Monday, July 4, 2016

Elmer Earl Pattillo (1895 – 1925) My Granduncle on my Father’s Side

Elmer was the eighth child born to Carrie and James W. Pattillo. Their first two children – Wirt W.
and James H. both died as infants. Wirt and James were born in Tarrant County, Texas as were Jo and Mary Pattillo - the next two children who lived to adulthood. Next was Lewis Wood, my grandfather and then the twins Maude and Ruby. Elmer was born on November 13, 1895. Elmer, Lewis, Maude and Ruby were all born after the family had moved to Los Angeles, California.

Elmer with his father James William 
Elmer was four years old on June 1, 1900 when the census was taken. At that time they were living on Jefferson Street in Los Angeles. Ten years later in 1910 they were at 1176 West 37th Place, Los Angeles. Elmer’s father was supporting the family as the owner of JW Pattillo & Company – a business that laid and finished concrete. In 1914, City Directories gave Elmer’s address as 1309 W. 51st Place in San Pedro and noted that at 19 he was working as a contractor – it is likely we was working for his father in the concrete finishing business, as his older brother Lewis was. Years later Lewis’ son Bert adopted the same profession, so we have three generations of concrete finishers in our family. 
Elmer with his brother Lewis Wood

On June 15, 1917 when Elmer was 21, he filled out his draft registration for WWI. At that time he was living at 3919 South Vermont Avenue in Los Angles. He listed his occupation as a farmer, which is odd. Though many of Elmer’s ancestors were farmers and tobacco growers he and his father and siblings were all tradesmen – not farmers. Presumable in an effort to avoid the draft he claimed he was the sole support for his father on his draft registration. It was probably true because his father James was 69 and had retired. The claim did not work though - Elmer did serve in the Navy for a short time though I know no details of his military service.

The 1917 directory showed Elmer’s occupation as a clerk  but it does not provide a business name or address. Elmer was still living on South Vermont in 1918, but by 1919 he had moved to Fresno and was living with his sister Maude and her husband Otto Baty at 3406 Nevada Street.

When he was 24, Elmer married Winifred Augusta Lutz on December 15, 1919.  Winifred was the daughter of Nellie Ruth Miller and John Edward Lutz.

Winifred’s Family
Nellie was the daughter of William E. Miller and Augusta May. She was born in the town of Auburn in Placer County, California in 1863 or 1864. Her family moved to San Francisco when she was 7 and two years later to Oakland. On December 18, 1890 she married John E. Lutz. Nellie was described as “a good wife, a sweet, gentle mother and the one who took up the burden of a little community and household…. Nellie Lutz was a heroine of the home”. She was a member of the Christian Science Church. She died of pneumonia on November 25, 1940. At that time she and John were living at 516 31st Street in Oakland. 
Winifred A. Lutz & Elmer

Nellie’s father, William E. Miller was a native of Baltimore who arrived in California in 1949, so he was considered a pioneer.  He owned the Oakland Bank of Savings that was located on Broadway at 10th Street in downtown Oakland. Nellie’s mother Augusta was born May 12, 1836 in New York. Her family arrived in California in 1851. William and Augusta were married in Sacramento on April 20, 1853.   Nellie had two older sisters Lillian and Mary. Lillian married Henry C. McPike and they had 3 children – a daughter Hazel and sons Belden and Grayson. Mary was an invalid and may not have married.

When William died in 1895 he left his estate to his three daughters. That included the property at Broadway and 10th Street where the Oakland Bank of Savings was located. It also included two other parcels – one that fronted on Webster and had a residence on it, and the third was on Franklin near 14th Street.
Oakland Bank of Savings at
Broadway & 10th Street
Lieutenant John Lutz was born October 27, 1857 in Circleville, Ohio. At one time he had been employed by the government in Revenue Services. At the time of their marriage John was a Superintendent and major stockholder in the Port Crescent Improvement Company which had large property interests at the Port of Crescent, Port of Angeles and Port Townsand – all on the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington. After they married, John and Nellie lived in Port Cresant. They moved to Oakland after the death of Nellie’s parents in 1895. John and Nellie had two daughters – Winifred Augusta and Eulila.

