The Ghost of Belmont Heights

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                In my research I often come across interesting stories from the past. They provide clues to other resources which help provide me with additional information.  Such was the case with this story I found in the July 3, 1913 Los Angeles Herald:

               The house at 2445 E. Broadway in Belmont Heights was said to be haunted, according to youngsters in the area. Those who claimed to have seen the specter said he was ancient, and if he spoke, as he occasionally did, it was with a German accent.  Some reported seeing him carrying an old gun from the Civil War, which he would raise in your direction if you got too close.

2445 E. Broadway today.

                On the evening of July 2, 1913, six youths were returning home from a party in Belmont Heights when they decided to venture into the haunted domain.  The Garrard sisters — Mary, Maude and Edna —along with their friend Ida Capo and male friends Merle Vance and Edward Valley dared each other to approach the home and steal some peaches from trees in front of the dwelling.   Successful in their venture, they became braver and started to throw fruit and other objects at the front door, daring the ghost to appear.  He did.

                Much to their amazement they saw the door suddenly open, and a ghostly figure stepped forward, barefooted and bareheaded and carrying a big army revolver.  Turning to flee, the terrified six were instantly halted by the ghost’s command and the gun pointed in their direction.  With hands full of fruit, the six stood trembling while Long Beach police were notified.

No orchard remains, only a citrus tree in the back yard.

               The “ghost” was rancher Adam Wasem who owned the house and the surrounding orchard. He had been annoyed by people stealing his fruit and slept in the front room of the “haunted” house in hopes of chasing pilferers away.  It was from Wasem’s confrontations with trespassers that the legend the house was haunted took root.  Usually just his appearance, and gun, chased thieves away, but now, hearing the bombardment of objects being thrown against his house, and the brazen youngsters daring him to appear, he grabbed his Civil war revolver and rushed out and confronted the culprits.

                Sternly he told the youths, in his German accent, not to move.  He had them “covered” and silently continued to hold them at bay with the gun until police arrived.  The terrified six dared not move when this old man, who they still believed might be a ghost, was pointing a gun at them.  And so they remained until police officers Rice, Llewellyn and Winters arrived and hauled the teens off to the police station.

 

                Samuel Garrard was roused by a knock on his door at 190 N. Euclid around midnight.  Somehow he had fallen asleep, trying to stay awake until he knew of his daughters’ safe return.  He was alarmed when he saw the person at the door was a police officer. Quickly he put on his shoes and hastened to police headquarters to claim his daughters.  When told the charges, the widowed father of six couldn’t believe Mary, who was 21, would allow her 17-year-old sister Maude, and 16-year-old sister Edna to do such a thing.  They were too old for such foolishness!  The other parents agreed.  They hauled their offspring home for the evening, agreeing to bring them to court the next morning.

                In Judge Hart’s courtroom the “ghost” appeared again before the frightened teens. What would he do? Would he press charges?  Fortunately for them, Wasem felt they had learned their lesson and agreed to drop charges.  He was exceedingly amused that he had been thought a ghost and that his house was haunted.

Lindero, used to be Wasem from Broadway to 3rd

                Who was this “ghost?” Besides being a fruit farmer, Adam Wasem was former marshal of Belmont Heights before its annexation to Long Beach in 1909.  Born in Germany in 1838, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1856, settled in Iowa before moving to Long Beach with his wife Henrietta and the youngest of their thirteen kids. He also fought in the Civil War as a Union soldier. In 1904 he built a house on his “ranch” on Broadway.  It’s at the corner of Broadway and Lindero, which at that time was known as Wasem Avenue.  Wasem Avenue extended from Railroad Street (now Broadway) to Eliot (now 3rd Street).  He passed away on February 13, 1922 at the age of 73. The house still stands at 2445 E. Broadway.