Scandal on Bunker Hill Avenue

 scandal headline

Bunker Hill Avenue and Fourth Street

February 26, 1889 

 

When thirteen year old Lizzie Fryer failed to return to her home on Bunker Hill Avenue for supper, her parents began to fret. As the evening wore on, they became so concerned that they decided to search for her. 

 

At first they thought that Lizzie might be in the company of a young man named Zens. Lizzie was a popular girl, tall and well developed for her age, and she had been allowed to go to parties with Zens because he was related by marriage to a good friend of theirs, Mr. Clearwater. Because of the congenial relationship between the two families, the Fryers had always felt comfortable allowing Lizzie to spend much of her free time with the Clearwaters.

 

The Fryers were confident that they’d find Lizzie at the Clearwater home in East Los Angeles.  However, upon their arrival they were given some very disturbing news. Mrs. Clearwater said that she had not seen Lizzie – and coincidentally, her husband, father of their several young children, was also missing!

 

Suddenly Lizzie’s mother remembered a strange conversation that she’d had with her daughter just a few days earlier. “What would you do if I left home and never returned?”, Lizzie had asked.  Believing that Lizzie was only joking, she hadn’t paid much attention to such fanciful speculation. However, in retrospect she found their conversation alarming, particularly since Clearwater and Lizzie had always seemed to be extremely fond of each other. 

 

The frantic parents continued to search for their missing daughter, but things took a turn for the worse when they spoke with local shopkeepers and learned that Lizzie had been seen with Clearwater at about noon. According to witnesses, the couple had been headed toward the Southern Pacific Depot.  When the Frys discovered that a northbound train departed after 1 pm, it was enough to convince them that Lizzie and Clearwater were on the run together and headed north.  They immediately went to the police station and asked Chief Cooney to send a wire asking that the train be searched when it reached Tulare. The wire was sent, and the train was scoured for the missing couple, but they were nowhere to be found. The distraught Fryer’s swore out a complaint against their former friend. 

 

If the runaway girl and her married lover were ever found, it wasn’t reported in the LA Times.