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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


WILLIAM BUXTON. In the development and constructive enterprise that brought the largest degree of material prosperity to the Rialto community of San Bernardino County, a lasting debt is due the late William Buxton. That debt has been generally acknowledged since his death, and a leading newspaper said : "This valley has had few men of nobler character, more unassuming ways and wider influence than William Buxton. In the development of the citrus-fruit industry and particularly in marketing this fruit, he occupied a leading place and in everything he stood for improvements, both material and otherwise. Willlam Buxton was always one of the elements of strength to be depended upon."

He represented the prominent old family of England. There is a historic town in Derbyshire known as Buxton. His grandfather, George Buxton, was born at Gunneiside, Yorkshire. He married Hannah Alton, and after his death she came with two of the children to America in 1850 and she lived in Wisconsin, where she died in 1872 at the age of eighty-four. Richard Buxton, father of the late William Buxton, was born in Yorkshire, England, April 8, 1813, and came to America with his family in 1853, being a pioneer settler in LaFayette County, Wisconsin. His first vote as an American citizen was cast for Abraham Lincoln. He married Isabelle (Metcalf) Cottingham, widow of Dixon Cottingham, and she was born in England, June 20, 1812, and died August 19, 1878. Her father, Matthew Metcalf, was a native of Yorkshire, was a local preacher in the Wesleyan Church and after coming to America joined the Methodist Episcopal.

A son of Richard and Isabelle (Metcalf) Buxton, the late William Buxton was born on a farm near the village of Benton in Lafayette County, Wisconsin, December 19, 1854. He attended public schools there, the high school at Shullsburg, and at the age of fourteen became a clerk in a local store. At the age of eighteen he engaged in the retail grocery business at Dubuque, Iowa, where he finished a commercial education. Later, with his first employer in Wisconsin, Mr. Harker, he was in the general merchandise business at Ida Grove, Iowa, but two years late Mr. Buxton sold out and took up real estate, making a specialty of handling Iowa farm lands. He was extremely successful, and in this way handled and individually owned some of the finest farms of the state. In 1882 he moved to Minneapolis and became associated with Kenneth McRae in the real estate and wholesale dry goods business. The business prospered and a large share of their profits they invested in real estate in a number of portions of the Union. In 1900 they closed out their business in Minneapolis and both partners came that year to California.

The closing years of his life Mr. Buxton spent at Rialto, and though in a position to retire and enjoy the fruits of his well-spent earlier years, he was soon called to practical business management arid without special previous training became an ardent student and a keen judge of citrus fruit growing and marketing. He bought an orange grove of fifty-seven acres in the Rialto colony and soon afterward he was prevailed upon to become manager of the packing house and general business affairs of the California Citrus Union of Rialto. He rapidly extended his individual orchard interests, and he was associated with A. A. Cox, Judge William J. Curtis, N. L. May and A. L. Wright in erecting two large packing houses. Before his death he was known not only for his individual interests as an orange grower and shipper, but was also manager of the Rialto Orange Company, president of the Mutual Orange Distributors of San Bernardino County, a director and for six years president of the Lytle Creek Water & Improvement Company, was a director and organizer of the First National Bank of Rialto and its vice president at the time of his death.

A year or two before his death he completed the largest and most attractive residence in the Rialto Colony. In 1880 at Dubuque, Iowa, Mr. Buxton married Miss Mary Louise Gelston, a native of Galena, Illinois, daughter of Thomas H. and Isabella (Townsend) Gelston. Her father was born at Bridgehampton, Long Island, and as a young man came to the Mississippi Valley, married at Galena in 1856, and in 1866 moved to St. Louis, where he was in the grain and commission business until his death in August, 1876, at the age of forty-four. Isabella Townsend was born at Galena and died at the home of her daughter in Rialto in May, 1920. She was a daughter of William and Louisa (Adams) Townsend. Her father was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1796 and her mother in Pennsylvania in 1804. William Townsend was a pioneer at Galena, Illinois, locating there before the Black Hawk war of 1832, was a pioneer merchant and a prosperous business men. He died in 1879 and his wife in 1881.

Mrs. Buxton is now living at 672 South Oxford Avenue in Los Angeles. She was the mother of five children, the oldest, Homer, dying in infancy. Her son, Lynn Crawford, who was born at Galena, Illinois, in November, 1882, had a high school and commercial education, and is now distributor of the Haynes automobile and has one of the most successful enterprises in this line in Los Angeles. He married Alma Loftus and their two children are Floyd Loftus and lone Louise. The third child, Jay Russell Buxton, who was born at Minneapolis in December, 1884, married Edna Sewell of Alhambra, California, who died in February, 1921, leaving a daughter, Lucretia. The son, Roy W. Buxton, was drowned while camping on Lytle Creek in the San Bernardino Mountains in 1902 at the age of seventeen. The youngest child, Benjamin Buxton, was born at Minneapolis, October 3, 1886, married Bessie Shorey and their two children are William and Bettie Barbara.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011