Los Angeles County
WILLIAM ELLSWORTH DUNN
DUNN, WILLIAM ELLSWORTH, Attorney at Law, Los Angeles, California, was born at Douglas, Michigan, August 2, 1861, the son of George E. Dunn and Ellen V. (Dickinson) Dunn. He married Nellie M. Briggs, January 3, 1883, at Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mr. Dunn received his preliminary education in the Allegan High School at Allegan, Michigan, and later attended a preparatory school, following this with one year in the Law Department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 1885 he moved to Los Angeles, where he continued his law studies, and was admitted to the Bar of California in 1887. He has been active in the practice of Law in Los Angeles since that time and has attained a substantial position among the leading attorneys of the West.
In 1890 Mr. Dunn was appointed Assistant City Attorney of Los Angeles and served in that capacity for four years, at the end of which time he was elected City Attorney, serving for four years more. During this period he represented the city in various important litigations, chief among the cases being the so-called “water suits.” These were the outgrowth of a dispute between the city and the Los Angeles Water Co. over the amount to be paid by the city for the company’s property. The controversy was submitted to arbitration, but the company refused to accept the decision of the arbitrators, enjoined the city from issuing bonds and filed various other actions. Mr. Dunn handled the city’s side in all these suits and, after the expiration of his term in office was retained as Special Counsel for the city. Finally, after much bitter fighting, he came out victorious.
As a member of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, one of the most important on the Pacific Coast, Mr. Dunn has confined himself entirely to corporation law, a great deal of his work being done in connection with Hon. James A. Gibson, former Judge of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County, California. For many years Mr. Dunn served as legal adviser to the Pacific Electric Railway Company, the Los Angeles Railway Company, the Los Angeles-Redondo Railway Company, the Huntington Land Company and other of the gigantic enterprises in Southern California, of which Henry E. Huntington is or has been the head.
In 1909 Mr. Huntington disposed of the Pacific Electric Railway and the Redondo road, together with all his other interurban lines connecting Los Angeles with contiguous territory, to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, but retained for himself the Los Angeles local lines. This was one of the largest transactions, railway or otherwise, ever consummated in the West and Mr. Dunn prepared and handled for Mr. Huntington most of the details connected with the enormous transfer. The successful outcome of these negotiations, which were perfected down to the minutest detail, justified fully the confidence which the Huntington interests had placed in Mr. Dunn.
After Mr. Huntington sold the Pacific Electric Railway he entered more actively than ever into the development of the Los Angeles Railway Company’s lines and the Huntington Land Co., and Mr. Dunn, while continuing in his legal capacity, has kept a supervisory eye over all the vast Huntington interests in the Southwest.
Mr. Dunn is a man of great force and strength of character, and deals constantly with questions of the most vital nature in the legal world. As the one man most intimately acquainted with the inner details of Mr. Huntington’s plans, he has been compelled to look after the relations existing between Los Angeles City and County and the enterprises of his chief. Though anything of a political character in connection with his professional work has always been very distasteful to Mr. Dunn, it falls to him, in his legal capacity, to direct all proposals, applications and defenses for or affecting the Huntington interests, before the City Council and County Supervisors; and in this way he has been of monumental service to the city and county, as well as to the direct interests which he represents, and his achievements are distinctly apparent in much of the great development that has taken place in Southern California in recent years.
During his years of activity in California, Mr. Dunn has been a staunch supporter of the Republican party and one of its strongest and ablest members.
In his business and professional work he is conservative, with the faculty of being able to look into the future without over-estimating, and it is to this attribute, added to his native ability and aggressiveness, that his success is largely due.
He is a member of the California Club, Jonathan Club, Los Angeles Country Club and the Bolsa Chica Gun Club, and is prominent in the affairs of the Los Angeles Bar Association.
Transcribed by Marie Hassard 31 August 2010.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 501, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2010 Marie Hassard .