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Lucky Baldwin

Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin
Lucky Baldwin
Born April 3, 1828
Butler County, Ohio,
United States
Died March 1, 1909
Arcadia, California
Residence Santa Anita Ranch, Arcadia, California
Occupation Businessman, Investor, Racehorse owner/breeder
Board member of Pacific Stock Exchange, Baldwin Hotel, Santa Anita Park, Baldwin Theater, Tallac Hotel & Casino
Spouse(s) 1) Sarah Ann Unruh
2) Mary Cochrane
3) Jennie Dexter
4) Lillie Bennett
Children with Sarah Ann Unruh:
1) Clara (b. 1847)
2) Elizabeth (1854-1855)
3) Elias Jackson Jr. (1857-1857)
Parents William Alexander Crooks Baldwin &
Elizabeth Nancy Miller

Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California
Baldwin Park, California
Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita Park

Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909) was a prominent California businessman and investor of the second half of the 19th century.



Baldwin was born in Butler County, Ohio and his family moved to Indiana when he was a child. Throughout his childhood he was known as a wanderer and adventurer. From Indiana he went to Wisconsin, where he operated a grocery store until tales of gold drew him to California in 1852[1].

Baldwin arrived in San Francisco in 1853, and though he arrived with capital, he worked as a day laborer a while before deciding to open a hotel and livery stable. He made money on several ventures and in payment for a debt, he received 2,000 shares of the Ophir Mine, which was then worth a few cents a share. When the great Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada in 1859, the value of shares for Ophir — which operated a mine next to the Comstock — jumped to several hundred dollars per share.[1]

Having generated most of his wealth through both savvy and lucky mining investments (for which he received his nickname), Baldwin accumulated large landholdings of 63,000 acres (255 km2) in southern California, where the communities of Arcadia and Monrovia are now located.

Baldwin's matrimonial ventures periodically created sensations. He was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. He was sued by four women for breach of promise of marriage, one of which was awarded $75,000 in damages. Anita Baldwin, one of his accusers who was later reported to be his niece, wounded him in the Baldwin Hotel with a pistol shot in 1883. About ten years later he was shot by Vinnie Ashley who was attempting to avenge his injured sister. His fourth wife and their daughter were at his side when he died at their Arcadia ranch.[1]

He is most famous today for his involvement in horse racing: Baldwin founded the original Santa Anita Park racetrack on his estate (later closed and re-opened, again on estate land), breeding and racing some of the finest racehorses of his time.


His name is found today denoting the Baldwin Hills district of Los Angeles, the City of Baldwin Park, the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita, and Baldwin Avenue in the San Gabriel Valley, among a number of places.

Thoroughbred racing

Lucky Baldwin bred and raced a number of top Thoroughbred racehorses. He raced under the banner, "Santa Anita Stable". One of his best filly runners competed at tracks on the East Coast of the United States where she won the 1887 Tyro and Spinaway Stakes plus the 1888 Monmouth Oaks and Latonia Derby. Among other successes, Baldwin's horses won the American Derby at the now defunct Washington Park Race Track four times: Volante (1885); Silver Cloud (1886); Emperor of Norfolk (1888); and Rey el Santa Anita (1894).[1]

See also

  • Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Lucky Baldwin Dies at the Age of 81", New York Times, 2 March 1909, p. 9 [accessed via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, New York Times (1857-Current file), Document ID 101868038]


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