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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

OTIS SHELDON was a lad of eight years when his parents established the family home at Riverside, and when it is stated that here he has maintained his residence during the long intervening period of half a century it becomes at once apparent that it has been his privilege to see the county seat of Riverside County grow from a mere village into one of the most beautiful and prosperous communities in southern California, besides having witnessed the transformation of acres of barren sage-brush land into productive orange groves and fertile little farms that are improved with modern buildings and that go to makeup a district of idyllic charms as well as of industrial prosperity.

Elisha M. Sheldon, father of him, whose name initiates this review, was born in the state of Vermont and was a scion of a staunch New England Colonial family of English origin one that gave its quota of patriot soldiers to the Continental forces of the War of the Revolution. The marriage of Elisha M. Sheldon and Eliza Mary Sharp was solemnized in the state of New York, of which Mrs. Sheldon was a native daughter, she having been of Scotch lineage and of Revolutionary ancestry and one of her grandfathers having been prominent in connection with American trade in Europe. Elisha M. Sheldon became a manufacturer of brick in the state of New York, where he continued his residence until 1872, on the 11th of December of which year he arrived with his family in Riverside, California. Here he established, on Colton Avenue, now known as La Cadena Drive, the first brickyard in Riverside County, where he had the distinction of manufacturing the first building brick issued from a local kiln. He continued his successful operations as a brick manufacturer and building contractor during the remainder of his active career, and erected many of the more important brick buildings in Riverside, including the Grant Schoolhouse, the Loring Building, the Riverside Hotel on the corner of Main and Eighth streets, and the Frederick Building. He was one of the progressive and public-spirited citizens who aided much in the civic and material development and upbuilding of Riverside, and his ability and sterling character gave him inviolable place in popular confidence and good will. He and his wife were zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he erected for the Methodist Church its first brick chapel at Riverside, charging only for the material used in the structure, and finally donating even the material. He became the owner of 160 acres of land at Riverside, and this property, which greatly increased in value in the passing years, was divided among his four children at the time of his death, in accordance with the stipulations he had made. He was the owner also of a number of business buildings and other realty in Riverside, and though he was not active in politics and steadfastly refused all importunities to accept public office, he wielded much influence in community affairs and was one of the representative and honored pioneer citizens of Riverside at the time of his death, September 7, 1891, his widow having survived him by only two years and having passed to the life eternal on the 9th of September, 1893.

Otis Sheldon gained rudimentary educational discipline in his native state of New York, but, as before noted, he was eight years of age at the time of the family removal to Riverside, his birth having occurred in New York state on the 2d of July, 1864. He profited by the advantages of the public schools of Riverside, and thereafter became actively associated with his father's brick manufacturing and contracting operations. He was twenty-two years of age at the time of his marriage, and has since been actively and successfully associated with farm industry of the intensive order common to this section of California. His home place of thirteen acres, on Massachusetts avenue, was originally given over to an orange grove, but he now uses the tract primarily for the raising of alfalfa. On this tract, at 113 Massachusetts avenue, Mr. Sheldon erected the finest farm house in this district, the same being a brick building of two stories and of modern facilities. He is aligned loyally in the ranks of the republican party, and he is recording secretary of the local organization of the Foresters of America.

At San Bernardino, in June, 1886, Mr. Sheldon wedded Miss Alice Dunlap, and she is survived by two children : Edward, who is a mason by trade and vocation, resides at Riverside, his wife, whose maiden name was Electa Fields, being a native of Massachusetts, and their children being three in number: Joseph, Warren and Helen. Lois, the younger of the two children, is the widow of Charles Doak and now resides at Pasadena. She has three children : Lola, Russell and Richard. The second marriage of Mr. Sheldon was solemnized at San Diego, where Minnie M. Zimmerman became his wife, she being a native of the state of Missouri. Mr. Sheldon's brother, Ezra, is a successful contractor at Riverside. The brother Frederick is deceased, as is also the sister, Lois, who became the wife of John Down, the latter likewise being deceased.

 

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