California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
WILLIAM C. SECCOMBE. — While San Bernardino is indissolubly connected with the growth and development of the citrus industry, this city is remarkable in other ways, for its varied population and many interests have afforded unexcelled opportunities for the establishment and maintenance of sound business concerns, many of which are still in existence although founded a long while ago. These opportunities have developed an alert class of men, who, while acquiring a fortune, have not lost their strong sense of civic duty nor neglected the claims upon them of the unfortunate, but have grown in constructive citizenship and humanitarianism as they have in commercial importance. One of these representative citizens is William C. Seccombe, who for many years was connected with the retail drug trade of San Bernardino, and is still one of the honored residents of the city.
William C. Seccombe was born at Waverly, Nova Scotia, Canada, May 21, 1873, a son of Canadian parents who came to San Bernardino in 1883, and here he was reared. After completing his studies in the public schools of San Bernardino he became a student of the old Sturgess Academy, which until the establishment of the high schools gave the youth of this community the equivalent of a high school training. After these schools were opened, however, the academy died a natural death, although it is still remembered by those of Mr. Seccombe's generation with kindly affection.
With the completion of his educational training Mr. Seccombe sought an opportunity to acquire one of a still more practical nature, and found it in the drug store of Ernest E. McGibbon and later that of John A. Lamb, remaining with these two concerns the decade between 1885 and 1895. By this time he had acquired a working knowledge of the business, and decided to acquire a store of his own. With F. N. Towne and M. D. Allison he founded the firm of Towne, Seccombe & Allison, their first location being the old store of Frank M. Towne, remodeled, at 406 Second Street. Under the new management the business grew so rapidly that expansion became necessary, and the partners then established their second store, at 576 Third Street, in 1909. In 1912 the Dragon Pharmacy was acquired and added to the business of the other two flourishing stores. For twelve years Mr. Seccombe was secretary, treasurer and active manager, but retired from the concern in March, 1919. That the company had been properly and successfully managed is evidenced by the fact that at the time Mr. Seccombe retired the company was operating three stores and doing a business many times greater than when it was established.
Mr. Seccombe has been active in many directions, for from 1907 to 1919 he was one of the energetic members of the Board of Education, and during the last six years was president of the board. During that six years the beautiful Polytechnic High School group was built, and when it was dedicated he delivered the address. From 1891 to 1904 he served as a member of the California National Guard, and from April 9 to December 2, 1898, was in the service during the Spanish-American war, holding the rank of first lieutenant of Company K, Seventh Infantry. In 1900 he received commission as major of the Seventh Regiment, California National Guard, and continued to serve as such for four years. The National Guard was re-organized after the return of its members, who had volunteered for service during the Spanish-American war.
For many years he has been prominent in Masonry, and he also belongs to the Benevolent atid Protective Order of Elks, in which he holds a life membership, and he is a charter member of the Rotary Club. His family attend the Congregational Church, in which Mrs. Seccombe is an active worker.
On December 25, 1897, Mr. Seccombe married Miss Margaret Lee Perdew, a daughter of G. F. R. B. and Jeanette (Woodworth) Perdew. Mr. Perdew was a pioneer of California, coming here from Texas in 1862 by ox team and settling at San Bernardino. His death occurred in this city in November, 1900. Mrs. Seccombe was born at San Bernardino, February 20, 1874. Mr. and Mrs. Seccombe have two sons, namely William Lyle, who was born May 21, 1902, was graduated from the San Bernardino High School, and is now attending the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis, Oregon, and taking the civil and structural engineering course; and Gordon Herbert, who was born June 20, 1911, is attending the public schools of San Bernardino. Having released himself from the confining responsibilities of an engrossing business, Mr. Seccombe is now free to give expression to some of his ideas relative to outside matters, and is studying some of the problems of the day. Always a friend of the public schools he, while no longer officially connected with their management, is looked upon as an authority emeritus, and his advice is oftentimes sought by members of the board of educators. His benevolences, which are many and varied, are seldom made public, but are distributed as he feels they are needed. Having spent all but ten years of his life at San Bernardino, it is but natural that his interests should center here, and that he should do everything within his power to aid in the further development of his adopted city.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011