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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

MRS. MARY ELIZABETH (PHILLIPS) WALLACE The life of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Phillips) Wallace, owner of one of the model orange groves of San Bernardino County, located one-half mile east of Riverside Avenue, on Rialto Avenue, has been an active and conspicuous one. A strong character, she has worked out her own success, and is possessed of uncommon spirit, energy and force. Her long life at Rialto, her abundant labors, her varied experience and unwonted activity have scarcely abated the vivacity of her disposition or the energy of her character. At the age of sixty-four years she is still alert, active and interested in passing events.

Mrs. Wallace was born in the Province of Quebec, Canada, July 3, 1858, a daughter of Rev. S. G. and Mary Ann (Whitcomb) Phillips. Her father, born in 1828, at Plymouth, England, immigrated to America in 1853, at which time he began his ministerial labors with the Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, in Canada. In 1857 he married Mary Ann Whitcomb, a native of Waterloo, Province of Quebec, Canada, and a member of a prominent family of that place. To this union there were born four daughters, all of whom are still living; Mary Elizabeth, Ada E., Alice and Gertrude. L. G. Phillips was a member of the ministry for a period of thirty-nine years, at the end of which time he was retired as superannuated. He came to California for the betterment of his health, in 1891, but died at Los Angeles, March 3, 1892, His widow survived him for a long period, passing away at Los Angeles January 20, 1908.

Mary Elizabeth Phillips early evidenced the fact that she was to mature into a woman of splendid business qualifications, a promise that has been eminently fulfilled. After attending the common schools of Ontario, Canada, and the Ontario Ladies' College, Whitby, an exclusive young ladies' college, she was given her 'degree of Mistress of English Literature, and for two years was a teacher in that institution. Her health failing at this time she was offered and accepted a teacher's position in another institution where she had greater outdoor privileges and taught there for one year.

In 1885, at Billings Bridge, Canada, Mrs. Wallace was united in marriage with J. W. Wallace. At the time of her father's death, in 1892, she came to California for a short stay, and in the following year came to remain permanently, her first seven years being spent in Los Angeles. Her husband had come earlier, in 1890, and purchased ten acres of wild land in the new colony on the corner of Rialto and Acacia Avenues, Rialto, which he set to oranges of select stock. When this grove became two years old, he deeded it over to his wife, who placed it in charge of her brother-in-law, James Moffatt, at that time one of the very prominent an extensive growers of the district. The state of the orange industry was anything but prosperous at this time. Many owners, having become discouraged, disposed of their holdings and left the community. Mrs. Wallace found her grove in a mn-down condition, and in 1900 decided to move on it and to take personal charge of its operation. Her first crop only netted her 600 boxes, but she had found out the trouble, and in the following year she harvested 1900 boxes. The number has increased annually, and at the present time has become one of the show groves of the Rialto community. Under her wise administration of affairs she has educated and reared her family from the receipts and has never had a mortgage on the place, in addition to which she has also been able to acquire valuable beach rental properties. She has succeeded where many men have failed, but with all her acquisitions she has fully preserved the innate delicacy of her womanly nature, and is none the less a lady because she has become a business woman.

The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, Gertrude Elizabeth, was born in Canada, October 7, 1887. A graduate of San Bernardino High School, she had all her units and was not required to take her examination to enter Stanford University, where she spent three years in studies. This was followed by one year at the State Normal School, then commencing upon a career as a teacher in the Los Angeles schools, after which she became principal of the Bloomington School, where she remained two years. She gave up her career to marry C. P. Taylor, a graduate of Stanford University, a native son of California and a young man of much promise, who now is electrical superintendent of the Marysville Division, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Marysville, California. He was a valued man in the World war service and served two years in the Engineer's Headquarters, at Washington, District of Columbia, being retired from the Reserve Officers Corps with the rank of Captain. He was selected or chosen by superiors from Washington and removed from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Washington, District of Columbia, during the early days of this country's participation in the great struggle, and worked faithfully in the discharge of his duties. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor: Gilbert Phillips, born August, 1915, at Fresno, California; and Mary Elizabeth, born in February, 1922.

While Mrs. Wallace's interest has been centered naturally upon her orange grove, in which she has right to display a pardonable degree of pride, other interests have attracted her, and she is alive to all the real issues of the day. She has a full knowledge of political conditions and in issues of a political character gives her support to the republican party. She is a woman of education and refined tastes and is respected for what she has accomplished in the face of difficulties that have discouraged many of the so-called stronger sex.

 

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