PB’s Founders

Signature page from Articles of Incorporation of the Pacific Beach Company, July 1887

In July 1887 the San Diego Union reported on a Great Enterprise, a New City About to be Built at False Bay by a Syndicate of Millionaires. Articles of incorporated had been filed at the county clerk’s office for the Pacific Beach Company, to be allied with the San Diego and Pacific Beach Railroad Company incorporated a few days earlier. The Union listed the principals of the Beach company as R. A. Thomas, J. R. Thomas, O. S. Hubbell, D. C. Reed, each of whom had subscribed $100,000, and D. P. Hale, Thomas E. Metcalf, W. W. Thomas, G. B. Hensley and Charles Collins, who had subscribed between $25,000 and $50,000 each. The subscribers to the railroad were the same.

According to the Union, the articles of incorporation showed little or nothing of the intentions of the company and the magnitude of the undertaking was only ascertained by conversation with the incorporators. It was learned from one of the gentlemen that the syndicate had obtained by purchase 1,663 acres of land fronting on False Bay for the purpose of laying out a town. The town would be christened Pacific Beach and the railroad would connect it to downtown San Diego. Behind these two corporations, ‘going hand in hand, so to speak’, was a College Company which intended to build and conduct an educational institution second to none in the United States on land near the center of Pacific Beach.

Original map of Pacific Beach, subdivided for the Pacific Beach Company by H. K. Wheeler, City Engineer, October 1887

The layout of the new town was established in October 1887 when City Engineer H. K. Wheeler produced a map of the Pacific Beach subdivision. A broad thoroughfare named Grand Avenue traversed the community from its western limit at the Pacific Ocean to its eastern edge near Rose Creek and would also serve as the right of way for the railroad between downtown San Diego and a depot near the beach. Other avenues (running east and west) and streets (north and south) divided the community into rectangular blocks. The streets were numbered, from First on the west to Seventeenth on the east, with a somewhat wider street named Broadway between Eighth and Ninth streets. The avenues north of Grand were named for states, except for College Avenue, where the college was to be built. South of Grand, the avenues were named after participants in the great enterprise; Thomas, Reed, Hubbell, Hensley, Metcalf, Hale and Collins. A. C. Platt, Hensley’s real estate partner, and A. G. Gassen and James Poiser, area landowners allied with the Pacific Beach Company, also had avenues named for them.

An opening sale of lots was held on December 12, 1887, and the Union reported the next morning that it was, all things considered, the most successful in the history of San Diego real estate transactions. According to the Union the Pacific Beach Company did not resort to the usual methods of ‘booming’ the sale and, notwithstanding the fact that no band was in attendance and there were no free carriages and no free lunch, over $200,000 worth of lots were disposed of. The buyers were all legitimate investors and many of them signified an intention of improving their lots. Many persons had been viewing the ground in the last few weeks and without doubt all purchasers bought intelligently. College Avenue was the favorite street with purchasers since there was no doubt that it would be the main business street.

The opening sale of lots in Pacific Beach took place at the height of San Diego’s ‘great boom’ of 1886-1888, when thousands of people arriving in town over the newly completed transcontinental railroad connection had set off a real estate bonanza. Unfortunately for the Pacific Beach Company, and for those intelligent and legitimate investors in Pacific Beach building lots, the boom faded in early 1888 and the market for residential real estate collapsed. The Pacific Beach Company responded by shrinking the community and eliminating many of the streets and avenues outside of a central area between Alabama and Reed avenues, converting them into agricultural ‘acre lots’.

Map 697, the amended map of the Pacific Beach subdivision, filed January 1892

An amended subdivision map filed in 1892 no longer included the avenues south of Thomas and Reed, erasing those named for the other Pacific Beach Company officials. Thomas and Reed avenues remained, however, even after every other street and avenue (except Grand) was renamed in 1900 in order to prevent duplication of street names throughout San Diego. Broadway became Ingraham Street, the numbered streets were renamed for statesmen, in alphabetical order, and the state-themed avenues north of Grand were renamed for gemstones, also in alphabetical order from Agate to Hornblend (Alabama Avenue became Diamond Street). College Avenue, north of Grand and no longer the site of the college (it closed in 1891), was also renamed for a gemstone and as predicted has become the main business street in Pacific Beach, Garnet Avenue.

