“Financial Facts for the Protection of the Investing Public”: The August 1920 issue of American Globe/ The Pacific Trade Review, Los Angeles

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

Among magazines published in Los Angeles during the early 20th century, the American Globe and The Pacific Trade Review is a rather obscure one, though it lasted at least two decades from its founding in 1903. The owner, publisher and editor was William J. Schaefle (1878-1949) and, while the Homestead’s collection has but one issue of the publication, that of August 1920, it has some interesting and instructive content.

Of German ancestry, Schaefle was born in Mendota, Illinois to Mary Kapser and the Reverend Levi Schaefle. While a brother, John, also went into the ministry and came to Los Angeles by 1886 and was the long-time pastor at the Pico Heights Congregational Church, Schaefle’s calling was journalism.

Los Angeles Express, 11 October 1900.

When his family relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, where his father had a pastorate in the German Evangelical Church, Schaefle became a stenographer and his last position was with the Fort Worth Mail-Telegram. After being invited to preach in his son’s church, Levi Schaefle became a somewhat well-known faith healer in the Angel City during the first years of the 20th Century, though, at one point, he was hauled to court on a charge of practicing medicine without a license as he aggressively marketed his services, which included the curing of cancer.

As Schaefle followed his family west, he found another way to reach people, which was through the founding of his monthly magazine in 1903. It did not appear to have a significant public presence, though, in 1910, he advertised that the 16-page journal was full of “intense humorous, wide-awake and spicy reading” and “will be spicily and handsomely illustrated.” He claimed a readership of 15,000 and promoted content on “woman’s wit and wisdom” along with news on banks, fake building companies, and more.

Express, 5 November 1907.

In 1913, he advertised his magazine’s listing of the top 33 banks in greater Los Angeles and it was noted “it is cheering to know that the bank vaults are full of money in Los Angeles and that never were conditions more flattering . . . the majority of the Los Angeles banks are in the best of condition.” The Security Trust & Savings Bank was, far and away, the largest at well north of $40 million in deposits with the German American Trust & Savings Bank second at just under half that amount. Rounding out the top five were the Los Angeles Trust & Savings Bank at $18.6 million, First National Bank of Los Angeles at $18.5 million, and Farmers and Merchants National Bank at just a shade below $15 million.

In 1917 and 1918, Schaefle got into some legal issues with some stockholders of a home building company after he published information in the Globe that seemed to suggest that investing in the concern was not wise and that five shareholders were seeking to take control of the business.

Los Angeles Herald, 13 March 1910.

When one of them published a circular calling Schaefle a “puny editor” and accusing him of pocketing advertising money for unsafe investments, he sued for libel asking for $25,000 in damages, while the circular author filed a cross-complaint for $10,000. While Schaefle prevailed in the suit, the jury awarded him just $100.

Still, by summer 1920, his magazine was still in operation with its purpose stated to be the publishing of “financial facts for the protection of the investing public” while he also said that “complaints [are] considered” and warned “no fraudulent advertising [is] accepted at any price.” The main feature for the August issue was “Why Not a League of American Nations?” a reference to President Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations project following the First World War (Shaefle’s nephew died during he flu pandemic, catching the virus when serving France) that was rejected by Congress.

Los Angeles Record, 27 March 1918.

The Globe reprinted statements made by John C. Allen, editor of Los Vecinos, “a high-class monthly magazine that has been published in Spanish in Los Angeles.” Allen asserted patriotism for the United States, but hoped that a league of nations in North, Central and South America would allow for each nation “to handle its internal affairs as it thinks best” while assuring that America would no “commit any act that will in any way infringe upon the sovereignty of any other nation” in the hemisphere.

Allen claimed that that there were some Americans, in control of newspapers and magazines and purportedly based in New York City, who advocated for the invasion and control of some Latin American countries, but averred that the general sentiment in the U.S. did not support the idea. The desire for greed motivated the former, he continued, and a league would “make this western hemisphere safe from the devilish designs of this group of unprincipled land-grabbers and political gamesters.”

Los Angeles Times, 1 December 1919.

Allen opined that “a League of the American Nations should be established without delay, whereby no nation would be allowed to threaten or invade another” and added that “the Monroe Doctrine . . . does not fit the conditions of today” and, with the centennial of that early centerpiece of American foreign policy a few years away, a new organization was required to “insure peace and prosperity in the three Americas.”

