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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


THOMAS KIRK VERNON, a resident of Upland over thirty years, coming to manhood here, Thomas Kirk Vernon is an orange grower of practical experience and of more than usual success, is a citizen who takes a practical view and yet has fine ideals about community affairs, and he not only enjoys that esteem paid to a prosperous business man but also exercises his wholesome influence in behalf of better schools and better conditions generally in his community.  

Mr. Vernon was born at Wellington, Ohio, November 28, 1874, son of James and Ida (Kirk) Vernon. His father was a minister of the Christian Church. Thomas Kirk Vernon when one year of age went to live with his grandfather, Thomas Kirk. His grandparents came to California in 1889, when Thomas was fifteen years of age. They settled at North Ontario, now Upland, where Thomas Kirk bought twenty acres of land on Fifteenth Street and Euclid Avenue. Thomas Kirk died here in 1892, but his widow is still living with her grandson and in her vigor belies her age. She was born in Wellington, Ohio, ninety-five years ago.  

Thomas Kirk Vernon finished his education in the Eighteenth Street School at Upland. He had only the advantages of the common schools, but reading and practical experience fitted him well for the duties and responsibilities of life. Almost ever since coming to California he had been identified with orange growing, and he knows that business from the standpoint of one who has worked in every department and has developed groves from wild land to prosperous production.  

Mr. Vernon married at the age of twenty-one and then bought ten acres on San Antonio Avenue and Sixteenth Street. This was wild land and very stony, and he did all the work of clearing and removing the rock and then prepared it for setting out to citrus orchard. This was the beginning of his career as an orange grower, and since then he has cleared a large amount of other land. He personally supervised and performed much of the labor of developing his home place of ten acres on Sixteenth Street between San Antonio and Euclid avenues. He now has thirty acres of orange groves. His maximum production for one season from this thirty acres was nineteen thousand boxes.  

Mr. Vernon married Miss Emma Palis, of Henderson, Kentucky, and member of an old Kentucky family. She was born in Henderson, Kentucky, October 8, 1874, and was educated in the public schools and is a high school graduate. To their marriage were born two children: William Vernon, born December 1, 1900, at Upland, graduated from the Chaffey Union High School, spent one year in Pomona College^ and is now in his third year in the Colorado School of Mines at Golden, preparing for a professional career as a mineralogist. During the World War he was a member of the Students' Army Training Corps. The second child, Ida Vernon, was born May 7, 1910, and is in the seventh grade of the grammar school at Upland.  

Aside from his business Mr. Vernon has had an active part in the civic affairs of Upland since the town was incorporated. He was made first secretary of the townsite, a member of the first City Council, serving six years, and was mayor and chairman of the board three terms. He is now a member of the grammar school board and for eight years was a road overseer in San Bernardino County, and was superintendent of the construction of the Mountain Avenue Road. He is a stockholder and treasurer of the Camp Baldy Company, a popular mountain resort in San Antonio Canon. Mr. Vernon and family are members of the Presbyterian Church. He is a stockholder in both of Upland's banks.

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