Friday, December 1, 2023


People become involved with the website for many different reasons.  Some to look at the gravesite of a famous actor or actress.  Others to try to find the interment sites of relatives or friends who lived and died far away.  As a historian I create Find a Grave Memorial pages as a way to remember departed friends and relatives.  After a memorial page is created, the person who created it can keep it, or transfer it to the Find a Grave administrators.  The pages transferred to the administrators then become available to be "adopted" by any Find a Grave member who might be interested in managing the memorial.  That is why my latest statistics show that I have created 21,848 memorial pages, but I manage 28,380 pages.  This means that I manage 6,532 pages that were created by someone else.

After I take over management of a page I did not create, I check all the information to make sure it is correct.  I recently took over management of 198 memorial pages for people interred at the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. Everyone has heard of Dr. Hubert Eaton's Forest Lawn Memorial Parks but few have ever heard of Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery.  Angelus-Rosedale is actually one of Los Angeles' oldest and largest cemeteries and one of the first cemeteries willing to inter anyone regardless of color, religion or ethnic background.  Originally named Rosedale Cemetery, it became Angelus-Rosedale when it was purchased in 1993 by the Angelus Funeral Home.  For the remainder of this article I will refer to the cemetery as "Rosedale."  If you have read any of my stories about Angeles Abbey Memorial Park in Compton, you will know how much I am interested in the cemeteries of Southern California.  

Unlike Angeles Abbey which I have never visited, I have been to Rosedale.  I went there one morning years ago to photograph the grave of Chinese-American star Anna May Wong for a friend:

Anna May Wong

The grave of Anna May Wong, her mother and her sister

Among the pages I "adopted" from Rosedale was one for a man named Harry Shultz Lemasters who was born May 28, 1892 and died October 18, 1916.  Other than that, the page originally created by Find a Grave member Richard Mayo did not contain any additional information.  So I started doing my own research using the websites I described in last month's blog article.  I first went to the Family Search site created and managed by the Mormon Church.  Due to the generosity of the current ownership of Rosedale, the LDS Church was able to scan and record all of the Ownership Records and Interment Records of Rosedale Cemetery going all the way back to its founding in 1884.  

From the Family Search website I was able to get a copy of Harry Lemasters' Death Certificate:

The Death Certificate shows that he died in El Paso, Texas from what appears to be  "Crushed Vertebra from Rail Road Cars Accident" on October 18, 1916.  A lucky break for me, I thought, (though not so lucky for Harry).  I was sure there would be an abundance of information about the train accident.  I used my subscription to access the El Paso, Texas Herald from October 18, 1916.  I presumed that the train wreck would be big news on Page One - but I was incorrect.  In fact, the only mention of the train accident at all was a small article way back on Page 16:

Note the Headline "Unknown Men Meet Death..." and the fact that only one of the men was identified, that being P. G. Burns.  Harry Lemasters was described with the statement "One of the men killed evidently was a Mason, it was said."  Not much of an epitaph.

The Death Certificate said that the body would be taken back to "Los Angeles" for burial.  That was it - I couldn't find anything else in any of the other newspapers about the train wreck.

Before we try to uncover more information about the untimely death of Harry Lemaster, let's see what else we can "dig up" about him.

Harry Shultz Lemaster was born May 28, 1892 in Topeka, Kansas.  His last name was sometimes spelled as "Leamaster," "Leamasters," "Lemasters," or even "LeMaster."  His birthplace has been listed as Topeka, Kansas, but in other places as Bakersfield, California.  His parents were Elmer G. Lemaster (1864-1917) and Laura C. Shultz (1867-1961).

Harry's father, Elmer Grant Lemaster was born May 18, 1865 in Ohio.  His mother Laura C. Shultz was born May 26, 1867 in Pennsylvania.  They married in 1888 in Pennsylvania.  Elmer Lemaster was a Teamster by trade.

Elmer and Laura were blessed with three children: Frank Roland (or Rolland) (1889-1969), Harry Shultz (1892-1916), and Mildred Violet/Mrs. Frank M. Massa (1897-1965).

Harry makes his first appearance in the 1895 Kansas State Census.  The Lemaster family was living in Ward 2 of Topeka, Kansas.  The family consisted of  E.G. (30 years old), Laura (27), Frank (5), and Harry (3).  Elmer reported his occupation as "Laborer."

Young Harry is mentioned in this blurb from the Abilene (KS) Weekly Chronicle and the Dickson County News dated October 12, 1900:

Harry's next appearance is in the 1900 US Census.  The family is living at 460 Reno Avenue in Topeka, Kansas.  That address no longer exists, nor does Reno Avenue in Topeka.  The family consisted of:  Elmer G. (36 years old), Laura (33), Frank R. (10), Harry (8), and Mildred V. (2).  Elmer and Laura said they had been married for twelve years, and Laura reported she had given birth to three children - all of whom were still alive in 1900.  Elmer said he was a Teamster, that they rented their home, and that it was a house, not a farm.  Frank and Harry were listed as "In School" and both Elmer and Laura could read, write, and speak English.

The 1910 US Census shows that the family has relocated to 169 Umatilla Street in Denver, Colorado.  That number no longer exists on Umatilla Street.  They are now calling themselves the "Le Master" family.  The family consisted of: Elmer G. (45 years old), Laura C. (42), Harry S. (17), Mildred V. (12), Minnie E. Shultz, a sister-in-law (38), and Lodger Joseph J. Duffy (49).  Elmer listed his occupation as "Check Clerk at the Union Depot."  Elmer and Laura said they had been married twenty-two years, and Laura again reported having given birth to three children, all of whom were still living in 1910.

