Wallace Dontanville was born in St. Maurice, Alsace on January 22, 1853, the second son of Michel Dontenville, a vigneron, and Marie Anne Duffner. He was baptized Aloyse, changing his Christian name to Wallace and his family name to Dontanville upon arrival in the United States. Wallace first visited the United States in 1871 when he came to Serena, Illinois, accompanied by his older brother Alexuis.
Wallace went back to St. Maurice in the late 1870's and returned to the United States as an immigrant, in 1879 or 1880, reportedly entering through Canada. In New York he met his wife Josephine Elbert. Josephine was born in Germany December 10, 1849. She had arrived in the United States in the late 1860s and was working as a maid in the home of Charles Calin a wealthy New York merchant.. Wallace and Josephine were married in New York in 1880. Following their marriage they established a bakery. Their first child Wallace Jr. was born in New York in 1881. Records of their marriage or the birth of Wallace Jr. have not, to date, been located
Wallace and Josephine sold the bakery and moved briefly to Colorado where they bought a hotel. With the end of the silver boom the hotel went broke. In 1883 they moved to Southern California where they purchased 200 acres of land in Arroyo Seco northwest of Pasadena. In 1884 they built a one-story home at 742 Lester Avenue (now Rosemont Avenue).
Wallace and Josephine's grandchildren recall the story that when they first settled on Lester Avenue, Wallace would leave the house before daylight each morning and walk five miles to a bakery in the Highland Park District of Los Angeles to work. With the first money he earned he bought a horse, and rode the horse to work. When he had earned enough money to develop his property he quit his job at the bakery. They cleared the land acre by acre, planted grapevines and fruit trees and established a dairy farm.
In the mid 1880s, land in the Santa Clarita Valley, north of San Fernando, was opened to homesteading. Wallace and his brother Emile, who was in Illinois at the time, applied for and were granted homesteads at Newhall. For Wallace, in the process of trying to clear his land in Arroyo Seco, the added responsibility of the homestead at Newhall became overwhelming. To maintain the homestead rights the grantee had to occupy the land. Each month either Wallace or Josephine would travel to Newhall and live on the land for a few days. The Newhall property remained in the family through three generations.
Six additional children were born to their marriage after their arrival in California: Mary Anna in 1883; Josephine, 1885; Henry J., 1886; Leo, 1889; Philomena, 1891; and Anna Bertha, 1893. As the family grew, the home on Lester Avenue had to be enlarged. The one story was jacked up on stilts and a lower story was built beneath. When the children grew older Wallace abandoned the working farm and established a tourist camp with a hundred or more small cabins and cottages that temporarily accommodated part of Pasadena's growing population. Some parts of the 200 acres were leased and others sold outright.
In 1920 the Tournament of Roses Association began construction of the Rose Bowl in Arroyo Seco, on land northwest of the Dontanville property. When the stadium was completed, it was deeded to the city of Pasadena. On January 1, 1923, the Tournament held its first football game there. It soon became obvious that the original 57,000-seat horseshoe stadium open on the south end, would outgrow its original space.
The City of Pasadena approached Wallace with the intent to acquire all of the Dontenville property to provide additional parking and expand Brookside Park. Wallace advised that he was willing to sell some, but not all of his property. The City filed condemnation and Wallace retained Joseph Scott, a distinguished Los Angeles attorney and civil leader, to represent him in the proceedings. In February 1924 the court ruled that Wallace should be allowed to retain his home and two acres of surrounding land. The remainder of the property was awarded to the City of Pasadena for $111,400. In 1928 the south end of the stadium was constructed, increasing the capacity to 76,000, and the parking was expanded into the property acquired from Wallace.
The old home still stands on Rosemont Avenue. Josephine died there July 1, 1931. Their son Henry continued to live in the home following his marriage in 1933. Wallace died on February 27, 1933 at the home of his daughter Mary Fischer on Clinton Street in Pasadena. Josephine and Wallace were buried together in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.
22.1 WALLACE DONTANVILLE - ARABELLA FAURE
22.2 MARY ANNA DONTANVILLE - EUGENE JOSEPH FISCHER
22.3 JOSEPHINE DONTANVILLE - LEOPOLD FRIEDLAND WIGAND
22.4 HENRY J. DONTANVILLE - SOPHIA KROSSMAN
22.5 LEO DONTANVILLE - ADA MAGDALENA WREATH
22.6 PHILOMENA DONTANVILLE - PETER PAUL FISCHER
22.7 ANNA BERTHA DONTANVILLE - ALOYSIUS H. LEUER