With their names removed from the map most of PB’s founders have faded from memory, and while some residents are aware that Reed and Thomas avenues were named for people in their community’s past their histories are also little known. So who were these founders, what were their backgrounds, and what happened to them in the decades following the founding of Pacific Beach?

D. C. Reed

David C. Reed was born in New York but had been a resident of San Diego since about 1870, just a few years after what is now downtown San Diego was established by Alonzo Horton in 1867. Daily ads for D. C. Reed, attorney and real estate dealer, appeared in the San Diego Union beginning in 1872. In 1873 the Union reported the marriage of D. C. Reed and Juliet Guiou, both of San Diego, and in 1874 the news was that plans were complete for an elegant cottage residence for D. C. Reed, Esq., to be erected on D Street (now Broadway). He took an interest in politics and in 1875 became secretary of the Republican County Committee and ran as the Republican candidate for district attorney. In 1879 he was a candidate for lieutenant governor and in 1884 he was the delegate from the Sixth Congressional District to the Republican National Convention in Chicago (the party nominated James Blaine, who was defeated by Grover Cleveland in the presidential election).

Reed’s business interests also expanded. In 1876 he became an insurance agent, the local representative for the Firemen’s Fund and others, and by 1880 he no longer represented himself as an attorney. He ran daily ads in the San Diego Union; a Union Local Brevities column in 1881 noted that readers would observe that there was a live Real Estate man named D. C. Reed in these parts who believed in printer’s ink and advertised by the column (his ad in that issue of the Union indeed did take up an entire column). In 1885 the completion of a transcontinental railway link to San Diego and the arrival of thousands of newcomers from the east created new opportunities for real estate operators like Reed. He and T. J. Daley purchased Pueblo Lot 1159 in what is now Logan Heights and in 1885 subdivided a portion of it as Reed & Daley’s Addition. In 1886 Reed and O. S. Hubbell subdivided Reed & Hubbell’s Addition in Pueblo Lots 1162 and 1163, now part of Barrio Logan between 26th and 30th streets, Marcy Avenue and NASSCO. Reed and Hubbell were also involved in suburban real estate, Reed as president and Hubbell as secretary of the San Marcos Land Company in 1887, before both became directors of the Pacific Beach Company later in the year. Also in 1887, Reed and Aaron Pauly built the three-story Reed-Pauly building at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and E Street. The Reed-Pauly building, later the Leland Hotel, is still standing, although without its original bay windows.

In the 1890s Reed again became active in politics, taking the side of the San Diego Flume Company, which delivered water from Lake Cuyamaca, against a plan backed by John D. Spreckels and E. S. Babcock to supply the city with water from a proposed Morena Dam on Cottonwood Creek. As a result, the Spreckels-owned San Diego Union campaigned against Reed and his Municipal Ownership Club when he ran for mayor of San Diego in 1896, labeling him Demon C. Reed, and endorsing his opponent. Reed won anyway and served a single term as mayor from 1897 to 1899.

Former Mayor D. C. Reed

In 1902 Reed was involved in a controversy involving Katherine Tingley’s Theosophical Institute on Point Loma. The Theosophists had recruited a group of children from Cuba to be educated at the institute but after the Los Angeles Times published articles criticizing conditions there the children were detained on arrival at Ellis Island pending an investigation. D. C. Reed became a member of the investigating committee and after concluding that the criticism was unwarranted he was sent to New York to escort the children to San Diego (Madame Tingley later sued the Times for libel and won). He also returned to the Pacific Beach real estate market, creating Reed’s Ocean Front Addition, a subdivision of the southeast 40 acres of Pueblo Lot 1783 between Bayard, Turquoise and Loring streets and a line about halfway between Dawes and Everts, in 1904.

