Maureen Megowan's Blog


General Rosecrans

Ever wonder how Rosecrans Avenue in Manhattan Beach got its name?  It was named after General William Starke Rosecrans, or “Old Rosy” as he was known to his men. He was born in Kingston Township, Ohio, on Sept. 6, 1819. The original family name was “Rosenkranz,” which means crown or wreath of roses.

He attended West Point, and upon his graduation joined the Army Corps of Engineers. He resigned his commission in 1854 after reaching the rank of first lieutenant in order to spend more time with his family. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Rosecrans re-enlisted in the Army and became a brigadier general. He was considered one of the Union’s brightest leaders until his forces were defeated at Chickamauga in Sept. 1863. After that battle, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Gen. Ulysses Grant relieved him of command, an action which embittered Rosecrans against the two men.

In 1864, some historical sources say that Rosecrans had been offered the Vice Presidency by Abraham Lincoln, but Rosecrans’s acceptance cable to Washington, D.C. never got through. Speculation ran that War Secretary Stanton intercepted and destroyed it.

After a stint as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 1868-69, Rosecrans settled in San Francisco, where he became one of the 11 founders of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He eventually migrated south to Los Angeles. In 1869, he purchased 13,000 acres of the Rancho Sausal Redondo land grant for $2.50 an acre.

His property, which would become known as Rosecrans before eventually becoming part of Gardena and South Los Angeles, was bordered by, roughly, Crenshaw Boulevard on the west, Central Avenue on the east, Florence Avenue on the north, with a southern border just north of Artesia Boulevard. He built a family home near the present-day intersection of Vermont and Rosecrans avenues, where he became a gentleman farmer.

After many entreaties from his supporters over the years to run for public office, he served in the House of Representatives until 1885. In 1885, he was appointed Registrar of the U.S. Treasury, the person whose signature at that time appeared on U.S. currency along with that of the Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1887, he returned to his Southern California home and began developing his land as the town of Rosecrans. He subdivided into 3,000 house-size lots, which he began selling for $50 each.

Rosecrans resigned as Registrar of the Treasury in June 1893. Around this time, Rosecrans, then in his mid-70s, moved into the luxurious Hotel Redondo and became a well-known figure in Redondo Beach. When his health began to fail, he was moved back to his house in Rosecrans, where he died on the morning of March 11, 1898.

In addition to Rosecrans Avenue, the general has been commemorated by the Ft. Rosecrans military post at Point Loma in San Diego, Rosecrans Hall at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, Gardena’s General William Starke Rosecrans Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3261, Rosecrans Park in Gardena and Rosecrans Elementary School in Compton.

See for more south bay history info.

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Comment balloon 1 commentMaureen Megowan • September 24 2013 01:11PM


A histroy lesson about an american figure  is always welcome,  Thanks for this information.

Posted by Michele Cadogan-Cell 917-861-9166, Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker - (Fillmore Real Estate 2926 Ave J Brooklyn NY 11210) over 5 years ago

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