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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


JAMES A. COLE was one of the most honored pioneer citizens of San Bernardino County, where he established his home in the year 1859, and with his strong and earnest manhood he proved a force in connection with the early stages of development and progress in this favored section of the state. He was a resident of old San Bernardino at the time of his death, July 27, 1888, and his character and achievement were such as to make imperative a tribute to his memory in connection with the compilation of the history of San Bernardino County.

James Alfred Cole was born at Kirtland, Trumbull County, Ohio, March 8, 1831, and was reared and educated in the old Buckeye State, his parents having there been pioneer settlers in the district known as the Western Reserve. As a young man he married May Elizabeth Kelly, who was born at Quincy, Illinois, May 31, 1833, and whose death occurred at Oakland, California, on the 15th of March, 1915, their marriage having been solemnized at Springville, Utah Territory, on the 17th of July, 1852. From Ohio James A. Cole went to Illinois and became a member of the Mormon colony at Nauvoo, and as a member of the Latter Day Saints he was with this colony at the time of its historic hegira from Nauvoo to Utah, in which territory was established the church headquarters at Salt Lake City. He continued his residence in Utah until 1859, on October 16th of which year, accompanied by his family, he set forth with other members of the Mormon Church to form a new colony in California. The company proceeded by wagon train over the weary intervening distance, and deferred departure until a detachment of Government troops became available to serve as protection against attack by Indians. The colonists arrived in San Bernardino County on the 23d of December, 1859. The long overland journey having been initiated on the 16th of the preceding October. On arrival at their destination the company encamped on what is now Third Street in the City of San Bernardino, the colonists having first settled in old San Bernardino, near the old Mission. This selection of location was made by reason of the fact that here they could make use of water which the Indians had previously brought in for irrigation purposes. The colonists widened the primitive ditches constructed by the Indians and increased materially the area of irrigated land. Mr. Cole, who had severed his connection with the Mormon Church, remained at San Bernardino until the 1st of February, 1860, when he removed to a tract of thirty acres in old San Bernardino. With the passing years he added to this original holding until he was the owner of approximately 700 acres, the same extending a distance of two miles north and south. He became the owner also of what is now known as Loma Linda. This site was platted into town lots and the original name of the village was Mound City. With the construction of the Southern Pacific Railway line through this section, in 1875, Colton was made a division point, and Mound City passed into obscurity, the land reverting to farm use. Mr. Cole was a man of much physical strength and prowess in the earlier period of his residence in California, and he gained distinct prestige as a wrestler, with never a defeat in the local matches. He enjoyed this sturdy sport but did not countenance what are now designated as boxing (fighting) contests.

On his land Mr. Cole planted a number of orange trees and other fruit trees, but he gave the greater part of his attention to the raising of live stock, grain and forage crops. His place being situated at the mouth of San Gorgonia Pass, through which passed the long trains of freight wagons en route to Arizona, he kept a station and supplied forage for the freighting teams. In this way he found profitable market for most of his farm produce, as often his farm would be the stopping place for fully 200 head of horses and mules over night. From 1860 to 1868 he operated a line of freighting wagons of his own in the hauling of supplies to Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Cole was a man of vision and progressiveness, and was one of the first of the pioneers to bring blooded live stock into this part of California, his early importations having had enduring influence in improving the grades of stock raised here. He imported the first Percheron Norman stallion into San Bernardino County, and brought also a Cleveland bay stallion, a riding and driving type, besides which he brought here the first Berkshire hogs, and introduced the first reaping machine and header to be used in San Bernardino County. The harvester was manufactured by Cyrus McCormick of Chicago, and it attracted wide attention when placed in operation by Mr. Cole, persons having come for miles to see the new machine. Mr. Cole served as school trustee and was a leader in community advancement in many other ways. Both he and his wife continued their membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints until their deaths. Of their ten children one died in infancy ; Susannah Matilda was born at Springville, Utah, July 29, 1853; James Calvin was there born September 3, 1854; Hugh Henry, February 3, 1856; and John Albert, April 13, 1858. All of the other children were born at Old San Bernardino: Mary Jane, June 21, 1860; Arthur Edgar, December 27, 1861; Joseph Morrison, July 23, 1865; Alfred Ira, July 13, 1867; and Walter Dayton, April 15, 1880. Of the children only four are now living : Hugh Henry, Arthur Edgar, Joseph Morrison and Walter Dayton. Hugh Henry married Miss Mary Curtis, a member of a prominent pioneer family of San Bernardino County, and they have one son and three daughters. Arthur Edgar Cole received the advantages of the public schools and a business college in Los Angeles, where in 1882 he took a special course in penmanship. As a penman he has few superiors, even to the present day, notwithstanding the fact that he has done a large amount of hard and rough farm work that naturally might impair his skill in this line. He has kept himself in practice and has gained high reputation and has held official positions that have brought his talent into effective play. He has served as deputy county clerk and deputy county auditor and recorder, and in 1887 he was deputy tax collector of San Bernardino County. After the death of his father he resumed active association with farm enterprise on his inherited portion of the old homestead. Here he raises oranges and other fruits, with special attention given to the raising of Bartlett pears. Some of the trees on his farm were planted by him and his father more than half a century ago. September 21, 1892, Arthur E. Cole wedded Miss Elmira Doell, who was born near Rocky Ridge, Ottawa County, Ohio, March 8, 1864, and who died at Ontario, California, March 25, 1921, she having come to this state in 1892. She is survived by two children: Anna Louise, who was born August 30, 1893, and who is now the wife of George P. Hinchman, a printer residing at Ontario, California, their marriage having occurred in October, 1918; and Arthur Edgar, Jr., who was reared and educated in San Bernardino County. At Los Angeles, on the 17th of July, 1920, he enlisted in the United States Navy, and he has sailed on various vessels and on many seas while in training for service as a marine engineer of the navy. Joseph Morrison Cole is a rancher of Redlands, and Walter Dayton Cole is a well known attorney of Oakland, California.


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