California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
DWIGHT W. WEBSTER is not only the owner of one of the fine orange groves that mark the Fontana district as one of the garden spots and prosperous industrial centers of San Bernardino County, but he is also engineer of the West Rialto Water Company, in which he is a stockholder and of which his wife is secretary.
Mr. Webster was born on a farm in Leon, Monroe County, Wisconsin, and is a son of Peter and Laura (Tower) Webster, he having been seventh in order of birth in a family of eight children. He was reared and educated in his native state and continued his active associations with farm industry until 1901, when he came to California, where he remained one year. He then returned to Wisconsin, but in 1904 he came again to California, where he established his residence at Pasadena and where he was engaged in a teaming business until 1908. He then purchased tract No. 399 in the Fontana district of San Bernardino County, a property for which he paid $4,200. Here he now has twenty acres of full-bearing fruit besides owning twenty shares of the stock of the West Rialto Water Company, of which mutual corporation he is engineer, as previously stated. The improvements of his fine little property are of the best, including a modem house and other excellent buildings. At one period the water shares held by Mr. Webster were virtually without value, as the irrigating plant was in poor condition and its service consequently inadequate. The mutual corporation known as the West Rialto Water Company was organized in 1900 and now gives the best water service to approximately 350 acres. At the time when Fontana was made a distinct water district the West Rialto Water Company dismantled its old plant and installed in its place a new and modern equipment, the original supply of twenty inches of water-flow having been increased to 100 inches. The plant is operated by electric power and the stock of the company b now worth $200 a share. As engineer for the company Mr. Webster has aided in the development of its plant to its present high standard of efficiency, the original equipment of two wells having been increased and the service being now of the best in every respect. When Mr. Webster here established his home the lands to the west of his tract were covered with brush and were entirely unreclaimed. Tracts that then commanded a price of only $20. an acre are now valued at $300. an acre, and that with no orange trees yet planted, Mr. and Mrs. Webster are representative citizens of the Fontana district, have won worthy success and command unqualified esteem in the community.
On November 4, 1896, Mr. Webster married Miss Elizabeth Chalfant, who was born in Marshall County, Iowa, February 5, 1874, a daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Hoskyn) Chalfant, the former of whom was born in Ohio and the latter in England, the father having become a successful merchant in Iowa and later having continued in the same line of enterprise in South Dakota, whence, on account of impaired health, he later removed with his family to the southwestern part of Louisiana. Of the family of three sons and two daughters only Mrs. Webster is now livmg. She was nine years old at the time of the family removal to South Dakota, where she was reared to adult age and where she was eventually graduated from the high school at Huron. Thereafter she was engaged in teaching in that state until she accompanied her parents to Louisiana, and upon returning to the north she continued her work as a successful teacher for one year, at the expiration of which her marriage occurred. Of the eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Webster the firstborn, Harry, died in infancy. The first four children were born in Wisconsin, the birth of the second son, John Perham Webster, having there occurred November 2, 1898. This son was graduated from the San Bernardino High School, and while he was a student in Throop College at Pasadena the nation became involved in the World war and he entered the Reserve Officers Training Corps, of which he was a member at the time of his death, resulting from an attack of double pneumonia. He was a young man of gallant patriotism, and his fine character and personality gained to him a host of friends. Dorothy, the third child, was born September 14, 1900, and died October 6, 1916. Emerson was born February 7, 1903; Laura, December 23, 1905; Kenneth, January 27, 1908; and the next two children, twins, died in infancy. Mrs. Webster has been on the School Board for six years, and is now clerk of the Board.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011