California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
GEORGE D. HAVEN — Among the men whose courage, faith and foresight have contributed to the wealth and progress of San Bernardino County, one who is still held in respected memory is George D. Haven. Primarily a mining man, perhaps his chief distinction lies in the fact that he was the first to grow grapes in desert land without irrigation, a move that led to the founding of a great industry and which added wonderfully to the resources and prosperity of the county.
Mr. Haven, a native of New York state, made the overland journey with the courageous argonauts of 1849, having joined the first great rush that occurred when the report was spread broadcast of the discovery of gold in California. For many years thereafter he followed his vocation through the western states, making and losing several fortunes, with true miner's luck, but in the main being eminently successful. For years he was a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, where he at one time built and lived in the city's showplace, the finest home at that time in the city. He and his partner were the owner of a portion of the famous Homestake mines, in South Dakota, consisting of seven original claims. They sold a portion of this property for $400,000, each taking half, and each received a dividend of $120,000, also.
During his long and varied career, Mr. Haven's experiences were numerous and interesting^ It is related that on one occasion when he and his Homestake partner were riding through a gulch, Mr. Havens saw a likely-looking spot and remarked to his partner that there was a prospect. The other, after a cursory investigation said "Nothing to it" and rode on. Mr. Haven had faith in his own judgment however and when he remained his partner was forced to return. Within three weeks' time they took $3,500 from this pocket. A thorough mining man of his day, Mr. Haven made many trips to San Francisco, always traveling in the greatest style and stopping^ at the famous old Palace Hotel. He was equally able to make friends at home, in the big cities and in strange places elsewhere. On many occasions he came into contact with the Indians who were frequently hostile. He never took the suicidal course of attempting to flee when he was overtaken by the savages, but would ride in boldly among them and thus gained their respect for his nerve, although doubtless his presents also played their part in gaining him popularity. At any rate, he was never seriously molested.
Mr. Haven was very successful and in 1899 retired from active mining operations. He had located at Cucamonga in 1881 where he and Mr. Milliken purchased 640 acres of desert land, cleared it of cactus and brush and planted it to wine grapes. This was the very first attempts to grow wine grapes without irrigation and was then spoken of as "Haven's Folley”. When this land was planted, there was no water, and that to be used for domestic purposes and livestock had to be hauled four miles. It was an absolutely new experiment, and was at first widely ridiculed, but Mr. Haven had the faith of his convictions and eventually his judgment was vindicated in the wonderful success of the enterprise. He and Mr. Milliken later dissolved partnership, dividing the property evenly, and Mr. Haven later added many acres to his holdings. His grapes were marketed to the winery men, but the prices were not satisfactory. After he had sold his crop for $5.00 a ton one year and had been offered the same price the next year, he realized that some means for the protection of the growers would have to be found, and he accordingly organized, and in 1909 built, the Cucamonga Vintage Company, a vast institution which has added many units since and is now a stock company of fifty-three growers. In addition to being its founder, Mr. Haven was one of the first officials of this organization and was a large stockholder. Likewise he was one of the first stockholders when the First National Bank of Cucamonga was founded. In December 1913, he incorporated his holdings, dividing his stock among nineteen heirs.
He died a very much admired and beloved man, November 25, 1914, at which time he left an estate valued at $77,000, net, all of which he had accumulated absolutely without aid at the start of his career. Mr. Haven's wife died November 3, 1893. They have no children from this marriage. In politics he was a staunch republican. The property is now owned by H. H. Thomas and family, of Cucamonga.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011