Harry Chandler

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Harry Chandler was born on May 17, 1864 in Landaff, Grafton, New Hampshire, the eldest child of the four born to Moses Knight Chandler and Emma Jane Little Chandler.

He spent the first years of his life in Landaff, attending the Blue School where he graduated from eighth grade.

Harry at 1 year The Blue School Inscribed from his teacher Harry

In the June, 1880 census Harry and Moses are listed as working in a bobbin factory in Lisbon, the larger town nearby, so it is probable that the family moved there so that Harry and his younger brother, Fred, could attend high school.

Soon after his arrival at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, a classmate dared him to dive into a vat of starch that had frozen over in the first cold snap of the season. Harry took the dare and soon was in bed with a high fever and a hacking cough. This was followed by a hemorrhage of the lungs and his withdrawal from college.

Told by his doctor that only the warm and healthy climate of Southern California would save him, he set off on the train for the long trip across the country. Arriving tired, dirty, and almost penniless in this small town he spent the night in a cheap hotel, and hesitatingly, set off the next morning to try to decide what course of action he should follow.

"Suddenly he stopped and stared unbelievingly into the display window of a photographer's shop. Staring back at him was his own portrait as a child. As a small child, Harry Chandler was so perfect in features that he was often photographed as the ideal of an American boy. The sight wrought a transformation; it appeared an omen of good."

He soon met a doctor who was suffering from tuberculosis, who offered to let him use a cabin in the Cahuenga Pass area. There was an apple orchard next to the cabin and Harry started a business taking fruit out to the San Fernando Valley where the workers were eager to buy fresh produce. The hard work and outdoor life helped him to regain his health, and so in 1884, after amassing the sum of $3000, he made the long trip back to New Hampshire to again start his college career.

Within days of getting back to Dartmouth, he had another lung hemorrhage. Harry was convinced that California was the land of both opportunity and health and he talked his father, mother, brother, sister and eighty year old grandfather into coming west as well.

Harry started his newspaper career as a clerk in the circulation department of the Los Angeles Times in 1885 at the age of twenty one. He purchased several newspaper routes, and began handling his own delivery and collections, which in those days was a separate business from the publishing of the newspapers. He soon was making more of a profit than the publishers of the papers. He also began to purchase stock in the Times.

Harry Chandler & Magdalena Schlador marriage portrait
Harry Chandler & Magdalena Schlador marriage portrait

On February 6, 1888, he married Magdalena Schlador whose brother worked at the Los Angeles Times. They had a daughter, Francesca, born April 7, 1890 and a second daughter, Alice May, born July 24, 1892. Sadly Magdalena, who Harry called May, died of puerperal fever two weeks later on August 4, 1892 at the age of twenty nine. (Tombstone picture bottom of another chapter)

Connie at 1 year Ruth at 2 years

Magdalena's parents moved into the house to care for the two babies. In the June 5, 1894 wedding certificate it states that Harry and Marian Otis (see separate book on her) were married at eight minutes past four o'clock by the Reverend Charles S. Vaile. Her parents, Harrison Gray Otis and Eliza A. Otis, were the two witnesses, at their home at 1948 Grand Avenue. Marian gave up her position as the business office secretary at the Times. The Schladors would spend the following year helping her with the care of their two granddaughters.

Marian in the late 1880s

Francesca and May were soon joined by Constance who was born on March 19, 1896; Ruth, born October 15, 1897; Norman, born September 14, 1899; Harrison Gray Otis, born February 12, 1904 and the twins, Helen and Philip, born February 17, 1907.

Norman at 5 years Harrison at 1 year Helen & Philip at 6 months Helen & Philip at 4 years


The family lived on Fort Moore Hill at 503 North Broadway, across the street from the Hancock Banning house.

The house on Fort Moore Hill 1909

They would stay there until 1912 when they would move to Wilshire Boulevard and Park View Street. On January 1, 1917 they moved to the Los Feliz area, and the large house at 2330 Hillhurst Drive. There was a swimming pool, which had to be emptied once a week, a large and ornate greenhouse, and a fish pond at the foot of the lawn.

