D. M. Renton Papers: Finding Aid mssRenton

Gayle M. Richardson
The Huntington Library
February 2023
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Business Number: (626) 405-2191

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: D. M. Renton papers
Creator: Renton, D. M., 1878-1947
Identifier/Call Number: mssRenton
Physical Description: 2.08 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1916-1936
Abstract: A collection of correspondence between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley, Jr., concerning the development of Santa Catalina Island under Wrigley ownership.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. D. M. Renton papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of David Renton, December 2020.

Biographical / Historical

David Malcolm Renton, known as D. M., was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on February 8, 1878; he was the son of John Renton, a house and ship builder, and Catherine (Nicholson) Renton. At the age of 16, D. M. Renton moved to Massachusetts to train as a carpenter and at the same time attended night school for his education. He moved to Southern California in 1902, to establish a building company. After this company disbanded, Renton went on to work as a general contractor; one of his first jobs was building an observation tower on Mt. Wilson. Renton also began to build Craftsman-style homes in Pasadena, California. Renton met William Wrigley, Jr., in 1919, when he was hired to build homes for Wrigley in Pasadena. That same year, Wrigley bought Santa Catalina Island and began, over the years, to improve the island by building public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Wrigley, who lived mainly in Chicago, hired Renton to oversee all the extensive building on the island and he also served as vice president of the Santa Catalina Island Company. Renton first married Elizabeth Blaisdell Ryder and they had two sons: Malcolm Joseph Renton and Arthur Lincoln Renton. Elizabeth died in 1935 and Renton married Isabel Blanche Cline in 1937. When Renton retired in 1936, he lived at a cattle ranch in Atascadero, California, "Rancho Santa Catalina," until he died in 1947.

Scope and Contents

A collection of correspondence and business records dealing with the history of Santa Catalina Island, California. The vast bulk of the collection consists of letters between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley concerning operations of Wrigley enterprises on Santa Catalina Island, including Renton's ongoing management of the multiple enterprises on the island. Renton's letters detail visitation, public services ranging from food to entertainment, development of new facilities from the Casino ballroom to an on-island hospital; the letters also describe construction work to improve access to clean potable water, and the mining operations for lead, silver and zinc, and the ongoing labor to extract them. The letters also describe the Hollywood studios using the island for filming and the use of the island for baseball training and games. The letters also include correspondence with Ferdinand Ellerman, Herbert Hoover, Lawrence Mott, Johnny Noble, Joseph H. Patrick, Hugh Rodman, John Wayne, Ada Elizabeth Wrigley, and Philip Wrigley. The business records include monthly expense and revenue reports for the island, meeting minutes and correspondence for the Santa Catalina Island Company. The correspondence includes telegrams, autograph, typewritten, and carbon copied letters; the D. M. Renton and William Wrigley correspondence also includes letters from other suppliers, businesses, and corporate partners. The business records include correspondence, meeting minutes, expense and revenue reports. The collection also includes an autobiography written by D. M. Renton upon his retirement from the Santa Catalina Island Company; newspaper clippings, business cards, and U. S. patent papers for a stone spreader. Some of the letters are incomplete, and a small number have sustained water damage. The letters and other material are between D. M. Renton and William Wrigley unless otherwise noted.

Processing Information

Processed by Gayle M. Richardson in February 2023. A large number of the letters contain penciled numbers in the bottom right corner of the page, these numbers were added by the Renton family before the material was donated to the Huntington; these numbers have not been noted on the folders or in the finding aid.


Arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Baseball -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Building construction -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
Coastwise shipping -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century
Foreign workers, Mexican -- California
Labor unions -- California -- History -- 20th century
Mines and mineral resources -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
Motion picture industry -- California
Motion picture locations -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
Water-supply -- California -- Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)
California, Southern -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
Chicago (Ill.) -- History -- 20th century
Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- Description and travel
Santa Catalina Island (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century
Business records -- United States -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century
Ellerman, Ferdinand, 1869-1940
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
Mott, Lawrence, 1881-1931
Noble, Johnny, 1892-1944
Patrick, Joseph H.
Rodman, Hugh, 1859-1940
Wayne, John, 1907-1979
Wrigley, Ada Elizabeth, 1868-1958
Wrigley, Philip K. (Philip Knight), 1894-1977
Wrigley, William, 1861-1932
Chicago Cubs (Baseball team)
Santa Catalina Island Company
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company

