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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


JOHN M. HORTON is one of the substantial citizens of Ontario, one of the old timers there, and has contributed to the development of the community largely through his individual energies and labors. He has assured himself of a competence and is now enjoying a comfortable retirement.

Mr. Horton was born in Bedford, Indiana, February 10, 1846, son of John and Almyra (Finley) Horton. His mother was a native of Tennessee, and died when her son John was two years of age, leaving three children, George Finley Horton, William Hampton, who died at the age of four, and John M.

George Finley Horton volunteered in the Union Army at the time of the Civil war, and was killed in the battle of Corinth October 6, 1862. John Horton, who was born in Indiana November 6, 1817, died in March, 1885. He was four times married. Of his children only two are now living, Joseph Oscar and John M. The former is a resident of Salem, Nebraska. John Horton was a blacksmith by trade, and in 1857 moved with his third wife and family to Marengo, Iowa County, Iowa, where he bought land and spent sixteen years, and then moved to Van Buren County, Iowa, where he died in 1885.

John M. Horton was eleven years old when taken to Iowa, and he finished his education in a district school in that state. During his earlier years he farmed and was in the grocery business one year. At Marengo, Iowa, February 4, 1875, he married Miss Kate Morse, who was born at Brownhelm, Loraine County, Ohio, daughter of C. R. and Harriet A. (Bradford) Morse. Her father was a carpenter by trade, and moved to Iowa in 1855, purchasing land and being a farmer in that state. There were four children in the Morse family, Sarah, Kate, Ella J. and James E. Kate Horton was well educated and taught nine terms of school in Iowa.

On April 7, 1885, Mr. Horton arrived with his family at Ontario, California, and bought Lot 5 in Block 43, putting up a small house at 223 West B Street. This pioneer home he replaced twelve years ago with a modern residence, in which he and his family now live. Mr. Horton came here without much surplus cash, and had to contrive means of making a living from the first. He engaged in teaming, caring for orchards and vineyards, hauled brick from Pomona for the old Stamm Block, in which was housed Ontario's first bank, hauled material for sidewalks, and for fourteen years his work was largely in the care and supervision of vineyards and groves for other owners.

About twenty years ago he found his own orange grove demanding most of his time. This program, briefly outlined, indicates that Mr. Horton has applied himself to the practical side of the life of this community, and has done a great deal of hard physical work as well as employed the best resources of his mind. Through such program he has been able to accumulate his personal means and educate his children.

Mr. and Mrs. Horton had four children. The oldest, G. Ray Horton, who was born at Marengo, Iowa, December 14, 1875, graduated A. B. from Pomona College in 1898, and for seven or eight years was one of the brilliant young newspaper men of Los Angeles. He was reporter and member of the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times and the Examiner, and while doing court reporting he became interested in the law, and studied in Senator Flint's offices and attended law school at night. Senator Flint gave him the management of Bradstreet and Dun's collection department. Thus he paid his way until his admission to the bar, and was at once made assistant district attorney under Captain John D. Fredericks, of Los Angeles County. Later he was assistant prosecutor in Federal Courts, and finally became assistant district attorney in the last term of Mr. Fredericks as county prosecutor. He was one of the staff of attorneys actively engaged in the effort to select a jury in the famous trial of McNamara brothers. He early entered a partnership with Robert P. Jennings, and the law firm of Jennings & Horton took the highest rank in the Los Angeles bar. Ray Horton was noted for his ability in criminal practice. He was attaining rapidly some of the highest honors and emoluments of the legal profession when he was called by death January 4, 1915. In June, 1902, he married Miss Jessie Balch, a native of Indiana, and is survived by two children, Helen Balch Horton, born January 11, 1904, and Georgie Ray Horton, born March 4, 1914.

The second child of Mr. Horton is Minnie May Horton, who was born in Mahaska County, Iowa. March 18, 1877, was educated in Pomona College and the State Normal School at Los Angeles, and for seven years she and her mother were successfully engaged in the millinery business at Ontario. On December 20, 1904, at Ontario, California, she was married to Robert G. Shoenberger, and they have one daughter, Theresa, born September 10, 1911. The third child, Hattie Elmyra Horton, was born June 2, 1879, in Guthrie County, Iowa, and died February 18, 1880. The youngest of the family, Lena Jane Horton, born in Guthrie County, Iowa, April 12, 1882, was educated in California and on October 14, 1903, was married to Albert W. Butterfield, who died October 31, 1921. Mrs. Butterfield has one child, John W., born at the home of his grandparents in Ontario in 1904. A. W. Butterfield was an electrician and had charge of the entire electrical system for the Southwest Cotton Company, a corporation owning the Goodyear Rubber Company's holdings in Arizona.

John M. Horton has been a life-long republican. From his experience he can give a consecutive account of the development of Ontario for over thirty-five years. When he first came here there was only one ten acre tract solidly set to oranges in the entire colony. He has never been a speculator, and economy and industry have enabled him to gather together sufficient of this world's goods to insure his comfort. He has recently disposed of one of his orange groves. He and his family are members of the Congregational Church. He is a member of the Woodmen of the World. Both he and his wife are members of The Women of Woodcraft.

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