Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Dr. A. Ray Lawn, who is widely known throughout these three counties as a doctor of chiropractic in Watsonville, and one of the best known and most influential practitioners of that school of healing in California, a pioneer in chiropractic in this state, is a native son of California and has been a resident of this state all his life, with the exception of a period some years ago when he was engaged in practice in Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. Dr. Lawn became established in practice in Watsonville in the fall of 1920 and by the success of the methods of healing he then introduced hereabout has developed a large and growing practice. He was born on a ranch in the immediate vicinity of the city of Hollister, in San Benito county, August 12, 1888, and is the last born of the eleven children of Jasper H. and Rhoda (Coffman) Lawn, the former of whom was born in Macomb, Illinois, and the latter in Hancock, Missouri, and they became residents of California in pioneer days, having accompanied their respective parents here, the former in 1849 and the latter in 1852. John H. Lawn was a son of John Long, who was born in Scotland, a son of John Long, who was a large shipowner there. The junior John Long came to America and was living in Missouri when the Mexican war broke out. He enlisted his services in behalf of the army and was made captain of one of the companies which went to the front out of Missouri under General Taylor at Monterey. By the error of a regimental clerk he was carried on the rolls of the army as John Lawn and was thus known during the period of his military service, a name which he continued to bear after his discharge from the army and which has since been borne by successive generations of this family.

Captain John Lawn was a skilled architectural draftsman and also was a sculptor of no mean ability. When the Mormon temple was being erected at Nauvoo, on the Mississippi, he was employed to draw the plans for the interior decorations of that edifice. When Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and his brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob as they were lying in jail at Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844, John Lawn (then still known as Long) was one of the guards pressed into service to prevent further violence. He died in Macomb, Illinois, approximately in 1847. Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848 his widow put in her lot and that of her family with one of the first parties that left St. Joseph on the long journey across the plains and mountains to the new land of promise and while en route was married to a Mr. Hollowell, and thus became one of the pioneers of California, locating at Sutters Fort, where they conducted the hotel for General Sutter for approximately two years. They eventually established their home in San Juan, Monterey county, later known as San Benito county, where he became a man of influence in the formative period of that now rich and progressive county.

Jasper H. Lawn was a lad of nine years when he came with that daring party of adventurers across the plains in 1849. He was a sturdy upstanding boy and despite his slender years was given a man's part in the expedition, driving a team and when occasion rose handling a gun against an occasional marauding band of redskins. He grew up at San Juan, after his marriage established his home there, and became a well-to-do landowner and rancher. He and his wife were the parents of eleven children of whom A. Ray was the youngest, the others being as follows: Alice, wife of Charles Gilbert of Hollister; John A., now a resident of Hollister; Emma, who became the wife of George Baker of Mulberry, San Benito county, and is now deceased; F. H. Lawn, who recently died in San Jose; Amne, wife of H. L. Waters of Mulberry; D. J. Lawn, a resident of Hollister; Lottie, wife of Eugene Snow of Anaheim in Orange county, this state; Cora, who became the wife of Walter Waters, and is now living in Mulberry, California; Walter F. Lawn, now a resident of Mulberry; and Luella the wife of A. C. Hawley of Berkeley.

Reared on the home ranch in the vicinity of Hollister, A. Ray Lawn had his initial education in the schools of that city and was married when he was twenty-one years of age, finishing his high school course after his marriage and supplementing this by a course in the business college at Hollister and San Jose. As a lad of sixteen he had begun working for one of his elder brothers in a manufacturing establishment in San Jose and was thus diverted from taking up the labors on the home ranch. He later became employed as a salesman for a concern distributing typewriters and as a salesman for the "Remington" writing machine was engaged for ten years, the last year or more of this period of service having been rendered as manager of the San Jose office of that concern. In the meantime he had been attracted to the practice of chiropractic and decided to take up that line of healing as a profession. With this end in view he resigned his position as manager of the office in which he had for so long been employed in San Jose and went to Davenport, Iowa, where he entered the Palmer School of Chiropractic, the pioneer institution of. its kind in America, and in due time was graduated from that institution. His wife, who also had been strongly attracted to this course, carried on her studies along this line at the same time and both were graduated from the same class in September, 1919. Following the completion of their course at the Palmer School, Dr. and Mrs. Lawn started on an extended automobile tour of the country, driving across the continent and touching in many of the eastern and midwestern states, and upon their return drove down into Mexico. They carried on their initial practical experience as chiropractic practitioners in Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois, where they remained until 1920, when they disposed of their interests there and returned to California, locating in Watsonville in November of that year.

Dr. Lawn has ever been recognized as one of the real leaders in the movement which eventually terminated in the passage of a law enabling chiropractic practitioners to carry on their professional activities in California under official license and regulation. It was he who was in charge of that memorable campaign in this behalf which brought about the formation of a monster parade of chiropractors and their friends, starting in Watsonville on November 6, 1922, and ending in Berkeley. When the state board for the licensing of chiropractors finally was established in California the first license in this behalf in Santa Cruz county was issued to Dr. Lawn, not in recognition of his inestimable service to the profession, but on account of efficiency. He is now the only licensed chiropractic physician in Watsonville.

It was in 1909, in San Jose, that Dr. Lawn was united in marriage to Miss Lula E. Wells of that city and to this union two children have been born: A daughter, Marjorie; and a son, Wilbur Ray Lawn. Dr. and Mrs. Lawn have a pleasant home in Watsonville and take an interested part in the city's general social activities. They have a well appointed office and in following their profession together make a most effective partnership. Dr. Lawn is an enthusiastic sportsman and is the president (1925) of the Pajaro Valley Fish and Game Protective Association and has been since its organization. He is a member of the local branch of the Young Men's Christian Association and is also affiliated with the Woodmen of the World.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.