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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


J. C. REEDER. The career of J. C. Reeder, one of the well known and substantial citizens of the Ontario District, has not been a steady and uninterrupted climb toward prosperity. Two of his early California ventures were complete failures. He returned to his task after seeing his savings dissipated, and this faculty of never giving up in defeat and his hopeful enterprise have largely determined the successful position lie now enjoys.

Mr. Reeder was born at Lindsay, Canada, September 18, 1862. When he was two years old his mother died, and three years later his father. Daniel Reeder, moved to Michigan and settled in the northern woods, in what is now Missoukee County, sixty-five miles from the nearest settlement, Traverse City being the nearest town. He homesteaded land there. Daniel Reeder was for several years the only man of any education in the entire county. With the increase of population he mortgaged his farm in order to secure money to establish the county seat at his own town. Lake City, and he realized this ambition.

It was in such a country, of great woods, without any of the institutions of refinement, neither schools nor churches, that J. C. Reeder spent his boyhood. Altogether he attended public school only three months, and only by his own efforts in later years did he secure the equivalent of an ordinary education. He has been making his own way since he was thirteen. At seventeen he left home altogether. His early life was spent in a lumber town, where there were thirteen saloons and a brawl or fight almost always on the program. He worked alongside rough lumber jacks in the timber and lumber camps and on the river, and it is a tribute to his independent character that in spite of this environment he never used tobacco or intoxicating liquors. While still a boy he was employed on a lumber boom, and in six weeks his pay was raised to the same as that given to men two years in the service. It was the custom to gauge the rate of pay according to length of experience. From this work he returned to Lake City with a hundred dollars saved, and borrowing twenty-five dollars more and taking in a partner he established a drug store. Nine months later he sold his interest to his partner, netting a big profit.

After some other experiences Mr. Reeder went to Washington and for three years was in the logging camps of the Northwest. While in Washington he contracted the purchase of ten acres in the Barton District of Redlands, California. It was a tract of unimproved land, but the purchase agreement was that it would be set to oranges and developed while he was making the payments. In 1891 he came down to Redlands to investigate, and found that everything he had put into the investment had gone for naught. Thus relieved of the embarrassment of accumulating riches and left with only fifty dollars, he went to work in the old Terricina Hotel, and six months later found himself the possessor of five hundred dollars. His next employment was with an engineering party in Bear Valley under Mr. Sargent, engaged in the Moreno Survey. By 1894 Mr. Reeder had nine hundred dollars, and this he invested in a small ranch property in San Diego County. Here again conditions were all against him, and after five years of struggle he left and went to Lakeside, forty-five dollars in debt. At Lakeside he worked with a surveying party, used his team for contract work and also operated steam pumps, suppiymg the city of San Diego with water. At the end of two years he had sixteen hundred dollars m the bank.

With this little fortune he established himself permanently in the field where he is located today. In January, 1901, he bought his present homestead, three miles west of Euclid Avenue in Ontario. He paid four hundred and seventy-five dollars for five acres of wild land on Holt Avenue, set it to oranges, built a home, and instituted other improvements. He then contracted to buy an adjoining five acres for eight hundred dollars, paying only forty dollars down. By borrowing and from his savings he paid out, and his ten acres, now completely developed as an orange grove, would conservatively be valued at thirty-five thousand dollars. Altogether Mr. Reeder now owns ninety-five acres of improved land, chiefly in oranges and deciduous orchards. He is a stockholder to the extent of seven thousand dollars in the San Antonio Packing Company and holds in stock a number of other organizations. In twenty years he has accumulated a very substantial competency, due to his energetic labors and the wisdom with which he has estimated present and future conditions.

For the past sixteen years Mr. Reeder has served as district road boss. He has been a life long republican and a man of scrupulous integrity in all his transactions. He is one of the most thoroughly practical horticulturists in this section.

In the spring of 1894 he married Miss Lulu B. Sharp, a native of Missouri, who came to Pomona, California, in 1891. Mr. and Mrs. Reeder can certainly be pardoned a justifiable pride in their splendid family of seven boys, from the oldest to the youngest perfect specimens of physical strength and well being, and all of them athletically inclined, the older ones having many distinctions in school athletics.

The oldest, Paul H. Reeder, born September 1, 1895, at San Diego, graduated from the Chaffey Union High School and at the time of the World war he enlisted in the Field Hospital Corps and for almost two years was in France. He was in the first unit to cross the line after the armistice was signed. He was prominent in the athletic and field contests of the army in France, and the day before his return he won five of the events in a great field day of athletic sports. He is a thirty-second degree Mason. Paul Reeder married Miss Agnes Baker, of Pomona, and they have one daughter, Pauline Agnes Reeder, born July 27, 1921.

The second son, Arthur J. Reeder, born November 12, 1896, at San Diego, also graduated from the Chaffey Union High School and he broke all the athletic records of that school and gained a state-wide reputation as a football player and in other sports. He volunteered and went into Field Hospital Corps in the same unit with his brother, and they were together all through the service. After his return he went to Arizona and proved up a homestead of agricultural land. He is a member of the Masonic Order.

The third son, Donald D. Reeder, born September 18, 1899, at San Diego, graduated from the Chaffey High School, also made his mark in athletics and was a volunteer for the war service and ready to go when the armistice was signed. Later he took over the management of the Avis Hotel Cafe, Pomona. In 1921 he married Miss Ruth Cooper, of Upland, California.

The younger sons are L. DeWitt Reeder, born at Ontario August 4. 1901, a graduate of the Chaffey High School and now a student in Pomona College; George, born at Ontario December 30, 1905; Teddy Lewis, born at Ontario October 4, 1907, and Stanley, born June 4, 190!^.


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