May Connie Ruth Helen & Philip
Norman Fran Harrison Norman, Connie & Ruth
2330 Hillhurst approx. 1917 2330 Hillhurst Living Room
2330 Hillhurst approx. 1917 - Los Feliz Blvd. in foreground Current 2330 Hillhurst - Los Feliz Blvd. in foreground

Harry Chandler became involved in a great number of real estate ventures in Southern California and in Mexico. Around 1899 he and a group of other investors bought land above and below the Mexican border. This purchase evolved into two corporations, the California-Mexico Land and Cattle Company which managed the lands north of the border, and the Colorado River Land Company which controlled the Mexican holdings. This company grew until it held more than 800,000 acres of land in the Colorado delta and Mexicali Valley. Canals and levees were built and most of the land was leased to cotton farmers. During the thirties much of the land was expropriated by the Mexican government.

In 1912 a syndicate was formed which purchased the 286,000 acre Tejon Ranch in Los Angeles and Kern Counties. My mother used to tell me about making the all day trip "over the grapevine" to get to the ranch.

The Tres Hermanos Ranch near Pomona was owned jointly with the other two hermanos, Rowland and Scott. Our family made many happy trips to Tres Hermanos to picnic and hunt dove, and to spend the night in the wonderful old house on the top of the hill. My brother restored the old player piano, after it had housed several decades of mice in its interior.

Harry Chandler bought the 340,000 acre Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico and Colorado, from a Mr. Bartlett. My father used to tell me about the separate streams individually stocked with rainbow, brown and Dolly Varden trout to satisfy any fisherman's whim. Our family library had a great many books bound for Mr. Bartlett's vast library, which made their way to the Chandler's house in Los Angeles after the ranch was sold.

There were other land acquisitions made with Moses Hazeltine Sherman, a former schoolteacher and banker from Phoenix who had moved to Los Angeles in 1889 and started a street railway line.

"A major factor in the expansion of the Los Angeles area was the provision of an adequate water supply. Most observers credit Chandler with being the prime force behind the Times's successful campaign in the early 1900's to bring the water resources of the Owens Valley in the Sierras to Los Angeles. City Superintendent William Mulholland, backed by the city water board, of which Sherman was a member, mounted a campaign which successfully floated two municipal bond issues (1905, 1907) totaling $24,500,000, acquired Owens Valley land over the opposition of many local residents, and constructed an aqueduct which ran 233 miles from the Sierras to the upper end of the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. The aqueduct was completed in 1913.

Chandler had extensive interests in the San Fernando Valley. He, Sherman, General Otis, H. J. Whitley, and others had formed a syndicate, the Suburban Homes Company, which purchased the Porter Ranch in 1905 and most of the holdings of the Van Nuys and Lankershim families in 1909 for about $2,500,000. They subdivided the 60,000 acres into residential and industrial property (serviced by the new water supply) which sold for $17,000,000 over a seven-year period. The 22-mile-long paved highway they built - Sherman Way - connecting the development with Los Angeles is said to have inspired the county to vote a bond issue for paved roads, the first issue for that purpose in the United States. Most of the San Fernando Valley was annexed to the city of Los Angeles in 1915.

In the mid-1930's Chandler organized a syndicate which purchased portions of the old Ranchos Santa Anita and La Cienega, and subdivided the land into tracts in Arcadia, San Gabriel, and Baldwin Hills. With other holdings near the Santa Anita racetrack (for which he had helped obtain financing), he had become one of Los Angeles County's major landholders.

Meanwhile Chandler had risen rapidly on the Times. He was named assistant manager in 1898, and when General Otis later that year entered military service in the Spanish-American War, Chandler ran the paper. Thereafter he assumed increasing responsibility. He helped determine editorial policy, including the Time's campaign for the construction of a man-made harbor in the San Pedro-Wilmington area of Los Angeles County and the annexing of this area to the city. San Pedro soon became one of the leading ports on the West Coast.

Upon the death of Otis in 1917, Chandler succeeded him as president and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. He expanded the paper, particularly its advertising pages... The Times was also the first newspaper in the nation to inaugurate a motion picture page. The paper made increasing use of large photographs, and Chandler was one of the founders of Press Wireless. In 1930-31 he served as president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association."

Program Cover for Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Dinner - Honoring Harry Chandler (1931). The proclomation will be forthcoming as this online version of the book is worked on.

"Perhaps Chandler's most important journalistic achievement was his use of the press to boost the qualities of Southern California. His father-in-law had formed the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 1888, and Chandler helped plan the first of the promotional "Midwinter" editions of the Times which were sent annually to persons in the central states....The Times seldom printed anything negative about Los Angeles, but frequently mentioned the rain, hail, tornadoes, dust, and snowstorms of Eastern weather. In 1921, the year Chandler organized the All-Year Club of Southern California to promote summer tourism, the city's Realty Board voted him "Los Angeles' Most Useful Citizen."

