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Riverside County








            Among Riverside’s distinguished citizens who have been called to home beyond was George David Parker, noted inventor of box-making machinery, who long controlled an extensive and important industry as head of the Parker Machine Works, the only firm in the United States specializing in automatic box machines and box handling devices.  He was born in Mariposa, California, February 2, 1870, his parents being Robert and Henrietta (Patterson) Parker, natives of Canada and of English lineage.  Both are now deceased.  Sir John Patterson, a cousin of the father of Mrs. Henrietta Parker, was an official of the Bank of England and one of the original promoters of the Panama Canal.  Robert Parker, the father of George D. Parker, came to California in 1868.

            George D. Parker was but two years of age when his parents moved from Mariposa to Orange County, California, where he was reared to manhood and acquired a public school education.  After putting aside his textbooks he was employed in farm and orchard work until he had attained the age of twenty-five years, and thus it was that he became familiar with the fruit industry of California from other practical standpoints than that of an inventor of packing-house equipment.  When a young man of twenty-five, he entered upon a thorough apprenticeship as a mechanic and machinist in shops at Los Angeles, where he remained until 1900.

            About that time he developed his first box-making machine.  We quote from a biography of Mr. Parker which was published in 1922:  “After working four years to develop this machine he came to Riverside with the idea that all his troubles were at an end.  He found that he had only made a start, and then ensued another period of four years in which he was studying and contriving means of perfecting the machine to meet the most exacting tests that could be imposed.  His first machine was sold to the Riverside Heights Packing House N. 10 seventeen years ago, and that machine was in good running order up to a few years ago.  Without recounting all the details in the growth and broadening appreciation of Mr. Parker’s box-making machine it is sufficient to say that there is not a carload of fruit shipped form California or Florida which does not pay tribute to Mr. Parker through the agency of his devices.

            “For a number of years he did his experimenting and some of his manufacturing in the Stoner Iron Works, then the only machine shop in Riverside.  It was afterward sold to Mr. Landwehr and became the Riverside Foundry and Machine Works and was afterward owned and operated by Theodore Hewitt, a prominent man of Riverside.  Mr. Parker bought in 1909 all other interests in the plant, and gave it the name Parker Machine Works, which manufactured all the varied lines of packing-house machinery covered by his patents and became the controlling factor in the citrus packing-house equipment.

            “In December, 1920, Mr. Parker consolidated the citrus packing-house business with the Fred Stebler interests.  The consolidation was considered beneficial to the industry as a whole, as it eliminated competition, the purchaser now being able to buy the best of the machines furnished by the two companies.  The Stebler-Parker Company was a closed corporation with Fred Stebler and Mr. Parker as principals.  At the time of consolidation Mr. Parker was employing one hundred and twenty-five mechanics and manufacturing citrus packing-house machinery exclusively.  His plant is still manufacturing and developing box-making machines and box handling devices, and is the only firm in the United States specializing in automatic box-making machinery.

            “The basic patents of Mr. Parker are all established and settled by court examination and decision.  His were the first machines placed on the market.  He has many patents on automatic nailing machines, four on a fruit separator, eight on fruit sizers, three on fruit sorters, seven on fruit dryers used largely in the citrus trade and demonstrated as only practical ones in use.  Other patents are on box presses, fruit weighers, conveying systems, box emptying and elevating, combined box elevator and conveyor and pasting machines.  His automatic machines have a normal capacity of twenty-five boxes per minute, and Mr. Parker expects to increase this efficiency to an output of thirty per minute.  Machines manufactured under the Parker patents make seventy-five per cent of all fruit boxes in California.  The business involves a tremendous amount of material…Mr. Parker stands out first and foremost among all who have had anything to do with box-making machinery.  He is considered an inventive genius, and has been invited to membership in the leading engineering societies of the world.  To his genius is due the credit for some of the most essential features of fruit-packing houses of the present day, and especially the citrus industry.  He has between fifty-five and sixty patents, is engaged in working out others, and has taken out thirteen patents in nine foreign countries.”

            In the “History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties,” published in 1922, James Boyd wrote:  “In justice to George D. Parker of the Parker Machine Works it must be said that he had a process of separating frozen fruit from sound by passing through a bath of alcohol of a certain degree of strength.  The water method of separation, however, on account of its cheapness and simplicity, supersedes all other methods.  Frost protection is also beneficial in other ways to the orchard, for orchards protected come out in the spring in better condition than those not protected.  It is quite a task, when frost threatens, to go over a large orchard and light all the fires necessary for protection, but it is a cheap insurance against loss.  There are some growers in the favored locations who say that it is about as cheap for them to take the risk of frost as to go all the trouble of providing oil containers, filling them, lighting and extinguishing them.  There are many years in which frost protection is not needed, the same as it is everywhere, and many groves are pretty near immune, but the use of protection devices makes profitable cultivation of the orange a success over a greater area.  Unlike most other places, a slight elevation or some purely local condition makes quite a difference in temperature.”

            Mr. Parker’s wire tying machinery patents perfected in 1930, stand as the finest and most practical on the market.

            On the 6th of June, 1900 at La Center, Washington, Mr. Parker was united in marriage to Miss Clara Barr, a native of Oregon and of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, her parents being George and Catherine (Baltes) Barr, both of whom are deceased.  George Barr, a native of Ohio, went to Oregon in 1852 and subsequently became a pioneer lumberman of Washington.  The father of Mrs. Catherine (Baltes) Barr was also an Oregon pioneer.

            Mr. Parker gave his political support to the Republican Party, while his religious faith was indicated by his membership in the First Methodist Church.  He was also a member of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce and the Business Men’s Association and enjoyed an enviable reputation as a public-spirited, enterprising and progressive citizen.  Mrs. Parker belongs to the Riverside Woman’s Club.  Mr. Parker passed away August 24, 1930, when sixty years of age, and letters of sympathy and condolence came to his bereaved widow from everywhere, for his fame as an inventor was world-wide.  His name is perpetuated in the great industrial enterprise which is known as the Parker Machine Works of Riverside, California.




Transcribed By:  Michele Y. Larsen on March 3, 2012.

Source: California of the South Vol. II,  by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 157-161, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012 Michele Y. Larsen.