Who Was Clara Baldwin Stocker?

A collage of original photos from Clara Baldwin’s family. Clara is pictured at the left in the center photo. – Courtesy photo / Margaux VIera

By Galen Patterson

Part 1: Meet Lucky Baldwin’s other daughter

At the time of Arcadia founder Elias “Lucky” Baldwin’s death, he had left a considerable fortune to his daughters, Anita May Baldwin and Clara Baldwin (Stocker).

Anita went on to foster young artist’s careers, write poetry, music and a cookbook. She built Anoakia, which was demolished in the early months of the year 2000.

Clara, Lucky’s eldest daughter, lived lavishly in the area, making her home at Twin Oaks in Arcadia. According to the Arcadia Historical Society, Twin Oaks may have been purchased from an opera singer, as Clara’s husband at the time was well-known opera singer Stuart (Stocker) Harold.

Clara lived a very different life from her half-sister Anita. Anita was considered to be a very private person, while Clara reportedly had difficulty figuring out ways to spend her fortune. “Eccentric is a good word to use,” said Baldwin descendent Margaux Viera.

Clara was married four times, divorced three times and widowed once. Rumors circulated about several extra-marital affairs during her lifetime, but she married high-profile individuals at the time, including Budd Doble, a legendary horse trainer and mining prospector.

Clara loved jewelry. A short biography mentions Clara having the nickname “The Diamond Princess.” A title she earned after attending an opera in a gown glittering with diamonds, and diamond-studded stockings. It is estimated that at the time of her death in 1929, Clara’s jewelry collection alone was worth $1.5 million, the equivalent of roughly $22 million in 2019.

Aside from Clara’s home in Arcadia, she purchased and furnished a yacht and a Pullman train car. Pullman was a company that specialized in lounge-styled train cars. The car was commissioned in 1912, and given the title “The California.” It contained a master bedroom, with a separate bathroom, two guest rooms, a dining area, and kitchen and servant quarters for three servants.

After Clara’s passing, The California saw 25 years of service with a railroad company in Massachusetts and after appeared in a museum for several decades until it was bought by the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, Calif., where it is on display in its original outfittings.

In her will, Clara set aside money in a trust which was to be used to help women (ultimately men and women), thus laying the roots of the Clara Baldwin Stocker Home in West Covina. The retirement home was built in the 1960s, nearly 30 years after Clara’s death, by her grandson. The home is still in operation today.

While Clara lived a distinctively different lifestyle from her sister Anita, she did have much in common with her father Lucky, with land, companionship, precious minerals, and a prominent role in public affairs. Clara was a high-profile Arcadian, with an impact that stretches through time.

April 9, 2019

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Galen Patterson

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