Chandler inherited from Otis a strong antipathy for organized labor. During the 1890's and early 1900's the Times engaged in a continual struggle, particularly with the typographers, to prevent the unionization of its plant. Partly as a result, the paper also campaigned for the open shop in all major industries in Southern California. Chandler helped organize the antiunion Merchants and Manufacturers Association, which for thirty years determined the economic and political policies championed by the city's business interests.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on October 1, 1910, the Times building was blown up by a bomb tied to a gas main beneath the floor under Chandler's desk. (Another version of this story is that the bomb was placed in the "ink alley" where the ink was stored). Although he had already left the building, twenty employees, including his secretary, were killed. Chandler immediately denounced the bombing as the work of unionists, and the case drew national attention. In succeeding months, three union officials, including John McNamara, secretary-treasurer of the International Iron Workers, and his brother, James, were arrested and charged with the crime. There followed a long series of negotiations in which defense attorney Clarence Darrow tried to save the lives of his clients by allowing them to confess and plead guilty. Chandler agreed to the arrangement since he realized the execution of the McNamaras might make them labor martyrs. Although details of the affair remain obscure, it seems clear that the McNamara confession prevented a Socialist from being elected mayor of Los Angeles, damaged the credibility of national union leaders, and helped preserve the open shop in Southern California.

One element in Chandler's success in avoiding unionization of the Times was the benevolent employment practices he followed. He paid higher wages than going union rates, seldom discharged loyal employees, and rewarded seniority. The Times was the first newspaper in the country to establish a personnel department and one of the first to adopt a forty-hour work week; and in the early 1920's the paper established a group insurance plan paid for by the company.

Chandler disliked public appearances and speechmaking and many times refused to run for public office, but he devoted much of his time to political affairs. For many years he was the acknowledged leader of Southern California's conservative Republicans. Many political candidates were chosen in his office; he was sometimes called the "Governor of Southern California." Chandler's sincere, homespun manner made him few personal enemies, but he did have political opponents. A strong lifelong antipathy existed between Chandler and Hiram Johnson, leader of the progressive wing of the state's Republican party. Some observers believe that their feud contributed to Charles Evans Hughes's loss of California, and thus of the presidential race, in 1916. Chandler opposed Woodrow Wilson, but supported the League of Nations. Other political foes included Upton Sinclair, who muckraked the Times and was in turn harshly attacked by Chandler when Sinclair ran for governor in 1934; Democratic governor Culbert Olson (1939-43); and Fletcher Bowron, mayor of Los Angeles (1938-53). Chandler was frequently criticized by other city newspapers, particularly the Express, the Daily News, and those owned by William Randolph Hearst. But, during the depression he won Hearst's gratitude by assuming the mortgage on his estate at San Simeon.

The 1920's were Chandler's happiest years, for he was an acquaintance of both Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge and a close friend of Herbert Hoover. Chandler promoted good will with Mexico and frequently played host to Mexican government officials; he is credited with persuading Harding to extend diplomatic recognition to the Obregon regime in 1923. The Times opposed the building of Boulder Dam on the Colorado River and consistently fought any measures providing for public ownership of utilities or transportation. Chandler turned down a number of federal appointments but accepted Hoover's nomination in late 1929 to the National Business Survey Conference, a group of twenty business leaders appointed to examine the emergency economic situation caused by the stock market crash. During the 1930's Chandler was a constant critic of the New Deal. In 1936 the Times praised Los Angeles police for turning away unemployed migrants at the California border.

Chandler pioneered in many of his city's commercial and cultural developments. He campaigned vigorously for the establishment of a Union railway station and a historical plaza at Olvera Street, which became civic landmarks. In 1922 he helped organize a $30,000,000 steamship company to purchase the government's Pacific shipping fleet, as well as the Central Investment Corporation which built the prestigious Biltmore Hotel. That year, too, he began the area's first commercial radio station, KHJ, which he sold in 1929 after an open-shop dispute. To prevent San Francisco from becoming the coastal airmail center, he organized Western Air Lines, the nation's oldest carrier, which won its first airmail contract in 1925. He also helped Donald Douglas attract capital to Southern California's fledgling aircraft industry. Chandler was instrumental in obtaining the financial backing to convert Throop College of Technology in Pasadena into the California Institute of Technology, of which he was a trustee from 1919 to 1943. For some years he was also a trustee of Stanford University.

