|Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin|
|Born||April 3, 1828
Butler County, Ohio,
|Died||March 1, 1909
|Residence||Santa Anita Ranch, Arcadia, California|
|Occupation||Businessman, Investor, Racehorse owner/breeder|
|Board member of||Pacific Stock Exchange, Baldwin Hotel, Santa Anita Park, Baldwin Theater, Tallac Hotel & Casino|
|Spouse(s)||1) Sarah Ann Unruh
2) Mary Cochrane
3) Jennie Dexter
4) Lillie Bennett
with Sarah Ann Unruh:
4) Anita (1876-1939)
|Parents||William Alexander Crooks Baldwin &
Elizabeth Nancy Miller
Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909) was a prominent California businessman and investor of the second half of the 19th century.
Baldwin was born in Butler County, Ohio and his family moved to Indiana when he was a child. Throughout his childhood he was known as a wanderer and adventurer. From Indiana he went to Racine, Wisconsin, where he operated a hotel and billiard hall until tales of gold drew him to California.
Baldwin crossed the country by wagon train and arrived in San Francisco in 1853. There, he bought and operated the Temperance Hotel on Pacific Avenue near Battery Street, which he flipped after 30 days for a $5,000 profit. He later started a brick-manufacturing plant at Powell and Union Streets, producing building materials that were used in construction of the U.S. Mint, Fort Point and the fort on Alcatraz.
He made money on several ventures and in payment for a debt, he received 2,000 shares of the Ophir Mine, which was then worth a few cents a share. When the great Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada in 1859, the value of shares of Ophir Mining Company, one of the earliest successful mines, at the north end of the Comstock Lode, jumped to several hundred dollars per share.
Having generated most of his wealth through both savvy and lucky mining investments (for which he received his nickname), Baldwin accumulated large landholdings of 63,000 acres (25,495 ha) in southern California, where the communities of Arcadia, Sierra Madre, and Monrovia, California are now located.
A visitor to Santa Anita in 1886 wrote: "The ranch is a principality not unlike a Southern plantation before the [Civil] [W]ar, save that all the laborers are well-paid and well fed." He was the largest employer and the largest taxpayer in Los Angeles County at the time.
At a time of open discrimination and racism in American society, he provided many jobs to Chinese, African-American and Native American workers. He told a reporter that "Chinese are the most reliable laborers I can get." He made news when he hired African-Americans from North Carolina and paid for their train tickets to California.
Baldwin's matrimonial ventures periodically created sensations. He was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. His stature as a celebrity was such that at age 56, when he married 20-year-old Lilly Bennett in San Francisco, the wedding drew coast-to-coast press coverage.
He was sued by four women for breach of promise of marriage, one of whom was a 16-year-old girl who was awarded $75,000 in damages. One of his accusers wounded him in his Baldwin Hotel (which he had built in 1875) with a pistol shot in 1883.
He narrowly escaped death in a San Francisco courtroom on July 2, 1896, when Emma Ashley shot at him and the bullet grazed his head. She was the sister of Lillian Ashley, who was suing him for seduction and was on the witness stand at the time.
His wife, Lillie, and his daughters Anita Baldwin McClaughry and Clara Baldwin Stocker were among many relatives and friends at his side when he died at the Arcadia ranch.
He is most famous today for his involvement in horse racing: Baldwin founded the original Santa Anita Park racetrack on his estate (later closed and re-opened, again on estate land), breeding and racing some of the finest racehorses of his time. The Baldwin Cottage, and surrounding area, is now the site of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
Lucky Baldwin bred and raced a number of top Thoroughbred racehorses. He raced under the banner, "Santa Anita Stable". One of his best filly runners, Los Angeles, competed at tracks on the East Coast of the United States where she won the 1887 Tyro and Spinaway Stakes plus the 1888 Monmouth Oaks and Latonia Derby. Among other successes, Baldwin's horses won the American Derby at the now defunct Washington Park Race Track four times: Volante (1885); Silver Cloud (1886); Emperor of Norfolk (1888); and Rey el Santa Anita (1894).
His name is found today denoting the Baldwin Hills district of Los Angeles, the City of Baldwin Park, the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita, Baldwin Lake in the San Bernardino mountains, Baldwin Beach on Lake Tahoe and Baldwin Avenue in the San Gabriel Valley, among a number of places. His nickname also appears as the name of three pubs in Pasadena and Sierra Madre.
In 2013, the city of Arcadia placed a 9-foot bronze statue of Baldwin in a city rose garden across the street from the main southern gate of Santa Anita Park race track. It was commissioned by two of Baldwin's descendants: Margaux Viera and Heather Gibson, both of California.
For an article about the statue see A Dawn In The West.
- "Lucky Baldwin Dies at the Age of 81", New York Times, 2 March 1909, p. 9 [accessed via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, New York Times (1857-Current file), Document ID 101868038]
- H.H. Bancroft, Chronicles of the Builders of the Commonwealth Vol. 3, pp. 331-377, The History Co., San Francisco (1892).
- Los Angeles County Directory 1886-87, A. A. Bynon & Co., Pasadena (1886).
- "'Lucky' Baldwin's Latest Fortune," Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1902.
- "Colored Labor. E.J. Baldwin Imports Seventy Negro Laborers" Los Angeles Herald, Jan. 17, 1886.
- "A Millionaire's Third Marriage" New York Times June 1, 1884, Page 4
- Historical Society of Southern California, 1999, Wilkman, Jon, "E. J. Lucky Baldwin"
- "Attempt To Murder E.J. Baldwin," San Francisco Call July 2, 1896, Page 1
- "'Lucky' Baldwin Loses To Death In Last Race," San Francisco Call March 2, 1909, Page 1
- “Lucky Baldwin statue dedicated in Arcadia” Pasadena Star-News, April 17, 2013, page 3.
- Historical Stories - Horse Racing at horseracing.about.com
- Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin at www.inn-california.com