George Le Mesnager, who left a major imprint on the northern area of Glendale and La Crescenta, was inspired by stories of California’s Gold Rush to leave his native France.
Born in the early 1840s, he immigrated to New York as a very young man and from there, consumed with a desire to go West, booked passage on a ship that took him as far south as the Isthmus of Panama, according to an undated Ledger article reprinted in “Sources of History, La Crescenta,” compiled by June Dougherty in 1993.
Le Mesnager’s journey was taken in the days before the Panama Canal, when passengers disembarked and crossed the narrow, 50-mile-wide Isthmus to the Pacific and boarded another ship.
Le Mesnager took a ship headed for San Francisco and then continued on to Los Angeles, arriving in 1866; he was one of many Frenchmen flocking to our fertile valleys at the time. One of the first French immigrants was Jean-Louis Vignes, a vintner who imported vines from his native Bordeaux in 1833. Vignes lured so many of his countrymen here that he became known as the father of French immigration to Los Angeles, according to a San Antonio Winery website.