Legler Benbough Family Collection.

San Diego History Center
Booth Historical Photograph Archives
P.O. Box 81825
San Diego, CA 92138

For permission to reproduce or publish, contact the curator of the Booth Historical Photograph Archives of the San Diego Historical Society. Reproduction or publication of any part of this collection must include the following information next to the image(s) or in a special section of credits: Legler Benbough Family Collection, San Diego History Center, Booth Historical Photograph Archives.

This collection consists mostly of photographs and newsclippings relating to the private business, and public life of Percy J. Benbough Sr. (1884-1942, Mayor of San Diego 1935-1942), Grace Legler Benbough (1882-1961), and their sons, Legler Benbough (1909-1998) and Percy J. Benbough Jr. (died 1932). While the family ran a variety of mortuaries, Percy J. Benbough was also a city councilman, fire department chief and headed the police department for a short while. Legler Benbough ran the family business after his father and became a local philanthropist.

Percy J. Benbough Sr. (1884-1942) was born in a suburb of London, England and came to San Diego at the age of 4. After ventures in a grocery store and men’s clothing store, Benbough started a mortuary business. Benbough was always interested in sporting events and first became involved in politics as a City Councilman in 1913. The Council job also required him to be superintendent of the fire department. In 1927 he ran for mayor but lost. In 1931 he became police chief but resigned soon after. In 1935 and 1939 he was elected mayor. He died on November 4, 1942.

Grace Legler Benbough was a native of Valley Falls, Kansas and moved to San Diego in 1905 when she married Percy Benbough. She was the co-owner of the Benbough Morturary and Cypress View Mausoleum. She was involved with several civic groups including music organizations. She was the official sponsor of the second cruiser San Diego.

Percy J. Benbough Jr. Died in 1932. An avid sportman, sport fisher and motor boat racer, he died in a plane crash near the Cypress View Masoleum which was then under construction.

George Legler Benbough (1909-1998) took over the family mortuary interests in the 1930s. He served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II. He was a well-known host at his Rancho Santa Fe ranch and La Jolla home. The Legler Benbough Foundation now funds many community organizations. During his lifetime Benbough gave over 1 million dollars to the San Diego Museum of Art.

An Oral History transcript from a 1985 interview with Legler Benbough is available in the Research Archives.

Photographs of Mayor Benbough consist of portraits, a variety of snapshots, the Mayor on horseback, a Balboa Day Parade Chariot race, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt (1935), the Outlaw Motor Car Race to Phoenix (1912) and several images outside the Mortuary. Images of Grace Legler Benbough include childhood and adult portraits, family images with relatives and her children Legler and Percy Jr., various social activities, and activities relating to the christening of the USS San Diego. Also images of Benbough family buggies, cars, and houses. Images of Percy J. Benbough Jr. include various portraits, snapshots and sporting events. Legler Benbough images include portraits, snapshots, Naval portrait, skiing, family acquaintances, some civic projects, many social events (1940s-1990s) and albums of trips to Alaska and Europe. Other photographs include Benbough family houses in Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Guy Street, and elsewhere. Also many mortuary interiors and exteriors.

Most of this collection consists of photographic prints but there are some negatives of early family scenes.

This collection does contain some manuscript material mostly consisting of correspondence relating to family matters, Legler Benbough’s SD High School Yearbook (1927), and matters concerning the running of the San Diego Police Department. There are also campaign posters for Percy J. Benbough Sr.’s Mayoral campaign in 1927.

Newsclippings and scrapbooks of Percy J. Benbough’s political career and family matters have been photocopies. The newsclippings concern the “Outlaw Auto Race” to Phoenix (1912), clippings re Percy Sr as San Diego Councilman and Fire Chief (1912-1915), many clippings re Percy Sr.’s mayoral election campaign in 1927, some clippings re Mortuary and funeral business, Percy Sr. as Police Chief (1931) and Percy Sr.’s administration as mayor including material on San Diego as it prepared for World War II. Also clippings on Grace Benbough christening the U.S.S. San Diego and on the social events of Legler Benbough. Also includes clippings of Mayor Benbough’s column “The Mayor Says.”



