Following an active
professional and civic life, Los Angeles pioneer, Prudent Beaudry, retreated to
quiet and excellent health. Suddenly one day in the middle of May 1893, Beaudry
suffered from a paralytic attack. Although every modern means of medical
science was availed to him, Prudent Beaudry rapidly grew worse. At 9 p.m. May
29, Prudent Beaudry, the former mayor of Los Angeles, passed away in his home at
607 Temple Street.
Prudent Beaudry, 1884
Los Angeles Public Library
Prudent Beaudry left behind a
substantial estate under the terms of a his last will and testament dated June
20, 1891. In addition to land and houses throughout the city of Los Angeles,
notes, contracts for sale of real estate, 1,062 Temple Street Railway Company
shares, jewelry, household goods and personal belongings with a combined worth
of $356,604.39 were appraised by A. Gibson, G. S. Safford and I. N. Moore. Real
estate properties were located primarily in the western part of Los Angeles near
the vicinity of the Sisters' Hospital, and along the Temple street cable line.
All property was left in trust to his manager and executor F. W. Wood, H.
Nadeau, J. M. Elliott of Los Angeles, and Prudent's brother, Joseph Beaudry who
resided in Montreal.
In accordance to the will,
Prudent Beaudry's body was embalmed and conveyed to Montreal where he was buried
beside his brother Victor in the Catholic Cemetery "Cote des Neiges."
Meantime, let's travel back in
time a bit further to September 13, 1851. We are at No. 13 Rathborn Place
London, W. C. where the cries of a new born baby can be heard. Mary Froom
Beaudry has just given birth to a son. Edward Aldophus was christened Catholic
like his mother. Three months later, as Mary succumbs to complications from
childbirth, the infant was left in the care of Mrs. Bunyon, his nursemaid. The
nursemaid, a dissenter, re-christened the child in the Protestant faith.
As the child reached school
age, Mrs. Bunyon registered him in the French School on Denmark Street, also in
London, W. C. where he received his early education. Up until he was seven or
eight years old, Edward was well taken care of financially in a mysterious
manner, with little concerns. By the time he was nine years old Mrs. Bunyon
passed away, leaving Edward an orphan without knowledge of his paternity.
Edward Aldophus Beaudry, now 12
years old, went out to find his own way in life. Sir Lord Smart of Bedford
Square, London, W. C. hired him as a page. He worked faithfully under liberal
compensation until Lord Smart's death. At the age of 16, Edward found himself on
board a steamship to Canada, upon orders of English authorities, for reason's
unrevealed to him. He traveled from a dock in Scotland across the ocean to
Quebec, where he was then bundled on a railcar to Montreal, apparently under the
direction of an unknown benefactor. Edward found employment in various positions
while he was in Canada. His resume would include that of steward at the St.
Lawrence Hotel. He was always thought highly of by employers and he was often
noted as "a man of frugal instincts, energetic, and trustworthy."
Somewhere along in time, Edward
Beaudry eventually earned a reputation as a fresco artist, decorating the homes
of elegant mansions in Gotham, New York. When he wound up in San Francisco,
California searching for the identity of his father, he took up the brush as
well. There he discovered he had an uncanny resemblance to Prudent Beaudry, the
successful merchant who went on to become the mayor of Los Angeles.
1896 line drawings of Edward
Beaudry (left) and Prudent Beaudry (right)
Los Angeles Times archive
On a quiet afternoon in the
middle of October 1894, Edward Aldophus Beaudry found himself in Los Angeles on
Temple Street. Now in his 40's, Edward appeared a neatly dressed man, wearing a
tall silk hat, with a neat chinless beard, brown eyes, and a rather full face.
He was short in stature, no more than five feet four or five inches tall. As he
strolled up the street he came across a local couple also out and about, and
asked if they knew which house was the residence of Prudent Beaudry. As it
turned out they were just across the street from the home. The lady was well
acquainted with the former Mayor. She pointed it out to Edward, stating that Mr.
