Travel destination in Los Angeles
PILGRIMMAGE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
A weathered bronze statue of Gen. George S. Patton stands with side arm ready, guarding the graveyard which holds his family’s bones. His statue used to stand in a small garden behind the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel, California, but was moved to his new position a few years ago. The family into which Patton was born were long time members and benefactors of the church which was first built in 1867, originally of adobe and hand-made nails. The little church of wood and plaster with a neo-Gothic design is one of the prettiest you might find in Southern California, unique for its own history as for its Patton connection, though best known for the memorial stained glass window commemorating the famous General’s life and exploits.
The American iconic general of World War II, George Smith Patton, Jr was certainly a son of California. He had come from a long line of soldiers on his father’s side. His great uncle Waller T. Patton was killed at Pickets Charge in the Civil War, another relative was a General in the Revolutionary War. His mother was the daughter of Benjamin Davis Wilson, a fur trader who acquired huge tracts of land in the San Gabriel valley to the east of Los Angeles. Benjamin Wilson, for whom Mount Wilson, with its famous observatories and tv towers is named, also acquired the moniker "Don Benito" Wilson, from the Spanish Native Americans, apparently for his benevolent treatment of the indians on his lands. Benevolence being relative - since the story of the west is that the American Indians didn’t quite realize that a person could actually own land - Wilson’s property, Rancho San Pascual, inherited by Gen. Patton’s family, encompassed what is today the towns of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, San Marino and San Gabriel. The arroyo which passes the Rose Bowl was once called Wilson’s Ditch, bringing water to his parched desert valley long before Mulholland would build his aquaduct for Los Angeles. Wilson subdivided and sold off much his land until remaining with a house in what is now San Marino, where the general who would become “Old Blood and Guts” was born.
The stained glass Patton memorial window in the Church of Our Savior of San Gabriel was commissioned by the general’s children and wife after his death in a car accident near Heidelberg Germany in 1945 and dedicated on October 13, 1946. The window is a curious mixture of war and religious iconography. The subject is St. George slaying the Dragon, though the saint is meant to represent the general George, the dragon’s scales are of Nazi Swastika, the horse’s blanket bears the insignia of the armored tank corps under Patton’s command. The main battles of Europe which Patton commanded his tanks - Metz, Coblenz and Bastogne, and the towns he considered that he liberated from the Nazi hold are referenced as being released from the dragon’s claw. The general himself is depicted in a tank. The Patton Window is only one of many to discover in the church, like exploring a “where’s Waldo” puzzle. In another you can find the image of Patton’s father. Patton’s wife Beatrice Ayer Patton is depicted in another, as St. Beatrice kneeling before Christ the Healer, with symbols of her home state Massachusetts. Look for the Wells Fargo stagecoach in another window, refering to the arrival of the supplies for the building of the church. You’ll also find Martin Luther and Canterbury Cathedral in windows depicting the history of Christianity and formation of the Episcopal church. There is a booklet describing the windows in the vestibule, or you can purchase a copy in the church office for 5 dollars.
If taking a pilgrimmage to the family church of General Patton on, take a good road map. A few blocks away you can find the Patton family house on a small cul-de-sac, 1220 Patton Court, just off Euston Road and Patton Way around the corner from the Huntington Library in San Marino. The house is a private residence and not open to the public, so don't knock on the door, or the ghost of Patton's Bull Terrier may come snarling from the yard. For the more adventurous General Patton fan with time and gas to spare, about two hours to the east of the Patton sites in San Gabriel and San Marino is the modest Patton Tank Warfare Museum, located at the site of Patton’s California tank training facility just off Interstate 10, where he trained his tank crews to face Rommel in North Africa, about 45 minutes east of Palm Springs (see Patton Desert Tank Warfare Museum). Patton’s family is buried in the cemetary grounds over which his statue now stands watch, but Patton himself lies in a military cemetary in Luxembourg (see Patton Grave Luxembourg). © Bargain Travel West
Church of Our Savior
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