Percy Hartshorn Riordan (1890-1955)

View looking north on Broadway from 7th Street showing a busy street scene. Los Angeles ca 1910.
View looking north on Broadway from 7th Street showing a busy street scene. Los Angeles ca 1910.
Los Angeles ca 1910.

Amy Johnson Crow suggested a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on the No Story Too Small blog. I am posting my ancestors, one week at a time with lots of spaces in between the weeks unfortunately.

My #14 ancestor on my Ahntenafel list is Percy Hartshorn Riordan (1890-1955). He was my great-grandfather on my mother’s maternal line. He married Irene Rae Shadel (1893-1985) on 1 November 1910.

Percy was born 25 July 1890[1], in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Daniel F Riordan (1861-1942) and Mary Alice Hankinson (1868-1952) in Lynn, Massachusetts. Both of his parents were citizens of Nova Scotia, Canada. Daniel’s parents were from Ireland. Mary Alice Hankinson descended from a long line of Hankinson loyalists and seamen. Many of her relatives fought in the Revolutionary war as loyalists and were captured and held as POWs. After the war, they were stripped of their land and property and banished. King George gave them land grants in Canada, and the Hankinsons settled in Nova Scotia.

Percy was the first born son of Daniel and Mary Alice. He had two younger brothers, Harold Knowlton Riordan and Ralph Ernest Riordan, both lived to adulthood. He also had two younger brothers, Perley Lee Riordan and Herbert Riordan that did not live beyond childhood. Perley Lee died at the age of 5 of typhoid and meningitis. Herbert died the same day he was born of unknown causes.

Daniel and Mary Alice lived on 27 Bullfinch in Lynn Massachusetts when he was born. The house is a nice two story white home and is still standing today, but I don’t know if it is the original home or a home that was built at a later date. There are homes on the same street that were built in 1880-1900, so its possible it is the same house that Percy was born in.   By the 1900 census[2], Percy, his brothers Harold and Ralph and his parents were living at 76 Archer Street, Lynn, Massachusetts. This house was built in 1890 and is still standing. In Percy’s birth record and in the 1900 census, his father’s occupation is listed as a carpenter.  The two older boys are marked as attending school. The house on Archer Street is marked as owned by Daniel and Mary Alice.

Daniel Riordan told my great-uncle Stan Riordan that he arrived in Los Angeles on 8 August, 1907. Like many people of means, in Los Angeles during this period, Daniel invested in oil and real estate. Unfortunately, his investments included the Julian Petroleum Corporation, which was involved in a swindle. I will reserve this story for Daniel Riordan’s blog post.

Percy lived at 5924 Pasadena av, Pasadena, California in 1908-1909, with his parents prior to his marriage. I have a photo of Daniel and Mary Alice in California. Her clothing of a white tailored blouse and a dark skirt suggests that it was before 1910. Daniel declared his intention to become a US citizen in Massachusetts in 1906, so they must have moved to California between 1906 and 1908, since Daniel, Percy and Harold appear in California directories in 1908 and 1909.  In the photo, they are well dressed and standing in an empty lot in front of a palm tree.

By the 1910 census, Percy was 19, living in Los Angeles at 6040 Monte Vista Street. The house is no longer standing, but a home next door was built in 1905. The home next door is a two story wood siding home. Daniel’s occupation is listed as a house builder. Is it possible that he built the three homes that Percy lived in as a young child and man? Percy’s occupation is listed as a self-employed salesman of Postcards. Perhaps that’s how he met his future wife, Irene Ray Shadel. Perhaps they met at church.

Percy and Irene were married 10 November 1910 in Los Angeles, California [4]. Percy listed his address as 6040 Monte Vista, Los Angeles, his age as 20 and his occupation as clerk. Irene listed her address as 545 No. Hoover, Los Angeles, no occupation and her age as 17.  They were married by Cassius M. Carter, Pastor, First Baptist Church, 1225 Ingraham Street. Los Angeles, California.  Percy and Irene had three children; two girls, Ruth and Bernice and a son, Stanley.

By the 1920 census [5], Percy, Irene and all three of their children were living at 261 Pearl Street, Pasadena, California. His occupation is listed as Foreman Terminal for the Electric Railroad. This address doesn’t come up in a search, it’s likely the address is different now.

In 1926, Daniel Riordan was convicted and sentenced to 3 counts of embezzlement and sent to San Quentin. He was an attorney and from within prison he fought his appeal. He was subsequently released in August of 1931. He and Mary Alice were not naturalized citizens, so they were deported back to Canada where they appear to have lived with his half-sister Eugenia Riordan Holmes. In 1942, they returned and Daniel died shortly thereafter. I will reserve this story for Daniel Riordan’s blog post. Mary Alice lived on until 1952.

In the 1930 census [6], Percy, Irene and all three of their children were living at 1672 Loma Vista Street, Pasadena, California. The home was built in 1927 and is a Spanish style home that is still standing today. The home is listed as owned. Percy listed his age as 39 and states that he first married at 19, he was actually 20. His occupation is listed as Railway Terminal Foreman.

In the 1940 census [7], Percy, and Irene were living on their own at 1380 Bresee, Pasadena, California. This home is no longer standing, but other homes in the area built during the same period appear to be Spanish style and quite small, 1 to 2 bedrooms. Percy lists his age as 49 and his occupation as a street car motorman. According to the census they lived at this same address in 1935. Percy is noted as having completed 2 years of high school and no college. Irene is listed as the respondent.

