The Revenge of Ella Barrow

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

The revenge of Ella Barrow

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CahuengaPass1882

The Cahuenga Pass as it looked in 1882

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Andrew Hay was an early settler of the Cahuenga Valley, which is now known around the world as Hollywood.  Hay was born on January 2, 1846 in London, Canada but later moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where he successfully engaged in the lumber business. In 1873 he married Lizzie Thurbis Sutherland, the daughter of J. G. Sutherland, one of Utah’s best known jurists at the time. In 1882 the Hays moved to Southern California and settled in the Cahuenga Valley, where he bought 160 acres between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards, west of Fairfax, and devoted it to growing vegetables which he raised with the help of Chinese immigrants. Later he sub divided the area and Havenhurst Avenue in West Hollywood is reportedly named for him.

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Hay retained the area north of Hollywood Boulevard between Sycamore and Fuller Avenues, extending north in the floor of Outpost Canyon. He made his ranch at the northern end of Camino Palmero Street and erected a mission gateway at the entrance (a revised version of that gate still stands there). Within a few years, the Hays’ started a family with the births of Bessie (1874), Chapie (1876), Edna (1878), Jamie (1880) and Hal (1882). In 1883, with four small children (Jamie died in 1881) to raise, the Hays hired seventeen year-old Ella Barrow to assist Lizzie with her domestic duties.

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Ella Barrow, the daughter of Ireby Barrow and his wife Martha, was described as having a dark complexion, buxom, not particularly preprocessing, but with a bright face and eye. Ella was the fifth born of what would eventually be fifteen Barrow children. The Barrow’s had moved from Illinois to California in 1880 and purchased land with boundaries of Beverly Boulevard on the south, Rosewood Avenue on the north, Vermont Avenue on the east and Normandie on the west.

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barrowfarm

The Ireby Barrow farm circa 1894 (USC)

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Ella was working for the Hay’s for just a little time when on Wednesday, March 7, 1883, she accompanied him into town to do some shopping. Once the errands were completed, Hay loitered about for some time, until almost dusk, and then they began for home. As they passed Senator Cornelius Cole’s home near Santa Monica and Lodi, Hay turned the carriage right and continued up Vine Street and told Ella he was taking a short cut home. They eventually made their way to the entrance to the Cahuenga Pass, stopping at a ravine or gully where he made the excuse that there was something wrong with one of the horse’s bridles. He stopped the team and got out to fix it. When he returned to the wagon, it was on Ella’s blind side, and walking to the front, he grabbed her and molested her. Ella resisted as he pulled her off the wagon and dragged her onto the ground and covered her face with a white cloth. Within seconds she was subdued and couldn’t resist his advances though she was cognizant of what was happening. There along the side of the road, he raped her. When he finished, he assisted her into the wagon and told her not to say anything about what happened. If she did, it would ruin her reputation.

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Cahuenga_1882

Above is the Cahuenga Pass as it looked in 1883 which is near where Andrew Hay raped Ella Barrow

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Ella stayed with the Hays family until the following Sunday morning, having been ill all the time from the effects of whatever drug he gave her. When she finally went home, she told her parents what Hay had done. The following day, Ella and her father went into town to consult a lawyer about charging Hay with rape. Arrangements were made, but the matter was delayed in order to obtain additional evidence. Barrow took Ella to a physician, who from hearing her symptoms, said that the drug was probably ether. The doctor gave her different anesthetics to smell, and she selected ether as the one more resembling the smell.

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The case was laid before the District Attorney and they were going take some action when Ella became uneasy about the long delay, as it seemed to her, and decided to take the matter into her own hands. Unknown to her father, Ella talked with her older brother, Thomas, who had a pistol; a small, five-chambered, 32-calibre type. Having worked for Hay, Ella was familiar with his routine and knew that he would be at the post office the next morning to pick up his mail. In the morning, Thomas drove her into town and waited as Ella, dressed in a long cloak which concealed the loaded gun, walked up the steps and into the post office.

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As Ella stood at the entrance, her eyes scanned the lobby looking for the man that raped her. Finally, at a shelf along the wall, she saw Andrew Hay reading a post card. Standing next to him was W.H. Dyer and several other men. Suddenly, the lobby rang out with the sound of gunfire. At first, Dyer thought he was being shot at, from the proximity of the shooter and the powder burning his face. He looked up and saw Ella walking to the door. Dyer screamed at her and Ella, turning around, saw that Hay was not harmed (the bullet did graze his scalp but nothing else), but was crouching on the floor with his back toward her. She coolly returned to her original position and aimed the gun squarely at his back and pulled the trigger a second time. Never having fired a gun before, the motion of pulling the trigger threw the muzzle of the pistol up, and instead of entering Hay’s back, the ball struck the wall some ten feet away, and glancing upward struck the ceiling and fell to the floor.