In June 1919 D. C. Reed placed a final real estate ad in the San Diego Union, taking up nearly an entire page. ‘Read what one of San Diego’s most successful real estate merchants has to say’, he began. He continued that in years past his advertisements had been read by thousands because they were ‘snappy’ and offered good bargains, then presented his ‘best offer’, his own beautiful home and adjacent income property for sale. ‘I am 72 years of age, and I have quit. I am quitting the game I love – real estate’. Ever the Republican politician he blamed the poor real estate market at the time on ‘a democratic school teacher as president; one who desires to be dictator of the whole world’ (the president in 1919 was Woodrow Wilson). However, he predicted that things would improve now that we were ‘finally about to realize the sniffing of a little railroad smoke’ (the San Diego and Arizona Railroad was completed in November 1919). The ad described a beautiful modern home with 9 large rooms, complete in every detail, automatic hot water heater, bath room, two toilets, furnace, new garage with cement floor, everything in first class condition, and situated on an elevation possessing a most charming view. There was even a large painting of Yosemite Valley for which $1000 had been refused, but now the home, including the valuable painting, and the two-story four-flat and garage on the adjoining lot, were offered for sale at $25,000 (the ad claimed that $50,000 had been refused in 1913). Later in 1919 the Union reported that D. C. Reed, veteran real estate man and former mayor, had sold his fine residence at First and Elm streets for $20,000, but that he was not going to leave the city.

That prediction proved to be inaccurate. On the same day that D. C. Reed’s ad appeared in the Union the paper also reported that his daughter Mrs. Vida Reed Stone and her husband were now in charge of a music school in the foothills near Hollywood. Mrs. Ethel Reed Stanton, another daughter, was also an instructor there. The sisters each had homes on Glen Green Street in Hollywood, and after selling his home in San Diego Reed apparently joined them; the 1921 Los Angeles city directory listed David C. Reed at an address on N. Beachwood Drive, a few blocks away (Beachwood is directly below the Hollywood sign, although the sign, then reading “Hollywoodland’, wasn’t erected until 1923). This move might have been foreshadowed by an October 1920 report in the Los Angeles Times that Ethel Stanton had filed a petition to be appointed guardian of the estate of her father, a former mayor of San Diego, claiming that he had been mentally infirm for the past three years and was not competent to transact his business affairs. According to the Times the estate was valued at $140,000 and included property in San Diego and Los Angeles. D. C. Reed died in Los Angeles in July 1928 but his funeral was held in San Diego and he is buried at Mount Hope cemetery.

R. A., J. R., and W. W. Thomas

Thomas Avenue in Pacific Beach commemorates three brothers who were among its founders. Richard A., John R. and William W. Thomas were born in Wisconsin where their father Edward, an immigrant from England, was a farmer. By 1880 R. A. and J. R. Thomas had moved to Kansas where they became lumber merchants. In 1883 they were in San Diego and on the occasion of the completion of the new building of the First National Bank in February 1884 the San Diego Union wrote that a short account of the enterprise of the Messrs. Thomas and associates was in order. The short account was that the bank was organized in June 1883 with R. A. and J. R. Thomas, recent arrivals from Kansas, and a local capitalist Jacob Gruendike among the directors. Gruendike was elected president and R. A. Thomas vice president, and another Thomas brother, C. E. (Charles), was made cashier. R. A. Thomas later became president, and then vice president again, before the Thomas brother left to pursue other interests in the late 1880s. Gruendike and R. A. and J. R. Thomas were also directors and officers of the San Diego Lumber Company.

One other interest the Thomas brothers pursued was real estate. Jacob Gruendike had acquired the Rancho Rincon del Diablo, which covered over 12,000 acres around where Escondido is now located, and in 1885 R. A., J. R., C. E. and W. W. (William) Thomas joined Gruendike and others, including D. P. Hale and Thomas Metcalf, in forming the Escondido Land and Town Company to develop the property. A fifth Thomas brother, G. V. (George), a lumber merchant, was also associated with the Escondido company, although not an officer or director. W. W. Thomas was named superintendent and the company laid out the town of Escondido, built a hotel, and began selling lots in 1886. The Thomases were also involved in founding the neighboring North County town of San Marcos. An advertisement in the San Diego Union from September 1887 announcing that the San Marcos Land Company have now on sale lots in the new town of San Marcos was signed by J. R. Thomas, Secretary. Incorporation of the Pacific Beach Company and the Pacific Beach railroad and the opening sale of lots in Pacific Beach took place later in 1887.

