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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

JOHN WESLEY DAY is remembered as one of the most commanding men of his day by the older residents of Riverside, with whom he stood exceedingly high, not only on account of his strong and pleasing personality, but also because of the interest he always took in civic matters. Had he not been compelled to restrict his actions somewhat on account of ill health there would have been probably no limit to what he would have accomplished. Through a change in climate and the devoted care of his wife he was spared into a ripe old age, but he was forced to alter his plans because of a serious breakdown, and give up much that interested him.

Born in Maine, October 23, 1832, John Wesley Day had the good fortune to belong to two of the fine old American families which were established in the American Colonies long prior to the Revolution by English ancestors, on both sides of the house. His parents, Leonard and Lois (Averill) Day, were both natives of Maine. Leonard Day was a manufacturing lumberman of his native state until 1854, when he was attracted to Saint Anthony, Minnesota, now a part of Minneapolis, and here he continued his lumber interests.

After completing his education in the public schools of Maine, John W. Day assisted his father in the lumber business in Minnesota and after the latter died, continued in that line with his brothers, Lorenzo D. and W. H. H. Day, until his health broke down from overwork in 1898, necessitating a complete change in his habits of living. During his long residence in Minnesota he took a very active part in different movements of public interest. During the Indian massacre in that state, which took place in 1862, Mr. Day served as a member of the expedition sent out to subdue the savages, and never forgot his experiences of that period.

Realizing that the climate of Minnesota was too rigorous for him in his state of health, Mr. Day came to California and bought a thirty-acre orange grove at Moreno, which he conducted until his death. In the spring of 1899 he purchased a homesite, 120x240 feet at 1024 East Eighth Street, Riverside, and made many alterations to the house until today it is one of the finest on the east side. He beautified the grounds with flowers and citrus trees. Here he passed the remainder of his life, dying July 27, 1910. In politics he was a republican, and while he was prominently identified with the party interests, he was too busy a man to entertain the idea of holding public office. For many years he attended the Methodist Episcopal Church.

On October 3, 1854, Mr. Day married at Minneapolis, Minnesota, Miss Lavinia Gray, a native of Maine, and a daughter of Benjamin Gray, a farmer of Maine. She comes of Revolutionary stock, and is, too, of English descent. Mrs. Day is now a great-grandmother, and leads a happy and quiet, life in her comfortable home. She is a lady of unusual mentality, and with her husband created a refined home atmosphere which was reflected in the lives of their children from childhood. Mrs. Day is a member of the Advisory Board of the Riverside Community Hospital, and of the City Home League and the Wednesday Club, and takes an active part in many matters of civic importance. Mr. and Mrs. Day became the parents of five children, one of whom survives, Eugene H. Day, who is conducting a lumber business in Minneapolis and an orange grove at Moreno. He married Miss Mabel Conkey, a native of Wisconsin, and a daughter of DeWitt C. Conkey. Mr. Conkey was connected with the North Star Woolen Mill Company of Minneapolis. Three children have been born to Eugene H. Day and his wife, namely : Eugenia, who is the wife of John Paul Ganssle, of Minneapolis and they have one child, Jane Ganssle; Kingsley Day and John C. Day, both of whom are students in the University of Minnesota, Cora Day, now deceased, was the eldest child of John W. and Lavinia Day. She married David Willard, of Duluth, Minnesota, and, dying, left three children namely: Irma, who is the wife of Hope G. McCall, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and has one child, Willard D. McCall ; Paul D. Willard, who is a graduate of the Riverside High School and Columbia University, is a mining engineer, and Constance Willard, who lives in Riverside. Paul D. Willard married Miss Ada Adair, a daughter of A. A. Adair, a prominent attorney of Riverside. They live at Hibbing, Minnesota, and have two children, Jean Adair Willard and Paul D. Willard, Junior. Florence Day the second child of J. W. and Lavinia Day, married Frank J. Mackey formerly of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They afterwards moved to Leamington, England, where they resided for twenty years, until the death of Mrs. Mackey in April, 1912.

 

Source:
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