Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Flora Haines Loughead - Mother of Lockheed Corporation



[Loughead gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno]

Flora Haines Loughead (1855-1943) was born in Wisconsin to John Penly and Mary Haines. Loughead was a woman ahead of her time. She was a journalist, married three times, had five children by two husbands, worked her own mining claims, farmed thirty-five acres, wrote many articles, short stories and more than a dozen books. Today, she is probably best remembered as the “Mother of Lockheed Corporation.”

Her first marriage to architect Charles E. Aponnyi ended in divorce after years of physical abuse. The marriage yielded three children, May Hope, Victor Rudolph and John Haines, who died as an infant. In 1886 she married John Loughead (pronounced Lockheed), who adopted the children. Loughead was of Scots-Irish descent, the name indicating that his family lived at the head of a lake. John and Flora had two sons, Malcolm and Allan. Her third husband was David A. Gutierrez, of whom little is known.

In 1902, Flora moved the children, without her husband, to a thirty-five-acre ranch near Alma, California where she raised grapes, prunes and other fruits.

At the turn of the century, making a living on a ranch of this size was difficult, so she began writing feature articles for the San Francisco Chronicle and Sunset magazine. She also embarked on a successful book-writing career, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her novels included The Man Who Was Guilty, The Black Curtain, and The Abandoned Claim--the last one a children's book featuring a girl heroine named "Hope" after her daughter. She also wrote two standard library reference works, The Libraries of California and The Dictionary of Given Names. She had a scientific as well as a domestic bent, writing The Natural Sciences and Quick Cooking, the latter dedicated to "busy housewives."

In 1912, her sons Allan and Malcolm Loughead founded the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company. This company was renamed the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and located in Santa Barbara, California. In 1926, following the failure of Loughead, Allan Loughead formed the Lockheed Aircraft Company (the spelling was changed to match its phonetic pronunciation) in Hollywood, California. In 1929 Lockheed sold out to Detroit Aircraft Corporation.

In her eighties, Flora returned to mining and she prospected for opals in mines near the Nevada-California border. Living alone, , she supplemented her income by sealing as many as three dozen opals in small, half-round glass paperweights that sold in department stores for up to five dollars each.

This indomitable mother of an aviation family died on January 27, 1943, the apparent victim of heart failure.

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2 comments:

Christopher N. Wentzell said...

This woman was incredible and I wish that I would have been alive in her times to have met her. She engineered a tunnel dug from both sides of the hill at the Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine in Virgin Valley, Nevada, to meet in the center and was only a few inches off perfect center. She selected the best ground in the area for gem opals and held 10 mining claim groups at one time. She was fiercely independent and an amazing woman. I am currently writing a history of her involvement with the opal mines in Virgin Valley, Nevada.

denloc said...

My name is Loch Ledford,Flora was my great grandmother and Hope May my grandmother.I was given the name Loch after the Lochkeed name when I was born in 1947. my dad was Allan, named after Floras son Allan and co founder of Lockheed aircraft along with Malcolm and Victor Lougheed. When Flora acquired the mining rights to Sunshine my grandfather on my dads side Leroy Ledford packed up his family my dad brother Oliver and sister Margret moved to the desert within walking or riding distance to the mine. My dad used to take us, my brothers, sisters and mom to the exact place where. He had lived when his dad worked the. Mine. it certainly was in the middle of now where. It near a dry creek bed where they had to dig for water, hunt for food. Hope actually shot coyotes for their. Furs and sold them. Their house was one room tarpapered.structure. Dad said freezing in winter. When we went out there in the early f if ties cellars they built and other stuff like wheels from Leroy's 1909 Pierce Arrow were still there. We did visit the mine several times and as kids loved fossicking for opal chips. The Hodson family ran it then. Next year mid 2013. I am going out there to place my dads ashes in the place he loved. My family moved to Hawaii in the fifties and I have lived in Australia for 40years. I have many stories my dad toldme plus a few photos of their home in Nevada. I have Floras original little hammer pick she used when prospecting along with many of her books and articles she wrote for the San Fran Chronicle where she got one. Of the first news stories after the 1906 earthquake. I hope others can make comments about this remarkable woman. Cheers. Loch.