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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

FERDINAND GROTZINGER of Corona is one of the valiant pioneers who proved his fighting ability in early days and likewise the ability to meet and cope with the conditions growing out of successive phases of development in more later times. He has prospered and deservedly so, and is one of the men of highest standing in San Bernardino County. His home is half a mile south of the Jurupa School House.

He was born at St. Louis, Missouri, March 9, 1860, son of George and Mary Grotzinger. His father was a farmer. Ferdinand was an only son, and his mother dying when he was two years of age, he was placed with his grandfather, a native Frenchman, who moved to Los Angeles in the spring of 1873. Ferdinand's grandfather was a cabinet maker and found work in his trade at Los Angeles.

Ferdinand Grotzinger left school at the age of fifteen, soon after coming to California, and from that time forward fought his own battles and earned and saved his capital. He first learned the butcher's trade at which he worked three years and for seven years he was an apprentice and journeyman in the carriage painting trade in Los Angeles. None of the successive stages in the development of this section have escaped his witness. He saw freight teams draw goods from San Pedro to Los Angeles, saw the first railroads, the building of telegraph lines, the first street car, the first theater and the first circus ever in Los Angeles, As a youth he accompanied his uncle, Page Grotzinger, to Arizona, New Mexico and Sonora, Mexico. His uncle established a large blacksmith shop at Tombstone, Arizona, and Ferdinand worked under him. In 1884 he returned to California, locating on the Santa Ana River, where he bought land and leased many hundred acres besides. This was practically all the bottom from the Pines Ranch East. Here he ran cattle and sheep over a portion of the Jurupa ranch lands and he continued his operations on leased land up to 1921. Mr. Grotzinger in 1906 bought his home ranch and also owns land around Redondo and extensive holdings of ranch properties in Riverside and Los Angeles counties. He practiced there farming and stock raising, and in recent years has disposed of most of his holdings except his home place and some Beach properties. His ventures have proved profitable, and he has never departed far from his essential industry as a farmer and stockman.

In August, 1884, Mr. Grotzinger married Miss Julia C. Casteel, who was born on the Santa Ana River. Her father, James Casteel, was a Mormon, and in 1852 came from Salt Lake with the Mormon Colony to San Bernardino. He was a sheep and cattle man and he died on the Santa Ana River, where he was a prominent pioneer and one of the leading stock growers of his time. His widow is still living at Los Nietos, California. Mr. Grotzinger is the father of three children: Emma, born at Riverside in 1885, was educated in that city, and is the wife of William Huston, a machinist in the Borax mines of Death Valley. They have a family of three daughters and one son. Bert Grotzinger, born in 1887, is unmarried and is now continuing the farming and stock raising interests of his father. Clarence, born in 1889, is a machinist in the Borax mines of Death Valley and married Lela Jones.

As a young man in the stock business Ferdinand Grotzinger carried a gun to protect himself and his stock from cattle rustlers and thieves. Out of his earnings as a trade worker he saved the money to establish his small nucleus of stock. Cattle were always cheap in those days. He frequently bought good saddle horses at from one dollar to two dollars a head. In one particular dry year he saw sheep sold on the streets of San Bernardino for ten cents a head. In 1877 Mr. Grotzinger saw Samuel Slaughter start out to take sixteen thousand head of sheep to the range and in the fall he returned with only two thousand head, and another instance was Lucky Baldwin, who went to the Bear Lake country with twenty-five thousand head and returned with only six thousand. When Mr. Grotzinger bought his present home ranch it was an unirrigated property and he developed a well and pumping plant for irrigation purposes, and has developed it extensively to fruits and alfalfa.

 

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