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Riverside County

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ALFRED L. WOODILL

 

 

††††††††††† A successful grower and packer of oranges, Alfred L. Woodill is one of the leading representatives of the citrus fruit industry in the Riverside district and has resided here during the greater part of his life.He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and at the age of three years was brought to California.

††††††††††† His father, Dr. Alfred H. Woodill, was a pioneer physician of Riverside and a man of gentle, kindly nature, beloved by all who knew him.Also a native of Nova Scotia, Dr. Woodill engaged in the practice of medicine in that province until 1879, when he came to California, opening an office in Riverside, and spent the remainder of his life in this city.He occupied a place of prominence in his profession and stood equally high as a citizen.His death on the 30th of March, 1888, was regarded as a distinct loss to the community, every bank and business house in Riverside closing its doors as an expression of respect and 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 one of its citizens.Dr. Woodillís scientific attainments and years of devotion to his profession earned for him a substantial competence, which enabled him to perform many acts of charity, known only to the recipients of his bounty.He was a man of marked public spirit, at all times ready to aid his city to the extent of his ability.When Matthew Gage outlined to Dr. Woodill the project of putting thousands of acres of arid land under irrigation, the Doctor understood the implications and vast possibilities of the project as well as its originator.He supplied Mr. Gage with the funds necessary for the preliminary survey.Thus was instituted what later developed into the Gage Canal, the first definite act toward the realization of a constructive undertaking whose subsequent benefit to the people of Riverside is beyond all calculation.While Dr. Woodill died more than forty years ago, in his lifetime he was able to visualize a picture of the Riverside of the future, a great landscape of beautiful and productive orange groves, with a prosperous, contented people living in ideal surroundings.That the vision materialized in all its essential details is a story that can never be told without reference to the important part played by this pioneer physician.Dr. Woodill and Mr. Gage were close friends, the latter depending upon and following the formerís suggestions until the last.

††††††††††† Dr. Woodill was united in marriage to Sarah Elizabeth Blanchard, who was a native of Prince Edward Island and of English-Irish descent.In 1917 she passed away in Los Angeles but was laid to rest in a cemetery 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, afterward spending two years in Halifax.For a considerable period he was engaged in the business of orange packing at Riverside and has been numbered among the large growers of that fruit, at one time owning a ranch of one hundred and fifty acres containing several fine groves.For two years he was employed by the firm of Boyd & Devine and at the time of its inception joined the California Fruit Growers Exchange, with which he was identified for two years.

††††††††††† In 1910 Mr. Woodill started in the packing business for himself as the owner of the Penn Fruit Company, a venture that proved unprofitable.Accordingly he disposed of the business and thereafter represented various eastern packing houses until 1916, when he took over the California Mutual Packing Company.He thus became the owner of one of the best equipped plants in the district and operated on an extensive scale, packing from two hundred fifty to three hundred cars annually.He has since devoted his attention to the care of his valuable groves of oranges.His home at 3590 Fourteenth Street stands in the midst of beautiful grounds ornamented by large shade trees and is one of the finest in Riverside.He has built here a large swimming pool and a Mirada or outdoor summer house, used for the family as a breakfast room.The entire grounds are surrounded by a wall, so that they have practically a summer estate in the heart of the city.

††††††††††† At Galesburg, Illinois, Mr. Woodill was married to Miss Florence May Brown, a native of that state.Her great-grandfather in the paternal line served in the Revolutionary War and also in the second war with Great Britain.The grandfather, George W. Brown, was born in the state of New York and became one of the early settlers of northern Illinois.Endowed with mechanical skill and ingenuity, he made valuable contributions to the progress of agriculture in this country as the patentee of the first corn planter, known as the Brown corn planter.He was an outstanding citizen of Galesburg and at one time served as its mayor. His wife was Maria T. Terpenning, also a native of the Empire state, and of Dutch and English parentage.James E. Brown, the father of Mrs. Alfred L. Woodill, was born, reared and educated in Illinois.He aided in the cultivation of the home place as a young man and from 1862 until 1874 operated a farm of his own near Galesburg.In 1874 he joined his father in the manufacturing business and when the company was incorporated in 1880 he became its treasurer, occupying the office until his fatherís death in 1895.Coming to California in January, 1896, James E. Brown allied his interest with the citrus fruit growers of Riverside and in time acquired six orange groves of ten acres each, three on East Eighth Street and three on Linden Street.He was one of the original members of La Mesa Fruit Company and a director in the Monte Vista Fruit Association, the East Riverside Water Company, the Orange Growers Bank, the Citizens Bank and the National Bank of Riverside.On the 2nd of May, 1859, he married Miss Mary Eleanor Musser, who was a native of Ohio, and her death occurred at Galesburg, Illinois, in 1910.Of their three children only one survives, Florence May, who is the wife of Alfred L. Woodill and the mother of a son, Chesnaye E.He was graduated from the University of California in 1924 and was with the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Camp Kearney, California, for one season.He is now associated with his father in the management of his many interests.

††††††††††† Mr. Woodill is a Republican with independent views and has worked for the success of the Party as a member of the Riverside county central committee.Fraternally he is identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and is a past exalted ruler of Riverside Lodge, No. 643.He belongs to the Farm Bureau and the Pioneer Society.He bears a name that has long stood for high ideals of citizenship in Riverside and is a worthy son of an honored sire.

 

 

 

Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 415-418, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,Indianapolis.1933.


© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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