Beaudry had been dead for some time. Edward nodded, as he was aware that the man
that he now knew to be his father, was indeed dead, and he was here to look
after his estate.
Edward knocked upon the door of
the former Beaudry residence on Temple Street, where the housekeeper was now
leasing the place and running it as a lodging house. She was told that he was
looking for a room for he and his wife. After a few moments of interchange,
Edward inquired if this was the home of the late Prudent Beaudry. Upon
confirmation that it was his alleged father's home, Edward informed the
housekeeper that he was the former Los Angeles mayor's son.
According to the housekeeper,
Edward proceeded to tell her that the well known Los Angeles bachelor had gone
to London in 1855 and married his mother. At this point he did not reveal his
mother's name, but he did declare that she had died not long after he was born.
Upon her death, Edward's
father, Prudent, left him in the capable hands of another woman. This woman
died when he was nine years old. From that point in his childhood, Edward
claimed to have lost all contact with his father.
The housekeeper continued to
listen as Edward explained that most of his life had been spent in and around
London, but for an unspecified number of years he had been in America. While
living in San Francisco he followed a string of clues that lead him to
understand that his father was Prudent Beaudry. Edward also told her that two
years before he had sent a letter to his father at this Temple Street address,
but received no reply.
More recently, however, a
relative of his father approached him and noticed the striking resemblance that
Edward had to Prudent. This prompted Edward to gather all of the information he
had obtained proving his theory, and head to Los Angeles. At this point in time,
he had been in the city for a couple of days. Edward told the housekeeper of his
intentions to prove the legality of the marriage between his mother and his
father, and that he knew of a living witness to the ceremony. He also had
engaged attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco that could help establish his
On October 22, 1894 the story
Edward told to the housekeeper hit the streets of the thriving Southern
California metropolis. Headlines in the Los Angeles Times shouted in bold
Heir to the Beaudry Estate
in the city Who Claims That
Beaudry Was His Father
He Was Born In England
That he Can Prove The
Legality Of His Claim.
Fred Wood, Prudent Beaudry's
long time confidential advisor and business manager was left in charge of the
estate. When approached by a Los Angeles Times reporter about the
housekeeper's unusual visitor and his tale, he replied that he had not been
contacted by the man who claimed to be his long time employer's son. To the best
of Fred Wood's knowledge the late Mr. Beaudry had never been married, and
considering the relations between the two of them he most certainly would have
been told about any marital relationship and possible heirs.
The months pass by and nothing
else is heard in the newspapers about the new heir to Prudent Beaudry's estate.
Then on April 5, 1896 the headlines of the Los Angeles Times shout out even
louder than they had before:
CLAIMS TO BE A SON
Contestant Appears For Prudent
Incidents in the Lives of the Claimant
Seem to Support
time had approached for the final distribution of Prudent Beaudry's estate, and
Edward Beaudry was back in town with a birth certificate proving that he was
born at No. 13 Rathborn Place. The date of his birth was September 13, 1851,
and he was telling the romantic story of his mother, Mary Froom and Prudent,
including her death three months after he was born.
Yet it's interesting to note,
that the story that appeared two years before in the same newspaper as told by
Edward Beaudry himself to the housekeeper, has the date of Prudent Beaudry
coming to London in 1855. The details of Edward's own life and travels had also
changed a bit. The Los Angeles Times made no reference to those changes, but the
differences jump off the page as this modern historian compares the two
The April 5, 1896 Los Angeles
Times discusses the details of formally presenting the claims of a new
heir to the Beaudry estate, and that they must be made on or before the probate
proceedings would come to conclusion on May 20. It was also noted that since the
claimant, Edward Adolphus Beaudry, was not a citizen of the United States, he
would have two years in to present his chain of evidence to the courts and that
the matter could remain in the courts for twice twelve months, should it be
At this point in time,
documents in Edward's possession proved his mother's death not long after his
own birth, as well as other stories about Mrs. Bunyon, the nursemaid that took
charge of him, and his early education at the French School on Denmark Street in
London. The family of Edward's first employer, Lord Smart, also sent
acknowledgements that the man of 45 claiming to be the Prudent Beaudry heir was
one and the same as the faithful page to the head of the Smart house, and that
the life of this man could be traced back to his nurses arms from the day his
mother died when he was three months of age.