1/01 Photographs: 1998/064.1-25. Percy J. Benbough Sr. Portraits, ca.1900-1930s. San Diego Photographers include Mehlig, Schellenberg, Norman T. Van Pelt, Stromberg, and Hemenway. 25 images.

1/02 Photographs: 1998/064.26-47. Percy J. Benbough Sr. Snapshots, ca.1900-1940s. The Mayor mowing the lawn of a restaurant; cigar in mouth, in wheelchair, on horse, in the back country, at a construction site, and many others. 22 images.

1/03 Photographs: 1998/064.48-54. Percy J. Benbough Sr. On Horseback, 1916-1930s? The Mayor on horses. Also includes one in a carriage. 7 images.

1/04 Photographs: 1998/064.55-59. Percy J. Benbough Sr.. Balboa Day Parade Chariot Race. September 26, 1913. Councilman Benbough and his opponent(?) dressed in togas with 4 horse chariot racing through a beach town and downtown. Postcards and other photographs. 5 images.

1/05 Photographs: 1998/064.60-70. Mayor Percy J. Benbough Sr. with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other dignitaries including Eleanor Roosevelt at Balboa Stadium (SD High School Stadium), October 1935. In a motorcade and on the podium. 10 images and one newspaper cartoon drawing.

1/06 Photographs: 1998/064.71-83. Councilman Percy J. Benbough Sr. participating in the Outlaw Automobile Race between San Diego and Phoenix, 1913. Images show muddied autos and participants. 3 images of other events. Possibly a fire department aeroplane and a high jump activity. 13 images.

1/07 Photographs: 1998/064.84. Percy J. Benbough Sr. Election to San Diego City Council display, 1913. 1 image.

1/08 Photographs: 1998/064.85-102 Grace L. Benbough portraits, 1880s-1950s. Portraits, a carte de visite and other images of Grace Benbough, wife of Percy J. Benbough and mother of Legler Benbough and Percy Benbough Jr. San Diego photographers include Stromberg, Boldrick, Jeannette, Pierce-DeWhit, and Stephens.

1/09 Photographs: 1998/064.103-123. Grace L. Benbough snapshots, 1910s-1956. Includes cars, trips and social gatherings. Images of women on an early aeroplane (ca. 1915) and reception for a Japanese Admiral (1936). 21 images.

1/10 Photographs: 1998/064.124-134. Grace L. Benbough christening the U.S.S San Diego in Quincy, Massachusetts, July 26, 1941. Also a painting of the ship. Also includes images of a 1987 ship reunion with Legler Benbough. 11 images. See folder 7/15.

1/11 Photographs: 1998/064.135-147. Grace L. Benbough christening the U.S.S San Diego in Quincy, Massachusetts, July 26, 1941. Also images of the ship leaving the dock. 13 images. See Folder 7/15

1/12 Photographs: 1998/64.148-165. Grace L. Benbough/U.S. Navy/NBC Radio Show. Comedian, Musicians, female vocalists, sailors in audience. Ca. 1940s. A cake for a singer named Kay. Those identified include Legler Benbough, Commander Peter Neimo, Mrs. Marie Patterson. 17 images.

1/13 Photographs: 1998/064.166-168. Grace L. Benbough social function, 1940s. Women dressed for tea. 3 images.

1/14 Photographs: 1998/064.169-182. Legler Family in Kansas and elsewhere. Also includes misc. family members. 1880s-1941. 2 images of buildings. 14 images.

1/15 Photographs: 1998/064.183-235. Benbough Family photograph album (unbound), 1900s-1910s. Includes images of infants and toddlers (Percy Jr. and Legler) 1915 Balboa Park Exposition, back country scenes and houses. Kid on a donkey. 53 images. Negatives available.

1/16 Photographs: 1998/064.236-273. Benbough Family snapshots on various trips or at home. Includes Grace, Legler and Percy Sr. 1930s. 33 images.

1/17 Photographs: 1998/064.274-284. Benbough Family photographs. 1900s-1920s. Women on horseback, mother with children, horse and buggy, man on a bicycle. 11 images.

