Biography of John H. Reed
Riverside County, CA Biographies





JOHN H. REED
Very early in the colonization of the new world the Reed family became identified with the agricultural development of New England, whence succeeding generations followed the tide of migration towards the setting sun. Abraham Reed, a native of Massachusetts, became one of the earliest settlers of Ohio and his son Horace was the first white child born within the limits of the township in which they lived ha Portage county, that state. When the family left the Atlantic coast they took with them a package of apple seeds and these were planted in Portage county, later developing into an orchard of fine apples, the first orchard of that region. Some of the original trees are still standing and are bearing fruit, although now more than one hundred and ten years old. In many other ways this fine old pioneer aided in the material upbuilding of Portage county. The farm that he evolved out of a forest proved to be a productive and valuable estate and for many years returned a livelihood to the family, besides enabling them to save for further investments. The entire life of Horace Reed was spent on the old homestead, where he died in 1888, and where in 1898, his wife also passed away.

At the old homestead in Rootstown township, Portage county, Ohio, John H. Reed was born ha June, 1832, being a son of Horace and Lois E. Reed. After he had completed the studies of the common schools he entered Holbrook Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, the first institution of its kind hi the entire state, and it was his privilege to graduate with the first class that left that historic school. As a student he had displayed such marked ability that he was retained as a teacher of mathematics and languages after his graduation. At Lebanon in 1858 he married Miss Catherine S. Morris, daughter of a prominent citizen of Stark county. She received superior advantages in the Holbrook schools at Marlborough and Salem, that state, and after graduation she engaged as an assistant teacher, going with Mr. Holbrook to Lebanon and assisting to establish the Normal school there and for the following four years was a teacher. Possessing a brilliant mind, she rose to prominence in every community where she resided. Her interest in temperance work was particularly great and for a number of years she aided the prohibition movement through her services as a public lecturer. The First Congregational church of Mansfield, Ohio, numbered her for years among its principal members and most talented workers. After coming to Riverside she entered into many of its most important enterprises. At her death, November 17, 1908, her home suffered a deep bereavement and her friends felt the loss of a gracious, gentle associate, while movements for the moral and religious upbuilding of the community were deprived of her helpful cooperation. Her two children survive her, the daughter, Lois, being the wife of A. C. Pickett, while the son, Fred M., assists his father in the management of their orange groves at Riverside and at the same time maintains a prominent association with various botanical societies.

A satisfactory and useful period of service as superintendent of the schools of Mansfield, Ohio, where he was assisted by Mrs. Reed, who was principal of the high school, was brought to a close after seven years, Mr. Reed's resignation being tendered through his recognition of a growing deafness that incapacitated him for educational work. From the schoolroom he transferred his attention to the counting house and for a time he engaged in merchandising at Mansfield, where he removed to Nebraska and settled on a large stock farm. The failure of his health led him to dispose of his Nebraska property and come to California in 1890. He traveled over the central and southern parts of the state for fourteen weeks, riding in a buckboard and sleeping in the open air, which course he found to be beneficial. Eventually he made his way to this county and established a permanent location at Riverside, regaining his health in the genial climate. His first purchase was ten acres, the nucleus of his present holdings. This he and his son cleared and later set to oranges, and they eventually acquired sixty acres, of which fifty acres are in oranges and lemons and ten acres are deciduous fruits.

From the outset of his identification with Riverside and the orange industry Mr. Reed found himself deeply interested in horticulture. The growing of oranges and lemons proved very congenial. Their very difficulties interested him and he found himself eager to combat obstacles and secure success. The care of an orchard was no less interesting than his former efforts in educational capacities, nor was he less successful therein. After a time other orchardists asked him to care for their groves and he gained a reputation as a specialist in citrus culture. Along with his interest in the industry was his realization of the need of cooperation on the part of horticulturists. He organized the first horticultural club in the state and later assisted in organizing horticultural clubs and farmers' institutes, which formed the basis of the many associations of orange growers common to the present day.

The loss through the decay of oranges in storage and long transit to markets having become a severe burden to the industry and no help in sight to find the cause or a cure. Mr. Reed determined to appeal to the Department of Agriculture at Washington. By growers this decay was generally considered unavoidable and few had any faith in the efforts to get relief, but Mr. Reed was confident something could be done for it and persisted in his correspondence with the department for two or three years, urging investigation. It finally sent Dr. William A. Taylor, of the Bureau of Plant Industry, to look into the merits of the request. Dr. Taylor soon decided that the seriousness of the annual loss to the growing industry demanded the attention of the department. On his return and report it promptly sent G. Harold Powell, who had already acquired a national reputation from results of his investigations of similar problems of the apple industry in the east, to take charge of the investigations, which he carried on for about six years.

