Mysteries of Fullerton: Tony Bushala and the Schumacher Building

Schumacher.jpg
Brandon Ferguson
​It was sometime in the mid 1980s, when the family of local blogger (and scourge of three-fifths of Fullerton's city council) Tony Bushala acquired a unique piece of property near the Fullerton train station. A 375-square-foot building at the rear of the lot was used by the previous owners as a back house. Unbeknownst to Bushala, that old building with its pitched roof and wood-slat exterior was a nifty little piece of Fullerton history. By accident, it was discovered that the building used to be owned by local pioneer Peter A. Schumacher, a man whose legacy continues to grow beyond the borders of the land of citrus, and some say, beyond the grave.

Bushala said he realized the significance of the building by chance.

"We discovered it when a friend of mine saw a picture at the library," says Bushala. "He saw it in a book and recognized it."

History's Mysteries

The grainy black and white photo, dated 1910 and published in a Post Card History Series book clearly shows the building next to a sign with Schumacher's name and offering notary and real estate services. Back then it was located at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Wilshire Avenue where a Shabu Shabu now stands. The caption mentions that Schumacher was responsible for purchasing the first El Camino Real bell (it is prominently visible in the photo) in Orange County.

Peter_Schumacher_Fullerton .jpg
Postcard History Series
But for an entrepreneur who once had significant real estate holdings in Fullerton, not much is known about Schumacher. Why the building Bushala now owns ended up on E. Truslow Ave., several blocks south of its original location, is a total mystery. 

Planting Roots

A 1933 article in the Daily News Tribune reported Schumacher was born in Germany on May 21, 1843 and moved with his parents to a farm in Illinois in 1857. He joined the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War and was wounded several times. After bouncing around the Midwest, he wound up in North Dakota where he obtained extensive, but unidentified holdings. Making his way west he landed in Anaheim before ultimately settling in Fullerton. According to the article, Schumacher's son Roy Fullerton Schumacher, was the first child born in the city. 

 In 1887 he founded the Orange County Nursery which continues to operate today. According to company president Robert Veyna, 61, ownership of the nursery changed hands at least twice before the 1930's when Veyna's grandfather--an employee and Mexican immigrant named Margarito-- purchased the business. Now located in Ventura County, the nursery is still family owned and continues to supply the landscaping industry in California and the Southwest.

Orange County Nursery.jpg
Courtesy of Robert Veyna
Photo of nursery circa 1920

Like Bushala, Schumacher was said to have taken a keen interest in the future of Fullerton, buying property and building houses around the city. His largest project was built in the 200 block of Spadra Rd., now (Harbor) across the street from his notary business. The building, with its handsome grey stone facade stands today, houses a salon in its lower level and apartment units upstairs. The upper level is where Schumacher kept his own residence and tragically met his demise at the age of 90. 

Schumacher Lujon_Downtown_Fullerton.jpg
Brandon Ferguson
Ghosts of the Past

On the morning of August 22, 1933, after returning from a shopping errand, his wife Julia found him dead in their bedroom. His death certificate said he was found hanging from a door, the victim of suicide. The Tribune said Schumacher had been suffering from ill health and left no note. He was buried in Loma Vista Cemetery on Bastanchury Rd.

Schumacher_Suicide_Fullerton.jpg
Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library

Recently the Schumacher building has been featured as a stop along the Fullerton Museum's annual haunted walking tour. Rumors abound of his ghost being sighted in the area.

Restoration day

Bushala says he spent eight years restoring Schumacher's old notary building and making it inhabitable for new tenants. His hope was to find someone who would appreciate the building's historical value. While we may know little about Schumacher, it's clear his life's blood was making things grow--first in the soil, then across the city of Fullerton. It seems the thought of facing advanced age, unable to ply his trade, may have been a prospect too overwhelming. 

But as this story demonstrates, even old forgotten things have worth. Bushala says the notary building will have a new tenant beginning April 1. Maybe one night Schumacher's ghost will stroll down Harbor and see a light glowing in the window, and feel a little pride.

Schumacher_Downtown_Fullerton.jpg




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10 comments
captnlogos
captnlogos

With a few rare exceptions, anyone who commits suicide is a moron and anyone who commits suicide at the age of 90 is a complete moron.

Simcak
Simcak

How sad today that Orange County Nursery is in the state that it is in. Robert Veyna has turned a grandfather's dream into his his own future. He is a fine manipulator, as he can get everyone around him to work, without pay while he and his wife (he married the secretary) collect the profits.  Start paying your employees Robert

Marlena Carrillo
Marlena Carrillo

I have seen this house, it is amazing the way it has been restored. The new tennant is a very lucky occupant. I wish I could live there.just sayin...

Matt Leslie
Matt Leslie

I had the chance to tour the inside of the building recently. The lacework wood in the front window visible in the picture was painstakingly restored rather than just replaced with sheet glass. I am glad to see that some property owners in Fullerton care about the city's history. By the way, Tony Bushala was one of the original co-founders of Fullerton Heritage.

mitch young
mitch young

BTW Germany as we know it didn't actually exist in 1843. 

Indeed what is amazing about this story is that their are people alive today who would have been alive when this guy died -- that is, some people could actually have a living memory of knowing a person who fought in the Civil War, who was born into some little principality which was swallowed up by Prussia, indeed born even before the US took over the southwest of..the US.

909Jeff
909Jeff

My family were Prussian Mercenaries that volunteered to fight for the Union.  Got free transportation to the states and bypass immigration.  By the time they got here the war was over and they settled in Minnesota. before hopping in a wagon and heading for Orange around the turn of the century. 

mitch young
mitch young

That explains your militaristic bent!

909Jeff
909Jeff

Either that or the welsh-Irish side... Allegedly there is some french in there but I refuse to believe I'm related to the frogs... It just aint true! 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Whew... I though you took over the Klan piece for a second! 

mitch young
mitch young

I was waiting for that too, but I imagine a guy who fought for the Union wouldn't be keen on joining the Klan.

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