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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

J. GORDON SMITH as a young man accepted the opportunities of his inheritance and has made a success of more than passing note in the horticultural and business affairs of the Redlands District.

Reared in Southern California since childhood, he was born in Glasgow, Scotland, December 7, 1873, being five years old when the family came to this country. His parents were James and Constance (Stein) Smith, both natives of Scotland. James Smith and a brother owned a large furniture manufacturing plant in Glasgow. It was a prosperous business, but James Smith was for years a sufferer from asthma, and the rugged Scotch climate not agreeing with him he came to Pasadena early in 1879, returning with his family in September of that year, and built a home in Pasadena in 1880. He at once launched into the furniture business both as a manufacturer and retailer, under the name James Smith & Sons, with store at the corner of Fair Oaks and Green streets. Subsequently he built the four story Arcade Building which he occupied. This building adjoins the First National Bank at Fair Oaks and Colorado streets, and subsequently the fourth story was removed and it is now the Hotel Central, owned by the youngest daughter of James Smith. James Smith had other business interests. He bought sixty acres now in the heart of Pasadena, lying between Orange Grove Avenue and Fair Oaks and extending north and south between Palmetto and Alvarado streets. This he made an extensive plantation of orange and deciduous fruits, but it is now completely built over. He undertook the work of subdividing this tract, selling one ten acre homestead to E. R. Hull, but most of it in lots at advantageous prices. His estate still owns twelve acres of the original sixty, this portion being on Pasadena Avenue between Waverly and Bell view. Some of the prominent streets were laid out by the Smiths, such as Bellview, Gordon Terrace, Waverly, Pasadena Avenue, Palmetto. About the time he ended this subdivision work James Smith sold his furniture business to his son, F. H. Smith, who continued it at the old stand, but is now a business man of San Francisco. Subsequently James Smith was in the crockery business, being interested in the Pacific Crockery & Creamery Company at Los Angeles and he also operated a retail store at Pasadena. At the time of his death he owned eleven hundred and sixty acres of ranch land in the Perris Valley of Riverside County, land which with other holdings was divided among his children, and a large portion of which is being farmed by J. Gordon Smith. James Smith with his wife and daughter visited Scotland, where his old asthmatic trouble quickly returned, and while at London on his way home he died December 14, 1910.

He and his wife had eight children. The oldest, Sidney A. Smith, is a San Bernardino business man. Francis H. has already been mentioned as the successor of his father's business at Pasadena and now in San Francisco. Wilfred S. is ranching at Perns, California. J. Gordon is the fourth in age. Alfred Dore Smith lives at Laguna Beach, California. Lewis F. is a rancher at Perris. Constance Agnes died in infancy. The youngest is Clara Agnes, of Pasadena.

J. Gordon Smith was liberally educated, attending the public schools of Pasadena, Parker's Academy and Throop University. On leaving school he determined that his career should be one that took him out of doors. He had from early boyhood enjoyed the sports and occupations of his father's farm, and on August 18, 1897, he rode a bicycle all the way from Pasadena to Redlands to enter upon his duties as manager of his father's ranch lying ^along California Street. In this location his home and interests have continued, and he inherited the property from his father. His older brother was then on the ranch, but being homesick was preparing to vacate, and Gordon stepped into his place. He has shown the qualities of his Scotch character in the successful way he has handled his ranch and orange and deciduous fruit crops, and has kept his business going in bad years as well as good.

October 9, 19(fe, he married Miss Rhoda Wilson, youngest daughter of Joseph Wilson and descended from one of the most interesting of the pioneer families of San Bernardino County. Some of the experiences of the Wilson family are related on other pages of this publication. Mrs. Smith was born on the old Mission Road afterward known as Old San Bernardino, now West Redlands, April 15, 1878.

 

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