In earlier posts I have speculated that Jue Joe and Otto Brant met around 1894 after Jue Joe had arrived in the Los Angeles area after working in the Napa valley wineries as a field hand and the Southern Pacific railroad as a track layer. He was employed in 1893 by the Neils Johnson family in Chatsworth as a houseboy. At the same time Otto Brant was cofounder of the Title insurance and Trust Company in Los Angeles. The two become good friends, an unlikely pair to get together for sure !
A study of Otto Brant's life reveals that he always liked to the remain in the background in real estate deals. Although he was a major negotiator in land deals involving vast land holdings in the San Fernando Valley and the Imperial Valley for General Harrison Gray Otis , Harry Chandler, Moses Sherman and others , he was always quiet and in the background. I speculate that in his friend Jue Joe he found the perfect man to trust to be a "straw man" in real estate deals where he himself could remain behind the scenes. Let's begin a study of these transactions from 1896 to 1904 and see what we can learn. The County of Los Angeles stores historic grant deeds on microfiche . During this time original grant deeds were officially recorded by making a handwritten copy of the deed in a large book and the original deed given back to the grantee ( buyer). These records can be searched by grantee(buyer's) name but not by grantor(seller). I was able to locate deeds in which Jue Joe was the buyer and later was able to use newspaper records to locate records of sales that Jue Joe made. The original grant deeds are very hard to read as you can see from the scanned copies and I have typed out the relevant passages in this post to make the documents easier to read.
I suspect their first real estate transaction together was this one, December 8th 1896. It is the first transaction that I can find Jue Joe's name. I suspect that by this time Jue Joe has left work at the Johnsons and has started farming potatoes on forty acres of leased land in Chatsworth through Otto Brant's help in aiding him to secure a lease. Interestingly, in this document his name is listed as Jue Joe which is how he spelled his name in later years , while in other transactions the name is spelled as Jew Joe.
Here is the original first page of the document .
Here is the detail with Jue Joe's name as the "party of the second part".
Here is a the text of the relevant portion of the deed:
"This indenture made the eighth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety six between Lillian Holmes and Thomas W. Holmes her husband , the parties of the first part, and Jue Joe the party of the second part. Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar lawful money of the United States of America to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged do by these presents, grant , bargain and sell convey and confirm unto the said party of the second part and to his heirs and assign forever all that certain lot piece or parcel of land situated lying and being in the County of Los Angeles, State of California and bounded and particularly described as follows to wit: Farm lot number 50 of the Gardena Tract in the County of Los Angeles, State of California ....except for a strip of land 4 feet wide conveyed to the Redondo Railway Company for railroad right of way by deed......"
Wait a minute ! Jue Joe is buying land for one dollar is that true ??? Not exactly, as I stated in a previous post, by convention grant deeds need to specify that there is a real estate transfer of title through the payment of "consideration" from the buyer to the seller. The actual amount entered into the deed can be a nominal amount and not reflect the actual sale price which is on the sale contract. During this period of time I found many deeds which had nominal amounts of money entered such as one dollar, five dollar or ten dollars and other deeds in which significant amounts of money were noted probably signifying the actual sale price so it can get a bit confusing. I think the way of looking at these historic deeds is that if a nominal amount is entered in the deed the actual sales price is hidden and where a signficant amount of money is entered into the deed that probably does reflect the actual sales price.
Ok what happens to this property? Jue Joe holds onto his new property and on August 12, 1897 just five months after buying the property he sells it to J.A. Lakey for $4250
Here is picture of the deed.
Here is a detail of the beginning of the deed.
Here is the full text of the deed.
" I, E.J Baldwin of the County of Los Angeles, State of California for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars , gold coin of the United States of America do hereby grant to Jew Joe of the County of Los Angeles, State of California, all that real property situated in the County of Los Angeles, State of California and described as follows : the northerly half of lot number two in block F of the Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo , that is to say that part of said lot number two extending ten chains from the center line of the road running between blocks E and F of said Rancho according to maps thereof recorded in Book 43 page 43 Miscellaneous records of the Los Angeles County reference here being made to said map and the record thereof for further description containing 10 acres.