Box 1, Folder 1


Scope and Contents

Letters are damaged and fragile.
Box 1, Folder 2

D. M. Renton correspondence with Santa Catalina Island Company; also, other business correspondence dealing with Catalina Island 1919 July-1932 September

Box 1, Folder 3

1919 July-October

Box 1, Folder 4

Hugh Rodman letter to D. M. Renton 1919 October 9

Box 1, Folder 5

1919 November-1920 March

Box 1, Folder 6

1920 April-May

Box 1, Folder 7

1920 June

Box 1, Folder 8

1920 July-August

Box 1, Folder 9

1920 September-October

Box 1, Folder 10

1920 November-December

Box 1, Folder 11

1921 January-May

Box 1, Folder 12

1921 June-September

Box 2, Folder 1

1921 October-December

Box 2, Folder 2

1922 January-May

Box 2, Folder 3

1922 June-September

Box 2, Folder 4

1922 October-December

Box 2, Folder 5

1923 January-June

Box 2, Folder 6

1923 July-September

Box 2, Folder 7

1923 October-December

Box 2, Folder 8

1924 February-May

Box 2, Folder 9

1924 June-September

Box 2, Folder 10

1924 October-December

Box 3, Folder 1

1925 January-May

Box 3, Folder 2

1925 June-July

Box 3, Folder 3

1925 August-October

Box 3, Folder 4

1925 November-December

Box 3, Folder 5

1926 January-April

Box 3, Folder 6

1926 May

Box 3, Folder 7

1926 June

Scope and Contents

Also enclosed: "The Hour of the Chewing Gum," article translated from German.
Box 3, Folder 8

1926 July-August

Box 3, Folder 9

1926 September-October

Box 3, Folder 10

1926 November-December

Box 3, Folder 11

1927 January-May

Box 3, Folder 12

D. M. Renton correspondence with Ferdinand Ellerman 1927 February-April

Box 4, Folder 1

1927 June-September

Box 4, Folder 2

1927 October-December

Box 4, Folder 3

1928 February-May

Box 4, Folder 4

1928 June-September

Box 4, Folder 5

1928 October-December

Box 4, Folder 6

1929 January-May

Box 4, Folder 7

1929 June-August

Box 4, Folder 8

1929 September-October

Box 4, Folder 9

1929 November-December

Box 4, Folder 10

1930 April-May

Box 5, Folder 1

1930 June-July

Box 5, Folder 2

1930 August-September

Box 5, Folder 3

1930 October-December

Box 5, Folder 4

Letters Patent of the United States…issued to David M. Renton, Everett N. Long, and Anson Murphy, for improvements in Stone Spreaders; also, letter from Law Offices Offield, Mehlhope, Scott and Poole 1930 December 9-11

Box 5, Folder 5

D. M. Renton correspondence with Lawrence Mott 1930

Box 5, Folder 6

1931 March-April

Box 5, Folder 7

1931 May-June

Box 5, Folder 8

1931 July

Box 5, Folder 9

1931 August

Box 5, Folder 10

1931 September

Box 5, Folder 11

1931 October-December

Box 5, Folder 12

D. M. Renton correspondence with William Wrigley, Ada Wrigley, and J. H. Patrick 1931 January-February

Scope and Contents

Includes the final letters exchanged between Renton and Wrigley; Wrigley died on January 26, 1932.
Box 5, Folder 13

D. M. Renton correspondence with Ada Wrigley and J. H. Patrick 1932 March-July

Box 5, Folder 14

D. M. Renton correspondence with Ada Wrigley and J. H. Patrick 1932 August-December

Box 5, Folder 15

Herbert Hoover letter to D. M. Renton 1936 February 29

Box 5, Folder 16

D. M. Renton letters to Johnny Noble 1936 August 24-29

Scope and Contents

Includes a letter to Demetra Noble.
Box 5, Folder 17

John Wayne Western Union telex to D. M. Renton undated

Box 5, Folder 18

D. M. Renton autobigraphy, autograph undated

Scope and Contents

This autobiography was written after Renton retired.