Profits from their banking and real estate activities allowed the Thomas brothers to live in some of the city’s finest residences. The Union reported in 1887 that J. R. Thomas of the Escondido Land and Town Company was building a residence at Fifth and Maple streets that would be one of the handsomest buildings in that beautiful section of the city. It would cost $10,000 and be surmounted by a turret observatory (the Thomas house is no longer there but was comparable to the Britt – Scripps house still standing next door, at Fourth and Maple, built in the same year and with the same assessed value, and also with a turret observatory). In 1893 R. A. Thomas traded 300 acres of land in Escondido for the home of Henry Timken, the wealthy inventor of the Timken roller bearing, and moved in with his family. The Timken Mansion, at First and Laurel streets, is still standing and is another fine example of Victorian residential architecture in San Diego.

During the 1890s the Thomas brothers’ interests transitioned again, from San Diego real estate to the hardware business, and then to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Herald reported in 1896 that articles of incorporation had been filed for the Consolidated Hardware Company; the directors included R. A., J. R. and W. W. Thomas, and Edward Beven (R. A. Thomas’ brother-in-law). The 1897 Los Angeles city directory had a listing for Thomas Bros., R. A. Thomas, prest.; J. R. Thomas, vice-prest. and mgr.; W. W. Thomas, secy., hardware, 230 S. Spring Street. John R. and William W. Thomas had Los Angeles addresses but Richard A. Thomas was listed as resident in San Diego, where he had remained and served as chairman of the chamber of commerce in 1898.

In San Diego, the Union reported in 1899 that R. A. Thomas, ex-president of the chamber of commerce, had traded his fine residence property at First and Laurel for a property with three houses owned by Col. A. G. Gassen at Eleventh and E streets. Both properties were valued at $20,000. The Union explained that Mr. Thomas had become interested in the mining business at Jerome, Arizona, and found it more convenient to reside in Los Angeles, where he would remove with his family. His fine residence could not be rented to advantage but the three houses at Eleventh and E brought in a good revenue. Col. Gassen had been living in the clubhouse at the Pacific Beach race-track but would take possession of the Thomas residence as soon as possible (another avenue on the original Pacific Beach map was named for Gassen).

In Los Angeles, the other Thomas brothers and Thomas Metcalf, who had also moved to Los Angeles in 1898, followed R. A. Thomas into the mining business. The 1901 Los Angeles directory showed John R. Thomas as president of the California Oil Co., Wm. W. Thomas as secretary of the Black Hills Copper Co., and Richard A. Thomas as president and Thomas Metcalf vice president of the Mingus Mountain Copper Co. (Mingus Mountain is a peak in the Black Hills, where Jerome is located). Their Jerome mining ventures were apparently unsuccessful, however, and in 1902 the Los Angeles Times reported that R. A., J. R. and W. W. Thomas, and Thomas Metcalf, were incorporators of the Choix Consolidated Mining Company, with mines in Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico (Choix was a copper mining town in Sinaloa). In 1903 the city directory listed Thomas Brothers & Metcalf, R. A. Thomas president, Thomas Metcalf vice president, J. R. Thomas secretary and W. W. Thomas treasurer, investments, at an address on South Broadway in Los Angeles. The company remained listed at that address for decades, although its business changed from ‘investments’ to ‘mines and mining’ in 1908.

Thomas Metcalf died in 1911, after which Thomas Brothers & Metcalf ceased to exist and the South Broadway address became the office of Choix Consolidated Mining, R. A. Thomas president and J. R. Thomas secretary, until R. A. Thomas’ death in 1918. The South Broadway office then became the headquarters of El Fuerte Mining and Smelting Company, J. R. Thomas Secretary, which later merged with the Choix Consolidated company (the Fuerte River is near Choix in Sinaloa). W. W. Thomas also shared the office and was involved with mining, mostly in British Columbia, until his death in 1926. J. R. Thomas remained with the El Fuerte mining company until he also died, in 1929, the last of the founders of Pacific Beach.