On January 11, 1902 John and Nellie Lutz and Nellie’s sister Lillian and her husband Henry C. McPike sold the Broadway and 10th property that the sisters had inherited from her father, to the Oakland Bank of Savings for $46,000. In February of the same year they took out a loan for $10,000 from Oakland Bank of Savings using the building as collateral. A February 26, 1902 headline claimed “They Want To Divide the Miller Estate” – the 3 parcels described above. Another news article dated June 18, 1902 reported that the bank at Broadway and 10th was then known as the First National Bank. On February 4, 1906 The First National Bank announced plans to build a five-story building on the gore lot at Broadway and San Pablo Avenue, near 14th Street. The site at Broadway and 10th was sold to Laura M. Taylor for $130,000 “subject to a mortgage of $65,000 held by John E. Lutz, so somehow Lutz had sold the property but still owned it – he probably sold it to the Oakland Bank of Savings which he owned. 
First National Bank of Oakland at gore of Broadway,
San Pablo Avenue & 14th Street - Oakland's 100% intersection

Another interesting business transaction of John E. Lutz was his involvement with the Oakland Home Telephone Company. John and five other directors raised $200,000 in capital and had a franchise to operate an independent telephone system. This was before AT&T monopolized the phone system.

On September 12, 1912, John Lutz was arrested for embezzling money from a Mrs. E.J. Evans but he was acquitted on October 10, 1912. John was a real estate and insurance broker who seems to have amassed a sizeable estate – first in Washington and then in Oakland, through his wife’s inheritance. Sometime after Nellie died, John married Ruby Smith.

Before their marriage Winifred was living in Oakland and Elmer was living with his older sister Maude and her husband Otto Baty in Fresno. Maude and G.E. Troxell from Los Angeles were the witnesses. Troxell was probably a friend of Elmer’s who served as his best man. Elmer noted that he was working in concrete construction on his marriage license. Winifred was working as a clerk in an office. One wonders how it is that Elmer, a concrete finisher, was able to successfully woo the daughter and granddaughter of two very successful, wealthy and influential Oakland entrepreneurs.
Elmer at the beach dressed for dancing

After the marriage Elmer and Winifred returned to Fresno and lived with Maude and Otto which is where they were when the 1920 census was taken. At that time, Elmer was working as a foreman for Kaufield and Thompkins - a concrete construction company located at 220 Collage in Fresno.

Elmer and Winifred had two children – a daughter Barbara Winifred Pattillo was born May 10, 1921 and a son, Wayne “Bud” Sherwood Pattillo born May 11, 1922.  Barbara Pattillo married William “Bill” Richardson. They had five children – Robert, Patrick, Pam, Robyn and Patti. Wayne served in World War II, he never married, and died prior to 1996.
Whayne "Bud" and Barbara, Elmer's children

On December 11, 1920 the Oakland Tribune published this headline, “Hotel Guest Arrested on Bad Check Complaint.” The story tells quite a tale about Elmer and Winifred. Apparently, Elmer established seven checking accounts in different cities between Oakland and Los Angeles. He deposited between $50 and $100 in each account. Sometime later her purchased a car in San Francisco and used a check to pay for it. According to the news article Elmer manufacture auto polish on a small scale. He drove the car from San Francisco to Los Angeles and used it to demonstrate the polish which he sold to customers. Along the way he wrote several checks that bounced. Elmer was arrested in Los Angeles for writing bad checks. He was charged with insanity but later released. From there he went to Fresno where he opened two checking accounts. Next Elmer and Winifred returned to Oakland and booked an expensive room at Hotel Oakland paying with a check for $110 and another for $5 from a Los Angeles bank. The hotel swore out a complaint for his arrest. Strangely, the police said, “that Elmer had twice made complaints against persons who had given him bad checks”.
Elmer, Winifred, Barbara & Whayne

Elmer was charged with insanity and sent to the insane ward of the Stockton asylum. He escaped February 6, 1921 and fled to Winifred’s stepmother’s home at 184 Santa Rosa Avenue in Oakland. Ruby Lutz, Winifred’s stepmother turned Elmer in to the police.

Despite knowing about Elmer’s past as a thief I was surprised to find a mug shot from the time he served in San Quinten Prison on the Ancestry website. Elmer was convicted for passing bad checks while in San Diego and was sentenced to 1 to 14 years in prison – a long sentence for a nonviolent crime. He began serving his sentence on June 2, 1923, was paroled on June 6, 1924, and discharged on October 6, 1925.
Mug shot from San Quinton

Elmer died on September 30, 1925 in a Veterans hospital in Palo Alto less than a year and a half after he was released from prison. He was only 29. He is buried in Fresno at the Liberty Veteran’s Cemetery which is within a larger cemetery called Mountain View Cemetery on West Belmont Avenue - a few blocks from Roeding Park, one of the places his family enjoyed when they were living in Fresno, and where my father Ed Pattillo took his fiancé Lottie when they were courting. It is also where I worked to prepare a HALS (Historic American Landscapes Survey) short form for Bruce and Sandy Roeding in 2015.

Elmer's headstone
Veterans Liberty Cemetery, Fresno, CA

Sources Include: My Mom's photo albums, US Censuses, draft registration, city directories,, Google images for bank buildings, and numerous newspaper articles available from

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