Harry S. Lemaster married Marylu Lightfoot (1897-1975) on September 16, 1915 in Santa Ana, California.  The groom was twenty-three; the bride was eighteen.

Marylu Lightfoot was born April 1, 1897 in Pittsburg, Missouri to William Alexander Lightfoot (1853-1928) and Alice Caroline Lawrence (1858-1928).  Marylu's father was also a Teamster like Harry's father. Marylu was one of five children born to William and Alice Lightfoot.

By 1916 the Lemaster clan had relocated again - this time to sunny Southern California.  Here is an entry for them in the 1916 Los Angeles City Directory:

I don't know why Harry's mother is not listed.  She's still alive - she didn't die until 1961.  Elmer is now a Foreman for the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad.  

The family is living at 3615 Stephenson Avenue which is now called 3615 Whittier Boulevard:

3615 Whittier Boulevard, LA

Harry and his parents registered to vote in 1916, but none of them would declare a Party affiliation:

The occupation for Harry was listed as "crpt lyr,"  I originally thought that stood for "corporate lawyer," but there was never any indication that Harry Lemaster was an attorney.  Looking at it again, I figured it must stand for "carpet layer," a more appropriate occupation for Harry.    

This brings us to the date of the train accident that took Harry's life, October 18, 1916.  I am shocked that I was not able to find any additional information about a train accident that wrecked fourteen train cars and took the lives of two people.   Other than the short article from the El Paso Herald I was unable to find any additional information about what happened.  There are numerous sites on the internet concerning train accidents - from Wikipedia "List of American Railroad Accidents" to the US government site "Railroad Accident Reports" from the National Archives.  Even in the one account of the accident that I was able to uncover, poor Harry Lemaster's name is not even mentioned.      

His Death Certificate said he died at the "Hotel Dieu" in El Paso.  I was curious as to why his injured (or possibly dead already) body was taken to a hotel.  Actually that is a bit of a misnomer.  The full name of the "Hotel Dieu" was the "Hotel Dieu Hospital" which was run by the Daughters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary:   

In 1892 nuns bought the site and with $60,000 borrowed from the Motherhouse, and three Daughters of Charity started building Hotel Dieu in 1893. It was the first general hospital in El Paso. There was no electricity and lighting was done by gas. Heat was provided by wood fires. In need for more trained personnel, the sisters also started a nursing school connected with the Hotel Dieu in 1898.  The hotel/hospital served the residents of El Paso until 1987 when it was sold and ultimately razed. 

The Death Certificate further indicates that Harry's body would be shipped to "Los Angeles, Calif." for burial or removal. As I mentioned at the start of this article I took over management of almost 200 Find a Grave memorial pages for graves in the Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.  Among these was a Memorial Page for "Harry Shultz Leamasters."  I started checking the information that the page creator Richard Mayo added to the page when he created it.  I was unable to review any of the information with Richard Mayo because he had passed away in 2018.  Primarily I would have liked to have asked him where he got the information that Harry Leamasters was interred at Rosedale Cemetery.  In checking the Ownership Books and Interment Books for Rosedale, neither the name of "Harry Leamasters" nor any of its alternate spellings shows up.

After doing further research I found that Harry S. Lemaster is actually buried in the Los Angeles Odd Fellows Cemetery at 3640 Whittier Boulevard which turns out to be right across the street from the Lemaster home at 3615 Whittier Boulevard.

Photo courtesy of Find a Grave Volunteer saltmarsh

Despite the many trips I have made to Southern California cemeteries, I have never been to the Los Angeles Odd Fellows Cemetery.  I was wondering about it, so I asked two "cemetery friends" and here's what they said:

"Re Odd Fellows, I didn't even really know it existed before I started doing Find a Grave 3 years ago, it's tucked away in an inconspicuous area of the city. It's peaceful and they're still doing interments so it has some life and there are always decorations around. It's probably overlooked a lot because the much larger Catholic and Jewish cemeteries are just down the street. I like it because it has some of the oldest burials, along with Rosedale and Evergreen, and is better kept up than either of those."

And the other person I asked:  "One of L.A.'s worst."

Well, you can't please everyone.  I'll have to check it out for myself the next time I am in LA.

Poor Harry Lemaster - a man who lived for twenty-four years, had a job, married, loved and was loved, disappears almost without a trace.  As I have stated many times in this blog, it exists so that these people will not be forgotten.  Harry S. Lemaster, you are not forgotten.

May he rest in peace.


The rest of the story:

Harry's widow, Marylu Lightfoot Lemaster remarried on July 13, 1923 to Doran Henry Cox.  He died in 1957, she died in 1975.  they are both interred at Forest Lawn Glendale.   

Photo courtesy of Find a Grave Volunteer Jane Hatch

Photo courtesy of Find a Grave Volunteer Jane Hatch

Harry's father, Elmer G. Lemaster died on April 1, 1917 at the age of fifty-one.  His Death Certificate listed his Cause of Death as "Operated on Nov 27 for gastric ulcer.  Later developed pulmonary tuberculosis, from which he died."

Elmer Lemaster is buried beside his son Harry in the LA Odd Fellows Cemetery:

Photo courtesy of Find a Grave Volunteer saltmarsh 

Harry's mother Laura Shultz Lemaster remarried on November 26, 1920 to F. Morris Gordon.  She died February 20, 1961 in Los Angeles at the age of ninety-three.  I was unable to find her Cause of Death or where/if she was interred.  

See you next month.        

No comments:

Post a Comment