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 Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr

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Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr

  • Birth 10 Aug 1856 Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, USA
  • Death 8 Sep 1935 Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Main Mausoleum, to the right of the altar
  • Memorial ID 5245

Industrialist. Developer of the oil industry in Southern California and key figure in the Teapot Dome scandal. The son of Irish immigrants, he was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. After brief employment as a surveyor of government lands in Kansas, he spent 14 hardscrabble years prospecting for gold and silver in Arizona and New Mexico, with little luck. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1890, he studied law and was admitted to the bar, but his legal practice soon failed. He was nearly penniless when, according to legend, he spotted a cart with wheels coated in tar (the source for crude oil) and asked the driver where it came from. Along with a former mining partner, Charles Canfield, he purchased a lot near what is now Dodger Stadium and discovered oil there in 1892 - the first successful oil strike in Los Angeles. Within a decade Doheny had drilled thousands of wells and formed several outfits to handle production, most of which were consolidated into the Pan American Petroleum Company in 1919. His empire spread to vast proportions in Mexico, where he leased 1.6 million acres for industrial development, and during the Mexican Revolution he employed a private army of 6000 to protect his interests. By 1920 Doheny was one of America's wealthiest citizens, with a personal fortune estimated at $150 million. That year he was named a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and lost a bid for nomination as Vice President. In early 1924, a US Senate investigation revealed that Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall had received a $100,000 "loan" from Doheny in exchange for a no-bid contract on government-owned oil reserves in Elk Hills, California, while rival tycoon Harry F. Sinclair had made a concurrent illegal deal with Fall over the oil rights to Teapot Dome, Wyoming. A Federal Court indicted the three on corruption charges. In 1927 Fall was convicted of accepting a bribe, but in an astounding decision Doheny was acquitted of offering one. The episode nevertheless ruined his reputation and political hopes. His final years were clouded by the death of his only son, Edward "Ned" Doheny, Jr., in a mysterious 1929 murder-suicide, and he became a virtual recluse at his Chester Place estate in Los Angeles. The rich Carrara marble for his tomb at Calvary Mausoleum was a gift from Pope Pius XI, in gratitude for the millions he had donated to Catholic institutions. Doheny was also one of the founders of Beverly Hills and Doheny Drive there is named for him.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 29 Apr 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5245
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr (10 Aug 1856–8 Sep 1935), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5245, citing Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .