Eva Pearl (Athearn) King

Eva Pearl Athearn was born 2 June 1883 in Deerfield, IL to Josiah Thomas Athearn and Susannah C Myers.  Her birth record has not yet been found, so this information comes from her marriage and death records.   Eva was the fifth child, having older brothers Algernon, Frank, Jenny (who died at age two) and Elsie who was just 3 years older than Eva.   Eva’s father, who often went by Thomas, was a farmer and a Civil War veteran. 

Eva went to high school in Canton, IL and was still in school in 1900. By 1910, the family had moved from Deerfield to nearby Canton.  Her father did not have an occupation listed, and at 70, was probably retired from farming. Besides Eva, her brother Frank also lived there with their parents.  After high school, she was hired as a bookkeeper in a real estate office in Canton. By February of 1910 she was appointed as a notary public. Her father died in 1912 and her mother in 1917. Since she was now on her own, she moved to Chicago and was a stenographer for the Federal Board. This would be her lifetime career. The 1920 census shows her boarding with Harry and Mary Lynch at 3714 Lake Park Avenue, which seems to be south of Chicago along the lake.  Google street view now shows narrow older houses, with gaps between them where others probably stood, and I could not tell if her old home still exists.

Eva moved to California, and voter records show that by 1926 she had a house in South Gate, south of Los Angeles, and was a steno for the Veterans Bureau in downtown LA. Her real estate background helped her and she was frugal.  The house she bought was built in 1924, so must have been a brand new house. She was a registered Republican.

Eva’s sister Elsie Athearn had married a man named George Sharland Wheeler in 1904 and in 1908 they had a daughter named Marjorie Wheeler. Sadly, Elsie died in 1921. Marjorie had been a major caregiver to her dying mother. For a 12 or 13 year old girl this was traumatic and onerous duty. Marjorie did not get on well with her father and so as soon as possible she moved out on her own. From this point on, Eva felt a responsibility for her niece and she became a surrogate mother to Marjorie.

In 1927, at age 44, Eva met and married a man named Joseph Ross King. In the marriage record, Joseph claimed to be 48, and born in Pennsylvania.  They were married by a Superior Court judge.  The marriage record listed his address as 511 E 5 St in LA, and he worked downtown as a wholesale millinery salesman.  His parents were Nicholas King and Miriam E Jones.  Eva lived at 8945 San Miguel Avenue in South Gate, and worked as a stenographer for the US Veterans’ Bureau.  It appears that Joseph lied about his age, and rather than being born in about 1879, according to the 1880 census he was really born about 1868.

In 1930, Eva was living at the San Miguel Avenue house, with her niece Marjorie Wheeler.  Her husband Joseph was not in the household, although she listed her marital status as married. There is a Joseph R King living in Canton IL in 1930 who seems to be her husband.  He also listed his status as married, for 3 years, although he was alone in his household.  This census lists him as a fruit farmer and owning his own farm. It is unlikely that he randomly chose Canton to try his hand at farming, so perhaps Eva used her connections from her time living there.    

Marjorie remembered Joseph as a hero, because while the three of them were on a trip between Illinois and California, Eva fell asleep while driving, and Joseph grabbed the steering wheel to keep the car from running into the ditch.

Eva’s marriage was a short one as Joseph died on 27 September 1932, of arteriosclerosis, having had several previous strokes. According to the death certificate, Joseph died at home, at 650 South Figueroa, in Los Angeles.  Eva was the informant, and she provided the birth date as 27 July 1879, occupation millinery salesman, born in Pittsburg.  She was not able to provide his parents’ names.  Joseph was buried at Roosevelt Cemetery.  After Joseph’s death, Eva continued her work at the Veterans’ Bureau, and she lived in an apartment downtown close to the Federal Building, so she could walk to work. 

The 1940 census lists Eva living at 123 North Broadway in Los Angeles, still working as a stenographer for a federal agency.  This home probably apartments or a boarding house, based on the number of people at that address.  

Eve’s niece Marjorie married William Hier, and the Hier children remember that in later years, Eva would ride the bus out to their home in Bell Gardens with a shopping bag full of toys for the five kids. They also visited Aunt Eva at her apartment in LA. Eva and Marjorie stayed close until the end. Two months before she died, Eva moved into a small house at 6766 E Gage, in Bell Gardens, to a house she had planned as her retirement home.  She may have also kept her downtown apartment, as the death notice in the newspaper listed her home as 123 North Broadway.

Eva died 28 July 1950 of lung cancer, and was buried in Roosevelt Cemetery.  She left her estate to her niece Marjorie.