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It was then that Hay realized that he was the object of the attack and jumped up to get out of the way, but Ella began chasing after him through the lobby. Dyer tried to stop her, and grasped her by her cloak, but she escaped, leaving it in his hands. Another man standing nearby joined in the pursuit and was able to grab her and the pistol, holding her for the police who took her into custody. As she was being taken away, the only remorse she expressed was at her failure to kill Andrew Hay. She declared to everyone that she would still carry out her plans.

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Meanwhile, Hay went to the doctor who dressed the wound which was about an inch in length on the back of his head. The bullet entered his hat, a soft one, under the rim just at the very inner edge, tore through it upward, went through the lower edge of the band, then out at the top.

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When he was asked, Hay said that he had no idea why he was attacked or who the young lady was that pulled the trigger, even though a Los Angeles Times reporter told him her name was Ella Barrow. However, he asked to be excused so he could consult a lawyer but promised the reporter he would meet with him later. At the subsequent interview in his lawyer’s office, he admitted that he knew the girl, that she had worked for him but denied her accusations were true, going so far as to say he was being framed. “He was perfectly cool over the matter,” the reporter wrote, “treating it very lightly, as if it was but of little consequence.”  Taking off his hat, he showed the reporter the wound. “That was a pretty close call, wasn’t it?”  

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That afternoon, Ella appeared in court and agreed to bail in the sum of $500, which was paid by two family friends. Hay refused to file a complaint against Ella, which the press assumed that he was not willing that the case should come before the courts, and gave strength to Ella’s story.

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Three days later, Ella was arraigned before Justice Morgan for the charge of “assault to murder.” The courtroom was packed so full of spectators that it was impossible to either enter or leave. Even the passage-way and hall outside was densely packed. Ella was accompanied by several family members and made a good impression on the court. Hay’s attorneys would not allow him to answer any leading questions on the ground that he would incriminate himself. After the proceedings, a warrant was issued for Hay’s arrest but he was able to slip out of the crowded courtroom before he could be taken into custody. The constable, armed with the warrant, caught up with him just before he reached his ranch and was brought back to the city. The judge hastily convened his Court, read the complaint to Hay, and fixed his bail at $3,000 which he was unable to pay because it was so late in the day.

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On March 26, Ella was arraigned before Judge Sepulveda. She pled guilty and was fined $25, which according to the court, showed honesty of purpose on her part. The case against her was closed.

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Andrew Hay was not as fortunate. The Hay rape case, as it became known, was reported across the country. What makes it really remarkable is that the case was tried four times, with each trial ending in a hung jury. Of the first jury, two were for acquittal; of the second jury, one voted for acquittal; the third jury voted for conviction, but the verdict was thrown out on affidavit of the clerk that the prisoner had not been arraigned to plead, though the records show that he had been. Of the last and fourth jury, in June 1885, two were for acquittal. After that the District Attorney decided not to try the case again and Hay was set free.

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The following year, on October 16, 1886, Ella Barrow married Everett W. Thaxter in New York and they had four children, Earl, Walter, Ralph and Maggie.

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In March 1887, tragedy came to Andrew Hay and his wife, when all four of their children died from small pox within a two week period. In 1890 the Hays had another son, Francis and five years later they had a daughter, Elizabeth. On September 13, 1903, Andrew Hay died at his residence at 1523 N. Cambria Street. At Hollywood Cemetery a monument was built (Griffith Lawn) with a robed woman standing under a pergola. The bodies of his five children, who died fifteen years earlier, were reburied in the new family plot at Hollywood. Oddly, Hay’s grave stone was marked only with “Father” and his birth and death dates and was installed upside down (during a recent restoration the marker was turned around).

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hay-grave

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HAY CHILDREN

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In 1994, during the Northridge Earthquake, the pergola collapsed and was never restored. The hands of the statue were also broken off (SEE BELOW).

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hay-graveA

((LAPL)

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After twenty-six years of marriage, in 1912, Everett Thaxter filed for divorce from Ella in Reno, Nevada on charges of cruelty. Everett found he could not stand married life any longer, claiming that Ella made him attend church several times on Sunday and when he got home she varied the treatment by calling him un-Christian names. She also hurt his back by kicking him.

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Several members of the Ireby Barrow family are also buried at Hollywood Forever. In fact their family plot is approximately 100 feet from the Hay monument in a direct line south and across the road in the Chandler Gardens (Section 12). SEE BELOW

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barrow-grave

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Ella Barrow Thaxter never remarried and died on August 17, 1955. Ella was not buried at Hollywood Forever with the family and it’s not known where she was placed.

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3 Responses to “The Revenge of Ella Barrow”

  1. Harry Martin says:

    What a fascinating tale, Allen!
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    THANKS HARRY

  2. Scott Groll says:

    Hi Alan, great story! One that I had not heard before. Ella is buried at Rosedale Cemetery.
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    THANKS FOR THE UPDATE SCOTT

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