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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


MRS. MARGARET E. BETTERLEY Having: won her right to a place among the worth-while women of her period, Mrs. Margaret E. Betterley, after six years of strenuous effort as owner and manager of Camp Eureka, has retired with a comfortable fortune, but she will long: be remembered as one of the most active factors in the development of Big Bear Valley, and the raising of high standards of living. Her influence has always been exerted in behalf of a proper enforcement of law and the maintenance of order, and it will continue to be felt, although she no longer is in business on the lake.

Mrs. Betterley is a daughter of Thomas and Margaret Jackson, the former of whom is a prominent business man of Jersey City, New Jersey, where Mrs. Betterley was born. Her parents are also natives of New Jersey and members of old and honored families of that state. She was reared and educated in Jersey City, where she attended Saint Bride's Academy, a parochial institution, following which she received a practical business training in her father's office.

In the same church, Saint Bridget's of Jersey City, where she was christened, Margaret E. Jackson was united in marriage with William Betterley. There was one son born of this marriage. Jack Anthony Betterley, February 28, 1901. His preliminary educational training was received at Saint Mary's-of-the-Lake, in New Jersey, but when his mother came to Long Beach, California, in 1911, he accompanied her and there continued his studies. When he was only seventeen years old and a student of the Long Beach High School, he left school to enter the service of his country. Having when but a child become deeply interested in radio telegraphy, he studied and read on the subject, and in 1912 built a plant of his own, and u.sed to spend Saturday and Sunday experimenting, while at nights he continued his studies in wireless mysteries. In 1916 he established the first radio in the Big Bear Valley country. Therefore it was but natural when he entered the service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard it should be as a radio electrician, third class. He was sent to Columbia College to learn special and war codes, and later he was set on board the United States submarine chaser No. 77, which later burned at sea. His S. O. S. were noted by other vessels and the entire crew rescued from the perilous position at sea in open lifeboats. " He was then given an examination and rated second grade, and sent to secret listening-in station, City College, New York City. At that time only eight men in the navy yard had this privilege, with its grave responsibilities. Those who were thus trusted had to know both radio and telegraphy. At the expiration of six months the navy regulations compelled a change, and he was transferred to Main Control Station of the Third Naval District, one of the most responsible positions in this branch in the navy, and held it for another six months. Again he was transferred and sent to Rockaway Avenue Station, Rockaway Beach, New Jersey, and was first operator with highest rating there. His duties were to fly seaplanes, operating telephone and telegraph by radio, connecting with all seaplanes across the Atlantic, and during the six months he held this position he was rated first class and was acting chief. While on the submarine chaser he was connected with all radios and electrical work, and sea tubes for the detection of the sound of German submarine propellers. While all of this work was intensely interesting, it was very arduous. Following the signing of the Armistice, he was placed on the inactive list, and honorably discharged at the termination of his period of enlistment, February 28, 1921. At present he owns and operates a modem wireless latest type of transmitter of C. W. type, positively noiseless in operation. There are only two others so modem in use on the Pacific Coast. This station is located at Big Bear Tavern, in Big Bear Valley. This young man is one of the strongest in the Western World in radio work, and acquired all of his preliminary training from books, as he had no special training until he entered the service. When it is remembered that he has not yet reached his majority, some idea of his remarkable abilities and positive genius may be gleaned.

Mrs. Betterley is a woman of great business foresight and acumen. After coming to California she became one of the most active participants in the work of the Catholic Church at Long Beach, and in 1915, in competition with four others, was honored by being elected Queen of Long Beach by a majority of 32,000. That same year she came to Big Bear Valley, and the day of her arrival purchased from Gus Knight an acre of land, to which she added another ten the next year, and here she established Camp Eureka, the first one on the upper lake. Possessed in a remarkable degree with a magnetic personality and generous and kindly disposition, she made welcome to her camp her various guests, who eagerly returned to her each year, for she was able to create a real home atmosphere, even during the period of the war when her mother's heart was filled with anxiety over her only child, patriotically serving in the most dangerous of positions. In 1921 Mrs. Betterley sold her camp to the Bear Valley Country Club, and retired to her beautiful country home on Baldwin Lake, comprising four and one-half acres, an acknowledged beauty spot of California and one of the most artistic in the mountains.

Mrs. Betterley is most intensely interested in the civic affairs of Bear Valley, and is an active member of its Chamber of Commerce and of the Big Bear Lake Association. When the Chamber of Commerce gave a barbecue, she managed it for them, fed 800 people and made $380 net. She also managed the Hard Times dance given by that association and cleared $281. She is equally active in promoting affairs given by her church, and is an acknowledged leader in Catholic circles.

While Mrs. Betterley is a product of her times, for she is fortunate in living in days when women were accorded more opportunities than formerly, she is one who would have succeeded in any age, or under any circumstances, for such is her remarkable nature. She does not know that there is such a word as "fail." Others recognize her genius for making a success out of any enterprise, and gladly follow her leadership. Having now acquired a little more time for public matters, she will no doubt give much more attention to civic affairs, and it is needless to say that whatever she undertakes in behalf of her beloved valley will be carried through completely and efficiently. Mrs. Betterley not only knows how to do things, she understands how to make others believe in her, and through her really remarkable magnetic personality exerts an influence which is as widespread as it is beneficial.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011