Editor’s note: This monthly feature uncovers Santa Monica’s history by compiling notable city happenings from a century ago. The stories are found in old newspaper archives.


The skeleton of what was believed to be a prehistoric man was found by a Santa Monica resident a century ago this month.

The bones were discovered by Silas Brady at the mouth of Malibu Creek near Santa Monica, according to an archived Los Angeles Times article.

“The skeleton was unearthed by an unusually high and vicious tide which cut a big swath in the shore line,” the article reads. “That the bones had not previously been exposed to the water was evidenced by their dryness; they presented the appearance, in fact, of never having come in contact with air or the elements.”

It was believed that the bones of what appeared to be a 7-foot man had been buried many centuries earlier. Brady did not locate the skull, however.

“Should the waves wash away enough sand to uncover the missing head the exact character of this possible missing link will be determinable,” the article reads.

Government dispute settled

A fight for control over Santa Monica was settled 100 years ago this month.

The courts, which had been tapped to determine whether the council or the commission was the city’s true governing body, decided that the commissioners appointed by Gov. Hiram Johnson were “not entitled to their seats and that the old Council shall hold office” until citizens could elect commissioners a few months later, according to an archived Times article.

The city’s fire chief and sanitary inspector had been canned during the commissioners’ brief stint in power, according to the article. Street improvements and other public works projects were expected to resume following the settlement.

‘The lure of the beaches’

Richard Bret Harte, the grandson of California literary pioneer Bret Harte, wrote an essay for the Times in August 1915 on his observations of the beaches in the Santa Monica area.

On tanning: “Here the lover of art will find ample studies in anatomy. Scattered here and there are human forms, some fair and graceful, some fat and funny, and all so tanned that they almost seem like creatures of the sand.”

On popcorn: “You will find children and also adults devouring bag after bag of it from 8 a.m. to midnight. Probably there are quite a number that eat it in their sleep.”

On seagulls: “I am perfectly aware that their topic of conversation is myself, but then birds will be birds, you know, and you cannot blame them for their lack of etiquette.”

Grocers’ picnic attracts thousands

Santa Monica’s second-annual grocers’ picnic was expected to draw 25,000 people to the Ocean Park pier and beach 100 years ago this month.

Mayor Thomas Dudley was planning to serve as ceremonial host of the event, which featured swimming activities, a bowling contest, target shooting and a “fat man’s race,” according to an archived Times article.

“Thrifty housewives” were encouraged to do their grocery shopping ahead of time because local stores would be closed during the festivities, the article reads.

‘Quite unusual’ divorce suit

The divorce suit filed by a Santa Monica woman a century ago this month named two men as defendants, according to an archived Times article.

Birdie E. Bowden sought a divorce from her husband, Rolandus Frank Bowden, and also wanted to prevent her husband’s father, Charles L. Bowden, from retaining any disputed real estate.

The woman alleged that her husband beat, struck and choked her while they lived in Santa Monica and that he “threatened to take her life.”

The woman also claimed that her husband transferred his property holdings to his father “so as to avoid supporting her,” the article reads.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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