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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

W. P. MCINTOSH. — To be able to look back over years of substantial achievement and to realize in some measure how beneficial this achievement has been to thousands of his fellow men, does not come to every man as he approaches the evening of life, but it is the happy lot of one of San Bernardino County's foremost residents. Hon. W. P. McIntosh, long prominent in politics, finance and land development. Mr. McIntosh has been a moving force and a personality in every phase of his long and useful career, from the time he proved to his first employer that his willing service was worth much more than his stipulated salary, through long years to the present, when thousands of acres of one time desert land yield enormously because of his far-sighted efforts that resulted in bringing life-giving water to the soil, and his generous but practical system of disposing of these lands.

W. P. McIntosh was born in the province of Ontario, Canada, February 27, 1849. His parents were P. D. and Anna McIntosh, the former of whom was born in Canada, of Scotch ancestry, and the latter of whom was born in Scotland. Of their large family of children W. P. was next to the youngest in order of birth. The father was a man of consequence, serving in a responsible public office for thirty-five years, retiring then against the wishes of those in higher authority. At the time of death he left an honorable name but no appreciable fortune to his family.

After W. P. McIntosh completed his schooling he began to plan for the future, and finally entered into an agreement with a local merchant to work for him as a clerk for three years, his salary for the first year to be $36, for the second year, $60, and $96 for the third year, board and clothing being included. That he proved unexpectedly useful was indicated at the end of his first quarter, when his employer, without solicitation, advanced his wage to the third year's rating, and later, when the youth was offered a much more advantageous position, was honest enough to urge its acceptance.

Mr. McIntosh continued in the mercantile line in Ontario -until 1868, when he came to California, reaching San Francisco on the day before the earthquake in that year. He went into Napa County, and as his funds were low, his sole capital being but $5 at that time, he secured farm work at what is now Yountsville, and spent the winter there. In the spring of 1869 he went to Carson City, Nevada, with still less capital than before, but felt in no way discouraged, although he had neither friends nor acquaintances in this section. He had, however, a strong physique and a readiness to accept any work at hand, and thus found a job and made friends as he helped to build the Virginia & Truskee Railroad. Later he went with the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company, which was constructing the Marlette Lake dam to furnish water for the celebrated Comstock Lode Mine. In the second year with this company he was made general manager, a position he continued to fill for years, resigning in 1878 in order to accept the position of superintendent of the Cortez Mines at Aurora, Nevada.

In September, 1883, Mr. McIntosh located at Los Angeles and embarked in the real estate business in the following year, in which line of effort he has continued ever since. Although he has been an important factor in developing Los Angeles from the hamlet he found into the present beautiful city, he has by no means confined his business operations to this special section. In 1886-7 he purchased wild, desert land in the Mentone section, where no development had been attempted because there was no water. Mr. McIntosh, however, was exercising his gift of foresight. His first step was to secure water, and he made the first filing on underflow water of Mill Creek, commencing development above the first dyke, or natural dam, by tunneling under the stream and in this way searching out the underflow. This water right is now owned by the Mentone Groves Company, a corporation composed of W. P. McIntosh and his three sons. These lands, the original purchase being 2300 acres, but now reduced by sales to 350 acres, have been purchased by homebuilders, actual settlers, Mr. McIntosh having put in motion an easy system of payment that has enabled honest, thrifty individuals to acquire desirable home sites. In selling these lands Mr. McIntosh gives the purchaser ten years in which to pay for them and charging only six and one-half percent interest.

In 1897-8 Mr. McIntosh was elected president of the Barton Land & Water Company, and in the space of two years, under the above terms, lie had sold 1050 acres of the company's land in five and ten acre tracts. The invisible monument erected to him in the hearts of those who have benefited by the great opportunity offered them by Mr. McIntosh is a noble one and will stand to his credit for generations to come. In the Los Angeles district he sub-divided various tracts and in one sub-division sold lots for $500 that within two years commanded $4000, while in Mentone orange growers have amassed fortunes on the land they bought.

Mr. McIntosh married first Miss Kate D. Wade, who at death left three sons: Walter, George W. and Allen P., all of whom are now associated with their father in the realty business. The youngest son is a veteran of the World war and served in France as a member of the 61st Regiment, the famous "Grizzlies." The father of Mrs. McIntosh was an early pioneer in California, connected with many western enterprises and at one time was mayor of Placerville. Mr. McIntosh married for his second wife Miss L. V. McGill, who was born and educated in Illinois and is a talented musician. Her father served in the war between the states and after his return to civil fife he established the Farmers Bank of Hancock County, Illinois, which is still operating under the name he gave it. Mr. Mcintosh was reared in the Presbyterian faith and has never wavered in his allegiance but has, nevertheless, been liberal to other church organizations also.

As has been stated, Mr. McIntosh entered the State of Nevada in poor financial circumstances, but the time came when he was a very prominent factor in the financial field. He assisted in the establishment of two savings banks and carried the first savings bank in the state through its first year as its president. His business stability secured him the confidence of the public, and during his period of residence at Carson City political favor came his way, resulting, despite his youth, in his defeating a well known politician, John C. McFamahan, for the State Legislature, in which body he served with marked efficiency. He assisted also in early development at Redlands, but the only other political office that he has consented to accept was in the early days at Los Angeles, when he served as chairman of the building committee of the Board of Education at the time the first large school bond was floated. It was a position of much responsibility, and Mr. McIntosh’s business judgment was invaluable. For more than a half century he has been a member of the Masonic fraternity, receiving his first degree as a charter member of Carson City Lodge No. 1, Free and Accepted Masons, forty-eight years ago, and now is a member of Southern California Lodge No. 278, Free and Accepted Masons, Los Angeles. Mr. McIntosh resides in one of the beautiful homes of Mentone, California.

 

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