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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


THOMAS MONKS is an old time resident of the Ontario community, and his highly improved home and estate is located on Turner Avenue, half a mile south of Salt Lake Railway. Perhaps no other resident of this section has had a richer or more varied experienced of real pioneer times than Mr. Monks. He knew this country more than fifty years ago, and his personal industry has been a factor in redeeming the desert and the wilderness.

He was born at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, July 19, 1851, son of Thomas and Mary (Fritz) Monks. When he was four years of age his mother died, leaving four children, John, George, Thomas and Annie. Thomas Monks, Sr., then married a widow with four children, and to the second union were born three other children, two sons, now deceased, and one daughter, still living. Thomas Monks, Sr., in 1861, when his son Thomas was ten years of age, moved out to Iowa. He lived there as a farmer three years, and in the spring of 1864 left for California in a wagon train, his part of the equipment being two two-horse teams and wagons. When the family came into California four horses were drawing one wagon. They came through Austin, Nevada, where three of the children, John, George and Annie, remained, and the others came on to Sacramento and a year later moved to Sonoma County. In Sonoma County Thomas Monks went to work on the dairy ranch of G. A. Collins. He accompanied his father's family to Southern California in the fall of 1867, to San Bernardino, and Mr. Monks for four or five years was a hand on the dairy and stock ranch of Mr. Collins in the neighborhood of San Jacinto. From here he went to Ventura, and from his work in that section made a good stake. Following that he was at Riverside two years, at San Bernardino eight or ten years, and he rented a ranch and also worked on the ranch of Dick Stuart

On New Year's Day 1885 Mr. Monks married Miss Jessie White, a native of Ohio. After his marriage he took charge of Dick Stuart's ranch until it was sold, and he then removed to Stuart's ranch at Rincon. In 1889 Mr. Monks bought twenty acres of desert land on what is now Turner Avenue, and here he erected as his first home a little house 16x16 feet. This house occupied about the site on which his now modern and complete home stands. The spring after purchasing Mr. Monks set this to Muscat grapes, and he tried drying the grapes for raisins, but was inexpert in that business and subsequently he sold them green to the Guasti winery, getting six dollars a ton one year and later fifteen dollars a ton. This price was paid half on delivery and half six months later. In subsequent years Mr. Monks made a good compensation out of his wine grapes. To the original twenty acres he added until he now has sixty acres highly developed to vineyard and deciduous fruits. He bought this as part of the Cucamonga desert land. There was no water even for domestic purposes, and for several years he hauled drinking water. He was impelled to make the purchase of this desert land because it was cheap, about twenty-five dollars an acre, and he was not well enough off to purchase any of the high priced irrigated lands. He would now refuse five hundred dollars an acre for his tract. It was a difficult problem to pay even for his desert land, and the payments he met by doing hard work for others, frequently receiving wages of only a dollar and a half a day and boarding himself. Through this strenuous period he met his payments, and also reared and educated his family. His has been a life full of work, long hours, privations, and, until comparatively recent years, luxuries were few. Now well along on the easy street of life, there are none who could begrudge his well earned prosperity.

Mrs. Monks was born July 1, 1866, and was educated in the public schools of West Riverside, California, she having come to Riverside at age of ten years with her mother. They have previously lived, in Owatonna, Steele County, Minnesota. Her mother died when Mrs. Monks was fifteen years old, and she then made her home with Mr. Ben Ables, of Riverside, and later with Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stewart of San Bernardino.

Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Monks. The oldest, Annie, born November 9, 1886, in San Bernardino, was educated in the common schools and the Riverside High School and is the wife of Walter Joy, a native of Illinois and living at Collins, California. The second child, Henry, born July 27, 1889, at Rincon, was educated in the public schools, is a graduate of the Pomona Business College and for ten years was head bookkeeper for the O  orange fruit exchange of Upland and now has charge of his father's ranch. He also has forty acres of his own. He is unmarried. Mary Monks, born on the homestead December 4, 1691, was educated in Ontario, is a graduate of the Pomona Business College, and for two years was employed by the Hot Point Electric Plant at Ontario as a stenographer and typist. In 1912 she was married to Mr. Logan Nettle, a native of Missouri. They have one child, Maxine Nettle, born October 8, 1913.

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