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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


WILLIAM B. STEWART The labors of many men, money and time have been required to develop San Bernardino County as a great horticultural district. It is no disparagement of the usefulness and the valuable contributions made by the aggregate workers to point out an individual case where enterprise, capital and management have effected on a large scale what many small growers and home builders have done individually.

William B. Stewart came to the Ontario and Upland district over thirty-four years ago. He and his two brothers have instituted and carried on some of the most important large scale development in this section of Southern California. Mr. Stewart, an honored resident of Upland, is vice-president of the Stewart Citrus Association, a private organization formed for the handling of the fruit products of the Stewart groves and ranches. William Boyd Stewart was born in Pennsylvania, at Cherrytree, in Venango County, July 30, 1860, son of William Reynolds Stewart and Jane (Irwin) Stewart, natives of the same state. His father was of Scotch-English and his mother of pure Scotch ancestry. The Stewarts were a pioneer family in Pennsylvania. William R. Stewart had a farm of forty-five acres in Venango County, and also operated a tannery, a vocation in which he was preceded by his father. William R. Stewart was born July 29, 1811. After the death of his wife he removed to Kingsville, Ashtabula County, Ohio, where he lived until his death at the age of sixty-seven. He married Jane M. Irwin, who was born at Milton, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, August 3, 1819, and died April 5, 1865. Her ancestors were Scotch people who went to Pennsylvania in Colonial times. For many generations the first born son in this family was given the name Richard. Her father, Richard Irwin, who was born at West Fallowfield, Chester County, Pennsylvania, October 13, 1785, was known in Venango County as "Richard at the Mill." As a miller he was following the ancestral vocation. He built the first grist mill at Cherrytree, and about 1835 erected a new and larger mill, standing on Cherrytree Run, just below the village. The wheels for this mill were made by his brothers, Ninian, William and James Irwin. Richard Irwin, who died at Cherrytree, September 25, 1857, was one of the most influential men in the development of his community, erecting several houses on his land, and being devoted to the welfare of the locality. He was a whig in politics and a Presbyterian. William R. and Jane M. Stewart were the parents of seven children, their son Elijah dying at the age of fifteen on April 17, 1863, while the three sons and one daughter still survive. 1. Eva, the widow of James A. Lawson, died January 25, 1922. 3. Lydia, who became the wife of James A. Lawson of Pasadena, California, died June 7, 1918. 2. Nancy J., the widow of John Dorland MacFarland of Los Angeles, California, is the surviving daughter.

The youngest of these children, William B. Stewart, was about five years of age when his mother died, and he thereafter spent his boyhood in Ashtabula County, Ohio, attending public school at Kingsville. At eighteen, following the death of his father, he removed to Bureau County, Illinois, and lived with his uncle, James B. Stewart, one and one-half years. He then returned to Western Pennsylvania and was identified with oil operations and production in that state for about seven years.

Mr. Stewart arrived at Ontario, California, October 15, 1887, was afterward in Santa Paula until June 6, 1888, when he located in the Ontario colony of San Bernardino County. He and his brothers became influential members in the corporation known as the Ontario Land & Improvement Company, did much to further its important development, and when the lands of the Colony were sold acquired jointly about six hundred acres. This property they have extended by subsequent purchases, though also selling portions, and today the Stewarts are in point of acreage ownership and volume of production the largest citrus fruit growers in the Ontario colony. The Stewart Citrus Association was organized in 1901 to handle exclusively the output of the Stewart ranches, the owners of which are Milton Stewart of Pasadena, Lyman Stewart of Los Angeles, William B. Stewart of Upland and the estate of their sister, Mrs. Eva S. Lawson. The association erected a large and modem packing house at Upland, and while allied with the California Fruit Growers' Association, they ship direct to Eastern markets. While a private corporation, the association has been a stimulating factor in the many sided developments of the country in general.

Besides his interest in this association, W. B. Stewart owns a number of valuable properties of his own in the district, including a beautiful little homestead of ten acres in Upland, and he also manages the ten acre orange orchard in Ontario owned by his wife. Mr. Stewart for many years has been a voter and stanch advocate of prohibition, and he and Mrs. Stewart are liberal members of the Presbyterian Church. The beautiful church edifice at Upland of that denomination is in no small degree a monument to the persistent labors and liberality of Mrs. Stewart. For thirteen years she conducted a Bible class among the Korean colony at Upland, and the people of that race have affectionately known her as "Mother Stewart," Mr. and Mrs. Stewart kept their home at their orange grove until October 4, 1911, when they moved into their beautiful modem home at Upland, at the southeast corner of First Avenue and D Street.

August 13, 1891, Mr. Stewart married Miss Mary E. Smith of Santa Paula, California, daughter of Parks B. and Mary Elizabeth (Gamer) Smith. Mrs. Stewart was born at Mexico, Missouri, January 13, 1872, and was educated there in the public schools. She went to Indian Creek, Pennsylvania, with her parents when she was fourteen years old and completed her education in the public schools of that place. She came with her parents to Santa Paula, California, when she was sixteen years old. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart are the parents of three children. The oldest, Milton Reynolds Stewart, born May 14, 1892, at Santa Paula, California, was educated in the Chaffey High School at Ontario, joined the army, but was discharged at Camp Lewis on account of defective eyesight. He now lives at the old homestead ranch at West Sixth Street. Ontario. He married Miss Leona C. Cook, a native of Iowa, and they have a son, William Milton, born March 1, 1920, and a daughter, Mary Leona, born April 11, 1922, who was named after her two grandmothers.

The second son, Harold Smith Stewart, born at Upland, August 24, 1894, married, April 8, 1918, Miss Mabel Hardwick, a native of Indiana. They have one child, Walter Eugene, born April 2, 1921, named after the oldest known ancestor of the Stewart family, whose name appears in an old Bible record with the year 1648. Harold S. Stewart enlisted at Los Angeles May 31, 1917, for the infantry, was trained three months at Arcadia, then at Camp Kearney, and was assigned to Headquarters Company of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Engineers. He left Camp Kearney July 26, 1917, sailed for overseas August 8th and was on overseas duty ten and a half months. Altogether he was in the service twenty-five months, receiving his honorable discharge as sergeant, first class, at The Presidio, July 11, 1919, and is now a resident of Los Angeles. He was educated in the Chaffey Union High School, spent two years in Pomona College and graduated in 1917 from Stanford University, where he specialized in geology.

The only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart is Agnes Louise, born July 3, 1900, living with her parents.


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