Biography of James M. Gilman
Riverside County, CA Biographies





JAMES M. GILMAN
One of the honored pioneers of the San Gorgonio Pass country and a man who has aided Avery materially in the development of the agricultural resources of the country in the vicinity of Banning is J. M. Gilman, who was born in Meredith, Belknap county, N. H., June 9, 1842. He was a son of James and Susan (Mead) Gilman, both born and reared in that same county and of English ancestry. The great great grandfather Gilman, also named James, was the progenitor of the family in America. He had a son David, who was one of the respected pioneers of Belknap county, and was one of. its first farmers. James M. is one of eight children born to his parents, and one of the four survivors: Granville B., of San Francisco ; D. Frank, on the old home place in New Hampshire, where the parents spent their last years; and Lillie E., the wife of F. S. Prescott, of Oakland.

James M. Gilman received his education in the common district school and continued to make his home with his parents until 1863. He then journeyed to Oregon and secured employment as a clerk in a mercantile store at The Dalles. In 1869 he came to California and located on his present place, then but a wild tract of land, on which was a small adobe house. He preempted one hundred and sixty acres, bought eighty acres of railroad land and took up an additional eighty acres under the desert act; about one half of the land was tillable and the balance pasture land. The thing he found of most value was a running stream of pure water from the mountains; this he has developed and now has an ample supply for all purposes, having a reservoir overlooking the lower land, and water is delivered to all parts of his ranch by gravity. On an eminence overlooking the entire valley he erected a comfortable house and set out trees for shade and ornamentation. He also has an orchard of fifty acres in prunes, plums, apricots, almonds and olives, as well as a vineyard, all in bearing condition and ranking well with any other orchard in the locality. In 1909 the property was incorporated under the name of the Gilman Home Company.

On January 14, 1871, at Highland Home place, occurred the marriage of J. M. Gilman and Miss Martha B. Smith, a daughter of Dr. Isaac Smith, one of the pioneers of this section of the country, having brought his family to this part of what is now Riverside county in 1853, from their home in Iowa, where Mrs. Gilman was born. Mr. and Mrs. Gilman became the parents of eight children, one of whom died in early childhood. Those living are: M. French, married and in the service of the United States government, with headquarters at Sacaton, Ariz.; Herbert M., who is married, and a well known rancher of Trinity county, Cal.; Carrie A., in the employ of the government at Sacaton; James G., of Banning; Arthur F., also in the government employ at Sacaton; C. Mabel, at home; and Ethel S., a graduate from the Los Angeles Normal school and now engaged in teaching.

Mr. Gilman is a Democrat in politics and is deeply interested in the welfare of the party. For one year he acted as deputy assessor of San Bernardino county and after the county of Riverside had been created, retained the position for the next two years. He also was road master in the pioneer days. He has cheerfully aided to the best of his ability in the improvement of the community and is well known as one of the most progressive and devoted citizens of the county. When he first located at his present place herds of deer and antelope roamed the valley and grizzly bears often came down the mountains, and wild game of all kinds abounded. He has seen the country grow to its well populated condition, the small villages grow to thriving cities, and the wild land that was covered with sage brush and scrub timber develop into the finest farming land in the state. He and his family are active workers in the Baptist Church in Banning, and at the time of the building of the new edifice was one of the liberal contributors towards its erection.

From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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