Early Residents of Monrovia
Chester P. Dorland
Birthdate: May 24, 1851
Birthplace: Henry County, Iowa
Properties Owned: 261 N. Canyon Blvd.
Chester Paul Dorland was born on May 24, 1851, in Henry County, Iowa. His parents, Willet Samuel and Abigail (Bedell) Dorland, left New York where they were both from and moved to Salem, Henry County, Iowa, to farm. Besides Chester, who was the oldest, there were two other children: Willet Samuel Junior and Artilissa. In 1860, the family moved into town where Willet Dorland became a successful merchant.
The children seem to have been brought up with a desire to do well because all three children maximized their education and did well as adults. It isn’t clear which of the three came to California first, but all three lived here their entire adult lives and raised families here.
Chester Dorland attended Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, graduating in 1872. Even though his father could well afford to pay for college, Chester Dorland taught school part time while going to college, and he paid for his entire education himself. After graduating, Dorland taught school and was a school administrator, studying law during school vacations. Though I was unable to find solid information, Dorland must also have studied theology, as he spent some time as a minister after coming to California.
In 1876, he married Hylindia Atlantic Ninde (she used the named “Linda A.” her entire life), and they had one child, Mary Cosette, who was born in 1888 in Iowa.
The earliest reference to Chester Dorland in California is in 1888 when is practicing law and living at 715 S. Flower in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles directories record him also in living in 1891 at 251 Bunker Hill, while he worked at 11 W. First. In 1898, he is living at 165 N. Workman Avenue and working as a pastor for the East Lost Angeles Congregational Church.
Even though he wasn’t living in Monrovia during those years, he was buying up large amounts of property here. He and his wife owned most of Oak Grove #2 Subdivision by 1889. In late 1894 or early 1895, Dorland had built the house he and his family would live in. This house still stands on Lot 9 of the Dorland Tract: 261 N. Canyon Blvd. By 1896, Dorland had all his property in Oak Grove #2 re-subdivided into the Dorland Tract.
In the spring of 1912, Chester Dorland was voted in to serve as president of the Monrovia Board of Trustees (mayor) in 1912. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the Monrovia papers from this time, but there was something really ugly going within the city government that accompanied Dorland’s arrival. In his book History of Monrovia, John Wiley states: “The official axe fell upon about every appointive head in city hall...Some of the appointees forestalled official action by resigning” (126-127).
The next two years were tough for city hall. In 1913, there was a freeze that devastated the citrus crop in Monrovia. Dorland seemed to have continued serving until April 16, 1914, when his office “...was declared vacant” (Wiley 135). He apparently didn’t resign...he just left. He sold his house, applied for a passport in January of 1914 and left for Europe that same year.
Though he still owned a few lots here and there in Monrovia, he lived in South Pasadena until he died in 1947.
Dorland’s daughter married Milo Clinton Halsey in 1900 and had three children. The Halsey family lived down the street from the Dorlands at 255 N. Canyon Blvd. This house is a two-story Craftsman and has been land marked.