Scandal on Bunker Hill Avenue

 scandal headline

Bunker Hill Avenue and Fourth Street

February 26, 1889 

 

When thirteen year old Lizzie Fryer failed to return to her home on Bunker Hill Avenue for supper, her parents began to fret. As the evening wore on, they became so concerned that they decided to search for her. 

 

At first they thought that Lizzie might be in the company of a young man named Zens. Lizzie was a popular girl, tall and well developed for her age, and she had been allowed to go to parties with Zens because he was related by marriage to a good friend of theirs, Mr. Clearwater. Because of the congenial relationship between the two families, the Fryers had always felt comfortable allowing Lizzie to spend much of her free time with the Clearwaters.

 

The Fryers were confident that they’d find Lizzie at the Clearwater home in East Los Angeles.  However, upon their arrival they were given some very disturbing news. Mrs. Clearwater said that she had not seen Lizzie – and coincidentally, her husband, father of their several young children, was also missing!

 

Suddenly Lizzie’s mother remembered a strange conversation that she’d had with her daughter just a few days earlier. “What would you do if I left home and never returned?”, Lizzie had asked.  Believing that Lizzie was only joking, she hadn’t paid much attention to such fanciful speculation. However, in retrospect she found their conversation alarming, particularly since Clearwater and Lizzie had always seemed to be extremely fond of each other. 

 

The frantic parents continued to search for their missing daughter, but things took a turn for the worse when they spoke with local shopkeepers and learned that Lizzie had been seen with Clearwater at about noon. According to witnesses, the couple had been headed toward the Southern Pacific Depot.  When the Frys discovered that a northbound train departed after 1 pm, it was enough to convince them that Lizzie and Clearwater were on the run together and headed north.  They immediately went to the police station and asked Chief Cooney to send a wire asking that the train be searched when it reached Tulare. The wire was sent, and the train was scoured for the missing couple, but they were nowhere to be found. The distraught Fryer’s swore out a complaint against their former friend. 

 

If the runaway girl and her married lover were ever found, it wasn’t reported in the LA Times.

No Dice, Martin Weiss

 martin weiss headline

August 24, 1882

 

Martin Weiss, who runs the Chicago Saloon on Court Street, was arrested for permitting gambling in his establishment.

 

Martin wasn’t worried – he was convinced that with his charm and wit he would completely annihilate the case against him. When he took the witness stand, Weiss swore a solemn oath that the boys who had been accused of gambling in his saloon had never done any such thing. Imagine Martin’s surprise when he was found guilty.

 

Imagine everyone else’s surprise, when no sooner had sentence been pronounced than Weiss swore again. This time it wasn’t an oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but – instead he swore out a complaint against the boys who patronized his saloon – for gambling with dice for money!  

 

Plucky Dame Pursues Purse Pilferers

 purse pilfer

August 6, 1889

Mrs. C.W. Strong, described by the Los Angeles Times as an elderly lady, was walking from her home at 340 South Hill Street to view a cottage near Fort Street (now Broadway) and Bunker Hill Avenue when she was accosted by two men.  It was between 2 and 3 o’clock in the afternoon when a rough looking citizen of 30 or 35 and his teenaged companion passed Mrs. Strong. They walked a few steps ahead of the woman and then pretended that they had lost their way, one of them remarking that they would have to go down another street. They turned back and again passed Mrs. Strong.  Once they were behind her one of the men grabbed her handbag and attempted to wrench it from her grasp. The aptly named Mrs. Strong was having none of it, and held on to her purse like grim death – calling at the top of her voice for the police. Unwilling to be denied their prize, the men wouldn’t let go of the bag and finally tore it from her hands. Then they hightailed it south on Bunker Hill Avenue. 

Mrs. Strong may have been elderly, but she was a plucky dame, and she gave chase yelling “stop thief”! Apparently there were no men in the neighborhood at that time of the day, but a young girl heard the cries of help and she joined in the pursuit. The two women stayed on the heels of the miscreants down past the Normal School building (now the site of the Central Library), and into Sixth Street Park (renamed Pershing Square). 
park
The thieves were sprinting out of the south end of the park just as Mrs. Strong got to the north side. She then spotted the park policeman, Officer Glidden.  Breathlessly, she began to relate the story of the purse snatching when a young man named Munn, who had seen the men dashing through park, came up to find out what was going on. As soon as he heard Mrs. Strong’s story, Munn volunteered to go with the officer after the men saying that he thought they could be captured. Instead of giving chase, Glidden informed Mrs. Strong that he really couldn’t do a thing to help her unless she came to the station and swore out a complaint! Meanwhile the two daylight bandits had vanished into the city. 
 

Mrs. Strong went immediately to the police station to swear out a complaint. Chief Glass heard Mrs. Strong’s statement and was annoyed by Glidden’s lack of action.  He dispatched Officers Sheets, Bowler, Bosqui and Loomis to hunt the thieves, but the crooks had a significant head start. The officers spent hours searching the neighborhood, but returned to the station empty handed. 

Indignant over Officer Glidden’s behavior, Mrs. Strong stopped in at the LA Times office, where she gave an account of the crime and related how she’d been treated by the officer. She told reporters that if Glidden had done his duty she wouldn’t have lost her handbag and the ten dollar gold piece it contained. Chief Glass said that the case would be thoroughly investigated.