By Galen Hunter
While researching the Dr. F.M. Palmer files (pioneer collector of archaeological objects) at the Braun Research Library, I came across a reference to the Redondo Pioneer Picnic of 1911. At the Braun, there is a notebook of Palmer’s called “Redondo Pioneers Speech”. The notebook has 14 pages of Palmer’s handwritten notes for this speech; however, there was no indication in his notes as to what the date of the speech was or where it was given. Further research led me to the Redondo Beach Main Library and the microfilm copies for the old “Redondo Reflex” local newspaper for that time period. The “Redondo Reflex”, May 4, 1911, contained the following article (excerpted):
Meeting of “Old Timers”
an Enthusiastic Affair –
A Brief History
“No gathering of Redondo Beach has been held for years that equaled in sociability and good fellowship the big picnic of the “Old Settlers” that was held on Saturday.
Many old friendships were renewed and all differences of opinion as in politics and other questions were forgotten as the pioneers, including many who since removed their residence from here, met and talked over early days, when most of the dwellings were tents, “rag town” as named by someone, the tent school house was a tent placed on skids so that it could be moved about when deemed necessary, the days when everybody knew everybody else.
W. R. Albee had charge of the register and when the pioneers came to this part of the program, it was found that Mr. and Mrs. Hiram V. B. Gibson, now of Los Angeles, were the earliest settlers, who are now living. They came here March 16, 1888, a month before the townsite was opened for sale. Mr. Gibson then had a small stand where he sold cigars, candy and fishing tackle to fishermen who came from Los Angeles to enjoy the sport.
Although the Gibsons were the first real settlers, now living, George W. Hazard claims the honor of being the earliest pioneer as he came here in an ox cart with his father, A. M. Hazard in 1854, when the latter was hauling material for the old Pacific Salt works which was being built. At that time Mr. Hazard was but 11 years old and all of the country, now the townsite, was but sheep grazing land with the exception of the salt works. Mr. Hazard had with him an ancient account book of the salt company, dated from 1854, which was of great interest to old settlers as it had the names of many well-known pioneers of Los Angeles County. His father later took charge of the salt works and he was connected with the institution in the early years.
One of the greatest changes that seems to impress these early pioneers is the forestry. In the early days, there was not a tree to be seen, merely stretches of sand or grazing land, the trees having been planted by Captain J. C. Ainsworth and R. R. Thompson after they acquired the townsite.
At 2 o’clock the pioneers gathered in the pavilion and the program of speeches was given. The floor was then cleared for dancing and the famous Schoneman-Blanchard orchestra.”
For more information, visit Mr. Hunter’s history-filled website, www.oldsaltlake.org.