Historical Stories - 1921

Discovery_Well_1The ensuing years were financially difficult for the new city.  Landowners resorted to public land auctions to stay out of debt.  An interesting footnote to these early days is the purchase of cheap land by the Encyclopedia Britannica Company to subdivide and give away as bonus lots to purchasers of a set of their Student Reference Encyclopedias (a special edition of some twelve volumes).  ”The company negotiated a deal with the Huntington Beach Company to purchase seven five-acre tracts located two and one half miles from the beach.  It subdivided each five–acre tract into sixty lots resulting in 420 lots in all.  These lots located inland, on hillsides and in ravines, were for the most part worthless.”  However, the need for more housing generated a need for the land.  For several years, each owner of an encyclopedia lot received $100.00 a month for the use of the land.  What appeared to have been a valueless gift of land resulted in fortunes of various amounts to its recipients.

The initial growth of the city began with the oil boom in 1920.  This was the largest California oil deposit known at the time.  What was once a sleepy beach town exploded.  Wells sprang up overnight and in less than a month the town grew from 1,500 to 5,000 people.

Duke_KahanamokuIn 1921, Duke Kahanamoku brought the sport of surfing to Huntington Beach and the Southern California shores, which further enhanced the community’s popularity and fueled the population growth.  As the city grew, so did faith communities.

That same year, on the feast day of Sts. Simon & Jude, October 28, 1921, the name of the church was changed from St. Mary’s Mission to Sts. Simon & Jude.  The little church was nothing but a long hall with an improvised altar (which was a long table).  The little house, formerly the Parish Hall, was torn down so that an oil well might be drilled there with the hope that it would bring great wealth as many other wells had done in Huntington Beach.  On October 28, 1921, Bishop John J. Cantwell named Father Maurice Hartnett as Pastor. (Bishop Conaty had passed away in 1915.)

Father Harnett celebrated the first Mass in the newly named parish on November 6, 1921.  One year later, in 1922, Pope Pius XI created the Diocese of Los Angeles – San Diego.

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