Father of Seal Beach featured in Civil War book

John Ord

Historian Mike Heywood has a new book out on the Civil War and it tells about John C. Ord, “The Father of Seal Beach,” who’s buried in Westminster Memorial Park.

Ord was born in Orleans, Vermont on July 28, 1842. He worked as a lumberman and joined Company E of the 9th Vermont Infantry, which was attached to his cousin’s group. (Fort Ord, north of Monterey, where Clint Eastwood, my father and a million others went through Army Basic Training, was named for John’s relative, Union Gen. E.O.C. Ord).

“John saw action in several places and was in a sharpshooter brigade. He ended up in the Army of the Potomac at the conclusion of the war,” wrote prolific author Heywood, who lives in Huntington Beach.

In 1866, Ord came West to San Francisco to seek his fortune. He ended up looking for gold in Grass Valley and working in the Salinas Valley produce fields before moving south to Los Alamitos, where he ended up Justice of the Peace and built a two-story General Store.

On Feb. 29, 1904, he headed toward the ocean and literally moved his entire store to what became Seal Beach. Heywood said this was the first building in town and served as the post office. Ord was made Postmaster. He purchased several more lots, became very successful in real estate and was known to locals and tourists for his unusual collection of live critters—ranging from coyotes to skunks. His property was one of the area’s first tourists attractions—long before Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland.

Ord is just one of the fascinating characters featured in his book, “The Civil War-Orange County’s Connections to Chickamauga.” The easy-to-read, well-researched, balanced history not only goes into detail about the epic battle but tells about others like James Talbert, who served in the Union Army, and had sons Samuel, who helped develop Fountain Valley, and Thomas, who was an Orange County Supervisor.

The book, which fairly examines both Union and Confederate Armys, a soldier’s life, weapons, and family connections, looks at Chickamauga, the second deadliest battle after Gettysburg. It even has a handy index. For more information, Heywood, an active Kiwanian, can be reached at 714-319-0327.