He ended by urging readers to “not listen to agitators or ambitious officials who advocate discord and war” and to support a League of the American Nations “that will insure justice and harmony between all the nations of this New World.” The closest that such an enterprise came to what Allen called for is the Organization of American States, formed at Bogotá, Colombia in 1948 and with its headquarters now at Washington, D.C.

Van Nuys News, 11 June 1924.

Schaefle included his own poem and cartoon, “War with Mexico,” that was “prepared for publication in 1916, when General [John J. “Black Jack”] Pershing was in Mexico,” though it was not issued, “although it was see by prominent people of Los Angeles in its original form. With images of leering overweight capitalists, “Mexican Tyranny,” an “Ammunition Trust” with the caption “War Means Wealth,” and dead American soldiers on a battlefield with the label “he Died Poor,” Schaefle’s verse reads in part:

Come ye Hypocrites, young and old,

If you would listen to what I’m told.

Sons of good mothers are wanted for cannon fodder

To enrich the soil and make hearts harder.

Greedy men with hearts so cold,

Desire slaughter to insure more gold,

When indemnities could be gotten instead,

Thereby keeping all from seeing red.

The ammunition, mine, oil, land and cattle men

Make just as good targets in the pen,

And when it came to marching in Mexico,

The universal answer to war would be No.

The same reply likely applies to whether Schaefle had any merit as a poet, but, in any case, it and the article are certainly interesting content given the ongoing turmoil in México, American military involvement in Latin America, and other important issues.

As a comparison to the 1913 ad about Los Angeles banks, this edition of the Globe provided an authorized statements of the city’s financial institutions as of the 1st of July. There was the expected dramatic increase in the growth of deposits, with Security Trust & Savings Bank at over $88.2 million, with the First National Bank of Los Angeles and over $48 million, the Los Angeles Trust & Savings Bank at $41 million, the Guaranty Trust & Savings Bank at $32.6, and the Home & Hibernian Bank (a recent merger of Home Savings and the Hibernian Bank) at just north of $30 million in that top five.

For the previous five years, deposits in all banks nearly doubled from $214 million to just under $410, while clearings approached a tripling from $1.15 to $3.26 billion. Another important statistic concerned building permits. In 1916, these numbered 7,565 with a value of just a smidgen (there’s an old word for you) over $15 million. After a major drop of well over half in 1917, there was a rebound to nearly 6,500 and $10.38 million to over 8,000 and $12.15 million in 1918 and 1919 respectively. But for 1920, permits more than doubled to over 17,500 while the value was way above tripe at almost $44 million.

These statistics were reflective of broader national trends mentioned in the magazine, as well. For example, the massive U.S. Steel Corporation had a steep drop in tons from filled orders from about 9 million in 1918 to not far under 5 million in 1919, but well more than double to close to 11 million in 1920. Pig iron production fell from 18 million tons in 1918 to 16 million the next year, but slightly bested the first figure when the 1920 numbers were released.

American exports, however, continued to climb from $5.4 billion in 1918 to $6.3 billion the following year and almost $7.5 million for 1920. While business failures were near 5,400 in 1918, there was a major decline to 2,861 the next year and only a modest increase in 1920 to not far under 3,000. When it came to “Uncle Sam’s Business,” the Globe recorded that exports grew 214% since 1914, while imports were up 177%. Raw manufacturing material leapt 241%, as well, with an emphasis on rubber, silk, cotton, wool and others.

The oil industry was also discussed in some detail with a Ventura County project of the Texas Holding Company of Los Angeles highlighted, with wells ten miles northeast of Ventura and on the estate of Senator Thomas Bard, a major figure in petroleum prospecting. Notably, the field manager of the project was a figure who was largely unknown in the Angel City, but would became more than notorious before the Roaring Twenties ended. C.C. Julian would go on to form his own company, find success at the enormously productive Santa Fe Springs field, but then get into all kinds of trouble—this story has been covered somewhat extensively on this blog.

A separate short report noted that the daily production of California oil fields was about 273,000 barrels in June, a slight decline of more than 5,000 from May. Inventory was some 25.4 million barrels at the end of June, while three dozen new wells were brought in that month, averaging almost 6,500 barrels per day. Other articles concerned drilling in northeastern Mexico and southwestern Texas, as well as in New Mexico.

