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Directing his energies into constructive channels, Stephen Henderson Herrick has been one of the greatest individual forces in Riverside’s upbuilding and is one of the city’s honored pioneers. He has taken a foremost part in reclamation work leading to the development of the citrus fruit industry in this district, and his labors in the field of finance have been equally effective and beneficial. He has lived in California for nearly half a century and is known and esteemed throughout the state by reason of the importance of his achievements. Of these an earlier biographer wrote, in part:

“Stephen Henderson Herrick was one of the men of vision, as well as practical resourcefulness, who comprised an important syndicate of Iowa capitalists attracted to the development of that section lying east and north of the original Riverside Colony. Among the primary problems involved in its development was a dependable irrigation system. That system was first inaugurated by the famous Gage Canal. Mr. Herrick as head of the Iowa syndicate furnished the support and cooperation to Matthew Gage which were indispensable for the construction of that irrigation project on a broad and stable basis. On part of the land benefited (sic) by this enterprise Mr. Herrick in 1887 set out the first planting of orange trees, and of the extensive holdings he has had and helped develop he still retains a large part, indicating that his interest in the country is not that of a speculator but one who is willing to wait for the fruits of his constructive enterprise to ripen. While so much of his time has been given to the material development, his interest has been deep and abiding in the broader growth and progress of Riverside. He has been a factor in the organization of some of the leading banks of this locality, notably the Citizens National and the Security Savings Bank of Riverside, and for a number of years was president of both institutions.”

Mr. Herrick traces his ancestry back for more than one thousand years to Eric, a Norse chieftain. The Herrick family was founded in America in 1660, when representatives of the name emigrated to this country from England, settling at Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts. A member of the family was one of the early judges of court in Massachusetts and was directly responsible for the abolition of the practice of witchcraft in that colony.

Born in Crown Point, Essex county, New York, Stephen H. Herrick was a son of the Rev. Stephen Leonard Herrick, a Congregational minister, who for twenty-five years was pastor of the church there. Later he took up his abode in Fair Haven, Vermont, whence he subsequently removed to Grinnell, Iowa, where he became an instructor in Grinnell College and one of its trustees, acting in those capacities until his death in 1886. His wife was Delia Ives, a native of Vermont and of Scotch lineage. Her parents journeyed from Connecticut to Vermont in December, 1799, blazed trees marking the route for their slow-going caravan of ox teams, and while making the trip they learned of the death of Washington.

In Iowa, Stephen H. Herrick pursued his education and in 1865 was awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree by Grinnell College, where he afterward devoted two years to the study of law and theology, and received the Master of Arts degree from that institution, his high rating winning for him the coveted Phi Beta Kappa key. Instead of entering upon a professional career he took up commercial pursuits and was identified with mercantile activities in Grinnell for twenty-three years. Meanwhile he maintained a deep interest in his alma mater, and after the cyclone of 1883 destroyed the buildings of Grinnell College he came west to Oakland, California chiefly with the object of making collections for the college museum. He traveled throughout the state, acquiring a great abundance of material for this purpose through the aid of the faculty of the University of California, and also had the cooperation of the various transportation companies. He then returned to the east and with others formed the East Riverside land Company in 1885. His chief associates in the project were ex-Governor Merrill of Iowa, Colonel S. F. Cooper, former United States consul at Glasgow, Senator De Los Arnold of Iowa, and the late A. J. Twogood of Riverside. These men organized for the purpose of developing the mesa land east of Riverside and purchased several thousand acres in that vicinity from the Southern Pacific Railway Company. The tract was subdivided, the town of Highgrove being platted. In this development Mr. Herrick and his associates worked closely in cooperation with Matthew Gage so that the Gage Canal would directly benefit the East Riverside tract. For several years Mr. Herrick served as president of the company, which was dissolved in 1915, after all the land had been sold. Under the Gage Canal system Mr. Herrick planted the first orange trees and he continued his planting over several large tracts. He also acquired other land holdings, all in the section east of Riverside, where he has owned and developed about four hundred acres. For more effective business management the various properties and interests of the family were concentrated under the name of the Herrick Estates, Inc., with Stephen H. Herrick as president and his son, S. Leonard Herrick, as vice president and manager. The father also became president of the Lemona Heights Company, owning one hundred and eighty acres of citrus fruits above the Gage Canal, upon which the company developed the water. At one time S. H. Herrick owned considerable land in West Riverside, Corona and Rialto, deriving a substantial income from these various investments. At the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 he had charge of the large exhibit of the firm of Griffin & Skelley, manufacturers of the famous Del Monte brand of food products. Following the close of the exposition he remained in the east four years and during that period was one of the managing directors of the Grinnell Savings Bank, which he had represented as president before coming to California.