More evidence of Edward's
birthright was said to be waiting in London, which would mean a trip would be in
order back to his home town. As there was no money available for the journey,
the newspaper states that these funds were soon to be secured, with the help of
the ex-attorney general of California, W. H. H. Hart. Even if Hart didn't
follow through as expected, Edward Beaudry apparently had others who would back
At this time, it was also
announced that there were witnesses regarding Edward Beaudry's parentage. In
addition there were witnesses who would swear that Prudent Beaudry, who was well
known in California to never have been married, actually made statements that he
had a son years ago. These witnesses would attest to the fact that when asked
why he hadn't married, Prudent Beaudry would reply, "I can never bring myself
to the assumption of the relations with a woman which might cause her to suffer
as did that woman who bore to me a son." Reputable lawyers, and others enjoying
the confidence of Prudent Beaudry over the years, also claimed they had been
told the story of child whom he had supported for six or seven years in his
A look at the portraits of
Prudent and Edward, according to the Los Angeles Times, show "them to be
certainly like enough to be father and son…." Complexions are said to be the
same, features and figure almost identical. Even those who knew Prudent Beaudry
"are not adverse to admitting that the younger man has something more than
parchment on which to base his parentage."
Reportedly, Edward was thought
of sincere in thinking he was the child of the dead capitalist, and made no
overtures for money to those administering to the Prudent Beaudry Estate. He was
however, asking for help in gaining employment until he could prove his
birthright and take proper measures for securing his inheritance. As of the date
of the April 1896 newspaper article, it did not appear any attempt had been made
by Beaudry executors to help Edward in his search for a job. In spite of
discouragements, Edward Beaudry held on tenaciously, and was prepared to prove
F. W. Wood, as executor of the
Prudent Beaudry estate, and life long confidant, looked with suspicion on the
claims of Edward Beaudry, and continued to carry out the very full instructions
of his friend and associate.. Wood contended that Mr. Beaudry would have talked
of his romance with Mary Froom at some time over the course of the years, and
expressed surprise that a contest of the will was possibly in the making.
Formal notification of Edward
Adolphus Beaudry's right to the estate of Prudent Beaudry as his son, were
expected to be filed in Superior Court within in a matter of days. The Los
Angeles Times would announce further details of the case as they became
available. Apparently, it was never taken to court, as no other newspaper
articles on the subject have been found, at least by this Explore Historic
California reporter. A small notice did appear on May 17, 1899:
The Beaudry Estate
Confirmation of Sale By the Administrators
by Judge Campbell
Beaudry died in May 1893, and now the Estate is rapidly closed out
by the administrators, F.W. Wood, H. Nadeau and J. M. Elliott.
Yesterday Judge Campbell confirmed the sale of a number of Pieces of
property, but bids were reopened in the Courtroom on three lots.
Mrs. Hannah Ellen Haynes has bid $3000 for the
"Kimball Mansion," situated on the bluff on Buena Vista Street, and
one of the landmarks of the city, but when bids were re-opened the
Price was run up to $4000 at which figure Mrs. Haynes became the
Another piece of Property on Buena Vista Street
brought $2603, And 66.21 acres bounded by Alhambra Avenue, The lands
of Mari Ybarra de Ruiz, and the Mission Road brought $20,000. In
all, the sale aggregated About $50,000.
City-Makers: The story of
SouthernCalifornia's First Boom
by Remi Nadeau
Trans-Anglo Books (Out of Print)
Sixty Years in Southern California 1853 - 1913, Containing the reminiscences
of Harris Newmark
by Harris Newmark; Maurice H. and Marco R. Newmark
(Out Of Print)
Los Angeles Times archives via Pro Quest
Los Angeles County Biographies
The Library of Congress Map collection
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
The Los Angeles Public Library Photo collection