At six feet two, Chandler was a big man, and many stories were told of his prowess in delivering papers, tussling with unionists, or pitching hay on one of his many ranches. A Congregationalist in religion, he abstained from alcohol, lived frugally, and commuted by foot whenever possible. His favorite charity was the Salvation Army. He was an indefatigable worker and forthright in his editorial positions. For his comments on the court decisions in certain labor cases still in the process of appeal, he was found guilty in 1938on two counts of contempt of court. His conviction was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1941 - a landmark decision for freedom of the press. For their role in the decision Chandler and the Times won their first Pulitzer Prize."

Chandler Family 1911 Chandler Golden Wedding 1944 Chandler Golden Wedding 1944
Chandler Family 1911 Chandler Golden Wedding 1944 Chandler Golden Wedding 1944
Harry Chandler as young adult Emma Marian (Otis) Chandler as young adult
Harry Chandler Emma Marian (Otis) Chandler
Harry Chandler Emma Marian (Otis) Chandler

Harry and Marian celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on June 5, 1944. Harry died three months later on September 23, 1944 at the age of eighty after a heart attack.

Marian lived on quietly for fourteen more years, spending most of her time in her bedroom until her death on August 9, 1952 at the age of eighty six from heart disease.

Christmas at the Chandlers 1932 Chandler monument at Hollywood Cemetery
Christmas at the Chandlers 1932 Chandler monument at Hollywood Cemetery

May married Roger Goodan on October 23, 1915, and had four children: Ruth, born July 10, 1916; Bill, born November 24, 1919; Doug, born February 6, 1923, and Jean, born August 6, 1926. Roger died in 1943, at the age of fifty three. May died at the age of ninety one on May 26, 1984, of arteriosclerosis.

Fran married John Kirkpatrick in 1918, and had Harry, born February 22, 1919 and Marian, born January 22, 1923. Fran died at the age of forty three, the first of the five Chandler siblings to die of cancer, on July 1, 1933. John died three years later of cancer on May 17, 1936, at the age of sixty one years.

Norman married Dorothy Buffum on August 30, 1922. They had two children: Camilla, born May 11, 1925, and Otis, born November 23, 1927. Norman died of cancer at the age of seventy four on October 20, 1973.

Ruth married Frederick Warren Williamson on June 26, 1924. They had four children: Warren (Spud) born July 30, 1928, twins, Susan and Chandler (Sue and Buck) born May 13, 1930; and Norman (Tad) born May 18, 1932. Fred Williamson died July 13, 1942 of heart disease, and Buck died the following year. Ruth was remarried on January 10, 1945 to James Griffin Boswell, who died at the age of seventy in 1952. She married her third husband, Sir William Charles Crocker on November 17, 1956. He died on September 29, 1973 at the age of eighty seven. She was married once again to Karl von Platen on January 18, 1983. Ruth died of arteriosclerosis on December 10, 1987 at the age of ninety.

The twins were married less than three months apart in 1933. Philip married Alberta Williamson, Fred Williamson's sister, on October 12, 1933; Helen married John Jewett Garland on December 29, 1933. They would die seven months apart in 1968 at the age of sixty one years.

Phil and Alberta had four children: Bruce, born August 11, 1936; Corinne, born May 29, 1938; Jeffrey, born January 18, 1942; and Stephen, born May 26, 1944. Phil died on May 22, 1968 of heart disease. Alberta died on August 18, 1982.

Helen and Jack had two children: Gwendolyn Chandler Garland, born April 2, 1935; and William May Garland II. born June 25, 1936. Jack Garland died of an abdominal aneurysm on November 30, 1968, and Helen, died a month later on December 27, 1968 of cancer of the pancreas. Bill Garland died in a plane crash on May 7, 1975.

Connie married Earle Edward Crowe on February 5, 1936. They had one child, Patricia, born June 4, 1937. Connie died November 13, 1962 of cancer, at the age of sixty six. Earle died February 7, 1990 at the age of ninety four.

Harrison married Martha Marsh Chapman on December 28, 1958. Harrison adopted Martha's daughter, Judy Lothrop Chapman. Harrison died of cancer on April 27, 1985 at the age of eighty two.

Riverside Chandlers visit Los Angeles 1904
Chandler Cousins Reunion 1978
Riverside Chandlers visit Los Angeles 1904 Chandler Cousins Reunion 1978