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Los Angeles | L.A. THEN AND NOW

To Catholics, Cultist Was Beyond Belief

June 27, 2004|Cecilia Rasmussen | Times Staff Writer

In 1857, Money moved to San Gabriel, where he designed and built a cluster of octagonal edifices of wood and adobe, including a double entrance gate with inscriptions in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

He called it the Moneyan Institute. Neighbors called it Money's Castle.

Although he had no medical degree, he claimed to have treated 5,000 ailing patients, of which "only four had died."

When residents began dropping like flies in an 1863 smallpox epidemic, Money helped treat them. There is no record of how his patients fared, but no one seemed to take his ministrations seriously, before or after the epidemic.

"We doctors never bothered about trying to run old 'Doc' Money out of town. We knew that if we did try to do so, the chances were that the public would have loved Money more," wrote John W. Shuman, a local doctor.

But at least one person believed. When 12-year-old Dan C. Mulock was badly injured by a wild boar on his family's San Gabriel ranch, his family sought out Money, who was nearby. Afterward, Mulock's father said he felt "obliged" to befriend Money for saving his son's life. When Money died, Mulock buried Money in the Mulock family plot at the San Gabriel Cemetery.

In 1880, shortly before Money's death, historian Hubert Howe Bancroft interviewed him at his San Gabriel home. Money tried to sell him one of his manuscripts for $1,000. Bancroft reportedly declined with amusement.

Money was said to have died alone in 1881, with "an image of the Holy Virgin above his head, an articulated skeleton at his feet, and a well-worn copy of some Greek classic within reach of his hand."

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