Letters From the Sphinx: Story of a Multigenerational Family and California’s San Gabriel Valley

ATLANTA, April 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Letters From the Sphinx (Covenant Books, Inc.) tells the story of the settling of Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, through the lives and labor of one of its most prominent early families. The new book by Paul C. Rollins is available now through Amazon and other popular booksellers.

Spanning one hundred years and three continents, Letters From the Sphinx tells the story of the William Allens, an Old World family swept up in a New World sea of change. Incorporating sources from the United Kingdom, Egypt and the U.S.; previously unpublished diaries, photographs, and letters held in private collections; and journals housed at the Huntington Library, the biography describes one man’s desperate pursuit of self that takes him from England to Egypt and back again before he sets sail, sick and alone, for Southern California.

William Allen’s story – and that of his wife and children and other eminent families of the era and area – unfolds in unexpected ways against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Valley at a time when the foothills were a riot of golden poppies and the earth was untilled and bursting with opportunity.

Author Rollins – writer of family and domestic architectural histories – happened onto this rich bit of history when he literally moved into it. A 1995 move took then-HR executive Rollins from Atlanta to Southern California, where he purchased a 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival bungalow overlooking Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon.

“I eventually learned my half-acre of paradise was once part of an enormous tract belonging to the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, built in 1771, but more recently had been part of the Allens’ 500-acre Sphinx Ranch,” he says. “Being a former academic prior to my corporate life and a ‘research nerd,’ I had to know more. Little did I know I would personally come to know and hold close many of the Allen descendants.”

The 350-page tome is remarkably sourced, most notably from letters, memorabilia and other never-before-shared items and memories from Allen’s descendants. Letters From the Sphinx is available through your favorite local or online bookseller (ISBN: 978-1-64468-719-2), trade paperback.

“Rollins captures what it was like to live here in the 1800s, using a personal story that paints a much bigger picture,” says Jane Brackman, Altadena Historical Society. “His colorful writing brings liveliness to a story that might otherwise be a scholarly thesis.”

A limited number of review copies are available. Video promo of Letters From the Sphinx. #LettersFromTheSphinx #Book #FamilyHistory #ArchitecturalHistoryAuthor #domesticarchitecturalhistory #SanGabrielValley #WilliamAllenFamily #HuntingtonLibrary #PaulCRollins #Altadena #Pasadena #California #ArroyoSeco #EatonCanyon #RanchoSanPascual

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B. Andrew (Drew) Plant


SOURCE Paul C. Rollins – Author