Witness my hand this Fifteenth day of September 1897
E.J. Baldwin by R.H. Lloyd, his atty in fact., State of California, City and County of San Francisco
On this Twenty ninth day of September A.D One Thousand eight hundred and ninety seven before me, Holland Smith, a Notary Public in and for said City and County of San Francisco residing therein, duly commissioned and sworn, personally appeared R.H. Lloyd known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the annexed instrument, as the attorney in fact of E.J. Baldwin described therein, and the said R.H. Lloyd acknowledged that he subscribed the name of E.J. Baldwin thereto as principal and his own name as attorney in fact and as such attorney in fact executed the said instrument. In witness thereof, I have here unto set my hand and affixed my Official Seal at my office in the City and County of San Francisco the day and year last above written.
(Notary Seal) Holland Smith, Notary Public in and for the City and County of San Francisco, State of California. "
"This indenture made the fifteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety seven between H.A Church and Jennie A. Church his wife of the County of Los Angeles, State of California, the parties of the first part, and Jew Joe of the same place, the party of the second part. Witnesseth:That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of five dollars, gold coin of the United States of America to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged , does by these present grant, bargain, and sell, convey and confirm unto said party of the second part and to his heirs and assigns forever all that certain lot,piece or parcel of land situated , lying and being in the Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo, County of Los Angeles, State of California, and bounded and described as follows to with: All right title and interest in and to the northerly half of Lot number two, block F of Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo, that is to say , that part of said lot number two extending ten chains from the center line of the road running between blocks E and F of said Rancho according to maps thereof recorded in Book 43 page 43 Miscellaneous records of the Los Angeles County."
All right, now what happens? Jew Joe holds this property for four years and sells it to Sophronia A. Bliss.
Here is text of the relevant portion of the deed:
"This Indenture, made the Thirty-first day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and one , between Jew Joe, an unmarried man of the County of Los Angles, State of California, the party of the first part and Sophronia A. Bliss, an unmarried woman of the same place, the party of the second part.
We do not know the actual sales price from the deed as only a nominal amount of 10 dollars is entered for "consideration" in this deed. However we do note in the next day's LA Herald of August 1, 1901 the following listing of a Sophronia A. Bliss entering into a mortgage with Columbia Sav. Bank for this and other properties , terms of 3 years , 9 per cent, $2800.00
The last property I found was a transaction in which Jew Joe is listed as the buyer of a property from Annie Gray for $2500 dollars on February 29, 1904. The problem is that Jew Joe is now in China having left the United States in 1902 with no plans of returning. I assume that this purchase is made in Jew Joe's behalf by the person for whom he granted power of attorney to proceed with real estate transactions for him in his name after he leaves the country.
Here is the relevant text of this deed:
Witnesseth that the said party of the first part and for and in consideration of the sum of twenty-five hundred ($2500.00) dollars in Gold Coin of the United State of America to her in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged , does by these presents grant, bargain, and sell, convey and confirm unto said party of the second part and to his heirs and assigns forever all that certain real property situated in the County of Los Angeles, State of California and particularly described as follows: The easterly forty feet of the westerly fifty feet of lot thirteen of
So what does all this tell us? Although Otto Brant is not named on any of these transactions it is crystal clear that Jue Joe is working for someone with a keen knowledge of real estate, the nature of real estate transactions, and the need for clear title . It also shows that whoever is behind the scenes must have extreme trust in Jue Joe as Jue Joe has significant funds transferred to him in his name and holds deeds to property in his name for years.
Years later in an article in the LA Times John Steven McGroarty (1862-1944) named poet laureate by the State of California legislature in 1933 and also a Los Angeles Times columnist wrote about Jue Joe "Slowly but surely he established himself in the confidence of the community. He came to be trusted. His mere word was the same as another man's bond."
And as my Auntie Soo-Yin has said:
"San Tong had said that Jue Joe's name was used on many of Otto's deeds, but he did not say that Jue Joe had any direct involvement in negotiating the transactions. Otto handled all the details of land transactions, and it was a win-win situation for both Otto and Jue Joe. Otto Brant and Jue Joe were like equal friends, according to Ah Gung. I do know that Otto used to ask Jue Joe for loans in order to finance his real estate ventures and to be his "straw man" whenever needed, and Jue Joe was always glad to oblige. Also, Jue Joe told Ah Gung that everything he knew about American business he had learned from Otto; this good friend was Jue Joe's mentor. I can see why the two men got along so well, they were both modest men.