January 27th In Seal Beach History

On this date in 1925, the Santa Ana Register reported that John Doyle, said to be a former mayor of Seal Beach (the newspaper’s odd choice of words, not ours), would face Justice of the Peace and City Recorder William Morrison. City Marshal Jack Arnold had seized liquor and what appeared to be a bootlegging outfit from Doyle’s home.

Miss Elsie McClellan, a Seal Beach correspondent for a Long Beach newspaper had a confrontation with Doyle earlier and had sworn out a complaint against him for disorderly conduct after Doyle “cussed” her.

Whether “bootlegging outfit” meant a still, a bathtub gin set-up, or evidence of a Prohibition-defying booze distribution ring is impossible to discover ninety years later, but City Marshal Arnold shared that “wild parties” at the Doyle residence had led recently to complaints from neighbors.

There is no follow-up to this oddly phrased Santa Ana Register article, so the outcome of Doyle’s appearance before Morrison remains unknown. Why the editors felt it important to run a story the day before Doyle’s day in court, but not to cover Morrison’s judgement on the case is also a mystery.

We can confirm that a John Doyle was involved in the often contentious local political scene during Seal Beach’s first decade as a city and that John J. Doyle, a shipyard boiler maker, lived with his wife, Alice, at 129 Dolphin Avenue in 1920.

– Michael Dobkins

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