Tragedy at the Elysian Springs

October 26, 2009 § 4 Comments

Thanks to Creekfreak readers who added so much richness of detail to the post, A tree grows on Beaudry. If you are intrigued by Echo Park’s former Arroyo de los Reyes, Elysian Springs and Woolen Mill Ditch, I recommend you scroll through the comments there.  One reader, David Kimbrough, confirmed the rumor of springs at the Elysian Heights Elementary School – near Valentine and Baxter.  He followed up by sending Joe and me a fascinating and creepy Los Angeles Times news clipping from 1904, which I am summarizing for you here.

Los Angeles Times, 1904 (LA Public Library via D. Kimbrough)

Los Angeles Times, 1904 (LA Public Library via D. Kimbrough)

If you’ve ever felt that there’s something slightly haunted about Echo Park, this may be (partially) why.

On the evening of December 27, 1904, Columbus C. Champion, 67, committed fratricide, shooting down his brother Thomas in a “deadly fusillade…in front of the Elysian Springs bottling plant,” for whom Thomas worked as a water delivery man.  Columbus, called “Lum,” lived on property next to the bottling company. Due to Lum’s tyrannical nature, “not only were the members of the murdered man’s family in terror of the surly and churlish relative, but the whole settlement in the little valley through which runs the Echo Park electric line seems…to have dreaded some such tragic outcome as that which took place last night.”

Lum had already been abandoned by his wife, son and father several months previously, and neighbors believed it was “worth almost any effort to keep on good terms.  It is said he has terrorized the neighborhood on numerous occasions…”  Earlier in the day, he fired BB shot at his niece, threatening to kill the entire family, which precipitated the deadly confrontation with his brother.

Thomas, returning to the Elysian Springs Bottling Company, rode his wagon with his son Sam past Lum’s property.  “At once the old man rushed out of the house and began to abuse his brother. Sam Champion, fearing for his father’s safety, secured a revolver from the home, and started up to where his father and uncle were quarreling.  The younger brother (Thomas) was trying to ward off the attacks of Lum, and just as Sam arrived his father told Lum to go back into his own lot and leave him alone, or he would knock him down.  With an oath, Lum started toward the cottage, crying out that he would kill the whole outfit.  He quickly reappeared with his gun, and when within twenty feet of this brother fired the load of shot into his breast.  Thomas sank to the ground and expired almost immediately.”

The villain was unrepentant and actually joking with the police who carried him away.


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§ 4 Responses to Tragedy at the Elysian Springs

  • Jessica Hall says:

    And I forgot to say, thanks David!
    (My chiropractor lives on Valentine, and I can hardly wait to tell him about this.)

  • joanne payne says:

    what a wonderful local story! Thanks David. Love Joanne

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Jessica! We do a weekly series called “Flashback Fridays” highlighting cool historical information about Echo Park its neighborhoods. We were wondering if we could post an excerpt of your article, with all the appropriate links and author information. Thank you!

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