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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

EDWIN F. WILLIAMS, of Blythe, Riverside County, has shown in his sentiments and activities the vigorous progressiveness that has been potent in connection with the development of productive industry in this section of Southern California, and his prominence and influence are measureably indicated by his holding the office of president of the Palo Verde Joint Levee District.

Mr. Williams was born at Waverly. Iowa, on the 8th of December, 18(36, and is a son of Alfred and Delia (Clarke) Williams, the father having been a sterling pioneer of the Hawkeye State. Edwin F. Williams continued his studies in the public schools of his native state until he had attained the age of sixteen years, when his independent spirit and love of adventure led him to go to Wyoming, where he gained a full quota of experience in handling cattle on the great open ranges. He continued his service in this vocation for several years, within which he found employment also in Idaho, Nevada and Colorado. His ability eventually gained him promotion to high positions with the great cattle companies of the West. He lived up to the full tension of the vigorous life of the cattle range of the early days, and his experiences were marked by arduous work and by conditions that would be considered hardships by one not inured to the free and open life of the western frontier. Mr. Williams recalls with satisfaction many herculean tasks performed by him and his faithful associates, the loyalty of the cowboy to his "boss" being proverbial. Mr. Williams on more than one occasion worked to hold the herd of cattle together in the face of raging blizzards, fought the blinding snow, endured bitter cold, crossed torrential rivers, and never thought of deserting the herd. Nothing less would have been considered by him and his companions to be consistent with the ethics of the range. In 1888 Mr. Williams made his way to Arizona, and there he purchased land, a portion of which lay across the border in Mexico. He became successfully established in independent operations as a cattle man, and incidentally built and conducted a meat-packing plant at Canenea, Mexico. His holdings in Mexico became varied and important, but he lost all of these as a result of revolutionary disturbances, which involved the closing down of mines in that section of Mexico and the disruption of all normal business enterprises. In 1906 he came to Palo Verde, California, to look over the Blythe Ranch estate, and he passed some time in sizing up the situation and the possibilities offered. After making his visit to this section of California, Mr. Williams returned to his ranch and business in Arizona and Mexico, but in the spring of 1909 he came again to the Palo Verde Valley, where he obtained a tract of land and instituted the improving of the same. He brought to bear his best energies and broad experience in furthering the development of this beautiful and productive valley, was the first to receive by popular election the office of director of the Palo Verde Mutual Water Company, and he served for a long term of years as president of that company, a post which he finally resigned to accept that of president of the Palo Verde Joint Levee District. A gigantic work was that here achieved in the early days of development, and adverse conditions and all manner of discouragements failed to dampen the ardor and determination of Mr. Williams, who overcame innumerable obstacles and showed marked executive ability in carrying forward the work which he knew to be necessary. In early days it was found necessary to make frequent, and often heavy, assessments, and Mr. Williams and other pioneers sacrificed a goodly portion of their land holdings to provide funds with which to insure the successful prosecution of the general work that should redeem the land of the valley to effective productiveness. Mr. Williams held to his course with confidence and faith, and he continues to live on his homestead in the Palo Verde Valley where he is one of the honored pioneers and representative citizens, and both his character and his achievement mark him as well deserving of the unqualified popularity which is his.

In 1912 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Williams and Miss Edyth Everett, who was at that time residing in the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mrs. Williams was born in England, and in addition to her general culture she is a talented artist. The home contains many fine specimens of her work in pastel and oil and water colors. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have one child, Edwin F., Jr., who was born in July, 1913.

Mr. Williams has been in the fullest sense one of the world's constructive workers, and his advancement along both mental and material lines has been the result of his own ability and well directed efforts. Leaving school while yet a boy he continued his studies by the campfires maintained at night in connection with the herding of cattle on the open ranges of the early days, and by careful study and reading he has become a man of broad information and wide intellectual horizon. He has done a splendid work in redeeming barren lands to cultivation, and for his service in this important field he is entitled to enduring honor and commendation, as no better contribution could be made in behalf of generations yet to come. He has a capacity for big things, and in the Palo Verde Valley he has given full evidence of this capacity in his admirable work and service.

 

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