O. S. Hubbell

Oren Sage (O. S.) Hubbell was born in 1858 in Iowa but his family had relocated to San Diego by 1874 and his father, Charles, was cashier at the Bank of San Diego. The 1880 census listed O. S. Hubbell as a ‘clerk in bank’ and by 1885 he had become assistant cashier of the First National Bank, the bank where the Thomas brothers were officers and directors. He joined D. C. Reed in subdividing Reed & Hubbell’s addition in what is now Logan Heights in 1886 and in 1887 became a director of the San Marcos Land Company, of which D. C. Reed was president. In addition to his participation in the Pacific Beach Company he was also involved with the Morena Company and the El Cajon Valley Company, developers of Lakeside, in 1887. Hubbell is credited with leading the negotiations with the San Diego College Company that resulted in the Pacific Beach Company granting four blocks in the center of Pacific Beach for a college campus. San Diego’s first college, the San Diego College of Letters, was built there and opened in September 1888. Although the college closed in 1891 the campus was reopened in 1910 as the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, later Brown Military Academy, before finally closing and being dismantled in 1959. The former campus is now the site of Pacific Plaza shopping center.

Like many of his associates in the real estate business, O. S. Hubbell exhibited his apparent success with an opulent home on a prominent view lot. In his case the property was at the corner of 7th and Ash streets downtown, the apex of what was then called Nob Hill. The home was said to have cost $92,000 to build, an astounding sum in 1888, and was ‘not excelled for comfort and elegance by any home in Southern California’. However, Hubbell had financed his holdings with debt and in the ‘bust’ that followed the great boom of 1886-1888 found himself unable to repay his obligations, including to the bank where he had been an officer. In early 1889 the First National Bank succeeded in obtaining a verdict from O. S. Hubbell for over $10,000 and in November of that year he ‘made over’ all of his holdings, estimated at $200,000 and including the Nob Hill mansion, to L. S. McLure, an officer of that bank, apparently to repay debts. By 1890 he was the defendant in a number of foreclosure cases in the San Diego superior court.

In October 1890 the Jacksonville (Alabama) Republican reported that Mr. O. S. Hubbell, of San Diego, Cal, had located in Jacksonville to participate in the prosperity of the town. The Republican added that Mr. Hubbell was formerly Secretary of the Coronado Beach Land Company, which built the celebrated Coronado hotel (Hubbell had been a director and officer of a number of land companies in the San Diego area, but not the Coronado Beach Company, which had built the Hotel del Coronado). The Jacksonville paper later reported that O. S. Hubbell had put up a corrugated iron building in town to serve as a real estate office. However, by 1892 the Hubbells had moved on again; the Jacksonville paper carried a legal notice to the effect that O. S. Hubbell and his wife Kate were defendants in a case but were thought to be non-residents and to reside in Chicago. His legal issues also continued in San Diego; in June 1893 he filed a petition for discharge as an insolvent debtor and was discharged from insolvency in July, although cases against Hubbell, ‘an insolvent debtor’, continued at least until 1903.

Also in 1893 his former San Diego home changed hands again. According to the San Diego Union, the magnificent residence at Seventh and Ash streets, built by Oren Hubbell, was sold to Mrs. U. S. Grant, Jr. for $25,000. U. S. Grant Jr. was the son of the former Union general and president, who had moved to San Diego and become a major player in the real estate industry. The U. S. Grant Hotel, built in 1910 and still standing on Broadway between 3rd and 4th avenues, was one of his real estate ventures. U. S. Grant Jr. lived at the former Hubbell home until 1915, after which it was turned into a rooming house, the Grant Terrace, an attractive room for adults with two meals, close in, exclusive surroundings, 718 Ash. In 1926 the property was sold to make room for a new hotel. Thirty rooms of good furniture, ‘much better than will be found in the average rooming house’, including antiques that had ‘been in the Grant family for ages’, were sold at auction. The house itself was to be ‘wrecked’ and the wrecking company advertised that the house was built at tremendous expense and only the highest grade materials obtainable were used in its construction. This well-seasoned, beautiful material would be available at much less than new low grade materials – sale starts Monday morning. With the house cleared from the site construction began on the El Cortez Hotel, completed in 1927 and still standing on what is now known as Cortez Hill.

