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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


ARTHUR H. NELSON. To successfully grow oranges in many sections of Southern California is an achievement being demonstrated every day, but to be able to produce the finest fruit in the world at a great profit is quite another matter. This interesting procedure has been going on for some years on the fine estate at Greenspot, in the Mentone District, San Bernardino County, owned by Arthur H. Nelson, who now lives retired at Los Angeles. Mr. Nelson has been a resident of California for almost two decades, but when he invested in land in the Mentone District in 1904, having growing oranges in prospect, his venture was deprecated by business acquaintances and deplored by his friends. Depending, however, upon a sense of judgment that had seldom failed him, and possessing a considerable scientific knowledge of climate, soil and temperature, he persisted in his undertaking and today is one of the leading producers of the justly celebrated Navel oranges in the western country.

Arthur H. Nelson was born at Bridgewater, New Hampshire, in 1864, the second of four children born to Oliver Fuller and Sophia Kingsbury (Hatch) Nelson. The Hatch family was prominent in Colonial days in New England, and Elisha Hatch, the great-great-grandfather of Arthur H. Nelson, purchased from the Indians the townsite of Falmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. During his early business life Oliver Fuller Nelson was connected with the Boston Rubber Company, manufacturers of rubber shoes, and afterward he was a pioneer in that industry in Montreal, Canada, where he established a plant that he conducted for many years.

Arthur H. Nelson attended the public schools of Medford, Massachusetts and afterward a school of design, where he applied himself to the study of architecture, and afterward followed this profession in association with some of the leading architects of New England. He was concerned in the designing of many important structures in the East and the erection of the church edifice in the City of Detroit, Michigan, which at that time was the largest and most imposing between that city and New York. His professional career was interrupted about this time by family responsibilities, he being recalled to Boston to take charge of his father-in-law's estate, a property aggregating over a million dollars.

On October 14, 1885, Mr. Nelson married Miss Carrie Elizabeth Puffer, who was born at Somerville, Massachusetts, September 15, 1865, a member of a very prominent family of that state. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson have had five children, namely: Harold Arthur, Leslie Scott, Frank Roy, Helen Puffer and Donald Hatch. Harold Arthur Nelson was born at Medford, Massachusetts, June 18, 1888. He was graduated from the Medford High School and Tufts College, taking a course in structural engineering. He is now associated with the Pacific Fruit Exchange, being in charge of the ice and percolating plant and all their heavy construction work at San Francisco. He married Miss Ella Bryan, daughter of George Edward Bryan, who is well known in business circles at Cleveland, Ohio.

Leslie Scott Nelson was born at Medford, Massachusetts, July 3, 1897, and was but fifteen years old when he graduated from the high school of his native city. After completing a course in engineering in the University of California he enlisted in the United States Navy for service in the World war, as an ensign. He was assigned to Mare Island and put in charge of the drilling of recruits, including 1200 brought from the Philippine Islands, all of these being partially trained at the time the armistice with Germany was signed, and shortly afterward he returned to civilian life and is now connected with the Johns-Manville Company, Los Angeles.

Frank Roy Nelson was born at Medford, Massachusetts, September 20, 1898, and after graduating from the high school entered college at Berkeley, California. At the outbreak of the World war he first went to work in the ship yards and then entered the officers' Training Camp in the University at Redlands, was one of the first ten selected for further instruction and was sent to Waco, Texas, and he was about to be commissioned lieutenant when the armistice was signed and he was relieved. He resides with his wife and son in the Mentone District, where the latter, Arthur H. Nelson, Jr., was born June 10, 1921. Mr. Nelson is superintending his father's orange groves at Greenspot. Miss Helen Puffer Nelson was born at Medford, Massachusetts, March 11, 1902. After graduating from the high school at Redlands she .entered the University of California, where she is yet a student. The youngest member of the family, Donald Hatch Nelson, was born at Medford, Massachusetts, March 24, 1904, and was an infant when his parents came to California. After graduating from the Redlands High School he became a student in the Pasadena Army and Navy School.

Arthur H. Nelson continued as manager of the Puffer estate until he came to California, resolved to go into the business of growing oranges, and after carefully considering prospects he purchased thirty acres of wild land in what is now known as Greenspot. He received very little encouragement from those in any way interested in his welfare, but like many other men who have succeeded by trusting to their own judgment he continued to believe that this land of high altitude (2000 feet), with proper care and scientific methods, would in time justify his faith. Some of the land had already been utilized, and he at once set out his groves to cover the rest of it and built a home here, although at that time there was little neighborhood social life in the district. To his original purchase Mr. Nelson subsequently added and now owns ninety acres at Greenspot, seventy-five acres being devoted to oranges. In 1913 he shipped fruit which brought him $1,100 and $1,200 per car. His judgment about altitude proved to be right, and no finer Navel oranges are to be found in the state, this choice variety yielding best in a temperature approaching that of Bahai, Brazil, where they came from.

Ever since coming here Mr. Nelson has been deeply concerned in all interests pertaining to the welfare of orange growers, and one of the earliest needs he recognized was the lack of an adequate packing house at Greenspot, and he set about to remedy it. After negotiating with the different railroads and transportation lines he prevailed on the Pacific Electric to build the road that is now open, a great undertaking, as it necessitated the erection of a bridge that cost $35,000, and then Mr. Nelson organized a local body and the present packing house was erected, which is of modern construction and probably the best equipped plant in every way in all this section. Mr. Nelson continues on the company's directing board and was president of the organization until 1921, when he resigned and since removing to Los Angeles has been practically retired from business life. He has been a wonderfully inspiring factor in the development of this section, and has definitely proved that a high elevation is the most favorable for orange growth, and his scientific discovery may, in time, solve many of the present problems of fruit growers.


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