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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


JOHN HARVEY ELLIS. It is not given to every man to succeed in handling real estate and insurance, for all do not possess those characteristics so essential to success. To begin with, the operator in these lines must be a real salesman, and be absolutely convinced of the desirability of the investments he presents to others. In other words, he must first "sell himself." To do this he must possess the essential qualities of honesty, singleness of purpose and sincerity, be clear and logical in his presentation of facts, and understand human nature to such an extent that he is able to recognize the right moment to make a sale. Such a man, naturally, would become prosperous in any line he cared to enter, for these qualities make for success anywhere, but when he does devote himself to developing property interests and safeguarding men and their holdings through legitimate insurance he is rendering a service not easily over-estimated, and proving his worth to his community as a good citizen. John Harvey Ellis is one of the best qualified men in the business to be found at Riverside or in this part of California. During his long career as a realtor he has demonstrated his peculiar fitness for his work, and has to his credit some of the most constructive developments of any man in his line.

John Harvey Ellis was born at Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio, October 13, 1862, a son of James William and Ann F. (Neer) Ellis, both of whom are now deceased. James William Ellis was born in Virginia, a son of Abraham Ellis, grandson of Jacob Ellis, and great-grandson of Johan Jacob Alles, as the name was then spelled, a native of Alsace, Lorraine, France, Jacob Ellis, or Alles, was a fifer from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, during the American Revolution, and served in the Sixth Battalion. Later the family was established in Virginia. Although born in the Old Dominion, James William Ellis remained firm in his alliance to the Union when war was declared between the North and the South, and enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in which he served as a non-commissioned officer. He was with the Army of Virginia and participated in the engagement at Wilson Creek and others in Virginia, and was a brave soldier and efficient officer. Returning home, he resumed his peaceful occupation of farming. His wife was born in Champaign County, Ohio, and she belonged to an old American family established in this country prior to the American Revolution by ancestors from Holland.

Growing up on his father's farm, John Harvey Ellis acquired his educational training in the public schools of his locality, so firmly grounding himself in the fundamentals that he had no difficulty when he left the farm in securing the necessary certificate for teaching school in Allen and Harper counties of that state. Leaving the educational field, Mr. Ellis went to Attica, Kansas, where he pre-empted and proved up a quarter section of land, and then for two years was employed in a mercantile establishment! Following that experience he went to Stevens County, Kansas, where he took up a homestead, and opened a real estate office at Woodsdale, a town founded by Col. Sam Woods. During his residence at Woodsdale he passed through some very exciting times, for this was before the permanent establishment of law and order in Southwestern Kansas, and warring municipalities, as well as individuals, settled their disputes with firearms rather than through the slower processes of the courts.

Leaving Woodsdale, Mr. Ellis went to Pueblo, Colorado, and there continued his realty operations in conjunction with the firm of Hard & McClees, the junior member of which, N. C. McClees, later became secretary of state for Colorado. After about eighteen months Mr. Ellis was employed by the Henkel-Duke Mercantile Company, wholesale grocers, with which he remained for six years. He then went with the Iron City Manufacturing Company, machinery manufacturers of Pueblo, and his connection with it lasted for eighteen months. Resigning his position, Mr. Ellis then returned East to Toledo, Ohio, and for two years was with the Toledo Moulding Company, manufacturers of picture frames and jobbers in art goods.

California next attracted him, and on Christmas Day, 1899, he arrived at Corona, this state, and remained in that city for six months. In the meanwhile he bought a small ranch at Arlington, to which he moved in June, 1900. Arlington is within the city limits of Riverside, and from 1900 Mr. Ellis has been a resident of this municipality. For eleven and one-half years he was accountant for the Riverside Fruit Exchange, and then, in June, 1912, he went into the real-estate business for himself, first having Frank D. Troth as his partner. Two years later he bought out Mr. Troth and took his son, Ralph C. Ellis, into the business. Later, upon the retirement of the younger man, he continued alone until he sold his business to W. J. Russell, of Canadaigua, New York, in August, 1919. On March 1, 1920, he bought back the business, and took W. J. Battenfidd as his partner. On December 1, 1920, Mr. Battenfield sold his interest to J. G. Smith, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, who on April 1, 1921, sold his interest to Mr. Ellis.

Mr. Ellis has always been active as a republican, and for several years has been a member of the County Central Committee of his party, and has several times served as a delegate to the county conventions. For some years he has been engaged in orange growing, and has a fine grove of them on his home place at 401 Grand Avenue. In addition to all of his other business interests he is a director of the Riverside Water Company.

On May 30, 1890, Mr. Ellis married in Southwestern Kansas Miss Mary S. Plantz, a native of Wood County, Ohio, and a daughter of the late Joseph Franklin Plantz, a native of Ohio who spent his declining years at Riverside. During the war between the states he served as a Union soldier. His wife bore the maiden name of Mary Carmelia Smart. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis became the parents of two children, Ralph Clifford Ellis, born April 15, 1891, at Pueblo, Colorado, and Ruth Genevieve Ellis. The son is a statistician with the rating department of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in San Francisco, California, He married Miss Ada Cone, a native of California, and they have one son, Robert Clifford, who was born in August, 1918. The daughter was born on the ranch in Arlington, August 28, 1903, and is now a student of the Riverside High School.

Mr. and Mrs. Ellis are members of the First Christian Church of Riverside, of which Mr. Ellis has been a deacon since 1900, and for ten or twelve years he served the church as treasurer. At present he is chairman of the Board of Trustees. A Mason, he is a past worshipful master of Evergreen Lodge No. 259, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; is a member of Riverside Chapter No. 67, Royal Arch Masons, and Riverside Commandery No. 28, Knights Templar, and also of the Southern California Past Masters' Association and of the Eastern Star. He belongs to Riverside Lodge No. 282, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; to the Woodmen of the World; Sons of Veterans of the Civil war, and of the Sons of the American Revolution. In every relation of life Mr. Ellis has proven his capabilities, and made a success of his undertakings. His interest in Riverside is deep and lasting, and finds practical expression in an earnest and sincere devotion to the best movements for the advancement of the municipality. He is a great believer in constructive effort, and knows through experience in different sections of the country how much can be accomplished through concerted effort on the part of the most representative people. Through the medium of his business he has been able to stimulate interest on the part of outsiders, as well as of his fellow citizens, in different local projects, and has brought here a large amount of additional capital which has been profitably invested. Such men are necessary to the proper expansion of any locality, and much of the present prosperity of Riverside may be justly attributed to Mr. Ellis and his associates in their public-spirited attempts to make of it one of the most desirable and flourishing cities of the Golden State.


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