General. In 1894 Mr. Lukens resigned as postmaster and the office was moved to Cohen’s store, northwest corner of Verdugo Road and Sixth Street (now Colorado). This was the only public office he ever held, having all he could do to attend to his own affairs.

On August 24, 1893, Mr. Lukens married Eoline V. Stratton at the residence of Dr. George Worrall in Santa Clara, California. Mrs. Lukens is a descendant of pre-colonial Quaker ancestry. Their only child, Horace Pawling Lukens, was born in Philadelphia, September 28, 1897, and came to California with his mother in June 1898. He attended the Glendale public schools and was graduated from the Glendale Union High School in June 1916. From there he went to Throop College of Technology until 1918, when he resigned to enlist in the Navy; but not being able to register until September 12, 1918, the armistice was signed before he could get in. He worked at the shipyards while waiting to register. On February 9, 1918, he married Ruth Grey of Glendale. They have become the parents of two children: Martha Eoline Lukens and Rodney Pawling Lukens.

From History of Glendale and Vicinity by John Calvin Sherer. The Glendale Publishing Company, c. 1922 F. M. Broadbooks and J. C. Sherer. p. 347-350.