In 1903 Mr. Herrick was a moving spirit in the organization of the Citizens Bank of Riverside and was its first president. In 1904 this institution took over the Orange Growers Bank and soon afterward became a national bank, with enlarged capital. The Security Savings Bank, owned by the Citizens National, was established in 1907, with Mr. Herrick as its first president. In 1916 the First National Bank of Riverside was taken over by the Citizens National and the Riverside Savings Bank was absorbed by the Security Savings Bank. At that time Mr. Herrick resigned the presidency of the Citizens National to devote his entire time to the savings institution but in 1920 became chairman of the board of the former institution and still continues in that capacity. He is also vice president of the Security Savings Bank and to his foresight, sagacity and conservative policy are due the stability and prestige of these two moneyed institutions. Few men have contributed so largely to the upbuilding of Riverside’s banking institutions as has Mr. Herrick, who has also figured prominently in financial circles of Arlington, California, as vice president of the Citizens Bank. He was one of the organizers of the East Riverside Water Company, became its first president, and occupied the office for many years. His administrative power and marked capacity for detail have likewise been shown as president of the Riverside-Highland Water Company as well as the Monte Vista Citrus Association.

On the 3rd of September, 1869, Mr. Herrick was married to Miss Harriet E. Fellows, a native of Princeton, Illinois, and a daughter of Ephraim Fellows, who was born in New Hampshire. Seeking the opportunities of the west, Mr. Fellows was a pioneer in the development of Colorado. Of English lineage, Mrs. Herrick is justly proud of her descent from a colonial family that was represented in the struggle for American independence and she has membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Herrick became the parents of a son, Stephen Leonard, whose sketch is published elsewhere in this work; and a daughter, Lida, now the wife of J. Lansing Lane of Santa Cruz county, California, and the mother of two children, Derick and Elizabeth.

Impelled by the spirit of patriotism, Mr. Herrick enlisted for service in the Civil war as a private in the Forty-sixth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry and is one of the few remaining members of the Grand Army of the Republic. He early entered the political arena and, at the age of twenty-one was elected a delegate to the Iowa state republican convention, afterward serving as mayor of Grinnell. Following his removal to the Pacific coast he was chosen a member of the republican central committee of Riverside county and also represented his party in the California state convention. On the 12th of January, 1897, through appointment of the Riverside board of trustees, he became a member of a committee of public-spirited men who made every effort to stop the destruction of trees adorning the public thoroughfares, and it was from this time that public sentiment in Riverside favoring street trees began to grow. A man of deep religious convictions, Mr. Herrick is dean emeritus and a member of the advisory board of the Congregational Church and has frequently officiated as a lay minister, holding services in various places. Throughout the years he has retained a deep interest in and affection for his alma mater and the beautiful Herrick Chapel, which ornaments the campus of Grinnell College, was made possible by his benefactions. It is a family memorial, as three generations were educated there, Mr. Herrick’s father, himself and his son. Wisely conserving his capacities and powers, he is alert and active at the advanced age of ninety-three years, and his long life of industry and usefulness contains much that is of inspirational value to those who aspire to a high level of service.


Transcribed 2-1-12 Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: California of the South Vol. II, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 33-38, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  Marilyn R. Pankey.