In 1944, Percy’s name appeared in a newspaper story in the Long Beach Independent [8]. A couple was killed and nine people injured when a Pacific Electric train struck an automobile on 22 July 1944. According to family lore, Percy was greatly affected by this accident.

“Two persons were killed and nine others inured today when a Los Angeles bound Pacific Electric train struck an automobile at a crossing one mile west of Glendora, then jumped the tracks. Dead were George Keeler, 59, driver of the automobile and his wife, Mrs. Dorothy Keeler, 46, who lived but two blocks from the scene of the accident at La Freta crossing. Their two children, Ellen, 15, and John, 12, were in critical condition in Covina hospital, where the injured were rushed by ambulances. The other seven persons suffered only minor injuries. After the two car train jumped the tracks, the lead car broke loose and tumbled end over end, coming to rest in a gully. Motorman Percy H. Riordan, veteran of 30 years service with the line, and conductor C. L. Ennis broke windows in the wrecked car to free the passengers.”

La Fetra Stop in Glendora
La Fetra Stop in Glendora in 1951

Source of image: http://www.pacificelectric.org/tag/alan-weeks-collection/page/39/
Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Percy registered for the WWI draft [9] on 5 June, 1917, listing his address as 749 Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena, California. His build is and height are noted as Medium, his hair and eyes as brown. His age is listed as 25, crossed out and noted as 26, lower on the form 25 is handwritten. He would have been 26, his birthday was not until July 25th and he would be 27. He was not drafted and did not serve, his children were under age.

During WWII [10] draft, also known as the old man’s draft, Percy registered as age 51. This registration was not intended to be used for military service, but to provide a complete inventory of manpower resources that could be used for national service.  Percy’s height is recorded as 5′ 10″, his weight 198, his hair as gray, his eyes as hazel, his complexion as ruddy.  I have the gray hair, the hazel eyes and the ruddy complexion.

Other locations Percy and Irene lived in included the following. In 1914, they lived at 520 W Ave 54 in Los Angeles, Harold, his brother, was living with them. Percy is recorded as a salesman. In 1916, they lived at 949 Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena, California. In 1918, they lived at 435 Worcester Ave, Pasadena, California. In 1919, they were living at 261 Pearl Street, Pasadena, California. In 1924, they lived at 454 E Walnut, Pasadena, California. In 1947, they lived at 82 South Chester, Pasadena, California.  In 1951, he and Irene lived at 82 S Chester, Pasadena, California. In 1954-1955, they lived at 555 or 1555 Atchison, Pasadena, California. Percy was registered as a Republican in California Voter Registrations. 

Percy worked for over 30 years for Pacific Electric Railway Company [8,13]. The employment records show his payment records from 1916-1918.  It’s likely he retired on or before the Glendora line was closed in 1951.

Percy died 19 December 1955 [13] of a heart attack. He was buried at Oakdale Cemetery in Pasadena, California on 21 December 1955.

[No photograph]

Name: Percy Hartshorne Riordan
Sex: Male
Father: Daniel F. Riordan (1861-1942)
Mother: Mary Alice Hankinson (1868-1952)

Facts

Birth: 25 July 1890 [1]
Census: June 1900 (age 9), student, Lynn Massachusetts, United States [2]
Census: June 1910 (age 19) salesman, Los Angeles, California, United States   [3]
Census: January 1920 (age 28), electric car foreman, Pasadena, California, United States [5]
Census: June 1930 (age 39), Railway Terminal Foreman, Pasadena, California [6]
Census: June 1940 (age 49), foreman, Pasadena, California, United States [7]
Death: 19 December 1955, Pasadena, California, United States [13]

Marriages and Children

  1. Irene Ray Shadel (1893-1985)
    1. Ruth Dorothy Riordan (1911-1994)
    2. Bernice Arlouine Riordan (1913-1988)
    3. Stanley Leroy Riordan (1914-1997)

Notes

Like many people during this era, the family never spoke of anything that was negative. This would have included the accident that Percy was involved in and his father’s conviction and incarceration for embezzlement. Given that he was the oldest child, he spent quite a bit of effort on keeping them out of harms way before, during and after the criminal case. Daniel and Mary Alice lived for a time with Harold Riordan, Percy’s younger brother and Mary Alice lived with Harold extensively after Daniel’s death.

Percy is remembered fondly by his grandchildren. My mother has memories of him worrying over his bread rising and meringue cooking correctly on his lemon meringue pie. Irene, Percy’s wife made a wonderful lemon meringue pie out of Meyer lemons, which are a hybrid of tangerine and lemon. Perhaps he was in competition with her to make the best pie he could.

Sources

  1. “Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXWD-9HS : 1 March 2016), Daniel Riordan in entry for Percy Hartshorn Riordan, 25 Jul 1890, Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #18, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,428,243.

2. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

3. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

4. California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8DW-W3P : 30 July 2017), Percy H Riordan and Irene R Shadel, 01 Nov 1910; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,074,035

5. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

6. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

7. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

8. Ancestry.com. Long Beach Independent (Long Beach, California) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: Long Beach Independent. Long Beach, CA, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.

  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
    Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

10. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. Full Source Citation.

11. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

12. Ancestry.com. California, Railroad Employment Records, 1862-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: California Railroad Employment Records, 1862-1950. 579 volumes. California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento, California.

13. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.