California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
ALFRED L. WOODILL was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, was brought to California when three years of age, received his education in Riverside, and in after years has been prominently identified with the great local industry of growing and packing oranges. He is now owner of the California Mutual Packing Company of Riverside. Local history will always give credit for many distinctions to the life and character of his father, Dr. Alfred H. Woodill, who during his residence here was an inspiration to the Riverside community, a capable and kindly physician, a loved citizen, and possessed a sturdy practical idealism whose benefits can hardly be measured. Doctor Woodill was a native of Nova Scotia, practiced medicine there until 1879, when he came to Riverside, and here resumed his professional work. His death on March 30, 1888, was acknowledged as a great public loss, every bank and business house in the city closing its doors as an expression of sorrow on the day of his funeral. It was the first time in the history of Riverside that such a general tribute was paid to the memory of any resident. Doctor Woodill was claimed as a friend by all prominent pioneers of Riverside. His charities were many, and owing to his scholarly attainments and wide general knowledge his advice was in constant demand. He enjoyed generous means earned by his long devotion to his profession, and had the invaluable characteristic of constructive imagination which always dominated his public spirited efforts. When Matthew Gage outlined to Doctor Woodill the project of putting thousands of acres of land under irrigation, the Doctor understood the implications and vast possibilities of the project fully as well as its originator. He supplied Mr. Gage with the money necessary for the preliminary survey. Thus was instituted what later developed into the Gage Canal, the first definite act towards the realization of a constructive undertaking whose subsequent benefit to the people of Riverside is beyond all calculation. While Doctor Woodill died more than thirty years ago, he was in his life time able to visualize a picture of the Riverside of the future, a great landscape of beautiful and productive orange groves, with a contented people living in the fairest and most favored spot on earth. That the vision materialized in all its essential details is a story that can never be told without some reference to the part played by Doctor Woodill. Doctor Woodill and Mr. Gage were close friends, the latter depending upon and following the former's suggestions until the last. Doctor Woodill married Sarah Elizabeth Blanchard, a native of Prince Edward Island and of English descent. She died at Los Angeles in 1917, but was laid to rest beside her husband at Riverside. Her father, Judge Hiram Blanchard, was a member of the High Court of Canada and was the first member from Nova Scotia in the Dominion Parliament.
Alfred L. Woodill attended the grammar and high schools of Riverside. He was still a boy when his father died, and after that he spent two years in Halifax. Since his return to Riverside his work has largely been in orange packing, and he has been one of the prominent growers as well, at one time owning 150 acres distributed in several groves. For two years he was employed by the firm of Boyd & Devine, and was with the California Fruit Growers Exchange the first two years of its organization. In 1910 Mr. Woodill started in the packing house business for himself, owning the Perm Fruit Company. Finding this unprofitable, he disposed of the business and for several years following represented various Eastern packing houses. In 1916 he took over the California Mutual Packing Company, an incorporated company, and has since been its sole owner. Through this company he packs from 250 to 300 cars annually. The plant of the California Mutual Packing Company is regarded as the most modern and best equipped in the district. Mr. Woodill is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau, the Pioneer Society, and is a past exalted ruler of Riverside Lodge No. 643, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is an independent republican and has served as a member of the County Central Committee. At Galesburg, Illinois, Mr. Woodill married Miss Florence May Brown, a native of that state. A sketch of her father, James E. Brown, of Riverside, appears in the following sketch. Mr. and Mrs. Woodill have one son, Chesney E. Woodill, now in the class of 1924 at the University of California. He served a season at Camp Kearney as a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, which work he is now following at Berkeley, in addition to his other studies.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011