ROBERT DOUGLAS SKELLEY
Like his father, Robert D. Skelley has stimulated the development of the citrus fruit industry in Riverside County and in addition he has promoted business enterprises in the city of Riverside, which numbers him among its prominent capitalists. His grandfather, Robert Skelley, who died in 1848, was born near Beamsville, in the province of Ontario, Canada, and there married Sarah Corwin, of Irish and English ancestry.
Edgar Robert Skelley, the father of Robert D., was born in De Witt, Missouri, October 13, 1846, but obtained his grammar and high school education in the Dominion and as a youth joined the Canadian Militia, serving during the Fenian troubles. While living in the east he took up mercantile pursuits and also gained some experience in strawberry culture. Coming to California in the spring of 1882, he purchased a tract of sixty acres at Lugonia, near Redlands, in San Bernardino County, and was one of the early growers of oranges and deciduous fruits in that locality. In December, 1884, he engaged in the fruit shipping business with W. M. Griffin, of San Francisco, already well known in Riverside, under the style of the Griffin & Skelley Company. As packers and shippers of fruit they were associated until August, 1895, when Mr. Skelley discontinued his activities in behalf of the organization, although he permitted it to continue the use of his name, and due to the extent of its shipments, the Griffin & Skelley Company became known throughout the United States. Later the company was consolidated with others of a similar nature under the name of the California Packing Corporation, which now has branches in all parts of the state, and controls a large part of the fruit raising and canning industry on the Pacific coast. On his retirement from business Mr. Skelley sold most of his fruit ranches, retaining about twenty acres on the east side of Riverside. He personally planted the orange trees on this land, developing a fine grove, which is now under the capable management of his son, Robert Douglas. The father was one of the progressive, far-sighted men who aided in bringing to light and utilizing the unrivaled horticultural resources of California and his intimate knowledge of the citrus fruit industry made him a recognized authority on matters pertaining thereto. An Episcopalian in religious belief, he contributed liberally to the support of the church, and his public spirit prompted his effective work as a member of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce.
In 1880 while living in Canada, Mr. Skelley was married to Marie Louise Romain, a native of that country and a daughter of Francis and Anne (Chisholm) Romain, the latter born in Inverness, Scotland. Mr. and Mrs. Skelley were the parents of three sons, but Robert Douglas is the only one now living. He obtained his higher education in Harvard University, qualifying for the profession of a mining engineer, but horticultural pursuits and business affairs have largely occupied his attention. He has added many modern improvements to the home ranch on the east side of Riverside and is accounted one of the foremost growers of oranges in this part of the state, while he is equally well known as an enterprising businessman of keen sagacity. In many ways he has given proof of his devotion to the best interests of his city and is an ex-president of the Riverside Community Hospital.
Mr. Skelley was united in marriage to Miss Constance Beveridge, of Fresno, California, and they have two sons and two daughters: Jane, Robert, Kathleen and Hamilton.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 247-248, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.