John Harvey Lee

Male 1841 - 1922  (81 years)


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  • Name John Harvey Lee  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
    Born 7 Aug 1841  Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 17, 18
    Gender Male 
    Occupation Rancher, Grocer, Barber (1910, 1920), livery stable operator, and, according to family legend, circus performer  [5, 14
    Died 20 Nov 1922  Los Angeles County Hospital, Los Angeles, California (County Hosp.) Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 17
    Buried 23 Nov 1922  Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever Cemetery), Hollywood, California Find all individuals with events at this location  [19, 20
    Person ID I1711  Bishir Family
    Last Modified 1 Nov 2016 

    Father George Washington Lee,   b. 11 Nov 1810, Patrick Co., Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jan 1888, Colusa, California? Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Mother Amanda Lee,   b. Abt 1820, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1870, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 50 years) 
    Married 17 Aug 1836  Saline, MO Find all individuals with events at this location  [21, 22
    Family ID F316  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Mary Ann Brown,   b. 1 May 1851, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Dec 1908, Los Angeles, California (Crocker St. Hosp.) Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 57 years) 
    Married Bef 1871 
    Divorced Abt 1880 
    Notes 
    • Divorce
    Children 
    +1. Rose Lee,   b. 9 Oct 1871, Long Pine, California (or 10 Oct) Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Aug 1938  (Age 66 years)
    +2. Clara E. Lee,   b. 17 May 1873, Santa Ynez, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Dec 1943, Los Angeles, CA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years)
    +3. Robert Edward Lee,   b. 20 Jun 1874, Visalia, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Aug 1948, Los Angeles, CA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years)
    +4. Edward William Lee,   b. 20 Oct 1877, Santa Ynez, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1951, San Fernando, California (1964 Lucas St.) Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     5. Lucy Lee,   b. Abt Mar 1880,   d. Abt 1880
    Last Modified 16 Jul 2020 
    Family ID F901  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Mary Catherine Beadle,   b. 28 Jul 1859, Portage, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Jun 1939, San Luis Obispo, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 17 Nov 1892  Calabasas, California Find all individuals with events at this location  [23, 24
    Alternate Marriage Date 20 Nov 1892  Los Angeles Co., California Find all individuals with events at this location  [24
    Divorced Bef 1910  [5
    Children 
     1. George Francis Lee,   b. 25 Mar 1894, Santa Ynez, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Oct 1941, San Luis Obispo, California Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 47 years)
     2. Harry Ernest Lee,   b. Jun 1897, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 1979, Los Angeles Co., CA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 81 years)
    Last Modified 17 May 2011 
    Family ID F4611  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • A birth record exists for John Lee in Missouri for 1841 - father: Washington Lee and mother Amanda. Census records would seem to confirm this is, indeed, our John.
      John spent the first four years of his life on the farm in Missouri then was brought in a covered wagon across the Oregon Trail to Oregon Territory. There his father acquired land where they farmed and several of John’s brothers and sisters were born. The family then packed up and went south into California. As a young man living with his family, John was in Cache Creek Twp., Yolo Co., California in the 1860 census. Still with his family in 1870, he was listed as single living on their farm in Farmersville, Tulare Co., California. Also residing in Tulare Co. was a young woman, Mary Ann (Molly) Brown of Texas. The two were married about 1870, probably in Tulare Co., but we have not found a record of the marriage. In 1871 their first child, Rose, was born in “Long Pine” or possibly Lone Pine, California. The couple remained together and had four more children: Clara, Robert, Edward, and Lucy. But by 1880 they had separated and Mary was living in the household of her brother-in-law, John’s younger brother, Joseph Christopher Lee. Joe and Molly appear in the 1880 census in Castroville, Monterey County, California along with John and Molly’s children, Joe’s nieces and nephews. We cannot find John Lee in the 1880 census however there is a John Harvey Lee and William Jasper Lee, born in Missouri, listed as farmers in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara Co., in the 1879 Great Register of Voters.

      In November 1882 John Harvey Lee became one of the founders of the town of Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara Co., California. He purchased a lot from the Catholic Church in the town and he appears to also have had land in the Happy Canyon area nearby. While interviewing Mrs. Jeanette Lyons of the Santa Ynez Historical Society in the 1970s she recalled her father talking about John Lee. Her father had told her that John Lee had shown up in Happy Canyon telling the story that he used to have a wife but that he had traded her for a horse and saddle. She remembered him vaguely as being a tall, thin man.

      Joanne Rife in her book, Where the Light Turns Gold, The Story of the Santa Ynez Valley, 1977 says, “John Lee’s Sagunto Street livery, with its row of chairs in front, was a center for town gossip.”