Other articles highlighted the Southern California Retail Growers Association, the real estate market, including the Commonwealth Home Builders firm that was the subject of the 1917-1918 court battles involving Schaefle and the successful work in Hollywood of realtors R.A. Ganahl and E.J. Schallert, who had over 1,000 properties available in the film capital as well as the Wilshire district and had the motto “Make your price right for quick sale,” which, actually, seems really self-evident!

Finally, it is worth noting the short article titled “The Plaza Real Estate Scheme Laid Wide Open” and which concerned the battle among vested interests over whether there should be a union terminal rail station in Los Angeles. There were those who argued for it as the best use of land and of convenience to travelers, while the railroads had other ideas. In this case, the Globe reported that the state’s railway commission did “favor the Plaza site for a Railway Terminal which would cost the taxpayers of Los Angeles millions of dollars that they would assume as a debt in the form of a bond issue.”

An early reference to oil promoter C.C. Julian, who went on to great notoriety in 1920s Los Angeles.

This, the magazine continued, means that “Los Angeles property holders in this locality in addition to San Francisco people who own property . . . by such a move would reap the big benefit at the expense of the people of Los Angeles” generally. It added that there was an illustration at the back of the issue that was a “plan for grade crossing elimination, including a Union Depot plan which has been adopted by the Southern Pacific Co., Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railway (acquired by the Santa Fe several years later) and the Pacific Electric Railway.”

The argument for this latter concept was that

What especially appears to the taxpayers and most of the people of Los Angeles, is that when the Railway Commission approves of this plan, there will be no expense to the taxpayers and the modern idea of progress will become a reality in the near future, although another real estate scheme whereby a few men would realize tremendous profits as far as the Plaza Plan is concerned, has been laid wide open.

Ultimately, with Boyle Workman as president of the Los Angeles City Council for the following several years playing a significant role, a Union Station was finally earmarked for the long-existing Chinatown adjacent to the Plaza on the east. This facility was not completed for almost two decades after the Globe‘s discussion here, with the opening in 1939.

The illustration shows that the idea for a passenger station at Central between 4th and 6th streets, where the Central Station of the Southern Pacific opened in 1914, while the Pacific Electric’s main depot was in the building between Main and Los Angeles streets at 6th which was completed in 1905.

Also shown were proposed improvements on viaducts crossing the Los Angeles River, including the one on 6th Street where the new (and controversial) bridge has just been opened, along with the Santa Fe railyards, the joint coach yards on the flats of Boyle Heights along the east bank of the river, the Southern Pacific shops in Lincoln Heights and the freight shops at the old Southern Pacific “River Station” where the Los Angeles State Historic Park is now, and more.

These are some of the highlights of the issue and it leaves us wishing there were more editions of the American Globe, which, by the mid-Twenties, was rebranded as The Pacific Trade Review, in the Museum’s collection. It did not, however, appear to survive, as was true for so many endeavors, the ravages of the Great Depression. Schaefle survived until 1949, though his obituary was pretty scanty as to the facts of his life.

UPDATE, 15 August 2022: A reader was enthralled by the above map and asked if some details could be added, so here are a few more.

Incidentally, just a couple blocks south of the PE Depot are the Great Republic Life and National City Bank buildings, of which Walter P. Temple was an investor when those were built a few years later.

Also in the first detail above southwest of the Plaza is an early rendering of what would be completed, in April 1928, for the new city hall. This was on the site of the Temple Block, built between 1857 and 1871, at what was then the triple intersection of Main, Spring and Temple streets, by the half-brothers Jonathan and F.P.F. Temple.

The third detail shows this area, as well as the proposed viaducts for Macy Street, Aliso Street and First Street. The first is now César E. Chávez Avenue, while the second is where U.S. 101 crosses the river. The First Street Viaduct was completed in 1929.

As to the rest of the viaducts shown on these details: the 9th Street, renamed Olympic Boulevard for the 1932 summer games hosted in Los Angeles, opened in 1925. Two years later, the 7th Street one was completed. After the 1st Street viaduct was finished, it was followed by the 4th Street one in 1931 and then the original 6th Street viaduct, replaced the new one that just opened, was the last to be built and was dedicated in 1932.

2 thoughts

  1. Fantastic Map at the bottom of the article! Thank You! Any chance of a reproduction with a little more detail?

  2. Hi Mike, yes, it is a great map and so five details have been added to the end of the post. Enjoy!

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