Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fern McLellan

Fern McLellan was born Fern A. Gordon* on November 14, 1888, in Ontario, Canada. Her birth date is from the Social Security Death Index. The birthplace was published in California and Californians, Volume 3 (1930). She was six years old when her family moved to California.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census said McLellan was the oldest of two children born to Christopher, a hardware salesman, and Mary. The family resided at 119 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, California.

California and Californians said McLellan “was liberally educated, attending the Occidental Preparatory School, the College of Fine Arts of the University of Southern California, and had further training under Mr. Judson and at the Otis School of Fine Arts under Mr. Schrader.”

In the 1910 census, housewife McLellan was married to Gardner Wheeler, a salesman. The couple lived in Los Angeles; the street name is illegible. According to the 1930 census, McLellan was 20 years old (around 1909) when she married.

The 1920 census recorded three children, ages four to nine, born to McLellan who was an artist at a furniture store. Her husband was an abstractor at a title company.

Publications in Southern California Art 1, 2, & 3 (1984) said “From the mid 1920s she was listed as a commercial artist with Kenneth L. McLellan” California and Californians said “In her work as a commercial artist Mrs. Wheeler is associated with Mr. Kenneth L. McLellan. They are doing famous art illustrations, and are regarded as among the cleverest of the art illustrators in the West. They have built up a large clientele, doing work for individuals as well as for some of the largest agencies including Barkers, Lord & Thomas and others. Mrs. Wheeler’s inclination is for illustrating in the children’s world.”

At some point McLellan divorced her husband and married Kenneth McLellan.

The 1930 census recorded the McLellans, both self-employed commercial artists, in Los Angeles at 2446 North Gower Street. McLellan’s ex-husband lived down the street at 2490.

McLellan drew the weekly series Dr. Tinker Claus the Toy Mender which was written by Harold Debus. The series ran from April 3, 1932 to July 2, 1933 in the Los Angeles Times.

McLellan has not yet been found in the 1940 census. Her first husband passed away in 1944.

McLellan passed away February 2, 1967, in San Bernardino, California, according to the California death index at Ancestry.com. The Social Security Death Index did not have the day of death. McLellan was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Her second husband passed away the following year.

• McLellan’s name is incorrect in the first sentence at AskArt. The family name is incorrect in the second sentence. McLellan has another entry at AskArt. The year, 1924, in incorrect in the third sentence. McLellan was in Los Angeles since the 1900 census.

—Alex Jay


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