1/18 Photographs: 1998/064.285-313. Benbough Family photographs of infants and toddlers. 1900s. Images of boys in dresses and long hair, toys and nurse. Some images in this folder are also in 1/14. 29 images. Negatives available

1/19 Photographs: 1998/064.314-321. School and young people groups, 1920s. Includes Florence School 7th grade (1919), Lincoln School (1922), a football team and a group in the desert. 8 images.


2/01 Photographs: 1998/064.322-357. Benbough Family cars and carriages, 1905-1975? Cars include 1912 Packard limo, 1911-12 Pope Hartford, 1909 and 1916 Buick Roadster, 1909 Durocar, 1908 Thomas Flyer, 1931 Pierce Arrow Roadster, and a steam car? Many carriages with horses also. 55 images.

2/02 Photographs: 1998/064.358-370. Benbough Family back country and beach scenes, 1905-1928. Woman and man on a ledge over the ocean, a snowman, and other group pictures. 23 images.

2/03 Photographs: 1998/064. 371-390. Grace L. Benbough and her sons, Percy Benbough Jr., and Legler Benbough. Portraits, snapshots, and proofs, 1910?-1925. San Diego photographers include: Veerland, Mitchell, and Norton & Bennette. 20 images.

2/04 Photographs: 1998/064.391. Portrait button of Grace L. Benbough, Percy Benbough Jr. and Legler Benbough, ca 1915. 1 image.

2/05 Photographs: 1998/064.392-412. Snapshots and portraits of Percy J. Benbough Jr. (d. 1932), 1910s-1931. Includes images of Percy posing in suit, swim trunks, lighting a cigarette, in front of a plane, next to a 146 pound swordfish he caught, and in speedboats. 21 images.

2/06 Photographs: 1998/064.413-450. Photographs of Legler Benbough (d.1998), 1920s-1980s. Other identified include: Percy Sr. and Grace Benbough, Bernice Patterson Shean, and Herbert Kunzel. Commuity Chest of SD photograph includes Nate? Baranov, John Scripps, Admiral Wilder Baker, Herbert Kunzel, and Legler. 38 images

2/07 Photographs: 1998/064.451-481. Photographs of Legler Benbough (d. 1998), 1920s- 1980s. Includes a Navy portrait of Legler Benbough. 30 images

2/08 Photographs: 1998/064. 482-508. Legler Benbough skiing and mountain photographs, 1930s-1950s. Probably includes images of Switzerland and Canada. Also groups of skiers. 26 images.

2/09 Photographs: 1998/064.509-512. Family weddings, 1940s. 4 images.

2/10 Photographs: 1998/064.513-538. Benbough Family acquaintances and dogs, 1920s-1970s. Those identified include Oscar Cotton, Herbert Kunzel, Captain Monroe, Roscoe “Pappy” Hazard in a parade and others.

2/11 Photographs: 1998/064.539-542. Name plaques for Legler Benbough at the Benbough Amphitheater, the San Deigo Zoo, and the Botantical Garden at Balboa Park, 1980-1990s. 4 images.

2/12 Photographs:1998/064.543-548. Old Town project, 1960s. Includes images of Old Town, plans, James S. Copley, Roscoe “Pappy” Hazard. Also a postcard of Casa de Estudillo. 6 images.

2/13 Photographs: 1998/064.549-570. Legler Benbough and Grace L. Benbough Social Events, 1940s-1950s. Those identified include: Ewart Goodwin, Elizabeth Gonzales, Mike Gonzales, Herbert Kunzel, Minerva Kunzel, Daphey Kunzel, Father Robinson, Craig Noel, Dale Hall, Ruth Robison, Katie Thayer, and Harry Hall. 22 images.

2/14 Photographs: 1998/064.571-628. Legler Benbough Social Events, 1960s-1970s. Those identified include: Scott Anderson, Rosemary McGinnis, Betty DeBakesy, J. Wallace Walker, Alex DeBakesy, Lucinda Bullard, Jane Guyman, and others. 57 images.

2/15 Photographs: 1998/064.629-633. Junior League Event at Legler Benbough House, 6340 Camino de la Costa, La Jolla, 1964. 5 images.

2/16 Photographs: 1998/064.634-685. Legler Benbough snapshots and Social Events, 1980s-1990s. Those identified include: Charles Bieler, Dorothy Pickering, Betty DeBaxecy, Dallas Clark, Stiney Steinbeck, Rosemary McGinnis, Elinor Oatman, and Deford Mills. 50 images.


3/01 Photographs: 1998/064.686-695. Benbough Family houses, gone fishing photographs, and camping. 10 images.

3/02 Photographs: 1998/064.696-718. Ocean Beach and elsewhere, ca. 1914. Pavillion, beachgoers, cars, a flood, Sunset Cliffs, chariot race, and other images. 23 images.

3/03 Photographs: 1998/064.719-778 Legler Benbough house, 6340 Camino De La Costa, La Jolla. Interiors, exteriors, ironwork, furnishings, artwork, and brides posing. 58 images.

3/04 Photographs: 1998/064.779-791. Benbough Family house at the corner of Hill and Cordova, Sunset Cliffs, ca. 1920s-1930s? Exterior images of Spanish style house including one with about 20 planes overhead. 13 images.

3/05 Photographs: 1998/064.792-794. Benbough Family house at 2174 Guy Street. Exterior of house with Legler and Grace Benbough. 3 images.

3/06 Photographs: 1998/064. 795-838. Legler Benbough house in Rancho Santa Fe. Interior and exterior and garden images some with guests. Also some images of the Benbough house in Descanso. 43 images.

3/07 Photographs: 1998/064.839-849. Legler Benbough Rancho Santa Fe house interiors, ca. 1950s. 11 images.


3/08 Photographs: 1998/064. 850-887. Benbough Family houses, furnishings, sculptures and other images, 1930s-1950s. Includes images of the Benbough house in Descanso, the Mortuary on Date Street, the Rancho Santa Fe House, and other houses. 37 images.

3/09 Photographs: 1998/064.888-896. Percy J. Benbough Sr. outside Benbough Mortuary, 1933. Negatives in Container 4/2. 8 images.

3/10 Photographs: 1998/064.897-937. Benbough Mortuary, Date Street, 1930s. Construction, mortuary grounds, “DeLuxe DeMountable Casket Carrier” truck, and other images. Negatives of some of these images in container 4/1. 40 images.

3/11 Photographs: 1998/064.938-940. Benbough Mortuary, 1960s. Interior scenes. 3 images.

3/12 Photographs: 1998/064.941-961. Benbough Mortuary interiors, 1930s. 20 images.

3/13 Photographs: 1998/064.962-997. Benbough Mortuary, 1960s-1980s. Postcards. Interior and exterior views. 35 images.

3/14 Photographs: 1998/064.998 Benbough & Gillons Cleaning & Dyeing & Pressing Horse & Wagon. 1 image.

3/15 Photograph on Rosecrans Street along the trolley tracks, ca. 1910-1920. 1 image.


4/01 Negatives: Snapshot negatives of prints in Container 3/10. Mortuary scenes Negatives for Prints 1998/064.902, 902a, 902b, 903, 904, 905, 907, 908, 909, 936, 937.

4/02 Negatives: Snapshot negatives of prints in Container 3/09. Images of Percy J. Benbough Sr outside Benbough Morturary, 1933. 1998/064.888-896n.

4/03 Negatives: Snapshot negatives of prints in Container 1/16. Benbough Family events. 1998/064.236-273 (some numbers have no negatives). 29 negatives.

4/04 Negatives: Snapshot negatives of prints scattered throughout Container 1 & 2 especially the photograph album, 1/15 and 1/18.

4/05 Negatives. 35mm color negatives of Legler Benbough’s houses at Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla.

4/06 Legler Benbough Photograph Album of 1971 trip to Spain, Portugal and France.

4/07 Legler Benbough Photograph Album of 1966 trip to Alaska.


5/01 Oversized photographs: 1998/064.1000-1009. Images include a school group, Legler Benbough portraits, Grace L. Benbough portraits, Percy J. Benbough portraits, officers including Legler Benbough on the U.S.S. Kadashan Bay, Rancho Santa Fe House, a horse, and children.

