Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Daniel Joseph Desmond​​
​I wondered who D. J. Desmond was, really.

Source: Los Angeles Times
August 4, 1904​​

          Daniel Joseph Desmond moves through the history of Yosemite like a comet passing close to Earth.  He is there, talking about, appearing in the news - and then he is gone it is as if he vanished.  
           Daniel was the brother of C. C. Desmond, who followed their father into the sale of quality clothing in Los Angeles.  The obituary of their father, also Daniel  Desmond, who died in 1903, notes his two sons, misstating D. J. as J. D.  Daniel Joseph Desmond died while staying with his mother on March 20, 1920.
           Research on Daniel turned up the company which provided catering for the crews building the Los Angeles Aqueduct Project.    This was the  D. J. Desmond Commissary Company.  This line of work was not without its tribulations, according to the history provided by the Santa Clarita Historical Society.  And the reports of spoiled food, threats to quit their jobs, and other protests to the victuals being provided certainly were not mentioned by Mark Daniels in his glowing affirmation of Daniel's suitability to provide tasty and appropriate meals for the tourists visiting Yosemite.  Yes, Mather chose him to head the company he covertly funded by 1914.  
          To appreciate the divergence between what is available on Daniel J. Desmond's work history and what was presented by Mark Daniels, Yosemite Superintendent chosen by Mather,  you need to read the article in which Daniels is interviewed about the proposed monopoly to be awarded to D. J. Desmond for the upscale clientele they hope to welcome into Yosemite Valley.  

                                         The article appeared in the Oakland Tribune on October 2, 1915. 

I found multiple articles mentioning J. D. in his role as a corporate founder and president for the Desmond Park Service Company.   Putting these together he came across as being vulnerable, a person who wanted to please others.  At right, is the only picture I could find of him.  Then, as the articles 

Daniel Joseph Desmond
Los Angeles Times. Aug. 4, 1904

began to ​​accumulate, I began to see him as I assembled the articles  ​​
as a timeline taking us through 1914 to 1918.  In 1920, Daniel Joseph was a broken man, waiting to die at his mother's home in Los Angeles.  Today his resting place is at  Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles County, California.
        Daniel Joseph was buried near his father and his brother, Cornelius Charles Desmond. whose marker is much more impressive, reflecting his long and successful career as a haberdasher and supplier of fine goods in Los Angeles, today fondly remembered as 'Desmonds.'  
        In 1914, Stephen Mather had decided he was going to move into a new occupation, this being running the National Parks.  With $500 Million still mostly in his bank account from his self-dealing as an employee of Borax Smith at the job his father obtained for him at Pacific Borax, he was ready to explore new horizons in self-aggrandizement.  
         Mather knew perfectly well what he was planning was illegal, therefore, he needed someone to be the public face for what he planned.  
He needed someone who was respectable.
          Stephen Mather was an expert in finding people who could be useful to him.  What lies did he tell Daniel Joseph Desmond to elicit his cooperation?  Daniel Joseph's association with his father and brother was well known in Los Angeles.  His experience with commissary work had begun when he, with other friends, joined his brother, Cornelius, in San Francisco in the wake of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.  Cornelius started and kept stocked, soup kitchens in the traumatized city.  The two brothers were close and shared a commitment to helping others. 
          I could find no evidence Daniel Joseph had an interest in ten hotels, unless Mark Daniels, as stated in the linked article, was referring to some camps which used his catering.  Mark might have taken Mather's word on Daniel Joseph's qualifications for the position of President and Founder, Desmond Park Service Company.  Mark never provided any documentation for what he said about Mather, either. 
              The push is on to displace David Curry, a man Mather despises, from Yosemite Valley.        

              In 1917, it appears that Mather had decided on another plan of action.  This happened shortly after the death of David Curry on April 30, 1917, along with the news he would not get the monopoly Mather had conspired to make possible.  The senior Curry had struggled for years to defend from Mather, what he and his family had created in Yosemite.  Camp Curry was then serving 1,000 a night with good service, wonderful food, and entertainment. 
                Mather was left controlling only the smaller camps through Desmonds Park Service Company, not enough to solve the problems his reckless spending had caused.
              Within months, Daniel Joseph was sent to Alaska for a 'vacation' while the new strategy for controlling the Curry Company was put in place. 
             When Daniel Joseph Desmond returned he discovered he was out.  Soon, the Desmond name is removed from the Mather blind front business.  Stunned, D. J. Desmond presented the appearance of a man in shock, unable to believe what is happening to him and his stolen reputation, blamed for Mather's obsessive spending.  
                In 1918, Daniel Joseph had stepped down, or been dismissed, as president of Desmond Park Service Company, as Mather continued to plan for his next attack on the Currys.  
            Daniel Joseph Desmond then returned to Los Angeles to help his mother care for his ailing brother, Cornelius Charles (C. C.) Desmond who died on December 22, 1920, at the family residence, 958 South Alvarado street.  D. J. had died March 2oth that year.

The Desmond Cup

The Los Angeles Times - 1922