William Norton Monroe

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William Norton Monroe, known as William N. Monroe or W.N. Monroe, was a school teacher, U.S. Army officer, a railroad builder for the Southern Pacific, and the founder of Monrovia, California.[1] He was also a member of the Los Angeles Common Council, the legislative branch of the city.

In 1875 Lucky Baldwin's Los Angeles Investment Company began subdividing and selling parcels from many of his ranchos. In 1883, 240 acres (970,000 m²) of Rancho Santa Anita were sold to William Monroe for $30,000. Additional parcels of Rancho Santa Anita were sold to Edward F. Spence, John D. Bicknell, James F. Crank, and J.F. Falvey.[1]


  • William Newton Monroe (1841 - 1935) Birth:Jun. 4, 1841 - Lexington, Scott County Indiana, USA Death: Dec. 26, 1935 Fresno, California[2]
  • Mary Jane Hall Monroe (1845 - 1932) Wife.


    • Milton Sanders Monroe (1866 - 1899)[3]
    • George O. Monroe (1868 - 1951)[4]
    • Myrtle Migonette Monroe Bailey (1873 - 1960) Birth: Jan. 21, 1873 Davis County, Iowa - Death: July. 25, 1960 Monrovia, Ca. Married Bruce C. Bailey.[5]
    • Jesse Lee Monroe (1875 - 1882)[6]
    • Mabelle Monroe Dyer (1883 - 1963) Married Bruce Thomas Dyer (1876 - 1932)[7]


  • Sanders Alexander Monroe (1814 - 1892)[8]
  • Catheren Monroe Monroe (1815 - 1896)[9]

In 1932 Mrs. Monroe died at the age of 86. In 1935 Mr. Monroe died at the age of 94. All of his family are buried in Live Oak Cemetery on Duarte Road in Monrovia.[10][11] William Monroe had many jobs in his life: school teacher, banker, hotel manager, mayor, council member, real estate developer, broker, railroad contractor and railroad superintendent and city of Monrovia founder.


Monroe served in the American Civil War with the 1st Iowa Calvary Company I and the 7th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Cavalry Company D. He earned the ranks of Lieutenant & 1st Lieutenant.[12] He resigned from Cavalry on August 23, 1864. His next job was as the superintendent of construction for the Southern Pacific Railroad starting in Omaha and building west. After the line to Los Angeles was completed he moved to Los Angeles with his family. In 1880 he became a member of the Los Angeles City Council. In 1882 he departed Los Angeles to work on construction for another rail line in Mexico, returning in 1884. After doing well with the two construction projects, he purchased 210 acres of Rancho Santa Anita from E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin. He lived in a tent until a home was constructed. He called it “The Oaks”. The home is still standing at 250 North Primrose Avenue. Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia, the city's main street, is named for Monroe's oldest daughter, Myrtle. In 1907 he went to the Klondike gold fields and built the first Alaskan railroad. This line ran from Nome to Anvil Creek[13]

Public service[edit]

Monroe was elected to a one-year term on the Los Angeles Common Council on December 5, 1879, serving until December 11, 1880. After the city changed its election system from at-large to electoral districts, he was reelected from the 1st Ward on December 6, 1880; he resigned on June 18, 1881.[14]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "History of Monrovia". City of Monrovia. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  2. ^ William Newton Monroe at Find a Grave
  3. ^ Milton Sanders Monroe at Find a Grave
  4. ^ George O. Monroe at Find a Grave
  5. ^ Myrtle Migonette Monroe at Find a Grave
  6. ^ Jesse Lee Monroe at Find a Grave
  7. ^ Mabelle Monroe Dyer at Find a Grave
  8. ^ Sanders Alexander Monroe at Find a Grave
  9. ^ Catheren Monroe Monroe at Find a Grave
  10. ^ Turner & Stevens Live Oak Memorial Park & Mortuary
  11. ^ uscemeteryproj.com, Live Oak Memorial Park
  12. ^ History of Iowa Civil War Regiments: Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry, By Christopher Cox, page 5
  13. ^ Haugaard, Brad. "Monrovia's Myrtle Avenue- Not Named After a Tree". Monrovia Now. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials,1850-1938, compiled under direction of Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles (March 1938, reprinted 1966). "Prepared ... as a report on Project No. SA 3123-5703-6077-8121-9900 conducted under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration."