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Frenchman, George LeMesnager (1850-1923)
George LeMesnager
George LeMesnager's restored stone winery building (built 1914-1918)

LeMESNAGER, George (1844-1923) [Mes-song-jay], born in France, he sailed for New York in 1866. He continued west to California, arriving only a few months before the Franco Prussian War broke out in 1870, and thus he returned to France to defend his country. After defeat, LeMesnager returned to Los Angeles where he became a pioneering winemaker, editor of a French newspaper, and county court translator. (He apparently added "Le" to his name some time around the turn of the century.)

In addition, LeMesnager grazed sheep on both San Nicolas and Anacapa islands. He began grazing sheep on Anacapa Island in 1898, and his oldest son Louis, age 24, held the first official lease to Anacapa Island when it was issued in 1902 (1902-1907).

In 1914 when World War I broke out, again LeMesnager went to the aid of his native France. A year after he returned from the war, Prohibition began the decline of his wineries. He and his wife returned to France in 1921 where he purchased the home in which he had been born, and in which he subsequently died in 1923, at age 72.

George LeMesnager married Concepcion Deolara ( -1892) of Spain, and they had five children:

  • Louis C. LeMesnager (1876-1957) = Anne C. (1896- )
Louis John LeMesnager (1925-2002) = [1968] Dorothy Nell Weaver (1931-2001; divorced in 1970.
= [1962] Eileen M. Fisher nee Walrod
  • George LeMesnager (1882-1950)
  • Henry Frederick LeMesnager (died at 8 months on 12-6-1884)
  • Louise Paz LeMesnager (1885-1925)
  • Jeanette LeMesnager (1888-1963) [a nun aka Sister Philomena]

LeMesnager married a second time, to a French woman, Marie du Grey d'Bremond and they had one child:

  • Yvonne LeMesnager (1897-died by 1930)

Son Louis LeMesnager took over the family’s winery property, turning their old stone barn into a house for himself and his family. His son, Louis John LeMesnager (1925-2002) joined the Merchant Marines during World War II, returning to the winery where the LeMesnager family lived until 1968.

The City of Glendale bought the property for a wilderness park with assistance from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Today the 709-acre park is the Deukmejian Wilderness Park. It is located in Dunsmore and Cook's Canyons in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains at the northernmost extremity of the City of Glendale.

Mesnager Street in Los Angeles bears his name.

In the News~

June 5, 1898 [LAT]: “Ventura. Two important documents have been filed for record with the County Recorder. The first is a deed whereby Ezekiel Elliott of Santa Barbara conveys to George LeMesnager of Los Angeles, in consideration of $8000, all his right, title, interest and claim in the island of Anacapa. The second is a deed whereby J. V. Elliott of Santa Barbara conveys all his title, etc. in consideration of $8000 to Peter Cazes of Los Angeles, in the island of Saint Nicholas. Both islands are off the coast of Ventura County, and are a part of this county. Captain H. Bay Webster, who has recently made many trips to both islands, says: ‘Anacapa Island lies about twenty miles south of Ventura and contains about 1000 acres of land, and is capable of supporting some 1500 head of sheep or goats. Water is too scarce to render the pasturage of other stock there profitable, and the soil is too poor to pay to farm. The island is a United States lighthouse reservation… The deeds are dated November 19, 1897.”

June 5, 1898 [SFCall]: “Ventura, June 4. There has been filed with the County Recorder a deed whereby in consideration of $8000, Ezekiel Elliott of Santa Barbara conveys to George LeMesnager of Los Angeles all his right, title and interest in Anacapa Island and a deed whereby J. V. Elliott of Santa Barbara conveys, in consideration of $8000, to Peter Cazes of Los Angeles, all of his title and interest in St. Nicholas Island. Both islands are off the coast of Ventura County, and are a part of this county. Anacapa lies about twenty [miles?] nearly 1000 acres of land, capable of supporting 1500 sheep or goats. St. Nicholas is due south, eighty miles from Ventura, and contains about forty square miles, capable of carrying 3000 sheep.”

March 4, 1902 [LAT/SB]: “Little Anacapa Island has been leased by the government to Louis LeMesnager, a Los Angeles county sheep raiser, for a term of five years, at an annual rental of $5. In the three small islands comprising this group there are some 5000 acres. In years of abundant rainfall there is ample feed for the support of large flocks of sheep. When water is scarce they subsist on ice grass [plant]. The lessee will soon stock the islands.”

March 21, 1902 [LAT/VC]: “Anacapa Lease. An instrument has been filed with the County Recorder, whereby the United States, through the Secretary of the Treasury, leases to Louis C. LeMesnager of Los Angeles the Anacapa Islands for a term of five years. Anacapa is described in the lease as being a part of Ventura County, known as the Anacapa Lighthouse Reservation, and consisting of three islets about five miles in length. The lease is for five years, beginning April 1, 1902, and the price is $25 per year. According to the lease, the government is to have the right of way and free access to the island at all times, and the lessee is not allowed to erect permanent buildings thereon. The islands are used for grazing purposes.”

October 14, 1904 [OC]: “The sheep on Anacapa Island are claimed by a Frenchman with a peculiar name [LeMesnager] who lives in Los Angeles. His name is well known to several Oxnarders. There are people who claim that this man has no right to the sheep except the possession. From Captain Merry we learn that about eighteen years ago [c. 1886] a man named Elliott put a band of sheep on that island and one on San Nicolas. A number of men were one day sailing around the spot and landed a few hours. The owner of the sheep came up to them and ordered them to immediately leave, saying that the place belonged to him. They well knew that the island was government property and that no one had a right to use it as a sheep run so when they returned to the mainland they wrote the facts to the secretary of the interior and a few weeks later a revenue cutter came along and gave him a week to remove his sheep which he did, taking them to San Nicolas where his other band was. In the moving there were a number of the sheep that could not be caught and it is said from these the band now living sprung. That the present owner, or claimant, was a visitor to the island a few years after the removal and discovered that there were quite a number of the sheep there, so he laid squatter sovereignty to the island and all on it and in due time received a lease from the government, permission to run the sheep on the land there. It is to be hoped that the Humane Society will take the matter up and cause the sheep to be removed.”

May 20, 1916 [LAT]: “Direct from the battlefields of Europe, George LeMesnager, American citizen, and France’s oldest soldier, arrived in Los Angeles yesterday to spend a two-month’s furlough with his family at 354 Douglas Street…”

October 1, 1916 [LAT]: “Californians fighting in war beyond seas…among the well-known former residents of Los Angeles who have been mentioned in press accounts, perhaps Color Sergeant George LeMesnager, the ‘oldest and bravest soldier of France,’ presents the most picturesque figure. More than 67 years old, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, honorary life president of the Legion Francais, Mr. LeMesnager left his home at 354 Douglas Street shortly after the war broke out…”

June 7, 1919 [LAT]: “George LeMesnager, the world famous “old soldier” of the war, has been elected president of the exceutive committee of the French colony of Los Angeles and Southern California for the coming year, according to announcements made today by Austin Le Tournou, publicity chairman of the organization...”