Renaissance Man of the West, Part I
Charles F. Lummis' publication, The Land of Sunshine, helped many noted artists get their start.
By William C. Reynolds
June 5, 2017
In 1894, while working as a vaquero on Santa Barbara’s Rancho Jesus Maria, fledgling artist Edward Borein (1872–1945) was persuaded into sending some of his sketches to a new magazine about the region called The Land of Sunshine. It was being published by Charles F. Lummis (1859–1928). Lummis was becoming the Southwest’s renaissance man, helping to keep the region’s romantic Spanish influence alive through a variety of creative efforts. One was publishing a little magazine that celebrated California and the West, called The Land of Sunshine. No one was more surprised than Borein when he received $15 for the drawings. Lummis would later write regarding these first drawings, “Way back in 1894 a bashful vaquero up on the 45,000 acre Jesus Maria Ranch, began sending my magazine pen drawings of cowpunchers and cattle. They had the mystery of a pie plate looked squarely in the face, but there was something about them. I suggested to this young man that he soak these animals, split them from one another and let in some air between; and it would be better to have the distant ones not much larger than the ones in front. He was an obliging lad and let me have my way. But what warmed me to him was that he had a conscience. Expect that in a cowboy, but in an artist?”
Lummis followed through and used a number Borein’s drawings in his magazine, and the two went on to become close friends. Lummis himself was a character and would be thought of today as a “long thinker.” A college dropout, he had all the makings of a pioneer entrepreneur. He was a journalist, publisher, photographer, and amateur anthropologist, plus a passionate historian of the American Southwest. He made it his business to celebrate the region, its people and cultures. To that end, among his many, self-appointed tasks was to push for the preservation of the rapidly deteriorating California Missions by creating support groups like the California Landmarks Club and the Sequoia League. He became the first editor of the Los Angeles Times and acted as the Librarian of Los Angeles for five years. In 1907, he helped create L.A.’s first free public museum of the region’s art, history, and culture—The Southwest Museum—now a part of The Autry Museum near Griffith Park and the Los Angeles Zoo.
Lummis, by his nature, was attracted to interesting, talented people, and he gathered a large following by simply pushing the enthusiasm of in his own interests. In addition to Ed Borein, Lummis “discovered” other soon-to-be-important artists of the region including, Alexander Harmer (1856–1925), considered to be California’s first truly great regional painter of the 19th century, and Maynard Dixon. Of Dixon, Lummis had found a talent that shared his adoration of the Southwest, and The Land of Sunshine carried Dixon’s name on its credit list for more than five years.
The images Borein had sent to Lummis were descriptive drawings of early California vaqueros, and Lummis would team these drawings with the writing of an equally unique individual in Flora Haines Loughead. Loughead (1855–1943) was a woman ahead of her time. She was a journalist, married three times, had five children by two husbands, worked her own mining claims, farmed 35 acres, wrote many articles, short stories and more than a dozen books. Today, she is probably best remembered as the “Mother of Lockheed Corporation.”
Her first marriage to architect Charles E. Aponnyi ended in divorce after years of physical abuse. The marriage yielded three children, May Hope, Victor Rudolph and John Haines, who died as an infant. In 1886 she married John Loughead (pronounced Lockheed), who adopted the children. Loughead was of Scotch-Irish descent, the name indicating that his family lived at the head of a lake. John and Flora had two sons, Malcolm and Allan. Her third husband was David A. Gutierrez, of whom little is known.
In 1902, Flora moved the children, without her husband, to a 35-acre farm near Alma, California, where she raised grapes, prunes and other fruits.
At the turn of the century, making a living on a ranch of this size was difficult, so she began writing feature articles for the San Francisco Chronicle and Sunset magazine—an opportunity that led her to meeting Charles Lummis and Edward Borein. She also embarked on a successful book-writing career, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her novels included The Man Who Was Guilty, The Black Curtain, and The Abandoned Claim—the last one a children’s book featuring a girl heroine named Hope after her daughter. She had a scientific as well as a domestic bent, writing The Natural Sciences and Quick Cooking, the latter dedicated to “busy housewives.”
In 1912, her sons Allan and Malcolm Loughead founded the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company. This company was renamed the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and located in Santa Barbara, California. In 1926, following the failure of Loughead, Allan Loughead formed the Lockheed Aircraft Company (the spelling was changed to match its phonetic pronunciation) in Hollywood, California. In 1929, Lockheed sold out to Detroit Aircraft Corporation. In her eighties and living alone, Flora returned to mining and prospected for opals in mines near the Nevada-California border until her death in 1943.
The story she wrote for The Land of Sunshine in the August 1896 edition was titled simply, “The Old California Vaquero” and is a charming explanation of the ways and lore of these “curious” yet highly skilled horsemen.
In Part II next month, we will review Flora Haines Loughead’s take on the vaquero and his culture, circa 1896, with illustrations by Edward Borein.