5/02 Oversized photographs: 1998/064.1010. Image of Collins-Legler Hay & Grain Company Warehouse No.1. Kansas??

5/03 Oversized photographs. Duplicate copies of various family images including child on donkey, chariot race, Swede fire department? Airplane. 4 images.

5/04 Campaign posters and memorabilia. Posters and other materials re P.J. Benbough’s run for mayor in 1927.


6/01 Poem (printed) To Miss Grace Henrietta Legler…read to her at Platte City, Mo., March 13, 1905 in view of her contemplated marriage to Mr. Percival Benbough of San Diego, Cal.”

6/02 Certificates.

6/03 Certificates.

6/04 Percy J. Benbough Sr. correspondence re mayoral campaign, 1927.

6/05 Article on P.J. Benbough in San Diego Club Life, 1931.

6/06 Letter of recommendation for Legler Benbough, 1927.

6/07 Land matters.

6/08 Correspondence re Police Department position and Percy J. Benbough, 1931.

6/09 Mortuary holdings, 1965.

6/10 Telegrams of congratulations on the marriage of Percy and Grace Benbough, 1905.

6/11 Legler Benbough’s San Diego High School Yearbook, 1927. Annotated.

6/12 Postcards/Christmas Cards from acquaintances and friends in Switzerland.


7/01 Newclipping photo copy. “Outlaw Auto Race, San Diego to Phoenix, 1912.

7/02 Newsclipping photo copy. P.J. Benbough Councilman/Fire Chief, 1912-1915.

7/03 Newsclipping photo copy. P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

7/04 Newspaper photo copy. P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

7/05 Newspaper photo copy. P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

7/06 Newspaper photo copy. Benbough Family news clippings, 1920s-1930s.

7/07 Newspaper photo copy. Benbough Mortuary/Funeral Business, 1920s-1930s.

7/08 Newspaper photo copy. P.J. Benbough, Police Chief, 1931.

7/09 Newspaper photo copy. P.J. Benbough. “The Mayor Says” column in the SD Sun, 1935-1938.

7/10 Newspaper photo copy P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1935.

7/11 Newspaper photo copy P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1935.

7/12 Newspaper photo copy P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1936.

7/13 Newspaper photo copy P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1936-1937.

7/14 Newspaper photo copy P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1937.

7/15 Newspaper photo copy. Grace Benbough christening the U.S.S. San Diego, 1941. Includes letters and other materials. Also see folders 1/11&12

7/16 Newspaper photo copy. Mayor P.J. Benbough administration and materials re blackouts, fears, and civic reactions to beginning of World War II.

7/17 Newspaper photo copy. Mayor P.J. Benbough administration and materials re blackouts, fears, and civic reactions to beginning of World War II.

7/18 Newspaper photo copy of clippings re social events of Legler Benbough, 1970s-1990s.


8/01 Newsclippings (originals) P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

8/02 Newsclippings (originals) P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

8/03 Newsclippings (originals) P.J. Benbough Mayoral Race, 1927.

8/04 Newsclippings (originals) P.J. Benbough as Councilman, Fire Chief, 1912-1915.

8/05 Newsclippings (originals) P.J. Benbough as Police Chief, 1931.

8/06 Newsclippings (originals) Benbough Family matters, 1920s-1930s.

8/07 Newsclippings (originals). Benbough Mortuary Funeral Business, 1920s-1930s.

8/08 Newsclippings of Benbough Administration in World War II, 1941-1942. San Diego prepares for War.

8/09 Newsclippings of Benbough Administration in World War II, 1941-1942. San Diego prepares for War.

8/10 Newsclippings of Benbough Administration in World War II, 1941-1942. San Diego prepares for War.

8/11 Newsclippings re Legler Benbough, 1970s-1990s.


9/01 Newsclipping scrapbook. “The Mayor Says,” column in SD Sun, 1935-1937. Original. Copies in 7/09

9/01-/05 Newsclipping scrapbook re P.J. Benbough Administration as Mayor, 1935-1937. Copies in 7/10-14.