Early Residents of Monrovia

James J. McLachlan

Birthdate: 1 Aug 1852

Birthplace: Scotland

Occupation: Architect

Properties Owned: 328 S. Myrtle Ave.

McLachlan arrived with his parents, James and Jean, and siblings Jannette, John, Mary, and Catherine August 16, 1855, when he was three years old.  They had been living in Argyll, Scotland, where James Senior was employed as spirit (beverages made from distilled alcohol and fruits, vegetables or grain...Scotland is known for its Scotch whiskey made from distilled barley, wheat or rye..among other things!).

The 1860 census records the family living in Groton, Tompkins County, New York.  James's father, also names James, is listed as being a farmer, and from the looks of it, he was an extremely successful one.  The value of his real estate is listed as $5,700 and his personal estate at $500.  In the five years since they had arrived, two more children, Euphemia and Archibald had been born.

Even the Civil War doesn't seem to have affected James Senior's financial status.  The Census record for 1870 shows that his land was now worth $9,280 and his personal property $3,000.  With such affluence, he was able to provide a good education for his children.

By 1880, James J. McLachlan had graduated from Hamilton College, taught school and was elected commissioner of schools for Groton, New York.  He also received a law degree and practiced law for many years in Pasadena, California, finally becoming a state senator.

According to the Biographical Directory for the United States Congress,  James came to Pasadena, California, in 1888, ut there is an entry for him in the 1888-1889 Los Angeles City Directory indicating that he is an attorney-at-law and living at 24 1/2 Colorado in Los Angeles.  In 1887 and early 1888, the hype over the new town of Monrovia was at its height, and McLachlan purchased property there at least in 1888 and possibly as early as 1887 when the town was incorporated.  It doesn't seem he ever actually lived in Monrovia.  He was living in Pasadena by 1890, according to California Voter Registration, and Pasadena City directories indicate he continued living there at 558 S. Marengo Avenue.

Living in Pasadena would have enabled him to be close enough to keep an eye on his Monrovia property.  He owned three Lots 13-15 in Block B, Town of Monrovia Subdivision from 1888 to 1911, but he never built anything on them.  The year after he bought them, their valuation dropped from $200 a piece to $150.  By 1903, they were each worth only $125.  This trend reflected the "bust" in the Southern California land boom.  McLachlan, apparently a very patient man, held on to his property all those years, finally selling one of the lots in 1912 when the land was valued at $3,500!!  By 1915, the other two lots were valued at $4,300 a piece.  Even after paying the taxes on the properties for all those years, McLachlan still made money.

McLachlan served as an assistant district attorney for the County of Los Angeles from 1890-1892, and then was elected to the position of state congressman (Republican) to the 54th Congress (Biographical Directory).  He served from 1895- to 1897, but was not reelected for the 55th Congress.  He did manage to get reelected to the 57th Congress and kept this position until 1911when he lost his reelection bid for the 62nd Congress. 

James J. McLachlan never married and is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Source:  The information on McLachlan's political career comes from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005.  Washington, C.C.: Government Printing Office, 2005.  This information was accessed from Ancestry.com on 22 March 2012 at the following URL: