Rialto man retains pioneering spirit HISTORY: Gary Lord's ancestors were among area founders, and he owns items that prove it.
12:57 AM PST on Sunday, January 9, 2005
By PENNY E. SCHWARTZ / Special to The Press-Enterprise
RIALTO - Opening the small black jewelry case with care, Gary Lord reveals an antique gold pin dating to 1888. Turning the pin over, he traces with his finger the inscription on the back.
"The San Bernardino Society of Pioneers presented this pin to my great-great-grandfather on the occasion of his 88th birthday," says Lord, 63, a Rialto resident. His ancestor, George Lord Sr., was a founding member of the society and the first settler in present-day Rialto. The pin recently came into Lord's possession along with a packet of other memorabilia from the estate of his father's sister, Hazel Lord Freeman, a lifelong Colton resident. The new family mementoes shore up the historical collection being amassed by Lord, who owns hundreds of photographs and vintage items that document the history of his family, which was among the area's first pioneers. Another piece of recently acquired documentation is a tattered copy of the Feb. 6, 1892, San Bernardino Weekly Courier newspaper. It details the death of George Lord Jr., the pioneer's son, who served as the city's first mail carrier. His death was reported at first to be an accident involving the horse and buggy he used for mail delivery, but it was later determined that he had died from meningitis. Gary Lord already owned Lord Jr.'s mail carrier whistle.
"He would blow this so that people could come out and get the mail from him," Lord said. Among other family heirlooms is a promotional metal flask from the Winnipeg Whiskey Company with an 1894 half-dollar embedded in its cap. "This was lost in the mountains by my great-grandfather's brother, Joe Lord, and returned to me in the 1950s when someone found it on a hiking trip and traced it to my family," Lord said. George Lord Sr. served as the first president of the San Bernardino Pioneer Society, founded in 1888 by families who traveled to the area by covered wagon. In 1977, the society merged with the San Bernardino Historical Society, which has headquarters at The Heritage House at Eighth and D streets. Lord Sr. was born in 1800 in New York City, where he worked in the dry-goods business until health problems at age 28 sent him to the Midwest. In 1849, he traveled to the West Coast for the Gold Rush and made his fortune when he hit a gold pocket that yielded some 17 pounds of the precious metal, Gary Lord said. Lord Sr. became enamored of the San Bernardino area during a visit, then returned to Iowa to marry British-born Arabella Singleton, some 30 years his junior. In 1851, the couple crossed the plains leading two wagon trains and arrived in San Bernardino County in 1852. The account appears in a spiral-bound paperback book titled "Eliza Lives: The History and Recollections of the Pioneer Robert Singleton Family" compiled by Gloria Gillespie White. The book is also part of Gary Lord's family collection.
"George Lord... was a big man of great physical strength - cool courage - determination and force of character," White writes, quoting from an account of a member of the wagon-train party. Lord Sr. settled first on the Lugo Ranch in San Bernardino, but his antagonism to Mormonism caused him to be refused a place there, White wrote. He moved to the Lytle Creek area of present-day Rialto, according to White's book. There he farmed Muscat raisin grapes, for which he received a prize at the 1867 Los Angeles County Fair. In 1886, he sold his ranch for $30,000, a princely sum at the time, and moved to San Bernardino. Lord Sr. owned a series of San Bernardino businesses, including Miles Cole and Lord Arrowhead Meat Company, later a dry-goods store, at 1061 W. Fifth St. In 1916, the establishment became Lord's Dry Cleaners, which remained in business until 1990. Gary Lord still possesses the vintage cash register used in the dry-goods business. George Lord Sr. died in 1898 and is buried in San Bernardino's Pioneer Cemetery, where his wife, Arabella, was laid to rest in 1902. George Lord Jr. is buried next to them. Gary Lord was born in San Bernardino and moved to Rialto in 1967, following in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather. He is chief engineer at the California Institution for Men near Chino.
He hopes to one day soon organize the piles of memorabilia he has collected on his pioneer family, with a view toward possibly donating it to the Rialto or San Bernardino historical societies.
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