Meanwhile, O. S. Hubbell had moved from Alabama to the Chicago area where he worked as an insurance agent. By 1910 he had moved again, this time to Portland, Oregon, where he was listed as a real estate dealer. He died in Portland in 1921.

D. P. Hale

There is no Hale Avenue in Pacific Beach today but there is one in Escondido, where Daniel P. Hale, one of PB’s founders, later became general manager of the Escondido Land and Town Company. D. P. Hale came to San Diego from Sioux City, Iowa, where he was president of the Sioux City Vinegar and Pickling Works. In February 1886 the San Diego Union reported that D. P. Hale had been elected secretary and treasurer (and Thomas E. Metcalf had been elected vice president) of the San Diego Savings Bank which was about to open in San Diego. The Union added that these gentlemen were among the ‘new blood that has in the recent past been infused into our business circles’, were ‘gentlemen of large business experience, thorough training and acute minds’, had ‘made honorable records in the communities from whence they came’ and would no doubt sustain those records in San Diego. There is no record that the savings bank ever did open, however, and instead Hale purchased an interest in an established real estate partnership as San Diego’s great real estate boom got underway. In 1887 he was one of the original partners of the Pacific Beach Company, subscribing $25,000 in paid-up capital for 250 shares.

One of the company’s early accomplishments had been attracting the San Diego College of Letters to build on a campus granted by the company in Pacific Beach. When the college opened in 1888 Hale’s daughters Della and Libba joined fellow founder D. C. Reed’s sons Bert and Oliver in its inaugural class, where Della assisted with the college paper The Rambler. Over time D. P. Hale became more involved with land companies in north San Diego County where he (along with Metcalf and the Thomas brothers) had been among the founders of the Escondido Land and Town Company in 1886. Hale served as vice president and general manager of both the San Marcos and Escondido land companies before his death in 1900.

Thomas Metcalf

Thomas E. Metcalf, originally from Delaware, had joined D. P. Hale in the 1886 savings bank venture and was later involved with Hale, Reed and the Thomas brothers in the Escondido and San Marcos as well as Pacific Beach companies. He was also a director of the San Diego, Old Town and Pacific Beach Railway Company, which built and operated the railroad link between San Diego and Pacific Beach. In 1897 he joined Jacob Gruendike in forming the La Costa Land and Town Company on property they owned around the La Costa station on the railroad line between Leucadia (then called Merle) and Carlsbad in San Diego’s North County. Although the station already served as a shipping point for the area’s farmers Metcalf and Gruendike also promoted the area as a promising oilfield and attempted to develop a salt production facility at the lagoon there. T. E. Metcalf remained president of the La Costa company even after moving to Los Angeles in 1898, where he again joined the Thomas brothers as Thomas Brothers & Metcalf, an investment and mining company. He died at his home in the Ocean Park section of Los Angeles in 1911. His obituary in the Los Angeles Times described him as one of the founders of Escondido and later of Pacific Beach who had moved to Los Angeles and taken an active interest in copper operations in Mexico and Arizona, in which he was a partner of the Thomas brothers.

