March 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1925, Seal Beach wife Emma Huftile filed suit for the annulment against her husband, Claude Merlin Huftile.

Marriage end for all sorts of reasons, but this one was ending under unusual circumstances. And it wasn’t exactly ending, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

So why was Emma suing Claude for annulment?

The sad fact was that her husband was still married to a elevator operator gal named Clara still living back in Minnesota. Claude and Clara had married back in 1920, but marriage life with Claude did not meet Clara’s expectations. She filed for divorce the next year, and Claude wasn’t too happy with Clara because he choose not to contest it. The story told in Santa Ana Register is that Claude and his lawyer saw a notice in a newspaper that Clara had won her decree. He left Duluth for California and became an oil worker.

One year later, Claude met Emma, and they enjoyed a July wedding in 1922. This time Claude’s marriage worked. In 1924, Claude and Emma had a son named John. All seemed well and on the way to the proverbial wedded bliss famed in song and story.

Until word came from back east that Claude’s divorce to Clara had not truly been granted. Claude and Emma amicably separated, and the annulment was filed to avoid legal complications while Claude untangled the marriage knot to his previous wife for good. When that was done, Claude and Emma could remarry.

The Santa Ana Register story about the situation made this sound easy-peasy, but there must have been complications. The 1928 California voter registration shows Claude living at 119 Main Street and Emma living at 132 Tenth Street. Fortunately, the 1930 Census shows the two of them living again under the same roof at 332 Eighth Street with six-year old John and an infant daughter named Betty.

Claude and Emma lived in Seal Beach for the rest of their lives. They and their family moved to 123 Fourteenth Street and stayed there until the end of their lives. Emma passed away in 1974, and Claude joined her just two years later in 1976.

– Michael Dobkins

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5 Responses to March 19th in Seal Beach History

  1. Google Street View goes waaay back.


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      Ahem, it was, uh, a test. Yeah, that’s it! A test to see if anyone really looked at the dates on the photos!

      Thanks for letting me know. Today I discovered another obvious incorrectly dated photo from last week. Hundreds of people have seen it, but not a single person pointed out the error.

      Coincidentally, I was looking at the 1964 voting registration records with my Dad’s name on it, and saw Ronald R. and Mrs. Cecile L. at 115 2nd St. on the same list.


      • Lonnie Brownell says:

        Yep, that was mom and pop! Later, you’ll see them at 1010 Catalina Ave. I might pop up there, too; not sure if I first registered before I’d moved up to LA or after.


        • Lonnie Brownell says:

          Hey, look, I’m typo-ing! That first “after” should be “before”, of course. More coffee…


        • Michael Dobkins says:

          I’d like to think it was my bad example influencing you down the road into the treacherous terrains of typo topology, but I’m too blurry-eyed and exhausted from an all-nighter. Thanks for the proofing e-mail. In gratitude or out of gratitude or to avoid being an ingrate, I’ve corrected your comment.


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