      John Lee is also mentioned in the journal kept by Edgar Davidson (brother-in-law of Jeanette Lyons) and the first Forest Ranger in what would become the Los Padres National Forest. Davidson refers to numerous visits with Lee and wife in the Happy Canyon and White Rock areas during the years 1905-1908 and remarks that John Lee also delivered mail into the backcountry. At one point he writes that he helped the Lees with an ailing cow and they frequently exchanged visits.

      John is listed in the Great Register of Voters for Santa Barbara Co. in 1890 and purchased government land there in 1891. He appears in the 1897 voting register for Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County, occupation barber. In Santa Ynez he met the daughter of Elizabeth A. Greer. E.A. Greer was well known in Santa Ynez. She owned a boarding house, general store and restaurant on Sagunto Street at the center of the booming town. Elizabeth’s oldest daughter, Mary Catherine (May) had divorced her Irish husband, James Kane, with whom she had five children: Daniel, Mabel J., Charles H., Ardella, and John. In November 1892 John Lee married Mary Catherine. There is a newspaper announcement of their marriage in the Los Angeles Times on 18 November 1892. They are listed as residents of Calabasas. They appear in the 1900 census in Santa Ynez with her children and their own two boys: George Frederick (Buck) Lee and Harry E. Lee. Jeanette Lyons remembered the Lee brothers Buck and Harry. The Santa Ynez Historical Society has in their digital archives a photo of Harry E. Lee in his school baseball uniform dated 1910. They also have photos of the school the Lee boys attended … and confessed to burning down. The school was built in 1896 and burned in 1908. The available information points toward a prank gone wrong, a small fire set on the front porch of the school, which got out of hand and resulted in the complete destruction of the building (Joanne Rife, p. 70-71). The Lee boys and an accomplice later “fessed up” to the deed. (Mable Kane Scrapbook)

      John Lee’s second marriage also ended in divorce. By the time the 1910 census was taken he was living alone, still in Santa Ynez. His wife May, Mary Catherine Beadle Greer Kane Lee, had married for a third time and was living in San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County with her new husband, Frank Davidson, and her two Lee sons. She and her son Buck spent the remainder of their lives there. We have not yet been able to trace son Harry beyond the 1920 census.

      John continued to live alone in Santa Ynez and appears in the 1920 census there. In 1922 he became ill and we can surmise that he went down to Los Angeles to be near some of his grown children and nieces and nephews. His brother Joe and wife Molly were deceased, his remaining brother, Bill, was living with their nephew Fred Lee. John succumbed to heart disease and died there. He was buried in the same cemetery as his first wife, Molly Brown Lee, and her 2nd husband, John’s brother, Joe Lee, and later their brother Bill would be buried there too. We know that this extended family remained close thanks to a scrapbook in the Santa Ynez Historical Society’s library. John Harvey Lee’s step-daughter, Mabel J. Kane, kept clippings about her family over many years and when her mother married John Lee she included news items about their children along with his children from his first marriage. She pasted them all into a large book that her daughter donated to the historical society. So even though John “traded” Molly away for a horse and saddle we now know that they remained close and in touch over the years.

      John Lee started out in Missouri, traveled by wagon across the American wilderness as a toddler, farmed in the Columbia River Valley in the Oregon Territory, the Sacramento Valley, and the San Joaquin Valley in California. He claimed land in the Santa Ynez Valley where he owned a livery stable during the boom there in the 1880s. He married two women named Mary and was divorced from both. He had seven children, four boys and three girls. He was described as tall and thin. Judging by the yarn he told upon his appearance in Santa Ynez, that he had traded his wife away for a horse and saddle, and the accounts that his livery stable was a center of town gossip, one can assume that John Harvey Lee enjoyed and probably told a pretty good story…

      Carley Bisher Worth, www.bishir.org/gen

      RESEARCH:

      John was in Cache Creek Twp., Yolo Co., California in 1860. In 1870 he was listed as single in Farmersville, Tulare Co., California. He is listed in the Great Register for Santa Barbara Co. in 1890 and purchased government land in 1891 there. He appears in the 1897 voting register for Santa Ynez as a barber and in 1900 with a new wife, Mary, and two new children. John was divorced again and living alone in 1910 and 1920 in Santa Ynez, California. A local history of Santa Ynez indicates that John ran a Livery Stable on Segunto St. as well. John died of arteriosclerosis.

      John's death certificate indicates he was in California for almost all of his life (93 years) although his brother, Joseph's, shows 19 years - both are probably incorrect. Even though his death certificate would indicate a birth year of 1821, a birth record exists for a John Lee in Missouri for 1841 - Father: Washington Lee (George W. Lee?) and Mother: Amanda. Census records would seem to confirm this is, indeed, our John.