The result of this work of Mr. Powell's is now known throughout the country. Of its effects on the industry, Mr. Woodward, manager of the Southern California Fruit Exchange, who was in a position to know, at a State Citrus Fruit Growers' convention held in Riverside three years after Mr. Powell's work commenced, made the statement that the saving to growers was already more than three quarters of a million of dollars annually. E. A. Chase, who gave most efficient aid to Mr. Powell's work, added, "Yes, and we owe this to J. H. Reed," and proposed a rising vote of thanks to him, to which the large assembly unanimously responded.

Indicating how the department regarded the investigation, in an interview with Secretary Wilson at Washington about that time, he said to Mr. Reed, "We consider Mr. Powell's work with your fruit decay matter, the most successful investigation of the kind yet undertaken by the department," adding, "but had it not been for your persistent petitioning you would not have had him over there." This was the commencement of the extended expert investigation work the Washington department hags carried on in the interest of California fruit industries from that time.

For five years Mr. Reed, at horticultural clubs, farmers' institutes and through the press, had urged help from the state department to solve other citrus problems. Finally the request, efficiently seconded by E. W. Holmes, E. L. Koethen of Riverside, and others, was granted by the department establishing a citrus experiment station at Riverside for which it asked a special appropriation from the legislature of $20,000. This was secured largely through the influence of C. E. Ramsey, a prominent grower, ands M. Estudillo, then a member of the legislature. Experimental work was promptly commenced and has been carried on continuously ever since. The last legislature granted an appropriation of 830,000 for additional buildings and equipment.

The fact that even in the better orange orchards, a considerable percentage of the trees persistently produce inferior fruit, early attracted Mr. Reed's attention and for many years he urged investigation. Finally the Washington department, largely through the influence of Mr. Powell, was persuaded to send A. D. Shamel, one of the most successful investigators in plant breeding problems, connected with the department. Already, after three years work, he has demonstrated that through bud selection, fixed strains of oranges and lemons may be secured. In other words, that we may have pedigreed citrus fruit as well as pedigreed stock. It is be lieved that through this investigation alone it will be made possible to increase the value of all citrus groves by at least one fourth.

Mr. Reed was the first to urge investigation into the practicability of protecting citrus groves from frost damage, and was chairman of the committee undertaking the first experiments which attracted nation wide interest at the time. For over twenty years Mr. Reed has been in close touch with all the important forward movements in the interest of the citrus industry, and has seen it grow from a small beginning to one of the leading industries in the state.

During this time he became much interested in the beautification of the streets of Riverside, and for many years worked almost single handed in promoting it. He finally interested the Chamber of Commerce, which took the matter up in good earnest, making him chairman of a tree planting committee, to which work he gave much time without remuneration, the Chamber providing the money for trees and other expenses. During the last year of its work it raised $1,000 for the purpose. In the meantime Mr. Reed petitioned the city council for the city to take over all the city tree planting and care, and put the supervision in the care of a tree warden. This it decided to do providing he would agree to accept the newly created office, which he did and retained it for seven years, resigning in 1911. During this time he planted about fifteen thousand trees on the streets of the city. Riverside was the first city in the west, and one of the very few in the entire country at that time, to adopt municipal control of its street trees. Since then, largely through the influence of the Riverside work, nine Southern California cities have adopted the plan and others have it under consideration. In recognition of the remarkably efficient service rendered the city of Riverside by its retiring tree warden, J. H. Reed, the Chamber of Commerce passed these resolutions: "Be it resolved, therefore, that the Riverside Chamber of Commerce record upon its minutes a hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Reed for his faithful performance of every duty, congratulating him, as well, upon the fame that he has won for Riverside, and pledging the Chamber's continued support to the work to which Mr. Reed has given so unreservedly of his thought and energy during the past seven years.

"By order of the executive committee, September 14, 1911.
"H. F. GROUT, President.
"H. M. MAY, Secretary."


Mr. Reed probably has more pride in and takes greater satisfaction from the influence he has been permitted to exert in favor of intelligent, systematic beautifying of our California cities, especially the parts where the masses of the people live, than in any other of his efforts during his extended life.

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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