George B. Hensley

George B. Hensley was a ‘delegate elect’ in the 1882 Republican primary election, representing the Monument precinct where he was deputy collector of customs at the Mexican border. In 1883 the Union reported that Mr. Henley and family had moved into town and taken up residence in the Switzer house in the east part of the city. In 1884 he was a ‘searcher of records’ at the courthouse and in 1885 was a founder and became secretary of the Building and Loan Association. An ad in the Union in 1886 said that Hensley & Platt, real estate, loan and insurance agents, had $10,000 to loan on real estate (in the original Pacific Beach subdivision map Platt Avenue was between Hensley and Metcalf avenues). In May 1888, a few months after lots in Pacific Beach first went on sale, Reed & Hensley, Managers, invited readers to buy a home at Pacific Beach, overlooking ocean, bay, San Diego and Coronado, and send your children to college, the only one now being built in Southern California and ready for occupancy September 1, 1888. In addition to his real estate interests, George Hensley was an incorporator and later superintendent of the cable railway that ran along Sixth and Fourth streets between the bay and Mission Cliff Gardens in University Heights in 1890 and 1891. Hensley was named receiver of the bankrupt cable railway in 1892. When he died in 1893 the San Diego Union wrote that he had been prominent in public affairs for years and was universally esteemed.

Charles Collins

When fellow Pacific Beach founder Charles Collins also died in 1893 the Union noted that he had been a notable character in the Missouri Valley from 1861 until his arrival in San Diego eight years earlier, a leader in the movement that opened the Black Hills of Dakota to settlement. A native of Ireland, Collins wrote and published directories for towns and mining districts in Colorado and Nevada in the early 1860s before moving to the Midwest, where he published newspapers as well as city directories in towns such as St. Joseph, Leavenworth and Omaha. In 1870 he was in Sioux City, Iowa, across the Missouri River from the Dakota Territory, where as publisher of the Weekly Times he promoted Sioux City as a base for the exploration and exploitation of Dakota’s Black Hills. In 1872 he formed the Black Hills Mining and Exploring Association to organize and outfit parties of pioneers prospecting for rumored deposits of gold there, but since the Black Hills were then part of the Great Sioux Reservation the army initially enforced treaty provisions by turning back or arresting trespassers. Collins and others continued their agitation and in 1874 a reconnaissance expedition under the command of Col. George Custer did enter the hills and confirmed the existence of gold. The government then attempted to acquire the mining region from the Indians but the Indians resisted and left their reservations. Another expedition led by Custer to force them to return encountered a large camp of hostile Indians at the Little Bighorn River in June 1876 and a battalion of the Seventh U. S. Cavalry including Custer himself were massacred.

The Indians were eventually rounded up and returned to new reservations and the Black Hills were opened to mining. Collins joined the settlers there, publishing another newspaper, the Black Hills Champion, in Central City, but after a few more years, according to an article in South Dakota Magazine, ‘Charlie Collins’ left for California, ‘where it is said that he made a fortune in real estate ventures before fading into the cobwebs of history’. Those real estate ventures included about 100 acres north of False Bay in San Diego which Collins acquired beginning in 1885, and which were presumably part of his subscription of $25,000 in paid-up capitol for 250 shares of Pacific Beach Company stock in 1887. This property was in the southwest section of what became Pacific Beach and in 1888 he regained a portion of it, Block 264, known as the Collins place and later the site of the De Luxe Trailer Court, Martha Farnum Elementary School and the Earl and Birdie Taylor Pacific Beach Branch Library. After Charles Collins died in 1893 his wife Annie continued to deal in real estate around Pacific Beach, including acreage in the foothills above Pacific Beach which she sold to Kate Sessions in 1912 and which Miss Sessions subdivided as Soledad Terrace in 1913.

When the Pacific Beach Company voted to dissolve in 1898 D. C. Reed was the only one of its founders whose name appeared on the dissolution petition submitted to the superior court. The company still owned a large amount of real estate in Pacific Beach and it was distributed to the current stockholders in proportion to their respective interests. The list of these stockholders submitted to the court did not include any of the founders, even Reed. A vast majority of the company’s stock, about 61%, was then owned by Oliver J. Stough and another 31% was held by the First National Bank of San Diego, the bank once associated with the Thomases. Six more individuals, none of them original stockholders of the company, divided the remaining 7-8%. When the company’s unsold property was finally distributed Stough ended up with over half of the property in Pacific Beach. It is thought that Oliver Avenue, the avenue south of Thomas and Reed, is named for him.