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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

JOSEPH MORT A resident of Southern California more than thirty years, the Rialto community in particular has a grateful memory of his presence here, the work he instituted, the friendships he made and the kindly influence he exercised among all who knew him.

Joseph Mort was an honored Union soldier. He was born in Ohio, May 23, 1843, son of Conrad and Sarah (Hynes) Mort, natives of the same state. He was the third son in their family of seven children. When Joseph Mort was an infant his parents removed to Iowa and took up land in Van Buren County. Joseph Mort acquired a common school education there, and at the age of nineteen enlisted in the Federal army in 1862. He served in the infantry under General Heron and was with the Federal forces until the conclusion of the war. He was in the siege of Vicksburg, and there was slightly wounded in the left shoulder. Subsequently he was captured, and for ten months he was confined at Tyler, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana. During the confinement his chief diet was a pint of cornmeal each day. The meal was hand ground, and the small end of the cob was mixed with the grain. After his exchange he returned to service.

Following the war Mr. Mort married in Iowa Miss Elizabeth Miller, on October 3, 1865. Mrs. Mort, an interesting pioneer woman, is still living at her home at Rialto, 221 North Olive Street. She was born July 6, 1843, in Van Buren County in what was then Iowa Territory. Her parents, Daniel and Margaret Elizabeth (Jackson) Miller, were among the earliest settlers in that section of Iowa, moving from Ohio in 1841. They made the journey with wagon and team, and took up Government land in Van Buren County, where they spent the rest of their days, Mrs. Mort's mother dying in 1861 and her father in 1891. She was one of their ten children.

Following his marriage Mr. Mort engaged in farming in Iowa. In October, 1887, he came to California, his family following him the next year. He located in the vicinity of Rialto, where he worked for the company developing this section in planting citrus frees and also assisted in setting out the ornamental trees along Riverside Avenue. He helped plant nearly all the early orchards in this vicinity. On account of injuries received while a prisoner of war Joseph Mort became totally blind in 1901, and he lived for twenty years in darkness, though active in mind and enjoying his friends and the many interests that bound him to life. He died at Rialto March 1, 1921.

To Mr. and Mrs. Mort were born seven children: Delia, born in Iowa October 17, 1866, married Edward Varnard and has two children, Elsie and Belle. Clyde Everett, born in Iowa July 27, 1870, married Frances Uren, daughter of a Methodist minister, T. S. Uren, and they have two children, Mildred and Leonard. Alpha Mort, born in Iowa May 25, 1872, died at the age of two weeks and five days. Ottis Hynes, born in Iowa May 26, 1873, enlisted and served for six months in the Spanish-American war, and he and his wife, Gertrude, have two sons, Russell and Francis, both of whom enlisted in the navy in 1920. Eddy Willis, named for Bishop Eddy, was born in Harvey County, Kansas, March 24, 1875, married Mamie Ely, and their four children are Evelyn Mort, Raymond, Delbert and Edwin. Thomas Glenn Mort, born in Iowa in 1878, married Caroline Humiston, of Iowa, and their children are Phyllis, Helen, Kenneth and Winnifred. Leonard Worth Mort, the youngest child, was born in Graham County, Kansas, February 28, 1881, and became an expert in all phases of the citrus fruit industry. A group of Mexican citrus growers sent for him to act as their adviser in field operations, and while thus employed he was drowned in a flood caused by a cloudburst on August 28, 1909. He married Ina Lyman.

Mr. and Mrs. Mort were birthright Methodists, and all their lives have been devout members of that faith. Mr. Mort served as a member of the Official Board of his church. He always maintained the hospitality of the home, and delighted in entertaining his friends. He was a worker for clean politics and for efficient government at all times. For some years after coming to California he owned an orange grove, and after selling this he bought five acres which are still owned by Mrs. Mort. When Mr. Mort came to this part of California there was not a building except the old adobe near Base Line in which he lived for a time. Later he built on West Rialto on his own land. In those days it was a difficult task to drive from West Rialto to San Bernardino to market. In dry weather the sand filled the air and cut the faces, and there were practically no roads through the sand and brush. During wet weather the streets in San Bernardino were so deep in mud that a vehicle had to be stopped every now and then to rest the horses. Very few windbreaks had been planted in the Rialto district when the Mort family reached here. The first water ditch from the mountains was constructed after Mr. Mort came here, and he helped do some of that work. Much of the early construction work with which he was identified remains to bear fruit and benefit to the present generation.

 

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