      John H. Lee is not in the Great Register of Voters for 1877, Santa Barbara County.

      ------------------

      9 April 1978
      Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum
      Santa Ynez, California

      Conversation with Miss Jeanette Lyons
      John Lee: When she first heard of him he had taken up residence in Happy Canyon. She remembered him vaguely as being a tall, thin man. Most of what she knew about him came from her own father. He was married first to a lady who, so the story goes, he traded away for a horse and saddle. He later married Adella? Greer [actually Mary Greer] who came to Santa Ynez in a covered wagon. Her husband died en route in Nevada. She opened a dance hall and restaurant where parties went on until 4 in the morning. Miss Lyons was not allowed to attend these. But she did attend many other social functions there including graduations and a “rained out” picnic held on the floor. Mrs. Greer was married before or later to Mr. John Caine, they had a son, Danny.

      Miss Lyons remembers John Lee’s sons, probably by a marriage before Mrs. Greer, Harry Lee and Buck Lee. She may have info or pictures of them in her scrapbook.

      Mrs. Greer and Mr. Grear had a daughter who married a local saddle maker – John ?. Mrs. Greer’s restaurant was where the filling station (across from museum) is now.

      She suggested that John Lee might be buried in old Oak Hill Cemetery near Miss Lyons home in Ballard. She thinks Mrs. Greer was Catholic so that he may have been buried at Santa Ynez Mission.

      She also suggested that we check the College Hotel Register in the museum for Lees – since many traveling entertainment groups stayed there.

      She remembered that the three original buildings in Santa Ynez were 1) the liquor store, 2) Murphy’s Mercantile, and 3) one at the end of the block she couldn’t remember.

      The other lady we spoke to was Mrs. Barranco (or “o”) she’s in the telephone book (her son is a doctor). Mrs. Mary Dareage is the “guiding spirit” of the museum. She did the plantings in the court yard.

      Note: Mrs. Lyons also said that John Lee was a Barber.

      Mrs. Lyons’ father, Edgar Davison, wrote a journal when he worked for the forest service. He knew Joseph or john Lee as he mentions a Lee that came into the back country to bring mail.  He had dinner with Lee and his wife (never mentions wife's name), help Lee's wife with a cow in White Rock etc.

  • Sources 
    1. [S542] Letter from Mike and Noreen Marshall with Family Group Sheets for Lees and death certificates, (EF#65, SN#121, 16 May 1977).

    2. [S428] Census 1900 Thomas N Mendenhall & Joseph C Lee, (EF#162, SN#244, 27 Sep 1977).

    3. [S813] Computer searches in International Genealogical Index, Social Security Index, and other LDS records, (EF#303, SN#503, 9 Sep 1995).

    4. [S492] Interview and Letter from Jeannette Lyons of Santa Ynez with information from an 1897 voting record there, (EF#175, SN#363, 25 Apr 1978).

    5. [S589] 1910 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006).

    6. [S850] 1890 Tulare Co., California Great Register of Voters Index; Vol II, California State Genealogical Alliance, compiler, (Heritage Quest 2001).

    7. [S489] 1870 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003).

    8. [S46] Interview with Betty Mendenhall Stierhoff and Marie Mendenhall Bisher, (EF#7, SN#7, 1 Jan 1977).

    9. [S100] Interview with Ray and Dessie Mendenhall with M & N M, (EF#62, SN#74, 9 Apr 1977).

    10. [S514] 1880 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005).

    11. [S446] 1860 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004).

    12. [S834] Bureau of Land Management records for Santa Barbara, 1891.

    13. [S426] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005).

    14. [S597] 1920 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005).

    15. [S1313] Joanne Rife, (Valley Publishers, Fresno, 1977).

    16. [S1314] Edgar Billings Davison, (CD ROM from Santa Ynez Historical Society, Nov, 1968).

    17. [S147] Death certificate for John Harvey Lee.

    18. [S816] Birth record for John Lee, Missouri.

    19. [S232] Obituary for John H. Lee. Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov 1922, (EF#122, SN#154, 4 Jun 1977).

    20. [S230] Visit to Hollywood Memorial Park, Hollywood, CA to locate the graves of John H. Lee and William Lee., (EF#4, SN#197, 10 Jul 1977).

    21. [S396] "Missouri Marriages Before 1840", Susan Ormesher.

    22. [S789] Marriage record for George Washington Lee and Amanda Lee, Saline, MO.

    23. [S1315] 11/17/1892 Marriages.

    24. [S1426] Marriage of John H Lee and Mary C. Kane.