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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


DAVID FRANK STONER. — The Stoners as a family rank among the leading pioneers of the Ontario District of San Bernardino County. The spirit of enterprise has always been in their blood, and it is apparently as urgent to action today as it was in former years when all the country was new. The Stoner ranch is a mile south of Riverside Boulevard, on Archibald Avenue in Ontario, and the present residence is a mile and a half north of Claremont, on the new Camp Baldy Road.

The head of this family was the late David Frank Stoner, who died April 21, 1921. Mrs. Stoner, who survives him, possessed fully as much of the courage and ability to cope with the adversities of a desert country, and the same spirit manifests itself in their children.

David Frank Stoner was born in North Liberty, Iowa, January 2, 1854. He was fifth in a family of seven children, and acquired his education in Iowa district schools. In 1878 he went to Nebraska, where he followed his trade as a carpenter and cabinet maker. On October 26, 1881, he married Miss Mary Adaline Collins. Mrs. Stoner was born at Charleston, Indiana, October 13, 1862, and when she was seven years of age she lost her mother, and her father died two years later. She was the oldest of four children, and all of them grew up among strangers or relatives. Mrs. Stoner spent most of her girlhood in Nebraska.

When they married Mr. and Mrs. Stoner moved to an eighty acre farm which he had bought in 1880 near Lyons, Nebraska. There was a heavy mortgage on the farm, and he subsequently sold it and bought 320 acres of prairie land at eight dollars an acre. He borrowed a thousand dollars to make his initial payment on this land. The lender was his father. Eighteen months later Mrs. Stoner received her share of her father's estate, and with the proceeds she paid off the mortgage and built the substantial home in which they lived for eleven years. Their farm was near Wakefield, which at the time had one store, two residences and a blacksmith shop. The railroad was just building through that section of Nebraska. The community improved fast, and the Stoner farm was sold for about twelve thousand dollars.

In 1891 Mr. and Mrs. Stoner came to California for the benefit of her health. On January 11, 1892, they returned to make their permanent home here. Mr. Stoner had previously bought from a land agent twenty acres without having personally investigated the land. It proved to be worthless desert. He traded this, paving cash difference, for eightv acres on Archibald Avenue. This was also desert land, but had good possibilities, and the fourth house built in that district was the Stoner place and the entire property is still owned by the estate. On this Mr. Stoner erected a modern home and set the land to peaches. Subsequently they bought three hundred and twenty acres in the Fay tract across the avenue, which they cleared and set to fruit. Later a portion of this was sold. The present Stoner estate consists of 210 acres, all in bearing orchard and very valuable. The conspicuous feature of it is that it IS not irrigated, and the peach and apricot crops are raised by dry horticultural methods. In the early days the sun dried all the fruit. The family are now members of the California Growers Association, a mutual canning and marketing association. In one season as high as twelve thousand dollars worth of fruit was sold from the Stoner place. The Stoners were the fourth family to undertake horticulture as a desert proposition.

Mr. and Mrs. Stoner had seven children, the first five born in Nebraska and the last two in California. Donald Dale, born September 14, 1882, married Fredrica Buck and has a son and four daughters: Nina I., born September 9, 1883, is the wife of George T. Trotter, and they have a son, Morris, born July 10, 1916; Frank J., born October 8, 1884, married Lulu B. Bush, and their children are Mildred Adeline, born January 11, 1908, and Loraine Hildreth, born in 1911; Fay Elizabeth, born January 8, 1887, is the wife of Bert Pheysey and has a son, Herbert Hungate; Azile May, born July 19, 1892, was married to Charles G. Frisbie, and their two sons are Robert Charles, born in February, 1919, and Edward, born in June, 1920 ; Harvey Merton, born September 2, 1893, is a graduate of the Los Angeles Military Academy, and by his first marriage has a daughter, Alta, born February 14, 1914, while his present wife was Miss Winnifred Watson; Elbert Hugh Stoner, the seventh and youngest of the family, was born September 20, 1894, graduated from the Chaffey High School and the Los Angeles Military Academy, and married Miss Osie Bell Jones, their three children being Kathryn Corienne, born April 7, 1917, Emma Frances, born November 1, 1919, and Wanda, born February 11, 1922.

The pioneer instincts of the family show themselves in the sons, Elbert H. and Donald Dale, each of whom homesteaded 320 acres in Cochise County, Arizona, and have made this a valuable farming proposition. The son, Elbert, was a sergeant in Company D of the California National Guards, was a member of the state team of riflemen, and was selected as one of the expert riflemen to represent his organization in the annual rifle shoot at Camp Perry, Ohio.

The late Mr. Stoner thus satisfied his ambition by life and exertion in new countries. He was born in the pioneer era of Iowa, shared in the early frontier days of Nebraska, and reached California in time to do his part in the great development of the country. Mrs. Stoner has proved not less eager in the conquest of nature. She has achieved more than the average that can be credited to most pioneer men. She laid out and sold the first subdivision in Ontario, a three-acre tract on East D Street and Sultana Avenue. She paid the expenses of paving, curbing and laying water mains, and overcame a great deal of difficulty in securing the consent of the Ontario Water Company to connect with her mains beyond the original city limits. She put on the market and sold this tract at a profit. Later she subdivided two and a half acres, associated with A. T. H. Alyen, who combined a similar acreage. This was the second addition to Ontario and was located on E. Street and Sultana Avenue. She and Mr. Alyen then put on a third addition, also of five acres, jointly owned between them, located between East E and D streets on the Campus.

In 1910 Mrs. Stoner bought 150 acres of wild, rocky land, and in 1912 bought 130 acres adjoining. This land is at the mouth of Palmer Canyon, near Claremont. The water supply comprises a twelve-inch gravity flow and also a well affording fifteen inches additional. This tract Mrs. Stoner ha« improved with house and barn, and for a number of years operated it as a successful dairy farm, until failing health compelled her to desist from the work. She directed the labors of Hindus in dynamiting and clearing up the rock, and she constructed and directed the building of three-quarters of a mile of the New Camp Baldy Road, paying for all the labor and getting the task done for three hundred dollars less than the same distance constructed by the Pomona Protection Association. This property when purchased was considered worthless by Mrs. Stoner's friends, but her good judgment has been proved in the fact that it is one of the choicest sites in the frostless fruit belt, and is also valuable for its scenic attractions.


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