Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2018

Louis A. Grenier - the Colorful Assistant Keeper of LA Harbor

By Timothy Harrison

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Louis A. Grenier in shown here in his U.S. ...

Starting as a 2nd assistant keeper at Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse in 1917, Louis Achille Grenier, Sr. finished his lighthouse career as the 1st assistant keeper there from 1922 to 1923. Birth records indicate that he was born as J. Louis Achille Grenier in Montreal, Canada on March 10, 1884. Although we don’t know much about his lighthouse career, his family history is a matter of record.

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Myrtle Grenier, the 3rd wife of lighthouse keeper ...

His family immigrated to Cedarville, Michigan in 1893. In 1903 he married Mamie Mulvey, who was twelve years older than him, and the couple had four children: William Achille, Bernard John, Ellen Cecelia, and Charles J.

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When Mamie broke her arm, a neighbor, Olga Weston, was hired to help with family duties. One thing led to another, and Louis and Olga had an affair; Olga got pregnant and a baby girl, named Beatrice (“Bea”), was born on December 1, 1912. The scandal led to divorce, and Louis Grenier fled Michigan and headed west where he lived for short times in Montana, Wyoming, and Washington State, where he joined the U.S. Navy and he served during the Mexican Campaign.

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While in the Navy, he married Esther Isabel, but the marriage only last one year.

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Louis A Grenier is shown here after his years as ...

Shortly after being discharged from the Navy on November 14, 1916, he joined the U.S. Lighthouse Service in Los Angeles.

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In early 1917, Louis A. Grenier married Myrtle E. Murphy and their son Louis Jr. was born in November of that year. However, according to family records his philandering again caused problems when he had an affair with a neighbor who lived near the couple’s home in San Pedro, California. At the time, Myrtle accused him of cheating on her, but apparently no one believed Myrtle and the couple separated; by 1920 Louis and Myrtle were divorced. Myrtle moved to San Francisco where she eventually remarried a man named Walter Matson.

Louis remained as the 2nd assistant keeper at the Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse until 1923 when he quit and moved to Oakland, California where he took up carpentry work.

According to family records, during a visit with his son Louis Jr. and his wife Betty in 1944 or 1945, Louis Sr. gave some advice to Betty “to always be good and true to your man.” This was ironic, considering his past history with women.

Louis Grenier died at the age of 74 on October 13, 1958 at the Trinity General Hospital in Weaverville, California. Family records indicate that he never knew most of his children and in his will he left each of them $1.00, due perhaps to his lacking a real sense of family.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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